Category Archives: Travel

US 34 East (Drake/Loveland/Estes Park, Colorado)

Driving along US 34 East from Loveland to Estes Park

Highway US 34 Colorado, USA
https://www.codot.gov/projects/floodrelatedprojects/us-34-big-thompson-canyon-1

The infamous highway to the Rocky Mountain National Park gateway city of Estes Park from Loveland Colorady. It run from Granby, Colorado to the Nebraska Border east of Laird Colorado following the Colorado River Valley. It cuts through the Rocky Mountain National Park at Estes Park, going over Milner Pass, up into the Gore Mountain Range exiting the National Park at US 36 near Deer Ridge. It is considered the highest continous highway located in the USA. Headed east from the Rocky Mountains, it goes from Estes Park to Loveland, intersects I-25 and Highway 287. It continues into Greeley, past Highway 85, U.S. 34, and crosses the South Platte River, then heads east into Nebraska.

US Highway 34 Eastbound travels from Loveland, Colorado to Estes Park and the greater Rocky Mountain National Park. Travelling through Loveland, a great sight of interest is the Benson Sculpture Garden along the shores of Lake Loveland. It is one of the biways of the Rocky Mountains.

Driving along US 34 East from Loveland to Estes Park (near Drake, Co) ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=31365); New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken June 2, 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Carnival Splendor Cruise Review to Caribbean – Western

Please don’t go on the Splendor. Pick another ship.

Sail Date: March 05, 2017

Reviewed: 1 day ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Oceanview

                                       Cabin: 1356

 

 

by Brea and Levi

We did a 7 night on the Carnival Splendor. Just before sailing there was an engine fire. We were told the day of our cruise that the itinerary changed and we would be offered an incentive to sail anyway. Don’t ever do that either. Learn from our mistakes.

 

Without the engines functioning fully, there was little power for the ship. The first time we saw the fun shops open was on the 3rd day of our cruise. My boyfriend forgot his sunglasses so we had really been looking. By that point we’d bought a new pair in Nassau. Most of the ship wasn’t open at any given time.

 

For the first few days, they could run the Lido buffet OR the main dining room. If you wanted to eat during dinner time you had no option but to dress up. The food was not good. Tasted like food Ihop and Dennys wouldn’t even serve. After leaving dinner hungry the first couple nights we started ordering room service.

 

Their free items were very limited. Things like grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. By the 4th day we’d tried all the paid items and most of the free ones. For $5 you get a tiny basket with 6 (burnt) fried shrimp, each smaller than my thumb, and a small hand hand full of (soggy) french fries.

 

Since we’d exhausted all our food options on the boat we tried to investigate the ports. It was actually (no joke) $20 for the small nachos with chicken. I’m sorry, it was $19.99. I don’t want to exaggerate. We trudged back to the ship, and decided to see if there was anything we hadn’t tried yet.

 

By the 5th day we just wanted to go home, and so did everyone else we talked to. At that point my bed had been set with dirty sheets, stains larger than my outstretched hand where my face would have been. Our mattresses were on a flat smooth platform. When my boyfriend or I moved to the middle of the bed they would slide to the sides. It left a 2 foot gap in the middle every morning, and we flipped the mattresses a bit trying to get out of bed.

 

I’ve complained several times to Carnival, included pictures and descriptions.

 

At Guest Services on the ship they said “something would be done.” and did nothing.

 

On the phone to the complaints department, they said my issues were “subjective” and they couldn’t help me.

 

When I sent a message to their Facebook page, they gave me a place to e-mail them.

As of 2 weeks from sending that e-mail, I’ve received no response.

 

Honestly, just please don’t sail with Carnival. They don’t care about their guests. I typically don’t complain about anything, one of those people to be ok with eating the wrong meal just because my waiter made a mistake. I was ok with the itinerary change. I’m not ok with how things went once I was in their custody and had no other choice.

undercooked shrimp yuk
lasagna in a pool of grease with almost no marinara
gross shrimp curry with a bone in it
map of the ship
did someone already take a bite of my chicken?
liquidy sauce, dry salmon
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Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon

Mosier Twin Tunnels ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25083); Historic Columbia River Highway ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25089); Mosier, Oregon ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25077). January 17, 2016. Chronicles 22: Life in the Gorge/Columbia River. November-December 2015. Photographs by   Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409
Mosier Twin Tunnels ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25083); Historic Columbia River Highway

Historic Columbia River Highway
Columbia River, State of Oregon, USA

The Historic Columbia River Highway runs along the Columbia River on the Oregon side for approximately 75 miles. It is considered one of the most scenic highways in Oregon and was the first planned scenic roadway in the United States. It begins in Troutdale and ends in The Dalles as a important safe passage being built between 1913 and 1922. Points of interest are the Bridge of the Gods and Cascade Locks. Another area of special interest is where the historic highway runs through Mosier and its preserved tunnels highlighting scenic tour days. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Landmark and is designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It was replaced for logistics, speed, safety, and accessibility with the construction of the Interstate Highway 84 during the 1930’s and 1950’s, falling to be a placade of history maintained by the state of Oregon as Historic Columbia River Highway No. 100 or Route 30 as well as the “Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.” Is was modeled after the great scenic roads of Europe and the project initiated by Sam Hill (local lawyer and entrepreneur) with the assistance of engineer Samuel C. Lancaster. It was envisioned first as a tourist play route for road trips in the Model T absorbing the beauty of the Columbia River and its waterfalls. It blended in as Highway Route 30 when the U.S. Highway system was established in 1926. It was an essential route taking advantage of the lowest crossing of the Cascade Mountains that was carved by the Columbia River during the Cascades mountain uplift providing a safe and economic alternative to the previous dangerous rafting portages used by the Oregon Trail. Originally at this crossing was the Barlow Road in 1846 around the south side of Mount Hood, followed by the Sandy wagon road in the 1870s, and the railway. It was a very difficult highway to create dealing with numerous curves, grades, distance, rockfalls, avalanches, and drops. All the locations with elements of natural beauty and scenic wonder were set as control points along the route to be included.

Mosier, Oregon ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25077). January 17, 2016. Chronicles 22: Life in the Gorge/Columbia River. November-December 2015. Photographs by   Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409
Mosier, Oregon ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25077). January 17, 2016. Chronicles 22: Life in the Gorge/Columbia River. November-December 2015. Photographs by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409

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The Orient Land Trust, Villa Grove, Colorado

Orient Land Trust / Valley View Hot Springs

The Orient Land Trust a.k.a. “Valley View Hot Springs”
info@olt.org, olt.org * PO Box 65, Villa Grove, CO 81155-0065 * 719.256.4315 * 9 am – 10 pm. Open to the public 7 days a week – closed December 1st – 28th.
This fantastic Land trust is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources, wildlife habitat, open space, historic and geologic features of the northern San Luis Valley for the enjoyment of current and future generations. The OLT protects a humongous bat colony, hot springs, alternative energy use, and is well known for its high altitude dark skies for astronomy, exposed active geological fault, limestone caves, numerous trails, historic buildings, town sites at an abandoned iron mine, and a working ranch. The OLT is a naturist community (clothing optional) with 24 hour access to the hotsprings when camping or renting their rustic lodging cabins. They limit the number of visitors based on space availability and environmental impact. For current pictures and views … visit their web site, linked above. The entire grounds are clothing optional – while the majority of the guests tend to swim and soak without swimsuits, there is no pressure either way. The OLT welcomes a diverse clientele of couples, singles, and families from all walks of life – children are always welcome, though require supervision. They offer camping and cabins, their indoor lodging have heat and electricity, though there are no telephones, clocks, radios, or tvs in any of the rooms. All of the ponds and pools are outdoors – there are no private pools or hot tubs – there are four natural ponds with temperatures ranging in the 90’s, an 80′ long spring-fed swimming pool (no chlorine) in the high 80’s, and a heated hot pool around 105 degrees. Our visit to this fantastic resort was over the weekend of 11/10-11/11. A must visit for any hot springs or naturalist enthusiast. Rating 5 stars out of 5.

