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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.

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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