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A Morningstar Rising

We recently heard some great news: Mike and Bridget, the owners of Morningstar Charters in St. John, are back on the water with a new boat and ready to take you for a sail.

Sailing on Winifred between St. Thomas and St. John, USVI.

Mike and Bridget were the owners of Winifred, a beautiful old 40-foot sailboat that was destroyed during hurricanes Irma and Maria. The sailing couple has a new boat and they’re booking trips now to explore the crystal clear waters of St. Thomas and St. John. The message they sent out to their supporters states:

“The Islands are coming back beautifully, restaurants have reopened for the most part, vacation rentals are booming and small businesses like ourselves are finally seeing the light. Please come share the sun and enjoy some time on the water.”

Courtesy Morningstar Charters, USVI

We highly recommend Morningstar Charters if you’re traveling to the USVI. Captain Mike treated us to a wonderful afternoon and we’d absolutely sign up for another sail.

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A Tweet of Advice…

I spend a lot of time on Twitter. One particular tweet the other day caught my eye. It read: “What would you recommend in #Athens? It can be a memorable dish or a place to have coffee. We’d love to know, #TravelTribe #TravelTuesday ”

I had to jump on that and fired off several tweets. The 280-character limit is seldom a problem for me unless it’s something as complex as where to go and what to see in one of the ancient capitals of the world.

The some the conversation went like this:

 

 

 

 

 

I got a thank you for my suggestions.

 

I was even complemented by someone living in Athens as being spot-on in my advice.

 

Helping someone enjoy traveling is one of my favorite things. I love helping people discover new places. The advice doesn’t need to be followed, just offered. The excitement you have for traveling can be contagious, so continue to go out there and share the love, on Twitter or in person.

 

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DC to Hong Kong, Direct

Cathay Pacific 350-1000
Photo Credit- Airbus S.A.S. A. Doumenjou

Cathay Pacific is going to begin direct flights from Washington, DC’s Dulles International Airport.  The trip between the US capital and the iconic Asian destination will cover 8,153 miles non-stop.

“Our customers have told us they want greater options and increased flexibility – and we’ve listened,” said Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg in a press release. “Much like Hong Kong, Washington DC is a vibrant and dynamic destination and we are thrilled to soon be providing the only direct flights between these two great cities.”

“Establishing new direct air links to destinations that aren’t already served from Hong Kong enhances our city’s status as Asia’s largest international hub and allows us to secure new and important sources of revenue,” he added.

The route will be flown by 20 brand new Airbus A-350-1000 making the Cathay long-haul fleet one of the youngest in the sky. The wide-body aircraft has twin aisles and seats 366 passengers with 18 inch wide economy seats.

The flights should start around September 2018 and are scheduled to operate from Hong Kong on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and out of IAD (Dulles) Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. We know the service is coming in less than a year because they have already been assigned flight numbers, CX 860 and CX 861.

16 hours, 50 minutes

Yes, a non-stop flight to from Washington, DC to Hong Kong will be 16 hours 50 min. I don’t know many people that would be comfortable with sitting that long — and ideally you shouldn’t.  We tracked down a nice video to help you prepare for this or any long haul flight. I’ll keep these tips in mind for my upcoming long haul to Tokyo next spring.

 

Qantas Airlines has other tips for making your long-haul healthier and more enjoyable.

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Research Begins for a New Adventure

The research begins often with a collection of new books.

I’ve been given the go-ahead by Amanda to plan a trip to Japan. The reason for the visit is two-fold. One: Japan has always been on my list of places to visit. Two: I work for a Japan-based website writing about anime and manga and want to meet my editor. Yes, that’s part of the reason I go to so many comic and anime conventions.

I started the process by tossing out some dates to help me get a grasp on the cost of the airfare. I found that the cost can range from $1,000-$1,600 from the east coast of the US depending on the time of year, number of connections and length of flights. I’m thinking because of my schedule and my editor’s suggestion next spring might be the best time to go. He told me summer is too hot and humid to visit, and he’s originally from Florida, so if he says it’s too humid I’ll believe him.

I went out and picked up the Frommers and Lonely Planet Japan books to help me with the outline of my trip.  I’m tentatively thinking that I’ll fly into Hiroshima, travel to the old capital of Kyoto and end the trip in Tokyo after a side trip to Mt. Fuji. I’m even thinking of climbing the iconic world heritage site. I already know that being efficient with my time is important because seeing a country in a week to nine days is a big task.

I’ve said “I” a lot and not “us” because this trip will be solo. Amanda will be staying behind for this trip and it will be my first true solo outing in a long time. I’m not exactly that apprehensive about traveling alone; I was rather good at it in my youth. I’m just not that crazy about spending a week away from the love of my life. The feelings of guilt from leaving her at home will just be something that I need to get over.  I’ll do my best to keep you all updated with my trip planning and share any interesting facts about Japan that come up.