Additional Visit: 1/24-1/25/09. 2/16/17-2/18/17. Excellent visit.

Orient Land Trust / Valley View Hot Springs (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=164); near Moffat, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Union Station (Denver, CO)

Denver SantaCon 2016 ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29647), Union Station

Union Station
~ Denver, Colorado ~

Write up coming soon ….

Denver SantaCon 2016 ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29647), Union Station ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29651); Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

Denver SantaCon 2016 ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29647), Union Station ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29651); Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

Denver SantaCon 2016 ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29647), Union Station ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29651); Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Denver SantaCon 2016 ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29647), Union Station ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29651); Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Denver SantaCon 2016 ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29647), Union Station ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29651); Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Denver SantaCon 2016 ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29647), Union Station ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29651); Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Denver SantaCon 2016 ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29647), Union Station ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29651); Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Denver SantaCon 2016 ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29647), Union Station ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29651); Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Bridge of the Gods, Oregon

Cascade Locks Marina ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26681 ). Volcanic Legacy: Chronicle 25 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Idaho & Wyoming. Photos taken June 6, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21521.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Cascade Locks Marina ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26681 ).

Bridge of the Gods
~ Columbia River, Cascade Locks, Oregon ~

Legend has it that this area was home to a magnificent land bridge manifested by the Gods of the local Native Americans. Today it is a steel toll bridge crossing the Columbia River connecting Interstate 84 with Washington State Road 14. It is one of the few crossings between Oregon and Washington.

Legend and Lore
Geologically this is one of the shortest crossing areas between Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River. It is believed that a thousand years ago there was a massive landslide from the north shore of the Columbia River that slid into the river and blocked the Gorge. It created a natural dam and inland sea that extended between Oregon, Washington, and into Idaho. As river pressures began carving out natural bridges and tunnels under this landslide to outlet into the Pacific, eventually the blockage dam was washed away. Some say it originally carved a large natural stone bridge that the Native Americans believed was created by the Gods. Legend has it this land bridge eventually collapsed back into the Columbia River, destroying the inland sea, and creating the Cascade rapids.

Native America legends tell a tale that the Great Spirit Manito created this bridge so his peoples of the Columbia River could cross the river from bank to bank, and it was so called the “Giant Crossover”. This Great Spirit assigned the Wise woman Guardian Loo-Wit to watch over it and protect the river, bridge, and peoples of the area. Out of fear and respect for the Great Spirit, the tribes would appeal for protection while crossing the river. It was eventually called the “Bridge of the Gods” translated and nicknamed as such from the white westerners who came through the area. Manito had sent his sons to earth – the three great mountains: Multnomah the Warrior (Mt. Rainier), Klickitat the totem maker (Mt. Adams), and Wyeast, the singer (Mt. Hood) who all presided over the river and the bridge peacefulling for many years until the beautiful Squaw Mountain moved into the valley between Klickitat and Wyeast. She fell in love with Wyeast while still flirting with Klickitat, causing rivalry and jealousy between the two causing the mountains to fight over her. Their arguing, growling, trembling, and feuds caused lava, ash, and earthquakes to form in their path – and each other hurling white hot rocks at each other. This destroyed the forests, environment, and beauty of the valley – and broke the bridge causing it to fall into the river never to be seen again. Manito was so upset by this, he formed huge rapids in the Columbia River to separate the feuding brothers. Klickitat won Squaw Mountain’s heart and Wyeast admitted defeat, much to the dismay of Squaw who loved him so, and although at the side of Klickitatt with a heavy broken heart, became depressed and fell into a deep permanent sleep and sits today as “Sleeping Beauty” lying just west of Mt. Adams. Klickitat under such shock from Squaw’s depression, once with a high straight head like Wyeast, fell with grief that he dropped his head in shame and never raised it again. Loo-Wit got caught up in the cross-fire during this battle, and fell with the bridge. the Great Spirit rewarded her with a wish, and she asked to be made young and beautiful again – but being old, she did not require companionship so chose a lonely location. She became the most beautiful of all mountains and made her home far west as the beautiful and powerful Mount Saint Helens.

History
In 1920 the U.S. War Department issued a construction permit for the bridge to be built for the Interstate Construction Corporation. By 1925 one pier was constructed and the project seemed a failure until the Wauna Toll Bridge Company purchased the project in October 1926 for just over $602,000. They built a large canti-lever bridge with a 707’9″ main span and 211’8″ anchor arms extending 1,131 feet with an overall length of 1,858 feet / 35 feet width across the Columbia River. The original model had a wooden deck and was only 91 feet over the water surface. The bridge had to be raised after the construction of the Bonneville Dam to handle the backwater. This upgrade was funded in part by Congress in 1940 for just over $762,000. The bridge was taken over in 1953 by the Columbia River Bridge Company and eventually purchased by the Port of Cascade Locks Commission for $950,000 on November 1, 1961.

Modern Times
The steel construct of the modern “Bridge of the Gods” is owned and operated by the Port authority of Cascade Locks, Oregon. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and costs $1.00 to cross for an average automobile. Before the current model, there was a much more spectacular construct. It is a canti-levered bridge that is the third oldest bridge found on the Columbia River.

Cascade Locks Marina ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26681 ). Volcanic Legacy: Chronicle 25 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Idaho & Wyoming. Photos taken June 6, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21521.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Cascade Locks Marina ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26681 ). Volcanic Legacy: Chronicle 25 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Idaho & Wyoming. Photos taken June 6, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21521. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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The Maid of the Mist Tour (Niagara Falls)

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Maid of the Mist Tour
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *

If you want to get a good look at the Bridal Veil Falls or the Horseshoe Falls from the American side. It begins as a ferry boat that issues you a rain poncho and takes you out from the calm side of the Niagara River near the Rainbow Bridge. The Tour takes you by the American and Bridal Veil Falls, and then into the spray heavy curve of Horseshoe/Canadian Falls. The tour can be accessed either from the American or the Canadian side. The tour is operated by the Maid of the Mist Steamship Company. The first boat was launched in 1846 to ferry people from Canada to America and vice versa. It lost business when the Suspension Bridge was built and became a tour system. Numerous boats and versions were constructed and used through the years. The very first Maid of the Mist I ran from 1846 until 1854 as a double-stacked steamboat ferry. Business failed in the late 1800’s and was not restored until 1895. The boats have saved a few people who plunged over Horseshoe Falls through the years. The Canadian operations will close in October of 2013. Most likely will be operated by another company on the Canadian side in the near future. Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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Niagara River

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Niagara River

A massive river that flows between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie for approximately 35 miles in length. It is home to the famous “Niagara Falls” both on the U.S. and Canadian sides. It is dotted with falls, whirlpools, and rapids along its course. There are also several islands along the run of the river: The two largest and most popular are the Navy Island and the Grand Island. Other popular ones include Goat Island, Luna Island, and Squaw Island. The river forms the border between Ontario, Canada and New York, USA. Many legends amiss around the river, as does its name origin. An Iroquois belief is it was named after a branch of the Neutral Confederacy called the “Niagagarega” in the late 17th century. Others state it was named after the Iroquois village “Ongniaahra” or “point of land cut in two”. Today the river is dotted with, especially within the Falls area, hydroelectric power stations. The two most famous of which is the Sir Adam Beck Hydro-electric Power Station in Canada and the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant in the U.S.A. It was America’s first waterway to harness large scale hydro-electricity. Ships coming down the Niagara River use the Welland Canal of the Saint Lawrence Seaway to bypass the Falls. The Falls drop over 325 feet along its gorge fallway. It has two tributaries – the Welland River and Tonawanda Creek which were adapted into Canals for ship traffic such as the Erie Canal and the Welland Canal. The first European exploits of the area begin in the 17th century with French explorer Father Louis Hennepin published in the 1698 “A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America”. Some of the first railways built in America were built along this river, including the inclined wooden tramway built by John Montresor in 1764 called “The Cradles” and “The Old Lewiston Incline”. The River has seen its share of battles and wars, including ones between Fort Niagara (U.S.) and Ft. George (Canada) during the French and Indian War, American Revolution, Battle of Queenston Heights, and War of 1812. It was also very important during the American Civil War as a point where slaves crossed via the Underground Railway to Canada.

