Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Viking Moot Festival in Aarhus, Denmark

~ Viking lore lives on in the Danish town of Aarhus (on the east coast of JutlandDenmark’s western peninsula), where on the last weekend in July, Scandinavians pay tribute to their forebears.

This weekend festival is about a three hour drive from Copenhagen, and offers a historical market with traders, craftsmen and performers clothed in traditional garb.

The most anticipated event is the warrior fights held at nearby Moesgaard Beach, in which participants train for a week in the woods.

Besides 25,000 visitors, this annual event attracts countless performers from Denmark, the other Scandinavian countries, and even the British Isles. The Viking Moot festival is free, so you will not need tickets. It is hosted by the Moesgård Museum in Aarhus, a major attraction in Aarhus (see below).

Other Attractions & Things to Do in Aarhus

As well as the Viking Moot Festival, there are numerous other attractions in Aarhus to enjoy during your visit, and these are detailed below.

Moesgård Museum in Aarhus

Apart from hosting the Viking Moot Festival, the Moesgaard Museum is great for anyone interested in history and archaeology dating back to the Vikings and the Stone Age. The building housing the museum is over 200 years old. Guided tours of the museum are available.

Old Town Aarhus

A visit to the old town of Aarhus is a must when you're nearby. There are beautiful old houses, little shops, and food and drink on offer.

Aarhus Tivoli Friheden

Yes, Aarhus has its own Tivoli amusement park, called Tivoli Friheden. There are lots of carnival-style rides, a big water park as well as an indoor play land and other activities for all ages.

Marselisborg Castle & Park in Aarhus

Marselisborg Castle is the Danish Royal family's summer seat in Aarhus. When the royals are present, you can witness the Changing of the Guard daily at noon. However, most of the time the Royal Family is not there which means visitors are allowed to enter the grounds and even visit the Queen's rose garden.

The Botanical Garden of Aarhus

This attraction is open year-round and you can visit the greenhouses and the Tropical House (open Mon-Sat 1-3pm, Sun 11-3pm) free of charge. The Botanical Garden is easy to find in the old town of Aarhus, near the Urban Museum. Just look for the windmill.

RaceHall Near Aarhus

In Viby at Hasselager Centervej 30, you'll find a major attraction of the Aarhus area - RaceHall, the largest indoor race track in all of Europe!

Aarhus Occupation Museum

The Occupation Museum (Besaettelsesmuseet) of Aarhus is dedicated to showing both peaceful and dramatic events in Århus during the German occupation. Everyday life during the occupation, military equipment, war propaganda and Nazi terror are displayed in this museum.

The Aarhus Deer Park (Dyrehaven)

A nature-style attraction in Aarhus is the Deer Park (Dyrehaven), found 2 miles south of downtown Aarhus. Among many other species, the deer park is housing Sika deer, fallow deer and wild boar in their natural habitat.

ARoS Art Museum of Aarhus

The ARoS is the largest art museum in and around Aarhus and an attraction that's both interesting and great for bad weather days. The museum shows art from the last 3 centuries and teaches about local art and design in a very compelling way.

Click here for more information…

IMAGE: Vikings by Jonathan Hart

Monday, June 29, 2009

All Aboard the World’s Largest Zeppelin!

~ Now this sounds like a real buzz – watching fireworks light the Fourth of July night sky in Los Angeles, while soaring 1000 feet above the Pacific Coast aboard the Airship Ventures Zeppelin Eureka.

Returning to the Southern California skies after a sold-out engagement in May, Eureka will offer flight-seeing tours above L.A. from July 3-7, 2009.

The highlight of Eureka’s return trip to the L.A. skies will be a special two-hour Independence Day fireworks flight that takes advantage of the Zeppelin’s 360-degree panoramas to offer passengers stunning views of fireworks shows up and down the L.A. coastline. The fireworks flight is one of many tours offered during the Zeppelin’s six-day excursion to Los Angeles, which also include one- and two-hour flightseeing tours and private charters.

