Thursday, April 30, 2009

Three Simple Tips for an Affordable Family Camping Trip

(ARA) – When faced with financial challenges like those posed by the recent economic downturn, American families tend to react to their decreased discretionary dollars by getting “back to basics.” They pursue different leisure activities and ones that offer quality time that can bring them closer together.

While the jury is still out on exactly how many families will forgo their traditional, theme park destination vacation in lieu of a “staycation” -- the more eco-friendly option that is closer to home -- for those that do, they will find plenty of good news. Not only can staying closer to home be fun, but it’s relatively inexpensive, too. And unlike the typical blow-out summer vacation, staying close to home takes only a little bit of sensible planning, imagination and budget.

One of the best imaginable staycations for families is a return to the great American camping experience. For those who really enjoy roughing it, there are terrific products out there, but if you are among those who are shedding the conveniences of a hotel room for the first time and are seeking a more comfortable experience, consider these top tips for an incredible camping trip:

1. Pick the right campsite.
Backyard or backwoods? Chances are, your backyard is a wonderland that you’ve never truly experienced, and camping there allows you to do so without forfeiting your creature comforts. And it’s free, making this a great first option. But if you’re in the mood for a little more adventure and the idea of getting away inspires you, check out your local campgrounds and parks at or Many campsites are available, including prime waterfront sites if the deep woods are not your thing, with basic fees of less than $20 per night.

2. Choose the right gear.
Borrow or buy? If you’re staycationing for the first time, borrowing camping gear from a friend is a great idea. It will allow you to try it out without risk and gain a better idea of what features you like when it does come time for you to buy. If you are ready to buy, remember that although purchasing gear is the most expensive part of camping, it is just a one-time expense and with care, your gear will last for years to come at little or no additional cost.

Whether you’re going to be staying at a local campground or in your own backyard, choosing a quality tent is key. Resist the temptation to buy an inexpensive one; with tents, you typically get what you pay for, and if your bargain tent ends up leaking during a sudden storm, you’ll regret the entire experience and be less likely to camp again. To be safe, avoid discount stores and choose a tent from a well-known manufacturer. When shopping, remember that size is very important, too; manufacturers typically list tent sizes according to how many sleeping bags or camp pads can fit inside, so if you need to store extra gear, you’re better off choosing a tent that sleeps more people than you need or that includes added storage space. Consider the Eureka! N!ergy tent -- it incorporates a 12-volt wiring harness and when used with the E! Power Pak (sold separately); it powers 12-volt accessories like lights, fans, radios, and cell phone chargers inside. Available in three sizes, it sleeps anywhere from four to 10 people. Visit for more information.

Sleeping bags go a long way to bring added comfort and convenience to a camping trip. When purchasing, look for bags that are rated to the lowest temperature you’re likely to see and let the kids take part in the selection; there are several fun and colorful sleeping bags sized just for them on the market. To make the campsite more user-friendly and comfortable, consider adding camp pads beneath your sleeping bag and additional furniture such as tables, folding hammocks, cots and chairs. Visit for more information.

3. Bring the right essentials and be creative.
With the destination set and the gear selected, the rest of the essentials can be quite simple for a brief weekend trip, and often they’re items you already have at home. So, be creative. For example, because camping makes even the most mundane chores fun, even the kids will want to help, so make cooking a family affair by bringing your own portable grill and easy camp recipes from the Web. Let the kids share in the cooking fun by toasting marshmallows and making s’mores for dessert. For personal care, most family campgrounds offer basic amenities, although sometimes they can be limited, so stick to bringing the basic toiletries but skip the extras, like blow dryers. Lastly, remember to bring these inexpensive items that become absolutely priceless in the outdoors: first aid kit, flashlight, pocket knife, charcoal and starter fuel, trash bags, dish soap and for the kids -- cards, books, board games and ghost stories for having fun no matter what the weather brings.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Deep South Brass Band Festival in Pine Mountain, Georgia

T2F Note: Callaway Gardens conjures up many memories of beautiful flowers and family picnics. This lovely area just south of metro Atlanta gets our vote for this week's highly coveted Fayette Front Page Day Tripper Award.

Round up your friends and family, pack a picnic and grab some chairs and blankets. Head to Pine Mountain, Georgia, for a weekend of brass band music appropriate for all ages for FREE – free admission to all Saturday concerts. No worries about parking, complimentary parking will be available at Callaway Garden’s Robin Lake Beach with a complimentary shuttle will be running (beach entrance on U. S. Hwy. 27) to the downtown concert site.

On Saturday afternoon, enjoy music on the lawn of the Chipley Woman’s Club in Downtown Pine Mountain. The entertainment moves to Callaway Gardens at 6:00 p.m. for hours of more great brass band music. It’s free, fun and fantastic.

Great visuals and audio! Great chance to experience it for 2010 story!

Friday, May 1:
7:00 p.m. Preview Party at Carriage & Horses
"Evening of Brass" Featuring Midtown Brass (Tickets required*)

Saturday, May 2:
11:00 a.m. Parade – Downtown Pine Mountain
Afternoon Location: Chipley Woman's Club
Noon Midtown Brass Quintet
1:00 p.m. Fort Benning Infantry Dixieland
2:00 p.m. Georgia Brass Band
3:00-6:00 p.m. Intermission
Evening Location: Callaway Gardens’ Robin Lake Beach
5:00 p.m. Reserved table seating opens
6:00 p.m. 8th Regiment Brass Band
7:00 p.m. Jericho Brass Band
8:00 p.m. Georgia Brass Band
9:00 p.m. Atlanta Brass

The Friday Night Preview Party*, "An Evening of Brass" will feature the Midtown Brass Quintet at Carriage & Horses Restaurant. Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased at Carriage & Horses (706-663-4777), Bon Cuisine II (706-663-4848) and the Pine Mountain Chamber of Commerce (706-663-8850).

Table seating for Saturday’s evening performances can be reserved for with advance purchase ($200 per table of eight or $25 per seat) by calling the Pine Mountain Chamber of Commerce (706-663-8850), Sweet Home Antiques (706-663-7776) Bon Cuisine II (706-663-4848).

Callaway Gardens has a special overnight package for those looking to enjoy Pine Mountain for more than one day. In addition to a free day of concerts, enjoy free recreation (golf, tennis, boating and bicycling) and the Gardens starting at only $99 in the Mountain Creek Inn. For more information, visit or call 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292).

Schedule subject to change. In the event of rain, concerts will be in the Callaway Gardens Beach Dome.

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Take a Short Trip for a Good Musical Cause!

Wicks, Jessica Harp and GAC's Suzanne Alexander Set to Host Country Weekly Fashion Show
June 10th - Wildhorse SaloonVIP tickets on sale now!

Yes, you heard right! Country Weekly announced yesterday that Chuck Wicks, Jessica Harp and GAC's Suzanne Alexander will be hosting the Country Weekly Fashion Show & Concert this year, benefiting Musicians On Call. Now in its third year, the event will take place at noon on June 10th at the Wildhorse Saloon on 2nd Avenue in Nashville and will be sponsored by Durango and Lifetime Networks. Clothing and boots from Durango, Flavour boutique and Wrangler to be featured in the show.

“After being on Dancing With The Stars, I’ve worn the best and worst of fashion. From silk to lace to materials I’ve never heard of. Nothing can faze me now! I’m excited to co-host with Suzanne,” said Chuck Wicks.

"Being the fashion lover I am, I'm excited to be co-hosting the 3rd Annual Country Weekly Fashion show alongside Chuck Wicks. Perhaps I'll share some fashion tips with him...if he'll share some dancing tips with me!" states Jessica Harp.

Special VIP tickets in the front row areas and prime runway seating are almost sold out! A limited number of $125 Runway tickets and $50 Reserved tickets near the runway are available. You can also purchase a table in “Music Row,” which is a row of premium tables behind the runway seats. These tables are $750 and include 8 seats, name recognition from the stage, appetizers from the Wildhorse Saloon, and two buckets of domestic beer. General Admission seating is on sale through TicketMaster.

For more information and to purchase VIP tickets, go to or call 212-741-2709.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Travel Guard Offering Free Assistance to Travelers Concerned With Swine Flu Outbreak's Impact

/PRNewswire/ -- Travel Guard ( ( announced today it is providing free emergency travel and medical assistance services and travel health information to U.S. and Canadian travelers affected by or concerned with the recent swine flu outbreak. These services include worldwide medical referrals; up-to-the-minute updates on outbreak status and travel areas affected; information on symptoms, prevention and treatment; and coordination of travel arrangements for those in transit.

