Craft beer and chopping wood with a maul

splitting logs
Logs that were split, for the most part.

There’s so much good beer around the world but sometimes the best is right around the corner.

A local brewery is often a nice little treasure. You can stop at their pub and have a oh-so-fresh treat.

I stopped at a local pub recently and had a random discussion about beer a week or so ago. That prompted me to try and write something on this blog again.

I’ll provide an anecdote, some history, and some random facts.

Splitting wood leads to beer discussion

After a tree fell a couple months ago, I was able to use the lawnmower to pull the log in the backyard near the shed — out of the way — where it’s been sitting.

With winter coming, I figured I’d get it cut into pieces that fit the fireplace. I tried cutting it with a small hacksaw, but I realized I needed a handsaw to do the job right, which explains why I got nowhere fast. Oh well.

I looked into buying and using a splitting maul on the logs a week or so ago; instead, I put up a local ad and paid somebody to do the work.

As the wood chopper chopped the wood, there was discussion about, you guessed it, beer.

I’m not sure how the discussion started, but the chopper listed a few of tips and tricks for keeping commercial beer cold if there’s no cooler.

Example: Get a bag of ice, put a small starter hole in the ice, and shove the beer in. Not a bad idea, I guess.

A little research

I had know idea how long beer has been around, but it dates back to at least 3000 BCE, according to various sources on the Internet — so it must be true, eh?

Essentially, there are two types of beer: Ale and lager.

Ale is made with top fermenting yeasts, and lagers are made with bottom fermenting yeasts.

There are lots of different styles of beer. Some common ones include India Pale Ales (IPA) and stouts.

Well-known people

History has a lot of beer references.

I’m sure you’ve seen the quote, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Internet research indicates that’s a misquote from Benjamin Franklin.

According to Freakonomics, the inventor and founding father of the US wrote in an undated letter to French writer Abbe Morellet, “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!”

I did not know that the White House has its own brewing recipe.

And it turns out that more Internet research indicates that former Presidents Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and James Madison were beer brewers.

I know Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the U.S., ended prohibition in 1933 — after 13 years.

It was not until Jimmy Carter legalized home brewing in 1978 that craft brewers could do there thing.

Nowadays, craft brewing is huge and I’ve looked into it because a buddy of mine has a beer making kit.┬áHe does it in the shop, but I’ve seen people do it in their basements and bathtubs.

It’s amazing how the smallest changes in ingredients can have a massive impact in the final product.

The main ingredients are water, grain, hops, yeast.

Water accounts for up to 95 percent. Grain provides the color, flavor, maltose, proteins, and dextrins in beer. Hops provide the bitterness, flavor, aroma, and stability. Yeast is either ale yeast or lager yeast.

3 Ways to Spot a Tourist

Edit: This is an older post that was republished because of the Fourth of July weekend on us. This article was original posted around Labor Day in 2014, but the info is still good for holiday weekends.

I meant to post this before Labor Day but my site did not get launched before then. Oh, well. The information still stands — especially anytime a 3 day weekend occurs. Let’s dig into what it means when Labor Day arrives and how it impacts tourist cities.

Labor Day is the end of summer. But those states who boast eternal sunshine it means that tourism will pick up due to the snowbirds traveling south. Aside from the RV, how can you spot a tourist?

We’ll look at a few ways to stay alert and keep an eagle eye to avoid those crafty tourist invading the beaches and roadways. It is important to note that touism does form a strong econimic background in many local economies. How else are we going to sell those goofy shirts that say, “My parents went to Florida and only brought me back this stupid shirt.”

On the road

Let’s say you are cruising down highway 49. You notice an SUV speeding past you. It has kids and dogs hanging out the window, basking in the deafening sound of road noise.

You can see the beach balls and lawnchairs strapped to the roof. You also see them pass an exit and see the SUV’s brake lights, hear the noise of screeching tires, and see the vehicle cut across traffic to the shoulder. The driver starts backing up.

Yep, you just spotted a tourist.

On the boardwalk

Locals don’t wear the cartoon character clothing that tourists wear. Consider this man and woman walking down the boardwalk.

The man has a a pot-belly that peeks out of his “I’m in Florida” tee-shirt and has on neon Bermuda shorts.

He asks in a loud, obnoxious tone, ‘scuse me, I’m visiting here with my wife. What’s good eating around here?’

Yep, you just encountered a tourist.

The camera

Let’s say you are still walking down the boardwalk. You know there are a lot of characters, doing tricks and showing off. Like muscle guys. Like Kassem G and his interviews. Those are places you’ll find people with their camera and taking photos.

And that’s the nature of tourism, along with dealing with people who are outside most folks’ norms. But what separates the goofy tourist is the camera poised and taking pictures of pigeon poop.

You’ve seen them. Their zooming in and taking a macro shot of sea gull doo-doo. God knows what for. Actually, I think I know, and I can just see a conversation with a tourist who left his parents at home: “Look Ma, those pigeons poo everywhere. See how dirty it is in California! I’m so glad you did not go with us and be subjected to it!”

