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USATourist News Magazine

October 2005

In this issue:

In the aftermath of a major disaster, many people look for a way to help those in need. The best way to assist the survivors of Hurricane Katrina is to make a monetary donation towards the relief effort.

We at USATourist support the American Red Cross. We ask for your support as well. Disasters happen every day. The Red Cross is there. Make your donation today! www.redcross.org

New Orleans Update

Not only did the impact of the August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina cause damage to the city of New Orleans, Louisiana but the levee system had several sections collapse which caused severe flooding throughout the city destroying much of the city, including homes. Day by day the city is recovering and slowly the city is reopening and rebuilding. The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has some damage and has opened for limited passenger flights. If you have reservations flying to New Orleans sometime over the next several months, be sure to contact your airline for any new information or options.

The much anticipated Mardi Gras is right around the corner. Fat Tuesday is February 28, 2006. Despite the destruction of New Orleans the hosts of Mardi Gras say "the show must go on." The celebration is expected to continue, however this upcoming year will be "downsized." Once again, if you already have hotel reservations contact the hotel reservation line for any information you may need regarding your stay. www.mardigrasguide.com

Biloxi Update

Biloxi, Mississippi has always been a fun place for tourists to escape and enjoy the beaches and visit the dozen casinos. But when Katrina hit, she also took Biloxi with it. The casinos that sat on barges in the water were not immune from the destructive Hurricane Katrina. After the storm passed only building frames were left of many of the structures.

Biloxi is determined to rebuild and so are the casinos. Casino personnel from MGM Mirage and Pinnacle Entertainment recently announced plans to rebuild with hopes of reopening as soon as two years. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was set to open in September 2005 but when Hurricane Katrina hit, the building was destroyed. Ironically, the famed guitar that sat outside the Hard Rock was left still standing after Katrina's departure. Plans are in the works to also rebuild the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

For more information on Biloxi you can visit their Web site: www.biloxi.ms.us

Hotel news of the month

Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts has officially made free broadband Internet access a standard service just like any other expected hotel convenience. Most Radisson hotels are already equipped with the option but by the end of 2005 every hotel's broadband Internet access will be in full operation. Hotel guests need to use only their name and room number to access the service and can access the Internet from anywhere in their hotel through high-speed or wireless options.

Airport News of the Month

Did you know Portland International Airport (PDX) offers free Wi-Fi (wireless Internet service)? That means if you are traveling through Portland you can use you laptop, PDA, cell phone, or Pocket PC to go on line and it's free – for now. Eventually, there may be a charge but until then 70% of the airport's main terminal has access points and all you need, besides your own device, is an 802.11b-capable wireless network card. For more information on how to set up your device once you are in the airport and information on Virtual Private Network (VPN) visit: http://www.flypdx.com/Wi_Fi_Srvc.aspx

Portland isn't the only airport to offer free Wi-Fi. California's John Wayne Airport (SNA), Colorado Springs Airport (COS), Ft. Lauderdale Airport (FLL), and many others offer free access. Here’s a complete list that includes international airports equipped with free Wi-Fi. www.wififreespot.com/airport.html

The West Rim of the Grand Canyon

The Colorado River flows southwestward as it carves a deep gorge through the highlands of the Colorado Plateau. At Grand Canyon National Park this gorge becomes a spectacular seventeen-mile-wide, hundred-miles-long, one-mile-deep, multicolored masterpiece of nature. The Southern edge of this natural wonder is known as the South Rim. The visitor center on the South Rim has many tourist amenities including hotels, restaurants, stores, the small town of Tusayan and even an airport. The North Rim is situated about 18 miles due north on the opposite edge of the canyon and about 200 driving miles away. It contains far fewer tourist amenities but is a perennial favorite of backpackers, hikers and visitors seeking to avoid the tourist crowds.

The West Rim is merely a name given to the Colorado Gorge that lies just west of Grand Canyon National Park. The canyon is not as wide or as deep in that area, but it is still pretty spectacular. This part of the canyon lies outside of the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. In recent years, the Hualapai Nation began promoting this West Rim for tourism. It has become a favorite destination for many commercial tour operators because of its proximity to Las Vegas. It is also a favorite for the helicopter tour operators because the flying restrictions imposed by the Hualapai Nation are much more lenient than the strict standards of the National Park Service. Here the helicopters can descend right down into the canyon and even land at the bottom.

