Monday, September 28, 2009

America's Purple Heart Trail

(NAPSI)-One of the reasons that freedom thrives in America is because of brave men and women who endured the true pain of preserving the nation's ideals. Indeed, some have given their lives to uphold justice and liberty for all.

For these acts of individual bravery, the nation's government presents its oldest military decoration: the Purple Heart medal. The Purple Heart Trail was established in 1992 by the Military Order of the Purple Heart to create a visual and symbolic tribute to those brave men and women. The Purple Heart Trail originates at a monument in Mt. Vernon, Virginia. Mt. Vernon is the burial location of George Washington, the nation's first president, the commander in chief of the Revolutionary Army, and the father of the Purple Heart award. Currently, 45 states have enacted legislation to have some portion of their road system dedicated to honor Purple Heart recipients, and other states are now working on dedicating sections of their road system. Montana and Kansas have dedicated their state's entire interstate system as the Purple Heart Trail. Currently, the longest part of the trail runs along I-80 from San Francisco to the Wyoming-Nebraska border, and Nebraska is trying to get its portion of I-80 so designated.

Signs have been placed in many locations across America indicating roads, highways and even bridges where states and localities have enacted legislation to mark their portion of the Purple Heart Trail. Guam and Puerto Rico have also acted to honor Purple Heart recipients this way. These signs present a visual reminder to those who travel freely through the nation that freedom is not without cost.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Mark Your Calendars! The Cotton Pickin' Fair is Oct 3rd and 4th

Awards and accolades follow The Cotton Pickin’ Fair in Gay, GA. Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue recently announced that the Georgia Tourism Foundation selected The Cotton Pickin’ Fair as a Founding Producer of Distinction in the Georgia Made, Georgia Grown Creative Economies Initiative. Also, The Cotton Pickin’ Fair was again selected from over 500 regional events to represent the best of thirteen southeastern states as a Southeast Tourism Society Top Twenty Event.

Join us on October 3 & 4, 2009 in Gay, Georgia, on the old Gay Family Farm, a unique 1910 era venue where 300 skilled artisans from across the North America deliver the best fine pottery, weaving, sculpture, woodcarving, painting, jewelry, and other forms of innovative talent.

The Cotton Pickin’ Fair’s 100 year old buildings, regional southern food prepared right before your eyes, exciting entertainers on six rustic stages, and talented craftsmen and artists uniquely combine for a memorable family event. Many of your favorite artisans return to their usual locations, but new and exciting are our watch words… South Carolina Fiber Artist, Lynn Shore, knits her fashionable purses, shawls, and ponchos in brightly colored yarns, to produce the perfect accessory for a fall wardrobe. Sepia-tone photographs of rural cotton fields by Ron Rocz of Charleston, SC, evoke an image of an earlier era while Sisters, Sarah Erwin and Jennifer Garis, one from North Carolina, the other from the Washington state, have perfected their Grandmother’s jam and jelly recipes just for you.

Sit on a bale of hay or on a bench for awhile. Enjoy music, folk dancing, and Peter Hart’s lively marionettes. The Cotton Scale, originally used for weighing mule-drawn cotton wagons, is home to foot stomping blue grass music and the Hammermill Stage, once part of the cattle feed lot, hosts regional musicians, and dancers. Jeff Hicks will amaze you with dazzling magic tricks under a majestic White Oak Tree.

Arrive with an appetite and support the programs of more than 20 non-profit, civic-minded partner organizations, churches and schools. They bake, fry, broil, boil, steam, and stew delicious southern foods, for breakfast, lunch, and supper at The Cotton Pickin’ Fair.

While in Gay visit our friends at QC Arena, for an action packed rodeo experience as members of the Georgia High School Rodeo Association compete on Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 PM. And, Georgia Quail Hunting is at its best on Big Red Oak Plantation, .

As a Southeast Tourism Top Twenty Event, The Cotton Pickin’ Fair is certain to make a fun-filled day for you and your family. Hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday, October 3 & 4, 2009; admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children, ages 4 to 12. For additional information and driving directions to The Cotton Pickin’ Fair - Gay, Georgia, visit

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009 Announces Partnership with the National Park Foundation

/PRNewswire/ -- and the National Park Foundation today announced the launch of a new online resource to help travelers plan and book vacations to America's National Parks. The site, found at, provides visitors with information about the National Parks and nearby lodging options available on, as well as suggestions for long weekend itineraries and in-depth articles on "Can't-Miss National Parks." It also features downloadable park maps and other editorial content from the National Park Foundation. Additionally, the site offers visitors a sneak peek video of Ken Burns' documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," which premieres on PBS on September 27.

