Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Hit the slopes in Beavercreek where every generation of your family will have a grand time.

Kids reign supreme in this Rocky Mountain resort where plenty of ski-in, ski-out lodging simplifies the ground game. 

Consider the Osprey where the closest chair is a mere 26 paces from the door. The popular ski-school offers programs for kids of all ages.  A magic carpet and junior-sized gondola make it easy for newbies to practice their skills on the slopes. New this year is Ski Girls Rock, inspired by Olympian Lindsey Vonn and designed to instill confidence in girls seven to 16 through sports. 

Apres-ski, access family-friendly music, complimentary warm chocolate chip cookies and the chance to take a few spins around the Village ice skating rink. Don't miss the Buckaroo Bonanza Bunch, a children’s theater story time at The Ranch. This complimentary, fun, and Wild West-themed theater group puts on a quick-paced show ideal for ages 3-6.

Contact: www.Beavercreek.com

Early steps in retirement planning pay big benefits later

You may feel like retirement is a long, long, long time away. Too many people put off making decisions about how they will spend their money and  their financial future. Even if you are fresh out of high school, you can start making plans for what matters to you - travel, exploration and your retirement.  If you want your money to be there when you need it - for family vacations, a healthy retirement or pursuing new interests, you must plan ahead.

 

Nearly two decades ago, I wrote a column called KidStuff for a national restaurant magazine. While more dining establishments were beginning to create children's menus, parents could rarely expect more than mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and fries. 

Thankfully, the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) “What’s Hot?” survey of more than 1,800 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – reveals that children’s nutrition and local sourcing will continue to be among the hottest trends on restaurant menus. Healthy dining options for our youngest generation actually garners three spots on the list of trends for the year:

Top menu trends include:
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood 
2. Locally grown produce 
3. Healthful kids' meals 
4. Environmental sustainability as a culinary theme 
5. Children's nutrition as a culinary theme 
6. New cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, teres major) 
7. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens) 
8. Gluten-free cuisine 
9. Sustainable seafood 
10. Whole grain items in kids' meals

Whether you are on your family vacation or out in your home town, here's to happy, healthy dining  ahead!

I don’t know why knowledge of this problem eluded me for so long. But I distinctly remember the moment, more than a decade ago, when it came front and center.

You might think I was deep in the African bush.

water.org family travel.com

I was sitting in a coffee shop in Bozeman, Mt. when a young man shared with me his passion for raising money to help others have access to safe and clean water. 

“Water?"I recall asking. I’d helped raise money for food, clothes, schools, books  and medicine in the past. 

But water? Truthfully, I am embarrassed to admit I hadn’t really thought about it. 

And, you know how when you learn a new word, suddenly that letter combo seems to pop up everywhere? Well that is how it was for water

In short order I learned that more than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world – in places like Haiti. 

And that lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours. 

Now I can hardly fathom that of the 60 million people added to the world's towns and cities every year, most move to informal settlements (i.e. slums) with no sanitation facilities. And women and girls spend the most time collecting water.

In today’s world, how is it possible that 780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people. 

I now understand that the water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. 

The next time you take a shower consider that an American taking a five-minute rinse-off uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day. 

Then consider that 2.5 times more people lack water than live in the United States.

And what does this say about our culture?

More people have a mobile phone than a toilet. 

So recently I raised some money for Water.org. (co-founded by Matt Damon) And you can too. 

Even if it is only ….one drop at a time.

PS: And if this water crisis was not on your radar before, just know, that now you are in the global loop when it comes to this five letter word. 

Ready to relax? Maybe unplug?

Visit this laid back, but luxurious, family-owned resort in Antigua for an all-inclusive experience that includes extensive water sports including water skiing, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, paddle-boating, tennis, yoga,  and sailing.

As the kids burn off energy after another delicious meal, relax in a hammock you’ll find tucked within the palm trees. Spend an afternoon at the spa where open air massages provide a perfect end to a sports-filled day. 

Considering a family cruise?

Here are ten tips to consider:

1) Know your cruise specialist:

According to a report from the

Cruise Lines International Association, 68 percent of cruise vacations

are booked through travel agents.

When researching a travel agent to book your cruise , make sure they are knowledgeable about the

cruise lines and destinations and have access to the best pricing and promotional offers such as onboard cash, spa treatments and reduced

deposits. Make sure your specialist is the right fit for you and your

vacation needs! 

