USA branch FAQ
Replies: 279 - Last Post: Apr 16, 2013 10:54 PM Last Post By: nutraxfornerves
Sep 8, 2006 6:21 PM
169Napa & Sonoma Wine Country
The wine country, i.e., Napa and Sonoma, located about an hour north and slightly east of San Francisco, is something that a lot of people want to see. As someone who's been there at least a dozen times, I say temper your expectations. There are no bargains, and once you've seen one winery you've pretty much seen 'em all. Be careful on the roads, because the local police are reputed to be tough on drunken driving; with a blood alcohol limit of .08%, all it takes is a couple glasses.
In my opinion the best way for a casual day-tripper to see the wine country is to go there on a tour bus, because then you don't have to hunt around for wineries or worry about drinking too much. I say this as someone who generally wouldn't be caught dead on a tour bus, but this is an exception to the rule. The tour company I used has vanished, so you’ll need to look around for one on your own.
If you decide to drive on your own, I think the best winery is Buena Vista in Sonoma County (next to Napa). It's a historic site, sits in a park and has a section that honors Count Haraszthy (pronounced "HAR-as-thie"), the Hungarian immigrant who invented the California wine industry by bringing vine stock there from Europe in the 1800s.
In the Napa valley, if you drive yourself then you must have lunch at the famed hamburger stand in St. Helena (pronounced "hell-EE-na"). It's the only American drive-in where you can order a cheeseburger and a glass of gewurtztraminer, and know that every ingredient, probably including the beef, comes from less than 50 miles away. I have been there, and to the Buena Vista winery, and on the wine bus I mentioned. In the town of Napa, I've heard good things about Copia: The American Center for Food, Wine and the Arts. Unfortunately, Copia went bankrupt, a victim of the economic situation and it currently closed. Who knows whether it’ll someday reopen?.
Note about the wine country: I did recommend the one winery in Sonoma but that's because of its particular attributes. The idea frequently tossed out on TT that Sonoma is somehow "laid back" while Napa is somehow "snooty" is nonsense and mostly represents TT semi-hipster group-think, wish-projection and maybe a mushroom-induced hallucination or two. It's true that the very highest-end spas, B&Bs and restaurants are in Napa, but that doesn't doom the place to pretense. I even ran into one poster who was under the impression that wineries in Napa charge for tastings while wineries in Sonoma do not. Wrong-o. Occasionally you'll run into one that doesn't charge but that's rare, and it's no more or less likely to happen in either Sonoma or Napa.
If you're going to stay in the wine country, be forewarned that it's expensive. My favorite place there is the Wine Country Inn, near St. Helena in Napa Valley. A nice room was $250 in the off season. My favorite restaurant (that I can get into, as opposed to, say, the French Laundry) is Martini House, in St. Helena. They serve a great four-course meal with the wine accompaniment, even at the bar. Which is where I met, and got drunk with, a old guy who turned out to be worth $100 million from the wine business. Great food, great fun. One of those moments from the Great American Road to remember.
You just never know. The key is to have low expectations and to keep the gushing to yourself. That guy in the flannel shirt sitting next to you might be famous, and you'll have a much better chance of meeting him if you're heard to say, "Man, does this ever hit the spot" than if you're affecting the wine snob thing about the apricot undertones, etc., unless you really know what you're talking about. Trust me, they can spot fakers a mile away, and they'd much rather deal with people who say, "I can't analyze it, but holy cow does this ever taste great."
Edited by: Yersinia, at request of author, to correct links and reflect change to Copia information
Sep 8, 2006 7:04 PM
Sep 9, 2006 6:42 PM
171Planning A U.S. Vacation
- Look through the FAQ. All kinds of specific descriptions of various areas
- As someone with lots of travel experience in the U.S. (check my profile) I recommend a pace of 150-175 miles a day. This gives you time for stops, and would include some long drives as well. Start with your mileage and then use MapQuest and/or the Rand McNally Road Atlas to figure out a route. Foreigners are constantly underestimating the geographical realities (especially in the American West), so pay close attention to distances and transit times. 400 miles on an Interstate is a whole lot different than 400 miles on a twisting road through the mountains.
