5 Reasons Flagstaff, Arizona Is Perfect For Stargazing


Flagstaff, Arizona, is perfect for stargazing because of its mountain landscape, good weather, and citizens’ guardianship of the environment. At 7,000 feet elevation, Flagstaff enjoys four seasons and is in the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest surrounded by Native American culture.

As an avid night sky photographer and a return visitor to Flagstaff, I enjoyed the in-depth presentation of hosted experiences. All opinions are my own.

Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona
Wupatki National Monument (smartyunknown / Shutterstock.com)

City Of Seven Wonders 

Known as the City of Seven Wonders because there are seven experiences within 10 to 80 miles, Flagstaff makes an ideal home base to explore during the day and at night. These seven remarkable destinations are Grand Canyon National Park, Wupatki National Monument, Oak Creek Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano, San Francisco Peaks, Coconino National Forest, and Walnut Canyon. Flagstaff is close to locations like Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest, and Sedona for stargazing parties, too. 

Walk This Talk Tour sign in Flagstaff
Julie Diebolt Price

History In Flagstaff

Historic Route 66 runs through the center of Flagstaff and offers a charming downtown with a visitor center tucked inside the Amtrak train station. Self-guided walking tours include the historic downtown and Flagstaff’s haunted places. A recorded tour, Walk This Talk Tour, is narrated by actor Ted Danson, a Flagstaff native. 

Mother Road Brewing Company
Mother Road Brewing Company (Thomas Trompeter / Shutterstock.com)

Food, Beverage, And Lodging In Flagstaff

Two hundred restaurants in Flagstaff feature amazing chefs and cuisine with everything from casual takeaway picnics, meals delivered by robots on the NAU campus, and fine dining establishments with extensive award-winning wine lists.

Flagstaff is designated a leading craft beer city with award-winning breweries that extend samples and tours.

Convenient campgrounds and 5,000 hotel rooms ranging from budget to luxury make Flagstaff a destination perfect for stargazing comfort and adventures.

Historic Clark Telescope at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff
Julie Diebolt Price

1. Lowell Observatory 

While I shared the particulars of this great northern Arizona town above, the primary reason that Flagstaff, Arizona, is perfect for stargazing is that you can visit Lowell Observatory.

In 1894, Percival Lowell established the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff to study Mars and possibly intelligent life there. By sharing his theories with scientists and the public, Lowell created a pop culture that scientists succeeding him carried on. Even Walt Disney, influenced by work at Lowell Observatory in the 1950s, featured scientists in an early Disney program.

Close To Downtown Flagstaff On Mars Hill

Today, a visit to Mars Hill includes guided tours and numerous talks throughout the day. At night, discover galaxies, gas clouds, and planets as you gaze through six state-of-the-art telescopes on the Giovale Open Deck Observatory.

Pro Tip: General admission tickets give you all-day access to tours, talks, and telescopes. For an additional fee, guided tours occur several times a day.

"Vote with your wallet" - What should Pluto be called?
Julie Diebolt Price

Pluto–Planet Or Dwarf Planet 

Discovered by Clyde Tombaugh, an amateur astronomer working at Lowell Observatory, Pluto was declared to be the ninth planet from the Sun in 1930. In the 1990s, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet because scientists found other similarly sized objects at the outer edges of our solar system. When you visit Lowell Observatory, vote for your choice for Pluto’s standing.

On my evening visit to Lowell Observatory, the impressive 350-foot Pluto Walk piqued my interest. The illuminated path illustrates the solar system’s scale with planet stops along the way and puts our solar system into perspective.

Standing outside the telescope dome, waiting for my turn to peer through the eyepiece to view Saturn and Jupiter, it was awe-inspiring to look up into the night sky and see shooting stars. Good thing it was dark because my mouth was agape with wonder and reverence. When was the last time you saw a shooting star?

Historic Clark Telescope at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff
Julie Diebolt Price

Historic Clark Telescope

First commissioned by Percival Lowell in 1896 to study Mars and the other solar system planets, the Clark Telescope is the workhorse of discovery used by scientists to explore the expanding universe and by artists to create lunar maps for the Apollo moon missions. Now dedicated to public education programs, the dome and telescope are in use every day.

Our host, Kevin Schindler, author, researcher, and observatory historian, shared valuable insight for activities at Lowell Observatory on our evening tour. Education is still a vital mission of the observatory, as it was Percival Lowell’s.

“This building has been used for decades, so we have bicycle chains because the people that built the dome owned a bicycle shop in town. The kitchen chair that Percival Lowell used — it’s the iconic picture of Percival that forms the basis of our logo. That’s him sitting on the ladder; the Ford tires date back to the 1950s. Lots of mixes of dates in the dome.” Schindler shared.

“We move this [Clark Telescope] today the same way we did back 100 years ago before we had electricity, and that’s to move it by hand,” Schindler demonstrated with the help of someone in the audience.

Dark sky over Flagstaff, Arizona
Will Alpert / Shutterstock.com

2. Flagstaff Was The First Dark Sky Community

The International Dark-Sky Places (IDSP) Program, founded in 2001, encourages communities, parks, and protected areas worldwide to safeguard and preserve dark sites through public education and responsible lighting policies. Flagstaff enacted the world’s first outdoor lighting ordinance in 1958 and was the first to receive the Dark Sky Community designation.

Industrial civilization causes light pollution. The excessive use of artificial light plagues many countries worldwide and includes glare, skyglow, light trespass, and clutter. Mountains shield dark sky places from urban glow in Arizona.

The Dark Sky Places Program offers five types of designations. They include communities, parks, reserves, sanctuaries, and urban environments.

The International Dark-Sky Association has a rigorous application process to become a Dark Sky Place, and awardees go through a review quarterly. As of August 2021, over 180 certified IDSPs throughout the world carry the designation.

Dark sky over Hutch Mountain in Arizona
Tyler Finvold / Shutterstock.com

3. Highest Concentration Of Dark Sky Places On Earth 

Arizona has 19 dark sky communities, places, and parks — the highest concentration anywhere on earth. Two are National Parks (Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest).