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Carmax.com – Columbia, South Carolina

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Carmax.com
555 Jamil Rd * Columbia, South Carolina, 29210 * (803) 750-0856 * www.carmax.com *

We just had our Isuzu Trooper checked out for our cross country journey we’ll be taking later this week at AAA Car Care Center in Columbia, South Carolina and found bad news. Leaking head gasket that could run between $700 and a couple of thousand to repair, water in oil – possibly the intake, right outer CV Boot was busted and both the upper and lower ball joints had play in them, both of which would cost about $1400-$1600 to repair, and the air conditioner would need about $150 to get it to pump cold air again. At 170,000 miles that would of been a few thousand, and unsure of how long it would last or if it could get us across the country. So obviously, time to get another vehicle – one that could make the journey. We asked the rep at AAA if they had a suggestion of where to go, and he personally said he had a friend who worked at Carmax.com and they seemed reputable. So we thought we’d give it a try. Since we’re leaving in a week, we’re pressed on time, and Carmax not only would sell us a car at a no-haggle straight-forward price, but would buy our vehicle as well, and transfer the tag for us – simply in and out process. We certainly could have gotten more for our Trooper if we sold on Craigslist, but tallying up the cost of waiting for the vehicle to sell within a week, dealing with showing it to numerous people, haggling, etc would be more time consumption than we have. Same with going around from dealership to dealership. Then we’d be car-less looking for another car on Craigslist and having to either rent a car or use public transport with a baby. Nothing seemed appetizing in that manner, nor along our timeline. We also needed a vehicle that could easily handle the journey across the US, had a strong engine that could pull a trailer if we needed to get one, and had room for the stuff we needed to move across the movers wouldn’t be moving. Our little Trooper couldn’t pull anything over 2,000 lbs and with its issues, was a death trap thinking it could.


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We drove over the Carmax, parked, and headed on into the lobby. Everything was clean, sparkling, large gallery, and friendly staff. We were offered to go look around until a sales rep was available. We pretty much looked the lot over for vans and trucks – finding a few we liked, but wasn’t really in our preferred price line as we’re the type that go for “Cheap” used car price deals you can find on craigslist, not Kelly blue book values or higher. We definitely was discouraged with the prices. So we were about to leave when the sales agent Kelsey found us, and started to show us around the insides of the vehicles we liked, the perks, told us about their 5 day return policy no questions asked, their 30 day warranty that supposedly covers anything from breaking, and their policies, and that they could evaluate our Trooper while we waited and come up with a price for it we’d get in the next 7 days regardless of whether or not we’d be buying a vehicle from them. It would take 30 minutes he said, and that it did. Interestingly enough, they gave a clear “Ok” on the engine and other mechanical issues, stating the dash needed repairs, and the front door needed repairs. Given what the other mechanics said, we were a bit surprised. It also needs a new paint job and alot of work, so wasn’t expecting being offered much, and wasn’t. I doubt they’d be reselling this one. We probably could have sold it for more on Craigslist, but given the time restrictions we have for our move, not really practical and be more costly than its worth. Plus having to register a car, stand around at the DMV all day and pay additional taxes and fees on another vehicle is another day away from packing up for the move. Carmax could transfer our tags to the new vehicle automatically in 10 minutes, and it would cost about $30. We were told by two sales reps at Carmax, the price on the window included taxes, but that wasn’t the case. Turns out the price we got for the trooper just covered the sales tax addition for the vehicle we bought, and so we therefore walked off the lot for $30 more than the window decal price.

We were stuck between a really cool van that had a roof rack, seats that folded down into the floor board, on dash navigation, and towing capacity of about 4,700 lbs or a 2007 Ford Explorer that had a towing capacity of 7,200 lbs, already had a tow bar, a roof rack, on-dash navigation, dvd player, automatically folding into floor board third row seats, (though second row didn’t fold into floor board) and everything else we needed for this journey. The Ford Explorer was substantially more affordable, so we went with that. We discovered that one on the web site with the rep and when going to test drive it, discovered that the person test driving it before us had decided to buy it and it was no longer available. We were disappointed. But then the rep said we could test drive it to see if its the kind of vehicle we wanted, so out for a test drive we went. Since we were paying cash for it, the rep somehow made it no longer “sold” and removed the “sold” tag from the rear-view window and said if we wanted it we could have it. Test drive went well, no noises, smooth sailing, good alignment, did a couple figure 8’s in a shopping lot, and gave it the speed test, and everything working. We figure if something was going to break, it would do so in this next 30 day journey we’re about to take, and it has a 30 day warranty. They did however very hard sell on the extended warranty to cover it to 150,000 miles for close to $2,000 with a $300 deductible. Given this vehicle was 111,000 and we’d be putting on about 10,000 miles on this journey alone within the 30 day warranty, I couldn’t see the sense in paying a couple of thousand to extend a warranty for just over 25,000 miles. Maybe I’m making a mistake, but right now the bottom line was saving money and we feel that if anything goes wrong, it will be in the next 10,000 miles over the next 30 days which Carmax claims will fix at their centers, which they claim are all across the country.

Charleston Harbour Pirate and Ghost Tour

It took nearly the day (4-5 hours) to shop and process paperwork, transfer items from vehicle to vehicle, and process the sale. That was surprisingly long given it was a cash deal. But everyone was friendly, helpful, and non-pressured (except during the extended warranty offer). So far so good, we’re happy with the vehicle, and think we made a wise purchase. Next step is to have a mechanic check it out during the 5 day no questions return policy, and make sure its a gem as we hope to have. We’ll post updates here as our experience with car-max runs its course. Experience 8/24/13 – Sales and Purchase Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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That sunday we took a drive down to Charleston to visit our niece. After our day at the beach, the engine light came on. Vehicle was running fine, and nothing visually could be detected, but figured with the 30 day warranty I should go check it out. On monday, we dropped by AAA Car Care for a check over since we had 5 days to return this vehicle to Carmax no questions asked. AAA gave us the engine codes of concern, either a engine misfire or a catalytic converter issue. On to Carmax, they scheduled us for Wednesday to check it out, Carmax free of charge. I dropped it off on wednesday, and everything went smooth – they found that a catalytic converter was malfunctioning and had to send it off to the muffler shop. They hooked me up with a free rental car from Enterprise so I could get around with my chores. Unfortunately I still had to pay the $36/day insurance for the rental because my insurance (Allstate) only transfers over liability. That was a bit crappy since it was going to be about 2 days. It was fixed on Friday and everything free of charge, just as the Carmax warranty promised. So far, so good … I’m very pleased with Carmax. The experience at the service desk, how attentive they were, and how they saw to the issue quickly was top notch. The Enterprise rental guy however seemed to claim alot of calls come from Carmax for rentals while repairs are being done, but they do have alot more cars than any other used car dealership, so didn’t think much on that. Experience 8/25-8/29/13 – Service and Operations, Repairs, Warranty. Rating 5 stars out of 5.

