SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Dozens of burglars smashed into the doors of a shoe store Sunday night and stole thousands of dollars worth of shoes in the latest smash-and-grab robbery in the Bay Area.
After retailers in San Francisco, Walnut Creek and the South Bay were overwhelmed by thieves on a tear earlier this month, the shoe store Fix Kicks was overtaken by 25-35 burglars Sunday night, according to reports.
At some time late Sunday, dozens of burglars bore down on the shoe store, breaking the glass on the front windows and doors. It’s unclear how much merchandise was taken, but pairs of Air Jordans worth over $1,000 were reportedly among the items stolen.
Santa Clara police later confirmed that they received 9-1-1 calls just before 11:30 p.m. Sunday night regarding a large group of suspects burglarizing the store on the 2000 block of El Camino Real. Arriving Santa Clara police saw numerous vehicles fleeing in different directions as they arrived on scene.
Police also noted that five days earlier — on Nov. 23 at about 1:15 a.m. — the same business had been burglarized. During both burglaries, the suspects forced entry into the store. During the Nov. 23 incident, a group of about 15–30 suspects stole footwear and apparel. In that incident, the suspects also fled from the scene in multiple vehicles.
No injuries were reported in connection with the two burglaries. As of Monday afternoon, police said no suspects have been arrested.
“As in all crimes, the Santa Clara Police Department takes these incidents very seriously. We have several potential promising leads from the initial burglary and are actively investigating all leads,” Police Chief Pat Nikolai in a press release.
The two burglaries are currently under active investigation, so police said they were unable to comment further at this time.
Anthony Becker, a member of the Santa Clara City Council, released a statement decrying the burglary and demanded that something be done about “organized crime.”
“As a leader of this city, I’m gonna do everything in my power to work with the police department, my staff as well as other cities too because we’re all in this together, we’re all combating the same crime,” Becker told KPIX.
Anyone with information regarding the burglaries is encouraged to contact the Santa Clara Police Detective Adam Wilson at (408) 615-4818. Callers wishing to remain anonymous, may leave information on the SCPD Anonymous Tip Line at (408) 615-4TIP (4847).
Gaffney S.C.–The Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Basketball erased a 16 point first-half deficit but Limestone made their own fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Bears 72-70 Saturday afternoon in Gaffney, S.C. Emily Harman had her second double-double of the year but her three-pointer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim to gave the Saints the 72-70 lead.
GAME INFORMATION: Final: Limestone 72, Lenoir-Rhyne 70 Records: Limestone (6-0, 4-0 SAC) I Lenoir-Rhyne (2-3, 1-2 SAC) Location: Timken Center
STATS AND INFO:
The Bears next three opponents, including today’s game, are a combined 15-1. The only loss in that stretch was by Carson-Newman against No. 3 Lander in Hickory.
Limestone moves to 4-0 in the conference for the first time in their brief history in the SAC.
LR will travel to Carson-Newman and Catawba next week and they are a combine 5-0 in the conference heading into today’s action.
Limestone knocked the Bears out of the SAC Tournament last year in the first round before the Saints fell to Catawba in the second round.
This is the third meeting between these programs since the Saints joined the SAC, all three meetings have been in Gaffney. Limestone doesn’t make a trip to Hickory until February 5th.
Bears are 7-3 in their last ten games in their first game after Thanksgiving.
Lenoir-Rhyne hasn’t won at Limestone since 1998.
The Bears took a 1-0 lead before tip-off as the Saints were charged for a technical foul before the game ever started. Harman drilled the free throw before tip-off
Both teams shot the ball well in the first quarter. The Bears were 7-13 and Saints were 9-15 from the floor in the first ten minutes.
Saints took an eleven-point lead after one and opened a 16 point lead with 7:20 left to go in the first half before the Bears closed the half with a 16-6 run to cut the lead to half a dozen with 20 minutes left to go.
Harman stuffed the box score in the first half with 10 points, six rebounds, three assists.
Limestone only had a 19-18 advantage on the glass in the half but had five more offensive rebounds than the Bears. The Saints had 10 in the half for nine second-chance points.
Bears used a 9-0 third-quarter run stretching for half the quarter to give them their first lead since 1-0.
Blaikley Crooks scored five points during the run. Crooks finished with nine points on 4-4 shooting.
Bears held the Saints to 25% (4-16) in the third quarter but Limestone shot 61% in the final quarter.
The Bears lead throughout the fourth quarter until a Quin Byrd turnaround jumper for the Saints gave them a 71-70 lead with 57 seconds left in the game. Harman missed a shot in the paint before Limestone’s Kalisha Hill split a pair at the line to give the Saints a 72-70 lead.
Harman had a chance to win it but her three-pointer at the buzzer went off the back of the rim.
ABOUT THE BEARS:
Harman had her fourth career double-double going for 18 points and eleven rebounds and added in seven assists in the contest.
Maddie Dillinger tied a career-high with blocks and added 16 points and seven rebounds.
