Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attiudes are Borading the Amtrack to the Poconos

Margaritaville Orlando

The Poconos are a very popular vacation spot in Pennsylvania. It draws people from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and more. In the last several years, it has gone through a renaissance to attract even more travelers.

One of the newest additions to the Poconos is the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority.  PNRRA signed a deal with Amtrak to begin passenger rail service between Scranton, Pennsylvania and New York City on this route there would be south and East Stroudsburg, Mount Pocono and Tobyhanna.  These stops will bring even more visitors from New York City to the most popular locations in the Poconos.

Along with the addition of a passenger service between Scranton and New York City there will be the development of a new resort.  Margaritaville Hotel and Resort announced the construction of a hotel, RV campsite, tiny homes, townhouses, and 1000 cottages.  Margaritaville Hotel and Resorts is also donating the land for the new Amtrak Station,  The resort complex should be finished by the middle of 2024.

According to Margaritaville officials, the new hotel will honor the original Pocono Manor Inn which was built by Quakers in 1902.  The building was nearly destroyed by a fire in 2019.  The Inn was built in 9 sections between 1902 and 1949 in several styles Eastlake, Shingle Style and American Craftsman.  One of the elements that the company will be bringing to Margaritaville from The Pocono Manor Inn is had a cottage community that was within walking distance from the Inn.  The Inn was placed on the Nation Register of Historic Places in 1997 (Wikipedia).

The Margaritaville site will have its ubiquitous LandShark Bar and Grill along with swimming pools which will include a 5 o’clock Somewhere swim up bar. Other amenities are a Margaritaville store, fitness center and a Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant. Some of the activities are the LandShark tube slide and a License to Chill Ice Pond.

This projects is long time coming.  There has been no rail service from NYC to Scranton since 1970.  Not only will this provide jobs and infuse ,ore travel dollars into the Poconos and other cities along the route but will allow better access to universities in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, like Rutgers, Penn State Scranton, Columbia, NYU, and St Johns.  Project estimates that the Amtrak service will welcome 425,000 riders a year with an influx of $87 million dollars a year to the area.  It looks like a Lovely Cruise in One Particular Harbour in on its way.


An Amtrak Station is Coming to the Poconos!

Margaritaville bringing a $1.3B village resort and Amtrak station to the Poconos

Pocono Manor Historic District

Restoring passenger rail through Poconos no longer a pipe dream. It’s reality. | Opinion

A little More Presidential with Eisenhower in Abilene, Kansas

I much prefer driving trips because there are so much to see along the way. I don’t mind flying to location find wanna concentrate on one thing and I am on a limited time budget. With Colorado, it was a case of driving because I’ve never gone through some of the states like Kansas. We ended up stopping at the Eisenhower presidential library and Museum. That was a real experience because we were able to expose Jimmy to his first presidential site. It’s in a lovely little town called Abilene, Kansas.

I had not realized that there was a presidential site in Abilene, Kansas. If it were not for the billboards, I would’ve missed it like I did a couple other sites because this blogger did not do her homework on presidential slice because I was more interested in what I was going to do in Colorado Springs. Lesson learned.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States. This site is his presidential library, Museum, and boyhood home. The home is where he lived in from 1898 to 1911. He is also buried there.

Dwight Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas in 1890. His family background is German/Pennsylvania Dutch. He came from a devout family and his mother was a Jehovah’s Witness. Eisenhower did not join a formal religion until 1952. He lived in Abilene Texas from 1898 to 1911. In 1911 he went to West Point and graduated in 1915.

After graduation, he continued his military career. He served during World War I, but not in Europe. In 1941, the chief the rank of brigadier general.  During World War II, he oversaw the invasion of Sicily, North Africa, France, and Germany.  After the war, he served as Army Chief of Staff, president of Columbia University, and the first Supreme Commander of NATO.  His distinguished military career let him into politics.

Eisenhower was not only a distinguished politician but he distinguished military hero. He cheats the distinction of five star general, which is quite rare. He ran for President as a Republican against Senator Taft. He did so to stop Taft’s agenda, which included posing NATO and opposing foreign entanglements. He won both elections in landslide against Addely Stevenson. He served as president from 1953 to 1961.