Royal Caribbean

2) Book your cruise early:

The saying "the early bird catches the

worm" certainly applies to booking cruises. Booking early will provide

you with benefits such as more stateroom choices, dining options, special perks and

lower prices.

3) Be cautious about last minute deals:

While the prices may be lower with last minute deals, the room selections are not prime. You must also

remember that airfare is not included in the price of the vacation and

booking last minute airfare can be costly.

4) Carefully review the itinerary:

 If an itinerary doesn't address your needs, it may not be the right cruise for you. For example, if

someone wants to spend more time relaxing onboard, the itinerary should

include more sea days than ports-of-call. To maximize your experience in

every port, each stop should last a minimum of eight to ten hours.

5) Research the identification needed for each country:

While a passport is always needed, visa requirements may be tricky. Some countries require visas, but

others do not. To check visa requirements,

visit www.usvisaconnection.com.

6) Understand what is not included with the cruise:

When booking a family trip that includes a cruise,

vacation goers must pay the government fees. Remember to take

the price of tipping, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, kid’s activities and shore

excursions into consideration, as they are often not included in the

overall price.

7) Be comfortable with your accommodations:

Make sure to research all of the stateroom options before making your ultimate selection.

Accommodation choices on ships include an interior room, which has no

window or natural light, an oceanview room, which has one large window

that cannot be opened, a balcony room, regular suites and a penthouse

suite. Ask about rooms that are best suited for families.

It is also important to know that the cheapest and most expensive options typically sell out first.

8) Get to know your cruise line choices:

Choosing the wrong cruise line for your family vacation is a common mistake.

Sometimes, consumers will make a decision based on their familiarity of the name without investigating the type of people that typically take vacations on that particular line.

For example, some cruise lines cater more towards families with plenty of great programming that will interest your clan, while others cater to seniors or a younger demographic. Make sure you make the right

choice for your vacation needs, suggests Geraldine Ree, Senior Vice

President of Sales and Marketing for Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

9) Take time to see the city you embark and disembark from.

When booking a cruise, people make the mistake of arriving in the city a few hours before the ship sets sail and

making flight arrangements to leave as soon as the ship docks. The embarkation and disembarkation cities are

an important part of the vacation experience and it is worthwhile for you to arrive a day before the cruise leaves

and stay for an extra day after the cruise docks. Your cruise specialist can help you plan your

sightseeing activities.

10) You don't always need the ocean for a cruise:

Consumers can book a cruise to almost any place where there is a body of water. As a matter

of fact, river cruises continue to gain in popularity as the smaller ships offer a more intimate cruising experience.

Popular destinations for river cruises include Danube (Austria),

Rhine (Germany), France and Russia.

022012-salem-carousel

What’s not to love about a carousel? For many of us, the mere throught of hopping aboard a painted horse or other fanciful creature brings a smile to our faces. For a charming mix of music, whimsy and history, here are five to consider: 

Salem, Oregon.

Located in the city’s 23-acre riverfront park, this vintage-style carousel was lovingly created as a community project. Dozens of locals families worked to prepare the site, even carve and hand paint the horses.  With old-fashioned organ music as the backdrop, families now enjoy seasonal celebrations including breakfast with Santa. The gift shop offers handcrafted ornaments, books and gifts to providing continuing support for the community treasure. Contact: www.salemcarousel.org.  

North Tonawanda, NY.

Visit the one-of-a-kind Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, housed in the original factory building where you can ride two antique carousels and delve into their history. The largest of the pair is 40 feet in diameter, with hundreds of lights and 36 hand carved horses, some dating to the late 1890s. Rotating at 6.5 revolutions per minute, the carousel was originally intended as a thrill ride for adults. The “kiddie carousel” in the Children’s Gallery was created in the 1940s for the junior set to ride without the help of adults. It has been completely restored. Ask about carving and restoration demonstrations and other family events scheduled throughout the year. Contact: www.carrouselmuseum.org 

Indianapolis, IN.

The centerpiece of the permanent exhibit called Carousel Wishes and Dreams is one of the three oldest surviving Dentzel menagerie carousels in the world.  This revolving gem was originally installed in 1917 at the Broad Ripple Park. After the building in which it was housed collapsed, the animals were salvaged, restored and eventually lowered through the roof to its new home on the fourth floor of the expansive Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  Contact: www.childrensmuseum.org/carousel 

Westerly, Rhode Island.