"Millions of people plan trips to our National Parks every year, and as the world's leading online travel site, we're in the perfect position to showcase these parks as amazing vacation destinations and offer all the tools travelers need to plan trips to experience them," said Tim MacDonald, senior vice president and general manager, "Plus, with original content from the National Park Foundation, and more to come, we consider this site a new permanent online home for National Park travel."

"The national parks belong to us all. Whether you want to stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon, sit in the shade of a sequoia, or visit Abraham Lincoln's boyhood home, each of us can find a way to connect with our shared heritage by traveling to a national park," said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "We are very proud to work with Expedia to help people connect to their national parks, especially as Ken Burns' new documentary is about to re-introduce all Americans to the grandeur of the park system."'s National Parks site features an initial five "Can't-Miss National Parks" with photos and comprehensive details for Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park and Yosemite National Park. Just a few examples of the information available for Yosemite National Park include:

-- Location: Situated in the center of California, Yosemite Park
showcases the best of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Start your tour in
centrally located Yosemite Village.
-- Flora & Fauna: The mountains, valleys, and coniferous forests of
Yosemite Park harbor animals from bighorn sheep to bobcats.
-- Did You Know? Yosemite travel is best in spring, during the snowmelt,
when the park's famous waterfalls are at their peak.
-- Things to Do: Hike to Mariposa Grove where you'll discover hundreds of
giant sequoia--among the tallest and longest-lived trees in the world.
-- Stay In or Near the Park: The Ahwahnee in Yosemite Village, Calif.;
Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp, Calif.

Also announced today is a new sweepstakes offering a chance to win a VIP vacation to Yosemite National Park. All travelers need to do to enter is book a stay at any participating Starwood Hotels & Resorts property - including brands such as Westin, Sheraton and W - by October 15, for travel through October 31, 2009, to be automatically entered to win a grand prize trip to Yosemite National Park, including airfare and VIP tours in the park. Travelers can also win one of 20 first prize autographed copies of "National Parks: America's Best Idea" by Dayton Duncan, from the film by Ken Burns. For more information about the sweepstakes or's new National Parks site, visit

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ten Great Places to Sleep With a Ghost

/PRNewswire/ -- Ghostly spirits make themselves as comfortable in America's B&Bs as living guests do, and not just in the dead of night. In a recent survey, innkeepers revealed that nearly 20% (about 3600) inns in the U.S. are haunted. Similarly, a current consumer survey showed that 20% of travelers seek a haunted inn for Halloween, so those who seek experiences with the world beyond can rest assured that they'll have a good chance of sleeping with a ghost. For a complete list of Halloween packages and over 100 great places to sleep with a ghost, visit and click Sleep with a Ghost. In alpha order by state, here is a sampling of B&B ghost stories:

Gate House Inn, Jackson, CA: A "Garden Ghost" appeared soon after overgrowth around the mansion was cleared away for new gardens. Although no paranormal activity has been reported inside, the surrounding land has a ghostly presence.

Kehoe House B&B, Savannah, GA: This B&B is reputed to be haunted by the ghosts of twin Kehoe children who may have died while playing in one of the house's fireplaces (now blocked up). Many sightings of the ghosts and the night-time sounds of children laughing and playing are detailed on the inn's website.

Old Bridge Inn, Jeffersonville, IN: Guests have seen floating objects, canes picked up and twirled around, tea cups floating across the room and candles being raised up then down on their own. A small dog named Buttons has also been seen.

Deerfield Inn, Deerfield, MA: Flashing lights, knocks on doors when no one is there, moving books, and tables moved into the middle of the room are regular occurrences, especially in rooms 48, 43 and 41. The ghost is believed to be the original owner of the house, Cora Carlisle, still hanging around as the inn celebrates 125 years of history.

Coach Stop Inn, Bar Harbor, ME: This former tavern is home to Abbe, a spirited little girl who loves music. Strange noises, flickering lights and fleeting reflections may either be Abbe singing or additional spirits.

Bingham Hall B&B, New Ulm, MN: A man named Jake has been seen by innkeepers standing in the doorway, never going in or out. Additionally, guests feel a presence of someone watching, say the doors open by themselves, and hear noises.

Ghost Rails Inn, Alberton, MT: The railroading days live on in the form of a phantom brakeman, still awaiting his call upstairs in the old hotel, according to the tales of those who've seen him.

Carambola Inn B&B, Fuquay-Varina, NC: Both the distinctive scent of perfume plus a report of a friendly woman seen hovering about five inches off the ground indicate that former residents still linger on.

Mary-Penn B&B, Gettysburg, PA: A paranormal group recorded horse noises and voices in their basement, and from time to time guests claim to experience friendly spirits.