Most of Eisenhower’s platform included stopping the spread of communism and reducing the federal deficit, which was called the New Look Policy. Some of what Eisenhower is known for during his presidency are:

  • The expansion of social security
  • He continued Wilson’s New Deal policies
  • Continued Harry S. Truman’s policy of recognizing Taiwan as the legitimate government of China, which resulted in The Formosa Resolution
  • Condemned the Israeli, British, and French invasion of Egypt and he forced them to withdraw
  • He opposed McCarthyism and worked to end it
  • He signed The Civil Rights Act of 1957
  • Authorized the establishment of NASA
  • Authorized the Bay of Pigs Operation
  • Established the National Defense Education Act
  • Sent Army troops to enforce federal court orders which integrated schools in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Established the Interstate Highway System
  • Supported regime-changing military coups in Iran and Guatemala executed by his own administration
  • Admitted Alaska and Hawaii to the union
  • Was the first president under the Former Presidents Act
  • Appointed 5 Supreme Court Justices


Dafni Greek Taverna – NYC


Dafni Geek Taverna sits on West 42nd not far from Times Square.  I discovered a few years back when staying at the Pod Hotel across the street.  I have been back several times and have taken different friends to the restaurant and they have never disappointment as far as food and service quality.  I checked up on them a couple of times during the pandemic hoping they would make it through so we can plan a stop on our next trip and I am so very glad they did.

The restaurant is not very big but nicely laid out and has tables by the window which I enjoy since I like people watching. The decor is a little dark but it’s open and pleasant. The waiter is the same person I have seen over the last few years.  The service is prompt and congenial.

This time we enjoyed the Pikilia which is a choice of three spreads with Dolmades. We had the Fava, Tirokafteri and the Taramosalata.  The Fava is a yellow lentil bean dip with olive oil, onions and capers.  The Tirokafteri is a feta cheese spread.  Taramosalata is caviar dip with lemon and olive oil.  The Dolmades were very tender and don’t have that bitter bite to them.  I have included recipes from The Real Greek website.  This is a lovely website with a wonderful and extensive cache of recipes.

Real Greek Recipes:  Fava-

Real Greek Recipes:  Tirokafteri-

Real Greek Recipes:  Taramosalata Recipe-

Real Greek Recipes:  Dolmades-

Some of the items that I’ve had on their menu are the Horiatiki which is a tomato, cucumber, feta, black olive and red onion salad, Octapodo, which is a grill Octopus in red wine and herbs, Saganaki, Garodes Mikolimano which is shrimp sauted in tomato sauce with olives and feta and Pastichio.  The food has been consistently good and served quickly.

If you are in the area, stop by and enjoy a good meal and service.

Covid Testing and Travel…What you need to know.

My first trip of 2022 is at the end of this month.  I decided that this year I would travel less often but take bigger trips.  This trip will see me in Ponta Delgada, Portugal, Spain, France, Monaco, and Italy.  I am looking forward to having tapas under the Andalucian sun, admiring great cathedrals in Barcelona, reviving in a hot spring in Ponta Delgada, lounging with a coffee while drinking in the French Riviera, indulging in a classical musical festival in Lucca, posing for a tourist photo in Pisa and losing myself in the Borghese Gallery.  This now begs the question as to what I need to know for all these countries as far as travel restrictions and proof of vaccine and covid testing.

There have been so many changes to the guidelines when it comes to Covid vaccines, boosters, and testing along with mask guidelines.  It is very confusing and sometimes a question as to where to look for the information. The CDC website and the state department website are usually my starting points. Both have the most up-to-date information as far as all the guidelines and restrictions.  As of April 18, mask mandates on flights will be suspended. I’m hoping that stays. I remember flying to Ireland last year with a mask and it was not an easy time.

Masking is one of the first restrictions that I was concerned about. I’m not sure what the European guidelines and mandates are so I’m just going to be prepared.  One way around this, at least for me, is to just carry a couple of masks with me. They are small and easily tucked into a pocket or purse. Currently, most mask restrictions have been lifted but I am not sure what this means abroad. I found a website called reopen Europe and is run by the EU. It’s at  This site provides an interactive map so that you can find the most current information as far as masking and other coronavirus measures that are taking place. One of the general measures that I found are that, facemasks are compulsory in indoor public spaces in Spain. I’ll be checking that before we start our adventures there.

I am traveling via ship to Europe and the vacinnation guidelines are pretty clear.  Actually, the guidelines for vaccinations and boosters are very clear for whatever country you travel to. Again, you can refer to the Europa website above and all travel sites, cruise sites, and airlines have the vaccination requirements for wherever you’re traveling on there.  It is very clear that all the countries that I have researched have vaccination requirements and most have booster requirements, too.  As far as my vacation, I received a letter recently and with what we need to board.  You’ll find the NCL vaccination and resting requirements further down.