Three National Monuments within a short drive of Flagstaff are also dark sky places and worth a visit. Waputki, Walnut Canyon, and Sunset Crater Volcano are open from sunrise to sunset. While you cannot enjoy them under the night sky, the sheer beauty of the landscape, experiencing the history of the people who lived there, and walking in the astronauts’ footsteps during daylight hours are enriching experiences. 

Night sky near Flagstaff, Arizona
Charlene Tramoni / Shutterstock.com

4. Stargazing Parties

A great way to learn about astronomy, stargazing parties are ideal for all ages. It’s a great way to spend family time, multi-generational time, or solo time with other like-minded individuals. Several parks have campgrounds and cabins for rent if you want to stay overnight.

Pro Tips: At a star party, give your eyes plenty of time to adapt to darkness — 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t use bright white flashlights or headlamps. You can buy red light flashlights and headlamps at most outdoor stores. If your vehicle is parked nearby, ensure that all interior lights and remote lock/unlock lights are turned off before the evening starts. 

Downtown Flagstaff, Arizona
Downtown Flagstaff (PICTOR PICTURE COMPANY / Shutterstock.com)

5. Astronauts And Athletes

Since the 1960s, Flagstaff has played an essential role in preparing astronauts for Moon exploration. Every Apollo astronaut, including the 12 that walked on the Moon, trained in Flagstaff. Training continues today with NASA programs for unmanned lunar and planetary exploration.

World-class athletes train in Flagstaff. In the 1960s, sports science research found that working out at the perfect elevation, approximately 6,500 feet above sea level, caused the human body to perform better. As athletes prepared for the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, they achieved world records and earned 276 Olympic and Paralympic medals resulting from Flagstaff training.

Flagstaff is ideal for its elevation, entertainment, and diversions during days off from training. While I wasn’t training for competition during my visit, I did notice improved stamina and well-being post-trip.

Pro Tips

How To Prepare For Elevation 

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Go slow if climbing or exerting yourself.

How To Prepare For Stargazing

  • Red light headlamp or flashlight; night vision 20-30 minutes for eyes to adjust in meager light conditions.      
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Bring a lightweight chair or stool.          
  • Bring warm clothes, dress in layers — hat, boots, gloves.                  
  • Bring food and water. Dispose of food and wrappers properly.

What To Bring

  • Bring a sturdy tripod.                     
  • Bring an intervalometer for measured exposures during the night.
  • Bring fully charged batteries.
  • Bring a wide-angle lens.

How To Get There

Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) is the destination with daily, nonstop flights to and from Phoenix (PHX), Dallas (DFW), and Denver (DEN).

Amtrak services Flagstaff at the historic station downtown three times weekly on the Southwest Chief.

Driving from Los Angeles or Albuquerque, take Interstate 40; from Phoenix, take Interstate 17; from Lake Powell, Page, or Monument Valley in the north, take Highway 89.

Read about other Dark Sky areas where stargazing is incredible:



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5 Reasons To Visit The Hometown Of Paul Rudd: Lenexa, Kansas


Straddling the states of Kansas and Missouri, the Kansas City metropolitan area is home to more fountains than Rome, more boulevards than Paris, and two million of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. The Barbeque Capital of the World is also proud to be the home of designer Kate Spade, author Gillian Flynn, and actor Jason Sudeikis. 

And now my favorite cowtown — the whole Kansas City metro — is delighted to be the home of People’s 2021 Sexiest Man Alive

Whether he first caught your eye as Josh, Cher’s step-brother, in the movie Clueless, or more recently as Marvel superhero Ant-Man, there’s a good chance Paul Rudd’s charming smile and unassuming good looks made your heart skip a beat. If not, this author thinks you’re probably lying.

Born in New Jersey, Paul Rudd moved to the suburban KC town of Lenexa, Kansas, when he was 10 years old. It was in this town of 56,000, about 20 minutes from downtown Kansas City, that he attended Broadmoor Junior High and graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School (with several of my fellow Class of 1987 friends). He then attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence. 

Whether you admire him for his acting skills, writing talent, or good looks, here are six reasons you’ll want to visit Paul Rudd’s hometown — meaning both Lenexa and the wider Kansas City area.

Z-Man Sandwich from Joe's Kansas City Barbecue, which has multiple locations in the Kansas City metro.
Z-Man Sandwich from Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue, which has multiple locations in the Kansas City metro (Photo Credit: Sage Scott)

1. Enjoy The World’s Best Barbeque

Home to nearly 100 barbeque joints, Kansas City’s name has been synonymous with slow-cooked, smoked, and grilled meat for more than a century. If you visit in June, stick close to Paul Rudd’s suburban home by sampling the delicious talent on display at the Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle, or sink your teeth into saucy ribs and tender chunks of burnt ends at Zarda and Hayward’s BBQ (in nearby Shawnee) year round. You can also take your tastebuds on a trip farther beyond Lenexa with these seven popular Kansas City–area barbeque restaurants and a trip to the Barbeque Hall of Fame.

Pro Tip: While the barbeque in Kansas City is out of this world, here are 10 additional reasons to visit.

2. If You’re Still Hungry, Try Some Chili (And More)

That’s right — every year, Lenexa hosts a Chili Challenge, and it’s more than just a chilli cookoff. Upwards of 200 teams compete in chili, salsa, and hot wing–making contests, all vying for the Grand Championship. It’s a tasty time for all attendees.

If you need a drink, head to Limitless Brewing, which hosts live music, trivia nights, and always offers a spread of interesting brews, from hazy IPAs to cream ales.

3. Cheer For Paul’s Favorite Sports Teams

Like many residents of the Kansas City metro area, Paul Rudd is a big fan of its professional baseball and football teams. Enjoy a ballpark hot dog and cold beer on a sunny summer day while cheering on the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, or step into the loudest sports stadium in the world by adding your voice to the roar of Kansas City Chiefs fans at Arrowhead. Both are on the Missouri side. If you visit Kansas City during college basketball season, take a road trip to Lawrence, Kansas, and wave the wheat while supporting Paul Rudd’s beloved Kansas Jayhawks. 