Brandi Hudson was the third Bear in double-digits with 15 points. Hudson went 5-7 from the line.
Both teams shot over 80% from the free throw line as the Bears went 18-21 from the line. LR has shot at 70% from the line in each of the five games and 80% in three of the five games.
Byrd had a game-high 23 points for the Saints. Byrd was one of three Saints in double-digits.
Byrd, Hill and Reagen Kargo were the only three Saints to get to the line on Saturday. Combine the trio went 14-17 from the charity stripe.
The Saints forced the Bears into 18 turnovers on the afternoon.
UP NEXT: LR will stay on the road and travel to Carson-Newman on Wednesday evening. Tip-Off is scheduled for 5:30 P.M.
There’s a window right about now, as November leans more toward December and late fall feels more like winter, when I put my big-game bow down for a while, trade it for a .223 or shotgun, and turn my attention squarely onto coyotes. When it comes to calling dogs into gun range, I don’t think there’s a better time. Pelts are thickening—getting prime for the taking. Young of the year coyotes are highly susceptible to distress calls now, and coyotes young and old are spending more time on their feet hunting for food.
Of course, these are still coyotes we are talking about. They’re never easy to fool, but if you follow these four tips, you’ll have plenty of fur for the stretching board.
1. Before Calling, Find Out What Coyotes Are Eating.
Here’s a trick that should be obvious but that most coyote hunter don’t bother doing—and it can make a huge difference. Before you touch a call, spend some time scouting your area and find out what the local song dogs are eating. This isn’t a difficult task, but you have to pay close attention. For instance, if you see a few dogs sniffing around in a prairie dog town, you know these plump prairie pests are on the menu. If you’re rolling down a two-track road and find some droppings, put on some rubber gloves and investigate. If the droppings are full of feathers, coyotes are keying on birds. If the droppings have deer or pronghorn hair, they’re keying on fawns and will come to a fawn-in-distress call. Don’t just go to your calling grounds, crank up a wounded-rabbit sound, and call it good. I would guess more than 80 percent of coyote callers rely solely on rabbit sounds. As a result, smart coyotes get used to those sounds and avoid them. Match your sounds to the game that’s in the area, and you’ll have more success.
2. Be Patient. Give Each Setup a Full Half Hour.
My 16-year-old son said it best the other day while we were driving up a dirt road on the way to our next calling point. “Dad, I love to call coyotes,” he sad. “But it’s hard to stay focused when they don’t come in the first 5 minutes.”
I have kept extensive records over the years, and I believe after the 12-minute mark, your odds of calling a coyote start to go down a little, but they remain pretty good for longer than that. My rule of thumb this time of year is to stay on stands for 30 minutes. The key is to keep scanning and not start losing faith at the 15-minute mark. During November, food is easier to obtain than it is in late winter, which may cause dogs to be a little less aggressive as they head towards a meal.
Earlier this month, my son and I started calling at one of our money spots at 10 a.m. It’s a large sage flat full of bird life. Over the past three years, we’ve called the area six times, always later in the winter, and killed nine coyotes. All (including some doubles and triples) have come sprinting to a Sparrow-Raspy WP distress sound, and all dogs showed up during the first 5 minutes of each calling session. We’d never called the spot in November before, and this his time it was different. Temperatures were in the upper 50s, and it took precisely 17:28 seconds for a pair of coyotes to wander in. As good as late fall is for calling coyotes, you do have to be a little more patient.
3. Let Coyotes Get Close.
One of the biggest mistakes I see newbie coyote hunters make is taking shots that are too long. My goal is to get every coyote as close as possible, and over the years, my crew and I have shot piles of them at less than 5 yards. Our reasoning for getting them so close is twofold: First, it makes for an exciting hunt. Second, cleaning up and sewing a coyote blasted by a shotgun is quick and easy.
When you first spy a coyote coming to your call, read his body language. Get him in your scope, but as long as he’s moving toward you, let him keep coming. It’s typical for approaching coyotes to stop for a few seconds from time to time and scan the area. They are looking for the prey they hear, and if you have a remote that activates a decoy, this is a great time to twirl it. If the dog resumes his course, let him keep coming.
Another excellent tip for getting a coyote to come closer is switching the caller back on for a brief second as the dob is paused and watching. You can stay with the same sound—be sure to lower the volume first—or go with any rodent distress call.
It’s a different story is a coyote sits down on his haunches and freezes like a statue. This body language typically means the dog saw something he doesn’t like, and if he’s in range, you need to take him.
It’s also common for approaching coyotes to try and work downwind. Always know your exact wind direction and speed. If the wind is in your face, the dog will have to work behind you to catch your scent, and chances are good you’ll get him close. If you’re hunting a crosswind, be ready to stop the dog with a bark before he hits your wind.