By The Side Of The Road Bed and Breakfast, Harrisonburg, VA: When the innkeeper went to turn off the basement light, an unseen presence grabbed her hand. Footsteps are mysteriously heard in hallways, and doors open and close on their own.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Offers 'Free Day in the Parks' on Saturday, Sept. 26

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites is offering free admission on Saturday, September 26 as part of National Public Lands Day. The statewide celebration at all 63 state parks and historic sites is a way to thank park visitors and volunteers for their support of outdoor recreation and historic preservation.

"Our state parks and historic sites have been through a challenging year," said Parks Director Becky Kelley. "Free Day in the Parks is our way of thanking the thousands of people who volunteer their time, spend their vacations in the parks, or even just visit for the day."

Sponsored in part by The Coca-Cola Company and Verizon Wireless, the celebration includes dozens of family-friendly events and service projects. Learn to canoe and shoot skeet at Unicoi State Park's Outdoor Adventure Day. Listen for owls on a night hike at Hamburg State Park. Try fishing in the Okefenokee Swamp at Stephen C. Foster State Park. Or watch molten iron become works of art at Red Top Mountain State Park's harvest celebration. A full calendar of events is posted at

On Free Day in the Parks, the regular $5 parking fee will be waived, historic sites will open their doors for free, and even anglers will not need a fishing license. September 26 is also National Hunting and Fishing Day, celebrated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at many events and locations.

Modern campsites, fully equipped cottages, and hotel-style lodge rooms provide overnight accommodations for outdoor enthusiasts who want to extend their free day into an affordable stay for the weekend. The lodges recently introduced lower promotional rates starting at $69 per night and campsites are around $23 per night. Reservations for accommodations and picnic shelters can be made by calling 1-800-864-PARK (7275).

Numerous volunteer projects are being coordinated by the non-profit Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites with 47 chapters across the state. Corporations are also involved, with REI kicking off the celebration at Panola Mountain State Park near Stockbridge and employees of The Home Depot volunteering at Reed Bingham State Park in Adel. Organized groups or corporations that would like to participate can call the parks' volunteer coordinator at 404-656-6533 or the Friends group at 1-888-948-2092.

To learn more about Free Day in the Parks, visit

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Find Halloween Haunting? Get Out of Town for a Fun Brasstown Valley Mystery Weekend

/PRNewswire/ -- For a little more than the price of Halloween candy and costumes you can treat yourself and take the boo-hoo out of Halloween. Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, located in the North Georgia Mountains, is offering a fun Halloween weekend getaway that includes adult-style entertainment. Take part in the weekend's Big Mystery - a real 'who dun-it,' called Deadwood Saloon. Dress up, act out, and have fun as you help solve the 'murder mystery." All this and there is still time to enjoy championship golf, a relaxing spa visit, horseback riding, hiking, or just kick back and relax in the beautiful mountain autumn scenery.

The Halloween Haunting Weekend Package includes one night accommodations for two - either Friday, October 23 thru Saturday October 24, or Friday October 30 thru Saturday, October 31, participation in the Deadwood Saloon Murder Mystery, and a full buffet breakfast for two. The package is priced from $219 per couple and an extra night can be added. For reservations and information visit or call 800.201.3205.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Callaway Gardens® Announces 2009 Fall Workshops and Hikes

Connect with nature at Callaway Gardens® and be inspired through a workshop or garden visit. Autumn at Callaway Gardens offers a bevy of opportunities to have fun and learn such as digital photography, gardening, painting and more:


Join Jim Henderson, the always entertaining, award winning “serious amateur” photographer of LaGrange, GA, through a series of programs on digital camera and photography skills.

A Beginner's Guide to DSLR Photography: What the Camera Manual Doesn't Tell You
Saturday, September 12, 2009
9:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Fee: $70 includes lunch

Adventures in DSLR Photography I: Creative Photography Beyond the Auto Mode
Saturday, September 19, 2009
9:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Fee: $70 includes lunch

Skillbuilder: Limited Enrollment Guided Photo Shoot (limit 10, must attend 9/19)
Sunday, September 20, 2009
8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Fee: $40

Adventures in DSLR Photography II: Mastering Focus and Exposure
Saturday, November 7, 2009
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Fee: $70 includes lunch

Skillbuilder: Limited Enrollment Guided Photo Shoot (limit 10, must attend 11/7)
Sunday, November 8, 2009
9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Fee: $40

Adventures in DSLR Photography III: Mastering Subjects in Motion
Saturday, November 14, 2009
9:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Fee: $70 includes lunch

Adventures in DSLR Photography IV: Mastering Flash in Nature and General Photography
Saturday-Sunday, December 5-6, 2009
9:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Fee: $100 includes lunch on Sat.