Pro Tip: While Paul Rudd didn’t appear in any episodes, here’s how to continue a star-struck adventure in Kansas City like the Fab Five from Queer Eye.

The Plaza Lights, a holiday light display in the popular Kansas City shopping district.
The Plaza Lights, a holiday light display in the popular Kansas City shopping district (Photo Credit: Sage Scott)

4. Shop ‘Til You Drop

Filling 15 blocks with Seville-inspired architecture, flowing fountains, and impressive sculptures, Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza was the first suburban shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. 

If you visit Kansas City in September, don’t miss the Plaza Art Fair. For one amazing weekend, nine blocks of the Plaza are blocked from motorized traffic so that painters, potters, photographers, and other artists can display their art. Incorporated into the experience are food and drink stands and live music.

And if you visit Kansas City between Thanksgiving and mid-January, the Plaza Lights are one of the best holiday experiences in Kansas City. What started as a single strand of 16 rainbow-colored lights strung above a doorway in 1925 has evolved to more than 80 miles of multi-colored bulbs outlining every window and tower of the Country Club Plaza.

Pro Tip: These are the best places to photograph the Country Club Plaza Lights in Kansas City.

5. Enjoy Unique Tours And Fun Scavenger Hunts

From an urban hike that shares the history of Kansas City in a unique way to a segway tour that winds past Kansas City’s most famous landmarks and most beautiful fountains, Paul Rudd’s hometown is full of unique tours. Learn about the town’s gangster past, admire amazing street art, and eat (and drink) your way through the City of Fountains with these unique Kansas City tour experiences and scavenger hunts.

Paul Rudd at the annual Big Slick fundraiser.
Paul Rudd at the annual Big Slick fundraiser (Photo Credit: Sage Scott)

6. Fangirl While Supporting A Great Cause

Get a glimpse of the Sexiest Man Alive while supporting a great cause by visiting Paul Rudd’s hometown during the annual Big Slick fundraiser. Founded in 2010 as a celebrity poker tournament, Big Slick Celebrity Weekend has grown to so much more. In partnership with fellow Kansas Citians Jason Sudeikis, Rob Riggle, and Eric Stonestreet, the event attracts stars from around the country for an action-packed weekend in Kansas City that features celebrity tournaments, a live auction, and more. Enjoy a star-studded softball game before the Kansas City Royals take the field, fill the street at the Big Slick Block Party, or sit back and enjoy the show at the T-Mobile Center while raising money for Children’s Mercy.

Whether it’s delicious barbeque, the cheer of the crowd, upscale boutiques, an interactive tour, or charitable cause, you’re sure to enjoy your time in the home of the newly crowned Sexiest Man Alive.

See more reasons why you should visit this area:



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5 reasons you should book holiday travel now




CNN
—  

The coronavirus pandemic has been a part of our world for over a year, and during that time, we’ve had to adjust the way we go about our daily lives — from dining out with friends to seeing family and traveling for vacation. Even now, with vaccines readily available, many rules about traveling internationally change weekly and some people remain unsure about safety when flying.

However, with the holiday season coming up and restrictions on international visitors to the US being lifted soon, demand is expected to pick up again, so now may be the time to start looking at your travel plans for the November and December holidays. Regardless of whether you’re planning to go abroad or just across the country, here are five reasons you may want to get to booking your flights now.

There aren’t many silver linings to the pandemic cloud we’ve been living under, but one of the few bits of good news is that the major US airlines — American, Delta and United — have dropped their change fees on most domestic tickets and international itineraries departing from North America.

The one exception is basic economy fares, and even many of those can be changed without a fee if you purchase your tickets before the end of the year — specifically, Dec. 31 for Delta and United. American, however, is not allowing newly purchased basic economy tickets to be changed without a fee. That means even if you generally book the cheapest fares with Delta and United, you can safely book holiday travel and then change it later if it becomes necessary.

(Also, let’s give credit here to Southwest, which has never had basic economy or change fees in the first place. If you’re looking for a passenger-friendly airline, Southwest continues to have some of the best policies of all the US carriers, including easy-to-change tickets and free checked bags.)

Now, that doesn’t mean all airline tickets are suddenly refundable. There’s a big difference between “changeable” and “refundable.” Basically, the new policies mean you can change your ticket before departure and not have to pay an extra fee. But unless you specifically pay more for a refundable flight, you still can’t get your money back on most tickets unless there’s a cancellation by the airline itself.

And while there are no longer fees for changing your flight, you’ll still have to pay any difference between the original fare you bought and the price of the new ticket if it’s more. Conversely, if the price of your new flight is lower, both American and Delta will give you a credit for the difference. (United just pockets it, so keep that policy in mind when you’re choosing an airline.)

Still, the new rules offer a lot more flexibility and make it more attractive to go ahead and book since there’s no risk of losing your money if you can’t end up traveling for the holidays. It also means it’s worth locking down a great deal for the future if you find one. Speaking of which…

After a major increase in travel over the summer, demand ratcheted back down in the fall, so airlines are eager to get people back to booking travel again. And even if you may not be ready to jump on a plane right this moment, you can take advantage of deals now for trips in the future — especially around the holiday season.

What kinds of deals can you get? Well, just as an example, as of this writing, New Yorkers can get themselves to Los Angeles for just $171 round trip around the Thanksgiving holiday. And for those on the West Coast looking for a getaway to Hawaii, there are nonstop flights around the December holidays from both Los Angeles and San Francisco to destinations in the Hawaiian islands from $318 round trip with Alaska Airlines.

Head to Maui on a cheap airfare and hike the Waihe'e Ridge Trail this summer.

iStock

Head to Maui on a cheap airfare and hike the Waihe’e Ridge Trail this summer.

With a number of international borders now reopen and several countries welcoming fully vaccinated Americans, you could even consider a trip abroad. The United Kingdom no longer requires a quarantine or a pre-departure Covid-19 test for fully vaccinated Americans — though you will need to prebook and take a Covid-19 test within the first two days of arrival. Right now we’re also seeing round-trip fares from New York to London in December from $590 with JetBlue.

