Posted in Uncategorized

Williamsport PA Little League World Series

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Before college or Major League Baseball, there is Little League. Every August the best of Little League from all over the world gather in Williamsport Pennsylvania with hopes of claiming the International championship.

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For nearly two weeks, these young players converge on Williamsport and are transformed in a few short days from school kids to rock stars, complete with fans vying for autographs and photos, each fan hoping they are meeting a future young Ted Williams or Babe Ruth.

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Fans of all ages come from across the globe to watch these kids play and enjoy an old fashion game of baseball and have the chance to slide down the hill on a cardboard box.

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This year as the Texas coast was getting a grand slam by Hurricane Harvey, a group of players from Lufkin, Texas were battling their way through the competition becoming the US Little League Champions. Nicknamed the Thundering 13, (an appropriate name considering the storm that was raging in Texas).

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These talented players lost in the end to the International champs, Japan, but still made their home state proud.

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The town that host The Little League Series each year is Williamsport. This sleepy little town in north central Pennsylvania, wakes up in mid August like an insomniac with a quad shot cafe Americano. Williamsport “Welcomes The World” is a two week celebration of youth athletics worldwide.

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Politics and party lines take a back seat to new friends from all over the world.
Every business puts out a sign welcoming Little League, many restaurant serves “baseball” themed dishes.

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The Friday before the final World Series game, the town host a street fair with music, dancing, food, and vendors. The town hosts a parade the first week of games featuring the teams, and everyone does their best to make the young people here to play baseball feel at home.

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If you plan to attend the event, be sure to book a hotel room well in advance as everything sells out early. There are plenty of small local hotels in town, as well as name brand hotels to stay in, and lots of great places to eat or drink. Some of our favorite places in Williamsport include.

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The Holiday Inn -Given the choice between Holiday Inn and the connected Holiday Inn Express, I would chose the Holiday Inn, both hotels give the same great service, and provide clean quiet rooms, but you cannot get additional IHG points at the James Restaurant or bar, and in our life “points rule.”

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The Brickyard – Great little restaurant off Pine Street, great place to catch your favorite sports events, have one of their signature fishbowl cocktails, or get a great burger, try The Toasted Brick or The Chuck burger.

Franco’s – Some delicious Italian food, and service that makes you feel like your home. The Torts and Tips are a yummy combination of flavors. If you want something a bit spicy, that will burn your mouth but leaving you craving more, try the stuffed cherry peppers, the hot combined with provolone cheese and prosciutto will bring tears to your eyes, but you wont be able to stop eating them (a hint, the homemade bread helps to break the heat, so you can continue to torture your tastebuds with the delicious flavors. They have a great wine selection, as well as a full bar. If you want to assure a seat make reservations in advance, if you want to be where the fun is ask if you can have a table in the main dining area, if not you may wind up at one of the 3 tables near the bathrooms. Not bad seats, a little quieter, but not my first choice.

 

Bullfrogs – Open on Sunday, this is a great place to get a great craft beer or a bite to eat.

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Boomtown – This place is new to the area, but they are raising the standards for everyone else. Their Muddy River stout is one of the best porters I have ever have, combine it as a boiler maker with a shot of their chocolate vodka and you have the perfect desert in a glass (or just a delicious adult beverage). Their delicious burger with a fried egg, on an English muffin made you feel like you were combining dinner with breakfast, in a very yummy way. The service is great, everyone is very friendly! Seating is available inside and outside. I look forward to going back just to check them out again.

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Julia’s – Great place for coffee and breakfast or lunch. I had the quiche then sat and enjoyed my coffee at a lovely window seat. Friendly service and good food.

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The Old Corner Hotel – Great bar with lots of room to sit, have a drink and meet friends. If you want to sit outside, they have a great courtyard with beautiful grapevines (complete with grapes when in season.) friendly service and great cocktails. Bring your ID, they take carding seriously.

Moon and Raven – Fun little Irish Pub. They make a yummy Sidecar.
Loved the Irish Nachos. Also ordered the Irish Stew Pie, the crust was delicious, but there were far more carrots then I would have preferred. Service was good. We had a bit of a wait, but entertained ourselves by checking out the antique store in the building while we waited.

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Williamsport Mural – This beautiful mural takes up 3 walls and is at least three stories high. Featured are many local residence whose good works are memorialized in the life like paintings. There are celebrities who once visited, as well as 9-11 heroes. The art work done by Michael Pilate leaves you wishing had been able to get to know the people depicted on the walls.