Stained Glass Garden Workshop
Saturday, September 19, 2009
10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Create a garden art piece using the "Louis Comfort Tiffany" method. Follow a pattern and learn how to cut and grind glass, use a soldering iron and apply black or copper patina. Finish the piece for hanging in your window or in your garden!

Instructor: Patricia Varnon
Fee: $80 includes all supplies,
Minimum: 3 Maximum: 5 students

Kids in Science
Saturday, October 10, 2009
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.

In celebration of National Energy Month, kids participate in a hands-on class making a simple circuit using a light bulb and copper wire. Learn to add switches and take home supplies, directions, facts about T. Edison.

Instructor: Hazel Berger
Fee: $20/child

Pine Needle Baskets: A Beginners Class
Saturday, October 24, 2009
10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.

Learn the basics of coil basketry and different stitches and coiling techniques to create a unique small basket or platter.

Instructor: Stephanie Tames
Fee: $85 includes all materials

Archeology Workshop
Saturday, October 24, 2009
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Become an archeologist for a day! Continue excavations from the Spring 2008 historic home site workshop.

Instructor: Dean Wood
Fee: $70 includes lunch

Capturing Fall Foliage in Watercolor

Saturday–Sunday, November 7-8, 2009
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Paint “on location” in the Gardens, focusing on a close-up view and a landscape garden scene. Class includes demonstrations, instruction, critique and individual coaching.

Instructor: Pat Fiorello.
Fee: $195

Wreath-making Workshop

Saturday, December 5, 2009
10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Create a unique holiday wreath of your own design. Using a wire frame and greenery, add ribbons and other embellishments reflective of your own personality and style.

Instructor: Patricia Collins and Katie Steinhoff, Education Department
Fee: $45

Holiday Centerpiece

Saturday, December 12, 2009
10:00 a.m.–Noon

Create a fun and festive holiday centerpiece with floral oasis using fresh greenery and natural materials.

Instructor: Patricia Collins and Katie Steinhoff, Education Department
Fee: $45


Learn the time-honored principles of Chinese philosophy and culture while working with bamboo brushes and using water color on rice paper. No previous art training required.

Instructor: Tehwan Tso
Fee: $60 plus materials beginner’s set $30; $5 consumables.

Saturday, September 12, 2009
Brilliant Sunflowers
Session 1: 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Glorious Chrysanthemums
Session 2: 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wisteria on Pine
Session 1: 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
The Starring Lilies
Session 2: 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.


Limited enrollment, pre-registration required.

Archaeology Hike – Amazing People, Amazing Places
Saturday, September 26, 2009
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Join a professional archaeologist and biologist to explore the Preserve at Callaway Gardens. See evidence of the people who lived on this land through history and understand how we manage the land today to create healthy forest habitat.

Length: 2.5 miles; moderate; Ages 10 and up
Fee: $5 members; $7 non-members

Owl Prowl/Night Walk
Saturday, October 10, 2009
7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

As the sun sets explore the Gardens with a naturalist and see ‘who’ comes out when the sun goes down!

Length: 1.0 mile; easy; Ages 7 and up.
Fee: $5 members; $7 non-members

Columbus Day Ridge Hike
Monday, October 12, 2009
10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Spend a delightful fall day walking along the scenic Pine Mountain Ridge exploring the autumn forest.

Length: 6 miles; moderately strenuous; Ages 12 and up
Fee: $8 members; $10 non-members

Autumn Adventure Hike
Saturday, November 21, 2009
10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Discover the wonders of the Cason J. Callaway Memorial Forest on this daylong ramble.

Length: 5 miles; moderately strenuous; Ages 12 and up
Fee: $8 members; $10 non-members

Mountain Creek Trail Stroll
Sunday, November 22, 2009
1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Meander along the shore of Mountain Creek Lake with a naturalist as you delight in the sights and sounds of the fall season.

Length: 1.5 miles; easy; Ages 10 and up
Fee: $5 members; $7 non-members


Monarch Tagging
Saturday, October 10, 2009
1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

Observe migrating monarch butterflies being tagged and recorded to monitor flight paths and journey success.

Instructor: Michael Buchman, manager of the Day Butterfly Center
Free with Gardens’ Admission

Detailed descriptions of these programs can be found at then click on “Education.” Enrollment is limited and preregistration is required for all programs. Programs fill quickly, so register soon.

Workshop fees include admission to Callaway Gardens. To register call the Education Department at 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292), option 5, option 2; 706-663-5153 or email

For overnight accommodations for any of these workshops or hikes, ask for the special workshop rate starting at $89 in the Mountain Creek® Inn at 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292). Based on availability, some restrictions apply.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Need a Bluegrass Fix? Just go to Dallas September 11 and 12

T2F Note: We just love to stomp our twinkle toes in time to the music. So come on out this weekend as we proudly present the highly coveted "Fayette Front Page Day Tripper Award" to this great bluegrass event.