Travel Guard will also provide information and medical referrals for travelers in transit who believe they may be experiencing swine flu symptoms. Travelers seeking these services can call Travel Guard at 1-866-644-6811 (US and Canada toll-free) or collect at 1-715-295-1209 (for international callers). Travel Guard is also providing information and updates related to the swine flu situation on its Web sites at and

"Our worldwide travel assistance operations are closely monitoring the swine flu outbreak and its impact on travelers around the world," said Dan McGinnity, spokesperson for Travel Guard. "Travelers can contact us for travel updates, health warnings, prevention and treatment tips and other information related to this situation."

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Travellers to Mexico so far Undeterred by Swine Flu Outbreak

/PRNewswire/ -- Data from leading flight search company Skyscanner ( shows that travellers planning trips to Mexico have so far been undeterred by the outbreak of swine flu influenza announced by Mexico's Federal Health Ministry on the 22nd April.

"Dire predictions have already been made about the impact that this will have on tourism, but the number of Skyscanner users searching for flights to Mexico has remained stable in the days since news emerged of the outbreak," said Skyscanner director and co-founder Barry Smith.

"We would have expected to see some negative impact by now, but it may be that travellers are reassured by the fact that the outbreak is largely concentrated in Mexico City - a two hour flight from the coastal resorts - and by the fact that the Foreign Office, World Health Organisation and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention have not yet made recommendations that people stay away. We'll get a clearer picture in the next few days as the news spreads and the implications for travellers are fully understood."

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Take a Walk on Georgia’s Wild Side

Georgia has a long state park legacy…the longest in fact. From Indian Springs, thought to be the oldest state park in the nation, to F.D. Roosevelt, the state’s largest park and one that contains the former president’s favorite picnic spot, Georgia’s beautiful topography and rich history are brought together in her state parks. Discover sights like the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, remnants of ancient civilizations and Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” all while hiking, birding, canoeing, fishing, biking, golfing, horseback riding, backpacking, kayaking, swimming, playing tennis or exploring.

Strike out into thousands and thousands of acres open for public use that offer expansive and gorgeous hiking year round. Join the Canyon Climbers Club and make it your goal to scale to the top of Amicalola Falls, explore the depths of Providence Canyon, brave the swinging bridge in Tallulah Gorge and face the daunting staircase in Cloudland Canyon. Or, try your hand at a challenging backcountry trail in eight different parks. If your approach is more laid back, state parks also offer more relaxing hikes that highlight seasonal treasures. Go on one of eight guided spring wildflower walks, revealing blossoms such as wood violet, trout lily, wild azalea, showy orchis, trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit and a host of other native blooms. During autumn, Georgia’s forests ignite with intense yellows, oranges and reds for some of the best leaf watching in the Southeast. Guests can also take advantage of several parks with paved paths, making them ideal for strollers or wheelchairs.

Tired feet? Go for a ride! Roughly 530 miles of off-road mountain bike and equestrian trails zigzag through the state parks, and there are many miles of paved trails and roads available for use at parks across the state. Test your biking abilities on 68 miles of trail at 11 state parks by joining the Muddy Spokes Club. Including trails for every skill level, from the fairly easy to the strenuous, the club is a challenging and rewarding way to get out and see Georgia’s wild side. Five parks offer horseback riding trails for riders who have their own horses, and two of those feature privately operated stables where guests can rent horses for short rides or overnight excursions. Riding rings and designated camping areas for horse owners open up the possibilities and make each equestrian outing safe, fun and distinctive.

Wildlife is abundant in Georgia’s state parks, and what better way to see it than setting out with a pair of binoculars and a field guide. Both Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding Trail and The Southern Rivers Birding Trail go straight through numerous state parks. Along these rural byways you can travel back in time and bird while walking through a longleaf pine and wiregrass community patrolled by gopher tortoises, hearing the roar of the alligator in the mysterious Georgia marshes, trekking into one of the state's precious Carolina bays, searching for warblers and thrushes among wild dogwoods and azaleas and trying to locate tiny songsters flitting in the tops of centuries-old cypress trees.

Water fun abounds throughout Georgia’s state parks, one reason why the Park Paddlers Club was launched this year. The canoe and kayak club includes six state parks with waterways ranging from tidal rivers to the celebrated Okefenokee Swamp. Earn your bragging rights and t-shirt by conquering all 22 miles at Crooked River, George L. Smith, Magnolia Springs, Reed Bingham, Stephen C. Foster and Sweetwater Creek state parks. Lucky paddlers can spy bald eagles, alligators, bears, limpkins and perhaps even a manatee. Fishing is another Georgia pastime that is played out in the lakes, rivers and streams of her state parks.

Forty-one campgrounds and more than 2,486 campsites offer a vast and diverse array of camping options for every season. Or, strike out on your own and find yourself a site in the backcountry. Either way, there is camping for every outdoor enthusiast. Listen to the nighttime sounds of the marshes in South Georgia or peer up at the stars from a Blue Ridge mountaintop. Nestle by a lake for an early morning start to fishing or fall asleep to the sound of crickets on Skidaway Island. There is even a backcountry, mountaintop lodge in Georgia, the Len Foote Hike Inn, accessible only by foot over a moderate 5 mile hiking trail. Unique camping experiences are yours for the making in Georgia. Most parks also feature larger lodge or cabin style accommodations. The Lodge at Smithgall Woods, for example, is an elegant mountain retreat ranked a top 10 Culinary Country Inn by bon appétit magazine.

Georgia’s prominent golf tradition is alive and swinging at her state parks. Seven of the state’s 48 state parks feature beautifully maintained golf courses. And six of the state courses are rated four stars (“Outstanding. Plan your next vacation around it.”) or higher by Golf Digest’s annual subscriber survey, Places to Play. These courses are destinations in themselves, offering outstanding play nearly 365 days a year thanks to Georgia’s mild winters. Sprinkled from the mountains to the coastal plain, visitors can enjoy state park golf all across the Peach State. The growing sport of disc golf is also represented, with four state parks offering world-class disc golf courses.

Georgia’s state parks offer vibrant and rewarding experiences of all types for all ages. In times like these, there has never been a better way to get out and have fun without being nickeled and dimed. Whether planning a big family vacation, small friends’ getaway or intimate weekend, a Georgia state park can fit the bill. Visit to plan your vacation today.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state's sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a location for film, video and music projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ranch Vacations Are Today's Best Travel Deal

/PRNewswire/ -- Americans need a Ranch Vacation now declares Gene Kilgore, America's ranch expert, and many of the 200+ ranches featured on, the #1online resource for ranch travel, are now offering special deals and savings. "Ranchers like hotels and cruises lines are responding to travelers' requests for discounts, deals and special offers. At Ranchweb we now have a dedicated site -- listing all the special savings and packages and we're always adding new deals," noted Kilgore, author of the bestselling book, Ranch Vacations, and founder of Ranchweb. "Dude ranches offer a stress-free escape from real world issues and the simple all-inclusive pricing makes them the easiest and most affordable option," adds Kilgore.

Why do Americans need a ranch vacation now:

-- Escape the pressures, stress, technology of regular life and real
world issues
-- Reconnect with nature, environment, animals
-- Reach back and enjoy the physical activities of a simpler time
-- Expose your family renew to different priorities and enjoy
-- Laugh, relax, and enjoy the genuine authenticity of the old west
-- No fancy clothes or gear required

With it's easy to find the perfect vacation in ranch country - search by more than 100 categories including:

-- By special offers (seasonal discounts, family/group rates) and unique
promotions (greenhorns, girlfriends getaway, kids week)
-- Ranch size and geographic location
-- By activities offered from authentic cattle drives, horseback riding
and rafting to spa treatments, birding, golf and gourmet food
-- By special details: types of horses, languages, sports, spa
treatments, organic food and yoga,
-- By specific criteria: family friendly, pet-friendly, kids camps,
airstrip, adults-only, cowboy skills, handicapped, honeymoons.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Coastal Project Documents New Habitat on Jekyll

T2F Note: Jekyll Island, part of Georgia's Golden Isles, is a great place to visit. For the sea turtles and the beautiful nature walks, this week's coveted Fayette Front Page Day Tripper Award goes to Jekyll Island.

Beyond the beaches and bike trails at Jekyll Island, a new natural community has been discovered tucked within the island’s iconic maritime forest.

On the southern tip of Jekyll, a boardwalk leads through a relic dune swale. The low-lying area is dominated by Carolina willow, swamp rose mallow and dotted smartweed. To the untrained eye, the patch of vegetation may look like anywhere else on Jekyll. But for two botanists, the area is a rare find – a previously unclassified ecological community.