Alternatively, many destinations in the Caribbean have been long open to Americans. As of this writing, we’re seeing round-trip flights from Miami to Montego Bay, Jamaica, for $214 with American over the Thanksgiving holiday.

To find cheap airfares, use either Google Flights or an online travel agency to search for trips, or sign up for notifications from a deal site such as The Flight Deal, Scott’s Cheap Flights or Thrifty Traveler. Or try a data-driven app like Hopper to find the ideal time to book.

And if you’ve been sitting on a stack of frequent flyer miles, now could be the time to use them. While award availability is generally more open than it has been in years as airlines try to fill seats, you may have more trouble finding availability around the holidays. Before committing to buying a ticket outright using cash, we recommend checking to see if you can find availability to use those points and miles. Put aside some time to search the airline’s website and see what sorts of mileage deals appear.

Related: Here’s why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is our favorite travel credit card for beginners.

On Sept. 20, the US announced that for the first time since March 2020, noncitizens coming from Europe, the UK, Ireland, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and India will be allowed to enter the country. International passengers must be fully vaccinated in order to gain entry to the US, but the decision marks a major step forward in the reopening of the US to tourism.

The anticipated pent-up demand from noncitizens who haven’t been able to enter the US since before the pandemic began to see family, to see friends or to vacation in the country is already being felt. Virgin Atlantic reported a 600% increase in bookings to the US after the announcement, with the biggest jump coming from travel to New York.

New York City is likely to be a popular destination for foreign visitors during the holidays this year.

andykazie/iStock Editorial/Getty Images

New York City is likely to be a popular destination for foreign visitors during the holidays this year.

As demand from these travelers increases, great airfares and award availability are likely to taper off around the holiday season. That doesn’t mean deals will completely disappear — industry leaders are projecting that business travel, which is the most lucrative part of the market for airlines, won’t fully return for several years. But planes are likely to be more full than they are right now.

Related: Should I travel? Expert advice on what to consider.

Even with changeable flights, there may still be some aspects of a trip that are difficult or impossible to change, and you don’t want to lose money if you get sick and can’t travel.

You could buy a travel insurance policy to cover you in case the worst happens, but they can be expensive, and not all of them will cover claims related to the pandemic. Fortunately, a cheaper and better way to protect yourself might already be in your purse or wallet: your credit card.

Many travel credit cards include various forms of travel protection, such as trip cancellation and interruption coverage, travel accident insurance, emergency evacuation coverage and more. While these protections generally don’t cover you if you voluntarily cancel your trip due to the pandemic, they often do cover you if you personally get sick from the coronavirus or can’t travel due to unexpected restrictions put in place by a governmental authority.

You may already be eligible for various forms of travel insurance by using the credit cards in your purse or wallet.

iStock

You may already be eligible for various forms of travel insurance by using the credit cards in your purse or wallet.

Every credit card offers different levels of coverage, and some don’t have any travel protections at all, so it’s important to check the fine print before you book your trip with a specific credit card to know exactly what you’re being protected against. But if you want to be sure that your travel investment is safe, choose the right credit card to book your travel home for the holidays.

Related: Read CNN Underscored’s guide to the best credit cards with travel insurance protections.

It’s been another tough year, and many people still haven’t seen their families in a long time. As the holiday season approaches — and it will be here before we know it — this could prove to be the perfect opportunity to return home or head away on a vacation.

By booking yourself a trip now, you’ll have something to look forward to between now and then. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health, and the idea of an upcoming trip may help get you through the slog.

After the last year, everyone could use a vacation.

iStock

After the last year, everyone could use a vacation.

And even with all of the above in mind, if you just don’t feel comfortable booking future travel at the moment, don’t feel bad about that either. Many people don’t have a flexible enough family or work schedule to allow themselves to book speculative travel with so many unknowns still out there.

If that’s you, there’s one other thing you can do while waiting for travel to resume: earn extra travel rewards on your credit card. Many cards are offering record-high sign-up bonuses to new card holders, including up to 90,000 bonus miles on Delta credit cards and up to 150,000 bonus points on Hilton credit cards.

Those bonuses alone can be enough to book a trip when the world is finally more stable. Plus, you can use a credit card to earn rewards on the everyday things you buy while you’re stuck at home.

So, if you aren’t ready to book holiday travel yet but want to make sure you have enough frequent flyer points or miles to go somewhere great when you finally can, check out our list of the best travel credit cards and see if one of them might be a good fit for you.

Looking for a new credit card? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards of 2021.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.



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Reasons you might buy travel insurance now — even if you never did before






Reasons you might buy travel insurance now — even if you never did before






















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6 Top Reasons Why You Need Travel Insurance


If you’re planning to travel to your favorite destination for a holiday or vacation, you need to make early preparations. You need to find accommodation, book a flight, prepare your passport, etc. However, one crucial thing that most people overlook is travel insurance. It would assist if you had travel insurance. In some places, it’s a requirement before you make any trip. The reason why many people ignore this is that they don’t see any importance. The truth is that travel insurance can help you save a lot of money. Travel insurance comes in numerous options, i.e., general policy or customized policy. They help cover various issues such as emergency medical costs, luggage protection, flight cancelation, etc. Below are some top reasons why you need travel insurance:

  1. Cover emergency medical expenses

One of the primary reasons why travel insurance is essential is based on health. While traveling, some medical emergencies may occur regardless of the distance of your trip or age. In this case, you may need emergency treatment at that particular time. You won’t be taken back to your local hospital, where you’ve got medical insurance coverage. To be on the safe side, you need travel insurance coverage to cater to such uncertainty. Lack of travel medical coverage can result in huge financial burdens, especially if admitted to hospitals abroad. This can possibly drain your resources back at home. You’ll also get additional benefits like referrals to physicians, medical escort, and proper health monitoring and care if you get the right coverage.