More scenarios

I’m sure you’ve encounted these situtations before. It’s important that you laugh at them and find beauty in them. Tourists will always be a part of the economy, dumping money (and garabage) into it. It’s the nature of the beast.

Also, if you are going to Florida, the first example is not good. Florida natives drive like this anyway. I think their motto is signal right and turn left.

Tips for traveling with a longboard or skateboard


This post is written by my nephew, Jeff, who flew out to Venice Beach, California, with his dad a few weeks ago.

Jeff brought his skateboard to Venice Beach and explains about preparing for the trip.

I gave him the reigns to post on the blog because it’s been ages since I’ve written on here and want to get this thing active again. Without further babbling, I introduce Jeff …

Hey guys! I’m Jeff. And get a load of this: I just made this wicked cool trip out to Cali for a week and a half with my dad. Dad had to work, and I got some time to hang around Venice Beach to do some skating. That place is wicked crazy! Before I write about the trip I said I’d write a few tips about traveling with a deck for my uncle’s blog.

Traveling by plane

I read this was pretty straightforward to take your deck by plane. Just bring your longboard or skateboard with you. However, if the gate agent won’t let you board with it, check it at the gate (it may be free or done at a reduced rate.)

It’s important to keep in mind that the lowest fare you find online may not be the cheapest overall, especially when it comes to hidden baggage fees. Before booking anything, look at the checked bag and carry-on policy so you don’t get socked with more than what you bargained for.

If you can take your skateboard as carry on, make sure you check that it fits weight restrictions and all measurements before you get near the plane.

If you can’t, pack it as checked-in luggage. Make sure you take the wheels and trucks off the longboard to avoid damage. You may want to wrap them in bubble wrap or your clothing to avoid damage.

That said, here’s what I did. I used Southwest, which gave me two checked bags that didn’t cost me anything.

Traveling by train

I’ve taken bikes by train before and it was sick, without costing me extra.

I took the wheels off and minimized it into a travel case and brought it with me. If you are traveling with your deck, you would not even need to take apart trucks, wheels, or bearings off the longboard.

Traveling by car

A small car is definitely not the way to travel if you are taking an extended trip with your buddies.

I’ve traveled this way 1 time before and it sucked. Three of us rode in a Pontiac Grand Prix for 1,000 miles, with our skateboards in the trunk and gear on one side of the backseat.

A van would have been the way to go.

Tips for traveling

There are a couple good bags out there that will fit a good longboard deck, including helmet, leather, clothes, and toiletries.

I’m a big fan on packing light and buying stuff on the road. Example, some people like to pack longboard bearings, wheels, and trucks in case theirs wear out. To me, it’s easier to purchase on the road.

I have read that some people tote skate stuff in golf bags, which don’t accrue oversize bag charges by an airline.

Travel with like minds. Not everybody wants to test out their new downhill longboard wheels on winding mountain road — some want to break out their skateboard at the park. Make sure you find a group of people with similar interests.

Also, make sure your crew-mates are OK with travel arrangements. Do you guys want to camp out, stay in motels, or 5-star resorts?

It’s helpful if you have a good leader for your trip who is willing to take responsibility — someone who maps out a general game plan. Granted, the game plan will change but it’s better to have a good idea where the trip is going and when things do need to be changed, you’ll have somebody who is decisive.

When the trip is over, you’ll have a lot of great stories to tell.

7 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Staying in Hotels

Photo: Les Haines, CC-BY-2.0
Photo: Les Haines, CC-BY-2.0

Making your reservation for a hotel looks fairly simple, right? And many times it’s: Opt for a location, choose your schedules, and enter transaction information and bam! Happy trips!

Having said that, there are a few big mistakes you may be creating when it comes to hotel bookings. From making your reservations on the drastically wrong websites to forgetting to evaluate some important information and facts, these blunders could simply screw up your holiday. Keep reading to learn exactly what you must steer clear of when reserving that hotel.

1. Getting the best bedroom

I used to be not too long ago communicating with a front-desk adviser on how her hotel company sells rooms at check-in. Interested; I questioned what approach her employees uses to find out who takes the best-located rooms. She exposed this astonishing bit: People who book over the hotel web-site or are hotel trustworthiness members generally get very first dibs on room jobs, with the significantly better sights and less noisy locations.

2. Expecting all requests to be honored

Queen bed or a couple of doubles? Top floor or lower? Mountain landscapes? 3 single red MandMs? Check. Want it all. But not everything will be there. Trust me. But most places will try to accommodate as best as they can.

3. Planned arrival and departure schedules

On a vacation back many years ago, I spotted that my trip ended on May 14, and so I reserved my location hotel starting the evening of May 14. Novice blunder.