- "The real America" is everywhere you look, not some mythical theme-park vision of a small town. Honest. The way to crack it is to lower you expectations and start small. Americans reveal themselves in the ordinary. Rather than leading off with a Big Question, say, "How's it going?" or, "Long day, huh?" Asking for directions is a great conversation starter, too, because Americans are natural tour guides. (There are exceptions to that rule -- people in big cities often don't have a clue when it comes to directions.)
- You must rent a car. It's really the only way to tour the American West. See FAQ post #148 for complete information. Budget 15 cents a mile for petrol and $300 a week for a rental car if you are planning to pick it up on one city and drop it off in a different one. Insurance is extra, and even though the rental agency won't require you to get it you will be an utter fool if you don't.
- Summer brings plenty of rodeos in the West and other kinds of festivals everywhere. Do a Google search. If you're here at the 4th of July, every town of any size will have a parade that day and fireworks that night. It's a handmade summer celebration. Think of it as patriotism without the jingoism you might expect.
- Hotel accommodations cost anywhere from $50 a night to well over $500 a night. I can't tell you much about camping because I don't do it. To get useful recommendations on this board, you should figure out a accommodations budget stated in dollars per night.
- Peak of the tourist season is early July through mid-August. If you want to stay in the lodges and/or campgrounds of the popular national parks, you must get advance reservations. Do a Google search.
Sep 10, 2006 6:50 PM
Sep 11, 2006 10:32 AM
Sep 12, 2006 9:53 PM
174"- Peak of the tourist season is early July through mid-August."
Unless of course you're in Florida or arizona, then it's various winter months. tsk tsk, sloppy willy, sloppy.
Sep 13, 2006 2:54 PM
175Willysnout’s Drive From Seattle to San Diego
From Someone Who’s Done It About A Dozen Times
Updated Sept. 2006
Tourism is always about picking and choosing. As long as you remember this and don't try to do too much, you'll be fine. Oh, and be sure to have a Rand McNally Road Atlas with you, available at gas stations everywhere.
If I were you I'd drive from Seattle to Portland on I-5, then from Portland over to the coast. Portland is a smaller version of Seattle with an attractive downtown, but it’s not a tourist destination in its own right. If you want to bypass Portland, exit I-5 at WA Hwy 432 near Longview, WA. Take Hwy. 432 into town until you reach WA Hwy. 433. Turn left, and that street will take you over a big bridge across the Columbia River. It will connect to U.S. 30. If you go west (right) on U.S. 30, you'll go Astoria and U.S. Hwy 101 and save a couple hours of driving time versus having taken I-5 to Portland. There is an interesting maritime museum in Astoria that’s worth seeing.
Along the coast, you'll see that most of the Oregon towns really aren't very attractive. The nice ones are Canon Beach, Seaside, Yachats, Newport and Gold Beach. Of those, Canon Beach is the most "touristy," but it's not unacceptably crowded at all. There are some nice (but not outrageous) restaurants in Newport. In Brookings, OR, the last town before the CA border, there’s a fantastic place on the east side of US 101 called the Great American Smokehouse. It’s easy to miss so keep an eye out for it. Be careful about stopping on the road itself to make the left turn into the place. Instead, pull over to the right, and then cross the road. People have been killed trying to make the left turn from U.S. 101 itself. The Smokehouse used to have a great restaurant but they closed it because they lost their cooks and the new ones were meth addicts (I swear this is what they told me). You can still buy smoked fish to go, and it’s great stuff. Also in Southern OR you’ll see places selling mytlewood. Stop and have a look. I have several myrtlewood bowls and they’re great.