  1. Luggage protection

Most people usually carry luggage when traveling to their next destination. Due to many bags, it becomes easier to create a lot of confusion, especially in airports. This confusion can make your luggage get lost or into the wrong hands, especially where it’s similar to someone else’s luggage. Whether your luggage gets lost or stolen, you can get compensation if you’ve got the right travel insurance coverage. If you don’t have any coverage, you’ll be responsible for any occurrence that results in the loss of your luggage.

  1. Flight interruption

Planning for a trip to have a good time in your favorite destination and later getting information that your flight has been canceled, delayed, or interrupted would be the last thing you would want to hear. This will make you lose the flight booking money and other bookings for accommodation and excursions. Sometimes, trip cancelation can happen unexpectedly due to bad weather, unforeseen illnesses, or your boss might just call you back to work. This will make you cancel your trip. Therefore, if you don’t have the right travel insurance coverage, you might end up losing a lot of money all at once. On the other hand, if you have proper coverage, you’ll get compensation for all non-refundable travel expenses that you’ll incur. Some travel insurance policies also cover delays and interruptions. These policies are made to cover interruptions that may occur due to medical or other unavoidable reasons.

  1. Accidental death or dismemberment

Accidents can occur at any time while traveling. These accidents can cause dismemberment and death. If you have the right travel coverage, you’ll get the necessary compensation. In case of death, your family back home won’t incur expenses to bring back your body home for burial. Your insurance provider will cater to all expenses involved.

  1. When it’s a requirement

Sometimes you may find travel insurance to be a requirement if you’re planning to extend your stay or you’re a regular visitor to a particular destination. Therefore, when planning for a trip, it’s essential to get travel insurance to be on the safe side just in case you find that it’s required where you’re going to.

  1. Sports and adventure coverage

You might be visiting a destination where there are many adventurous activities you can enjoy participating in. Although these activities can be enjoyable, they can sometimes pose some risks, such as injury or equipment loss. Therefore, if you have proper travel coverage, your insurance provider will compensate you for any injuries that you get or items you lose while participating in different events.

These are the top reasons why you need travel insurance. It can also help you if natural disasters occur or problems arise with your tour company, such as uncertain closure.



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Author Jim Murphy Provides 51 Reasons to Travel to Philly | News


PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A unique book on Philadelphia gives visitors many new reasons to visit the city William Penn founded in 1682.

Published by Temple University Press, “Real Philly History, Real Fast” provides 51 punchy profiles about Philadelphia heroes and historic sites, says Jim Murphy, a first-time author in his late 70s.

The book’s subjects range from the Acadians and the Mason-Dixon Survey to the Ninth Street Market and Isaiah Zagar of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

You get the complete story in minutes

“It’s history for everyone,” Murphy says, “for those who live in Philly and those just visiting. Short 3-to-4-page chapters on 51 intriguing subjects. Each with an informative headline and subhead, easy-to-read bullet copy, short, paragraphs, Fast Facts, a photo, and a list of nearby attractions.” 

Murphy says, “I’ve never seen another travel book or guidebook like this in Philadelphia or anywhere else. You can read the book in quick bites. And if you don’t like one story, you can just jump to the next.”

 Murphy says “Real Philly History, Real Fast” is the first guidebook he’s seen that includes stories on The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

Readers will discover interesting facts on every page that make touring Philadelphia far more enjoyable, he says.

Murphy, a certified tour guide, self-described amateur historian and marketing copywriter, has run his own business since 2004.

For nine years, Murphy wrote and edited Choices, an award-winning magazine with a circulation of 80,000 copies, for the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union (FMFCU) headquartered in Delaware County.

Book endorsed by Philly experts Sam Katz, Paul Steinke and Tim McGrath

Sam Katz, executive producer of History Making Productions, Paul Steinke, executive director of Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, and Tim McGrath, author of “James Monroe: A Life,” and “John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail,” all reviewed proofs and endorsed the book in glowing terms.

McGrath says, “Each page of this excellent book contains a fact that will elicit anything from a smile to a ‘wow!’ Bill Penn would be proud.”

This book answers such questions as:

  • What unique skill saved black businessman James Forten from a life of West Indian slavery?
  • Where is the first Pennsylvania historic marker in Philadelphia located with the word “riot” in the title?
  • What’s the name of the oldest quarantine station in the Western Hemisphere?
  • Which famous Philadelphia painter may have gotten his artistic talent from a noted forger – his father – who was exiled from England?
  • Where was the Liberty Bell secretly damaged?

Murphy recommends his book as gifts for students, friends, relatives, graduates, even as presents for wedding parties in the Philadelphia area.

Copies can be ordered from amazon.com, bookshop.org and local bookstores.

About Jim Murphy

A longtime resident of Philadelphia, Jim Murphy is a certified tour guide who does frequent in-person and online presentations on “The Amazing Success of William Penn.” He has been researching Philadelphia history since 2010 and would love to speak to your group.

Related Links:

tupress.temple.edu/book/20000000010096

(includes “How to Use This Book” and Chapter 15)

realphillyhistory.com

Media Contact

Jim Murphy, Author

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9 Reasons To Visit The Island Of South Georgia On Your Trip To Antarctica


With cruises departing South America and heading directly to Antarctica, the trip time is shortened but you miss the tiny island of South Georgia. With the even shorter version — flying to King George Island off the Antarctica Peninsula and beginning your expedition from there — you also miss South Georgia. But including South Georgia in your itinerary offers wildlife viewing and on-land experiences that make your expedition to the 7th continent a trip filled with adventure, discovery, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Before we look at the nine reasons why South Georgia should be part of your expedition to Antarctica, let me give you a little bit of information about what to consider when you research your cruise. 

In keeping with the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, the continent is shared by countries around the world. Its primary purpose is to provide a place of collaborative scientific research. And 29 of the 54 countries that signed the treaty have research bases in Antarctica. 

Tourism to Antarctica is regulated in order to lessen the impact travelers have on the continent. The expedition you choose should be part of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO). IAATO limits the number of people on any given landing to 100. They also regulate the landings and lengths of the visits so the land and wildlife are not adversely impacted. You’re ferried from ship to shore on a Zodiac boat. If the ship you choose for your expedition has fewer than 100 guests, you’ll be able to participate in every shore landing offered.

