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February 2013 Archives

February 28, 2013

City-States Go Green in Singapore

By Judi Zienchuk

As one of the four emerging Asian Tigers (along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan), Singapore has developed quite a global reputation as a clean city full of great shopping. While the city does live up to its reputation, one thing that it does even better is promote green sustainability. Trees line highway medians throughout the city and the entire country is teeming with green roofs and gardens. The Arts, Design and Media building at Nanyang Technological University in particular is a salute to green architecture. It has been featured in several publications for its unique design of turf roofs that lower the building’s (and the surrounding area’s) temperature, decreasing air conditioning usage.

Needless to say, this green innovation was not something that had been expected, coming into the third most densely populated country on Earth: Singapore hosted 7,792.57 people per square kilometer in 2012.

All of this greenery is possible simply because the country understands that as a small island nation, it has a very limited amount of resources to work with. They have used this frame of mind to create an innovative sustainable development blueprint. This aims to improve energy efficiency by 35% by 2030, maintain a 70% recycling rate, and ensure 0.8 hectare of green space for every 1,000 people. This would total 4,146 hectares, or about 6% of the country’s landmass for a population of just over 5 million. In order to help utilize this space, many of the green areas around the city (such as the Chinese and Botanical Gardens) are open to visitors. This means that the city’s green space not only serves as a sustainable resource, but also educates tourists and Singaporeans alike on the importance of conservation.

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Arrrrg! Come Join the Bluefoot Pirates, Matey!!

By Laura Macy
ITWPA Member

I had been invited to spend a week in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A relaxing week in the sun, I thought, would be a welcome break from Ohio. When my daughter learned of the plan, she eagerly decided to join me... with her three children. Thinking that I would have to be reasonably creative in order for three children to be entertained beyond surf and sand, I launched a search for a Family Friendly Fun Activity.
The result was a two-and-a-half-hour cruise on a pirate ship. Really, no kidding! My daughter, grandchildren, and I spent an afternoon aboard the Bluefoot Pirate Ship in Ft. Lauderdale. We boarded at the “port” on Seabreeze Boulevard. An enthusiastic crew of pirates greeted us and ushered Todd (8), Tess (7), and Tanner (4) to face painting stations to begin their transformations into salty pirates of the seven seas. Next came “pirate garb” issued to the children which included vests, swords, sashes, eye patches, and bandanas for their heads. We boarded a pirate ship where we were briefed about our mission. The children had to find the key to a treasure chest. This required taking a Pirate Oath and learning the Pirate Code (I know -- if you’ve seen Pirates of the Caribbean, not a “code,” merely “suggestions”).
A pirate named Seasick remained on the dock after he helped the trio (and, of course, the grownups) onto the ship. We had a pleasant, confident captain. I will call the female pirate a “Pirate Princess.” She was amazing -- educational, informative, fun, and patient. She taught the children the parts of the boat in nautical terms and had them follow orders in “Pirate Speak.” The children studied the treasure map so seriously, plotting just how they would fight Barnacle Bill. Then, with water cannons, they had a full-fledged “sea battle” with Barnacle Bill. What excitement! Background music played; I swear it was the music from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. There were skirmishes and rallies, there was near defeat and finally victory over Barnacle Bill. After invoking Davy Jones for help, the key to the treasure chest was found and the booty/loot was shared among the brave little pirates.

When we returned to the dock, the children were issued Certificates of Piracy and Commendations for their bravery.

Having been a child myself at one time, and continuously searching for new amusements for children now, I must say that this was a unique, fantastic, fun day! The members of the crew were highly spirited, creating excitement and making each child feel special. It appeared that they enjoyed their jobs and their passengers. The “pirates” worked well together, maintaining levity and professionalism, well synchronized and smoothly choreographed.

If you are contemplating a trip to Ft. Lauderdale, or if you are a resident searching for an activity for guests, the Bluefoot Pirate Adventure Cruise should be a top priority!

Thank you, pirate crew of the Bluefoot Pirates! Arrrrg!!

For more information and reservations:
Bluefoot Pirate Adventures, 807 Seabreeze Boulevard, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 954-530-8302, email: info@bluefootpirates.com, website: www.bluefootpirates.com

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Dana Point Harbor, the Jewel of Dana Point, CA

By Warren Thompson
ITWPA Member

In 1835 there was a two-mast brig outbound from Boston called the Pilgrim. It was destined to be a long trip, as it was bound for the west coast of California to buy leather from the Fathers of the San Juan Capistrano Mission. One of the common sailors who signed on with the Pilgrim was named Richard Dana Jr. His fame began in 1840 with the writing of his adventures titled “Two Years before the Mast.” When his ship dropped anchor in the Bay of Capistrano, he took notice of the romance and beauty of the bay and the majestic yellow and gold cliffs that jutted upward, tempered with low-lying sage brush and cactus.

