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Take A Seat, Dad

Robert F. Kennedy Stadium

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, known as RFK Stadium and originally District of Columbia Stadium, is a multi-purpose stadium in Washington, DC. The stadium is located on the exact axis of East Capitol Street, which means that from the top of the stadium you can see the US Capitol and the Washington Monument lined up perfectly to the west. Opened in 1961, RFK Stadium has hosted five NFC Championship games, two MLB All-Star Games, men’s and women’s World Cup matches (four of which I attended) and a whole lot more.

I’ll never say it’s a pretty stadium; it is not Camden Yards, home of the Orioles. RFK was one of the first major stadiums designed specifically as a multi-sport facility for both baseball and football.  RFK was one of the first to employ what became known as the circular “cookie-cutter” design. The stadium relied on the fans to give it personality. The last game the Washington Senators played there, which my parents attended, never actually ended because the fans stormed the field before the game was over.

My family has a lot of history connected with the stadium. My mother’s father worked for the Washington Redskins since their founding and spent every Sunday during football season down on the field. I saw my first pro-football game there one December in the early 80s. I was there when the stadium hosted their new baseball team, the Washington Nationals, on opening day in 2005 after more than 20 years without pro-baseball in the capital city.

The point of this rambling isn’t to go on about the history of a stadium, it was just background. My siblings and I found a seat from that old stadium for sale, bought it for my father and gave it to him for Father’s Day. It came with a certificate that shows the seat was part of 36 NFL seasons and several Senators’ baseball seasons. It was removed from the stadium in 2005 during preparations to welcome the Nationals to town. He can now sit in that orange-colored seat and watch baseball outside on the deck while remembering those all those baseball and football games he’d seen back in ol’ DC.

 

 

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Continuing to Grow USVI Strong

The U.S. Virgin Islands is a tourist mecca and like all communities that thrive on tourism, the customer experience is a big part of what keeps those dollars flowing. We also understand that being good at customer service doesn’t always come naturally.  You simply have to have worked in retail to understand that one.
As part of National Travel and Tourism Week, the U.S Virgin Island Department of Tourism brought in The Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence. The training group offers programs to help cruise destinations and tour operators around the world achieve excellence in their ports, tours, guides, and businesses.
The idea was to help train 200 hundred of the islands “meeters and greeters” because those who work in tourism become the face of the territory to the outside world.

Courtesy of Luana Wheatley, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism

“Having well-trained frontline team members in cruise destinations is critical, as they hold the guest experience in their hands. Their actions can make or break a guest experience, and greatly impact the guest satisfaction ratings in a cruise destination – and those ratings are an important factor in a cruise line’s decision to call on a port,” said Melanie Colpitts, the Director of the Center.
The push to improve the tourist experience is also a call to action in the aftermath of last year’s hurricanes. We know the images of the damaged homes, grounded boats, and destroyed infrastructure will stick with many of us for a lifetime and may shade what some people think of when they imagine the islands. The training and improvement of the customer experience is partly a reaction to that.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism seems to be committed to offering continuing education opportunities for Virgin Islanders to ensure the territory remains a destination despite the storms. Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said in a statement, “We will not rest on our laurels given the importance of the hospitality sector to our socioeconomic development and to elevating the quality of life for all Virgin Islanders.” 
At No Kids, Will Travel, we think this kind of education is important not just for the tourists’ experience, but for the communities they visit and spend their money in. It might be a good idea to start a reverse program to teach tourists how to be good guests during their visits.
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Hockey in June!!!

You have my apologies right off the bat for this blog post; it’s not about travel.

If you’ve been following our blog, you know Amanda and I are huge hockey fans. We love the game we watch it at least three or four nights a week during the hockey season. We are also big, big, super-big Washington Capitals fans. For the first time in years — literally two decades — Capitals are in the finals of the Stanley Cup. That means they get to play hockey in June after 30 other teams go home for the offseason.

They’re facing off against the Golden Knights — a team in its inaugural season. We’ve watched some of these players since they were in the minor leagues, like Jay Beagle and Braden Holtby. Amanda even came out of retirement and did television live shots for DC TV stations when the Caps meet their arch-rivals in the playoffs since we now live in the city of our hockey enemy.

I think we’d be selling ourselves short if we simply said we were fans; we are emotionally invested in this team. I met and interviewed many of them back during my days as a journalist in Washington. The third game in the best-of-seven series is about to come on and we are on the edge of our seats. I promise a more travel-oriented post next week; until then, LET’S GO CAPS!

Amanda doing live shots for NBCSN Washington from our balcony after the Caps played in Pittsburgh.

This pennant hung in my nursery as a child. I’ve had a love of the Caps since birth.

We are standing with the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The Hershey Bears are the Caps’ farm team.

We even supported the team on our sailing trip in the Virgin Islands.

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Summer is Here, and so is Hurricane Season

We have previously written about the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Virgin Islands. We covered the immediate aftermath, the lasting destruction and the ongoing process of rebuilding. We remember that Hurricane Maria had wind speeds of 175 mph (Catagory 5) and killed 112 people and Hurricane Irma had 185 mph winds and killed 134. The total financial cost of the storms totaled $156 billion. The suffering during the storm was bad and the lingering suffering after is appalling. The US Government failed its citizens last year and that continues to be the case this year as the rebuilding continues.

The Atlantic (Caribbean) Hurricane season begins June 1 and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued its predictions. It makes us a little nervous. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 75% chance that the year’s hurricane season will be near- or above-normal. The forecasters predict a 70% likelihood of between 10 and 16 named storms with tropical force winds, of which between 5 to 9 could become hurricanes, including 1 to 4 major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes. 

The scientific reason for this higher-than-average prediction is a weak El Nino in the Pacific and the average sea temperatures across the Caribbean and the possibility of a weak El Nino developing, along with near-average sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The records show that since 1995 these conditions have colluded to create very active seasons.

NOAA has also disclosed the names of the predicted storms, names we hope will not have to retire at the end of the season like Irma and Maria.

 

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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.