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Travel: Four Good Reasons to Consider a Family Cruise

   The family vacation season is almost here. Soon, the kids will be out of school and families will set out to spend some time together and see a few things along the way. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional road trip (‘Don’t make me pull this car over!) but more and more families are opting for cruise vacations. Here are a few reasons to consider taking your family on a cruise adventure:

Save money, see more: Traveling with a family adds up. Flights, hotels, meals and all the other expected—and unexpected—expenses can take a toll on the budget. The beauty of cruising is all those expenses are bundled. Many cruise packages—often deeply discounted—include airfare or car rental and, of course, lodging and meals are all part of the deal. A cruise can be the most economical way to see a destination or part of the world. (Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for single cruisers but more lines are offering single cabins or designated single supplement-free itineraries.)

Time together, time apart: Think about it. Your meals are prepared, the housekeeping is done while you’re out at the pool and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world is right in view. All that’s expected of you is to relax and enjoy the ride. Of course, there are times when too much togetherness can be tough on families. That’s the time to take advantage of the ship’s amenities. Let the kids spend some time in the designated children’s center and enjoy a few hours at the ‘adults only’ deck and pool option. Book a date-night dinner at the ship’s premium dining restaurant. There is an additional charge for these meals but the food and wine options are usually topnotch.

Peace and Quiet: Is it really possible to find quiet moments while trapped in a floating hotel with thousands of other people? Absolutely. When choosing a stateroom, a balcony is almost always worth the extra cost; it gives you a private view and a place to get away from the crowd. If your travel budget is tight, put your money toward a small piece of personal cruise-ship real estate and forgo expensive pool-side cocktails and soft drinks.

Let the World Come to You: Travel, even for those of us who love it, has become a complex and frequently expensive proposition. Airfares are high, highways are crowded, gas is expensive and navigating crowded and sometimes unfriendly airports can elevate stress. Just getting from one place to another can be exhausting. But the beauty of cruising is that once you board you can relax and enjoy your vacation while all the details are taken care of by someone else.The ship gets you from one port to another, excursions are organized and arranged for you, room service is almost always complimentary and transportation to and from the airport is a snap. Tip: Work with a travel agent to help you find the perfect fit for your family budget.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Travel: Five Things You Should Always Pack

It shouldn’t cost a fortune to outfit your travel kit and many of the most practical items you can pack are things you may already have around the house. I sometimes fly out on short notice so my bag stays ready to go. Here are five inexpensive items I don’t like to leave home without:

Duct tape: I pick up small rolls in the hardware store $1 bin. The strong tape has helped me mend a broken sandal, patch a tear in my day pack and keep my sunglasses together long enough to make it home.

Small bar of hotel soap: The soap does more than lather up. I keep a bar of good soap in my my luggage to keep it smelling fresh and occasionally slide a bar along the zipper on my suitcase to keep it zipping smoothly. (My favorite scented hotel product has to be the Time to Chocolate line offered by the historic Sacher Hotels. Yum!)

Sewing kit and folding scissors: Buttons fall off, hems come unstitched. I’d rather do almost anything than sew, but sometimes a stitch or two is necessary. Most upscale hotels provide a tiny sewing kit. It there isn’t one in your room, just ask. The tiny pair of folding scissors can help with everything from opening packaging to a quick trim of the bangs.

Wet wipes: It’s been years since I changed a baby’s diaper on the road but I still keep a small packet of fragrance-free wet wipes with me to use for everything from wiping down the germy airplane seatback tray to cleaning mud off my shoes.

Extra reclosable plastic bags. The TSA isn’t the only reason to have a stash of extra baggies around. They’re handy for bagging up sandy beach souvenirs and separating prone-to-leak toiletries. Larger bags can be used to sort and compress clothing to create more room in your suitcase.



Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Travel: Five Tips for Travel with Teens

   Packing up the kids for a family road trip is one thing, but flying off to Europe with a teen is a totally different experience. With a little planning and patience you can share a travel experience that you’ll both cherish.
Here are five tips for international travel with a teenager:  

Think ahead: I ask my teen if she wants to sit with me or have her own space before I book the tickets. Then I pack a large ziplock bag with everything she will need to help her stay comfortable during the overnight flight. The kit includes an eye mask, a small inflatable pillow, a pair of lightweight socks and several sets of disposable ear plugs. All she’ll need is an airline blanket.

Take it easy:  Traveling on my own, I usually push on after an overnight flight and crash at the end of the day. But traveling with teenagers is different. Teens need a lot of sleep and you don’t really know how well he or she rested before departure. After checking into the hotel I usually suggest they nap for an hour or so while I unpack, go over guidebooks or catch up on emails.

