Archive for March, 2013

Photography by Getty Images

The 72nd annual Daytona Bike Week kicks off today. This granddaddy of all things motorcycles, billed as the “World’s Largest Motorcycle Event,” will see roughly 500,000 leather-clad bikers and babes descend on Daytona Beach, FL, over the next 10 days. If the open road is in your blood, you’ll want to join the crowds in Daytona over the coming week — here are some of the must-see events to check out.

Daytona Supercross by Honda: Saturday, March 9
The Toughest Course on the Circuit!
Will Chad Reed or Davi Millsaps unseat last year’s winner, James Stewart? Daytona International Speedway has been home to the longest continuous Supercross event in America since 1971. Every year, during Bike Week, a supercross track is constructed between the pit road and tri-oval section of the speedway track. Steep jumps and obstacles await riders as they tackle a terrain that historically has used more sand than dirt. Since 2008, racing champion Ricky Carmichael has designed the track configurations, and he returns this year as designer in what is the circuit’s most challenging event. A perk for fans: The starting gate will remain on pit road, offering a great view of the first turn.

Daytona 200: Saturday, March 16
Will Elena Myers Win Again?
History may be made at Daytona 200, the 200-mile motorcycle race held at Daytona International Speedway. Last year, 19-year-old Daytona champion Elena Myers, of Mountain View, CA, became the first woman to win a professional event at Daytona International Speedway after winning in the second round of an AMA Pro Racing spring road race. This year, Myers is eying another historic win in Daytona 200 as she rides for sponsor Sturgess Cycle Triumph.

Ormond Beach: Music Happenings
From a CCR Tribute Band to an 11-Year-Old Rocker
One of the epicenters of Bike Week action is of course, Daytona Beach’s northern neighbor, Ormond Beach. You’ll find plenty of hard, white sand, some stretches of which bikers can drive on. But the real draw here will be venues such as Iron Horse Saloon, where country band Confederate Railroad will sing their popular anthem “Trashy Women” (no comment). Fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival can check out a CCR tribute band at the Broken Spoke Saloon; plus, head to Beaver Bar where an 11-year-old rock singer, Brooks Paul, from North Carolina will rip it up with vicious renditions of AC/DC, Gus N’ Roses and more hard rock hits. Check out this great roundup of other Ormond Beach Bike Week highlights.


Main Street, Second Avenue and More
As we speak, hundreds of bikers are rumbling through Main Street in Daytona, FL – check out the Main Street attractions. For a quieter slice of Bike Week, head to Second Avenue, the historic African-American business district that established itself out of necessity – back in 1949, Daytona Bike Week was segregated, forcing African-American motorcycle enthusiasts to find this more hospitable stretch of town to socialize and park their bikes. (Learn the story of Daytona’s Second Avenue.)

For more on Daytona Bike Week (including this Hooters Bikini Contest … we had to mention it), check out the Official Bike Week website.

Plus, check out this Info Source for Bike Week 2013.


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Our favorite moments from Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Pics from America’s best motorcycle rallies.

Photography by Hilton Waikoloa Village

Go ahead, take the kids to paradise. There is no possible way that they’ll get bored at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii’s Big Island. More »

Belize

Belize, a small country in Central America that shares a border with Mexico and Guatemala, is known for its lush rainforests and Mayan ruins. But it’s most famous for its snorkeling and scuba diving, which are among the best in the world: The barrier reef off shore is second only to the Great Barrier Reef off Australia, and visitors can see turtles (both green and leatherback), nurse sharks, stingrays, and a variety of tropical fish. Divers swarm the Blue Hole, a large sinkhole. The waters are clear and warm, but as in other reef destinations, the beaches are manmade; the reef prevents the breaking waves that create natural sand, and the seaweed can make swimming close to shore difficult.

Most tourists head to the Northern Cayes and Atolls, a string of small islands along the reef, where visitors will be a short boat ride away from world-class snorkeling and scuba diving. The Grand Caribe is a luxe family-friendly option in the area. Decor is high-end, and includes Brazilian tile floors, mahogany wood, and granite countertops. Plus, all units have private terraces with pretty pool or ocean views.

The inland Cayo District is the second most visited area, and home to beautiful countryside, lush rainforests, and perhaps the most impressive Mayan ruins in the country. When Prince Harry visited the area last year, he stayed at the rustic luxe Lodge at Chaa Creek. This eco-lodge sits on a private rainforest reserve, and myriad tours and outdoor activities are offered through the hotel. The more affordable Pook’s Hill also sits on a reserve, and offers on-site river tubing and bird watching.