Flightseeing experiences offer magnificent views of Southern California landmarks, such as the historic Queen Mary, Long Beach Harbor, the Sunset Strip, the Hollywood sign, as well as sweeping vistas of the Pacific Coast from Huntington Beach to Santa Monica.

For those seeking the ultimate Zeppelin experience, tours are available on the transit flights between Long Beach and the San Francisco Bay Area. Soaring above the California Coastline and Central Valley, these 8-hour cruises follow Highway 1 on July 1st (southbound), and July 8 (northbound) as the Zeppelin travels to and from Long Beach from her home base at Moffett Field near San Francisco.

Los Angeles-area flights will depart from the AirFlite FBO terminal, adjacent to the main terminal at Long Beach Airport (3250 Airflite Way, Long Beach, CA 90807, at the corner of Cherry and Wardlow). One-hour flights are $495, plus tax, per person; two-hour flights are $990, plus tax, per person; and the spectacular Fourth of July fireworks flight is $1,200, plus tax, per person.

One- and two-hour flightseeing tours booked before June 30, 2009, will be eligible for the company’s “buy one flightseeing ticket, save 50% on the second,” promotional pricing (excluding the Fourth of July Fireworks Flight). Passengers on every flight will receive a certificate redeemable for a buy-one-get-one free general admission to the Queen Mary, good through September 30, 2009.

At 246 feet in length, Airship Ventures’ Eureka is the world’s largest airship—15 feet longer than a Boeing 747, and dwarfing the largest blimp by more than 50 feet. One of only three Zeppelins currently operating in the world, Eureka offers passengers spectacular 360-degree views of the sights on flight-seeing tours above the San Francisco Bay, Silicon Valley, Monterey and Los Angeles.

About Airship Ventures, Inc.

Founded in 2007 in California, Airship Ventures, Inc., operates the only passenger airship operation in the United States, featuring “Eureka,” the world’s largest airship. The Zeppelin’s spacious cabin comfortably accommodates one pilot, one flight attendant, and 12 passengers with luxury features including oversized panoramic windows, an onboard restroom with window, and a 180-degree rear observation window and “love seat” that wraps the entire aft of the cabin. Using the inert gas helium for lift, and vectored thrust engines for flight, Zeppelin NTs have been flying in Germany and Japan since 1997 with an unparalleled safety record.

For more information the visit Airship Ventures website...

Or call 650-969-8100 x111

IMAGE: Courtesy of Airship Ventures

Photographer: Achim Mende

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Week That Was #1

~ Here for your browsing please I offer a roundup of the some of the more interesting travel related stories that have come to my attention over the past week.

America’s Top Summer Music Festivals

Though the economy may have hit a low note, it seems that people are still willing to pay for a music high. In fact, most music festivals may not be feeling the fiscal pinch; festival producers across the country say ticket sales are just as high as last year, if not better.

Ken Weinstein, who represents Bonnaroo, one of the largest and most famous summer festivals, says, "Bonnaroo offers fans four of the best days of their lives, during which they are not only allowed but required to forget the recession and all the unfortunate things going on in the world.” Click here to view a slide show of the some of the top summer festivals…

Eight great trips that give back

You don't have to wear a hair shirt and dig a well to give back when you travel. Here are eight great trips that connect you with the world, and each time you frequent these locations you support the self-sufficiency and the economy of the local people. Click here to read more…

Book your own cruise? One do-it-yourselfer tells his secrets

by Ron Saia writing for Tripso.Com

Ron Saia has been on over 45 cruises, written articles about cruising and helped many people who have never cruised before prepare and experience a great cruise vacation. He’s not a travel agent. He’s a do-it-yourself serial cruiser. This post focuses on getting a great deal.

The key is to start by getting a great price for your cruise vacation. Book way in advance — anywhere from eight months to a year — or select from special discounted cruises. Click here to read more…

WikiTravel: How did this slip under my radar?