When you get to the CA border, just keep going on U.S. 101 to the intersection of CA Hwy. 1. Prior to that intersection you’ll go through several redwood parks. If time allows, a great two- or three-hour detour is as follows:
From the north. Exit U.S. 101 at Klamath, CA and work your way west on Old Hwy. 101 (that’s what the road is called) to Alder Camp Rd. Keep following that road west until you meet a T-intersection, at which point you turn left (south) and keep following the road into Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, where you’ll link to the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. Keep going south on the parkway. It is a loop that links on both southern and northern ends with U.S. 101. The detour I’ve described is absolutely beautiful. You’ll see redwoods and the coast, and at most times of the year you’ll have it virtually to yourself.
From the south Exit U.S. 101 at the Nelson B. Drury Scenic Parkway. Every time you have an opportunity, turn off that road and proceed west toward the ocean and north. You’ll eventually reach the coastal overlook road (Alder Camp Rd.), which you’ll take to Klamath, CA, where you reconnect to U.S. 101. The detour I’ve described is absolutely beautiful. You’ll see redwoods and the coast, and at most times of the year you’ll have it virtually to yourself.
At the intersection of U.S. 101 and CA Hwy. 1, take Hwy. 1 over to to coast and down through the towns. My favorite town in Mendocino, which is attractive and somewhat "touristy" (News flash: You are a tourist) but not objectionably so. Another 15 miles below Mendocino is the town of Elk, CA. There is an outstanding, but expensive, place to stay called the Harbor House Inn. It’s in my "global top 5." If you’ve got the money, I can’t recommend it too highly.
From Elk or Mendocino, you shouldn't have any difficulty reaching San Francisco in one day. I have separate thoughts about what to do there, and they are attached at the end of this. Keep in mind that Point Reyes and the wine country are on the way, so if you want to see either or both, it would be a good idea to do so before you get to ‘Frisco. (Oops, the oh-so-hip at Lonely Planet, along with many locals in S.F., insist on it being called "The City." I like to call it ‘Frisco to drive them nuts.)
Here is an excellent travel article about the Northern California coast, including Mendocino and Pt. Reyes.
From San Francisco, take Hwy 101 and Hwy. 1 to Santa Cruz, a relaxed college town with a nice waterfront including an ocean pier built in the 1930s. This is a good place to have lunch. From there, go to Monterey, a very nice medium-sized coastal city. Worth a couple of days if you have the time. See the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Eat at Fisherman's Wharf, which is much better than the one in San Francisco. Drive along the waterfront, especially toward Pacific Grove, a suburb to the south. Farther south, there is the 17-mile drive, a beautiful private road that charges a toll of about $8. Definitely worth it. Many people on the LP board object to the toll and therefore will say negative things. Ignore them.
Monterey is a good place to stay. If you can snag a room at Asilomar, a state-owned conference center managed by Delaware North (a company that has concessions in various national parks), do so. They give preference to groups but sell leftover rooms to individuals. They are increasingly hard to come by. There are other hotels near Asilomar, which is actually located in the suburb of Pacific Grove just south of Monterey. If you’re looking for cheap rooms, Monterey has the usual selection of Motel 6, Super 8, etc. Most of them are on the north side of Monterey.
From Monterey, continue south on Hwy. 1 through the town of Big Sur and then onward down the road, which winds its way over huge cliffs plunging into the ocean. It's one of the most beautiful coastal spots anywhere, and you're going to want to stop at various spots just to look. At Big Sur, be sure to have lunch at Nepenthe. Also, Pfeiffer Beach is fantastic. It’s not to be confused with Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The state park is on the east side of CA Hwy 1; the turnoff to the beach is a mile or so south of the park, unmarked, on the west side of CA Hwy. 1. All you’ll see is a sign warning that people with long trailers shouldn’t go down that road. Nothing about a beach, but trust me there’s a beach at the end of that road and it’s fantastic.
