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By Paul Zieke
Phileas Fogg had his loyal valet to help him get “Around the World in 80 Days.” I employed my trusty iPhone on a weekend trip to demonstrate eight apps that every traveler should consider. My wife and I planned to fly to Arizona to enjoy the desert, visit friends in Tucson and get in a round or two of golf. We would need help seeing the sights, finding good places to eat and avoiding getting lost. I hoped my iPhone could help with all those duties.
A good valet’s first task is to help pack for the trip. I used Packing List (99 cents), which generates custom packing lists for travelers. It gave me handy sample lists for a typical man or woman. It also prepared a predeparture to-do list to remind me to cancel the paper and arrange to feed my pets.
In the movie version of “Around the World in 80 Days,” Fogg famously hopped aboard a hot-air balloon and sailed off. Modern airlines are more subject to delays, but not to worry. Before leaving the house, I fired up FlightTrack ($4.99), which delivers real-time, worldwide flight information. I entered our airline and flight number and learned our flight was on time.
After overnighting in Phoenix, we awoke early for the drive to Tucson for brunch with friends and a tour of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The two-hour drive through the desert started out great, but I soon realized I’d had too much coffee. At that moment, the most valuable app in my iPhone arsenal was SitOrSquat (free), which uses GPS to plot nearby public restrooms on a map. It found one, and we were soon on our way again.
The drive took us past the exit for Casa Grande, the site of ancient Native American ruins. To learn about them, my wife used HearPlanet ($4.99), which detects your location and finds Wikipedia articles about nearby sights. It gave us an instant overview of Casa Grande.
When we got to Tucson, we met our friends at an IHOP restaurant not far from the museum. At the end of the meal, I used Separate Checks (99 cents) to figure out the tip and what each person should pay. It has options to enter exact amounts for each member of your party, or you can just split the bill evenly.
After feeding on pancakes, we faced our next challenge: what to do with an oversized souvenir? Our friends had given us a lovely rug as a gift for my mother, but it was too large to take back on the plane. Luckily, I had the AAA Discounts app (free). The map program finds nearby companies that offer discounts to AAA members. I found a UPS Store, which offers up to 15% off, about a mile away.
The drive to the Desert Museum took us on a winding road through cactus-covered hills. The museum was a joy to visit. After taking plenty of photos with my iPhone’s camera, I wanted to share our experience. I used Postman ($1.99) to create and send electronic postcards, and put a card on my Facebook page.
The next day, as we headed to the airport to drop off our rental car, I used Cheap Gas (free) to find the best place to top off the tank. We saved about a dime a gallon off what we’d have spent at other gas stations.
Settling into our seats on the plane bound for home, I realized that these travel apps didn’t get me around the world in record time, but they did help make my modern journey a bit easier. Just like a good valet.
Paul Zieke has his home icon in Southern California.
Colorado has a grand range of year-round wildlife, along with perfect placement for observing fly-through migrations. Many residents believe that remote sites offer the best viewing opportunities, but heading out on rugged trails isn’t the only way to enjoy the state’s wildlife. Both non-profit groups and government agencies are working to expand outdoor access for people with disabilities. One local organization, the Wilderness on Wheels Foundation, continues to develop its accessible camping and fishing site at the base of Kenosha Pass on U.S. 285.
The campground (about 3.8 miles west of Grant) features a one-mile accessible boardwalk trail and 13 campsites where disabled campers can come with family and friends. Five of the campsites have tiny tent-shaped cabins. Visitors can wheel up to them, toss in their sleeping bag, and then head to the stocked fishing pond.
For those who need larger accommodations, there are two cabins on site. One has no plumbing, but has electricity and a kitchenette. The second, near the top of the boardwalk, has a more “motel” feeling, with plumbing and electricity.
Tent cabins are free for disabled visitors. The two larger cabins require a cash donation. The facility also has traditional tent sites and limited RV parking (but no sewage disposal option).
Wilderness on Wheels attracts nearly 1,200 visitors a year during its early May to mid October schedule. For more information, call 303-403-1110 or visit www.wildernessonwheels.org.