One of the most dues for travel is not only vaccination and booster, but testing negative or having a confirmed case of Covid within the last 90 days.  What shocked me about the testing is the wide range of cost. Norwegian gave us a website to schedule a test up to four days ahead of the cruise. We have to have evidence of a negative test before we are allowed to board. The test that are allowed for travel are the PCR and antigen test.  NCL need to aside called Test For Travel.  The prices for the PCR test range from $125-$229. So, be careful before you book the side that is closest to you. You’ll be very surprised. NCL also sent a suicide called Inspired Diagnostics. This send you a PCR test which you complete during an online appointment. You send the sample to the lab and then they send you the results. This costs $95. If you do not get a test, NCL will perform one prior to embarkation and that will cost you $99.  The antigen test is less pricey but not always accepted.

I found a great travel app called Tripit.  Not only did this site draw my reservations from my emails and put them into the app but it allowed me to merge them into one trip package and then provide me information about Covid restrictions and guidelines for the countries I’m visiting. I was also able to download PDF documents like boarding passes and itineraries from Priceline or Expedia. This is keeping it all in one location and making it easy for me to manage all the digital information that I need.  It also has a place where you can input information like your drivers license, passport and even TSA KND number. I also updated the spot with emergency contacts. Yes, you can lose your phone but you can always log into the site from anywhere because it has a web login to support the app.  I actually love the app and highly recommend it.

So, the moral to this story is do you research to make sure you know what the guidelines and restrictions are before you travel. Also, beware not all testing sites are created equal when it comes to cost. I hope to hear about some of your adventures.  Happy and safe travels.

Norwegian Cruise Line Safe Travel Requirements

It’s Never a Good Time To Say Goodbye: Our Sweet Roscoe is Gone

It is with a heavy heart that the Christopher family had to say goodbye to their beloved and beautiful boy, Roscoe. He passed away from complications due to cancer and luckily we had an extra year with him. He went quickly and in my arms, hearing me say his name and telling him we loved him.  Even with the extra time to say goodbye, it wasn’t enough.

We had Roscoe since he was a puppy and was with us for 14 short years. It’s never easy to say goodbye and my heart is broken as are the hearts of my kids, Amanda and Alex. He was a loving pet and the most perfect little guy. Beautiful bright, loving and entertaining. He was everything a dog should be. Mr. Happy was my little woolly mammoth,  our marshmallow. I will sorely miss the joy on his face when I would come home and our travel adventures together. It’s hard for us not to see his all out exuberance when we walk in the door. Rest well, our little love.





Ireland the Land of Great Writers and a Visit to Yeats

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharperWB Yeats

Ireland Before You Die

Ireland is a beautiful country with rolling green fields, rugged landscapes, and a land of green. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and would definitely go again. On this trip the Bestie and I did the northern part of Ireland. We started in Dublin, drove north to the Giants Causeway, down through Donegal and Galway, and to the cliffs of Moher. We were fortunate enough to drive which meant we were able to take stops along the way and one of those stops was the grave of Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats.

I’ve read a quite a bit of Irish literature. I remember back in undergraduate  and having my first exposure was to James Joyce. I read Dubliners and Ulysses for a philosophy class. I remember both books quite vividly and have read them from time to time over the years. I have also enjoyed the Importance of Being Earnest and a Woman of No Consequence on stage. I’ve read most of Eoin Colfer and Gulliver’s Travels, enjoyed Yates with a cup of tea, discussed Dracula at book club, and delighted in Pygmalion.  So, when I had the chance to swope by and pay my respects to one my favorites, I took it.

Yeats was born in Sandymount in 1865, was educated in Dublin and London, spent childhood holidays in Sligo, and was buried there.  He was initially buried in 1939 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in France.  He was quoted as saying, ‘If I die, bury me up there [at Roquebrune] and then in a year’s time when the newspapers have forgotten me, dig me up and plant me in Sligo’.”  His family moved his remains to Drumcliff Churchyard in Sligo, County Clare in 1949.  HIs epitaph is taken from one of his final poems entitled Under Ben Bulben, which is the name of the mountain by the church.  The epitaph suggests that Yeats is more concerned about his legacy than he is of death.

Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!