4. Don’t Play It Loud, for Starters.
People ask me all the time how far I think coyotes can hear a distress call. My answer is: I have no idea, but it’s a hell of a long way. Once, while hunting the open prairie of southeast Colorado, my hunting partner and I spied a coyote bedded in a prairie dog town. His SIG rangefinder told us the dog was 789 yards away. The wind was blowing in our face (away from the dog) at a speed of 7 miles per hour. With the volume on his FoxPro caller set very low, he let the caller emit a few prairie dog distress sounds. The coyote erupted from his bed and came on a string.
Read your landscape and the current wind conditions before turning on your caller. I tell you this because when it comes to volume, more doesn’t always mean better. Wooded river bottoms and rolling cedar canyons won’t let sound travel nearly as far as open country does, but you’ll likely be closer to coyotes when you kick the caller on, so keep the volume in mind. Also, if the wind is pushing over 15 mph, you’ll need to push the volume button up a bit. Still, start with the volume low, even when the wind is blowing or when hunting wide-open spaces. Too many times, I’ve walked in on a bedded dog I didn’t know was there, blasted the volume, and watched him tuck tail and run away.
Most important, get out there. November is a great time to call coyotes, and don’t forget that those pelts are worth some green. Skinning, stretching, fleshing, and sewing pelts does take some work, but it’s a gratifying process and, at the very least, will help pay for your addiction.
“Every airline passenger deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, but too often that is not the case,” Duckworth, a double amputee, said in a statement in 2018. “I know from personal experience that when an airline damages a wheelchair, it is more than a simple inconvenience — it’s a complete loss of mobility and independence. It was the equivalent of taking my legs away from me again. No air traveler should be left in the lurch, immobile on a plane.”
The Nets defeated the Raptors, 116-103, Sunday afternoon in Toronto. With the win, Brooklyn improves to 7-3 on the young season while snapping a long 10-game losing streak in Canada. The 7-3 start ties the best 10-game start in team history, matching the starts in 2001 and 2002 when the New Jersey Nets got to the NBA Finals.
Heading into the final three minutes of play nursing an 11-0 lead after another dominant third quarter, James Harden did what was needed. The Nets superstar, who is still trying to gain confidence and play like his usual self, scored 16 of his 28 points in the fourth and nailed the 27-foot dagger from deep to seal the deal. He finished with a double-double of 28 points and 10 rebounds to go with eight assists in 39 minutes of play.
“I thought in the first half, he didn’t give himself enough credit. I thought he had opportunities to attack more. I tried to implore him to go and to be aggressive. In the second half, he was excellent,” said Nash on Harden’s play. “This game, the Atlanta game and games he gets to the paint, he can really cause a lot of problems for the defense.”
Kevin Durant extended his streak of 20+ points to 10 games Sunday afternoon. The league’s leading scorer finished with a game-high 31 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 37 minutes of action. It was his first game back in Toronto since tearing his Achillies in the Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
“I didn’t think about that. That this is the scene of the catastrophe sort of speak. Like we said since day one, Kevin has been unbelievable this season: both ends of the floor, rebounding, scoring, facilitating,” said Nash on Durant’s play through 10 games. “I think that’s under a team that is trying to find itself so I think we can either make things a little bit easier for him at times. That’ll take time as we keep saying. That doesn’t detract seemingly ever from how elite he is, how efficient he is and how well-rounded he is.”
Brooklyn had a total of six players finish in double figures in the road victory — Durant and Harden plus Blake Griffin (14), Bruce Brown (12), Joe Harris (11) and Mills (13). A huge factor into having six players in double-figures was the ball movement — 29 assists on 41 made shots. The Nets also had five players with three or more 3-pointers, led by Griffin’s four, the most since he joined the Nets last season.
“The defense was really strong. In the first and second, we get some slippage. I think that was down to turnovers. They got out and ran for easy baskets, so the turnovers and offensive rebounds, again were an issue. Offensively, there were pockets of play where we were really happy with,” said Nash. We still have to push to play that way naturally and from start to finish. I thought tonight, we obviously made shots but we were sharp with our intent and our purpose offensively for stretches. That’s what got us through.”
The Nets ran the same starting lineup — Harden, Harris, Durant, Brown and Griffin — for the seventh straight game. Although Brooklyn had difficulty early finding space on the offensive end due to Toronto’s length, the team found a rhythm behind the play of Durant, who scored 12 of the Nets’ 29 points to take a 29-26 lead after one. Griffin snagged six rebounds in the frame.
It was a back-and-forth second quarter, but Brooklyn’s second unit held it down defensively, holding Toronto to only 21 percent shooting from the field through the first six minutes of the second. Still, the Raptors forged a 9-2 run in the span of a minute to grab a six-point lead. Following the run, Durant picked up a technical foul for arguing with the officials over a push in the back call on Chris Boucher. “I didn’t touch him! I didn’t touch him!” KD pleaded.
