Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains, is the largest alpine lake in North America.

This lake is 1,645 feet deep, making it the second deepest lake in North America. Crater Lake is the only lake deeper.

Formed about 2 million years ago Lake Tahoe is known for its water clarity. Of course the panorama of mountains on all sides makes Lake Tahoe one of the most picturesque scenes.

Some sources list Tahoe as the 8th deepest lake in the world while another source lists it at the 16th deepest.
At any rate, it’s almost impossible to count all the shades of blue as you look out over the lake.

Credit Card Tips When Traveling

Before traveling abroad, credit card companies suggest you give them a call. After all, who wants a waiter telling you your card has been declined…when in reality your credit card company is just protecting you?
It’s also a good idea to check your credit cards’ expiration dates. If the date is close, give them a call to request a new one sooner. Some companies cut those dates pretty close. While you’re at it, ask the company what is the best number to get a hold of them once outside the US. It’s a good bet the 800 number on the back won’t work after you leave the US. You could always put that number in your cell phone so you have it. Just list it under something you will remember and not the credit card company name.
Don’t forget to save your receipts. You will probably never need them, but it’s better to have them. If your bill looks high, you can always double check it against your receipts.
Did you know that many countries are switching to “chip and PIN’ technology instead of the magnetic strip on the back of the card? With that in mind, some vending spots may not recognize the magnetic strip or they may have a minimum purchase on the transaction.
Solution…always carry some cash. You won’t need much but some is definitely a good idea.

Photos of Summer

Aliki’s Produce is literally just down the street from me. This doesn’t really qualify as a travel destination…
These Heirloom Tomatoes weigh in at 2 1/2 pounds each. And check out the fresh figs in the background.

Seeds for this curly leaf basil were saved several years ago by Aliki and now she has “heirloom basil”. I don’t know if that is what it’s called…but my house now smells like an Italian trattoria.
Baskets and baskets of fresh produce…paper thin skinned garlic, smooth globe shaped onions, peppers in an artist’s pallet of colors, fat green pea pods and squash in shapes and sizes that just beg to be touched fill the table.

Melons so sweet…this may not be a travel destination…but the reward is just as great when I get home.
Dinner tonight…bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic, figs with goat cheese, melon salad with fresh mint leaves, and pasta with grilled peppers. Who’s coming?

Frequent Flyer Miles

Do you have frequent flier miles accumulating and don’t know how or if you can use them? Some programs are confusing and frustrating. But the airlines give away millions of trips and upgrades every year, so someone is cashing in on those miles. Why is that?
The supply of seats is constantly changing according to supply and demand according to the airlines. It makes sense that these award seats should be more available in a recession, but in reality…it’s just the opposite.
Planes ran about 86% full in July of this year, leaving only a few seats for award travelers. Plus, airlines wait until the very last minute to offer award seats. They want their planes to be full.
Best advice I have been given when using award miles…book about 330 days in advance (when airlines make those seats available) OR book late (within 2 weeks of travel when airlines may release unsold seats).
Do NOT try to book popular destinations at popular times AND use award miles. Just won’t work! Hawaii at Christmas…nope not going to happen.
I call the airline’s reservation center to book my award trips. Sure, it costs me a $25 booking fee…but that’s not bad for a ticket to my destination.
More tips tomorrow…

Random Tips

Traveling in the tropics or where you might encounter bugs? Use short bungee cords to wrap around your pant cuffs to keep bugs from going up your pant legs. This also works for long sleeved shirts.

Do you travel with a flat iron for your hair? Did you know they can be useful for getting out wrinkles in your clothes, too? Do check the TSA website as I don’t believe they can be in your carry-on luggage.

Not sure you can remember what your rental car looks like when it “looks-like-every-other rental car” in the parking ramp? Take a photo with your digital camera. No camera? Pack a magnet and place it on a door or the trunk.

Tomato Days 2009

Cacti spilling out of an old wheelbarrow make an interesting display at Morningsun Herb Farm’s Tomato Days. Tasting hundreds of tomatoes and then voting on favorites made for an exciting day.