We stopped at Drumcliff Churchyard on our way to the Cliff of Moher and easily found it.  It was a beautiful area.  It’s the site of an old monastery that was built around 560 AD by Columba.  Yeats’ great grandfather was a rector at the church, which was built around 1809.  The celtic cross showing the old testament on one side and the new testament on other other are dated to the 9th/10th century.  The cross and a stone tower are all that’s left of the monastery.  This site is peaceful and worth the go around, especially the stained glass windows.  Have a look and enjoy!




Here’s a favorite about growing old, watching the world pass you by, feeling out of place, and being neglected by society.

Sailing to Byzantium


That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees,
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.



An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.


O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.


Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


A few Irish authors to look into:

  1. James Joyce (Dublin)
  2. Oscar Wilde (Dublin)
  3. W.B Yeats (Sandymount)
  4. Roddy Doyle (Dalkey)
  5. Maeve Binchy (Dublin)
  6. Jonathan Swift (Dublin)
  7. Samuel Beckett (Dublin)
  8. CS Lewis (Belfast)
  9. Eoin Colfer (Wexford)
  10. John Banville (Wexford)
  11. George Bernard Shaw (Dublin)
  12. Bram Stoker (Dublin)


Top 10 Irish writers of all time

10 of the Best Irish Poets

Great Irish Writers,30%20monasteries%20founded%20by%20Columbkille.,behind%20for%20the%20Irish%20people


Packing for Your Trip and Keeping it Clean on a Cruise

This year I plan on doing a lot more extended travel trips. As much as I love traveling, going on a monthly trip was exhausting and I felt like I could have done better.  The later part of the year was hampered by a bad knee and Covid restrictions and I felt constantly hurried.  This year I am traveling more thoughtfully.  I’m taking longer trips and having some town time in between. I don’t want to jump from place to place and not be able to soak in what I’ve seen and what I’ve done. I really want to catalog those memories in a meaningful way.

So, with traveling for long periods of time here comes some challenges. One of the challenges is packing. I am now confronted with luggage restrictions for a longer period of packing. I need to think about what I should pack, minimize overpacking but yet still stay clean and dressed.

The first trip is Europe. I plan on taking my Ebag Mother Lode backpack.  This backpack is a suitcase and worked really well for me when I went to Ireland last year. I needed to pack heavier clothing because of the weather. We encountered an average of 50° degrees and rain and sometimes it was chillier along the coast. This piece of luggage was was the best thing I have bought for travel and even talked my SO into one.

Mother Lode on Ebags

What I really like about this backpack is that I can either check it or use it as a carry-on. I took a look at restrictions for what size I can carry on and this meets the specs beautifully. This comes in at 22″ × 14″ × 10″.  It has a sleeve on the side where you can tuck in your bottle of water.  There are grab and go pockets on the outside for snacks or important documents. On the back of the bag there is a zippered sleeve for your laptop. There is also a front flap that you can unzip to get inside the suitcase so you don’t have to open the whole thing.  The straps are adjustable and there is a belly strap on the front. It’s really well-built and there’s also an extra zipper around the whole suitcase so that it will expand another one and a half inches. I bought this exact model and have yet to regret the purchase.  What I really like about this backpack is that it allows my arms to be free.

I like cruises. At this point in my life, it’s not about getting dressed up. It’s all about the destination. Having said that, there still is a dress code. Norwegian has the following on their site:

What clothes should I pack?

When it comes to what to wear, you can go resort casual or get decked-out and look your best – it’s your call. That’s the freedom of Freestyle Cruising. We even have special “Dress-Up or Not Night.” It’s the perfect opportunity to get your portrait taken with your family, that special someone or even with the ship’s Captain.

Cruise Casual: the Freedom of Freestyle Cruising

Dress cruise casual anytime during the day, in the buffet and in most specialty restaurants. For women, it includes summer and casual dresses, skirts, regular or capri pants, shorts, jeans and tops. Khakis, jeans, shorts and casual shirts are fine for men. Swimwear is acceptable at the buffet and outdoor restaurant, but a shirt or a cover-up and footwear are required.

Be sure to pack a sweater – the air conditioning can be chilly. Kids 12 and under are welcome to wear nice shorts in all our restaurants.

Please Note: We want you to be comfortable, but tank tops for men, flip flops, baseball caps, visors and jeans that are overly faded, with holes or tears and worn below the hips are not permitted in main dining rooms or specialty restaurants.