Please feed the bear: We usually eat a good breakfast before we set out each morning (a hotel with a hot buffet is always a good thing) but I pack nuts, chocolate and fruit (dried or fresh) for those moments between meals when we need to sit down (sometimes in separate places) and recharge our batteries.

Be flexible: Give your teen (some) freedom to wander. They crave independence and it helps young travelers develop the skills they’ll need when they go out on their own adventures. Be sure your child knows the address and location of your hotel and can reach you in an emergency. (I keep the texting function open on my phone when I travel.) Bonus: There can be unexpected benefits to letting your teen pick the itinerary for the day. One of my daughters read about a small designer outlet on a side street off St-Germain.  She led the way and we spent an hour browsing with the oh-so-stylish locals and scored the jacket of her dreams.


Practice patience. Teens play it close. It might be a few years before you get to realize just how much they enjoyed themselves, but eventually the poker face will disappear and you’ll hear them admit it was the trip of a lifetime.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Travel: Fighting for Space on Crowded Flights



   I followed the thread of passengers though the 737 to my aisle seat. The man sitting in what my boarding pass indicated was my seat was a friendly giant. He was huge in that former-college-linebacker-who-has-put-on-a-lot-of-weight way, and he smiled up at me while I stood there looking first at him, then my seat assignment and then the number above the row of seats. Finally, I said “I’m sorry. You are in my seat.”
He looked confused for a moment and then when he realized the window seat was already occupied and I owned the aisle which meant he’d bought a ticket to the middle seat, he looked desperate. Beating back the polite Southern girl who still owns a good chunk of my brain and often insists I defer, I waited for him to slide into the middle seat and then took my own. Of course, he didn’t really fit in the middle and sprawled out into my space was well as the man on the other side.

   After a bit of shuffling, we silently sorted out our seat belts and the plane took off. I surreptitiously took a photo of the three knees, two of mine and one of his, in front of my seat.

   It was a long and uncomfortable flight. He immediately fell into a deep sleep, snoring loudly and sprawling even further into my seat.  I moved to lower the armrest between us but it was somewhere in the middle of his back. Unless I wanted to put my arm behind him, and risk either having it trapped there or waking him up, the armrest would stay up, removing what little barrier there should be between us.

   I felt a little guilty for not surrendering the aisle but the thought of sitting between the two men for a four-hour flight from Denver to Fort Lauderdale filled me with panic. I spent seven hours in a middle seat on two different flights last week. The thought of doing it again was like being asked to wear a plastic bag on my head.

   When our drinks and snacks were served, the man woke up and promptly rested his left arm against the edge of my tray and his right arm on his tray while eating his hamburger. After lunch he was was asleep again. The flight was full, there was nowhere for any of us to move, so I bit my tongue. But it seems personal space has become the weapon of choice for the airline industry. They count on our need—some of us need it more than others— to drive us to pay for the privilege of being the sole occupant of a seat. And that’s what I usually do. I’d tried to upgrade but both First Class and the expanded economy option were sold out. On this flight, an aisle seat was the best I could do and it didn’t do me much good at all.

   Some people will see my complaint as a dig at the man’s size, but it isn’t that at all.  My point is it’s not always about how much space we take up. It’s how we use the space we have.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and public radio stations across the country. She is the author of Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Feds: Pilot lands in Spokane while drunk

A commercial pilot was drunk when he landed a plane at the Spokane International Airport in April, federal prosecutors allege.

Paul Robbin Roessler, of Federal Way, is to appear in U.S. District Court in Spokane June 29 for a charge operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

The charge alleges Roessler flew a twin engine PA-34 aircraft for Airpac Airlines, Inc., from Boeing Field in Seattle to the Spokane airport while drunk on April 26.

A federal grand jury indicted him last week. Airport spokesman Todd Woodward directed questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which has not immediately returned a phone call.

Federal aviation records say Roessler was a certified commercial pilot and flight instructor but that his certificates are no longer active.

A man who answered the phone for Airpac Airlines identified himself as Roger and declined comment. The company is described on its website as a a contract cargo operator based out of Boeing Field since 1976.
  

Alaska Airlines lands a whopper salmon

FISHING IN YOUR DREAMS — Alaska Airlines and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute on Monday unveiled the world’s largest king salmon. Stretching nearly 129 feet, the fish-themed design will adorn a Boeing 737-800 this fall.

The new “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” design is derived from an earlier version of the paint scheme Alaska Airlines unveiled on a 737-400 in 2005, which was re-painted with the carrier’s traditional Eskimo livery last year.

The new design is about nine feet longer than the original ’salmon plane’ and also features fish scales on the winglets and a salmon-pink colored “Alaska” script across the fuselage.