There's no need for Georgians to go to Texas for your bluegrass fix. Just drive on over to Dallas, Georgia, for the annual Raccoon Creek Bluegrass Festival this weekend, September 11 and 12.

The musical event is located off of GA Hwy 61. Take Braswell Mountain Rd. You should be able to follow the signs to Music Park Path.

Friday, September 11th
6:00 Old Mill Road Band
6:45 Papa's Prayer
7:30 Cross Ties Band
8:15 Frances Mooney & Fontanna Sunset
9:00 The Gary Waldrep Band
10:00 Ramblin' Grass

Saturday, September 12th
12:30 Old Mill Road Band
1:15 Cross Ties Band
2:00 Bent Creek
2:45 Potter's Clay
3:30 Peachtree Station
4:15 Papa's Prayer
5:00 The Gary Waldrep Band
5:45 Ramblin' Grass
6:30 Cross Ties Band
7:15 Bent Creek
8:00 Peachtree Station
8:45 Frances Mooney & Fontanna Sunset
9:30 The Gary Waldrep Band

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Monday, September 07, 2009

This Year’s Fall Excursions Offer Day Trips to Charlottesville, Va. and Asheville, N.C.

The N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation and the Watauga Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society offer a chance to see the beautiful fall foliage, experience a great destination and enjoy the romance of riding the rails this fall. The museum is again hosting fall train excursions. In addition to our traditional Charlottesville, Va. day trip, the museum will also offer a day trip to Asheville NC.

After hosting day trips through the 1990s, the museum revived rail excursions in 2007. The past two years have been sell-out crowds and satisfied passengers made those excursions a great success. . The “Virginia Autumn Special” will travel to Charlottesville, Va., Oct. 31, while the “Blue Ridge Special” will travel to Asheville, Nov. 1. Each day’s trip will include spectacular views of fall foliage.

Departing Spencer at 7 a.m., Saturday’s “Virginia Autumn Special” will again offer a second passenger pick-up at the Greensboro Amtrak Station at 8 a.m., allowing those living in the Triad a more convenient boarding opportunity. Passing through the North Carolina cities of Thomasville, High Point and Reidsville, and the Virginia cities of Danville, Lynchburg and Oak Ridge, passengers will experience beautiful views of the Piedmont and rolling hills of the Carolinas and the western part of Central Virginia. Spectacular views of the Dan, Roanoke and James Rivers will be seen as the train crosses above. The train will even pass by Schuyler, the mountain town fictionalized in the television show “The Waltons.”

At noon, the “Virginia Autumn Special” will arrive in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia. Here travelers will have nearly three hours to explore the historic downtown area. A short walk takes you to the downtown outdoor mall, considered one of the finest urban parks in the country. Unique shopping and dining opportunities can be found in boutiques, specialty wine, coffee and tea shops, and outdoor dining spots. Travelers may also enjoy relaxing walks under a lush, leafy tree canopy. Departing Charlottesville at 3 p.m., the train will arrive back in Greensboro at 6:45 p.m. and Spencer at 8 p.m.

During Sunday’s trip, the “Blue Ridge Special” will travel through the western Piedmont into the foothills and on to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Departing Spencer at 7 a.m., the train will roll through the cities of Statesville, Hickory, Morganton, Marion, Black Mountain and Swannanoa. The train will climb the famed "loops" of the Blue Ridge Mountains passing the famous Andrews Geyser and through several tunnels before arriving in Asheville at noon. Passengers will have nearly three hours for an outing at Biltmore Village.

Established in the late 1890s as a planned community near the entrance of the Biltmore estate, Biltmore Village stands near the entrance to Biltmore Estate. Shopping will be available in unique, locally-owned boutiques. Passengers can dine in restaurants and take walks along brick sidewalks that parallel tree lined streets. All of this will be enjoyed alongside spectacular views of the North Carolina mountains. Departing Asheville at 3 p.m., the “Blue Ridge Special” will return to Spencer at 8 p.m.

Several different levels of excursion tickets are available. Ticket prices are the same each day. Premium First Class tickets feature comfort seating on private rail cars restored to the height of luxury. Premium First Class passengers will also enjoy an early continental breakfast, newspaper and dinner in the diner on the return trip. Premium First Class tickets are $240 per person.

A new offering this year, Deluxe Coach Class tickets feature spacious seating with large windows, lunch on the dining car and light snacks during the trip. Deluxe Coach tickets are $170 per person.

Coach tickets feature comfortable seating, air conditioning and heat and restrooms. Coach tickets are $140 per person.