Here are the reasons why the tiny island of South Georgia should be part of your Antarctic adventure.

1. You’ll Have Boots On The Ground

Except for typically one trek on the Antarctic Peninsula, the majority of excursions to destinations in Antarctica involve sightseeing from Zodiac boats. With South Georgia, you’ll be exploring on foot, with easy hikes and up-close experiences with wildlife (curious penguins walk up to you). 

Short hikes take you to nesting areas or viewing platforms from where you’ll see stunning panoramas of the beaches and the Scotia Sea — a part of the Southern Ocean.

Black-browed albatross chicks on mud nests on South Georgia, near Antarctica.
Black-browed albatross chicks on mud nests on South Georgia (Photo Credit: Teresa Otto)

2. You’ll See Albatrosses Take Off

Several types of albatrosses inhabit South Georgia and the small islands that surround it. While viewing wandering albatross from the ship’s deck, the birds look big but not enormous. You’ll get an up-close view of them on Prion Island, just off of South Georgia’s north shore. The wandering albatross’s wingspan is the largest of any living bird on the planet, reaching 11 feet. To get airborne, they have to get a running start. Once they are airborne, they can glide for several hours without flapping their wings. Individual albatrosses have been tracked and found to cover 12,000 miles over the course of the year. They breed on South Georgia and other subantarctic islands beginning each November.

Black-browed albatrosses, with about 7.5-foot wingspans, are found on South Georgia. A huge colony of 400,000 breeding pairs nest on the Falkland Islands but a very respectable colony of 70,000 breeding pairs lives on South Georgia so you’ll see them on your visit. Dove gray downy chicks hatch in their mud nests in late December and early January. 

These are just two species of albatrosses on South Georgia. You’re likely to spot more albatross species between South America and Antarctica. You’ll also see petrels, skua, cormorants, kelp gulls, Antarctic terns, and Antarctic prions.

Pro Tip: Albatrosses are considered threatened and near-threatened depending on the species, due to fishing and pollution. To find out more about conservation efforts, visit the Agreement on Albatross and Petrel Conservation’s website.

3. You Might Spot Macaroni Penguins

In 18th century England, “Macaroni” referred to high society, sophisticated young men who toured Europe and adopted a taste for Italian pasta and fine European clothing, including wigs and feathered caps. The verse, “Yankee Doodle came to town riding on a pony. He stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni,” was a way the British Army put down the less well-dressed colonials during the Revolutionary War.

Upon seeing penguins on the Falkland Islands with a flamboyant splash of yellow and orange feathers on their heads, English sailors named them Macaronis. Their habitat extends from South America to the Antarctic Peninsula. 

The world’s largest population lives on South Georgia but colonies are remote. Your best chance of seeing them is when they enter the water in search of krill — the shrimp-like crustaceans that make the Macaroni’s feathers orange.

A pair of King penguins in a penguin colony in South Georgia near Antarctica.
A pair of King penguins in a penguin colony in South Georgia (Photo Credit: Teresa Otto)

4. You’ll Experience The Chaos Of A King Penguin Colony

South Georgia is home to some of the largest King penguin colonies in the world, too. A short walk from your Zodiac landing on Salisbury Plain or St. Andrews Bay gets you to King penguin colonies with 100,000 plus breeding pairs that are trumpeting, courting, waddling, and, in the case of the juveniles — whistling — to their parents. The noise is deafening, and the smell of guano is quite strong, nevertheless, the experience is unmatched. 

IAATO requires visitors to stay at least five meters (16 feet) away from any wildlife. Curious juveniles, called oakum boys, have brown downy feathers and can be seen throughout the season, as King penguins breed every 14 months. You will also see molting adult penguins that are land-bound and hungry until they replace their feathers and return to the sea to feed.

Along with King penguins, South Georgia is also home to Magellanic, Gentoo, and Chinstrap penguins.

Pro Tip: Sit or stand quietly when you are near a colony. Curious penguins are likely to approach and break the five-meter rule.

Young elephant seals at Gold Harbour, South Georgia Island, near Antarctica.
Young elephant seals at Gold Harbour (Photo Credit: Teresa Otto)

5. You’ll Marvel At Massive Elephant Seals

Gold Harbour, named for the color of the beach’s golden mountain backdrop at sunrise and sunset, is home to King penguins, fur seals, and massive elephant seals. Adult elephant seal males weigh up to 8,800 pounds and dwarf the females that weigh from 900 to 2,000 pounds. Juvenile male elephant seals practice sparring on the beach, otherwise, the entire lot of elephant seals seem content to sunbathe while they’re on land.

6. You Can Retrace Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trek

No expedition to Antarctica would be complete without learning about polar explorers that attempted and succeeded at reaching the South Pole. Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempt failed but he was heralded as a hero. After his ship, the Endurance was crushed by ice in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea, Shackleton and his men made their way to Elephant Island. Shackleton went with a small group of his men to find a ship to get his men home. 

Shackleton sailed on a small boat to South Georgia and hiked over snowy, icy, rugged terrain to reach Stromness whaling station in 1916. He returned to rescue all of his men on Elephant Island about 4 months later.

Depending on weather conditions, you can retrace the final part of Shackleton’s trek to Stromness. Stromness became a ship repair yard after whaling ended. Humans left in 1961. Now it’s fur seal city.

Norwegian Lutheran Church, or Norwegian Anglican Church, at Grytviken on South Georgia, near Antarctica.
Norwegian Lutheran Church at Grytviken (Photo Credit: Teresa Otto)

7. You Can Send A Postcard 

South Georgia Heritage Trust is based in Grytviken and serves to restore and protect South Georgia. They’ve eradicated rodents that were introduced when Grytviken was a Norwegian whaling station. The rodents were preying upon bird eggs and putting seabirds that nest on South Georgia at risk for extinction.

Buildings, including a white wooden Norwegian Lutheran church, whale processing equipment, and whale oil vats are scattered about Grytviken. Docent-led tours and the museum tell of the whaling station’s history. You can buy a souvenir in the museum shop and mail a postcard from Grytviken’s post office. 