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Ice Car Rental, Reykjavik, Iceland

photos 08/28/12 001-008


Ice Car Rental, Keflavik, Iceland

ICE Car Rental
* http://icecarrental.is/ * Phone: +354 862 4433 * Address: Njararbraut 11 – 260 Reykjanesb *

Our first visit to Iceland, and on a tight budget, we figured we’d fly into the capital, get cheap lodging, and just walk or bus to sightsee Iceland. Big planning mistake. Cheap lodging we found in Keflavik, quite a hike/bike/bus commute from the capital. Public transport? not really affordable either. The bed and breakfast host strongly recommended this company for a cheap way to really see iceland, and he wasn’t wrong, cash in hand with a cash discount, we were able to get a very cheap car rental to go see Iceland the right way. Couldn’t recommend more that Ice Car Rental is the company to go with. They are a young company and out to set new standards in car rental services with an experience that one can be very satisfied with – easy on the wallet, they also come to you, bring you the car and pick it up. Clean, reliable and great cars. We had the most excellent experience with them. A must do! Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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Sean O’ Casey Bridge (Dublin, Ireland)

Sean O' Casey Bridge

Sean O’ Casey Bridge
* Dublin, Ireland *

One of the best bridges to view the Jeanie Johnson from … The “Sean O’ Casey” (a.k.a. Droichead Shein U Chathasaigh) spans the River Liffey approximately 100 meters as a pedestrian swing bridge with two balanced cantilever arms to connect the City Quay to the North Wall Quay in the Grand Canal Docks area and the IFSC. It was built in 2005 by Cyril O’Neill and O’Connor Sutton Cronin Engineers as part of the large urban renewal scheme by the Dublin Docklands Authority to rejuvenate the area. It memorializes Sen O’Casey (18801964), a famous Irish playwright and member of the Irish Citizens Army who used to live in the North Wall area.

Sean O' Casey Bridge

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The Jeanie Johnson Museum Tour (Dublin, Ireland)

Jeannie Johnson Tall Sailing Ship & Museum

Jeannie Johnson Tall Sailing Ship & Museum
Dublin, Ireland

Sitting in the Harbour of the River Liffey, just outside the CHQ Building is the replica of the infamous “Jeanie Johnston” ~ the three masted barque built in 1847 by John Munn that brought settlers over to the New World during the great Irish Famine. This replica was completed in 2002 and now sits primarily as a onboard history museum with night activities and events. The replica was designed by former Chief Naval Architect Fred Walker with the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich England. She is originally established as a ocean-going sail training vessel at sea and then in port coverts to a living history museum over the 19th century emigration between Ireland and the Americas. For 8 Euro or less, a guided tour takes you to her upper and lower decks giving a full narrated history of her chronology, feats, and sorrows. The main cabin demonstrates a picturesque view of what life was like onboard with numerous wax figures of her historic passengers. Overall the tour was masterfully done and a wonderful piece of Dublin’s maritime history. A must visit to any Irish tourist. Rating: 5 stars out of 5 by Leaf McGowan

Jeannie Johnson Tall Sailing Ship & Museum

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Bradford Interchange / Bradford Exchange


Bradford Exchange, Bradford, England

The Bradford Interchange (originally called Bradford Exchange) is a major hub of activity for traffic of travelers, commuters, pedestrians, and passengers coming to Yorkshire. It is a combined coach, bus, and railway station located in Bradford, England. Originally the Bradford Exchange as a train station, it was completely rebuilt on the same site in 1880 with 10 bay platforms and two arched roofs with wrought iron, glass, timber, slate, and plain stone wall construct in a classic corinthian style. Originally designed as a show piece for European design (its current design), it was created in 1962 and opened in 1971. he station was rebuilt again in 1973 to a smaller size. The Bradford Crown court, Magistrates’ and Coroner’s Courts took over the un-used space. In 1977 a bus station was built alongside the train station and re-named to the Bradford Interchange linking together bus and train traffic. By 1999 another rebuilding of the bus station took place with a grand opening in 2001. On its lower level is a main entrance where taxi services, passenger pickup, and a car park is located. Upstairs is the train and bus platforms. Within the central concourse downstairs are ticket booths, information, a news agent, a cafe, fast food outlet, and a few shops. Phones, ATM, refreshment machines, and toilets are located just off the main concourse. In the railway station is a British Transport Police Office and lost luggage desk. The station is monitored by close circuit television as well as patrolling police and security officers. There are separate train and bus ticket outlets in the concourse. The Bus/Metro office also covers National Express coach services. The bus station, managed by Metro, includes First West Yorkshire, Arriva Yorkshire, Centrebus, Geldards Coaches, Transdev, Stagecoach Yorkshire, TLC Travel, and National Express. Station sees regular services to London Kings Cross via Pontefract and Doncaster.

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The Sirena: Ferry Service from Harwich to Esbjerg

MS Dana Sirena
* directferries.co.uk * http://www.directferries.co.uk/dfds_seaways_dana_sirena.htm * http://www.directferries.co.uk/harwich_esbjerg_ferry.htm *

The Dana Sirena, named just like a ship out of folklore, appropriate since my first journey on her was embarking on a voyage from Jorvik to Norway for my first Viking festival. This brilliant RoPax ferry carries over 620 passengers and 435 cars. It is also a freight ferry. Its a pretty comfortable ferry, with all passengers having their own onboard cabins and/or reserved seating. Facilities such as free wifi, restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, and a children’s area are located within. The beds were comfortable, showers were nice, rooms came with bedding, towels, and wardrobe space. As I was on a budget, I packed my own food for the journey, so can’t comment on the restaurant or bar services. I’ve been told there is sufficient variety offered. I didn’t partake of the shopping, and was able to catch some of the entertainment. The entertainment was mediocre, but some of the passengers seemed pleased. Apparently there was a featured “films on demand” service, of which I cannot comment on since I didn’t use it. The ship sails from Harwich, England to Esbjerg, Denmark, and back. The Sirena is built of iron and steel in 2001 originally named the “MS Golfo Dei Delfini” owned by Lloyd Sardegna, acquired by the DFDS Tor Line then DFDS Seaways, then renamed the “Dana Sirena” after 2003. In 2001-2002 its port of registry was Olbia, Sardinia; then in 2002 registered in Esbjerg, Denmark. It was built by Stocznia Szczecinska in 2001. It is 22,382 GT tonnage, with a 654.2 ft length and a 78″3 height. It travels at 23 knots. I quite enjoyed the ferry trip, much better than most ferries I’ve been on. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.