Two high-end places at Big Sur are Ventana Inn and Post Ranch Inn, the latter being increrdibly expensive, i.e., $750-$1,000 a night. Post Ranch Inn also has a restaurant, and I highly recommend it for lunch or dinner. Also at Big Sur, there is something called Tree Bones Resort, which consists of yurts next to the water. I haven’t stayed there, but it’s not terribly expensive for that area, looks really interesting and sometime I’ll do it. Farther along the road is the town of San Simeon, the site of the Hearst Castle, a huge complex built in the 1920s and '30s by a media baron. It's now owned by the State of California and operated as a tourist attraction. Worth visiting.
Farther down the road, you just basically keep driving until you hit L.A., making sure to stay on California Hwy. 1 rather than using U.S. 101. Some people would recommend Santa Barbara, but frankly I've never really liked it all that much although I'd say that their restored downtown is attractive. There are some great beaches as you approach L.A., my favorite being Leo Carillo State Beach, about 40 miles north of Santa Monica. It's a great place for a cookout. Hit a grocery store and get some steaks, a throwaway portable grill and whatever utensils you need, a bottle of wine and some sourdough bread, and barbecue it at sunset there. It's an amazing spot.
When you hit L.A., I'd recommend finding a hotel in Santa Monica. The Shangri-La is a great place near the ocean, not hideously expensive. Very 1940s. You could imagine it being used to film parts of Chinatown or L.A. Confidential. Nearby the hotel there is the 3rd Street Promenade with lots of shops and restaurants. Also nearby is the Santa Monica Pier. Shutters on the Beach, a very expensive hotel, has a good restaurant. About a mile or so south of all that is Venice Beach, which is best visited on a weekend afternoon. Funky boardwalk, "muscle beach," etc.
From L.A. to San Diego is pretty highly developed. I'd take the freeway to Long Beach and then get back onto Highway 1 for the remainder of the trip to San Diego. The prime spots along the way are the town of Laguna Beach (good restaurants and views); San Juan Capistrano (site of a "mission" church built in the 1700s by a Catholic priest), and San Clemente State Beach (another great cookout site). At the very southern end of that beach, up on the cliff, is the housing development where Richard Nixon, former U.S. president, had his California house.
Back in the early 1980s, surfers told me that Nixon would walk down to the beach and wander around in a business suit. It's pretty hard to convey in words on this website just how weird that is, but if you go there and look around you'll see what I mean. Anyone who would walk that beach in a business suit must have had some serious mental problems.
So that's my quick guide to the highlights, and here's my San Francisco list:
Highlights In and Near S.F.
(Yes, these are "touristy," but who do you think you are, visiting royalty?)
- Golden Gate Bridge, including a stroll through the surrounding park down to the water.
- Coit Tower for panoramic views of the Bay and the city.
- Ride a cable car.
- Ferry to Sausalito
- Day trip to Alcatraz Island. If it's permitted, pack a picnic lunch and eat it on the steps of the prison exercise yard. Wonderful views of the Bay and the city from there.
- Day trip to Muir Woods, Muir Beach and Pt. Reyes Light.
- The wine country, i.e., Napa and Sonoma, is something that a lot of people want to see. Temper your expectations. There are no bargains, and once you’ve seen one winery you’ve seen ‘em all. Be careful on the roads, because the local police are reputed to be tough on drunken driving; with a blood alcohol limit of .08%, all it takes is a couple glasses. The Buena Vista winery in Sonoma is arguably the best one to see, because there’s a park and some genuine history. In my opinion the best way to see the wine country is to go there on a tour bus, because then you don’t have to hunt around for wineries or worry about drinking too much. I say this as someone who generally wouldn’t be caught dead on a tour bus, but this is an exception to the rule.