Sir Ernest Shackleton's Grave at Grytviken, South Georgia, near Antarctica.
Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Grave at Grytviken, South Georgia (Photo Credit: Teresa Otto)

8. You Can Toast Sir Ernest Shackleton

While at Grytviken, you can visit Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grave. He died on South Georgia in 1922 from a heart condition. Traditionally, visitors toast Shackleton with a glass of scotch whiskey, reserving just a bit to pour on his grave. It was his favorite drink.

A short, whitewashed picket fence encircles the cemetery filled with graves of the whaling station workers and sailors. Many succumbed to industrial accidents and many died from typhus. South Georgia’s magistrate William Barlas, was the last person buried here. He was swept into the sea by an avalanche in 1941.

9. You’ll Enjoy Days At Sea

With the extended journey to South Georgia, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy at-sea days. Whether you attend one of the many lectures given onboard, read a good book, watch for whales, dolphins, or seabirds, or play a card game with fellow passengers, a sea day is a chance to relax and enjoy a little downtime before your adventures begin in Antarctica.

Pro Tip: If you’re departing from South America, expeditions to South Georgia and Antarctica include several stops in the Falkland Islands. The best months to make this trip are November through February. To maximize your time on land during excursions, book your cruise on a ship carrying fewer than 100 guests.

Antarctica is a popular destination for travelers, and cruising is one of the favorite ways to visit the region:



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7 Reasons Why You Should Use a Certified Travel Advisor


The Travel Institute is highlighting the advantages of using a certified travel advisor. The educational institution is noting that experience and training matter, especially in a world emerging from lockdowns and anxious to travel.

“Taking some basic training and saying, ‘I’m a travel agent’ is very different from achieving and maintaining the level of education you need to do the job well,” said Diane Petras, CTIE, president of The Travel Institute. “Our goal is to help consumers understand that critical distinction and to enable them to choose an educated, skilled agent from our program to maximize the return on their travel investment.”

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Petras provided seven of the top reasons to use a certified travel advisor:

Expertise

Petras said that experienced travel agents know the market and can match travelers with a better product than they can find on the Internet. An advisor certified by The Travel Institute is a highly qualified professional who can guide customers through multiple options, handle the complex reservation process and free them to focus on the fun.

Advocate

If something goes wrong before or during your trip, a certified travel advisor will work hard to get the vacation back on track. Advisors are there to help with flight cancelations, problems with hotel bookings and any other issues that may arise.

Resources and Relationships

Petras noted that certified travel advisors have a variety of tools and contacts that consumers can’t access or don’t know about. Advisors can often get travelers better airplane seats, special amenities at hotels, room upgrades and more. They will also know if you need COVID tests or vaccines as well.

Convenience

Another aspect Petras mentioned is that travel advisors save consumers valuable time and energy. A certified advisor can help clients define what they want to get out of their travels and present options that fulfill or exceed their desires. They can book everything, from hotel and air to spa appointments and dining.

Save Money, Add Value

A certified travel advisor is often able to save their clients money—even if they charge a fee for their time. Through exclusive relationships and in-depth knowledge of suppliers, advisors can provide the most bang for their clients’ bucks, while also providing a lot of value-adds that most consumers don’t even know about.

Better Destinations

Petras also highlighted that certified travel advisors have inside information on the best times to visit different locations depending on the season, special events or even weather. They sometimes even know what the next “it” destinations are before they become overcrowded.

Exclusive Access

Everyone wants to feel like they are getting something special, and certified travel advisors can make that happen, according to Petras. Some travel experiences—exotic tours, off-the-beaten-path treks and private jet products, among others—often are only available through a professional. A certified travel advisor can open doors unavailable to consumers.

Stay up to date with the latest travel tips and news by signing up to receive TravelPulse in your inbox every morning.





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Flight attendant explains grim reasons to never wear shorts | Travel News | Travel


Tommy Cimato regularly shares insight on TikTok into what working on an aircraft is like. He also shares tips and tricks for passengers, with some of his recent advice stunning travellers as he warned against doing two common things – wearing shorts on a flight and resting your head on the window.

In the video, Mr Cimato says: “Do not fall asleep or lean your head on the window.

“You are not the only one that has done that and you don’t know how many people or children have wiped their hands or other things all over the window.”

In the age of coronavirus, it will come as no surprise to those wishing to travel that germs are a huge risk.

When it comes to wearing shorts, the flight attendant gave a similar warning which is sure to stick in the mind of those used to having their legs out on an aircraft.

He added: “Don’t or try not to wear shorts when you’re on an aeroplane.

“It’s the same thing as the window – you never know how clean it’s going to be, so if you have pants, you’re going to have less germs.”

Mr Cimato’s other top tips for passengers include how to avoid germs in the bathroom, how to stay hydrated and what to do if you feel sick.

He said: “Do not ever touch the flush button with your bare hands. It’s honestly just super unsanitary and pretty gross, so when you flush, use a napkin or tissue that’s in the lavatory.

“Don’t forget to drink water. Stay hydrated. You want to have about 16oz for every flight that you go on, so keep that in mind.”

He also encourages those on board to get the attention of the cabin crew if they need to.

READ MORE: BA flight to London from Edinburgh declares mid-air emergency





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6 Reasons to Drive to Asbury Park, New Jersey This Summer


Great beaches, restaurants, and rock n’ roll vibes.

The Bonney Read

The Jersey Shore is famous for many things: expansive beaches, boardwalks, saltwater taffy, and Snooki. There are dozens of beach towns to visit, from picturesque, Victorian Cape May to small town, fishing-oriented Barnegat Light. But there’s one place down the shore that’s wholly unique for its artsy, offbeat vibe and rich history: Asbury Park.

While this central coast destination is in the popular consciousness outside Jersey in large part due to Bruce Springsteen, Asbury Park has drawn a younger, city-dwelling set of visitors to its shores in recent years. What followed has been a deluge of hip new artisan coffee shops, boutique hotels, and NYC-quality restaurants. And thanks to the boardwalk, Asbury, in a similar way to Coney Island, has a decidedly democratic, everyone’s welcome vibe (unlike say, the Hamptons, people from all walks of life can be found here).