The Sirena Ferry, Harwich to Esbjerg

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Color line Ferry – Denmark to Norway

Colorline Ferry: Service from Denmark to Norway

One of the fastest methods, albeit an extremely expensive one, to get your car from Denmark to Norway is the “Color Line” ferry. As I was travelling from England to Norway with a friend via Denmark, this is the ferry we took. It is also the largest cruise ferry line operating on routes to and from Norway. The service offers transportation for cargo, vehicles, and passengers as well as a wide range of services while on board including restaurants, entertainment, shopping, and lodging. The ferry’s headquarters are in Oslo, with satellite offices in Stavanger, Kristiansand, Sandefjord, Bergen, Larvik, Kiel, Hirtshals, and Strmstad. I found the ferry however sub-par in comfort, lack of amenities as compared to other ferries I’ve travelled around the world especially in comparison to the expense they charge. Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

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Charleston Municipal Marina

Charleston Municipal Marina

* http://www.charlestoncitymarina.com/ * 17 Lookwood Drive * Charleston, South Carolina *
(843) 577-7702 *

One of several, this beautiful marina is stocked full of boats, visitors, and harbourers. The floating docks look quite popular, even though we didn’t venture out on it, just sat on the bench after a nice seafood dining experience at the marina’s restaurant. At the heart of the network for the three main rivers connecting Charleston to the Atlantic Ocean, it appeared to be quite a hotspot, and walking distance from historic downtown. This beauty is located on the Atlantic Intra-coastal Waterway along mile marker 469.5 featuring over 19,000 feet of linear dock space with over 40 acres of water. State of the art facilities, amenities, and docking support. The Mega-dock extends over 1,500 feet and is the longest free standing floating fuel dock in the Southeastern United States. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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Tree Leaves’ Vardo: The 1984 Pace Arrow (2005-Present)

1986-2007
It was in 2005 that my boss saw snow collecting above me and Liz’s tents while doing field work at Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site as we weren’t about to stay in the “hanta house” infested ranch house most of the field crew was staying in. At least with a tent, we could control what entered. As my boss originally owned this wonderful caravan, he was primarily working back up in Colorado Springs and never using it. On occasion he’d let field crew sleep in it while working down in the field to get some space away from others. He’d use it on occasion when down in the field. Then one cold winter day, he offered to sell it to me. I bought it and it then became my “field headquarters” while doing Archaeology down at Pinon.

2007-2010

Years later, after the army stripped away the Directorate of Environmental Compliance and Management and moved the archaeologists into the Directorate of Public Works, many changes lay ahead for lodging opportunities for the archaeologists and wildlife officers taking care of the resources at Pinon. The field houses were deemed “un-inhabitable” and the field crews were no longer allowed to stay overnight on the training grounds. Therefore it came time for me to move my RV from Red Rocks ranch. Rain storms and flooding we had to fight when moving the RV that weekend we went down. But once on the dry interstate highway, it was smooth sailing from Trinidad to Colorado Springs. This Archaeological bunkhouse was now to change definition … it became the festival headquarters for The Tree Leaves Oracle and Folk Fellowship, Pirate Relief, and Technogypsie Productions. It has about 60,000 miles and hasn’t been used by us much as it gets between 8-10 mpg. told it only gets 6 mpg if towing a car. We’ve taken it from Trinidad to Colorado Springs, From Colorado Springs to Denver, to Rocky Mountain National Park, and on a few outings.

2011-Present

As Pirate Relief, Tree Leaves, and Technogypsie Productions went abroad exploring the globe from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia … The Vardo became a storage unit for the faeries, art, wares of the companies while abroad still located in Colorado.

Potentially Available for Sale

Since most of our world explorations are taking place outside of Colorado and mainly consist of international locations, we are contemplating selling this piece of our history and memory. Those interested should contact technogypsie (at) gmail . com with an offer. Serious enquiries only. It can be viewed First week of September 2012.

Known problems:
It has a small fuel leak in the rubber seal where the fuel line connects into the gas tank (above it). A mechanic friend once temporarily fixed this (without dropping the tank) for a case of beer. That fix lasted 6 months. He did say, it was temporary fix, and to properly fix it, the gas tank would need to be drained to drop the tank to properly fix. Of course, it has over $100 worth of fuel in its 1/2 full tank, so have been waiting til the tank worked its way down naturally to fix. Supposedly an easy self-fix for those mechanically inclined. Otherwise mechanics have quoted approximately $200 to fix.

The water pipes (shower/faucets) had hard water once running through them which caused leak(s) somewhere in the water lines. Not sure what it would involve to fix that. Since we’ve owned it, we haven’t used the water as hadn’t really the call for it.

Battery might need to be replaced. Since its been in storage for over a year, there is a good chance the battery is dead (though it has been disconnected when put in storage).

Specifications:

Master bedroom in back with a pull out privacy screen (Queen bed) with cabinets and storage. Side bathroom with toilet and sink, medicine cabinet, and under sink cabinet and drawer. Across from bathroom is a shower stall. Next to shower is a clothing cabinet and storage drawers above central heat/furnace. Kitchenette has microwave above hood range gas stove with 4 burners, and a oven. Storage cabinet and 3 drawers underneath the sink. Half size (5 cuft?) mini fridge across from kitchenette. Living room has two chairs with table that can be packed up for more floor room. Across from table/chairs is a fold out sofa couch that can turn to a bed to sleep 2. Fold-out bunk above driver/passenger seat that sleeps 2 kids. Total sleeps: (6) = 4 adults and 2 children comfortably. Central air conditioning in roof unit/ controls in ceiling interface. Generator on outside, with awning over door that folds out. Storage cabinets on outside of RV. Ladder to go to top of RV on back.

Its a 1984 Pace Arrow, 27-30′, and is most similar to these various RV’s (1984 Fleetwood Coachmen Pace Arrow): 1986 Fleetwood Pace Arrow, 1986 Coachmen, 1986 Pace Arrow for sale, 1986 Pace Arrow for Sale (Austin), and 1986 Pace Arrow Valuation: Nada Guide (to the best we can remember afar what it has).

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Holyhead, Wales

The largest town in Anglesey of North Wales is Holyhead (i/?h?l?h?d/ hol-i-hed; Welsh: Caergybi [k???r???bi]) which means The Town of Cybi. With a population of just over 11,000, this city is most famous for being the major port adjacent to the Irish sea where many ferries come in from Ireland. It was once a Holy Island settlement and is located on “Holy Island”. The surrounding area has a population just over 16,000. The settlement was originally connected to Anglesey by the “Four Mile Bridge” which extended as the name implies, four miles. This was later adapted to become a much larger causeway by Lord Stanley to be known as “The Cob” carrying the A5 as well as the rail way line which runs parallel to the A55 dual carriageway. One of the popular tourist spots in Holyhead is St. Cybi’s Church, Caer Gybi fort, and the roman remains. The town centre is built around the church which is within one of Europe’s few three-walled Roman forts in existence, bordering the sea. Holyhead Mountain, inside Mynydd y Twr, is a prehistoric hillfort that boasts a Roman watchtower. The mountain is covered with remains of circular huts, burial chambers, and standing stones. Europe’s largest ferry company, Stena Line, operates from this port as does Irish Ferries with services to Ireland and Northern Ireland. The region is blessed with a maritime climate of cool summers and mild winters, however plagued by high winds.

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Viking Splash Tours (Dublin)

Viking Splash Tours

* Meet St. Stephen’s Green * Dublin, Ireland * 2 * (01) 7076000 * http://www.vikingsplash.ie/ * 10 am – 6 pm on Mondays and tuesdays, 9 am until midnight on wednesday to thursdays, 11 am until 11 pm on fridays, and 10 am til 9 pm saturdays and sundays.

A kitchy yet hilarious way to see Dublin, Viking Splash Tours will keep you entertained, intrigued, and laughing. They offer a unique way to see the city the Vikings so much desired in days of old by land and water … They hit the highpoints of Dublin showing patrons the Medieval district, Trinity College, Christ Church, Georgian sector, and the city center. They set you up with viking hats when you board the tacky yellow amphibious bus-boat and away you go on the city tour. They take you through the water and on the streets for an exiting adventure you won’t forget.

Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via Technogypsie.com at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Restaurants, Businesses, Bands, Performances, Venues, and Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

These reviews are done by the writer at no payment unless it is a requested review and the costs for travel, service, and lodging was covered – in which case, expenditure reimbursement will not affect review rating or content. If you enjoy this review and want to see more, why not buy our reviewer a drink to motivate them to write more? or help cover the costs they went through to do this review?






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Brisbane River CityCat

Brisbane River CityCat

Brisbane River, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

One of Brisbane’s most popular form of public transportation and sightseeing is the Brisbane River CityCat and CityFerry Services. This ferry is very fast, efficient, and inexpensive way to get from point A to point B during one’s explorations of Brisbane and its famous river, parks, recreational boardwalks, playgrounds, picnic sites, trails, restaurants, cafes, markets, pontoons, and fishing facilities. The city now boasts with its 19 CityCats and 9 CityFerries (2012 statistics). The service saw disruptions and damages during the January 2011 flood, but by January 2012 has all of its 24 terminals operating again seven days a week from 5:50 am until 10:30 pm. The October 2011 arrival of the newest CityCat, the “Spirit of Brisbane” was dedicated to Brisbane’s community spirit from the most recent floods. All of the CityCats are equipt with Wifi allowing access to UQConnect and EduRoam as well as the Translink timetable and City Council’s websites. Tickets can be purchased via bus and ferry operators, staffed rail stations, Customer Service Centers, and local newsagencies and convenience stores. Timetables can be found on the TransLink website at http://www.translink.com.au/

Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via Technogypsie.com at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Restaurants, Businesses, Bands, Performances, Venues, and Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

These reviews are done by the writer at no payment unless it is a requested review and the costs for travel, service, and lodging was covered – in which case, expenditure reimbursement will not affect review rating or content. If you enjoy this review and want to see more, why not buy our reviewer a drink to motivate them to write more? or help cover the costs they went through to do this review?






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Drive Away Across America!

Road Trip through Florida
Road Trip through Florida

The romantic enticement of cross-country road trips in America is almost as famous as its emblematic apple pie. Road tripping across rural America is made real popular by various novels, movies, and television series. The images of Natural Born Killers, Leaving Los Vegas, Jack Kerouac, Thelma and Louise, Neil Cassidy, as well as Bonnie & Clyde as a crime spree, independent adventure, quests for a new start and involving nothing other than you, your partner, the open road, and the borrowed car. Of course, some of those stories are less than conventional means for a road trip. As well as much being figments from dreams of doing whatever one wishes. These illegal fantasies of course wont fly with the drive aways but the freedom of the open road will. In some countries, like America, a budget traveler can take advantage of Drive Away vehicles. These can be great resources for the techno-gypsie and techno-nomad when travelling without ones own vardo, gypsy wagon, or vehicle.

Drive Aways are vehicles that owners, transportation companies, or agencies need to be driven and/or delivered from point A to point B, usually involving long distances like cross country. Scenarios of companies needing to relocate vehicles from one office to another, car owners moving across the country and flying ahead needing their vehicle to join them at some point, owners of multiple cars moving across the country, or a car being sold on ebay that needs to be delivered to the new owner. Often, this allows for contracting independent individuals who also need to go from point A to B to drive the vehicle for them. Drive Aways are however very conventional and a little less known secret in the backpacker community. Flexibility is your friend in this regard. Generally these cars are fairly new, clean, and in good condition. The compensation is often usually just the free use of the vehicle, a route, and a tank of gas. All the transporter companies usually ask of you is a clean driving record, a drivers license, being over age 23, travel expenses, and a security deposit.

A security deposit of between $300-$400 is usually asked for from the driver before given use of the vehicle. Youll need to keep the car pristine and clean, un-altered and hopefully better than you found it. Youll usually be given a route (with some freedom to explore along the path) and a set number of days for delivery. Sometimes there are restrictions for the number of hours you are permitted to drive per day. If the car is returned at the destination on time, unscathed, then the security deposit is returned. The driver is responsible for the cost of gas after the first free tank. Various companies have different methods in handling how car repairs, accidents, and/or damages are handled ranging from full cost coming from the driver and his/her insurance, some costs from the vehicles owner, and/or loss of security deposit. Up front, itll sometimes cost you the same price as a rental car with the security deposit, except you get the security deposit back upon returning the car in the same or better condition as you received it.

The difference between a drive away and a rental car is, time, flexibility, and payment or lack thereof (hopefully) in the end for the vehicle. However it can be limiting having to stick to a particular route, waiting for an available car, loss of your deposit, and having to go from a set point A to point B. It is however a good option for the budget traveler. Highly recommended is to put on a seat cover to protect the upholstery from travel meals, wear and tear, and unforeseen calamities of spilt coffee or coke. Make note of all scratches, visible marks, and blemishes on the form before signing it and driving away. Sometimes the vehicle you get is quite a gem. Sometimes its packed full of the personal effects of the owner having it moved for them. Make sure to call ahead to your delivery contact giving them an estimated point of arrival. Youll have to hand off the keys in person as a signature is required in order to get your security deposit back. Its highly recommended to give the car a wash, vacuum, and basic cleaning before turning it in.

Some of the more famous and popular drive away companies are: www.autodriveaway.com/, and the national driveaway list can be found at: http://www.autodriveawaydc.com/carlist.html or http://www.autodriveaway.com/view_car_list.

Bibliography/References:

  • Auto Drive Away: “Auto Drive Aways”. Website referenced February 2012. www.autodriveaway.com.
  • Auto Drive Away DC Car List: “Available Drive Aways”. Website referenced February 2012. www.autodriveawaydc.com/carlist.html.
  • Javins, Marie

    undated GoNomad Transports Guide: Drive Away Across the U.S.A. Even if you dont own a car. Website referenced February 7, 2012. http://www.gonomad.com/transports/0012/javins_driveaway.html.

Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via Technogypsie.com at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Restaurants, Businesses, Bands, Performances, Venues, and Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

These reviews are done by the writer at no payment unless it is a requested review and the costs for travel, service, and lodging was covered – in which case, expenditure reimbursement will not affect review rating or content. If you enjoy this review and want to see more, why not buy our reviewer a drink to motivate them to write more? or help cover the costs they went through to do this review?






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Victoria Bridge of Brisbane

Victoria Bridge
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

As I was staying in the infamous West End of Brisbane, my foot and bicycle passage to the City Center was The Victoria Bridge. This was Brisbane’s first permanent bridge and had its foundation stone laid on August 22, 1864 by the late Governor Bowen. It wasn’t finished construction until late 1874 due to financial constraints the city was having at the time. A temporary wooden bridge was opened for traffic in 1865, but due to its partial collapse in 1867 due to the wood-boring worm known as Teredo, was closed until final completion of the now permanent one. In 1893 floodwaters carried away the northern half of the bridge, again in 1896 on the temporary structure, and it was re-opened in June 1897. Due to buckling stresses in 1943, the bridge began restricting number of trams allowed on it, though it lasted until 1969 when it was demolished. A second bridge was created by A.B. Brady in 1969, made of steel, costing 3.2 million, with two carriageways and two footpaths. A This was the first road connection between the north and south Brisbane. The bridge is shared by pedestrians, vehicles, and bicyclists – each with their own lanes. It connects the South Bank Parklands and the Queensland Cultural Center to the city center called the Brisbane central business district or the “CBD” at North Quay. Half of its current roadspace is now consumed by the southeast Busway system. The bridge has some great panoramic views of the Brisbane River, the Cultural Center, and the City Center. Rating: 3 stars out of 5. ~ Leaf McGowan

Bibliography/References:

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Victoria’s “Rest Stop”

Frightful Rest Area Reminds me of the movie: Rest Stop
Melbourne, Victoria towards Lakes Entrance

This out in the middle of nowhere rest area gave me the creepy feeling that was all too common after watching the Horror flick “Rest Stop“. It was run-down, looked un-safe, had a needle disposal box, and lots of graffiti and warnings on the walls. Totally breathed “slasher”. Rating : – * out of 5 stars. Avoid. However, my mate, seemed to have fine time chatting up a RV’er passing through for a cup of Joe … different strokes for different folks.