Serenity Studios Massage – If your muscles are feeling a little sore while visiting, check out this place for a nice massage at a good price.

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The great thing about Little League Baseball is that each year brings a new crop of hopefuls all coming with dreams of playing with the world watching. I look forward to having the opportunity to be able to return in the future to see what super stars will emerge from the worlds youth.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Monterey

I wonder what the ghosts of Cannery Row think as they wander through the modern streets of Monterey now. Are they happy that people can visit and enjoy the beauty of this town where they worked in harsh, cold conditions so many years ago.

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At The Clemont Intercontinental at Monterey Bay, the Concierge Lucile is a wealth of knowledge, not only regarding where to eat and play in the area but also all about the history of the area. She remembers her mother working in the factory canning the sardines. Walking along the railroad tracks as a child in the area that is now the trail. And she wears the same button that the factory workers once wore to identify themselves. She shared with me how the owner of the hotel has a great respect for the history of the area and does what he can to maintain it. The Clemont Intercontinental is one of the only hotels on the waterfront.

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The breathtaking view of Monterey Bay combined with the friendly, helpful people and comfortable, beautiful rooms are among the reasons we return to stay here each time we visit.

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There is so much to see in this area, that our planned visit time of 3 days was hardly enough to scratch the surface.
Some places we recommend during your visit include

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Fish Hopper
Located on the water, this restaurant not only has delicious food, but also beautiful Bay views. If you ask at the front desk they will give you a coupon for the featured appetizer of the day. Reservations are recommended especially on weekends.

Whale Watching

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We went out on the Princess, though the crew did not engage very much with us, we did see quite a bit of whale activity out in the water. You have 2 choices of purchase, the lower deck that is about 45.00, and the upper deck that was 65.00.


We purchased the upper deck, and it was much quieter up there. Most of these boats squeeze as many people as possible on the boats making the viewing difficult this boat was no different, but having fewer people did seem to make a difference.

C-Food – Located in the Intercontinental Hotel, they had delicious food and great drinks. Their blood Mary bar allowed you enough choices in your drink to make a meal. In addition to a variety of drink toppings they also allowed for a variety of mixes for the drink. Don chose tequila and tomatillo juice that made for a nice snappy drink to start his morning. I went for the more traditional vodka and tomato juice, but topped it off with shrimp, olives, bacon, celery and tomato. It was a feast in itself.

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At breakfast on the weekends they had a guitar player who had the perfect volume for a nice breakfast. We sat outside and enjoyed the perfect weather and even saw a few whale spouts.

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Sly McFlies – Great drinks, unique martini selection. On Friday night they had a band playing cover tunes with dancing. They are open late, its a great place to go to relax or kick up your heels in the evening.

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The Aquarium – Located at the end of Cannery Row, their aquarium is not only a fascinating place to see ocean creatures, but also a good place to learn about our responsibility of protecting our oceans and the life that dwells beneath it.

There were several educational displays and staff around to answer questions. We went on a Friday and it was relatively busy, when we walked by Saturday the line was pretty backed up, so if you have a choice go on a weekday.

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Monterey Coastal Trail / Cannery Row- This wide cemented path goes into town and along the Ocean path. You can rent bikes to ride it,or walk it.

Featured along one side of the path are characters and quotes from John Steinbeck novels. There are also beautiful ocean views, as well as access to other interesting historical places to see.

Old Fishermans Wharf
Celebrating 50 years of “The Summer of Love” go here for great restaurants, to hire boats to take you out for fishing and whale watching.

There are lots of shops to find the perfect souvenir, delicious food, and of course talented musicians to entertain you.

 

Monterey- Cannery Row, Carmel and Pebble Beach are beautiful areas, and a perfect vacation if your looking to escape the heat of the summer. With the Bay Breeze you will need a light jacket at night, and during the day will wish you could spend every moment outside.
Great food, friendly people, and perfect weather make for an ideal vacation spot!

Posted in Uncategorized

Loving Las Vegas

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There is no shortage of places see, eat and drink when you go to Las Vegas. It’s a town filled with delicious food, amazing talent and of course plenty of adult beverages.
A few places we saw this visit included :

Food and drink

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“Off The Strip” a restaurant between between The Linq and The Flamingo. Good food, nice portions and decent prices hi-light this stop.
It was Friday night and we expected a long wait but we got in with no trouble.