Wikitravel (similar to the open source Wikipedia) is a project to create a free, complete, up-to-date, and reliable worldwide travel guide. So far there are 21,648 destination guides and other articles written and edited by Wikitravellers from around the globe. You can check out the Help page to see how you can edit any page right now, or the Project page for more information about Wikitravel and getting involved.

Author Shelley Seale on children living in the slums of India

Very few people haven’t heard of the Oscar-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire. The story follows two young brothers as they grow up in and survive the slums of Mumbai, India. In order to show the reality of life for poverty-stricken Indian children, many scenes in the movie were actually filmed in the Mumbai slums. But in true Hollywood fashion, the ending was heartwarming goodness. The ending for the real children of these slums is not so pretty. Click here to read more…

Hotel bedbug horror degenerates into a war of words

by Christopher Elliott writing on Tripso.Com

The Stanley Hotel is an historic resort in Estes Park, Colo., perhaps best known for inspiring Stephen King to write his horror masterpiece The Shining. And also, bedbugs — if Julie Kobayashi has her way. Get those images of Jack Nicholson typing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” out of your head. This spat reminded me more of the recent exchange between Elizabeth Becton and McBee Strategic. In other words, it degenerated into a needless but not uninteresting war of words.

IMAGE: View of the River Murray

Photographer: Jim Lesses

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How To Stay Safe On Your Travels

~ How To Stay Safe On Your Travels

by Bruce Haxton

Going off into the great beyond is always something to be giddy with excitement about but it's important to remember that the world is an unpredictable place. Wherever you travel, there are a few things to bear in mind to make sure you have a ball for all the right reasons. Here are a few travel tips on how to stay safe:

Before you go

It may seem like you're being a bit too sensible to be an intrepid explorer, but getting things sorted before you go will give you loads more peace of mind once you're there. Getting on with all that paperwork before you go will leave much more room for mountain climbing and deep sea diving.

Important documents

Take two photocopies of all of your important documents, including your passport, driving licence and insurance certificate. Keep a separate copy of each document in different bags and give a copy to a relative or friend, along with an itinerary of your trip and emergency contact number. Alternatively, you can store your documents through a secure online storage site.


It may seem like most obvious thing but it can get forgotten in all of the excitement; you should always travel with insurance that covers your possessions as well as safe-guarding you for any extreme sports and activities… yes, that includes bungee jumping off a bridge backwards in Queenstown!


Bite-sized travellers' first aid kits are widely available and a good idea. If you're on the contraceptive pill or any regular medication, take enough supplies with you. Don't forget to have any vaccinations you may need in plenty of time before your trip; if you're going to a Malaria area, you'll need to take anti-malarial medicine with you.


Carrying cards is safer than bundles of cash. Things can get lost so it's a good idea to spread your money across traveller's cheques, cards and a little cash. Jot down the cheque numbers before you go and make you keep them somewhere very safe.

Travel Guide

Knowledge is key and it's worth investing in a decent travel book, such as a Lonely Planet guide. Travel guides aren't just full of tourist sites, they have lots of local travel tips and now how that may prove to be very useful!


If you're planning to travel to one particular area, find out where the nearest embassy is and check out all of the details; what services they offer and their opening times before you go. Should the worst happen, this will be your lifeline.

Travelling in the European Union?

If you're from the UK and travelling in the EU, you're entitled to a free European Health Insurance Card for free or discounted emergency care.

While you're there

You're flitting off to lots of different countries so you need to be extra vigilant and look after yourself and your belongings. Staying safe while you're abroad is easy when you know how.

Personal possessions

Invest in padlocks and travel with safe products. Keep valuables in a secure storage area wherever possible or keep them out of sight, and wear a money belt well-hidden under your clothing.

Eating and drinking

Eating and drinking new things in different countries can give your tummy its own culture shock! The best way to avoid this is to check whether it's safe to drink the local tap water. If not, only drink bottled water and steer clear of iced drinks. Also, be wary of food such as salads, non-peeling fruit and vegetables, and foods that have been kept warm.