All Decked-out: Smart Casual

Dress smart casual in our more formal dining room or in our more upscale specialty restaurants. For women, it includes slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts and tops. For men, it’s jeans or slacks with a collared shirt and closed-toed shoes. Kids 12 and under are welcome to wear nice shorts in all our restaurants.

Ready for Adventure: Shore Excursions

Think about the shore excursions you’ll be taking and pack accordingly, including comfy walking shoes. For kids and adults it’s good to pack a pair of closed-toed shoes. You can check within the specific shore excursion for more information.

Special Events: Theme Nights and Parties

Our newest event, Norwegian’s Night Out, is the perfect opportunity to get dressed up for an evening of cocktails, fine dining and great entertainment. You may also want to pack an all-white ensemble for our iconic White Hot Party.

In general, there are rules, guidelines and a certain amount of etiquette when dressing for a cruise.  I’ve looked into several other cruises and spoken with avid cruise travelers and there is a certain amount of overlap when it comes to cruise style.  I am not the fashion police nor the ultimate authority on fashion. Use these guidelines, rules and etiquette at your discretion. At the end of the day, you do you. It’s a matter of what you’re comfortable with.

  1. Be careful with what type of bathing suit you wear. This may cause controversy but watch see-through bathing suits and the potential for breakdowns.
  2. Be careful with wearing camouflage. The reason for this is depending on where you sail. You may not be allowed to disembark at certain Caribbean islands. You could be arrested but more than likely you’ll be told to go and change. You can wear camouflage on the ship just beware of your port.
  3. Ever since my knee surgery and the pandemic, I’ve gotten used to more comfortable shoes and frankly I err on the side of comfortable shoes on vacation. Your choice of footwear is really important because you are going to do a lot of walking. Now is not the time to break out the stilettos, especially if you have not worn them in a very long time.  This is also not the time to break in new shoes.
  4. While I’m a fan of everything comfortable, I personally think that sleepwear should stay in your cabin.
  5. Check the weather. We are sailing over the Atlantic at the end of April and then hitting several warmer countries at the beginning of May. So, from what I understand there’s a potential for rain on the ocean and some chilly weather and then our ports will be warmer and sunny. You may need to pack for different types of weather, so be aware.

Last but not least on the discussion list is how to pack for extended trips. NCL’s luggage policy is:

Bag Allowances:  Each guest is allowed two pieces of checked luggage with a 50-pound maximum each, same as airlines. Luggage should be clearly labeled with your name, address and contact number.

Luggage Tags:  You may find and print your luggage tags on the last page of your eDocs. For your convenience, we recommend that your luggage tags be placed on your bags prior to arrival at the port.

Bring an Additional Small Bag: It may take a few hours after embarkation for your luggage to be delivered to your stateroom. Likewise, suitcases are collected on the last night of your cruise. To avoid any complications, be sure to bring a small bag such as a backpack for carrying any necessary medication, valuables, important documents and need-to-have items.

Since I’m on a tight packing budget because I am packing one bag, I like to wash and reuse some of my clothing.  I usually take a half a bar of Fels Naptha with me so that I can wash some things and use the shower to rinse out and hang my things.  This trip, I will be trying out sink suds travel liquid detergent.  This product is TSA complaint and comes in individual packets and is made to use on a range of fabrics including delicates.

Another option for doing laundry on a cruise are laundry facilities. Norwegian along with MSC and Royal Caribbean do not offer while Carnival and Disney to offer laundry facilities.  There are some cruise lines that have shifts that you have like Holland America.  Some cruise lines, like Viking, have complimentary laundry facilities.  Prices run between $2 to $4 dollars per wash and per dry.  Detergent and fabric softener would cost you extra.  Be sure to check your cruise line before leaving.  I found on NCL:

Laundry & Dry Cleaning:  For your convenience, we offer laundry and dry-cleaning services. Express, same-day service is also available. Just complete the order form in your stateroom and your stateroom steward will pick up your laundry and return it to you clean and folded. Please note that laundry is not self-service

Another option is valet laundry services.  This is an expensive option and one you might want to save for special circumstances.  Washing, ironing, and laundering a pair of jeans with Norwegian Cruise Line averages at around $7.95, for a t-shirt this costs $4.95. Shorts also cost $4.95. A dress costs around $11.95 and underwear as little as $1.95.  Norwegian usually does a “Fill a Bag” special for $20.  Fill the laundry bag as full as you can for a wash, dry, fold at $20 total.  This occurs around halfway through the cruise. If it’s a longer cruise, ie more than 10 days, there may be two bag specials.  You will find the notification for the special in the daily Freestyle cruise news.  There is a way to have free laundry.  At the Gold membership rewards, laundry is 50% off and at Latitudes rewards level, laundry is free.You are not allowed to bring and iron onboard because it can compromise the electrical system, but you are able to borrow one.  If you have a balcony you are not able to hang clothes on the railing.