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When Don and I go out we try to order appetizers or small plates so we can sample a variety of things. We ordered asparagus wrapped in NY Strip, a giant meatball, meatball sliders, spaghetti squash and pasta.

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There was more then enough food and we had some leftover. As a bonus they had Oceans Vodka!

Herbs and Rye – When you walk into this fun little find off the strip, you feel like you have walked into a restaurant from the 1950’s. With great music playing (at the bar a little loud), unique crafted cocktails and huge portions of delicious food.

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I had a. Brandy Crsuta as an aperitif, if was a bit sweet, but delicious. For dinner I ordered Pork and Figs, a huge amount of food that I could have easily shared.

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This place will not leave you hungry. We visited with my sister Jan and her husband Darrell and all walked away full and happy.

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Reservations are highly recommended no matter what time of day you go.

Peppermill –

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open 24 hours this place has big portions of home cooked favorites like meatloaf and pork chops. They serve breakfast lunch and dinner. It’s usually quite a wait for a table, but the counter is first come basis. We usually stalk the counter for a seat, where I feel the service is better anyway as they can just turn around and refill your coffee or water. I love their pork loin and eggs for breakfast. Don always gets hot cakes with eggs. The hot cakes are so large they don’t even fit on the plate. A full bar is also available.

Mon Ami Gabi – Inside the Paris Hotel, this place is a little pricey, but if you can get an outside table on a nice day its well worth it. They have separate menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They do not take reservations, but you can sit at the bar and wait for your table, or walk around the casino (as long as you dont go to far) or try your hand at the slot machines while waiting.

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Hash House a Go Go – Another 24 hours restaurant with huge portions, the food is great, but the service can be hit or miss. The counter has seating on a first come basis. Once again here is where stalking isn’t a bad thing. They also serve adult beverages.

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Napoleon Piano Bar –

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Inside the Paris Hotel, this is a fun place to come hear the dueling piano players. We were there on a Saturday Night and they were rocking the 80’s.

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They make a great Cosmopolitan (almost too good). For a tip you can request a song and challenge the musicians to play your favorite tune.

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There is even a small dance floor if you decide to cut a rug. Plan to arrive before 9pm for your best chance at getting a table. Who knows you may even have a celebrity sighting during your visit.

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Shows

LOVE – This show is at the Mirage Hotel nightly. The show was amazing, from the acrobatic Cirque du Solei performers to of course the classic Beatle music that inspires the show.

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We were seated in the B section, and had a perfect vantage point for all the acrobats that appeared from the floor ceiling and back stage.

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I saw this show 8 years ago, and it is a completely different show. Highly recommend for and Beatles or Cirque du Solei fans.

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We searched several websites for tickets and found what I thought was the best price through Vegas.com

X-Burlesque –

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Something a little naughty but fun at The Flamingo Hotel. The dancers were excellent. It was a fun show, and at the end your given the chance to have photo’s taken with the dancers, Again, I booked these seats through Vegas.com.

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For a great view, try and get seats in the pink section.

Television City –

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If you’ve used up all of your “Vegas” budget and you would like somewhere to do that is free, consider going to the MGM Grand and visit Television City where you can review upcoming TV pilots then give your input to the powers that be.

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There is no fee. Plan to stay about an hour.

Church – Spending six days in Las Vegas is sure to take a toll on your soul, so its a good idea to go to Church to help keep your soul in check.

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We were there over the weekend and attended Mass at Guardian Angel Cathedral at 302 Cathedral Way. I always love their priest who also works with hospice.

Places to stay

The Embassy Suites Convention center is one of my favorite locations to stay in Las Vegas. Off the strip, but close to the monorail. Parking is free and they have a nice complimentary breakfast and a managers reception in the evening with complimentary snacks and drinks. No smoking hotel and you don’t have to maneuver your way through a casino to check in.

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Elara -Another great hotel this is on the strip, but you enter through a clean lobby, not a casino. If possible get the 1 bedroom suite. It has a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and the remote curtains that you can raise for beautiful views of the city and mountains, or can lower and it turns into a larger then life movie screen. Connected to the miracle mile so you can easily access shops, casinos and lots of places to eat and drink. They have a nice pool with a small bar.