Another new feature, an optional box lunch will allow travelers to save time for shopping in Charlottesville or Asheville. The $14 box lunch, served in a souvenir lunch tote, includes include a half turkey wrap, pasta, chips & salsa, a cookie and drink.

Passengers may also take advantage of a shuttle bus at each destination for an additional $2.
Tickets are available online at or by calling 704-636-2889 ext. 232.
The N.C. Transportation Museum, located in historic Spencer Shops, the former Southern Railway repair facility, is part of the Division of State Historic Sites, Department of Cultural Resources. The museum is located just five minutes off I-85 at Exit 79 in Spencer, N.C., and about an hour from Charlotte, Greensboro or Winston-Salem. Visit for more information. The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources is celebrating the 2009 theme of “Treasure N.C. Culture.” For information on the Department of Cultural Resources, call (919) 807-7385 or visit
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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Fall Color Predictions For 'America's Best Idea'

T2F Note: The nights are cooling off while the days are just plain beautiful. Now is the time that we folks in Georgia start thinking about weekend trips to the mountains in search of the elusive best fall color and the best apples. Asheville is a great place to visit and is just a short weekend trip away from Georgia. This week's coveted Fayette Front Page Weekender Award goes to Asheville and the Smoky Mountains National Park. See you there!

/PRNewswire/ -- Longtime natives of the Asheville area in the Blue Ridge Mountains, known for its extended fall foliage season, will tell you that the best color displays come later -- toward the end of October. Celebrating the 75th anniversaries of Smoky Mountains National Park in 2009 and Blue Ridge Parkway in 2010, mountain families like Steve Woody's were moved from their homesteads in the 1930s for the creation of the park and are proud of the natural legacy they have left to us all.

Mountain Heritage Remembered

"If you talk to families from the area, there's a peace about the creation of Smoky Mountains National Park," says Woody, whose family was moved from their land in Cataloochee in Western North Carolina. "There was great sacrifice. They had to move from their forbearers' homesteads and livelihoods. But, today they wonder, had the Park not come, what would have happened to the land? You just have to look at other places to get an idea. Now, it is a pristine and wooded place that everyone can enjoy."

PBS Presents "America's Best Idea"

Stories like those of the Woody family are the kind that famed filmmaker Ken Burns had in mind when he began his latest documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a six-part series coming to PBS this fall, beginning September 27. The documentary, regional anniversary celebrations and predictions of a healthy leaf season round-out an opportune time to appreciate and experience our natural history in full autumn glory.

Fall Color Predictions

"Every year is a good year for autumn color, depending on where you are in Western North Carolina. We finally had a normal rainfall year. As of September 1, the Asheville airport reports only one inch above 'normal' precipitation. With good growth on the trees, we have all the foliage we need for great fall color. As long as autumn develops normally with cool nights and dry days -- and October is typically one of our driest months -- it should be a colorful season." -- Biltmore Director of Horticulture, Parker Andes

"Drought-stressed trees show more color and turn, more or less, simultaneously. So, our wetter year could make the colors appear more gradually. We don't know what the weather will bring, but fronts that give us cold nights and bright sunny days will start the process in a couple weeks at high elevations, which will be vibrant very soon, and continue down to the low elevations. The later color from oaks and hickories will be nice at the end of October and early November." -- University of North Carolina Asheville Associate Professor of Biology, David Clarke

"Compared to when I was growing up, I think it tends to stay warmer and we see the color later in the season. This was a more typical summer, like the kind I remember as a kid... cooler and wetter." --Steve Woody, Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Gateway City Getaway

Located just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Asheville area is steeped in natural history and full of fall adventures. Extreme elevation variations and hundreds of deciduous tree species (the largest number in North America) combine to give Western North Carolina one of most extended and colorful leaf seasons in the country.

Online Resources

-- Weekly Fall Color Reports: Visit
( for expert fall color reports for
Western North Carolina, budget travel info, scenic drives, events,
value packages and insider tips
-- Twitter: Area insiders "tweet" color updates and up-to-the-minute
travel deals @FallColorHunter (
and @AshevilleDeals (
-- (

Fall Value Packages

-- Fall is for Waterfalls Package
-- Extreme Fall Color Whitewater Package
-- Wheee! Fall Canopy Tours Zip Line Package

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Flint River Cookout & Float September 24 and 25

The Flint River is a priority conservation corridor for Southern Conservation Trust. We encourage you to support our friends at the Flint Riverkeeper and help protect the Flint River.

The Flint Riverkeeper and the Georgia Conservancy invite you to join the fun September 24 and 25. Enjoy a cookout and bluegrass concert, featuring the well-known Packway Handle Band, and camp out at the Gerald I. Lawhorn Scouting Base (south of Pine Mountain and north of Sprewell Bluff).