An ecological community is a group of interacting plant and animal species that live in the same place. The communities are bound by the influences the species have on each other. The main species in the newly described community on Jekyll are common separately but in combination represent a previously unknown community.

Ecological communities are grouped according to the U.S. National Vegetation Classification system maintained by NatureServe, a non-profit conservation organization considered a leading source of information about rare and endangered species and eco-systems. Although extensive, the NatureServe database has limited examples of communities potentially found on the Georgia coast. The Jekyll community discovered by Eamonn Leonard and Jacob Thompson of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has been added as a new ecological association called the Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Carolina Willow Dune Swale.

This community may be unique to Georgia. Leonard and Thompson, natural resources biologists with the DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, documented it as part of a three-year project that involves extensive vegetation mapping in 11 coastal Georgia counties. The work will result in a detailed picture of the ecological communities in the counties, including the 25 high-priority habitats designated by the State Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy that guides Wildlife Resources and DNR efforts to conserve biological diversity.

“Currently, our understanding of the locations and extent of ecological communities on the coast of Georgia is somewhat limited,” Thompson said. “Our mapping effort will help us know more about the status of known natural communities and describe new community types like the one on Jekyll Island.

“This knowledge is critical in order to preserve the valuable natural resources on our coast.”

The mapping project is part of the larger Coastal Georgia Land Conservation Initiative, a collaborative effort involving the DNR, Georgia Conservancy and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia to preserve critical coastal lands and promote sustainable growth and development.

The ecological communities of the coast represent a diverse set of natural resources and provide habitats for many rare plant and animal species, while also supporting basic ecological functions on which people rely. For example, the barrier islands and associated inter-tidal salt marshes reduce the impact of storm surges, which can damage homes and roads.

“This project will give local governments, conservation organizations and city planners a baseline map of the critical and imperiled communities and important resources within each county,” Leonard said. “With this in hand, coupled with technical assistance from the other organizations involved in this project, coastal counties can plan for future development more sustainably by keeping natural resources in mind and ensure (their) existence in the future.”

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Ken Burns's 'The National Parks: America's Best Idea' to Drive National Conversation on Diversity and America's Parks

/PRNewswire / -- At a one-day conference called "Parks for All" in San Francisco today, filmmaker Ken Burns said that he hopes his most recent film, THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA, will help attract new communities into the country's parks.

Burns and co-producer Dayton Duncan outlined an extensive outreach campaign that will accompany the broadcast of THE NATIONAL PARKS this September on PBS, including visits to 45 markets where the filmmakers will show clips and lead discussions about the national parks. The documentary tells the history of the national park idea, chronicling its birth in the mid-1800s and tracing its evolution for nearly 150 years.

The Untold Stories Project, conceived in 2004, will supplement the already ambitious educational and community outreach plans normally associated with a Burns film. "We hope it will prompt more people to experience their parks -- and become stewards of their future," he said.

Among the elements of the NATIONAL PARKS outreach campaign are:

-- Special research about the people and stories often overlooked in
histories of the national parks. Many of the stories were incorporated
into the larger series and into the companion book. The entire
research document has been organized into a book that will be donated
to the National Park Service for its use.
-- A special 45-minute film, The National Parks: This Is America, which
tells the story of the national park idea through the lens of a
diverse cast of historical characters and brings the story closer to
the present than does the larger documentary. This, too, will be given
to the National Park Service.
-- Five mini-documentaries of about 10 minutes each, profiling people
from diverse backgrounds involved in contemporary parks issues. The
topics include "City Kids in National Parks," "Manzanar - 'Never
Again,'" "Mount Rushmore - Telling America's Stories," "San Antonio
Missions - Keeping History Alive" and "Yosemite's Buffalo Soldiers."

-- Translation of the 12-hour series into Spanish for broadcast on PBS
stations that choose to do so and translation of the shorter films
into Spanish, Japanese and Lakota.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Universal Orlando Resort Offers Unbeatable Spring Value

Universal Orlando Resort has pulled together its best offers so guests can enjoy the most value-driven getaway possible. Guests can select from a multitude of special deals and save money on every aspect of their theme park vacation – whether it’s theme park admission, hotel rates or both.

Universal Orlando’s value offers give guests the opportunity to experience all the excitement of the resort – two great theme parks, a stay at one of three on-site hotels, all-you-can-eat cuisine and nighttime entertainment.


2-Park Unlimited ~ $99.99 (Available online only)
· Unlimited admission to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for up to seven consecutive days
· Free admission to select Universal CityWalk venues

Buy 3/Get 2 Free ~ Starts at $711 for a family of four
· Book a three-night vacation package and receive two additional nights free along with unlimited theme park admission
· Guests can upgrade to one of Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels – Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel – and receive complimentary Universal Express ride access
· Must book by March 29 and travel before October 8, 2009

Meal Deal ~ Starts at $20.99 for adults and $10.99 for children
· All-you-can-eat food for one low price at select locations at Universal Studios and/or Islands of Adventure

CityWalk Party Pass ~ $11.99
· Dance the night away at seven electrifying Universal CityWalk venues
· Free with a multi-day ticket to Universal Orlando

For more information about these and other great Universal Orlando deals, visit

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Friday, April 17, 2009

St Marys Celebrates Georgia Cities Week

T2F Note: Heading down to the coast of Georgia? We can't think of a better way to spend a weekend. Georgia's coastline cities are this week's recipients of the coveted Fayette Front Page Day Tripper Award.

Beginning April 18th, St. Marys will be celebrating Georgia Cities Week with opportunities for locals to sample the wonderful activities offered in your own backdoor.

For example, on April 23rd, Orange Hall House Museum, St. Marys Submarine Museum and the Cumberland Island Museum will be open at no charge for all visitors.

Orange Hall and the Submarine Museum will offer complimentary tours from 10 - 3 PM and the Cumberland Island Museum will be open from 1- 4 PM.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Top 10 Asheville, North Carolina, Mountain Hiking Trails

/PRNewswire/ -- It's time to hit the trails! The popular online travel guide to Asheville,, selected its top 10 easy and FREE day hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for 2009.

1. Gorges State Park: New parking and trails open in May for much better access to rugged river gorges. Hike along the Horsepasture River to see several waterfalls, including Rainbow Falls.

2. Mt. Mitchell: After enjoying the 360-degree vistas from the new observation deck atop the highest peak east of the Rockies, head to the Deep Gap Trail and hike over four more peaks over 6,000 feet.

3. Craggy Gardens: The Blue Ridge Parkway reopens here in May after more than a year of repairs. The Craggy Gardens Trail takes you across a rhododendron bald, and a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike to Craggy Pinnacle offers panoramic views.

4. Point Lookout Trail: This new 3.6-mile paved greenway climbs 900 feet in elevation in Pisgah National Forest. Bike or hike from Old Fort and enjoy mountain views.

5. Dupont State Forest: The best waterfall hike is a three mile trail to three waterfalls, including the impressive 150-foot High Falls with great places for wading and waterside picnics.

6. Max Patch: Hike the loop around the summit or continue further on the Appalachian Trail to enjoy breathtaking views from this bald mountaintop.

7. Cold Mountain: This famous mountain offers a strenuous 10.6-mile roundtrip hike to its summit. The hike includes a 2,800 foot elevation gain to the 6,030-foot peak.

8. Graveyard Fields: This highland hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway features a mile-high valley filled with wildflowers and surrounded by 6,000-foot peaks. With an easy four mile hike, you see two nice waterfalls.

9. Black Balsam Knob: Hike across more spectacular mountain balds. These treeless mountaintops offer sweeping views and alpine-like appearance. Hike three miles without dropping back into the trees.

10. Urban Trail: If you are looking for an urban hike, walk the 1.7-mile journey that showcases the art and history of Asheville, with 30 downtown stops, each with public sculpture.

For details on these trails plus others, see the comprehensive Asheville hiking and waterfall guides at

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stone Mountain Park Package Gives Families Second Day of Park Attractions Free, Plus Second Night for Only $99

T2F Note: Many hours of fun have been experienced at Stone Mountain over the years. In honor of our staff memories, we proudly find Stone Mountain worthy of our coveted Fayette Front Page Day Tripper Award.

/PRNewswire/ -- The Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort has teamed up with famed Stone Mountain Park in Georgia to offer the exclusive Family Escape Georgia Resort Vacation Package that features "play another day" adventure passes and the option to stay a second night for only $99.