In the final minute, the Raptors tough defense sent a pair of double teams at Durant in the midrange, resulting in two turnovers. Toronto, in fact, flipped Brooklyn’s nine first-half turnovers into 13 points and as the second quarter buzzer sounded, the home team hit the break nursing a seven-point advantage. The Nets did not play Griffin throughout the second quarter and instead, attempted to go small against the lengthy Raptors.
Durant led the Nets with 16 first-half points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 1-of-4 from deep in 19 minutes of play. Harden followed with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field but went 0-of-5 from three.
Then, when the second half opened, things changed and fast. The third quarter was all Brooklyn. The frame opened with a 9-0 Nets run behind the play of Griffin, Durant and Harden. A two-man maneuver between Harden and Durant that led to a flush from the NBA’s leading scorer served as a big catalyst to the hot start. The ball movement continued to boost the Nets’ offense and helped contribute to Toronto’s defensive confusion. The Raps picked up their fourth team foul with nearly eight minutes remaining in the fourth, allowing Brooklyn to go to the line off fouls for the remainder of the quarter.
Brooklyn’s offense was clicking on all cylinders but it was the defense that helped the Nets build their largest lead (11 points). The team held the Raptors to only five points through the first six minutes of play and a total of 17 points. Although Toronto answers with a quick six-point boost, Brooklyn concluded their dominant third on an 11-2 run to lift their advantage to a game-high 11 points.
Toronto hung around and kept clawing away to cut the deficit to single-digits, but Harden began to feel it late. Despite the Raptors forging a late 7-0 run for more breathing room, Harden scored 16 points in the fourth and nailed the dagger from deep in the 32.5 seconds remaining to seal it.
Fred VanVleet led the Raptors with 21 points in 41 minutes followed by OG Anunoby with 16 points in 38 minutes. With the defeat, Toronto falls to 6-5 on the young season.
The Film Room
James Harden had his best performance of the season. Some might say he looked like himself… Debate a wall.
Much of Harden’s scoring through Brooklyn’s first 9 games had been at the three-point line — 49.7% of his scores came from behind the arc, which would’ve been the highest of his 13-year career. Essentially, Harden was living and dying by the three more than ever, supplementing for what had largely been iffy burst off the dribble.
Yet on Sunday, the three-point shot was not there. Harden finished 3-of-10 from three. And he still finished with 28 points.
How’d he do it? By driving. Just like the James Harden we know.
After a shaky start, Harden found himself a mismatch with Raptors center Chris Boucher at the end of the first half. In previous games, matchups with slower centers or smaller guards had proved to be fruitless. He couldn’t get by either one of Cory Joseph or Kelly Olynyk during Friday’s game against Detroit, for example.
Yet against Boucher, Harden got into his bag and simply put his head down. The help was late just never showed up, and what resulted was the best drive of Harden’s 2021-22 season, bar none.
“When he’s aggressive, then the defensive focus has to shift, said Blake Griffin about Harden’s scoring. “I think he’s done a great balance lately.”
That sound you’re hearing is a thunderous sigh of relief echoing down the wide streets of Flatbush and Atlantic.
The beauty of Harden’s early struggles is that it slowly but surely birthed new counters. He’s toyed with a step-back midrange shot in each of the last three games to counteract when defenses overplay his drives. Lately, he’s been making threes in spot-up situations, which was basically unheard of last year. A pass fake breaks Toronto’s zone defense and Harden cooly breaks the Raptors with a 0-dibble three.
“I thought in the first half, he didn’t give himself enough credit. I thought he had opportunities to attack more. I tried to implore him to go and to be aggressive. In the second half, he was excellent,” said Steve Nash when summarizing Harden’s performance.
Don’t look now, but he’s finding his groove. There’s a chance he’s added a few new layers in the process.
(More) Blue Collar Boys
It’s been a while since the Nets have had a bit as funny as the Blue Collar Boys. Sunday’s game gave us more priceless snippets into what appears to be a jovial locker room.
Blake Griffin provided updates on the application statuses of two potential new members, Kevin Durant and Patty Mills, both of whom have strapped into their working boots and taken some bone-crushing charges in Brooklyn’s last two contests.
Kevin Durant took a particularly nasty charge and after the game, he joked he was “nearly concussed.” It appears Blake Griffin was impressed by Durant’s commitment to the team… though he’s still got a long way to go to get into the exclusive club.
As for Kevin Durant’s Hard Hat Club application…
“I don’t know if he knows the application process takes a while. While we do like him as a prospect, it’s gonna be a bit of a go. He’s got to jump through a few hoops before we give it to him.” pic.twitter.com/OwRy10kZxT
Patty Mills, meanwhile, is officially in. The news we’ve been waiting for.
Clearly overjoyed by the news of his acceptance, Mills joked that he wasn’t sure if the co-presidents of the Blue Collar Boys (Blake Griffin and Joe Harris) had sent the news to the wrong email address.
Inside goofs like this are what make the NBA season all the more enjoyable.