If you camp out Thursday night, you can greet Friday morning with a meandering canoe ride down the Flint. What better way to appreciate the importance of keeping this indispensable natural resource protected.

For ticket details, visit the Flint Riverkeeper's event page.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Thousands Expected on Jekyll Island, Ga. for the Country's Only Celebration Dedicated to Iconic Southern Dish: Shrimp & Grits

/PRNewswire/ -- What was once a simple food pairing deeply rooted in the South, Shrimp & Grits has become a menu-must for exclusive restaurants across the country. The only event in the country dedicated to this quintessential Southern dish kicks off Sept 18: "Shrimp & Grits: The Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival."

Set in the Jekyll Island Club Hotel's landmark historic district, the popular festival boasts amateur and professional cooking competitions, shrimp boat excursions, shrimp eating contests, cooking demonstrations, races, entertainment, and much more.

"The Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival is a great time to enjoy the beauty of Jekyll Island while dining on delicious coastal cuisine caught right off the Georgia coast," said Beth Burnsed, Director of Special Events for Jekyll Island. "We began the Shrimp & Grits Festival as a way to showcase Jekyll Island and Wild Georgia Shrimp. As more and more restaurants began serving shrimp & grits, we realized that we were at the forefront of a growing trend. We are thrilled to host such a prominent and highly anticipated signature event."

In celebration, September has been declared "Wild Georgia Shrimp Month" on Jekyll Island and the neighboring Golden Isles, and some of the South's finest professional and amateur chefs will be competing for the coveted title of "Best Shrimp & Grits" recipe in the country. "Y'all Come!"

Set amid Jekyll Island's picturesque Jekyll Island Club National Landmark Historic District, the festival will kick off on Friday, September 18th at 5:30 p.m. with a "$3 Shrimp Sample Night," where participants will have the opportunity to taste recipes from vendors throughout the region.

On Saturday guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the Amateur Cooking Competition, which offers mouth-watering opportunities to taste and judge ten shrimp & grits dishes prepared by aspiring and self-taught cooks throughout the region. Festivities continue on Sunday when the winner of the Professional Cooking Competition will be announced in the afternoon.

Visitors can purchase VIP tickets in advance or learn more about the weekend festivities by visiting:

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Celebrate more moments this Labor Day and the fall season at Sandestin

/PRNewswire/ -- As people look to celebrate the Labor Day holiday this weekend, Sandestin(R) Golf and Beach Resort today announces great rates, events and even a special $100 resort bonus.

For travelers looking for significant value and variety for their dollar, a beautiful beach to bay setting and a fun filled getaway, Sandestin is the destination of choice.

As part of Sandestin's new More Moments(TM) program, the resort is offering a $100 resort credit with a three night or more stay and a $50 resort credit with two night stay, both of which can be used at participating locations.

Among the many reasons why Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort so popular, is its sugar white sand beaches and the long list of complimentary amenities including bike rental, tennis, kayak or canoe rental, fitness center access and resort tram transportation.

For added enjoyment during the Labor Day weekend, Sandestin's Village of Baytowne Wharf is sponsoring Art Expo from 5 to 10 p.m. from Friday, September 4 through Sunday, September 6. The Art Expo will feature paintings, sculptures, metal works, jewelry and even purses from leading artists and galleries in the Southeast, many of which will be available for purchase. Live entertainment will be provided by Kyle LeMonica, Randall Sherwood and Coconut String Band.

Reduced rates for accommodations start at only $139 week nights, $169 weekends. For more information on this More Moments package as a great Destin getaway or Labor Day weekend, call 866.976.6521 or visit online at Ask for code MoreFL.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Colonial Williamsburg Resort Collection Offers Three Autumn Getaways

/PRNewswire/ -- Travelers who want to extend the vacation season with a fall getaway can find the perfect resort offering with one of Colonial Williamsburg's Resort Collection hotel getaways.

The Autumn Getaway starts at $149 per night and includes nightly accommodations at the Williamsburg Lodge and a $100 resort credit for guests arriving Sunday through Tuesday. The resort credit may be applied to spa services at The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg, golf at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, dining in a Historic Area Tavern or resort collection restaurant or purchases at an official, on-site Colonial Williamsburg-owned store. Package participants also receive a 20 percent discount on most purchases in official Colonial Williamsburg stores.

The Autumn Getaway is based on a two-night minimum stay and is offered Sept. 6 through Dec. 29, 2009.