Built
in 1876 and a National Historic Landmark, families can climb aboard what many believe to be the oldest flying horse
carousel in the country. Once part of a traveling carnival, the charming carousel in Watch Hill features hand-carved horses suspended from chains. Thus, as the speed increases they seem to “fly”.  Each horse has a leather saddle and a tail and mane crafted from real horse hair. Revelers
can reach for the brass ring near the end of the ride. If you are lucky enough to grab it, you’ll win a
token for a free ride.

Contact:  www.visitrhodeisland.com/what-to-do/amusements/458/flying-horse-merry-go-round/  

Santa Ana, California.

Kids learn about environmental conservation and preservation when they climb about this eco-minded carousel at the Santa Ana Zoo. Rather than hand-carved horses, the Conservation Carousel is comprised of endangered species. After circling aboard this unique ride, kids receive a collectible educational card with information about at risk creatures. The zoo, founded in 1952, is located on a 20-acre urban oasis. A request from its original benefactor means you will find 50 monkeys in residence at all times. Contact:  www.SantaAnaZoo.com.

Do you have a favorite carousel? 

Does your family have a bucket list?

Before you get busy creating a list of destinations, consider these questions first.

Movie magic and travel combine for family fun in Virginia with  The Lincoln Movie Trail.

“LINCOLN,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, was shot in its entirety in Virginia at sites in Richmond and Petersburg. 

The state tourism office has created a self-guided trail and interactive Web site to help your family’s movie and history buffs visit the actual film locations as well as restaurants, bars and shops that were favorites of the stars and crew.

The trail experience includes special “LINCOLN” movie tours by Segway, trolley and guided walking tours.You can also stay at The Jefferson Hotel and dine at the same restaurants as the “LINCOLN” stars. 

Visit www.Virginia.org/LINCOLN to learn more about The Lincoln Movie trail. 

At the turn of the century, America's wild bison - which at one time numbered 60 million - had dwindled to about two dozen animals. Strong, sturdy and resilient, they’ve made a comeback, thanks to public and private conservation efforts.

On the range, in refuges and national parks, this symbol of our wildlife heritage is magnificent to observe. Despite their seemingly docile ways, don’t ignore ranger warnings. This large, grass-eating creature has been known to charge the too close for comfort curious tourist.

Snap a shot of this American icon – with a zoom lens:

1.Wildlife Expeditions, an educational outreach program of Teton Science Schools, a nonprofit organization, provides year-round wildlife viewing and natural history interpretation to those interested in a close-up, ethical view of Greater Yellowstone’s wild animals in their natural habitat. Experienced biologists use their knowledge and skills to locate bison as well as elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, and coyotes amongst the towering Teton Mountains.

Contact: 1 (888) 945-3567; www.wildlifeexpeditions.org

2. The National Bison Range, 40 miles north of Missoula, MT, sprawls across 18,000 acres on one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the nation. Established in 1908, it is a scenic home to hundreds of bison as well as 200 species of birds and other native wildlife.

Contact:1( 406)644-2211; http://bisonrange.fws.gov.

3. Yellowstone National Park is home to approximately 3,500 bison, many the descendants of the few who survived near-extinction. Weighing up to 2,000 pounds, you’ll likely spot them in the Lamar and Hayden Valleys. Also, be on the look out near Pelican Valley, the Lower Geyser Basin and in Gibbon Meadows.

Contact: Yellowstone National Park; 1 (307) 344-7381; www.nps.gov/yell.

4. Terry Bison Ranch, Cheyenne, WY: This family friendly ranch offers bison viewing year round in an environment dubbed “the west the way you want it” by its owners. A popular reunion spot, families can spread out into eight cabins, 17 bunkhouse rooms, as well as RV sites on the 27,000 acre spread. Home to nearly 3000 bison, the ranch also features train rides, horseback riding, a restaurant and a Trading Post.

Contact: (307) 634-4171; http://www.terrybisonranch.com.

5. Established in 1901, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, in Indiahoma, OK, maintains a bison herd of approximately 600 animals. The 59,020 acre Refuge provides habitat for additional large native grazing animals, including Rocky Mountain elk, and white-tailed deer. Texas longhorn cattle also share the Refuge rangelands as a cultural and historical legacy species. More than 50 mammal, 240 bird, 64 reptile and amphibian, 36 fish, and 806 plant species thrive on this important refuge.

Contact: 1 (580) 429-3222; www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/oklahoma/wichitamountains/refhist.html;

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