Kalin’s Chronicles: Wish You Were Here — But Don’t Text Me!

One thing I enjoy about taking a vacation is disconnecting from the work world.  But in these days of instant communication and social media, it’s hard to get away from texting and Tweeting your travels.  We women are very good at multitasking, but I believe we miss something by not fully being in the moment — especially when vacationing.

So I decided to share this article from the USA Today via the Detroit Free Press with you.  I totally agree with Ellen Creager, and I’m glad to see that some destinations are providing technology-free “quiet zones.”

So, as you plan your trips for 2013, keep this article in mind.  Enjoy a few days, or at least a few hours a day without technology.  Come on — I dare you!  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness” — Mark Twain

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

Kalin’s Chronicles: Forty, Fabulous & Flying High

This past summer I was on an AirTran flight back to Atlanta from Orlando, when the woman next to me and two women behind me started discussing their fear of flying. I was chiming in with my own concerns about flying through a thunderstorm, when the woman across the isle from me said, “If I’m not worried, you don’t worry.”  I thought, “Who is this bold passenger?”

Well, it turns out that Julie Hornwood is an AirTran pilot! (Photo: Julie Hornwood)

Julie is one of more than 42,000 women pilots in the United States – only seven percent of all pilots.  She recently turned 40, so I decided to share her thoughts with you.

Why I love flying

I had wanted to be an airline pilot as far back as I can remember.  I love the cloud formations and decision making abilities and the people I meet along the road.

I fly a 737 as a captain which is the most common type of airplane flown by the airlines today.  I’m on call to fill in for pilots who are on vacation, out sick or in training so my route varies, but most of my trips originate out of Orlando and I fly a lot of Baltimore and Milwaukee routes.

Being a woman pilot

I love being among just a few women pilots because I can inspire girls on my plane to reach for the stars when it comes to their lives and their careers.  And being a tom boy when I was young, I seem to fit right in with the male pilots.  My co-pilots all enjoy flying with me because my tone is professional, relaxed and easy.

Favorite leisure travel

When I’m not working I love exploring new cultures and places.  I love Sandals Resorts, and I love Windstar Cruises.  Sailing and flying are very similar in that a sail is basically a wing turned up to the sky.

Tip for fearful flyers

The pilot has made thousands of successful trips and we are well-trained and very experienced.  It is hundreds of times safer than driving.

Turning 40

There were celebrations from my flight crew, a surprise party from friends and family, and I spent five days in Puerto Rico with friends.  My 40’s are truly freeing of worry about others’ approval.  I’m finally living for me!  Look up in the front as you board your next flight… I just might be there.

I hope Julie inspired you to live your dreams.  Send me your stories about flying with female pilots.  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

Kalin’s Chronicles: Limo Wine Tours

Editor’s Note: In preparation for my trip to Europe I’m taking my very first wine tasting class next week. This week Kalin shares a post on great wine touring adventures during California’s Wine Month.

I wouldn’t call myself a wine connoisseur, but I do enjoy wine tasting.  I’ve toured wine country in the Tuscany region of Italy; the wine region of Cape Town, South Africa; and of course Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California.

Every September the golden state celebrates “California Wine Month,” where wineries offer special events and tasting throughout the month.

Napa Valley is the jewel of California Wine Country with more than 300 wineries.  It’s also where I found a great way to go wine-tasting without needing a designated driver – I toured by limousine.

Elegant Wine Tours  offers custom limousine tours, with knowledgeable drivers/guides, of Napa and Sonoma Valleys for six to 10 passengers.

A six-hour tour usually includes four wineries that the guide can choose for you, or you can choose yourself.  Lunch is not included in the cost, so guides suggest a picnic lunch from a winery or one of the restaurants in town.

I like the Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery in Napa.  But if you want to work off your calories, visit Bistro Sabor which hosts Salsa dancing on Saturday nights.

Right now, Elegant Wine Tours has a special internet rate of $299, but be prepared for 13% tax and 20% gratuity.  It’s not a bad deal for a group of six to 10 friends.

There are also six to 18 passenger SUV’s available, and you can even buy tour packages that include a hot air balloon ride or spa treatments.

But if limousines aren’t your thing, try a wine tour by horse & carriage with The Wine Carriage, or by shuttle with an added San Francisco Bay ferry cruise with Wine Country Tour Shuttle, or by the Napa Valley Wine Train.

 

Touring California Wine Country by limo, train or horse & carriage is a fun and safe way to celebrate your 40th birthday or as a perfect girlfriend getaway.  Tell me about your wine tour experiences.  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

 

Kalin’s Chronicles: San Francisco is Golden

I love the Tony Bennett Song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” — because I left my heart there too.  It’s one of my favorites cities to visit, and was recently listed number 5 on Trip Advisor’s “25 Best Destinations in the World.” (Photo: Kalin Thomas)

This is a great time to visit, since the city is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco’s most iconic landmark.   When I visit, I like to walk the bridge and get fabulous photos of the city’s skyline and the bridge itself – especially beautiful at sunset.

Though several festivals were held around May 27 – the day the first car drove across the bridge in 1937 – there’s still plenty to celebrate for the nearly 10-million people who visit the bridge each year.