So there it is .  The quick and the somewhat easy way of keeping your clothes clean.  Be prepared and pack smart.  Remeber you are on a weight limit if you are flying back home and you will more than likely be purchasing souvenirs and goods.  Check your airlines, TSA, and the cruise line for updated information.  More importantly have fun!





How to Navigate Pitfalls and Perils of Travel with the Rules of Abadonment

I am fascinated with abandoned places.  It calls to the archaeologist in me.  These locations are fascinating because they are a marker of what once was and begs exploration, research, and pause.  The pause is to question why was and is this site significant and of greater importance.  At least to me it is to potentially answer the question “So what?”.  There are so many sites to explore throughout the world with the payoff of exploring these place comes the possibility of risk.

With the advent of warmer weather, loosening Covid restrictions, and increased travel, there will be more opportunities to explore.  There are factors to consider when you are looking to explore abandoned areas.  So, while not always a rule follower, I like to stay out of jail and harms way.  There are some guidelines I like to follow when it comes to abandoned sites.

  1. Research the site you want to explore.  Most often there is information about the site online and especially how to access the site and who may own the site.  I always take this with a grain of salt since the accuracy can be an issue depending upon where you find the information.


  1. When in doubt make a phone call.  This contact can provide you with a wealth of information.   Be careful how you identify yourself.  I let them know who I am and that I am a travel write looking to review the site.  Don’t stretch the truth, these places have heard it all.  Ask permission, let them know how many of you are visiting and if there are any guidelines that you need to follow.


  1. Assume the risk if you can’t or won’t make a contact prior to your visit since some sites are closed to the public and off-limits.  This means that if you are trespassing you may be arrested which means jail, public service and/or a fine.  One place that is legal to visit but illegal to explore the buildings is Centralia, PA since the Commonwealth owns the buildings.  I saw piece on Dark Tourist (episode 5: Europe) about the Cyprian town of Varosha that was left abandoned due to a Turkish invasion.  It is patrolled by the Turkish military and off limits.  Some places are not safe.There are some abandoned nuclear sites that are still registering high levels of radiation (Dark Tourist episode 4: The ‘Stans).  Some sites are in poor condition and can cause accidents due to structures falling apart.  Another concern may be wild animals.


  1. Read the signs around the sites.  This will give you a clue as to what to expect as far as the legal ramifications, trail information and potential hazards.


  1. Be prepared.  Make sure that you have extra batteries, enough photo and video storage, water, snacks, flashlights, a map and information.  Also, let someone know where you are.  I share Life 360 with a friend so we know where she is on a date or where I am when I’m on the road. Keep you cell phone handy and just know that there may be poor reception at some of these sites.  Walkie talkies come in handy.


  1. Do not take anything from the site and please leave it as is for the next person.  This is the beauty of these sites and if a majority of visitors take a piece of the site, there would be little left to explore.  In some cases, it could be considered stealing.


  1.  Most importantly….Beware and take care.  Be aware of your surroundings, where you are and what is coming near.


      1. Dark Tourist Series
      2. Allianz Travel Insurance

Abandoned Presidential Heads

Williamsburg, Virginia is a history nerd’s dream with so many sites and trails to follow.  Most abandoned sites in Williamsburg have been assigned a public status and there are so many that are abandoned and forgotten.  I found a site that I wanted to explore at Hankins Farm.  Imagine a grounded Mount Rushmore.  A field where there are 42 20-foot tall presidential busts silently staring into the horizon.  That’s Washington to Clinton immortalized by David Adickes sitting in a field.

The history of these busts is interesting.  They once resided at Presidents Park next to the Presidential Pet Museum in Williamsburg.  The Presidents Park closed when the location was sold.  The park went into foreclosure due to lack of visitors which was caused by a poor location.  The busts were set to be demolished but instead they were rescued.  Howard Hankins, who helped build the park, secured the sculptures, transported them to his farm for safekeeping and is keeping them until a new location can be secured.  The moving process cracked the necks and smashed a hole into the top of the busts’ head.  Even though the site is open to the public because Hankin’s does not have a tourist attraction license, it is open during special events.  The site has security and surveillance equipment in the form of cameras.