Sunday was Kevin Durant’s first time playing in Toronto since he got hurt in the 2019 Finals, famously tearing his Achilles tendon while attempting to will back his Golden State Warriors from a 3-1 deficit. Durant called it one of his “lowest moments” of his career.
“I had some great memories in Toronto. I love playing in Toronto, the fans have been amazing to me,” said Durant. “The last time I was here was one of my lowest moments as a basketball player, but it’s good to come back here, play, see the fans, and get a W.”
Sunday’s win was the first the Nets have put together in Canada’s largest city since 2015. They had lost 10 straight. It was also the first win in Canada for the team’s two high-profile Canadian citizens, head coach Steve Nash and owner Joe Tsai.
“It means a lot,” said Nash on winning Sunday afternoon as a head coach. “This is a very special place for me. Not obviously Canada but Toronto. I spent so much of my time here. I have so many close friends, relationships and memories in the city. I have a lot of admiration for the Raptors organization and Nick Nurse. To get a win here is really special for me. For me, this is definitely a sweet one.”
It was also the first time the Nets had traveled to Toronto in 638 days. Due to COVID travel restrictions, the Raptors wound up in Florida for the 2020 “bubble” and all of the 2020-21 season.
The Nets will travel to Chicago to face the Bulls Sunday, Nov. 8 for their second back-to-back of the season. The game is scheduled to tip at 8:00 p.m. ET. and will be televised on YES Network.
“They got three elite level scorers from all areas and one at the big man position. And then you got a point guard in Lonzo who can orchestrate it all. We got our work cut out for us. Another test for us,” said Durant looking ahead to Chicago.
When asked about the availability for Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin for Monday’s matchup against the Bulls, Steve Nash said the team will decide after the Raptors game. Griffin said he expects to play Monday after the victory over the Raptors.
“We’ll see. We haven’t made any decisions. We’ll see how today goes so we’re really just going to focus on this one and then we’ll have a chat about it after the game and see what we do tomorrow,” said Nash prior to Sunday’s game.
For a different perspective on Sunday’s game, check out Raptors HQ — our sister site covering the Raptors.
DALLAS (AP) — Four Miami Heat players had 22 or more points for the first time in franchise history to hold off a late Dallas rally and beat the Mavericks 125-110 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight win.
Tyler Herro scored 25 points off the bench, 15 alone in the second quarter when the Heat outscored the Mavericks 46-32 to take a 70-62 halftime lead. Jimmy Butler added 23 points, Kyle Lowry had 22 and Bam Adebayo scored 22 and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Miami’s top scorers did so from all over the court. Butler sank 15 of 17 free throws while Lowry hit six of nine 3-pointers. The Heat shot 52% behind the arc.
“You want to be able to maximize your offense in all the different ways in your menu without feeling like you’re taking turns,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Luka Doncic scored a season-high 33 points for the Mavericks, who lost for the first time in four home games.
Miami is off to its first 6-1 start since the 2012-13 season, when it won the second of its three NBA championships.
“The Heat, I would consider them the best team in the league right now,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said.
Dallas’ Jalen Brunson had a season-high 25 points in his first start of the season, necessitated by injuries that have sidelined big men Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber.
Porzingis missed his fourth straight game with lower back tightness. Kleber, who started Sunday’s win over Sacramento in Porzingis’ place, left that game late in the first period and will be out 7-10 days with a left oblique strain.
The Mavericks got out to a 20-9 lead seven minutes into the game, hitting four of their first six 3-pointers before the Heat pushed back, led by Herro’s second-quarter scoring.
Miami led 97-81 with 2:12 to play in the third quarter when Dallas began its run. The Mavericks pulled within 101-95 two minutes into the fourth period before the Heat held them off down the stretch.
Spoelstra said Herro made his largest improvements over the summer.
“People are noticing now from a lot of work that happened behind the scenes,” Spoelstra said.
Veteran Mavericks guard Trey Burke, who is unvaccinated, missed the COVID-19 testing window for the second time in four games and was unavailable, forfeiting another game check. Kidd said Burke will travel with the team for Wednesday night’s game at San Antonio.
“For us as the Mavs, we can only talk (to him) about it,” Kidd said. “He has the responsibility to show up on time.”
Herro has 157 points off the bench in the season’s first seven games. That’s more than any player has scored coming off the bench since 1975, when the NBA began charting stats by whether a player started a game or was a reserve. The previous mark through a team’s first seven games was 156 by Jason Terry (2007-08) and Michael Brooks (1980-81).
Heat: Spoelstra’s 613rd career win tied him for 26th most in NBA history. … Duncan Robinson has hit 3-pointers in 55 consecutive games, beginning last Feb. 11. It’s the second-longest streak in franchise history to Robinson’s 57 straight from Nov. 25, 2019, to Aug. 12, 2020.
Mavericks: Doncic shot 3 for 9 behind the line and is hitting 25.5% this season coming into the season at 32.9% during his first three seasons. He passed his coach and moved into 14th place on the franchise points list with 5,283 to Kidd’s 5,258.