One-night Family Escape Package includes:
-- Deluxe Stone Mountain lodging for one night
-- Four Stone Mountain Adventure Passes, featuring the Marriott exclusive
"Play Another Day" ticket giving your family the second day free
-- Breakfast buffet for four

-- Rates from $179 for two, $199 one night family of four through May 25,

Two-night Stone Mountain "Stay-cation" Package includes:
-- Deluxe overnight accommodations for two nights
-- Four Stone Mountain Adventure Passes featuring the Marriott-exclusive
two-day Adventure ticket giving your family the second day free
-- Breakfast buffet for four each morning in the hotel's Stone Mountain

-- $278 two-night family of two, $298 two-night family of four through
May 25, 2009

Enjoy special rates through Memorial Day, but package is valid on select weekends through September 27, 2009 with rates from $179-$358. Visit for more information and attraction hours.

Be sure that the promotional code THM appears in the Corporate/Promotional code box when making your online reservation, or call 1-800-834-7015 in the US and ask for promotional code THM. Visit for package information, terms and conditions.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Georgia Aquarium Opens New Invasive Species Exhibit and Upgraded Touch Pool

The Georgia Aquarium is excited to announce a new lionfish exhibit and upgraded touch pool located within the Georgia Explorer Gallery, presented by Sun Trust. Lionfish (Pterois volitans and Pterois miles), which are native to the sub-tropical and tropical Indo-Pacific regions, are an invasive species that are being released into ocean waters from which they did not originate, including areas off the coast of Georgia. There is increasing concern among fisheries scientists that lionfish, having no natural enemies off the coast of Georgia, may adversely impact native fish populations. In addition, this fish has venomous spines and may pose a danger to divers and anglers alike.

Through a grant with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Georgia Aquarium is working to increase awareness and management of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, one of the largest near-shore, live-bottom reefs of the southeastern United States. Scientists at NOAA have been conducting research on the invasive lionfish to better understand distribution, density, life history, temperature tolerances and genetics. The Aquarium's new 1,000-gallon exhibit will feature more than 40 lionfish, ranging in length from 5-9 inches.

The new touch pool features lower, kid-friendly and ADA-accessible walls so that everyone can enjoy the aquatic life.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Combine History and Faith (Apalachicola)

Historic Home & Garden Tour an Annual Spring Rite

Apalachicola's 17th annual Historic Home & Garden Tour May 1-2, will feature more than a dozen distinctive historic homes, gardens, inns, churches and businesses. The tour is an annual event for Trinity Episcopal Church, one of the state's oldest churches. The tour is expected to attract more than 1,000 visitors.

This year's event will begin Friday evening, May 1, at Trinity Episcopal Church, with an Evensong Service at 5:30 p.m. The service is followed at 6:30 p.m. by a free lecture by Mark Tarmey, a preservation architect, who will present a talk entitled "The Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation". Tarmey is President of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.

Registration for the tour begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 2, 2009 at Trinity Church. Admission the day of the tour is $20; advance tickets are $15. Tickets may be purchased before May 2 by calling Trinity Church (850) 653-9550, or the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce (850) 653-9419. A gourmet lunch will be available for $10. On the day of the tour ticket holders will receive a brochure which contains brief histories of the homes and a map.

The featured home for this year's tour will be the former home of world-renowned botanist Dr. Alvin Wentworth Chapman, author of Flora of the Southern United States. 2009 commemorates the 200th anniversary of his birth. The Chapman home was recently purchased by Dr. Helen Tudor of New York City. Renovation of the property is underway with plans to devote the first floor to a museum.

In addition to the Chapman house, more than a dozen historic homes and other buildings will be included on the tour. Apalachicola boasts more than 200 residences built in the nineteenth century and more than 100 erected from 1900-1910. In the three decades preceding the Civil War, Apalachicola ranked as the third busiest cotton port on the Gulf Coast behind only Mobile and New Orleans. The prosperity represented by many of the homes on tour is a direct result of this cotton trade.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Apalachicola one of America's "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" in 2008. The Tour is funded, in part, through the Franklin County Tourist Development Council. For more information on additional historic landmarks and visitor sites throughout Franklin County, please visit
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Plein Air Painters to Capture Forgotten Coast on Canvas (Florida)

More than 20 nationally acclaimed artists will gather on Florida's Forgotten Coast in early May to participate in the 4th annual Great Plein Air Paint Out, May 7-17, 2009. Painters will set up their easels and pull out their brushes to document the landscape and culture of this last vestige of authentic "Old Florida" - a sparsely developed stretch between Mexico Beach and Alligator Point.

The public is invited to visit the exhibits and attend many of the special public events that will occur throughout the 10 day Paint-out.


There will be four exhibits that operate throughout the event.

The Wetroom Exhibit will consist of art, fresh off of the easel, which arrives daily at the Historic Cotton Warehouse on the waterfront in downtown Apalachicola. The "wet room" will be open from 11am-5pm for the viewing and purchase of these masterfully produced paintings. Visit each day to experience the excitement as the event unfolds.

Available Works Exhibit (Opening May 10) will feature paintings created during previous Plein Air paint-outs. Art viewing and sales will be open daily from 12-5 pm in the WindMark Village Center. These works have grown increasingly popular and stimulate discussion of how the area has changed since the event first began.

St. Joe Collection (Opening May 10) Presented at SummerCamp exhibiting over 40 plein air paintings purchased from the last three years of Forgotten Coast events. View the Collection daily between 12-5pm.

Plein Air Classic Exhibit. Private collectors from the region have generously loaned their favorite paintings to present the Plein Air Classics Exhibit. The Gulf County Tourist Development Council will host the exhibit daily, May 11-15, from 9 am to 5 pm at the Gulf County Welcome Center, overlooking the bay in Port St. Joe.

Public Events

Quickdraw. Artists, amateurs and professionals, are invited to celebrate the Plein Air tradition by gathering on Reid Avenue in downtown Port St. Joe to participate in the Forgotten Coast Quickdraw on May 9. The excitement begins with artists taking two hours, beginning at 10 am, to paint the beauty of Port St. Joe. At noon the sidewalk will be lined with easels displaying the fruits of the morning's work. Awards will be presented and art will be sold off the easels. There will also be music, shopping, and a creative art project for kids. The Quickdraw is presented by the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency, the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce, and the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition. Applications and contest rules are available at or at the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency. For more information, contact Lorinda Gingell at 850/229-6899.

Student Art Day. Highly sought after for their instructional skills, the participating Plein Air artists will devote Tuesday morning, May 12, to Student Art Day. Students from local schools will receive one-on-one mentoring to create a plein air work. This event will take place 10 am-12 noon in Maddox Park in Port St. Joe and will be followed by a community luncheon at the Gulf County Welcome Center, hosted by the Port St. Joe Lions Club and the Junior Service League. The students' completed paintings will be displayed in the Wetroom Exhibit through the duration of the event

Free Artist Demonstrations. Art enthusiasts are encouraged to attend a series of free artist demonstrations and receptions throughout the 10 days. Three historic lighthouses will be featured during the series to include Cape San Blas on Sunday, May 10, Carrabelle's Crooked River on Monday, May 11, and the St George Island Light on Thursday, May 14. Artists will be in Mexico Beach on Wednesday, May 13, in Port St. Joe on May 8, at the Salt Air Farmer's Market in Port St. Joe on Saturday, May 16, at the WindMark Village Center on May 16, and on Apalachicola's working waterfront on May 8, 9, 16 and 17. For a complete schedule and details visit

Art as a Window. This panel discussion will explore the way history, local culture, and the artist interact, will feature noted art historian Mallory O'Connor, Voices of the Apalachicola author Faith Eidse, and plein air artist Mitch Kolbe. The program will be held in the loft of the Historic Cotton Warehouse above the Wetroom on Friday, May 15, from 2-4 pm. Funded by the Florida Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, the program is free and open to the public.

Patron's Party. Artists will be asked to reserve their very best work to present at the Patrons' Party on Saturday evening, May 16, from 6:30-10:30 pm. This special event, held in the Wetroom in Apalachicola, will include delicious food, live music, and the opportunity to purchase the best art from the paint-out. Tickets are $75 per couple or $40 each.

Art in the Afternoon. The final segment, Art In The Afternoon, is a free, family-oriented celebration of the Plein Air event. Children will enjoy fine arts projects, area music students will perform, and artists will paint on-site from 11am-4pm on Sunday, May 17. The Wetroom will extend into the street and overlook Riverfront Park in Apalachicola. This will be the last chance to purchase plein air art, mingle with the artists, and ask them to personalize a message on purchased paintings.

Dual Opening Receptions will kick-off the event on Friday, May 8, from 6-8 pm at the WindMark Village Center in the East and at SummerCamp in the West. The "meet-and-greets" with plein air artists, patrons and event organizers are free and open to the public. The WindMark reception will provide a preview of available works from previous paint-outs and the SummerCamp affair will present the St. Joe Collection.