- Oyster.com Staff

 

Photography by Getty Images

Small Swiss Army knives, yes. Box cutters, still no.

Do the TSA’s new rules make perfect sense? Or are they total nonsense?

That’s the big question of the hour. In a move praised by some (Swiss Army knife enthusiasts) and derided by others (9/11 families), the Transportation Safety Agency announced this week that pocketknives will now be permitted on planes, effective Monday, April 25. TSA Administrator John Pistole outlined the new rules on Tuesday, stating that passengers will now be able to carry blades less than 2.36 inches long.

(Great visuals of TSA’s list of approved/banned carry-ons can be found here and here.)

When it comes to knives, why 2.36 inches — why not 2.5 … or 3? That question, among others, led the new TSA rules to win a vote of “confidence” from New Yorker funnyman Andy Borowitz, courtesy of his “National Arbitrariness Association”: “We love that the list appears to have been put together with no organizing principle or logical system. It combines the virtues of making no sense and being impossible to remember. Knives, bats, golf clubs, billiard cues — it’s like they made this list using refrigerator-poetry magnets.”

Not so fast, says TSA. On the contrary, the new rules to permit these items as carry-ons “was made as part of TSA’s overall risk-based security approach and aligns TSA with international standards.” Plus, in light of locked cockpit doors and with pilots now instructed to stay behind those doors if trouble arises, it’s unlikely, the argument goes, that someone will successfully hijack a plane with a small Swiss Army knife … or lacrosse sticks … or hockey sticks … or golf clubs (limit 2) — provided they’re under 24 inches in length.

Are the new TSA rules too much, too soon after 9/11? Some victims’ families think so: “What’s the difference between a pocketknife and a box cutter, for crying out loud?” asks David Beamer, whose son Todd was among the passengers who led the Flight 93 revolt. ‘’I cannot see the upside to this.”

(Sidenote: Box-cutters are still banned, because as TSA’s Pistole puts it: “… there’s just too much emotion associated with particularly the box cutters, so those will not be allowed.”)

Is there an upside to TSA’s new rules? If there is one, it may be as simple as convenience, especially for passengers avoiding the hassle of their pricey merchandise having to be turned in before they board. The TSA confiscates thousands of pocketknives each year, as well as expensive items like golf clubs, and gives them to states to sell off as surplus property.

What do you think – is this latest move a good thing? Or not?

If you travel, you’ve got an opinion, so leave your comments below.

Photo credit: JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

Dubai is home to an impressive list of record-setting attractions, including the world’s largest mall, man-made island, amusement park, indoor ski resort and flower garden … just to name a few! Last Wednesday, Dubai got to officially add the world’s tallest hotel to its list of superlative feats when the new JW Marriott Marquis Dubai opened.

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It’s your last chance to vote for the 2013 Best Beach Awards; the polls close at midnight! So go ahead and cast your vote for the best overall beach.

Best Overall Beach

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman: “Seven Mile Beach aka West Bay Beach has been called one of the finest beaches in the Caribbean. This wonderful white-sand beach stretches from George Town to Long Point.”

Miami Beach, Florida: “Miami has something for everyone: A plethora of shopping at Lincoln Road Mall, legendary nightlife along Ocean Drive and crystal clear waters unparalleled on the east coast.”

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: “The Dominican Republic is also an outdoor adventurer’s paradise, home to white-water rafting on the Yaque del Norte River, paragliding from Alto del Guayabo mountain and horseback riding along Punta Cana’s white-sand beaches.”

Matira Beach, Bora Bora, Tahiti: “Bora Bora is one of the magical islands that make up French Polynesia in the South Pacific. Just 18 miles long, this lush little slipper of land lies in a protected lagoon edged by fine white sandy shores — the best located at Matira Point.”

And don’t forget to check out the full list of 2013 nominees. All of the winners will be revealed during Travel Channel’s Beach Weekend, this Saturday and Sunday.

Tonight at 9|8c, Don Wildman scours the country in search of artifacts that reveal some of America’s most bizarre, confounding and often shocking mysteries.