Foreign customs

When in a foreign country it's important to abide by their law. Try not to stand out too much like a sore thumb with loud clothing. As a visitor you should respect the local culture.

Safety in numbers

If you're careful and sensible, travelling solo is ok. Don't walk out alone in the dark and make sure someone in-country or at home knows your whereabouts. It's great to make new friends, but be careful not to be too trusting.

Driving abroad

From safari trucks to kicking up the dust on a trail bike in Cambodia, you need to be prepared. Make sure you have a valid driving licence and insurance cover for driving abroad - check whether you need a Green Card for the country you're travelling to, as this offers cheap insurance. You might need an International Driving Permit.

Cover up

The sun and creepy crawlies can be a pain in tropical climates. Wear a high SPF cream to avoid sunburn, and use an insect repellent containing DEET before covering up at dawn and dusk to keep the bugs at bay!

Want some extra tips?

Find out more travel advice relevant to you at http://www.i-to-i.com/

About the Author

Bruce Haxton writes: I'm totally passionate about travel, it's been my life and work for a good few years! My travel adventures haven't really been about seeing monuments etc but far more about people and getting off the beaten track. I would like to share my many experiences and offer a little advice if I can to fellow travellers or anyone who is just about to set off on a life changing trip!

Article Source: Go Articles dot Com...

Friday, June 26, 2009

In Review: OUTBACK Magazine Website

~ Yesterday’s In Review: OUTBACK Magazine entry examined the April/May 2009 issue of OUTBACK, the glossy bi-monthly magazine of the R.M. Williams Publishing company. Today, I thought I’d take a look at the magazine’s website.

The OUTBACK magazine website is well laid out and functional, making it very easy to find your way around the site. Pages load quickly, and most information can be accessed in a few mouse clicks.

Regrettably, that’s about as good as it gets.

There is a great Story archive in 27 searchable categories starting with Adventure and finishing with Utes. However, only the opening paragraphs of each feature article are included on the site. If you want to read the full article you must subscribe to the magazine or purchase the back issue containing the full article you are interested in.

The Shop Online section lets you order a subscription to the magazine: 1 Year (6 issues) $49.00*, or 2 Years (12 issues) $90.00*. (international prices are also listed on the site). You can purchase a small range of merchandise, or order back issues of OUTBACK from this section of the site as well.

Under the Events tab you will find a calendar of events for every Australian state and territory. Or maybe I should say, you won’t find such a listing, because sadly, this feature of the site is not being maintained to its full potential, and is all but useless.

Today, when I checked each of the links to see what events were taking place across the country, only New South Wales (with two events), and Tasmania (one event) were listed. Apparently nothing else of note was happening across the whole of Australia. On the other hand, looking at the April/May 2009 issue of OUTBACK shows 27 events across the country in its Watch Out For… section. Clearly, someone is not doing their job properly.

I think it’s fair to say the site is there solely to promote and help sell the magazine. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing, but in this day and (internet) age, when your website is competing with literally thousands of other online travel related magazines and portals, you have to work a whole lot harder to give visitors a reason to come back. Or do you? I’m thinking out loud, now, you understand.

Maybe it is enough to attract potential subscribers to the physical magazine, and be happy with that – as long as they actually subscribe. After all, if the purpose of the site is to promote the magazine, then it is probably doing a reasonable job. Although, clearly there are areas that need to be addressed, such as the underwhelming Events section, and it wouldn’t hurt to republish selected articles in full – even if they are twelve months old – but beyond that, who knows?

Personally, I believe the best advertising and promotion for the magazine – is the magazine itself. As my review yesterday indicated, it is well written, informative, and worth reading for the insight one can gain into life in the Australian bush. And you can't ask for more than that.

*Unless otherwise noted, all prices quoted are in Australian dollars.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Review: OUTBACK Magazine

~ Ok, having tried my hand at a couple of book reviews over the past month or so, I’m now going to turn my attention to magazines. Not just any magazines of course, but to those specifically dealing with travel and tourism; colourful locations and off-road adventures; and luxury vacations and backpacker budgets. And believe me, there are plenty of them.

