30 June 2010

U.S. Travel Abroad Declined Three Percent in 2009

News from the Office of Travel and tourism Industries today:

June 30, 2010

U.S. Travel Abroad Declined Three Percent in 2009

Spending Down 12 Percent from 2008

The overall U.S. outbound market totaled 61.5 million in 2009, down three percent compared to 2008. Travel to overseas regions declined two percent, while travel to Mexico and Canada declined four percent and seven percent, respectively.

The top five countries in 2009, measured by U.S. visitation, were: Mexico (19.5 million), Canada (11.7 million), the United Kingdom (2.7 million), France (1.9 million) and Italy (1.8 million).

In 2009, U.S. travelers set records for travel to the regions of Central America, Africa and the Middle East, and to the countries of Greece, Dominican Republic, Israel and India.

Spending by U.S. residents traveling abroad (imports) totaled $99.2 billion, down 12 percent from 2008. Spending within foreign countries (travel payments) amounted to $73.2 billion, down eight percent, and spending on air transportation, via foreign air carriers (passenger fare payments), totaled $26.0 billion in 2009, down 20 percent. Top countries for U.S. spending included Mexico ($9.6 billion), the United Kingdom ($7.8 billion), Canada ($6.2 billion), Japan ($4.8 billion) and Germany ($4.6 billion).


for more info, see:


28 June 2010

Summer Food Festivals, BBQ this time

This is my first BBQ food festival. Sure, I have attended other themed food festivals and the now scarce "Taste of (name your town) in the past. But our travels to Boston for a wedding opened up an opportunity to visit the Phantom BBQ Beach Party (http://bbq.phantomgourmet.com/SD/home.aspx).

We hit four of the seven champs and sampled their ribs or pulled pork. The weather was great, cloudy and even a light sprinkle. Why is this great? Well it kept the temperatures low so we didn't bake on the parking lot. No tents were available!

But the chow was tasty.

I was kind of partial to the Two Fat Guys "Q".

26 June 2010

We need more dog parks

Since Westfield is preparing a Outdoor Recreation and Open Space Plan, what better time to promote a dog park in the City. See http://www.dogparkusa.com/ for details about dog parks near you (in the States).

Biscuit is our dog and she is a great companion. She always give unconditional love, is generally well behaved and is a great lap dog. What more could you ask for?

Here's Biscuit chewing on a raw hide under the back porch table.

25 June 2010

Westfield Outdoor Recreation and Open Space Plan

seems the City is on a rush schedule to crank out the 5 year Outdoor Recreation and Open Space Plan. Well it is now a seven year plan, so it is even more important to get citizen input.

Sorry folks, no survey this time. A public forum was held last night and the 30 or so attendees are representing the interests of 40,000 residents.

What came out of forum? Seven goals that will direct all Outdoor Recreation and Open Space issues for the next 7 years in Westfield.

The goals (not in any order):

1. Protect water resources
2. Create large connected tracts of open space
3. Increase public access to open space resources
4. Identify, preserve and protect natural treasures and farmland
5. Balance growth with land management and protection
6. Resurrect, enhance and promote city's identity
7. Create connections of green corridors that encourage green transportation

What do you think? Email your comments to the Planning dept at larry.smith@cityofwestfield.org

22 June 2010

Summer Solstice (yesterday and northern hemisphere)

Got back too late to post this last night, but I spent the day with my sister yesterday and explored the glacial landscapes in Central Park. It was fun. For years I had read and watched video about the Pleistocene Ice Age and the impact on North America. So when the trip was decided to visit family in NYC and I was asked what do I want to do, I immediately thought about the glacial features in Central Park.

I "googled" the topic earlier (remember that is the Anticipation Phase of the Recreation Experience) and got psyched. Then we got to the park. It was hot but fortunately for us, the humidity was low (50%). Did I say it was hot?

18 June 2010

Fright Tourism and more with the Monster Bash

One week and counting to the annual Monster Bash (http://www.monsterbashnews.com/bash.html) in Butler PA. I haven't attended for a few year because of work responsibilities and such and I have a wedding that weekend. But if you are looking for a kid friendly event next weekend, head on over to the Days Inn in Butler.