Heat: Host Boston on Thursday in the first of two consecutive games at home, where they are 3-0 this season.
Mavericks: At San Antonio on Wednesday night to close second back-to-back in the season’s first eight games.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the Turners’ trip to the Europe — twice. Expedia appeared to favor a three-peat.
Two years ago, Daniel Turner, 28, of Madison, and his wife used the online travel-booking behemoth to book a week-and-a-half honeymoon in Greece and London in August 2020.
Then came the pandemic and a Greek policy barring entry to Americans, Turner said, and the trip was canceled.
Fast forward to December 2020 and the couple used Expedia credits from the canceled August 2020 trip to book a trip to Edinburgh and London for the fall of this year — both to celebrate the couple’s now much-delayed honeymoon and so that Daniel, a grad student at UW-Madison, could conduct research at the Imperial College London.
They canceled this past spring because the United Kingdom quarantine rules for Americans would have made the trip “impossible,” Turner said, but sought to rebook much the same trip after those UK rules changed over the summer.
Turner said Expedia promised him they would get credits for the credits they got for the money they spent for the initial August 2020 trip.
“However, after the third call I made checking the status of the refund, we received emails saying we would not receive our hotel credit with the reason being that the credits were non-refundable,” Turned emailed SOS on Aug. 9.
You’re vaccinated, Delta’s on the downswing, and you’re finally contemplating that holiday trip with friends. You launch Kayak and search five-star hotels in Cabo San Lucas only to turn up wildly priced leftovers. Oops.
According to travel expert Cynika Drake, many key destinations for American travelers booked up weeks and even months ago. Drake, president of Lavish Lifestyles Concierge, a global travel and event planning company based in NYC, suggests booking your hotel or villa for the “festive season,” the period covering Christmas and New Year’s Eve, immediately.
Offering an example, Drake recently helped a client search for a villa in Turks & Caicos. “It’s 99% booked” she says. “I even checked with 4-star and 5-star hotels. There was one 3-star hotel left and that would not work for my clients” she said. Ultimately, Drake found two villas due to last minute cancellations since Turks & Caicos changed its entry-requirements to allow only fully vaccinated visitors.
“Those went fast. Turks & Caicos is currently one of the hottest markets and there are only so many villas and hotels on the island” she said.
The holiday period has long been notoriously difficult and expensive to book, even when planning a year in advance. Some consumers assumed, wrongly, that the pandemic would have dampened travel, but it’s having the opposite effect.
“This year, we’ve seen festive season travel practically double compared to last year. People are eager to travel after been stuck inside and many people rescheduled their vacations for this winter. So, you have people that don’t typically travel choosing to travel this holiday season combined with those rolling over their vacations to this winter. Now, time is of the essence, especially in popular markets such as the Caribbean and Mexico.”
Drake recommends four places, ranked by price, for those without plans to consider.
Saint Barthélemy or St. Barts, has a certain je ne sais quoi, says Drake, which is why it remains one of her favorite vacation destinations. She highlights the islands abundant beaches, including remote Saline beach which allows for social distancing. “Often, you’ll be the only person there” she says. For clients who love to explore, she recommends renting a car to drive around the 11-mile island and stop at beachfront restaurants. “You can literally drive the entire island in 30 mins” she says.
St. Barths is a popular winter destination, but Drake believes the slew of last-minute cancellations she’s witnessed, will allow the persistent traveler to nab a villa or hotel room. Keeping track of cancellations is a service professional travel agents like Drake will handle.
Drake’s tip: “be prepared to put down 50%, which in many cases will be $30k or more for St. Bart’s during festive season. During this timeframe, villa rentals typically have a 14-night minimum though some allow 10 nights.”
Antigua is next on Drake’s list, notably because of its selection of boutique all-inclusive 5-star hotels. She recommends this Leeward island with remnants of its British colonial past, to clients who are looking for a luxurious experience and want to be around other people, not just their travel partner or family. Antigua boasts some of the nicest beachfront villas she’s toured; plus, visitors can spend a day visiting nearby Barbuda.
Drake’s tip: You need a car or daily driver on Antigua, unless you stay on the property for the duration of your trip. Book a rental car the minute you book your lodging.”
St Maarten offers more budget-friendly villas and hotels. Depending on where you stay, walking to various places is possible, especially on Dawn Beach. Drake appreciates that island has both a Dutch side (Sint Maarten, in the south) and a French side (Saint Martin, in the north) to explore. That means French wines, cheeses, and foie gras can be found when exploring the beaches, towns and coastline of the north.
Drake’s tip: “the water is calmer on the Dutch side, whereas the French side is great for kite surfers.
Mexico is one of Drake’s favorite destinations because Mexico lends itself to many different vibes, from all-inclusive luxury to bohemian chic. Drake’s favorite places in Mexico include Playa Del Carmen & Puerto Aventuras for beachfront villas. Tulum for bohemian chic resorts. Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta for those on the west coast seeking high-end accommodations and a short flight. For those appreciative of beautiful Spanish architecture and an arts scene, San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City are top choices.