For those who long for autumn romance, the Autumn Bed and Breakfast Package starts at $145 per room per night and includes nightly accommodations at an official on-site Colonial Williamsburg Resort Collection hotel, length-of-stay hotel guest passes to the Historic Area, exhibition sites, daytime programs and museums, daily breakfast in the hotel (continental breakfast at the Williamsburg Woodlands) and a 20 percent discount on most purchases at any Colonial Williamsburg-owned store. The Autumn Bed and Breakfast Package is based on a two-night minimum stay and is valid Sept. 4 - Nov. 25, 2009.

Guests who like the scary side of autumn will enjoy the Ghosts and Legends Package, starting at $199 per room per night and including nightly accommodations at an official on-site Colonial Williamsburg Resort Collection hotel, "Ghosts Among Us" tour tickets, length-of-stay hotel guest passes to the Historic Area, exhibition sites, daytime programs and museums, daily breakfast in the hotel (continental breakfast at the Williamsburg Woodlands), one dinner in a Historic Area dining tavern and a 20 percent discount on purchases at any Colonial Williamsburg-owned store. The Ghosts and Legends Package is based on a two-night minimum stay and is available Sept. 4 - Nov. 25, 2009.

Restrictions apply and availability is limited for all packages. For reservations, call 1-800-447-8679 or visit

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Americans Eager for Autumn Travel and Fall-ing Airfares

/PRNewswire/ -- TripAdvisor , the world's most popular and largest travel community, today announced its fall and Labor Day travel survey of more than 2,400 U.S. travelers. Eighty-four percent of travelers plan to take leisure trips this fall, up from 82 percent one year ago, and 43 percent said they will be traveling more this autumn than last.

(South) Carolina on My Mind

Below are the top 10 regions that the millions of travelers on have been browsing in the past month, suggesting these may be some spectacular spots to see this fall.

Top 10 Most Browsed Regions on TripAdvisor in the Past Month

1. Coastal South Carolina
2. Jersey Shore
3. Florida Keys
4. Cape Cod
5. Southwest Gulf Coast
6. Florida Panhandle
7. Texas Gulf Coast
8. North Carolina Coast
9. Monterey Peninsula
10. Napa Valley

Sun-Shiny Airfares

Florida also looks to be a fall hotspot as five of the top 10 most-searched U.S. cities with airfares currently under $199 were in Florida.

Top 10 Most Searched Cities in August Currently with Airfares Under $199*

1. Orlando
2. Las Vegas
3. Fort Lauderdale
4. Tampa
5. Miami
6. Atlanta
7. New York
8. Denver
9. Fort Myers
10. Boston

Deal Me In

Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents said they are likely to take a spontaneous trip this fall if they found a great deal on a flight. Thirty-one percent said they'll probably book a trip this fall due to some of the great flights deals currently available, and 11 percent said they will definitely book a trip as a result of the recent favorable pricing. Thirty-three percent are putting off making fall travel plans until they find the right deal.

Laboring On

Thirty percent of respondents said they are traveling this coming Labor Day weekend, nearly equal to 31 percent one year ago. Seventy percent of travelers expect to drive to their destinations this Labor Day and 49 percent plan to travel more than 300 miles for the holiday.

Travelers Taking Two

The greatest percentage of travelers (42 percent) said they are planning two leisure trips this fall, and 32 percent said they are planning one leisure trip for the coming season.

Dollars and Sense

Thirty-eight percent of travelers said they'll spend more on their leisure travel this fall than last, while 44 percent said they expect to spend the same amount as a year ago.

Saving Grace

The number one way travelers plan to save money on their leisure travel this fall is by spending more time researching travel deals in advance, according to 45 percent. Thirty percent plan to save by eating at less expensive restaurants, 29 percent will save by staying with family, and 26 percent will visit free attractions.

Show Me the Maple

When asked what fall activities they will do this year, the most popular choice (44 percent) was viewing fall foliage. Here are the top five fall activities, according to the survey:

Top Five Fall Activities

1. View colorful fall foliage- 44%
2. Visit a state/county fair or fall festival- 28%
3. Go wine tasting/visit a vineyard- 26%
4. Go to a football game- 23%
5. Visit a beer festival/Oktoberfest- 14%

Other Fall Travel Tidbits
-- Twelve percent of travelers think the new airline passenger Bill of
Rights will make them more likely to fly this fall.
-- Fourteen percent think the H1N1 virus could affect their fall travel
-- Twenty-two percent think hurricane season could affect their fall
travel plans.

"Travelers are clearly excited about some great deals on flights this fall and sound ready to jump when the price is right," said Christine Petersen, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. "Based on what travelers are researching on TripAdvisor recently, it appears the Carolinas and Florida may be travel hot spots this fall."

*Reflects fares since August 1, 2009. Fares to these destinations from multiple origins in the U.S.

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