Meet celebrities, watch old movies, and shop for monster collectibles and DVD's. What more could you want?

17 June 2010

Fright Tourism 3 and dark tourism photography

I subscribe to the Dark Tourism Forum so I get these emails all the time. Typically someone will highlight their most recent travel to some "dark" attraction or a student will ask for help on a research topic.

But a recent post identified a photographer's website and I thought I would share it here. Toby de Silva has a series of "horror houses" found at this link:

Since I am on this horror movie location theme, check out these houses made famous by horror films.

Too bad Toby didn't catch the "House on Haunted Hill" house. See this link for the status of this landmark: http://www.ennishouse.org/

16 June 2010

Fright Tourism 2 and the Monroeville Mall

For part two of Fright Tourism I want to share the experience of visiting a shopping mall. Not just any mall but the Monroeville Mall in Pennsylvania. I wasn't looking for a pair of shoes. I wanted to see the place for another famous zombie movie. (Notice how zombies are all the rage right now!).

Shot between 11 PM and Dawn, George Romero's second zombie movie was called "Dawn of the Dead" and was filmed in the Monroeville Mall.

So next time you are in Pittsburgh forget about the Duquesne Incline, the Carnegie Museums or Point State Park, head east on I 376 toward Monroeville and visit the Maul (get it).

If you take pictures, don't let the security catch you.

15 June 2010

Fright Tourism and Evans City PA

The opening scene, after the credits, in the Night of the Living Dead, was filmed in the cemetery in Evans City, PA. Next time you are in the area (north of Pittsburgh), stop on by and pay your respect. This video clip shows some of the key grave stones used in the flick.

Fright tourism, a term we coined in a paper published by the USDA-FS and found at this link
http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/9597 illustrates the tourist behavior when one seeks a frightful (and playful) experience. Finding this grave yard was a sort of pilgrimage to one of the greatest horror films of all time The Night of the Living Dead (1968) and directed by George Romero. I have the video, DVD and a 16 mm print of this film.

13 June 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway celebrates 75th

The Blue Ridge Parkway is 75 years old!

I think one of my earliest memories of the Blue Ridge Parkway (and Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park) was a road trip taken with my dad around 1970. We drove a portion of the road somewhere in Virginia and actually spent the night in some motel. We had a tradition of taking Sunday drives but this one was an over-nighter.

On this trip I remember stopping at one of the overlooks and saw a sign for the Appalachian Trail. I walked a few feet up the trail and read an information sign that identified this trail as one that was 2000 miles long and between Maine and Georgia. I think this was the defining moment that put the thought of hiking the AT into my brain. Some five years later in June 1975, I had hiked all 2000 miles.

Thanks Dad!

10 June 2010

Boundary Maintenance on AT

Yesterday I spent the day doing some Appalachian Trail corridor boundary maintenance. I worked with a team of 12 or so volunteers, staff and student interns from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. We broke up into 3 groups to clear the National Park Service boundaries in a section of the AT south of Cheshire Massachusetts.

The weather was cool and while it rained in the afternoon, I think that beats high temps and high humidity when you clear brush. We hiked into the area, climbing close to 900 feet to reach the corridor lands.

The picture shows one of the student interns clearing some blow downs from the numerous ice and wind storms we have had in the Northeast over the past 18 months. Note the yellow boundary blazes.

07 June 2010

In a recent e-newsletter from the American Hiking Society, I found this link to a hiking conference in the Southeast: http://southeastfoottrails.org/SEFTC-2010-Conference-Presentation-Archives.htm

I found several good presentations from hikers, not academics, about hiking hints and stories.

Check it out.

03 June 2010

M and M Trail Anyone?

Gettin' ready for National Trails Day. Doesn't have to be only one day. I mean, we can hike every day of the year. Here is the trail sign for the M and M Trail and a section I recently hiked.

01 June 2010

National Trails Day this Saturday

Click on the title link to find an event in your hometown. Finding nuthin'? Well, go out to your favorite spot or explore the place you have been putting off far too long.

Get out and hike! Maybe try some of the Appalachian Trail?