Here’s a selected list of events to celebrate the Golden Gate’s 75th:

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – Golden Gate Desserts:  An Offering of Bridge-Themed Desserts at the Rooftop Garden Blue Bottle Coffee Bar (through Aug. 31)

Presidio Trust/Walt Disney Family Museum – The Bridge on the Big Screen film festival with seven films starring the iconic bridge (through Sept. 15)

American Institute of Architects – Postcards from the Edge:  Exhibition of Postcard Views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco (through Oct. 1)

n  Antenna Theatre – Golden Gate Sunset Dial:  Map of the places and times the sunset can be viewed between the two bridge towers (through Dec. 31)

If you’ll be in San Fran this month and just have a couple of days in the city, check out 49 Hours in SF:  July Vibe.   And for more information on Golden Gate Bridge celebrations and cell phone apps, visit http://www.goldengatebridge75.org/.

So why not celebrate turning 40 in a city that’s already celebrating.  I bet you’ll leave your heart in San Francisco, too!  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

WAF Fab Find, The King and Prince Resort, Receives Trip Advisor Top Award

One of my favorite places to stay just received TripAdvisor’s 2012 Certificate of Excellence Award.  The King & Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia is a great “girlfriend getaway.”  Check out my post from last summer…

Kalin’s Chronicles: Relax Like a Queen at the King and Prince Resort

Though I enjoy the freshness of newly built hotels, I also enjoy staying at historic hotels that have been around so long they have a story to tell. May is Preservation Month for the more than 125 Historic Hotels of America. Some of the hotels where I’ve had the pleasure of staying include: the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois; The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; the Tutwiler Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama; and most recently, The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia. The historic hotel is celebrating its 75thanniversary this year, but it’s a great place for you to celebrate your 40th year! (left: The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, St. Simons Island, GA)

The King and Prince originally opened in 1935, as a private dance club where celebrities, dignitaries, discerning families and business travelers could enjoy dancing by the sea to live band music. And it was THE place to be during the resort era of the 1950’s and 60’s. But if the walls could talk, they’d tell you that the hotel withstood the test of time through two fires in its first two years, and a closing for about five years during World War II. That’s when the U.S. Navy occupied the hotel to defend the southeast coast from German warships. Today a recent multi-million-dollar renovation makes the 75-year-old look as elegant and regal as ever, with ornate painted ceilings and stain glass windows.

I recently enjoyed a charming stay at the resort where my room had a bed so soft and comfortable that I[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D70 2008/04/16 14:13:17.8 Compressed RAW (12-bit) Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000) Lens: 12-24 mm F/4 G Focal Length: 12 mm Exposure Mode: Manual Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern 1/20 s - F/10 Exposure Comp.: 0 EV Sensitivity: ISO 250 Optimize Image: Custom White Balance: Cloudy Focus Mode: Manual VR Control: Long Exposure NR: OFF Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB) Tone Comp.: Normal Hue Adjustment: 0° Saturation: Normal Sharpening: Medium high Flash Mode:   Flash Exposure Comp.:   Flash Sync Mode:   Image Comment: Johnson Pictures, Inc. 2008          [#End of Shooting Data Section] was tempted each morning to sleep in — but the sunrise always called me out to my ocean-front balcony. I was pleased to see that though the hotel is vintage, the amenities are not. My room had a large, flat-screen TV and free wifi. For larger parties, there are also two- and three-bedroom villas and private guest houses. The resort also boasts five indoor and outdoor pools. Just off the lobby is the Delegal room where I enjoyed a wonderful “Southern Charm Sunday Brunch” – a sumptuous buffet that not only included breakfast foods and made-to-order omelets, but also: fried catfish, Georgia buttermilk fried chicken, barbeque ribs, mac and cheese, and their delicious South Carolina shrimp and grits.

As a part of the hotel’s celebration, the Executive Chef, Robyn Gomez, did a cooking demo to show how he prepares the shrimp and grits. The shrimp were huge and fresh, having been caught right off the St. Simon’s coast. I enjoyed thKing & Prince Chef Demo 001e meal with champagne in the Solarium (the hotel’s former front lobby) with a 180-degree view of the ocean. (left: King and Prince Executive Chef, Robyn Gomez)

After stuffing myself at the hotel, I was able to get in a little exercise walking the beach and touring the property, which included the gorgeous King and Prince Golf Resort. The 18-hole course, which is dotted by live oaks and marshlands, underwent extensive renovation last year. I spent some time on the driving range, only to realize my golf clubs have been collecting dust far too long. The mini golf clinic they offered still couldn’t get the rust out of my swing. I nursed my wounded ego at the Clubhouse lunch buffet, where I devoured homemade chocolate chip cookies that are to die for.

Other hotel activities and amenities include horseback riding on the beach, tennis courts, exercise facilities and relaxing spa services at the tranquil Royal Treatment Cottage. And if you happen to visit on a Friday, don’t miss the King and Prince Seafood Buffet – the only one on the island. They’ve been doing it almost since the resort first opened. This is one place where you’ll eat like a queen! So it’s a good thing they’re within walking distance of the nearby village for shopping and other island activities – otherwise I’d have brought back an extra 10 pounds!

I’ll tell you more about St. Simons Island shopping and activities in a future post. After a full day of food and fun, watching the sun set from the beachfront swings is the perfect time to give thanks for such wonderful abundance. The King and Prince treated me so well, I felt like a member of the “royal family” – and I’m looking forward to a royal family reunion!

To book your own royal getaway — to celebrate your 40th or just to celebrate summer — visitwww.kingandprince.com. June 12 – 13 is the Annual Georgia Sea Island Festival, which honors St. Simon Island’s black history and the Geechee/Gullah culture. I always recommend learning a little history and culture of a destination. And remember: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

 

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.