Drake’s tip: “Your best bet for accommodations over the holidays is Mexico. It’s a larger market than the Caribbean and has far more hotels and villas.”
Given the challenges of booking during the festive season, one should consider managing their trip through a travel agent or adviser. For example, when last minute cancellations occur, the management company contacts to those on the waitlist, and it can become a bidding war. In other words, whomever can wire the money the fastest gets to book the villa. An adviser will stay on such situations for their clients.
As Drake explains, agents have relationships with villas and hotels, and as a result, receive insider information as to what’s available or what will be coming on the market from villas to hotel suites.
An agent also stays abreast of the evolving travel requirements during the pandemic.
Additionally, as Drake puts it, “who wants to spend hours researching hotels and villas? Negotiating rates and thinking of itineraries? We do! As travel advisors, we live for that!”
“Save yourself time, money and the headache of traveling planning and let a professional do the job for you. Let figuring out what to pack, be your hardest challenge of the day” she says.
Winning tip: wild shores and exotic plants, Lanzarote
The north of the island of Lanzarote is a hidden idyll where sunsets burn golden orange and surf pounds the wild shores. Famara Beach is a surfing paradise for families looking for winter sun and a relaxed beach community. Staying in a yurt in nearby Arrieta is fantastic: at night you can watch the stars from your bed as you gently drift asleep listening to the waves. La Graciosa is a 20-minute boat ride away and hosts two tiny but perfect beachside restaurants serving freshly caught sardines. Spanish fills the air and British voices are rare. The mountains here are home to huge agave plants, aloes, bougainvillaea, date palms and pepper trees. Vikki Rimmer
Beaches near Porto
Porto is rarely considered as a beach destination but it has lovely long autumn days for sunbathing and swimming 20 minutes from the city, with beaches such as Matosinhos and at Espinho to the south that are easy to get to on public transport. Unlike in the Algarve, you will find plenty of space on the sands and the west-facing bays means the sun lingers longer. The little known Costa Verde to the north is a rocky coastline full of golden beaches, natural headlands and lovely scenery. You can eat outside in the city in September and October. A superb day trip would be a boat trip on the canals of Aveiro 70km to the south. Peter
Perfect peninsula, Mallorca
Aucanada peninsula (also called Alcanada) between Alcúdia and Pollença has a beauty that comes into its own in the lazy days of autumn. The sea is warm, even on a rainy day and the beaches as mesmerising as ever, with their backdrop of pine trees and mountains. Snorkelling is good here too: you may see an octopus along with plenty of fish. I’ve found that if the Med is choppy on one side, it is usually sedate on the other. It’s a lovely 15-minute cycle between the northern and southern side. Try the favourite beach of the locals – S’illot. It is partly pebbly but the water is pristine and the views to the mountains are timeless. The menúdel día at La Casa Gallega (on Carrer de l’Hostaleria in Port d’Alcúdia, no website) is the perfect way to finish the day. Antony T
Island of pines, Croatia
Scenic and secluded, the island of Mljet in Croatia is a wonderful place for enjoying a peaceful, extended summer. Reached from Dubrovnik by ferry, this unspoilt island is two-thirds forest. Take a relaxing bike ride through the national park in the north, swim or kayak in one of two saltwater lakes, Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero or, if you are feeling more adventurous, hike or take a boat to the cave of Odysseus on the stunning south coastline. Though the island has only one hotel, options for private accommodation, including camping, are plentiful. Lindsay Wilson
E-bike to the bay, Gozo
My partner and I recently rented e-bikes to get around the island of Gozo, Malta. It’s a great way to power up the hills, wind through the cute towns and pootle to the coves and caves. You can visit the likes of Dwejra Bay for views of the Fungus Rock and the valley of Wied-il Ghasri with its secluded beach, all on two wheels. We hired them from a lovely couple in Marsalforn who owned a bar/restaurant next door. The bikes cost £25 a day. We were allowed to return the bikes when it suited us in the evening. Sophie Delamothe
Laurel forest and a tranquil finca, La Gomera
The green oasis of La Gomera is not as touristy as its Canaries sister islands and a true walkers’ paradise. Traipse through the enchanting laurel forest of the Garajonay national park, which boasts many endemic species of birds and amphibians. Visit the lively Valle Gran Rey on the south coast with its black sand beaches and stay at Finca Argayall, where meditation and yoga are practised. Enjoy ripe mangoes straight from the trees in this warm and welcoming community. Fresh and super-tasty vegetarian food is served and at night the chirping crickets will sing you to sleep. You’ll be ferried round to the finca after a landslide blocked the road late in 2020. Monique Gadella
Satisfy your soul, Crete
North-west Crete’s Akrotiri peninsula is a wonderful place to visit in September and October. Whether you are seeking the golden beaches of Stavros or Marathi, the serenity of the 16th-century Gouverneto monastery and 11th-century Katholiko or the lively nightlife of downtown Chania with its Venetian seafront, this corner of the island satisfies the soul. Good food abounds in the numerous tavernas offering traditional fare, local produce, mamma’s kitchens and hearty portions. At Vlamis Villas (doubles from €60) in Stavros, where Manolis welcomes his guests, the toughest decision is whether to head to the pool or the warm blue sea. Chris Watson
Serene shores, North Macedonia
The Robinson Sunset Guesthouse (doubles from £39 for two nights) in Lagadin on the shores of Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia, welcomes visitors with bowls of cucumber, tomato and feta salad known as shopska. Home-cooked suppers, washed down with the local Zlaten Dab beer, are shared around trestle tables as the sun sets over the peaks of neighbouring Albania. Kayaks are available for a leisurely 5km paddle in the crystal clear waters of Lake Ohrid to the photogenic Bay of Bones Museum – a reconstructed prehistoric settlement built on stilts over the lake.