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Streat Coffee Stand

Streat Coffee Stand

Streat Coffee Stand * Melbourne City Center/Central Station
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia * http://streat.com.au/ *

An innovative design and a wonderful organization to spend your coffee money on. STREAT = “Street Youth” + “Street Food” + “Street Culture”. It is a coffee shop/cafe/cart found throughout Melbourne Australia that takes portions of its sales to help tackle youth homelessness and disadvantage. They not only campaign for the cause, but put sales to the financial needs, and employment for the young people affected by such hardships. They tackle the issues with social support by means of industry training and employment opportunities in their street cafes, offering delicious and cost-effective meals centered around street culture. They believe in lifelong learning, tackling problems with imagination and passion, having healthy meals and drinks, birthing new ideas, connecting individuals and communities together, while striving for sustainability in all of their activities. And …. they serve a mean cup o’ joe or chai. Rating : 4 stars out of 5. Review by Tom Baurley.

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Melbourne Central Station

Melbourne City Center/Central Station
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

http://www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au/stop/view/19842.

In the heart of Melbourne is the underground railway station known as “Melbourne Central”. It is one of Melbourne’s five stations (three of which are underground) on the City Loop that encircles the central business district. Located under La Trobe Street, between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets, on the CBD’s northern edge and is named after the shopping centre it is located underneath. While seemingly the most popular station, it is not the city’s main station, as that role is filled by the “Flinders Street Station”. However Melbourne City Central Station is the second busiest railway station in Melbourne with over 47,000 passengers a day. The station was built using cover and cut construction in 1973 with completion accomplised in 1978. Because of its art, central location, and design, it was opened as a Museum in January 1981. By 1995 the Museum was relocated behind the Royal Exhibition building in the Carlton Gardens. The station was then renamed in 1997 after the Melbourne Central Shopping Centre.

Rating : 5 stars out of 5. Review by Tom Baurley.

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Australian Currency

Australian Currency
* www.rba.gov.au * Note Printing Australia.

The Australian “Dollar” also known as “AUD” is the main form of “money” used in Australia. It comes in both coin and plastic paper mediums. The coin is in 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50 cent, dollar coin, and two dollar coin, while paper/plastic bills serve usage for $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. It is the form of tender for Australia, Australian Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Australian Antarctic Territory, Christmans Island, Cocos Islands, Australian Coral Sea Islands, Australian Heard Island, McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island, Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. While the “dollar” is subdivided into 100 cents, though in 1990 the penny and two-cent pieces were dropped and the lowest denomination is 5 cent piece. Sales are rounded up or down depending on the purchase. It is the fifth largest traded currency in the world just behind the US Dollar, the Europ, the Yen, and the Pound. Some nicknames for the currency are the “austral”, the oz, the royal, the boomer, the roo, the kanga, the digger, the kwid, the dinkum, and the ming. The Australian dollar replaced the Australian pound in 1966. Queen Elizabeth the II is portrayed on much of the currency which was facelifted in 1985 with a crown and pose. By 2000, depictions of the Queen were made more age-appropriate for the current queen. The 5 cent, 10 cent, and 20 cent prieces are identical in size to former Australian, New Zealand, and British sixpenny, shilling, and two shilling coins. The first paper (plastic) money was issued in 1966 with the $50 note by 1973. The $100 note was introduced in 1984. By 1988 the $2 note was replaced by a coin. The banknotes are made of polymer, issued as such in 1988. Notes are sized according to their denomination with the same height but different length for the visually impaired. Each bill has a transparent windown with an optically variable image of Captain James Cook. Every not has a “seven pointed star”.

The $100 bill
Features Dame Nellie Melba, who lived from 1861 to 1931, and was one of Australia’s prized world -reknown sopranos, alongside the General Sir John Monash (1865-1931) who was one of Australia’s most distinguished soldiers and civil engineers.

The $50 bill
Features David Unaipon who from 1872 to 1967 was one of Australia’s most prized Aboriginal writers and inventors as well as alongside Edith Cowan who was Australia’s first female politicians. She lived from 1861 until 1932.

The $20 bill
Displays the “Royal Flying Doctor Service” founder “Reverend John Flynn” (1880-1951) and the former convict pioneer businesswoman Mary Reibey (1777-1855).

The $10 bill
Features A.B. “Banjo” Paterson who from 1864-1941 was one of Australia’s infamous poets and authors – proud creator of “Waltzing Matilda” and “Man from Snowy River”. Also featured is “Dame Mary Gilmore” who too was a famous poet as well as a social reformer (1865-1962).

The $5 bill
Features the Parliament House as well as Queen ELizabeth II. A new note features SIr Henry Parkes (1815-1896) who was an Australian Federation architect and politician as well as Catherine Spence, world-reknonwn writer and feminist.

Coins
All have Queen Elizabeth II on their fronts, but the reverse sides of the 50 cents, $1, and $2 coins have commemorative designs. The $2 coin replaced the $2 note in 1988 and features a aboriginal tribal elder, the Southern Cross, and native grass trees. The $1 coin replaced the $1 note in 1984 and features a kangaroo on the backside. The 50 cent coin features Australia’s coat of arms, the 20 cent coins features a platypus, the 10 cent coin features a male lyrebird dancing, while the 5 cent piece features an echidna.

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Capital One Bank is Fraudulent

It all began with travel plans for a trip to Australia. In discovering that my bank, Wells Fargo, charges “foreign transaction fees” in the use of their card abroad, I did some internet searching and discovered that “Capital One” was recommended for a travel credit card because they don’t charge “foreign transaction fees” for purchases abroad. Being an individual against credit cards, I went against my better judgement and applied for a Capital One Card. Since I don’t already have a credit card, they approved me on January 17th, 2011 for a “secured Master Card” requiring a $200 deposit. I went ahead and transferred from my bank $250 so that I would have that amount to use for foreign transactions. Not hearing from Capital One for a month and a half, I became concerned. Finally I get a letter from Capital One to my home address stating that they put a temporary hold on my Capital One Account to make sure no one is using my Capital one credit card without permission. However, Capital One had not yet sent me a card. I received phone calls from their fraud department requiring me to submit a utility bill to prove who I am. Since I’m about to embark upon a journey abroad, I was renting a room from a friend pre-travel. Since I did not have a utility bill, as it was all inclusive in my rent. The agent then said I had to send my bank statement or my W2 forms. Invasive? Certainly. That they needed my Bank Account Statement or W2 form was none of Capital Ones business. If they were giving me a loan that might be different, but a secured card is me giving them money to loan back to me. I thought this was ridiculous. I told the agent this, he agreed, but claimed it was their policy.
He then claimed I could circumvent this by driving to any bank, preferably where my bank is, and have them do a visual identity check. I had to leave early from work to do this before the bank closed. Wells Fargo said they would not do that for other banks. I called back the agent who then said if I faxed my drivers license, passport, and/or social security card, it would remove the hold and Capital One would send me the card. I drove an additional 10 miles to a fax outlet, paid them $3 to fax Capital One a copy of my passport, drivers license, and social security card. The next day, Capital One stated these documents were received, but were not worthy of identity proof. Really? A US Passport? Drivers license? Social security card? They then stated they required a bank statement or W2 form. I stated I only wanted this account because Capital One doesnt charge foreign transaction fees, and I would be leaving soon for a trip to Australia. He said he found a Chase bank at 3306 Centennial Blvd in Colorado Springs who was willing to do a visual ID check. He even had a representative named Krista who said she would do it. So ONCE AGAIN, I leave work early, to drive 10 miles to this said bank, to make sure I arrive before the bank closes. The representative at Chase wasnt informed that I did not have a bank account with Chase. Just like with Wells Fargo, they will not do a visual identity verification for another bank unless I was one of their clients. Again, Capital One had cost me time away from work, expenses in gas and time driving, wear/tear on my vehicle, for useless trips. As this was the third trip they had caused me to drive when gas prices are at a stunning $3.30-3.50/gallon now? As my current rate of pay at the time was $26 an hour anyone could do the math to see that Capital One has already cost me more time than this card was worth.