- Note about the wine country: I did recommend the one winery in Sonoma but that's because of its particular attributes. The idea frequently tossed out on TT that Sonoma is somehow "laid back" while Napa is somehow "snooty" is pure nonsense and represents group-think, wish-projection and maybe a hallucination or two, but not any realities. I even ran into one poster who was under the impression that wineries in Napa charge for tastings while wineries in Sonoma do not. Wrong-o. They all charge.
Special restaurant in San Francisco:
- Tadich Grill on California St. near the Financial District. S.F.'s oldest restaurant. Very good food, unique atmosphere, popular with locals.
Try Expedia or Priceline. As of this writing (spring 2006), you can expect to pay $75-$100 a night for moderate quality accommodations in the city booked through those sites.
Here is an excellent travel article about the Northern California coast, including Mendocino and Pt. Reyes.
Also, you could go south to Big Sur. If you go there, be sure to have lunch at Nepenthe. Another 50 miles or so south, there is San Simeon, the site of the Hearst Castle. The tours are great. North of Big Sur but South of San Francisco are Monterey, which is worth a day or two, and Santa Cruz, a good place to stop for lunch on the way to or from.
And for L.A.:
Willysnout's Favorites In Santa Monica/L.A.
I Lived There in the '80s and Have Visited About 20 Times Since I Left
- Venice boardwalk. I lived a half-block away from it. Bohemian mix, muscle beach, mimes, musicians, funky stuff. Go in the afternoon. Night time can be dicey, especially the farther south you walk from the Santa Monica border.
- Santa Monica pier. Old time fishing pier with bumper cars, cafes, souvenirs, a couple bars. Lots of fun.
- Santa Monica Third Street Promenade. Upscale (but not horrendously so) shopping and restaurant district.
- Main Street in Santa Monica. Good restaurants, interesting shops, a semi-interesting contemporary art museum.
- Shutters on the Beach. Super-upscale hotel. Have drinks there, and you'll feel like a studio executive. You might spot some actors there, if that sort of thing matters to you.
- Getty museums. There are two, the Villa in Malibu and the Getty Center in L.A. Here is more information. The Villa has stunning views, but is often very hard to get a ticket.
- Peninsula Hotel, corner of Wilshire & Santa Monica Blvds in Beverly Hills. Super-luxe place favored by studio execs. One of the funniest prostitution scenes on earth at their bar. Everyone pretends to be subtle and discreet, even though no one is. Dress "elegant casual" and play the part. It's like something from a Robert Altman movie.
- Japantown is downtown, and it's really interesting.
- L.A. County Art Museum and Dorothy Chandler pavillion (performing arts center) are near, interestingly enough, the La Brea Tar Pits. A three-for-one tourist attraction near Century City, about halfway between downtown L.A. and Santa Monica.
- Norton Simon art museum in Pasadena. If you've got the car, it's worth the time. Via public transit, it is three-quarters of a mile from the Memorial Park station on the Gold Line.
- Favorite beach: Leo Carillo State Beach, about 40 miles north of Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway (a/k/a "PCH," Hwy. 1). Great place for a barbecue at sunset. Not well known, hence not often crowded.
And for Seattle:
Willysnout's Biased Guide to Seattle*
By a resident but not a mindless booster
* Thanks to Ms F for additional attractions and websites
Seattle itself is worth at least a couple of days, and the region is worth at least a week. Attractions here include:
- Pike Place Market. Restaurants, food stalls, fish mongers, souvenir shops, coffee, a microbrewer and generally just lots of fun.
- Pioneer Square. Good bars, the Elliot Bay Bookstore, various craft and souvenir shops, the "Underground Seattle" tour
- Seattle Art Museum downtown (Note: SAM is closed for renovations and will re-open in Spring 2007.)
- Monorail/Space Needle. There's a restaurant up there, too, but it's not very good.
- Experience Music Project. Museum devoted to Jimi Hendrix + often there are other rock music exhibits and events
- MOHAI. A hidden gem of a museum
- Museum of Flight. Not formally operated by Boeing, but lots of connections.