Turn left at Lisbon
October or November are perfect months to visit Cascais, 30km west of Lisbon. The crowds have left, the weather is warm and sunny, the air crisply clear. Push the boat out and stay at the Albatroz (doubles from €150 B&B), for wonderful old-fashioned service and rooms you could get lost in. Take a seaside stroll for clams-with-a-view at the restaurant Mar do Inferno, or opt for a breakfast of pastel de nata (egg custard tart) at their spiritual home, Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon. Walk off the calories in the stunning Cascais/Sintra national park, and when evening comes, head to neighbouring Estoril for people watching around the casino. Jayne Pearson
Late summer Bonaparte bonus, Elba
My tip for a late summer getaway would be to the island of Elba. Although it’s most famous for Napoleon’s absence without leave, there’s lots more to it when you begin to scratch below its Napoleonic surface. The Romans loved it and left lots of fabulous architecture for the historian to fathom. The sea is a delicious salty, clear and a sapphire and turquoise mix – perfect for late-afternoon snorkelling. Unlike Napoleon, escape is the last thing you’d really want to do. Instead, dance in the moonlight, swim under the stars, lose yourself. You’ll never want to leave. Lisa Honan
Breaking down retirement planning into two key steps will help you determine how to make money last a lifetime, according to Pamela Sams, a professional financial planner who is also a volunteer community ambassador for AARP Virginia.
“First, determine how much money you will need in retirement and compare it to how much you’ve saved. Then choose strategies to bridge the gap,” Sams explained during “Retirement Planning: Strategies for Today and Tomorrow,” a free online seminar offered by AARP Virginia on August 17.
As a general rule, people will need 85 percent of their current annual earnings in retirement to maintain their lifestyle, she said. Those who plan to splurge on travel or expect high medical costs should figure on tapping 95 percent of earnings during their retired years.
The easy-to-use online AARP Retirement Calculator can provide a personalized snapshot of what your financial future may look like, Sams said. After answering questions about your household status, salary, retirement savings and lifestyle, the calculator estimates the amount of money you’ll need to retire and whether you will have enough.
Importantly, the calculator reveals the age at which your money may run out and how much you’ll need to make up the difference.
Sams suggested several strategies to bridge potential gaps between what you’ll have at a given age and what you’ll need. “It’s never too late to start saving and do a course correction,” she assured participants.
Working longer can build income in three ways, she said. You earn more money to build savings, boost your future Social Security payments and add to an individual retirement account (IRA) or employer-based 401(k) or 403(b) accounts.
Deciding when to take Social Security is a vitally important step in planning for retirement, Sams said. Claiming Social Security before one’s normal retirement age permanently reduces the monthly benefit for you and for survivors in the event of your death. Conversely, Social Security benefits increase by 8 percent for every year you delay claiming the benefit between normal retirement age and age 70. For example, a 67-year-old worker who decides not to claim Social Security until age 70 will receive a 24 percent increase in the monthly payment, Sams said.
If burdened with credit-card debt, Sams recommends limiting purchases when possible. “You can’t lower your debt if you keep adding to it. One tip is to take credit cards out of your wallet so you can’t make impulse purchases,” Sams said. She also suggested turning off the automatic credit card feature used by online retailers, so that you can’t order and charge something in one click. “Remove the temptation and save some money,” she said.
To pay down credit debt, you can take what Sams calls the “snowball” approach and eliminate small balances bit by bit or go “avalanche” and pay down substantial debt with the highest interest rates. Either way, she recommends, start reducing debt now.
Downsizing a home or apartment may also reduce monthly living expenses, such as utilities and insurance.
Careful budgeting at any age is a powerful way to take control of personal finances. “A lot of people don’t like the ‘b’ word,” Sams quipped, “but a budget is a solid tool to help you manage spending so you can achieve your goals and dreams.”
This free, informative workshop on retirement planning will be offered again, virtually, on Tuesday, August 24, at 7:00 p.m. Learn more or register here.