Take a trip to your local newsagent, and you will find titles like Australian Traveller, Get Lost! Travel Magazine, On The Road, Travel + Leisure, Australian Coast & Country, Australian Caravan+RV, Arrivals + Departures, Vacations and Travel, Caravanning Australia, Postcards Magazine, and Way2go, to name just a small selection.

For this first magazine review I have selected the April/May 2009 edition of OUTBACK magazine.

Yes, yes, I know it’s almost July, but I had intended to review the magazine when I bought it a month or so ago. Unfortunately, I’m only just getting around to doing it. However, for the purposes of this review it doesn’t really matter, since I’m looking at the overall quality of the publication, not the timeliness or otherwise of the contents. So can I get back to my review now? Thank you.

OUTBACK – or should it be R.M. Williams OUTBACK, is a bi-monthly magazine owned by R.M. Williams Publishing. R.M. Williams itself is now owned by the Cowley family. However, before R.M. Williams simply became a privately owned company, the name belonged to a real person, Reginald Murray Williams (for more info see Footnote).

OUTBACK was launched in September 1998 to celebrate the Australian outback. In its relatively short history the magazine has caught the attention of people far and wide, and according to the circulation graph published on the OUTBACK website, was increasing its readership with each passing year (the average readership per issue for Jan-Dec 2006, was 232,000).

It’s not hard to see why. The subjects the magazine likes to showcase are as different as the outback itself: station owners, jackaroos, stockmen, travel and hospitality operators, pilots, doctors, miners, fishermen, in fact, anyone who has a close involvement with the outback.

This glossy, large format publication is printed on high quality paper, and is aimed straight at the coffee table demographic. That is, readers who are seen as “…upmarket and middle market, primarily in the 30-55 age group”; and also according to the website, “…people who identify with R.M. Williams, the man and the products, and what this represents to Australia and Australians.”

Having said that, the magazine is a great read, and as you might expect is filled with wonderful photography, illustrating stories in this issue as diverse as water conservation (Water: A New Reality); station life (Home Where The Heart Is), keeping young people on the land (Positive Future’s), and the new ‘sport’ of geocaching (Hide and Seek), which utilises GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to “track down secret caches stashed around the globe”.

The April/May 2009 edition also included a Boys From the Bush At War photo essay; Flocking North which looked at some of Australia’s rarest and most beautiful birds; and numerous other departments.

Feature articles are well written, and each writer is given plenty of space to explore their chosen topic fully and comprehensively. For example, the main feature in this issue, Water: A New Reality is spread over 12 pages.

There is an extensive Letters section, and readers can also contribute to the monthly Poem page. In addition, readers can submit their own photographs for monthly sections headed, Mailboxes, Dogs, Boots, and Bush Kids. Each image and accompanying story published (200 words or less) is rewarded with a $100 R.M. Williams gift voucher. By the way, the writer of the published poem also receives a similar gift voucher, while the writer of the Letter of The Month wins an Akubra hat. And finally, readers can also send in a bush yarn, funny story or joke to the Laugh Lines page where “The entry that makes us laugh the most wins a Waeco Cool-Ice icebox valued at AU$209.”

At a cover price of AU$8.95 and running to 156 pages, “…OUTBACK represents all that is powerful and positive about the outback - the people, places, events and experiences that are making outback Australia one of the most favoured tourism destinations on earth.”

Footnote: Information supplied courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Reginald Murray Williams AO, CMG, (May 24, 1908-November 4, 2003) was an Australian bushman and entrepreneur who rose from a swagman, to a millionaire widely known as just 'R.M.' He was born at Belalie North near Jamestown, 200 kilometres north of Adelaide, into a pioneering settler family working and training horses. R.M. had many adventures in Australia's rugged outback as a bushman, and became famous for creating a uniquely Australian style of bush wear recognized world wide. He was married twice, had ten children, and left an enduring contribution to the Australian identity.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Beat Below The Street

~ One of the real pleasures of my two month stay in New York City during 2008, was the wonderful encounters with musicians playing on the subway system.