“This airplane celebrates Alaska Airlines’ unique relationship with the people and communities of Alaska and underscores our air transport commitment to the state’s seafood industry,” said Marilyn Romano, Alaska Airlines’ regional vice president of the state of Alaska.

Last year, Alaska Airlines flew nearly 25 million pounds of seafood from Alaska to markets in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

And it flew a lot of fishermen back and forth, too.

 

‘Barefoot Bandit’ email ridicule police

By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore ridiculed police and prosecutors in emails and phone calls from prison recently, undercutting his claims that he's sorry for his two-year crime spree, the U.S. attorney's office said in court documents filed Tuesday.

 The 20-year-old, who awaits federal sentencing, referred to Island County Sheriff Mark Brown as the “king swine,” called prosecutors who handled his case “fools,” and referred to news reporters as “vermin.” The self-taught pilot bragged about his two-year crime spree, during which he hopscotched the U.S. in stolen cars, boats and small planes before being captured in the Bahamas in July 2010 a hail of bullets.

“The things I have done as far as flying and airplanes goes, is amazing,” he wrote in one email last August. “Nobody on this planet have done what I have, except for the Wright brothers.”

Federal prosecutors included excerpts from the emails and phone transcripts in a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. Harris-Moore was sentenced last month to more than seven years in prison for a long string of state crimes, mostly on his hometown of Camano Island and in the San Juan Islands, but he is still scheduled to be sentenced on Friday for federal crimes, including stealing a plane that belonged to a Bonners Ferry cattle rancher.

Prosecutors are seeking a six-and-a-half year sentence, the most they can ask for under the terms of Harris-Moore's federal plea deal. His lawyers asked for a sentence of just under six years in their own memorandum filed Tuesday. The plea deal calls for proceeds from a movie deal to be used to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to his victims, and the judge can issue a sentence outside the plea deal's suggested range.

Emma Scanlan, one of Harris-Moore's lawyers, said the excerpts were cherry-picked from more than 700 pages of emails and phone transcripts. None of the excerpts suggests that Harris-Moore doesn't feel sorry for the people he victimized, she noted.

“Maybe he doesn't the like the sheriff's office, maybe he doesn't like the prosecutors,” Scanlan said. “But he's recognizing the most important group of people.”

Prosecutors said the excerpts offered a striking difference in tone to the apology letter Harris-Moore wrote to the state and federal judges handling his case. In the letter, he said he did not want to glamorize anything he had done, and he apologized profusely to his victims, saying he learned only too late of the fear he was instilling in them. He said his childhood — with an abusive, alcoholic mother and a series of her ex-con boyfriends — was one he would not wish on his “darkest enemies.”

He also wrote in the letter that he wanted to apologize to the Island County and San Juan County sheriffs' offices, “who I know were only doing their jobs.” In a monitored telephone call Dec. 9, a week before his sentencing, he said he wanted his supporters in the courtroom because “the more people I have from my camp the better, because that's just one less seat that will be filled by the media vermin or the swine, the king swine himself, Mark Brown.”

The judge who sentenced Harris-Moore in state court emphasized his difficult childhood, called his case “a triumph of the human spirit” and suggested it's remarkable that he didn't commit worse crimes, given his background.

In an email a few days after the sentence, Harris-Moore recounted the sentencing.

“When all the acting and spreading of high propaganda on the part of the state was over and my lawyers argued the true facts, the judge gave me a much-appreciated recognition and validation, calling my story a 'triumph of the human spirit,'” he wrote. “She wasn't having none of the weak argument the prosecution tried to peddle, and ended up handing down a sentence that was the lowest possible within the range. … Once again, I made it through a situation I shouldn't have.

Did you hear those fighters yesterday?

www.strategic-air-command.com

They were over the city at about 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Man, they are loud.

If they had been from the era of the photo above, I could have told you exactly what kind they were. But these modern jets all look alike to me. 

FBI: Man masturbated on Spokane flight

A Florida man masturbated during a flight from Spokane to Denver last week, a criminal charge alleges.

Two 18-year-old passengers told an FBI agent that they saw Kyle Devin Pearce, 25, masturbating while on board United Airlines Flight 340 on May 19.

One witness said he was sitting behind Pearce when he saw what he was doing and “hit him with my book in the arm, which caused him to stop and leave to the bathroom. After a while he returned,” according to an affidavit. Both witnesses said Pearce's penis was visible.

Pearce was to connect to an Orlando-bound flight but was instead arrested at the airport and appeared before a federal judge in Denver. He posted $25,000 bond Tuesday.

Pearce is charged with crimes aboard aircraft, which carries a maximum 90 days in jail, $5,000 fine and one year probation.