-Japanese gardens at the Washington Park Arboretum
- Seattle Asian Art Museum
- Ride the ferry boats on Puget Sound
- The Seattle Aquarium
- The Frye Art Museum
- At the U. of Washington there is the Henry Art Gallery at the U. of Washington, free on Thursdays, and the Burke Museum of Natural History free on the first Thursday of each month
If you're going to be here longer than that:
- Discovery Park in Magnolia. Fantastic Puget Sound views.
- Alki Beach in West Seattle. Great views of downtown, interesting beach feel.
- Fremont (Bohemian neighborhood with good shops, restaurants, clubs)
- Ballard Locks to see salmon jumping up a fish ladder
- Lots of other parks, viewpoints and neighborhoods to check out
- Look in Seattle Weekly or The Stranger or Seattle magazine for listings. Also, the Seattle Times runs outstanding calendar sections on Thursdays and Fridays.
There are really too many to list, plus I'm hesitant to give my favorites because I have a particular weakness for expensive joints and all that will do is piss people off. If you want specific ideas, post again and ask. List a dollar budget and whether or not you drink wine. Seattle really shines in the middle- to upper-middle level restaurant category. Good seafood, "Asian fusion," New American and traditional cuisine. A good place for specific recommendations is Chowhound.
One of the best dining deals anywhere in the United States can be had at Farestart, a restaurant that trains the homeless and people in recovery for restraurant jobs. They serve outstanding dinners prepared by the city’s leading chefs. It’s all for charity. Eat well while doing good.
Oh, and on the cheap side I found a great Vietnamese Pho place on Brooklyn Ave. (one block north of University Ave.) at about 42d or 43d St. in the "U District" near the U of Washington. The Pho soup is great, and so is their homemade yogurt, of all things. Another great Pho place that I just found is Pho Cyclo Café in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Excursions from Seattle:
- Tacoma Museum of Glass
- The Olympic Peninsula. Plan for at least two days, preferably three or four. Here is an article about camping on the western beaches, but even if you don't camp it's worth reading to get a feel for the area. Good places to stay include La Push Ocean Park and Lake Crescent Lodge and Lake Quinault Lodge. Be sure to take a water-repellant jacket with a hood. Must-sees on the Olympic Peninsulta include: Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach (near LaPush), Makah Museum, Hurricane Ridge (near Port Angeles). In particular, this very experienced traveler regards Rialto Beach as one of the great American places and worth making a special effort to visit. It is the highlight of what is the longest undeveloped coastline in the Lower 48 states.
-Victoria, B.C., from Seattle via fast passenger-only ferry, the Victoria Clipper, or a car and passenger ferry, the M.V. Coho from Port Angeles, WA. Victoria is a good overnight trip. Attractions include strolling in the attractive town; high tea at the Empress Hotel (a little pretentious, but what’s "high tea" all about, anyway?); Butchart Gardens (over-the-top and cheesy, but fun); and the British Columbia Museum, which has an outstanding collection of Indian stuff.
-Take a trip to Mt. St. Helens
Climate and Seattle:
The image, of course, is that Seattle is drenched all the time. Actually, Seattle lies partly in a rain shadow created by the Olympic Mountains to the west, and therefore gets only 38 inches of rain a year. Mid-November through mid-January is the typical rainy season, but chronic cloudiness can easily run from mid-October well into May. During those times, Seattle is made for an intermittent windshield wiper.
Winter temperatures are typically in the 30s and 40s (F). Occasionally there will be snow in the city, but rarely in significant amounts. As a result, there isn’t much plowing capacity here, so if you happen to be here in December or January and hear a forecast for 4 to 6 inches of snow in the city and it happens to come true, you can expect the place to pretty much shut down for a day while everyone waits for it to melt. Clothing: water-resistant jacket with hood plus a sweater.