I was constantly amazed by the quality of many of these muso’s, and often stopped to listen to several songs in succession before catching a train back to my room at the Greenpoint, YMCA (see Greenpoint, YMCA Review, Part 1 and Greenpoint, YMCA Review, Part 2), or before heading above ground to begin another long day exploring New York City.

Some musicians accompanied themselves acoustically; others were able to plug in and perform electrified; while still others sang karaoke style to CDs plugged into portable players. Without exaggeration, all were universally good, some were great, and a few were outstanding.

I had to admire their fortitude and their ability to continue singing in the face of constant noise, fumes, dust, apathy, screeching subway train brakes, public address announcements, and the ebb and flow, and push and shove of thousands of commuters. It takes real determination and staying power to persist with your music and performance while all is in flux around you. Gear has to be humped up and down stairwells; depending on the season, hands and fingers may be numb with cold, or constantly wet with sweat; in addition, hours of singing above the constant noise can damage vocal chords, and lead to major problems if not monitored daily.

Which brings me to Steve McGookin, and his blog The Beat Below The Street.

Steve is an out of work journalist (and musician), who has decided to keep himself occupied by documenting his experiences busking on the passageways and platforms of the New York subway system. Steve writes:

“I’m planning to play on the platform for a while to get a sense of what the city's buskers face every day and be able to tell their stories a little better. Then, for the price of a Metrocard, I’ll go wherever the music leads me; I’ll talk to the musicians it leads me to and I’ll introduce them to you.”

To this end, Steve has set himself the objective of spending 48 days over summer performing on New York's subways. Why 48? Simply because that’s his current age. As Steve says:

I’m guessing that as it goes on, every day will feel like a year, so I figured I’d do one day for every year I've been around just to remind myself how good it is to be alive and able to do this.

He also writes:

“But playing at the stations is just a starting point; I’m doing this, first and foremost, to be doing something creative and be telling stories again, but also to spread the word about some of the remarkable musicians who - in most cases - make riders’ days a little brighter.”

Steve McGookin is currently several weeks into his project, and is documenting his explorations underground as he goes. If you want to follow Steve’s adventures, visit his blog, The Beat Below The Street and either subscribe to his updates or signup to follow his posts (better still, do both). And if you are in New York reading this, look out for the man, and throw a couple of dollars into his guitar case.

I’m sure he will appreciate it – as will any other street/subway musicians you support in this way.

IMAGE: New York subway mosaic, Jim Lesses

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Addendum to 'Road Trip USA' Review

~ Road Trip USA: Route 66, and Road Trip USA: Pacific Coast Highway, Pocket Guides

“These books are perfect for ‘slow travellers’. For those adventurers who are curious to explore the road less travelled; the unusual and the real; the small towns and the back roads that lead to them – and which in turn lead to the heart and soul of America.”

Yesterday I posted a review of Jamie Jensen’s Road Trip USA (In Review: Road Trip USA). This post is an addendum to that review.

The new edition of Road Trip USA is now supplemented with two pocket guides, Road Trip USA Route 66, and Road Trip USA Pacific Coast Highway.

The two pocket guides have been lifted straight out of the main Road Trip USA volume, and apart from a few small but useful additions, contain the same content as that which is included in the Route 66, and Pacific Coast Highway sections of the main text.

Just for the record, my comparison of the pocket guide: Road Trip USA Route 66, with Road Trip USA shows extra pages have been added to the pocket guide providing additional information about Chicago, St Louis, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. While comparing Road Trip USA Pacific Coast Highway

with Road Trip USA shows the pocket guide has extra information covering Seattle and Portland.