Figuring if this is representative of the hassle that Capital One is going to give me in using their card, I dont want the service. I told them to send me back my money. The representative said he didnt know how and couldnt. Really? Capital One representatives are not informed on how to do reversals? Send me back my money to the account it came from? If me, an average Joe can do it with credit card transactions I accept from clients through Quickbooks, I guarantee their agents could do it immediately. The agent suggested I dispute the charge with my bank to get my money back. I did this, and Capital One refused to release the funds as it is a valid authorized deduction. A couple of days later I receive the card stating I now owe $29.00 for a membership fee. Really? Capital One charging me a membership fee for a service I cannot use? I call Capital One and they still state I cannot use the account or get a refund without sending my Bank Statement. I fax them my statement. It takes them 3 days to get back to me. I called their Fraud department. The Agent said they had received my bank statement, but my representative had to call me back to verify the account. On March 16th, I Faxed a letter to their office and mailed copies requesting full refund of money. I finally get in touch with them and on 3/17/11 I speak to their agent Shyr. She asks personal info again from me. She had the nerve to ask for my pin number for my debit card with Wells Fargo. Excuse me? She claims they cannot verify my bank information with Wells Fargo. She put me on hold for 20 minutes. Finally Capital One gets Olivia from Wells Fargo on the line. They warn me that the 3rd party on line exchanging sensitive information, I accepted for certain private information. Upon mentioning the claim # I did with Wells Fargo, Olivia ouldnt pull up on her display, and then connected us 3-party with Chris at Wells Fargo claims. He notated the conversation and updated my claim. He was witness to Shyr stating they would return the money that day. I was put on hold for another 15 minutes while Shyr transferred me to Kyle of Capital Ones Retention / Account Closure department. He was very apologetic with my Capital One experience and said he submitted the transaction to refund my money. He stated it would take 5-7 business days to appear in my account. No refund was received by 3/28/11. So I contacted Capital One inquiring where is my money on 3/29/11. Agent “Joseph” said the previous Capital One representative should not have said 5 business days, For Joseph said it will take 2 billing cycles to return money. I told him this was not acceptable. Capital One had my money for over 45 days with no services delivered but hassle and waste of my time. I need my money back. I Told them Im going to file complaints with state attorney office, Better Business Bureau, The Department of finance, etc. He promised that my funds would be returned electronically Friday at the latest on Monday that the account representatives are refunding my money now. On May 31st, I received a Refund check in the mail for $250. Relieved I Deposited it. I then receive on April 5th notice from my bank that Capital One put a stop payment on the refund check and now Capital One was charging me a return item fee. On 4/7/11 I called Capital One to find what was up. I spoke to Supervisor Lor and explained the situation she said she doesnt see a stop payment request so was investigating the matter. Nothing showing up in her computer. She took my direct deposit information and said she would get it straightened up but no action resulted by 4/21/11. Capital One has now stolen my money and has held it hostage for over three months and have not delivered product, services, only hassles and headaches. To all fellow travellers and individuals thinking about using Capital One – Avoid them at all costs. They are thieves. This article will be updated if and when action is taken to repair the damages done by Capital One – or if the fact that their action of holding my money hostage leaves me stranded while travelling abroad. I see a lawsuit in the making.

Thomas M. Baurley

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Canberra International Airport


Canberra Airport
Canberra, Australia Capital Territory, Australia

The Canberra International Airport is the mainstream airport for the Australian Capital Terrority. It provides direct domestic Services to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. It also has direct daily flights to Albury and Newcastle in New South Wales. It however does not have any regular commercial international flights operating from its strips. It services much of the political government and embassy flights as well as tourism, sister city transportation, and commuters. While a small airport, I found it basic and friendly. No wifi was found during my visits in April of 2011. Rating: 2 stars out of 5. Visited month of April 2011 – Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Reviews.

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Virgin Blue

Virgin Blue


One of Australia’s local airlines is “Virgin Blue” and is Australia’s second largest airline and the largest fleet to use the “Virgin” emblem. The name is a red livery and a spin-off of the Australian slang for “Blue” or “Bluey” for a red-headed male. “Virgin Blue” serves over 28 cities in Australia with its hub center in Brisbane. Founded by Sir Richard Branson, with a fleet of over 75 Embraers and Boeings in the Bowen Hills of Brisbane in August of 2000. They began with flights to Sydney from Brisbane, it evolved to cover almost all of Australians major cities. “Virgin Blue” took advantage of Ansett Australia failing in 2001 which gave it the advantage to become Australia’s second largest domesztic carrier rather than just a competitor. Copying pricing and strategy patterns of the United State’s Southwest Airlines and Ireland’s Ryanair by cutting out in-flight meals, printed tickets, etc. has given them a strategy that was successful for them. In February of 2011, Virgin Blue did a re-brand by announcing that the word “Blue” would be removed from its name in order to attract more business away from Qantas. They also built more revenue by utilizing their planes as flying billboards by painting them with adspace. Rating: 3 stars out of 5.


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Brisbane City YHA

Brisbane City YHA Youth Hostel
* http://www.yha.com.au/ * http://www.yha.com.au/hostels/qld/brisbane-surrounds/brisbane-yha-backpackers-hostel/ * 392 Upper Roma Street * Brisbane 4000 * Phone: (+617) 3236 1004 * Fax: (+617) 3236 1947 * Manager: Tim Hardidge * brisbanecity@yha.com.au *

One of Australia’s most popular “hostel” hotspots is the “Brisbane City YHA” in the heart of the bustling metropolis of Brisbane. With state of the art accomodation in a “hostel way” that serves the 21st Century backpacker’s needs. Nestled on High Roma Street, overlooking the river, the hostel is a multi-story building that offers safe lodging, affordability, sustainability, and amenities for the world travelling backpacker. Recipient of the “2010 Best Backpacker Accomodation” with the Queensland Tourism Awards. The hostel is decorated with Australian themes and floors, with the main lounge/dining area opening to a rooftop patio with a nice swimming pool. Overlooks of the city skyline, the Brisbane River, and the other hostels in the surrounding hood – next door is a cafe/bar, and numerous community rooms on the floors with group accomodations, TV lounges, game rooms, and lounges. Wireless internet throughout the building, secure parking in the back, and a group luggage storeroom with individual lockers/cabinets in the rooms. The hostel has air conditioned multi-share, twin, double, and family rooms many with ensuites. The staff is super friendly and helpful. My stays at the Brisbane Hostel was entertaining, fun, and exciting. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

During the recent floods, this Hostel opened their doors to Brisbane Flooding Volunteers to assist in the recent floods in Southeastern Queensland.

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