The artists will frame the initial two days of paintings to be hung for the Wetroom Reveal, Saturday evening, May 9, from 6-8 pm in the Historic Cotton Warehouse in Apalachicola. This opening of the "wetroom" will be the first opportunity to purchase the 2009 paintings. Tickets are $15 and include hors d'oeuvres, wine, and music.

The "great paint-out" is a 10-day event coordinated by the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition, a non-profit organization established to produce regional multi-community cultural events that improve the quality of life for the coastal area. The communities of Mexico Beach, WindMark Beach, Port St. Joe, Cape San Blas, Indian Pass, Apalachicola, Eastpoint, St. George Island, Carrabelle, SummerCamp and Alligator Point have joined forces to produce the most impressive art event seen along the coast. Funding from both the Gulf and Franklin County Tourist Development Councils has been used to promote the event to a national market aiming to attract art enthusiasts and collectors. "The crème de la crème of artists will be painting along the Forgotten Coast and our local residents and visitors will get the first chance to purchase these paintings that capture and preserve what we all love about this area", said Founder Richard Carrell.

Artists participating in this year's event include Frank Bruckmann, New Haven, CT; Luke Buck, Niveah, IN; Gene Costanza, Eugene, OR; Katie Cundiff, Sarasota, FL; Charles Dickinson, St. Augustine, FL; Cynthia Edmonds, Winter Park, FL; Mary Erickson, Marshville, NC; Sally Evans, Winter Park, FL; Harold Frontz, Lexington, NC; Tracey Frugoli, Morton, IL; Richard Gallego, Palmdale, CA; James Hempel, Milwaukee, WI; Allison Hill, Mohegan Island, ME; Mitch Kolbe, Palm Harbor, FL; Morgan Samuel Price, Altamonte Springs, FL; Lori Putnam, Nashville, TN; James Richards, Athens, GA; Tom Sadler, Orlando, FL; Diane Scott, Hingham, MA; Robert Simone, St. Petersburg, FL; and Theodore Tihansky, Monhegan Island, ME.

Plein Air (pronounced pleyn air) comes from the French term "en plein air," meaning "in the open air." It is a style of creating art in the moment outside, primarily (but not necessarily) from nature. Although this type of art is often thought of as landscape painting, many other subjects can be depicted, including still life, figures, portraits and architecture. A true plein air painting is done on location, capturing the atmosphere and establishing a sense of place. Many artists agree this is the true test of skill, as it requires complete confidence in placement of color and brushwork in a short amount of time. The work is valued for its sense of spontaneity and for the skill artists develop at quickly and deftly capturing the essence of light or shadow on a subject. Plein air art is not created in a deliberate or planned manner, it is fresh and uncontrived, created from life as it happens.

The public is invited, encouraged even, to locate, stop and watch the painters throughout the week. To view the entire schedule of events, enter the Quickdraw contest, or purchase tickets, visit the website, or call 1/800/378-8419. The 2009 Plein Air Paint Out is funded, in part, through the Franklin County Tourist Development Council. To learn more about arts and art related events in Franklin County, please visit
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Thursday, April 09, 2009

United Vacations' Fairytale Vacation Giveaway to the WALT DISNEY WORLD(R) Resort in Orlando, FL

/PRNewswire/ -- For the first time ever, the team at United Vacations has custom-designed a vacation giveaway in celebration of the Disney fan base from around the world. Their phenomenal grand prize valued over $7,000 opens the door to a whole other world inside the Walt Disney World(R) Resort where one lucky family will have the opportunity to experience aspects of the destination that the average vacationer rarely, if ever, has access to in one visit.

From the 70-year old who sports a Mickey Mouse watch to the first grader whose bedroom is decorated in pixie dust and Dalmatian spots, Disney fans are truly one of a kind - and they are the focus of this very special vacation giveaway.

"They span generations of every age, race and culture. Disney is known worldwide and is still to this day considered one of the most magical places a family can visit together," said Rick Karnes, vice president and general manager of United Vacations. "It is for this reason that we have chosen to target this special group and seek out our own 'biggest Disney fan.'"

The grand prize package for 4 people includes:
-- Roundtrip flight to Orlando, FL on United Airlines
-- Red Carpet Club passes
-- 4-night hotel accommodations at a Walt Disney World(R) Resort Deluxe
-- Disney's Magic Your Way Tickets with Park Hopper(R) Option
-- Welcome gift basket with over $600 in Disney merchandise
-- Disney's VIP Tour Guide Service
-- Viewing of Magic Kingdom(R) Park fireworks aboard Grand One Yacht
-- Once Upon A Time Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table at Magic
Kingdom(R) Park
-- Disney's Dolphins In Depth Tour at Epcot(R)
-- Disney's Spirit Of Aloha Dinner Show
-- Dinner at Planet Hollywood(R) in Downtown Disney(R) Resort Area
-- Tickets to the Cirque Du Soleil(R) performance La Nouba(TM)

-- Spa Treatment at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Anyone age 21 or older may enter for a chance to win at by 5/31/09. Winner will be announced on or around 6/15/09.

Giveaway is being run by United Vacations, not the Walt Disney World(R) Resort. No Purchase Necessary. For a complete listing of contest terms and conditions and full descriptions of the Disney experiences listed above visit

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Celebrate National Train Day and Discover the Rail Way

/PRNewswire/ -- American Idol Judge, Randy Jackson will join Amtrak in celebrating America's love for rail travel and act as celebrity headliner at the second annual National Train Day, May 9, 2009. Marking 140 years of connecting travelers from coast to coast, National Train Day celebrates the importance of train travel throughout the country with complimentary events in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles, and many more locally organized events in communities nationwide.

"National Train Day is about giving back to the community and educating Americans about the benefits of rail travel," said Emmett Fremaux, vice president marketing and product management, Amtrak. "As one of the hosts of the most watched TV show in America, Randy Jackson is helping to raise the profile of train travel as an important part of American culture, one that has a promising future and continues to influence the way people connect with each other in their personal and professional lives."

As celebrity headliner for National Train Day, Randy Jackson will kick-off the festivities in Washington, DC. Jackson appreciates the benefits that train travel continues to provide Americans from the connection and value to the flexibility and convenience. "Showing support for Amtrak's National Train Day reinforces my belief that trains are the backbone of America," says Jackson.

The four major National Train Day events will be hosted from 10am to 3pm. An experience for the whole family, America will Discover the Rail Way at participating train stations while enjoying free live musical entertainment, an interactive green exhibit, VIP appearances, an Amtrakids Depot, and train equipment displays from the past, present and future. In addition to the four major market events, communities across the country are encouraged to develop and host their own National Train Day events. Nearly 100 local event celebrations were held for the first National Train Day in 2008.

Event Exhibits and Festivities

As part of National Train Day, each major event will be hosting the following festivities and exhibits to further excite and educate train enthusiasts about rail travel:

-- Amtrak Brand Display - Enjoy the Journey: Learn about Amtrak's
connectivity, available routes, train technology, amenities and
offerings. Amtrak "travel experts" will also be on hand to ensure
National Train Day attendees receive all the information they need.
-- Amtrakids Depot: Enjoy appearances by The Radio Disney Road Crew
where kids and former kids can enjoy music, a dance party, interactive
games, and receive giveaways. Magicians, face painters and educational
hands-on activities including interaction with real Amtrak employees
such as train engineers and conductors will also be onsite.
-- J. Craig Thorpe Gallery: Visit notable train artist J. Craig Thorpe's
exhibit, "Honor the Bright Land - Trains in our National Lands-capes,"
featuring his vision of trains in urban, rural, wilderness, and future
-- Trains Move our Economy Exhibit: Learn about high-speed corridors,
Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, rail infrastructure, electrification, and
the role of freight trains.
-- Eco Exhibit: Discover the green aspects of rail travel - energy
efficiency, electric rail, regenerative braking, etc. - with this
free-standing interactive display.
-- Model Train Displays: Enjoy model train displays dispersed throughout
the stations. Model trains are more than just a hobby; they are
steeped in tradition and promote family fun.
-- Train Equipment Displays: See the trains up close and personal with
displays that include historic private cars, commuter and freight
cars, and other Amtrak offerings.

-- Snapshot Station: Create fun memories of National Train Day with
photos featuring a custom train-themed photo backdrop.

Musical performances by talented local artists, as well as some of Island Def Jam's top up-and-coming talent, will entertain the crowds throughout the day.

Washington, D.C.

-- Karina Pasian is a Dominican American singer and pianist, who
currently resides in New York and was most recently nominated at the
Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary R&B album.

-- Jon McLaughlin is a pop/rock singer-songwriter and pianist from
Indiana who, at the 2008 Academy Awards, performed his Academy Award
nominated song "So Close," from the movie Enchanted.