The preservation efforts are documented on “All the President’s Heads”.  The documentary can be found here :

I called to get some information since the site is on private party and there was construction at the old entrance which has as a location sign making the site as “Hampton Roads Materials”.  There is a phone number that connects to Hankins Farm site.  He explained that there is limited access to the site since the statues are caving in I was directed to the for details on upcoming events but there are no other times for visitors.  He mentioned that there was an event on the Saturday was heading back home, so unfortunately this was a bust.  These events are part of “Day of Virginia’s Abandoned and Forgotten” event hosted with stories told by Virginia’s premiere “abandoned” photographers and John PlashaI.  I checked the website and there are events coming up on March 26, March 27, April 23, April 24.  Some of the events are for photo shoots and light painting.  Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

For more information email “”



Atlas Obscura Website

John Plashal Photo Website

Presidential Pet Museum Website


2022 Travel Documents and Travel Updates: A Whole Lot of Important Information

Change has been and is the standard of how we live.  It seems like it will be going on for a while. I know a lot of you have been travel planning, whether it is for business or pleasure.  Restrictions are changing and I have found some new updates concerning restrictions and such. So, I did a little research and found some updates.

The US Department of State updated their website on January 10 as far as passports and also updated their website on December 30 as far as Covid restrictions on airlines.  I also included some travel advisories from the State Department.  Only the most recent 10 are listed and if you do not see your destination there, please go to the their travel advisory page to check out more destinations and the most current information about those advisories. The information below is directly from their the State Department site.

The airline websites are fairly standard across the board as far as information. Below are links to some of the top sites that have interactive maps with their most recent information.  If you don’t see what you need from these 3 airlines or you airline is not listed, call the airline or further search the site.  The TSA has extended the mask mandate on airplanes until March 18, 2022.

The TSA website has a travel page that answers a lot of general airline questions and is worth the visit.  If you want to make sure that you are within limits of the what you can pack or carry on, I have included a bit of that information.  You might want to go and check out the list since it makes for interesting reading and includes some oddly specific items like like live fish, a Harry Potter wand, and a tortilla press.  Although, it might make for an interesting trip.

If you are traveling with a pet, the State Department offers information, the restrictions and guidelines your destination may have.  The TSA has guidelines for small dogs only and yes you can carry wet and dry food with you.  For large dogs, you will need to have them onboard the plane in the cargo hold.  Each airline has different guidelines, so check whatever airline you are flying.  I have listed a couple below.

Something else to consider is when you are traveling with children or an unaccompanied minor. The State Department has guidelines for documents needed for unaccompanied minors on their site.  I have listed links to a few airlines and if your airline is not listed contact them for further information.  TSA also has guidelines for screening children. If a child is 13 years or older than the standard screening procedures apply. If a child appears to be 12 years or younger, then the parent is consulted on any concerns they may about screening their child. For more information check out TSA.

If you are looking for information on what documents you need to travel, check with your airline or TSA.  The TSA has guidelines for verifying your identity on their site.  The State Department provides a checklist for documents needed for traveling. The state department has guidelines for documents needed for unaccompanied minor on their site.  They also offer a Safe Traveler Enrollment Program so that you can receive updates about your destination and help the U.S. Embassy, friends, or family contact you in case of an emergency.

One final note.  Make sure that you check the airline website and the State Department website before you travel. This is to ensure that you are not reaching the airport or whatever departure site you are going to and not having all the documents you need or having to rid your luggage of something. Also, restriction and guidelines may be different for cruises and train travel.  Check those out, too.  As always, stay safe and happy travels.

Liquid Guidelines for Carry-On & Checked Baggage

The FAA limits the total amount of restricted medicinal and toiletry articles, including aerosols, in checked baggage. The total aggregate quantity per person cannot exceed 2 kg (70 ounces) or 2 L (68 fluid ounces). The capacity of each container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml (17 fluid ounces). Here is more information on the liquids rule:

Traveling with Children

American:  Guidelines and information about traveling with infants and travelers 18 and under.

Delta:  Guidelines and information about traveling with infants and travelers 18 and under.

United:  Guidelines and information about traveling with infants and travelers 18 and under.

Unaccompanied Minor Travel

American:  Information and guidelines including age rules, booking, fees, connections, and documents.

Delta:  Information and guidelines including age rules, booking, fees, connections, and documents.

United:  Information and guidelines including age rules, booking, fees, connections, and documents.