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Flamingo Hilton Grand Vacations – This is a nice hotel, with great service. You have access to two beautiful pools. The only drawback to this location is in the summer the Flamingo Hotel pool (directly below your window) is a party pool and the music is loud to the point of being uncomfortable. About 9am till 6pm our windows rattled and vibrated to a loud bass beat. No matter where you are in the hotel the room, you cannot escape the sound. When on vacation I enjoy the opportunity to sit by the pool, read, write or even take a nap. This did not happen at this location as the music drove me out early each morning.

 

 

 

Posted in Travel

Grand Canyon West Rim

The West rim of The Grand Canyon is about a 2 hour drive from Las Vegas.

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The area is part of the Hualapai Indian Nation and has a different feel and look from the South Rim of the canyon (near Flagstaff).

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Driving to the west rim from the city you pass through the magical Joshua Tree Forest.

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These trees seem to almost have individual personalities and look like they are waving to you as you drive past them.

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At The West Rim of The Grand Canyon, you cannot drive through the park, like you can on the south rim. Instead you enter through the Welcome Center and are given a variety of options for your visit.

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Buses bring you through the area. I like this as it cuts down on the stop and go traffic you find at other state parks.

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We chose the Legacy Gold Tour for $89.00 this level included parking, hop on, hop off bus through the park, entrance to the Skywalk, and a meal voucher. We also purchased (for and additional amount) a helicopter ride into the Canyon and a Pontoon Boat ride down the Colorado River.

The helicopter ride was amazing, Tom from Sundance was great and very helpful with information of what to expect.

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I was in the middle seat but still had good views of the canyon, we were in the air for about 20 minutes on our approach to the river. Plenty of time to get an awesome view of the canyon walls.

We landed on the floor of the Canyon then boarded the Pontoon boat for our river adventure. Phyna was our guide, and she was a wealth of knowledge about the Canyon and the River.

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If you go on the on any of the sightseeing tours, make sure to sunscreen up before and wear a hat, the sun is very hot in the summer.


Our helicopter picked us at the river and and brought us up and out of the Canyon back to The welcome center. The flight gave us a thrilling view of the sheer cliffs. We were so close you felt you could reach out and touch them.

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Once back at the welcome center, we boarded a bus and started the first of our 3 stops at the West Rim.
The first stop was a to the Hualapai ranch, a small western village with bull riding, wagon rides, gun shows and great Canyon Views.

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We chose this stop for our meal that came with the ticket package we chose. The meal was baked chicken or barbecued pork ribs, a hearty meal.

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We had entertainment from a singer guitar player as we ate.

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Our second stop on the bus was the Skywalk at Eagle Point. This was the reason we had come to the West Rim. And it did not disappoint! .

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The views were breathtaking. We spent about 45 minutes on the Skywalk taking in the beautiful views, moonwalking and flying hundreds of feet above the canyon floor.

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One of the employees Tyler came out and talked to us about working on the Skywalk. He had stories of how at least once a day, someone would freeze, faint or get sick once out on the bridge, and how on occasion people would crawl across the walk, to frightened to stand. The bottom as well as the side are glass, so walking across you get an ethereal out of body sensation as you gaze upon the Canyon depths below. Tyler recommended that early in the day or late in the afternoon were best times to visit to avoid the crowds
Sadly, you are not allowed to bring anything out on the sky bridge (including no cameras or cell phones). But there are photographers that will take photos’ for you out on the bridge.

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Our final stop on the bus was Guano Point, there was a flat path here, or you could chose to climb the hills for better viewpoints. We stayed in this area until Lynne the security guard came to get us to let us know it was time to leave. But she allowed us to dawdle slowly along with her so we could get additional photos and hear about her experiences over the years being a park ranger.

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The West Rim was a unique Grand Canyon Experience due to the skywalk.
Given the choice in the future I would go back to the south rim, where you can arrive early and enjoy the sunrise or stay late and watch the magnificent sunsets and moon rises over The Canyon.

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The price to enter is also higher, the lowest priced package was $49.00 per person and that did not even include entrance to the skywalk. Entrance into the South Rim is $30.00 per carload of people.
But this was a fabulous experience that I will always remember, we drove away with the sunset behind us and a lightening storm in front of us

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But no matter what part of the Grand Canyon you visit, you cannot leave without being touched by the amazing tapestry and colors of this natural wonder.

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Tonight I will fall asleep dreaming of the majestic sights and scenes in what must be one of God and The Angels favorite playgrounds, The Grand Canyon.

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