In 1971 the harbor was renamed Dana Point Harbor in honor of the author of “Two Years before the Mast.” The harbor was becoming one of the largest on the west coast.

As you come into the harbor you will still notice the majestic cliffs but with a few changes. The harbor itself is broken up into the east basin and the west basin, with slips for 2,500 boats of different sizes. The east basin offers activities that will make any vacationer’s heart beat faster. Across from the ten-lane boat launching area is a Jet Ski and kayak rental area for the young and old. Whether you want to be on the fast track with a Jet Ski or just paddle your kayak within the harbor area itself, you can watch the brown pelicans diving from a high altitude into the harbor, challenging the other seabirds for a small morsel.

Within the east basin side of the harbor are shops that make you feel as though you are on a South Pacific island. The friendly atmosphere within the harbor is unsurpassed anywhere. Restaurants offer patrons the freshest, most mouth-watering steak and seafood dinners while watching the boats going to or returning from adventurous trips on the high seas.

In 1971 Don Hansen established Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching. It soon became one of the largest sportfishing companies on the west coast and now has a fleet of six ships with a track record that is unmatched. They offer fishing, whale watching, squid fishing, and sailing cruises, and have created many lifelong memories. Dana Wharf Sportfishing has now been passed on to Don’s son, Capt. Mike Hansen. He is the skipper of the Dana Pride, the newest of the fleet, a 95-foot boat that carries up to 150 passengers. No matter which one you choose, it will be a day of pleasure to always remember.

As you continue to explore the east basin you will soon discover that there is even more to see than you had realized. From sunrise to sunset, the walkway to the west basin shows a constant color change. As you head toward the west basin, the cliffs themselves are becoming taller and are continually changing in variations of yellow, gold, red, and brown. Within the park, you will enjoy carpets of green grass with trees and shrubs in constant bloom with a variety of flowers, depending on the time of year that you visit.

Nearing the west basin, you will come upon what is called “Baby Beach.” The beach is used by both vacationing families and locals as it offers a wide expanse of beach and a safe haven for children and beginning swimmers. There are also kayaks and stand up paddleboards for rent for the more advanced novice looking for greater adventure and challenge within the harbor.
As you look out into the lagoon you will observe numerous paddleboarders plying their skills, in hopes of not falling off into the cool water of the lagoon. In the distance is anchored the brig Pilgrim near the fishing pier. This Pilgrim is the fourth replica of the ship that first entered into the Bay of Capistrano in 1835.

Today the ship offers the chance to see firsthand some of the hardships that the seamen incurred during that time. An overnight stay is offered to the children of the local and non-local parents. The ship has a small crew dressed in that time period. To give the children the feeling that they are part of the crew, they are all given duties to perform while on board until the parents return in the morning to rescue them from the ruthless captain.

If your interest lies in the science arena, there is the Ocean Institute, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the sea life in the area. There is a museum, gift shops, and a research vessel that takes occasional trips out of the harbor to do research on the local sea life.

Dana Point Harbor offers seven events throughout the year, the first one starting in February with the Festival of the Whales. Other events include the Classic Wooden Boat Festival, the offshore powerboat races in June, the spectacular July 4th fireworks show, the Tall Ship Festival, and the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot Race. The annual events are concluded with the Christmas Boat Parade. Throughout the year it can be seen why many visitors comment that Dana Point Harbor truly is “The Jewel of Dana Point.”

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Come Along on Boston’s Most Terrifying Tour

By Tom McGovern
ITWPA Member

Boston Common, as we learn during the Ghost & Graveyard Tour, is the last resting place of many Boston citizens. Known as The Common, it has had a long reputation as a killing field. In the 1890s a mass grave was unearthed -- 900 men and women now rest in an unmarked grave at the northeast corner of the park. It is also the place where public hangings took place between 1817 and 1876.