Located about 60 miles from Manhattan, Asbury Park can be visited for a day trip. Driving can take upwards of 90-120 minutes considering traffic, and New Jersey Transit offers service directly into Asbury Park. The Seastreak Ferry offers service from Manhattan to Highlands, which is about 15 miles north of Asbury Park. 

A couple of important FYIs: Beach passes are mandatory and can be purchased at the beach office or on the Viply app, chairs and umbrellas can be rented when you get there, and more information can be found on the Asbury Park website. Here are a few of our favorite reasons to make the drive down the shore to Asbury Park this summer.

Asbury Park beach & boardwalk
Asbury Park beach & boardwalk | Sky Cinema/Shutterstock

The beautiful beach and boardwalk

The beach is the main reason to visit the Jersey Shore, obviously. Asbury Park’s beach is, similar to most on the Jersey Shore, deep with soft, light-colored sand. At Asbury going to “the beach” also includes the experience of walking the boardwalk and taking in the sights, sounds and smells. Local radio station 94.3 The Point broadcasts live from the boardwalk on weekends, and there are restaurants (check out Maruca’s Tomato Pies), bars (Iron Whale, Asbury Oyster Bar), and scoop shops (Eddie Confetti’s and nearby vegan-friendly spot Cookman Creamery), to sample from, too. The town is also known to attract eccentrics and artsy types, so the people watching on the beach and boardwalk is all part of the fun.

Asbury Park is also home to the popular surfing school Summertime Surf. Take a lesson and hit the waves all in the same day!

High-quality restaurants and bars

No visit to Asbury would be complete without a visit to some of the best food and drink establishments, and there are many. 

Before hitting the beach, swing through Asbury Park Roastery—there are three locations!—a spot locals love and travel to from towns away to visit. Also pop into Purple Glaze Donuts for one or a few of their creative concoctions. After a couple of hours in the sun you’ll need a break so head to the boardwalk or down Asbury or Cookman avenues for a bite. Grab Korean tacos at Eat Mogo or a sandwich and a CBD drink at the new Cardinal Provisions. For drinks, the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten opens at noon on weekends, or swing by seminal LGBTQ bar Georgies, open since 1999, or the more posh, oceanfront cocktail bar, Watermark

For dinner, try the artisan pizza at Talula’s or sample new Grandma-style pies from the gang there at the brand-new Alternate Ending craft brewery. For seafood, try the middleneck clams or the fish and chips at The Bonney Road.

Asbury Park Convention Hall
Asbury Park Convention Hall | EQRoy/Shutterstock

A rich history…

Similar to Atlantic City just down coast, this seaside destination was built up as a summer attraction. But while AC is known for its casinos, Asbury was apparently at one point a “dry” municipality as it was founded by members of the Methodist community in neighboring Ocean Grove. In the late 1800s, the boardwalk was built, followed by a number of hotels, and grand Victorian homes that helped the area flourish.

Development took off in the 1920s when the Convention Hall and the adjoining Paramount Theatre and Grand Arcade were built. These beautiful, historical buildings still stand alongside the boardwalk and beach today, and play host to events, concerts, and shopping. 

After the area experienced decades of economic depression and racial division, a rebirth began in the ‘90s and ‘00s thanks in large part because of the influx of vacationers from the LGBTQ community. The area today is vibrant and artsy; gentrified, even. But still, it’s truly a haven for creative people on the Shore.

It’s a destination for rock and roll lovers

The most famous venue in Asbury Park is surely The Stone Pony—where the Boss, whose debut album is called “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.”, got his start. It’s still open today, playing host to shows by local as well as more well-known touring acts. Upcoming shows include Limp Bizkit, Kesha, Parquet Courts, and the Springsteen cover band, Tramps Like Us.

The Paramount Theatre also books big shows, and The Saint is a smaller, more intimate live music venue. More recently, the legendary punk venue Asbury Lanes, got a facelift and new ownership by iStar in 2018. The combo bowling alley and music venue now hosts top-tier acts on a weekly basis, and the attached eatery, Asbury Lanes Diner, is set to reopen on August 1 with NJ local and Per Se alum, chef Mike Dunston, spearheading the relaunch.

The Wonder Bar, which also hosts live music, is a beloved local dive with a happy (yappy) hour for dogs. You can’t miss this spot; Asbury’s unofficial mascot “Tillie” is emblazoned in a mural on the facade.

Arts and culture, shopping

The Silverball Museum Arcade is another Asbury Park destination that’s popular for the young and old alike. Home to pinball machines that date back to the 1930s, it’s a quirky spot that’s worth a visit. Or, if you’re more inclined to get spooky, check out the Ouija Wall or the haunted objects and dolls at Paranormal Books & Curiosities. (Tip: reservations required for most exhibits.)

Asbury is also known for its lively arts scene, and the area surrounding the beach is emblazoned with murals. The Wooden Walls Mural Project is responsible for many of them; the Mermaid by local artist Porkchop located near the Convention Hall is a favorite. Galleries as well as public art and exhibits can be found all across town. 

For shopping, Cookman Avenue is home to antique shops and boutiques like Rebel Supply Co., where you can grab some great vintage finds.

Cool hotels and places to stay 

Much of the oft-discussed Asbury Park renaissance focuses on new residential and hotel developments. In 2018, the Asbury Ocean Club opened. Towering over the cement-block building that houses the Wonder Bar, the 17-story glass tower contains a mix of million-dollar residences and hotel rooms which run in the $600-800 range.

Nearby is the more hipster-focused boutique hotel, The Asbury, complete with a rooftop movie screening area, bar and pool, and lobby decked out with art, records, and live music. Rooms range from around $300-600.

A more affordable option is the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel with many rooms below $200. This 100-year old Beaux Arts building also overlooks the ocean.

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Georgia Kral is a writer, editor, and professor of journalism. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two kids, and is currently obsessed with Jersey hot dog culture.





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