The West Rim is 120 miles east of Las Vegas. It takes about two and a half hours to drive to Eagle Point on the West Rim instead of the five hours required to drive to the National Park Service Visitors Center at the South Rim. Part of the drive is across some rough unpaved roads, but the scenery is wonderful with gleaming white limestone buttes and forests of cactus and Joshua trees. The amenities at the West Rim are rather spare compared to the well developed South Rim. The Hualapai Nation provides a small visitors center with a restaurant and gift shop next to a helicopter landing pad.

The Hualapai Nation has begun a major expansion of the visitor facilities at Eagle Point. This month, they are opening their newly constructed Hualapai Ranch and Hualapai Indian Village. The Indian Village will have authentic dwellings of the Hualapai, the Havasupai, the Navajo, the Hopi and the Plains Indians. It will also feature a Native American Marketplace and an amphitheater with daily cultural programs. The Hualapai Ranch will offer western experiences including wild-west performances, cookouts, horseback rides and wagon rides. In January 2006, they will open a glass bridge suspended 4000 feet above the Colorado River.

If you are planning a vacation in Las Vegas, you should consider taking a day trip to the newly expanded Hualapai visitor center at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Halloween is October 31st

Halloween is celebrated the eve of All Saints Day. Here in the United States towns are decorated with Jack O' Lanterns, witches, ghosts, and goblins and carnivals and tours of "haunted houses" are ongoing through out the entire month of October. In the weeks leading up to Halloween these haunted houses pop up in shopping mall parking lots or homes people prepare just for the occasion. Halloween night kids dress up in costume go from house to house "trick-or-treating," filling pillow cases and plastic Jack O' Lanterns with candy and other treats. If you would like to dress up for these fun festivities you can rent a costume from a costume rental shop. Here are some of the Halloween events across America:

Texas:

California:

Massachusetts:

Florida:

New York:

Real Haunted Houses

Would you like to visit a real haunted house? There are hundreds of "haunted houses" across the United States and if you're interested in visiting a few I found a great link. Simply click on the state you wish to visit and a list of local haunted houses will show up. The information is wonderful. Not only is the location listed but a list of ghost witnesses and the history of the haunting. www.hauntedhouses.com/map.htm

If you'd really like a good spook

Visit a local farm that has a haunted cornfield maze. Often with only a flashlight in hand the daring face a "haunted" cornfield as props and costumed workers do their job spooking the brave. For locations click here: www.cornfieldmaze.com/site_list.html

If you'd rather spend a day at the farm during the day many farmers open their land to the public during the autumn months for pumpkin picking, hay rides, petting the farm animals, and some home cooking.

Thanksgiving is next month

November 24 is Thanksgiving Day and if you plan on traveling anytime that week, be prepared for long lines and crowds. The day before Thanksgiving Day is known as Black Wednesday in the airlines, and for good reason. Don' t let the craziness of the holidays deter you from flying, just arrive very early for your flight and make sure you follow the security screening rules. www.tsa.gov/public/index.jsp

New York

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade kicks off the holiday season every year as millions of people line up to watch the amazing parade of clowns, bands, and huge tethered, over-sized balloons. This is an event to remember. If you're not up to facing the crowd you can always tune in on a local channel and watch from the warmth of the indoors. 212-494-4495 www.macys.com

Other New York Holiday Events

November 3rd, 2005 through January 2nd, 2006 the Radio City Rockettes line up to kick off the 73rd Annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The location is Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas 212-307-1000 www.radiocity.com

November 21st – 31st is the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Laser Light Show, held every half hour from 11am until 9pm. Located at E. 42nd St. at Park Ave. 212-340-2210 www.grandcentralterminal.com

November 28 is the Lincoln Center Tree Lighting. Located at 64th St. & Columbus Ave. 212-875-5456 www.lincolncenter.org

November 30 is the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting. Located at Rockefeller Center at 47th to 51st. 212-332-6868 www.rockefellercenter.com

Plan your New Years Eve in New York City

New Years Eve is only a couple of months away and it is certainly not too early to make your reservations. If you've always want to ring in the new year with live entertainment, lots of alcohol, and hundreds of thousands of people, the annual Times Square New Year's Eve Celebration & Ball Drop is just for you. Make your reservations now to welcome 2006. 212-768-1560 www.timessquarealliance.org

For more information on New York: www.usatourist.com/english/destinations/newyork/newyorkcity/new-york-city-main.html

If you'd like to visit any of these spectacular New York events we can help you make your reservations.

That's it for the October 2005 issue. As always, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me. I enjoy hearing from you and answering your questions. If you have visited the United States lately please let me know how your trip was and if you have any advice or suggestions for fellow travelers. Please forgive me if I am slow in responding this month, as I am expecting a baby girl October 15th.

Until next month, Happy Halloween and Happy Travels!

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair


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