You will hear more about this and other creepy tales of the city when you board the Trolley of Doom. The first person you encounter is a woman named Madeline Seawall. She lures you to come on board and experience Boston in a different (and hair-raising) way. Once on board, you travel through the streets of Boston -- and two graveyards. You will learn of a murderess by the name of Jane Toppan, whose only goal in life was to kill “more men and women than any other person in the United States.” You will also ascertain the strange facts surrounding the still-unsolved case of the Boston Strangler. In the summer of 1962, no woman in the Boston area was safe. The killer did not hold fast to any class distinction, and to this day the case sends shivers up the spines of the city’s gentry.

Guests may also embark on a moonlit tour of the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. It is in this cemetery that persons such as John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Sam Adams are buried. It is interesting to note that two of the three people mentioned are not in their respective marked graves. To find out more and discover which of the three are not, you will just have to take the tour. There is also a journey to the King’s Chapel Burying Ground. Here you will find other interesting and creepy tales of Boston’s underbelly.

The city of Boston is really about its past. If you are interested in history, there is no greater city in the world for you, and this tour will get you wondering more about the rest of the city.

Tour reservations can be made in person outside the Long Wharf Hotel at the corner of State Street and Atlantic Avenue, just around the bend from the hotel entrance. You may also call (617) 269-3626. Tours are available from April through October. An adult must accompany children under 13. Tours are conducted rain or shine.

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Tarzan Called It Home, Visitors Call It Spectacular

By John S. Mooshie

Conveniently located on Florida’s panhandle, an easy journey 20 miles south of Tallahassee, Wakulla Springs State Park is a veritable magnet for outdoor enthusiasts.

The 6,000-acre wildlife sanctuary hidden in the lush wilderness of North Florida is literally a Garden of Eden. (The name Wakulla is an Indian word for “strange and mysterious waters.”) The park is home to one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs surrounded by deep jungle. The modern history of the springs dates back to 1510 when Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon sailed his ships up the St. Marks River in search of the mythical “Fountain of Youth.” Estimates of 200 to 300 million gallons of water per day seem incredible, but a record peak flow in April 1973 measured 14,324 gallons per second, which computes to 1.2 billion gallons in one day. The water that flows from the springs becomes the headwaters of the Wakulla River, one of the last remaining pristine rivers in Florida. It’s not surprising, then, that Wakulla Springs was the setting for a number of the early 1950 Tarzan films and for the 1954 movie “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

Visiting Wakulla Springs is a truly unique experience that includes two boat tours that operate year round and offer tours of both the springs and river. Glass bottom boats drift over the bowl of the spring where the 70 degree water is so crystal clear that a coin can be seen sinking to the depths of the spring. The three-mile river tour affords the opportunity to see wildlife in its purest state. Whitetail deer, wild turkeys, osprey, alligators, and a growing herd of the elusive manatee will captivate your attention. It only takes a little imagination to picture Tarzan, Jane, and Cheetah in this magnificent environment.

Walking trails include the famous Tree Walk, a short but picturesque and easy trek designed to increase one’s knowledge of local trees. A number of tree communities abound. Bald cypress, some estimated to be five to six hundred years old, dot the river along with black gums, red maples, and green ash. Away from the river, the most spectacular of the park’s tree communities is the upland hardwood forest consisting primarily of towering trees, some attaining heights of over 100 feet and trunk circumferences of 80 to 120 inches. Wakulla Springs currently claims more than 16 trees which are either state champions or close contenders.

Numerous sink holes, an integral part of the Floridan Aquifer System, comprise a system of underground caves and porous conduits, some of which are the only undiscovered areas on planet Earth. One such cave is large enough to house an entire lighthouse and lies directly beneath the park’s lodge. While you won’t be able to experience firsthand the mysteries of the caves, the lodge maintains extensively recorded documentation and artifacts from professional divers who have navigated and mapped a small section of the system.

The rustic 27-room Wakulla Springs Lodge was built in the 1930s and features Mediterranean architectural elements with high arched windows and extensive use of foreign and domestic marble. The magnificent lobby with its massive stone fireplace is highlighted by a meticulously hand-painted ceiling.

Wakulla Springs State Park is a short and sweet experience that will then entice you to explore the rest of Wakulla County. Sport aficionados will be afforded a variety of county-wide outdoor activities that include but are not limited to birding, boating, camping, canoeing and kayaking, cycling, fishing, golfing, hiking, and hunting. Traveling by tree vines is optional.

More detailed information can be obtained from the Wakulla County Tourist Development Council, P.O. Box 67, Panacea, Florida 32346, www.visitwakulla.com.

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About February 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Travel Post Monthly in February 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2013 is the previous archive.

March 2013 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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