-- Rachel Yamagata is an up and coming singer-songwriter and piano player
whose work has been featured on several TV shows, including How I Met
Your Mother, ER, Nip/Tuck, Men in Trees and The O.C.

-- Shemekia Copeland was brought-up by her father, legendary Blues
guitarist Johnny Copeland, and sang at the Cotton Club in Chicago when
she was only eight. More recently in her adult life, she headlined at
the Chicago Blues Festival.

-- Unique is an emerging R&B artist from Island Def Jam's latest talent
roster. He draws inspiration from well known artists such as Michael
Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Beyonce and Gwen Stefani.

Los Angeles
-- Matt Costa is an environmentally conscience singer/songwriter from
Huntington Beach, Calif., who has released four albums: a self-titled
five-song EP in 2003, a full-length album entitled Songs We Sing, a
six song EP titled The Elasmosaurus EP in 2005 and the full-length
album Unfamiliar Faces in 2008.

-- Chana is an LA-based singer whose tropical sound could be described as
global hip-pop. Chana has received accolades from several media
outlets including The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald and
Billboard Magazine and was one of the artists featured in iTunes'
"Best of The Store Latino."

Amtrak Guest Rewards Offer

In honor of National Train Day, Amtrak riders will earn double Amtrak Guest Rewards(R) points on each of the first four Amtrak train trips and triple points for the fifth trip and beyond, from March 16 through May 8, 2009. Plus, earn quadruple points for any trip taken on National Train Day, Saturday, May 9, 2009.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Country Weekly Fashion Show and Concert June 10 in Nashville

T2F Note: Nashville is just a hop, skip and jump away from North Georgia. Why not head on up and spend some time just visiting this lovely city?

CMA Music Fest would not be same without the Country Weekly Fashion Show & Concert. Now in its third year, the event will take place at noon on June 10th at the Wildhorse Saloon on 2nd Avenue in Nashville. Artists and Sponsors to be announced soon!

“The Country Weekly Fashion Show is our way of kicking off CMA Music Festival week—in style,” says Larry Holden, Country Weekly Editor in Chief. “As the show unfolds onstage, attendees will feel like they’re watching an issue of Country Weekly come to life. Glitz and glamour, with some of your favorite stars and newcomers, too, plus outrageous antics and intimate acoustic performances—it’s all a part of the show! And, best of all, this special event raises much-needed funds for Musicians On Call’s Nashville chapter.”

"Musicians On Call’s campaign to bring music straight to the bedsides of patients in hospitals would not be able to expand in Nashville without the support of Country Weekly and the artists who participate in the Fashion Show," says Katy Brown, Program Director of Musicians On Call in Nashville. "It’s an exciting night of style made even more special by performances from the artists. The impact of this event has a profound effect throughout the rest of the year improving the health and spirits of thousands of patients one song and one bed at a time."

Special VIP tickets in the front row areas and prime runway seating area are on sale now. A limited number of $125 Runway tickets and $50 Reserved tickets near the runway are available. You can also purchase a table in “Music Row,” which is a row of premium tables behind the runway seats. These tables are $750 and include 8 seats, name recognition from the stage, appetizers from the Wildhorse Saloon, and two buckets of domestic beer.

General Admission seating will go on sale through TicketMaster on Friday, April 10 at 10 a.m. CST.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

The 9th Annual Savannah Garden Exposition April 17-19

Celebrate Savannah’s unique heritage and garden history at the 9th Annual Savannah Garden Exposition. The Exposition begins Friday, April 17th and will run through Sunday, April 19th, 2009, Rain or Shine, at the Roundhouse Railroad Museum at 601 West Harris Street. Hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Sunday.

This year’s theme is “Our Square Roots” in honor of Savannah’s distinctive city planning and garden designs. Full-size exhibition gardens, lectures, informative demonstrations given by experts, children’s activities, and an open-air market with growers and garden-related merchandise are just a few of the featured events. Ingenuity reigns as competitors interpret the theme "Our Square Roots" by planting containers with their own distinct styles and personalities. Visitors will be able to bid to purchase the container gardens in a silent auction held throughout the weekend.

Competing in several categories, exhibition garden designers are limited only by their imaginations as they interpret our theme and design gardens that will delight the senses and showcase their talents. These gardens will inspire you whether you're an amateur gardener or an experienced gardening enthusiast!

Thursday, April 16, 6:30 p.m.
$100 HSF & DH members; $145 *Non-members
Join patrons and supporters of the Savannah Garden Exposition for an evening of food, fun and horticulture. Be the first to experience "Our Square Roots" and the transformation of the historic Roundhouse Railroad Museum into an extravaganza worthy of General James Edward Oglethorpe. This festive evening combines the distinctive historical site and the incredible beauty of the Exposition with the extraordinary food and talent of many of Savannah's top chefs. Don't miss this year's Silent Auction which will include rare and unusual plants, fine art, parties, trips, garden ornaments and more.

Carolyn Ross McDonald Lecture Series: Featuring well known author and speaker Tovah Martin; Vince Dooley, well loved UGA coach and Master Gardener; local entertainment expert, Bethany Hewitt; and Buddy Lee, the inventor of the Encore Azalea®.

Friday, April 17
Tovah Martin – Bringing Nature Indoors: Houseplants, Terrariums & You - 11 a.m. Free Lecture
Tovah is the author of the recent book, The New Terrarium, published in February, 2009. Tovah has authored numerous gardening books including Tasha Tudor's Garden and View from a Sketchbook: Nature through the Eyes of Marjolein Bastin. Her articles can be found in many magazines, including Country Home, Horticulture and Country Living. She has been a featured speaker aboard the QE2. Tovah is a frequent guest on the PBS series "Cultivating Life". In May, 2008, The Garden Club of America awarded her the Sarah Chapman Francis Medal for "outstanding literary achievement."

Friday, April 17
Vince Dooley - Diggin in the Dirt with the Dawg - 12:30 p.m. Free Lecture
$15 Box Lunch, advance purchase required, pick up at noon.
There may be a no more decorated director of athletics and former head coach in the country than Georgia's Vince Dooley, who served as head football coach at UGA from 1963 to 1988, and as Director of Athletics from 1979 to 2004. Mr. Dooley, a Master Gardener, was instrumental in the University's campus being designated as an arboretum and was presented with the Georgia Urban Forest Council's 2001 Individual Achievement Award for significant accomplishments in promoting urban forestry in Georgia.

Saturday, April 18
Bethany Hewitt – Entertaining with Grace
11 a.m. Free Lecture & Demonstration
Presented by locally known caterer Bethany Hewitt of Southern Graces Indulgent Catering & Delicious Design, a custom design and catering company. Bethany, a talented chef and designer will share her refreshing perspective to events and food, combining southern classics with french country and a dash of whimsy, creating an end result that is nothing short of "Sophisticated Grace." Bethany will demonstrate creative ways to use fresh herbs and flowers in recipes with fabulous presentations! She will showcase some of the latest trends in cocktails, savories, and tablescapes that will include numerous items from the garden for a delightful twist on the classics.

Saturday, April 18
Buddy Lee – Evergreen Azaleas: Backbone of the Southern Garden
12:30 p.m. Free Lecture
$15 Box Lunch, advance purchase required, pick up at noon.
Robert (Buddy) Lee, the inventor of Encore Azalea®, the only azalea to bloom in spring, summer and fall, has more than 30 years experience in nursery management, breeding, propagation, and new plant development. Past president of The Azalea Society of America and past president of the Louisiana Nurseryman's Association Region III, his current role is Director of Plant Innovations at PDSI (Plant Development Services Inc.) in Loxley, Alabama specializing in bringing new innovative plants to market. He is responsible for both Encore Azalea® and the new Southern Living™ Plant Collection.

The Garden Exposition Workshops
Friday, April 17
Tovah Martin – Terrarium Workshop
2:30 p.m.
($25 for materials - advance tickets purchased by April 11).
Join us for this exciting and unique "make-it-and-take-it" workshop. Work alongside acclaimed gardener and author, Tovah Martin, as she guides you in creating your very own terrarium inspired by her book The New Terrarium published in February 2009. Tovah will inspire you with wonderful ideas for containers, plant material, color and design and take the mystery out of creating terrariums. Her delightful and easy personality will make you feel as if you are spending the afternoon with a dear friend.