I expect that before too long, the other nine routes detailed in Road Trip USA will soon find their way onto the shelves of bookshops as pocket guides in their own right. And why not? It makes perfect sense to take each of the eleven major routes in Jensen’s book and create separate guides for them, since the main tome is large, heavy and not entirely practical if you are only planning one major American road trip. I assume the choice of starting with the Pacific Coast Highway and Route 66 has been governed by research showing these are two of the most popular road trips undertaken in the US.

However, one of the benefits of the one volume Road Trip USA is that if you decide to make a side trip that falls outside the boundaries of say, Route 66, to visit Memphis, Tennessee, (which is not listed in the Route 66 pocket guide), you can simply turn to the section on The Great River Road – which follows the Mississippi River, and which does include Memphis – and continue following directions from there.

The same caveats apply to the pocket guides as those already expressed about the main volume. That is, that neither of the guides include internet addresses for any of the main attractions or destinations listed in the books. And neither of them include information that would be useful to travellers embarking on their first major road trip.

Even more surprising is the fact that the few Road Trip Resources pages at the end of Road Trip USA containing useful information about hotels and motels, car hire companies and other details have been dropped completely from both pocket guides – so you will have to do your research well, before you set off on your adventure of a life time.

Again, I should stress that the lack of web links and additional resources does not detract in any way, shape or form from the excellent and detailed information contained in any of the guides. These books are designed to get you off the interstate freeway system and on to America’s two-lane highways, hence the full title of Jamie Jensen’s book, Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways.

These books are perfect for ‘slow travellers’. For those adventurers who are curious to explore the road less travelled; the unusual and the real; the small towns and the back roads that lead to them – and which in turn lead to the heart and soul of America.

Highly recommend.

Click on link to purchase your copy of Road Trip USA Route 66
Or click image to purchase direct from Amazon website…

Click on link to purchase your copy of Road Trip USA Pacific Coast Highway
Or click image to purchase direct from Amazon website…

Publication Details…

Road Trip USA Route 66

First Edition, by Jamie Jensen

ISBN 13: 978-1-59880-205-4

April 2009 * 114 pages * US$9.95

Road Trip USA Pacific Coast Highway

First Edition, by Jamie Jensen

ISBN 13: 978-1-59880-204-7

April 2009 * 146 pages * US$9.95

Published by Avalon Travel

A Member of the Perseus Books Group

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Review: Road Trip USA, Jamie Jensen

Road Trip USA…takes you as close to the real America as you are ever likely to get.”

Here’s a question for you. If you had the time and the money to undertake just one extensive road trip on any continent on the planet, which one would you choose, and where would you go? I ask this question because time and money seem to be the only things stopping many people from undertaking their ultimate dream vacation.

Last year (March 2008), a survey conducted by the Australian online automotive website Cars Guide indicated that Aussies love to road trip. In fact, the survey of 810 respondents, found a whopping 99 per cent of Australians would go on a road trip because of the freedom and spontaneity it allows.

Not long after the Cars Guide survey appeared, a Rand McNally survey (May 2008), examining American attitudes to road trips found similar opinions to this form of vacation. According to the Rand McNally survey (of 2,030 U.S. adults), three in four adults (75%) were at least somewhat likely to take a road trip, and about three in ten (29%) said they were very likely.

Meanwhile, in a recent article published in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal (May 2009), the American Automobile Association reported that the road trip was poised to make a comeback as the American summer travel season began, despite the lingering recession and rising fuel prices. Based on data gathered in a survey of 2,700 U.S. households, the AAA estimated the number of car travellers during the annual Memorial Day holiday would hit 27 million.

While the cost of fuel and accommodation were nominated as the two biggest concerns both in Australia and America, it seems our respective love affairs for the open road is not likely to diminish any time soon.

Which brings me to Road Trip USA.

Jamie Jensen’s best-selling guide book, Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways, (Fifth Edition, Avalon Travel, 2009) takes you as close to the real America as you are ever likely to get.