State agencies are also working to expand options for disabled outdoor enthusiasts. Visit the Division of Wildlife’s website for a list of accessible wildlife viewing areas and interpretive trails throughout the state.
Free-admission days for Colorado residents are coming up at the following attractions, which are part of Denver’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SFCD).
Colorado has a lot of lesser-known attractions that may not get a lot of publicity, but are well worth a visit. Here are three to check out this spring or summer.
Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum, Colorado Springs: This museum crams a lot into a small building. In addition to more than 50 vintage and antique motorcycles, it has a large amount of period memorabilia, clothing, art, photographs and factory literature. Motorcycles in the collection include two certified 100-point bikes (the highest rating possible from the Antique Motorcycle Club of America): a 1914 Excelsior and a 1915 Harley Davidson. Admission is free but a donation is appreciated. It’s open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 5865 N. Nevada Ave (exit 148 from I-25), Colorado Springs. 719-278-2356.
Missile Site Park, Greeley: During the Cold War, five missile launch sites were built in Colorado. They held Atlas-E nuclear missiles and each had a large underground complex as well as surface buildings. Only one of the former Atlas-E sites can still be visited. It is now Missile Site Park, located at 10611 Spur 257, Greeley (midway between Greeley, Windsor and Loveland). The site was operational from 1960–1965. It is now owned by Weld County, which uses some of the underground areas for storage. Free guided tours are available between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, by arrangement with the caretaker, Pete Ambrose. The tour takes about an hour and must be scheduled in advance by calling 970-381-7451.
Washing Machine Museum, Eaton: As if having its own missile site wasn’t enough, Weld County is also home to Lee Maxwell’s Washing Machine Museum. According to the “Guinness Book of World Records” this is the largest collection of antique washing machines in the world—more than 1,150, some dating as far back as 1850. Numerous other laundry tools and household appliances are also featured. The museum can be viewed by appointment only, at a cost of $30 for a group of up to ten; call 970-454-1856. Its address is described by the owner as “the southwest corner of the intersection of Weld County Roads 31 and 74 … have a nice drive in the country and good luck locating the place.”
The Disney cruise fleet continues to grow, with a January 2011 christening planned for the company’s third ship, Disney Dream. Though the ship’s size is impressive — 14 decks, 1,250 staterooms, and capacity to carry 4,000 passengers — the feature that will likely draw the most attention from kids and adults is the AquaDuck.
This isn’t a video of Donald doing a back flip into a tiny pool. It’s a water coaster that’s longer than two and a half football fields, which twists and turns up, down and around four decks of the ship—even over the side and through the funnel.
Other attractions on the Disney Dream will include:
For more information about the new ship, and booking opportunities, talk to a AAA travel agent at your local branch office.
Traveling smart means being prepared for both obvious challenges and unexpected situations. Review these tips before your next trip.
During your trip:
It’s time for baseball fans to start dusting off those mitts, donning their favorite team’s cap and putting on that foam finger. The 2010 baseball season is just around the corner, and there is no better way to get ready than to catch some games — and some rays — in Arizona or Florida for spring training.
Any baseball fan who’s gone to spring training will tell you it’s a marvelous experience. For starters, it’s a great way to see your favorite teams and players in a much smaller and cozier setting. Spring training ballparks are about one-sixth the size of their regular-season counterparts. If you are going to a game, here’s an insider tip: stay around afterwards. Some teams conduct batting and field practice after the game and it’s a great time to watch the veterans and prospects alike. One nice thing about spring training is that players are often more relaxed and approachable for autographs, or even a brief conversation. An additional opportunity to see your favorite player without the big crowds is when the teams work out in the morning — these sessions are usually free and open to the public.
Spring training runs from March 3 to April 2, 2010. While it’s recommended that you book early, at this time of year there may still be some great travel packages to the spring training exhibition games for the Cactus League in Arizona and the Grapefruit League in Florida. Contact your travel agent for details: visit www.AAA.com/travel or talk to an agent at your local branch office. This is a great way for fans to get up-close and personal access to the game.
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