Saturday, April 19, 2008

World's Largest Hotels

Nashville's own Gaylord Hotel (previously known as Opryland Hotel ) placed ninth in a list of the world's 10 largest hotels. AOL mentioned that the behemoth, with 2,881 rooms, contains under its roof not only a restaurant in an antebellum mansion but a river with boat rides, and other attractions. I go out to the hotel once in a while but not enough not to get lost. It is like a little city under one roof. The arborteum is wonderful. My favorite time to go out is during the workday when everyone is at their meetings and it is not crowded. The only problem is their $10 parking fee, which is cumbersome for the locals.

Travel Survey???

I get a lot of requests to take surveys. Some of them offer rewards such as cash or points that can be redeemed for prizes, or a chance to be entered into a sweepstakes. I ignore most of them, because I don't have time to take them. One that came to me this week was titled "What Kind of Traveler Are You?" So I thought I would give it a shot. I know a little about how research surveys are designed. But sometimes you just have to wonder. Although this one was titled a travel survey, I couldn't see anything about travel in the questions. It mainly asked about the kinds of restaurants you like. While you would eat at restaurants while on a trip, I don't understand why this survey was not titled something about restaurants instead. Oh well. At the end, they did ask you to name your two favorite restaurants. I have a lot of favorite restaurants, but decided to mention Tin Angel in Nashville, and Bella Cucina in my old hometown of Franklin, PA. While I have only eaten there a few times, it is really nice, and I thought maybe they would get some publicity out of it somehow.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Yearly Gatlinburg Fix

For anyone who has lived in or around Knoxville, you know what I mean when I say I need to get my occasional Gatlinburg fix. I went to undergraduate school at the University of Tennessee, and spent many days and weekends in the G-burg, which sits at the mouth of the Smoky Mountains. It is definitely a tourist trap, as is its even cheesier sister city Pigeon Forge. But you can't help but love it. The streets are often crowded, both with pedestrian traffic and bumper to bumper cars. Lining the streets are wedding chapels and stores selling airspray T-shirts and little trinkets and the like. But there are also some very nice stores selling local crafts, some good outlet malls, and nice restaurants. And it is good people watching.

What I love best about Gatlinburg is the chance to get away for a few days--to stay in a chalet or cabin and to be up in the mountains smelling the fresh air and hearing the bubbling brooks. Some friends and I did just that last weekend. I have hiked all around there before, so I didn't mind staying in the cabin and studying constitutional law (for my law school final) while my friends took a short hike in the mountains. Dinner that night at the Park Grill was nice. I wish we could have had another night there, but the getaway was good for us. After I get out of school I hope to get back there more. Not to miss: Old Smoky Candy Kitchen caramel apples.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fly Away--I Hope

I saw on the news today that American Airlines said their flights should all be back on schedule by tomorrow or Monday. My sister Laura and her husband Glenn were scheduled to fly today on American Airlines from Boston to Los Angeles. They are going to meet Glenn's parents and fly to Japan on another airline. I hope all went well, and their flight from Boston went out on schedule. They didn't have that much in between the flights. More on their trip later.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Down to the Wire

Today was a bad day for flying. American Airlines cancelled 1,000 flights, having a ripple effect on as many as 100,000 travelers. The cancellations came as a result of a mandate from the Federal Aviation Administration to inspect wire bundles in auxiliary hydraulic systems on MD-80 jets. The mandate given in September 2006 had a deadline of last month, and just a few weeks ago, Southwest, Delta, and United also had massive delays as they too inspected their wires. The fear is that the wires could rub against each other, causing a short or fire. An article today on reported the FAA saying that shorted wires could ignite fuel vapors and cause a fuel-tank explosion that could destroy a plane.

It is no idle worry; the explosion of TWA 800 off Long Island in 1996 was blamed on fuel vapors ignited by wiring, but that disaster involved different wiring from the bundles, the article continued. Despite the inconvenience, and I know it was greatly inconvenient, it is good this scrutiny is taking place to ensure that air travel is safe.