Not tomatoes…but red hot chili peppers hanging around

Lots and lots of tiny tomatoes, still on their vines, filled box after box.

Pick a shape or size and there was probably a tomato or several that resembled it.

Check out this Integrated Travel Site

Check out this site www.gowaza.com for a new way of thinking about your upcoming trip.
GoWaza allows you to build a trip on a map and then send your friends the entire trip.

Some of their unique features include:
* You can upload your contacts to find hotels, restaurants and events close by
* All of your travel items are integrated in one dashboard and map
* Each item you add becomes an anchor you can click on to update the entire search
* Distances are automatically updated every time you click on a new anchor
* You can select any two anchors to get pop-up directions
I can’t wait to try it out for myself. Give it a look…

Airfare Tips

Did you know that traveling on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday will save you money on air travel, and that connecting flights are often cheaper than non-stops? And did you know that airlines raise fares for travel during peak holiday periods and for last-minute travel? And were you aware that when shopping you should check fares from all airports that are a short drive from your nearest airport?

In addition, www.Airfarewatchdog.com has gathered some additional advice that might save you money next time you’re shopping for a plane ride.

Check fares often
Airfares fluctuate like the stock market so you need to check them every day, or better still several times a day, if you’re serious about saving money. Airlines can update domestic fares three times a day during the week, and once on Saturday and Sunday. International fares tend not to change as often, but can be updated up to 5 times daily. Also, even if the fare itself hasn’t changed, seat availability at the lowest fares can change, so there might be just one seat available at 10 a.m., but the airline will open up more cheap seats later in the day.

Try a flexible fare search
If you’re at all flexible, you can sometimes save hundreds by adjusting your travel dates. Travelocity will search most domestic fares and many international ones over a 330 day search period; Orbitz and Hotwire cover nearly all routes from the U.S., but only over 30 day periods. Southwest.com also has a good flexible date search function.


Sign up for the airlines’ e-mail feeds and frequent flyer programs
I know you probably get too many emails, but this one could save you dollars.

Sign up for fare free alerts
Most airfare web sites offer these, and they all have something to offer. Yapta.com lets you track your specific itinerary, down to the flight number and dates of travel, and will let you know if the airline owes you a price-drop refund. Travelocity’s easy-to-use FareWatcherPlus lets you track up to ten routes and you can choose to be notified either when a fare goes down by $25 or more, or when it goes below a price you choose. Orbitz and Kayak also offer alerts, as does Bing Travel. But since all of these sites use the same airfare data provided by the airlines’ computer systems, they won’t include discounted promo code fares, and most don’t include Southwest Airlines. Airfarewatchdog.com does provide promo code and Southwest alerts, although it covers far fewer routes than the above-mentioned sites.

Search airline sites individually
Some airlines have “private” sales, reserving their very best fares for their own sites. These are different from promo code fares. Airfarewatchdog fare searchers often find lower fares on JetBlue.com, even without discounts such as a recent system-wide 20 percent off promo code, than on third-party sites. International airlines such as Aer Lingus, Iberia and Qantas regularly offer lower fares (i.e., $100-$400 less) on their own web sites compared to what you’ll find on Kayak or Orbitz.

Buy hotel + air packages
It could be significantly cheaper to buy an air plus hotel package rather than airfare alone.

Use Priceline for last minute trips
If you don’t have a 7, 14, or 21 day advance purchase window to buy your fare, your best bet is the “name your own price” feature of Priceline.com. True, you won’t know the exact flight times or airline you’re flying until to pay for your trip, but you can save 50 percent or more.

Combine two separate fares rather than buying one fare
If you’re flying to a destination in Europe, you might save money by purchasing one fare from the U.S. to, say, Dublin, and another from Dublin onward.

Buy tickets on an airline that will refund the difference if a fare goes down
Currently, the “nice” airlines are JetBlue, Southwest and Alaska.

Don’t listen to airfare pundits who predict airfares
Airlines are unpredictable creatures. With that in mind any airfare expert who claims he knows that airfares will be lower or higher in the coming months is just trying to snag some publicity. No one can accurately predict where airfares are heading.