Flying with a Pet

American:  information about carry-on and cargo options along with fees and temperature restrictions.

Delta:  Information about carry-on and cargo options along with fees and destination guidelines

United: information about carrying on cargo options along with fees and links to book your pet onto the flight.


American Travel Updates:  OneWorld page with updates on travel possibilities, entry restrictions and COVID-19 requirements by country

Delta Discover Map:  Interactive map showing what is open for travel and entry requirements and restrictions and COVID-19 requirements by country

United Covid Map:  Interactive page with updates on restrictions and entry requirements and restrictions and COVID-19 requirements by country

Passport Operations in Response to COVID-19

What to Expect:

  • As of October 29, routine processing is 8 to 11 weeks and expedite processing (for an additional $60) is 5 to 7 weeks.
  • Our processing times begin the day we receive your application at a passport agency or center, not the day you mail your application or apply for a passport at a local acceptance facility.
  • We are no longer using door-to-door timeframes to describe routine and expedited service.
  • Mail times vary across the country. Plan ahead and apply early.

Select Trackable Mail:

  • Send your application to us via USPS Priority Mail Express and pay an extra $18.32 for 1-2 day delivery of your completed passport. These services provide the fastest turnaround and protect your important documents

Use Self-Service Tools Online: Get your questions answered immediately by using one of the self-service tools available on our site. Check online for your passport status. Customer service representatives will not give status updates over the phone.

Planning to Travel? Apply Early! Apply at least 4-6 months before planned travel. Due to limited availability for urgent travel appointments, we cannot guarantee you can receive in-person service at a passport agency or center. We are prioritizing customers with life-or-death emergencies. We do not charge a fee to make an appointment. Visit our Passport Agency and Center page to learn more.

Appointments are Limited, Must Be Scheduled by Phone: Call 1-877-487-2778 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, Mondays through Fridays. Our appointment line is closed on weekends and federal holidays. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call 1-888-874-7793 for TDD/TTY teletype services.

We temporarily disabled the online appointment booking system to ensure our very limited appointments go to applicants who need them for urgent travel. You will need wait to speak to a customer service representative to book an appointment. Learn more to see if you qualify for an appointment.

Renew By Mail: Adults with 10-year passports can renew them by mail instead of appearing in person.

*If you applied over 11 weeks ago for routine service or 7 weeks for expedited service and have not received your passport, we may have sent you a letter requesting more information. We cannot continue processing your application until you respond to this letter. Learn more on our Respond to a Letter or Email page.

Travel Advisories



Date Updated

Hong Kong Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel March 1, 2022
Morocco Travel Advisory Level 3: Reconsider Travel March 1, 2022
China Travel Advisory Level 3: Reconsider Travel March 1, 2022
Vietnam Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel February 28, 2022
Saba Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel February 28, 2022
Russia Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel February 28, 2022
Mali Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel February 28, 2022
Jamaica Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel February 28, 2022
British Virgin Islands Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel February 28, 2022
Belarus Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel February 28, 2022

New Requirements for Air Travelers to the U.S.

Updated Pre-departure Testing Requirements for Air Travelers to the U.S.

Starting on December 6, air travelers aged two and older, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, are required to show documentation of a negative viral test result taken within one day of the flight’s departure to the United States before boarding. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight. That includes all travelers – U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and foreign nationals.

If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country, and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

Exemptions will be considered on an extremely limited basis. Please visit the CDC for more information about exemptions and the requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19, including types of accepted tests for all air passengers arriving in the United States.

Please see the CDC website for further information on the Omicron Variant.

CDC Order

The CDC recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. International travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants. Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you do travel, follow all CDC recommendations before, during, and after travel.

U.S. citizens who choose to travel internationally should be aware that they may face unexpected challenges related to COVID-19 as they attempt return to the United States or attempt to travel from one overseas destination to another.  If you choose to travel internationally, be sure to make contingency plans, as you may find yourself having to remain in a foreign country longer than originally planned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order, which took effect November 8, 2021, requiring all  non-immigrant, non-citizen air travelers to the United States to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States remains in effect. Travelers should monitor the CDC website on international travel for the latest guidance regarding testing requirements.

Exceptions to the CDC Order requiring all air passengers to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States are extremely limited to the following groups:

  • children under 18
  • people medically unable to receive the vaccine
  • emergency travelers who do not have timely access to a vaccine

Humanitarian exemptions to the CDC order are granted on an extremely limited basis.

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