With 11 road trips to choose from, covering classic American landscapes such as the Appalachian Trail, Atlantic Coast, Oregon Trail, and the famed Route 66, Road Trip USA steers intrepid road warriors through major cities like San Francisco and Chicago as well as remote, but charming all-American towns like Dyersville, Mississippi (where the baseball field created for the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams attracts visitors from near and far); or the small blue-collar town of Seneca Falls, in New York state (which saw the birth of the American women’s movement in July 1848).

As you might expect, Jensen’s road trips also lead to popular destinations such as Disneyland, Yellowstone National Park, Niagara Falls, and the Statue of Liberty. Complete with local lore; oddball trivia (Memphis’s gifts to American culture – and the world’s – include the supermarket, the drive-in restaurant, the Holiday Inn, oh, and Elvis Presley). Filled with noteworthy details and roadside curiosities (a sign in Texas spelling out the command: “Rattlesnakes Exit Here”), Road Trip USA contains a wealth of recommendations on where to stop, what to see, and where to eat and sleep. This is one guide aimed at getting travellers off the freeway system, and driving into the heart and soul of America.

Other features of this edition include:

• A flexible network of route combinations, colour-coded and extensively cross-referenced to allow for hundreds of possible itineraries

• More than 125 detailed driving maps

• Full-colour interior with modern and vintage photos and illustrations

• A road trip resources section with contact information for popular hotel and motel chains, car rental companies, state tourism boards, and road condition centres

My personal criteria for a good guide book is that it should inform, enlighten, and occasionally even surprise, so I’m please to say that Road Trip USA has no trouble being informative, enlightening, and yes, even surprising.

“I have no hesitation in saying that when I undertake my own road trip across America, Road Trip USA will be the one book I will have by my side at all times.”

What’s Missing?
Unfortunately, Road Trip USA is almost entirely devoid of links to online resources. In an age when almost every printed piece of paper has a website URL and an Email address on it somewhere; and when so many modern electronic devices come Internet ready, this seems to be a glaring omission. I can only assume this is a deliberate choice by the author and publisher. With thousands of places of interest detailed in the book, they may have taken the decision to try and cut down on the visual clutter associated with URLs, and make the contents more ‘readable’ by avoiding them altogether.

While one doesn’t expect a URL or Email address for every location mentioned in Road Trip USA, surely major places of interest do warrant the inclusion of a web link (where available). A quick look through other guide books on my bookshelf reveals that all those printed over the last five years or so, include web addresses throughout, and future editions of Road Trip USA would be well served to do the same.

Before You Go

I think Road Trip USA would also benefit from a ‘Before You Go’ section outlining basic information regarding preparations for the journey. This chapter might cover such topics as:
  • Useful (online and offline) sources of information regarding trip preparations.
  • Information about safety (personal, vehicle break down, and other safety issues)
  • What to do in an emergency (break downs, accidents, personal attack, etc)
  • A checklist of possible items to pack and prepare
  • A checklist of pre-trip vehicle preparations (brakes, tyre and engine checks, etc)
  • Travelling with children and pets
Road Trip USA does have a small Resources section at the end of the book, running to just eight and a half pages – four of which contain a Recommended Reading list. The others refer to organisations associated in some way with automobiles and highways; a short list of hotel/motel chains, and car rental companies; and a list of U.S. and Canadian agencies dealing with State Tourism and road conditions. And that’s pretty much it.

The good news is, the omissions noted above do not detract in any way from the overall depth and quality of the detailed information presented in Road Trip USA. At just over 900 pages, I think it is fair to say that Road Trip USA covers all the ‘bases’ and then some. In deed, I have no hesitation in saying that when I undertake my own road trip across America, Road Trip USA will be the one book I will have by my side at all times.

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Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America's Two-Lane Highways

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Publication Details: Road Trip USA

Fifth Edition, by Jamie Jensen

ISBN 13: 978-1-59880-101-9

April 2009 919 pages US$29.95

Published by Avalon Travel

A Member of the Perseus Books Group

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