Saturday, April 18
Gaye Drummond – Hand-Tied Bouquet & Table Arrangement Workshop
2 p.m.
$50 for materials (advance tickets purchased by April 11).
Gaye hails from England where she began her career selling her own floral designs on London's vibrant Portobello Road Market. Gaye's work has been the subject of features in Southern Living magazine and her floral displays have graced such events and venues as the Telfair Ball, the Savannah Yacht Club, Bray's Island Plantation and many homes throughout Savannah. The hallmark of her work is vibrancy, quality and freshness, and her inspiration remains the English country garden. Come learn how to make a hand-tied bouquet and a table center arrangement to take home and enjoy.

Experience the bustling marketplace filled with some of the most acclaimed specialty nurseries, garden-related merchants and more. Local, regional and national retailers carefully select their most distinctive items for sale at the Savannah Garden Exposition. These dealers will offer visitors a special opportunity to purchase products not usually available. Items for sale will include high quality plants of all types, garden ornaments and furniture, gardening tools and accessories, books, botanical jewelry, unique gift items and much more! Relax and take in the garden atmosphere while enjoying coffee, lunch or a glass of wine from one of our specialty food vendors amidst the simulated ambience of Savannah's squares.

$45 three-day NOGS* tour
Friday, April 17 & Saturday, April 18 - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday, April 17 & Saturday, April 18 - 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Harper Fowlkes House.
Sunday, April 19 - A forty minute guided tour beginning every 20 minutes from 1 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.

Savannah in the spring delights the senses. As light filters through the Live Oak branches, the eyes are filled with the soft palette of azaleas and spring flowers. Sweet smells fill the air and the warm temperatures tempt us to spend the day outside. This is the best time of the year to tour the private and public gardens that have made Savannah famous. This year's tour will be a three-day event ticket allowing ticket holders to tour at their leisure 12 gardens on Friday and Saturday. Sunday afternoon features a special tour of Forsyth Park given by The Savannah Tree Foundation. The ticket also includes a Southern Tea: 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. on your choice of Friday or Saturday with iced tea, cookies and sandwiches in the garden of the Harper Fowlkes House.

Fully detailed Walking Tour Maps are provided with Walking Tour tickets. $5 per ticket discount for groups of 10 or more. Transportation is not provided.

Saturday, April 18, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sunday, April 19, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.
While you shop, your children and grandchildren will be entertained with fun and educational horticulturally inspired crafts. Volunteers will closely supervise the activities with your children. You may stay and participate, or you may leave them as you enjoy the Exposition.

Saturday, April 18, 6 p.m.
A truly memorable evening on beautiful Monterey Square. Wine lovers will enjoy sampling two different wines in each of three private gardens. Light hors d'oeuvres by Local 11Ten Restaurant will be served. After guests have toured the gardens, the evening will culminate in a fine wine auction in a private residence. Dr. Robert Tomhave has carefully selected only exceptional wines for this occasion. Due to space considerations, tickets are limited. Tickets are $100.

Sunday, April 19, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.
You and your family are invited to bring a blanket to the beautiful restored Worker’s Garden in the Roundhouse to enjoy a Sunday afternoon picnic. Bring your own, or purchase lunch from any of our vendors for a relaxing and fun afternoon. Surprises and children’s activities will make this a special occasion.
Daily general admission tickets are $10, with group discounts available. A 3-day pass is available for $20. Children under the age of 12 are free when accompanied by a paid adult.
All proceeds benefit the Isaiah Davenport House Museum and the Historic Savannah Foundation.

For tickets and a complete list of events, dates, times and prices, please visit or call 912.236.4795.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Oh, I Wish I was at Dixieland

"In Dixieland where fun is born,
Early on a springtime morn,
Come along, have some fun, have more fun,

Oh I wish I was in Dixie,
Hooray, Hooray,
At Dixieland, we'll take our stand
To have more smiles and fun."

I have to admit it. I packed up a group of fun seekers representing all age groups to go and check out the rumor of an improved Dixieland Fun Park in Fayetteville, Georgia. The group consisted of a younger child, a teenager, a dad who really didn't want to go, and me.

We expected to be there for a couple of hours. After all, when riding past the park, it really didn't look any different. Not only that, but the thought of having to purchase all those tickets for the rides was enough to dampen my day.

The park has just opened for the season with its Dixie Dayz Spring Break. We thought it was a beautiful day to waste just a couple of hours, but we just couldn't do it. The hum drum of winter blues soon gave way to a fantastic sunny adventure for our group.

Gone are the days of carrying tickets around. Now there is just one admission price which allowed us to get in to everything- all the rides and the shows. Okay, so my winter blues were starting to see some rays of sunshine. No more would I have the burden of digging through my pockets to find tickets. One armband and off we went.

The lines were short on this opening day. The longest line we stood in was about 8 minutes for the famed Go Karts rides. The Go Kart rides have three tracks from which to choose, depending on your age and height, and are the most popular rides at the park.

After speeding around the track, off we raced to the roller coaster. Small by today's standards at the larger parks, this classic coaster still can hold its tracks up high. It was great as the Ok-so-I'm Here dads started to yell shouts of glee as the coaster flexed its muscle and had the riders off their seats in no time. Yep, we quickly realized the drops were faster than gravity, and we were laughing so hard as we experienced the momentary sensation of weightlessness.

Quickly now, we were ready for the Scrambler and the Spider. I admit it. The spinning rides were for me. Quick speed and turns were enough to make me scream in delight while the younger members of our party still had the loud laughter erupting from their throats.

Maybe it's time to settle down for a few minutes, or at least let the tummies calm down, and take in a show. On our visit, we were able to see the 2X World Champion Tommi Ahvala strut his stuff on his 145 pound bike. The trick riding was exceptional and the stunts were fun to watch. Just ask Steve, who was offered a shave and a hair cut!

The other show of the day was a reptile show. The difference between this show and others I've attended was the overall nature of it. The audience was allowed to view the snakes and large lizards up close and personal. Of course, all the snakes were quite docile and nonpoisonous. With that said, I still get queasy around the slithering animals. After the show, the audience was invited to hold some of the snakes and get to know them. Suffice it to say they were cold and had slick skins.

There was so much to do. We rode every ride in the park, and even took some time to enjoy a round of miniature golf.

Who knew that our winter time blues would turn to smiles of spring? Who knew that we would happily spend over eight hours in the park? Who knew that my wallet would enjoy the savings offered during these tough days of our economy?

Dixieland Fun Park. I've got to agree with their new slogan. It is, indeed, Fantastic Family Fun. And I can't wait to go back and see more of their new super shows over the season. After all, a quick commute of less than half an hour after a full day of family fun and memories will make me smile for a long time.

To find out more about Dixieland Fun Park, visit .

"Oh it was such fun in Dixieland,
Hooray, Hooray,
In Fayetteville, we'll take our stand
To have more smiles and fun,
Hooray, hooray,
What fun we had at Dixieland."

By A. S. Eldredge
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
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Friday, April 03, 2009

B&Bs Offer Recession Relief With 'Tanks for Traveling' Offers: Free Gas, Free Dinners, Discounts, Gifts, Spa Treatments

/PRNewswire/ -- members are putting money where travelers need it most -- into their gas tanks, their stomachs, and their wallets. Dubbed "Tanks for Traveling," 150+ money-saving deals have been created by B&Bs in America and Europe. For a complete list, go to; when booking, mention the Tanks for Traveling promotion. Here's a sampling of "Tanks for Traveling" 2009 promotions:

Vine Street Inn, Paso Robles, CA: Arrive at the Paso Robles Train Station via train or bus through March 2010 and receive a $100 gift certificate; station pickup included.

Aska Lodge, Blue Ridge, GA: Stay two midweek nights through June 26 and receive a $20 discount, a Georgia Birds Pocket Guide, and a birdhouse.

Beall Mansion, Alton, IL: Stay two consecutive nights through September and receive a $50 QuikTrip(R) card by mentioning "Tanks for Traveling" at booking.

Inn at the Oaks, Eastham, MA: Stay three nights through May 22 and receive a $75 Gift Card, welcomed at 4,000 B&Bs. Enjoy it yourself or give it for Mother's Day.

Blue Door on Baltimore, Baltimore, MD: Green your getaway with a $30 discount on three-night stays through October when you leave your car and use the water taxi to see Baltimore.

The Kingsley House, Fennville, MI: Improving your vehicle's fuel efficiency is important, but why not take care of your personal engine, too? Treat yourself to a "Tune-Up" from April 11 through June; stay two nights in a suite and receive two one-hour massages (a $150 value).

Classic Rosewood, a Thorwood Inn, Hastings, MN: Spend $500 at the inn before July 31 and get a $500 gas rebate certificate. Register the certificate at one of 14 gasoline companies and get a $25 rebate each time you send $100 in gas receipts, up to $500.