I entirely forgot to make sure that my airline flight arrived at the outset of the morning of the 15th. What this means is I had a high-priced (as well as nonrefundable) room that I didn’t need. If owning the absolute best room is important to joyful travel, then reserve specifically through the hotel’s site. When those cheap, affordable OTA rates can’t beat-we understand the feeling-you can invariably make a demand for a specific form of room or spot.

4. Use credit

While reserving your hotel room, use a credit card. Credit cards provide incentives like air miles, free night visits or cash-back bonus deals. They also provide particular warranties that an atm card and hard cash don’t (for example fraudulence safety or instant reimbursements for mischarges).

5. Bookings the wrong hotel

Vacationers, be warned: A deceptive hotel brand or place explanation may lead you to reserve an airport terminal hotel once you believe you are having proudly located lodging.

You’d be shocked how frequently vacationers view the brand of the hotel and book it swiftly without verifying to ascertain if it’s based in the correct place.

In the end, a number of hotels may get in touch with themselves “located close to the heart of down-town,” although a simple map check will tell you how far it really is.

6. Goofy, outrageous charges

Back into April, conducive publisher Edward Perkins documented just about the most crazy hotel charges we’d noticed yet.

In a resort in Denver Colorado, the first rate $170 room was unnaturally blown up with a $35 washing fee, a $40 vacation resort fee, a new $10 pool-and-spa charge, plus a $5.12 handling fee. That hurts.

You might be in a position to battle some fees, for example house cleaning or magazine arrival, if you do not need to get yourself of this kind of services. Some others, such as holiday resort charges, are obligatory, which means you have to bill for the extra cost once you book that resort.

Accommodations are hoped for to show vacation resort fees certainly, yet OTAs won’t and rather include hazy expressions like “additional rates may use.” Speak to the hotel and inquire point-blank about extra vacation resort rates before you decide to book.

7. Reserving at a bad time

Since many procrastinators will easily confess, holding out until the last second for making a departure date, can cost you a fortune. Hotel room prices can skyrocket in the nights before a certain day, and you can end up with no room if almost everything books up.

Spring Break Cruises for College Students

Photo credit: peddhapati
Photo credit: peddhapati

You’re ready for some time off after eight weeks of university courses. There’s no better way to spend your time off than on one of the many spring break cruises for college students. You’ll find sun, sand, and sea — and lots of fun! These trips cater to the young crowd, so you won’t find your funny-duddy parents there, just your peers. I would like to list three different companies and trips that will provide a memorable experience during your vacation away from school. They each range in price, from less than $200 up to $1200.

The most well-known spring break cruise for college students is from Bahama Sun. This is a luxury party cruise that departs Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and travels to the Bahamas every day during March and April.

Once on the island, you’ll spend five days at your leisure for scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, swimming with dolphins, hiking through underground caves at Lucayan National Park, along with playing casinos and being part of the bar nightlife.

This trip is less than $200, which makes it one of the best spring break cruises for college students. There is an additional fee for staying on the island resorts, though. (The company does have all-inclusive packages.)

And because you’re in Fort Lauderdale for return and departure, you won’t miss any of the traditional “off-school activities” during your vacation week.

To the Western Caribbean

Carnival offers an economical 4-day trip to the Western Caribbean during March and April. It leaves from Miami, which means that you can get some time out at sea but you could also hit-up the beaches in Florida where other school kids will be playing in the sun.

You would sail on the Carnival Imagine ship, which is like a small city. It has amenities that range from casinos to comedy clubs, from art galleries to bars.

But don’t expect to just stay on a ship for four days during these spring break cruises for college students. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to swim with dolphins, do some snorkeling, or just hang out on a sandy beach.

After leaving from Miami, you’ll have two ports of call — in Key West, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico.

What’s best is the price — at less than $250 dollars for the entire trip. This provides more money for more important items during your vacation time.

To the Panama Canal

Royal Caribbean offers trips to the Eastern and Western Caribbean, as well. But they also offer a trip to the Panama Canal during March and April that is suited as a spring break cruise for college students.

The Panama Canal is a link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and short-cuts more than 8000 miles between the two oceans. Despite being man-made, the canal offers splendid beauty, including Panama’s verdant shores and tropical rain forests — along with opportunities to take raft trips through Costa Rica’s jungles.

You would sail on the Vision of the Seas or Legend of the Seas. Both ships offer amenities such as live performances, flexible dining, and celebrations, which is what spring break cruises for college students is all about!

After leaving Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ports of call are Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Panama Canal (Cruising Canal); Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala City), Guatemala; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and San Diego, California.

This is a longer trip, at 15 days, and costs considerably more at less than $1200. It might be a challenge to take this trip because of the length, but it’s worth it if you can.

For all of these vacation trips, you will need to be older than 21 years old, and need appropriate documentation, including a passport, ID, and/or birth certificate for proof of US citizenship. Each may have additional stipulations, and it’s best to check out the details from the various companies.

Bon voyage!

You’re ready for some time off after eight weeks of university courses. There’s no better way to spend your time off than on one of the many spring break cruises for college students. You’ll find sun, sand, and sea — and lots of fun!