Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ken Shaw Park, Canandaigua, NY

I looked all over for detailed information on this park. Couldn't find what I was looking for so, after a visit there yesterday, decided to do my own post.

Ken Shaw Park is located at the north end of Canandaigua Lake. There are picnic grounds and shelters and a playground. There is also a 'bathhouse' with bathrooms, changing rooms and lockers.

What I was most interested in for yesterday was the swimming area. There is fenced off grounds on three sides of a swimming area and, for non-residents, the fee is $3 per adult and $2 per child (I admit I forgot the age range). After paying the fee and getting a wrist band, the exit takes you to a concrete patio that then changes to a grassy park-like area. And as you walk from the grassed area to the water there is also a sandy beach.

There are three roped off areas, all with lifeguards. The water was pretty clear yesterday and a bit cool to start but we got into it OK. The entire roped off area is, at most, chest deep on an adult. My grandchildren threw a beach ball around. They played in the sand. And we sat comfortable on the grass area, under an umbrella that I had brought.

The area is clean and well maintained. It is possible to buy snack food although we had our picnic cooler. All in all, we had a great afternoon.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How to Save Money on Travel Insurance

...AND avoid having to handle all those medical bills if something does happen?

Buy low cost medical coverage and emergency medical evacuation coverage from an insurance company that is a "primary payer."

There are many types of travel insurance you can buy. Personally, I buy full coverage from Access America through my travel agent at Sea4Sail which includes covering the cost of my trip in case we have to cancel before we depart.

But if you want just emergency medical coverage, there are ways to do it inexpensively. First, request a high limit on your coverage. Raising the limit will only cost a few dollars. If you have to be medically evacuated the cost can be very high, especially if you are traveling to a third world county.

Second, buy a policy that has "zero trip cost." In other words, the policy has nothing to do with the actual cost of your trip and won't even take effect until you first depart.

Third, buy a policy where the insurance company acts as "primary payer." As primary payer, all of the bills go directly to the insurance company. They take care of everything. With a "secondary payer", you get the bills first, must pay them upfront and then submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Save yourself the headache by buying the policy from either Travelex or Travel Guard, both of which offer primary payer policies. Or contact Travel Insurance Center which carries plans from both of these companies and can give you a quick and easy quote.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Looking For Someplace Special

Next year I’ve got a milestone birthday. I really would love to do a “family” thing and bring everyone together to celebrate it with me. While my birthday is in November, I figure I’d have to do this in the summer of 2011 so that my grandchildren could come along without missing school.

So the planner that I am, I have already started thinking about where and how. I’ve cruised a lot so of course I thought about a cruise. Also thought about going to a resort on a Caribbean island. But then I thought staying within the continental U.S. would make things a lot easier for all of us.

One place I have on my list to visit is Myrtle Beach so I started looking at a Myrtle Beach hotel or two. There are quite a few resorts in Myrtle Beach. One that was on the beach (for me), shore fishing (for my husband), golf (for my son), children’s activities (for the grandkids) and nearby shopping (for my sister) would really fit the bill like the place I found at

I’m definitely going to have to give this some serious thought.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to Research a Destination

Thorough planning of a visit to a destination can save time and money. By knowing what attractions are in the area you will be visiting, you can plan what you will see and how long you anticipate being at each attraction. You can also save money by researching for discounts and coupons for attractions that have an entrance fee. You might even be able to get in free if you have a membership to a similar attraction, such as a zoo or museum, in your hometown.

One of the best places to start, of course, is the Internet. Use Google or Yahoo! search engines and enter in your destination information. Of course you will end up with tons of sites so try and be as specific as possible about what you are looking for. For instance, if you will be visiting southern California with children, search for "family friendly attractions southern California."

When researching a destination, don't forget the travel section of your local library. Guide books used to include an address and telephone number. Now they also include a website URL. This is a great way to get detailed information on a place you have an interest in, include up-to-date information on hours and entrance fees.

Check out your local bookstore for a guidebook on your destination. Not only will it be loaded with information you might not have thought to ask about, it is a great place to write your notes about places you are interested in, keeping all the information in one place.

If you will be traveling in the U.S., call or write to the Chamber of Commerce or the Convention and Visitors' Bureau in the cities you'll be visit. Ask to be sent their tourism packet. And if you'll be traveling out of the country, contact that country's embassy or consulate to obtain tourist information.

Another great resource will be the local newspaper for the area you are visiting. Do a search in the archives for restaurant recommendations and area attractions. And be sure to check out the N.Y. Times online travel section. You'll find recommendations on accommodations, things to do, and restaurants.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Where to see manatees at Merritt National Wildlife Refuge

During our trip north from south Florida, we stopped at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I had read that it was a good place for the possibility of spotting manatees.

As we headed east from Titusville on route 406, I pulled over at the first parking lot at water's edge, right at the start of the new bridge. We got lucky and spotted two of them swimming up and down the coastline. We didn't get to see much of their bodies but there is no doubt what we saw were manatees.

As we made our way into the park, we took the first right after crossing the causeway, just before Gator Creek Road (there is a small wooden information display just past the road we took). This took us onto a winding but well packed dirt road and we meandered through the marshes, stopping to take photographs of mangroves and birds. We probably spent about 1 1/2 hrs in this area and I know we didn't cover all of the trails.

Next we headed northeast, through the park, on the road that would take us back to the mainland, north of Titusville. As we drove we spotted a sign for a Manatee Viewing Area. This was a right turnoff just after crossing the bridge at the Haulover Canal. We walked along the viewing platform and did see some manatees.

However, to make a very long story short (we visited the waterways along all four corners of the bridge), to really see manatees head over to the boat ramp area. In the small basin that led into the ramp we probably saw 10-15 manatees, very active and some no more than 6-10 feet away. We were told this was mating season and we could see a lot of "kissing" going on between the larger males and the smaller females.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where to Stay in Melbourne, FL

A recent trip up from south Florida had us staying at a Hampton Inn north of Melbourne, Fl. Technically located in Viera, Florida, we were located, literally, right next to the Brevard Zoo.

Using one of the motel/hotel coupon books available for free at the I95 rest areas, we stayed for $79.00 per night. This turned out to be a great location. A short drive of 15-20 minutes put us at one of the many public parks along the beach. And what was extra nice was that a short walk from the parking lot, on a boardwalk over the dune, brought us to the lovely sandy beach which was only 30-40 feet from the water. It was great not having the schlep all of our beach stuff over yards and yards of hot sand to get close to the water.

With lots of family style restaurants nearby, and the Brevard Zoo next door (which had free admittance Saturday nights from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.), I highly recommend this location for a beach vacation without breaking the budget at an expensive beachfront hotel.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vacation Planning Services for Disney World

We just returned from another trip to Florida and still have not visited Disney World. I have several friends who actually are members of a Disney club that gives them accommodations and special privileges. I have no idea what the details are but I'm sure if I ever want to find out, they'll be happy to share the information with me.

Most of these friends have young children and I can understand why Disney works for them. However, very close friends of ours, who are actually a bit older than us, have been to Disney by themselves and said it is wonderful and we don't know what we are missing. So maybe one of these days.

I know there are agencies that specialize in Disney vacations, providing free Disney vacation planning services. I think if I ever did travel to Disney, I would definitely use the services of a Disney destination agency. With all of the options for accommodations, dining, etc., it would really help to have an expert provide advice on itinerary planning, dining reservations, air, transfers, and events.