Garth Woodside Mansion, Hannibal, MO: To "tank" guests for traveling, overnight guests enjoy breakfast and dinner on the house through September 30.

William Seward Inn, Westfield, NY: Bicycle-riding guests who stay two nights get a gourmet picnic for two, including wine ($49 value) through June 30.

The Craftsman B&B, Pacific City, OR: Enjoy a $25 discount for a two-night midweek stay booked on this inn's website. On weekends through June 25, deduct 10% if you arrive on two wheels, via public transportation, or in a hybrid or biofuel car.

Black Bear Inn, Bolton Valley, VT: Guests staying three nights through September 24 get a $100 gasoline gift card.

Harmony Hill B&B, Lovingston, VA: Reserve two midweek nights and receive a voucher for a free night.

Boreas B&B, Long Beach, WA: Through July 2, book two nights and receive a $50 gift certificate for dinner at the 42nd Street Cafe.

Earth Rider Boutique Hotel, Brodhead, WI: Burn calories, not oil, and fill your "tank" with sustainable fuel! Stay two weekend nights and enjoy a $40 certificate to "refuel" at a local restaurant, plus two one-hour massages to "tune-up" your engine. Double rates are $340 through October 31.

In addition, book a three-night Canadian getaway on in April, and enjoy a $50 discount. Type in your destination and travel dates, use the green "Book It" button, and enter promo code CANADA50 to get the credit.

For more information on B&B travel trends check the March 2009 survey.

Learn about 7,000 B&B getaway choices at, where travelers can make reservations online, purchase The Getaway Gift Card from, read The Blog, and read/write independent reviews.

Fayette Front Page
Georgia Front Page

Thursday, April 02, 2009

AirTran Airways Announces New Seasonal Service From Atlanta to Portland, Maine, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

/PRNewswire / -- AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AAI) , today announced that it will begin offering seasonal service between Atlanta and the following destinations: Portland, Maine, and Harrisburg, Pa. The carrier will operate one daily nonstop flight to and from each city between June 11 and September 8. Both cities are new destinations from Atlanta for the low-fare airline. The route will be served by AirTran Airways' popular Boeing 717-200 aircraft, which seats 117 passengers (12 in Business Class and 105 in coach).

AirTran Airways also provides nonstop flights between Portland, Maine, and both Orlando, Fla., and Baltimore/Washington, and between Harrisburg and Orlando. By adding direct flights to Atlanta, residents of Portland and Harrisburg will now be able to connect to more than 35 destinations nationwide.

"AirTran Airways is pleased that we are able to meet the demands of our customers by announcing seasonal service from our Atlanta hub to these great cities," said Kevin Healy, senior vice president of marketing and planning for AirTran Airways. "AirTran Airways' goal is to make traveling more convenient for our customers, and providing travelers in Portland, Maine, and Harrisburg with access to our entire network of cities through Atlanta helps us further that goal."

Fayette Front Page
Georgia Front Page

Hay House Presents Macon Gardens, Mansions & Moonlight May 1-3, 2009

/PRNewswire / -- Hay House will host Macon Gardens, Mansions & Moonlight Friday-Sunday, May 1-3, 2009. Central Georgia's premier home and garden event includes tours of private gardens and historic homes, a free garden market on the Hay House grounds, and free seminars by nationally recognized guest speakers Felder Rushing and Todd Goulding. Macon Gardens, Mansions & Moonlight has received numerous designations as a "Top Twenty Event" by the Southeast Tourism Society.

The venerable Secret Gardens Tour (Friday-Sunday) is now in its 16th year and will feature eight (8) gardens in the historic InTown neighborhood, including College Street, Orange Street, Magnolia Streets and Park Place. The romantic Moonlight Tour (Friday and Saturday evenings only) will features homes and gardens on Rogers and Clayton Avenues in historic Vineville neighborhood. The 8th annual Historic Homes Tour (Saturday and Sunday) will highlight four (4) homes, all designed by architect W. Elliott Dunwody, Jr., whose career spanned more than half a century and produced hundreds of projects in Macon

Guests may purchase a combination ticket for all three home and garden tours, or tickets are available for each tour individually. Every ticket purchase includes a complimentary tour of Hay House during the event weekend. Tickets are on sale now at all ACE Hardware Stores in Macon, Gray, Perry and Warner Robins, as well as Hay House, Creter's, Society Gardener, and Johnson's Garden Center in Macon. During the event, tickets can also be purchased at the Federated Garden Clubs of Macon at 730 College Street. An order form can also be downloaded from the website, printed and faxed to 478-745-4277, or mailed to Hay House, 934 Georgia Avenue, Macon GA 31201. Special advance ticket prices are available for the Combination Tour and the Secret Garden Tour before April 30. All ticket holders should stop by Hay House or the Federated Garden Clubs to pick up a program book with maps and directions before starting their tour.

Macon Gardens, Mansions & Moonlight also includes a free Garden Market held on the historic Hay House grounds. Specialty home and garden vendors will set up on the Hay House lawn to sell flowering plants, herbs, exotic flowers, garden art, planters, home decor and other accessories.

Felder Rushing, who is featured in the March 26 issue of the New York Times (, will speak at Hay House on Saturday, May 2 at 11 am and Sunday, May 3 at 2 pm. Rushing, a contributing editor for Horticulture Magazine, has written and photographed for Garden Design, Fine Gardening, National Geographic, Better Homes and Gardens, American Homestyle, Country Living Gardener, National Gardening, Old House Journal, Organic Gardening, Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record, and many more.

Todd Goulding, "Your Garden Guy," will speak at Hay House on Friday, May 1 at 2 pm and Saturday, May 2 at 2 pm. Todd Goulding is President of Goulding Design Group, LLC a residential landscape design, consulting, and installation company with offices in Macon, Atlanta, and Birmingham. Goulding Design Group LLC was formed in 1993. Todd is a contributing writer for Macon Magazine and columnist for The Telegraph.

All Seminars by Felder Rushing and Todd Goulding are free and open to the public.

The event is sponsored by The Georgia Department of Tourism, Fickling and Company, Riverside Ford Lincoln Mercury, ACE Hardware, State Farm-Pat Patterson Agent, Chris R. Sheridan & Co., Butler Automotive Group, Cox Communications, The Telegraph, 13WMAZ, and Macon Magazine.

For more tour times and more information about Macon Gardens, Mansions & Moonlight, please call 478-742-8155 or visit

Hay House is a National Historic Landmark and a property of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Hay House was featured on the 2007 "Oprah's Favorite Things" episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, and has also been featured on the A&E Channel program "America's Castles."

Fayette Front Page
Georgia Front Page

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

First Multiple Zip-Line at a Theme Park Debuts at Dollywood

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Starting in May 2009, Dollywood guests will be able to fly like an eagle over the 150 acre theme park and experience the majesty of the Great Smoky Mountains with the opening of SkyZip. SkyZip is the first multiple station zip-line experience to open in a U.S. theme park.

“SkyZip is the first of a series of premium experiences Dollywood plans to launch in the coming year. These high level family experiences are ‘ready-to-go’ meaning our guests just show up for the thrills, no previous experience or expensive gear needed,” said Ken Bell, president of Dollywood. “These deeper, personalized experiences will challenge our guests and often, fulfill lifelong dreams.”

Beginning early summer, the hour-long, premium SkyZip adventure will include up to five zip-line treks ranging in length from 100 to nearly 1,000 feet and a 100-foot long swinging bridge perched above the trees. Each zip-line is an elevated and inclined wire from which a pulley and a seating apparatus are suspended allowing the guest to move between two points via gravity.

Each SkyZip tour offers a distinctive adventure with a theme. Fliers will launch from a perch above the park’s region called Wilderness Pass and soar to Dollywood’s famed triple spiral-looping rollercoaster, Tennessee Tornado, and beyond. One trail takes adventurers breathtakingly close to Eagle Mountain Sanctuary. After a brief hike, the adventurers will zip above Craftsman’s Valley, which houses Dollywood’s talented artisans, to the same point where their adventure began.

As part of Dollywood’s celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the tour will also provide an environmental and historical tour of undeveloped and unspoiled property surrounding Dollywood hosted by specially trained adventure guides.

The new SkyZip is powered by Hawaii-based Skyline Eco-Adventures. In addition to park admission, an additional fee is required to experience SkyZip.

Skyline Eco-Adventures is a Hawaii-based, award-winning, zip-line developer and operator dedicated to making a positive impact on the environment. It is the first and most experienced U.S. zip-line operator, as well as the first zip-line company in the world to become a member of “1% for the planet,” a group of businesses committed to giving at least one percent of its sales back to environmental preservation. Skyline Eco-Adventures will continue that effort at Dollywood.

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