There are mountains to the east of Seattle – the Cascades – with popular ski runs. In a normal year those mountains get bucketloads of snow. If you’re planning on driving to a ski area or over the Cascades, pay attention to weather reports. On some occasions tire chains will be required, although it’s not common because plowing crews are very active there. So, there’s no need to rent a 4WD vehicle in the winter, and no need to buy a set of chains unless you absolutely, positively must drive during a snowstorm. Which makes you too crazy to follow advice, anyway.
Summers are glorious here, typically sunny and bug-free. Temps in the 70s and 80s (F) and occasionally the 90s. Air conditioning is typically used here for a couple weeks at most, if at all. If you’re going out to the Olympic Peninsula west of the mountains there, it can, and does, rain 12 months of the year although summer is much drier and rain will be in the form of brief afternoon squalls. If you go out there between October and April and especially from November through February, it’ll be coming down in buckets. Take a water+proof+ jacket, and if you’re going to be outdoors a lot, water+proof+ pants.
Sep 14, 2006 6:27 PM
176The San Francisco Chronicle has begun a new feature--reviews of wine tasting rooms. There are only a few reviews currently up, but more are being added. Tasting Room Archive
TINY POURS EQUAL BIG BUSINESS is an article that discusses how tasting rooms operate. At the bottom of the article is a list of tips for going wine tasting. One tip of interest to posters here
If you're on a budget, avoid Napa County. Sonoma County isn't cheap anymore either. Go north to Mendocino, east to Livermore, south to Paso Robles or anywhere else outside the Napa-Sonoma axis.
Sep 21, 2006 8:34 PM
177Risk & Reward in New Orleans
One traveler's viewpoint
Should I go? people ask. Then the fur starts flying.
Here's the deal: As of this writing (Sept. 2006), New Orleans suffers from a crime rate roughly triple what it was before Katrina, even though the population is roughly half of what it was. Crime is so bad that they've got the National Guard patrolling there. Also, the emergency medical situation is dicey, described by credible reports as in crisis every day. Waits of 6 hours are said to be routine, with ambulances stacked up in the parking areas of the few trauma centers running. Patients are often housed in an abandoned department store downtown, separated by curtains.
Now for the other side of it. As always, most (but not all) of the crime is among criminals. Dueling drug dealers and the like. The National Guard patrols in the nasty neighborhoods, not the French Quarter. And anyone's need for emergency care, while totally unpredictable, is going to be unlikely. All of which means that an individual is not likely to have any problems in New Orleans -- yet more likely than it would have been in pre-hurricane New Orleans.
Bottom line is that the risk is elevated, but no one knows by how much. Don't fool yourself into thinking that there is no additional risk; instead, be honest and ask yourself whether your desire to go there is enough to offset it. Call it your own personal supply-demand chart.
For me, there's no clearing price: I'm not going to New Orleans anytime soon. However, my demand curve is low. I'd been there three times before the hurricane and, while it had its charms I was never a huge fan of the place. Someone who's been there, done that and come away saying Ho-hum isn't going to want to accept extra risk to go there. But if you've never been to New Orleans, or if you love it, or are a more adventurous soul than me, your answer might be different. As they say in the financial world, That's what makes a market.
Sep 21, 2006 10:11 PM
178I noticed many people having inquiries about itineraries, cost features and general direction/transportation methods. TripTie.com is a trip planning website where you can CUSTOMIZE people's itineraries and even remix them any way you see fit. Cost and transportation features are there as well. The site is very Web2.0, extremely interactive, and all the itineraries can be customized and edited. It has been positively reviewed by Geekytraveler.com as well as Gadling.com. I really think this website can help a lot of people out there, check TripTie.com out.
Sep 22, 2006 11:40 PM
179Renting A Campervan in the United States
Foreign visitors are forever asking about renting a "campervan" here. This question routinely mystifies Americas, who rent them so seldomly that most of us have never even heard of it. So, with the help of research by another poster, nutraxfornerves, I was able to assemble the following rough sketch. It's based on his research that turned up a VW Westphalia with a popup roof offered on the following terms:
* varies seasonally. $109 in high season.
