USATourist News MagazineSeptember 2002
In this issue:
It's a great year for beach bound visitors to the USA. Recently the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that it seems this hurricane season will let us off easy. Hurricane season usually begins in June and stretches to November --- but the peak time for major tropical storms assaulting the east coast is often the last of August through mid-September. While we will probably get a storm or two, and a storm can cause evacuations and other vacation-ruining problems the risk of a storm spoiling your Disney trip is a lot less than most years.
Cost conscious travelers will find that hotels in ocean resort areas are a bit less expensive after the US Labor Day holiday.
Labor Day always falls on the first Monday in September. The holiday is over one hundred years old. Labor Day in this century is a generalized American holiday, but its history began during the industrial revolution as part of a worker movement to obtain rights. In the 1880s worker groups took the day off without pay to attract attention to poor working conditions, poor pay, and long hours. From there it evolved into a day featuring parades and other events to celebrate the achievement of American workers.
Some cities still have parades and community festivals on Labor Day. For younger people in the USA it's a time for one last summer fling before getting back to the university. Many people use the day for family reunions and cookouts.
Traveling the UK or Western Europe it seems that every block offers a bureau d'change with an array of rates. Travelers in the USA can be confused about where to exchange money or cash traveler's checks. Before you leave home, check to see if your bankcard is a member of an international network such as Cirus or Plus. If it is you will find that most ATMs will accept your card and you can easily obtain US dollars. You will find ATMs at banks, grocery stores, convenience stores, and some gas stations. Keep in mind that often a bank machine will reject a perfectly good card for no reason ---it's helpful to have two cards if ATM withdrawal is your primary means of getting currency.
Many banks in the USA do not exchange foreign currency. Almost all banks will cash traveler's checks in US currency if you have proper identification such as your passport with you. American Express traveler's checks are the most popular brand in the USA. One advantage to using American Express checks is that most mid-sized cities, and some rather small ones, do have an American Express office should you need them to cash a check or exchange currency.
In New York you will find American Express at 822 Lexington Ave. at 63rd Street (phone 212-758-6510), open Monday-Friday 9 am-6 pm and Saturday 10 am-4 pm and 420 Lexington Ave. at 43rd Street (phone 212-687-3700), open Monday-Friday 9 am-6 pm. Thomas Cook also has a number of New York city locations: 511 Madison (between 52nd and 53rd Streets), open daily 9 am-5 pm; 41 E. 42nd St. (between Madison and Vanderbilt Avenues), open daily 9 am-5 pm; 1590 Broadway (between 47th and 48th Streets), open Monday-Saturday 9 am-7 pm and Sunday 9 am-5 pm; and 157 W. 57th St., open Monday-Saturday 9 am-7 pm and Sunday 9 am-5 pm. Thomas Cook's information number in New York City is 212-753-2595.
Chase Bank Foreign Currency Exchange has over one hundred locations throughout New York City. To obtain the location of the nearest branch and its operating hours call 212-935-9935. If you need foreign currency information, call 800-242-7324.
If you are taking a driving tour it is a good idea to sort out currency before moving into more rural areas.
Many of us think that the best show in the USA is fall foliage season. Fall's perfect for a driving tour almost anywhere in America --- the weather is warm but not hot, school is back in session, and in popular leaf peeping areas the display of color is incredible.
If you are planning on a drive to see the fall color you can get information from the USDA Forest Service Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-354-4595 and or their web site at http://www.fs.fed.us/news/fallcolors/. You can also check http://www.stormfax.com/foliage.htm for links to many websites about fall color along driving routes or in National Parks.
Vermont is the favored destination of many tourists in search of fall color. The state expects one million visitors during "leaf peeping" season. If you are in the area an easy drive starting in Burlington, Vermont will give you a chance to sample the scenery and see what the fuss is about.
Burlington, on the shore of Lake Champlain, is a super starting point. The town thrives on tourism and has many attractions. From Burlington, travel Highway 15 to Essex Junction. In Essex Junction take Route 15 northeast to Cambridge and proceed north on route 108 to Enosburg Falls. In Enosburg Falls Route 108 meets route 105. Take 105 west past the junctions of 105 & 236 and 105 & 110 to the junction of 105 & 78. Take route 78. Route 78 passes through Swanton and into the Champlain Islands. Continue on Route 2 through the islands. You will pass through of: Alburg, Grand Isle and South Hero and you'll arrive back on the mainland where you'll continue on route 2A to Essex Junction and then back to Burlington.
Lake Champlain Ferries provides service between New York and Vermont; you can call them at (802) 864-9804. Romantic cruises on Lake Champlain are available, call (802) 862-8300 for information. Lake Champlain is lined with benches, swings, and grassy areas. The Lake Champlain Basin Science Center is a kid-friendly facility that teaches children about Lake Champlain and the area wildlife. The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum at Basin Harbor displays the cultural and economic history of the lake area from the Revolutionary War to its use as a trade route from Southern New York to the St. Lawrence Seaway.
The United States energy department recently reported that gasoline prices dropped three weeks in a row. Currently the average price at the pump in the USA is $1.39 per gallon. Prices are highest on the west coast where the average cost is $1.54 and lowest in the Gulf States where prices average $1.30 a gallon. It's a great time to rent a car and take a road trip in the USA.
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