Visit Washington, DC’s Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to see the taxidermied body of one of the first mammals to survive a trip to space. If you’re in New Orleans, stop by the National Museum of the American cocktail to learn about all the terrifying myths that surround the beverage known as the “Green Fairy:” absinthe. Then, journey to Missouri to see a stack of manuscripts supposedly dictated to a St. Louis housewife from beyond the grave. Watch tonight’s episode and then let us know, do you think Patience Worth was real?

Plus, Don examines the strange circumstances surrounding the death of the legendary Grace Kelly, gets a look at the rusty bike ridden by kidnapper “Bicycle Pete,” and finds the desperate diary written by a man who crash-landed on the island of Papua New Guinea during World War II.

Check out all the museums visited in tonight’s episode, and get ready with exclusive behind-the-scenes photos.

Photography by Getty Images

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Cherry Blossom Festival

Denver’s Cherry Creek Neighborhood; Photography by Rich Grant

Hard to imagine now, as a winter storm swept through the DC area, but in just a few weeks the nation’s capital will be abloom with hundreds of cherry blossoms. Yes, that’s right: The National Cherry Blossom Festival is right around the corner – with the official dates of peak blooming time announced this week by the National Park Service. So mark your calendars — blooms are predicted to peak March 26-30.

The annual event typically attracts 1.5 million visitors a year, with 2013 now ushering in the festival’s 101st year. If you can’t make it to DC, you still have plenty of options for viewing cherry blossoms nationwide. Did you know that Philadelphia is home to its own impressive display of cherry blossoms, which were planted a few years after World War I? From the East to the West Coast, check out the top cherry blossom festivals to enjoy beyond Washington, DC this spring.

EAST COAST

Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Late March
Beginning in late March, a 5-week display of hundreds of blooming cherry trees unfolds at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The garden is home to more than 200 cherry trees from 42 Asian species and cultivated varieties, making it one of the top cherry-viewing sites outside of Japan. The first cherries were planted at BBG after World War I, as a gift from the Japanese government.

Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival (Philadelphia)
April 1-26
This annual spring festival in Philadelphia commemorates a 1926 gift of 1,600 flowering trees to the city of Philadelphia by Japan as a goodwill gesture. The festival showcases more than 45 events — the largest event is “Sakura Sunday,” held at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park. Among the day’s highlights include a chance to meet visitors from Japan and watch a tree-planting ceremony.

THE SOUTH

Macon Georgia’s International Cherry Blossom Festival
March 15-24
Organizers call this the pinkest party on earth – and they’re not kidding. Macon is known as the “cherry blossom capital of the world,” with 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees that bloom around town beginning in late March. The annual event began 31 years ago, following a nearly decade-long collaboration between a local realtor and area resident to plant the trees around town. By 1982, the trees were such a fixture of the city that the annual event was born.

Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival
March 23
Thought Nashville was all about the Grand Ole Opry? Think again. Since 2009, this annual festival has celebrated the arrival of spring, as well as the friendship between Japan and the United States. The festival was envisioned by the first consul general of Japan in Nashville, Hiroshi Sato, who proposed planting 100 cherry trees each year, over a 10-year period, throughout Nashville.

THE WEST

Cherry Blossom Denver Festival
June 22-23
Head to Denver for Colorado’s celebration of Japanese-American culture. In the spring, Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood comes alive with the blossoms of hundreds of cherry trees. (The first Japanese cherry trees were actually planted in Denver in 1937; however, the trees were subsequently destroyed following the outbreak of World War II. In the decades to follow, the local Soka Gakkai International-USA Buddhist center recommitted to planting cherry blossom trees.) Now in its 41st year, Japanese culture and heritage are showcased in this free, annual event, with dance, taiko drums and martial arts featured on an outdoor stage near the Denver Buddhist Temple.

WEST COAST

Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival (San Francisco)
April 13-14, 20-21
This annual festival — the second largest festival outside of Washington, DC – attracts an annual crowd of more than 200,000 people to celebrate the blooming of cherry blossoms in Northern California. The annual festival first took place in April 1967. The tradition has continued ever since, with festivities spanning 2 weekends. During this time, the streets of San Francisco’s Japantown showcase Japanese dancing, singing, martial arts demonstrations and more.

Also Check Out:

At the end of March, local residents give free tours of Tokyo’s cherry blossoms.

Get an up-close look of Washington, DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Photography by Rancho Valencia Resort

The score is Love-Love at the Rancho Valencia Resort in Santa Fe, especially if your idea of a relaxing getaway includes a heart-pumping game or two of tennis with your significant other. More »

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