$500 refundable security deposit required
$350 deposit when you book, balance due 30 days before you pick up the van
100 free miles per day, $0.25 per mile after that.
18 miles per gallon
$35 per person for bedding and towels
You must provide proof of insurance. A somewhat more expensive van was available in the Los Angeles area with a $15.00 to $25.00/day charge for insurance.
They will charge you to deliver the van to you. Most of the rental places I found are not centrally located in big cities, but may be 50 miles or more away.
For a mythical pick up date in April, it came to $833/week for 100 miles a day and a bedding kit for 2 people, plus the security deposit. Pick up in a town south of San Francisco or pay to have it delivered.
If you go the LA area van, it would be $850 per week, plus $800 refundable deposit, plus the insurance cost. $1 per mile to deliver it -- probably around $50-60 if you are in LA proper.
The Math: $175-$195 Per Day
Assuming 175 miles a day on average:
- Rental $89/$109
- Insurance $25 (remember liability ins., too -- see FAQ post 148)
- Mileage fees $19
- Gas $26
- RV hookup fees $15
- Misc. $1
TOTAL $175/day off-season, $195/day peak season
- Most car insurance policies won't cover a specialty vehicle like a campervan. Ditto for credit card insurance coverage, which in any case is typically limited to a one-month period. So expect to pay both the LDW and the supplemental liability insurance fees.
- 175 miles a day is my time-tested travel average. It allows for some long trips and some hanging around.
- On RV hookup fees, I'm allowing for the possibility that you'd be able to pull over and sleep without paying at times, but that at other times you'd pay $25. You'll have to pay from time to time, if for no other reason than to run appliances.
- A standard rental car would cost about $45 for the car and $20 for the gas. Hotels on the road are about $60 a night. If your car insurance covered the vehicle or if you shopped around for a package that included insurance, you'd pay $125 a day for car, travel and lodging. If you had to buy insurance, it would be $150 a day for a car, gas and a room.
- Remember that the van you're renting is a campervan, which is going to be cramped as hell as a sleeping environment. I'd put money on it that you'd soon find yourself in hotels at least some of the time. A bigger RV is going to cost a lot more. Rental, gas and insurance will be more, and so will hookup fees because you're not going to get away with just parking it on the side of the road very often.
Remember how I said that Americans haven't heard of a campervan. That's because the average American, myself included, is fat, lazy, stupid and insular. As it applies here, this means that we have heard of an RV, also known as a recreational vehicle. Think of an RV as a campervan that has been to McDonald's. They are bigger, fatter, more expensive, more comfortable and they get horrible gas mileage. If a campervan will run you $175-$195, I'm going to take a wild-ass guess and suggest that a good ol' American-style road hog of an RV will run you $300 a day.
And for that, you'll wind up staying in RV parks with the rest of the road hogs. I say "Yuck," but then I also say "Yuck" to theme parks and Texas. Make your own decision.
Sep 23, 2006 12:01 AM
Sep 29, 2006 1:10 AM
181Some links to sites for events and show listings in the New York City area.
Guide to Free events in New York City
Oh My Rockness--New York City Guide to indy rock shows
Arbitrary Guide to Popular Culture
Oct 3, 2006 5:29 PM
182In Los Angeles The Griffith Park Observatory will re-open on November 3, 2006 after 4 years of renovations.
Entrance is free, however, visitors must make timed-entry reservations (via the website above), park in specific locations and take a shuttle to the observatory (again all info in the website).
Oct 13, 2006 4:23 PM
183Hey Roman why don't you just rename this thread: "The United States fo America according to Willysnout" He seems to be the authority on everything American. I think he should have his own branch then at least people could avoid all the drivel to get to some real information without having to wade through the dreck.
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