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There is No Place Like Home…

The yellow metal suspension bridge out our window spanning the Allegheny River from the North Shore to downtown Pittsburgh is named after the environmentalist Rachel Carson. She was the scientist who found the link between the pesticide DDT and the decline in the populations of birds of prey. Her book, Silent Spring, details her research not only about the harmful effects of the pesticides but the chemical industry’s concerted effort to hide and obfuscate the truth. The impactful tome was published in 1962.  A national conversation began and it led to the banning of the use of DDT in agriculture. The movement Carson started led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Rachel Carson Bridge, Pittsburgh

Rachel Carson Bridge, Pittsburgh

The modern environmental movement created the first Earth Day in 1970 to draw attention to the fragile balance between man and nature. Next came the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, in the past 15 months the EPA itself has removed mentions of climate change and other environmental issues from its website.

A way to remind the EPA and the world that the Earth is worth sacrificing for is by taking a moment to celebrate Earth Day this Sunday. The Earth Day Network is promoting a call to action of five things we all can do to help our planet and ourselves. The simple acts can help us slow plastic pollution, plant trees and other greens, reduce meat consumption and mitigate our carbon footprints. If you have trouble putting in perspective why we need to help our planet just remember it’s the only home we’ve ever known and as every homeowner knows it takes time and sacrifice to keep it in good enough condition to pass it along to the next generation.

 

 

 

 

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Gateway Clipper

We took the time this past Saturday to do another one of those things in Pittsburgh we keep saying we’re going to do but haven’t done yet, going for a sail on the Gateway Clipper Fleet. We see the large riverboats steam past us out our window almost every day, especially once the weather gets nice. The warm weather this weekend and the long winter of being restricted to indoor activity was just the motivation we needed to explore this unique opportunity to get to know the city better.

The Gateway Clipper Fleet is a fleet of six riverboats based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The original Gateway Clipper River boat set sail in 1959. The fleet of six large river boats designed to resemble 19th century paddle boats are moored at Station Square south of the city on the banks of the Monongahela River. We opted for the classic tour with live narration.  We sat on the top deck soaking in the sights and the sun as the narrator pointed out the highlights of the city such as significant buildings, landmarks, bridges, and the historical significance of the three rivers we sailed on, the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio.

You can also take in some other tours they offer on different sails, like How “Pittsbourgh” became “Pittsburgh!” that focuses on the region’s role in the French & Indian War, the Whiskey Rebellion and the Civil War and how it became a world leader in glass, iron, and synonymous for steel. If you want a little lighter topic the Fun, Interesting & (even a little) Strange Pittsburgh tour focuses on some of the world records the city holds, some of the inventions created in the city, and apparently a tale about a B-52 bomber that may (or may not) be sunk in the river.

Point Park and Pittsburgh viewed from the Ohio River

If the weather is nice it’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours and learn something about the region.

2018 Schedule:

Spring: April and May – Sailing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

Summer: June, July, August and September – Sailing Daily

Fall: October – Sailing Daily

Winter: November and December – Sailing Saturdays and Sundays

Tickets: Adult $22, Child $12

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Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping (Julian Calendar Problems)

Christos Anesti (Christ Has Risen) is the traditional Easter greeting in the Greek Orthodox Church. You may wonder why are we writing about Easter a week late, but we aren’t — at least for the Orthodox Christians in the world who use the Julian calendar for the dates of all their holy days. What is the Julian calendar? Click the video and listen to the hypnotic Easter chant, said many times during the midnight services and brush up on your knowledge of horology (the study of measurements of time).


The Julian calendar, proposed by — you guessed it, Julius Caesar — was a reform of the Roman calendar. The Roman calendar consisted of 10 months beginning in spring with March; winter was left as an unassigned span of days. These months ran for 38 nundinal cycles, roughly an eight-day week ended by religious rituals and a public market. The Julian calendar took effect on 1 January 45 BC. It was the predominant calendar for the western world until it was refined and gradually replaced by the Gregorian calendar, the one we use today.

The Julian calendar gains against the mean tropical, or the time that the sun takes to return to the same position in the cycle of seasons at the rate of one day in 128 years. The Gregorian calendar it shifts one day in 3,030 years. The difference in the average length of the year between Julian (365.25 days) and Gregorian (365.2425 days) is 0.002%. You could think of it like a mechanical watch that loses a minute each year so that in 60 years, the watch is an hour behind. The Gregorian calendar makes adjustments along the way; the Julian doesn’t.

I know that is a bit confusing. The Julian calendar has a 365-day year divided into 12 months. The calendar adds a leap day to February every four years. So the Julian year is 365.25 days long. When you add all this up the calendar adds three days every four centuries relative to the astronomical equinox. This discrepancy was corrected by the Gregorian reform in 1582; they attempted to compensate for the time slippage. The Gregorian calendar has the same months and month lengths as the Julian calendar, but, in the Gregorian calendar, years evenly divisible by 100 are not leap years unless they are evenly divisible by 400. The result of this is as of February 16, 1900 on the Julian calendar and March 1, 1900 on the Gregorian calendar, the Julian calendar is 13 days behind. The Eastern Orthodox Church, which the Greek Orthodox Church is a part of still uses the Julian calendar for calculating the date of Easter. So the date differs from year to year, sometimes matching up with the Western Church. A good way to remember is that in the Orthodox Church Easter is always after Passover.

The most important thing about all of this is to remember that children that have a parent from the Eastern Church and the Western Church on years when Easter is on different dates, should expect two Easter baskets and twice the candy.