Friday, March 14, 2008

Give Up Your Birth Certificate To Get A Passport

I've had a passport for so long... that I am often clueless when it comes to crossing the US Mexico boarder.
My in-laws have been in Yuma for 6 months and never crossed the border to Algadones. Last year they went for dental work and prescriptions.
Now... the whole passport issue has put a stop to the border crossing for them.
But... crossing the border isn't a luxury for me. I don't have health insurance... (thanks IBM) and so we rely on Mexico for dental, vision, and perscriptions.
Plus... it's so inexpensive for us to vacation in Mexico! We get about 8 to 10 mini vacations a year on the beach... plus we stay in a luxury condo for a week stay at least twice a year. Right on the Ocean! Can you say... bliss???
What could we afford if we had to stay in the states? I week in San Diego. And... I would have to cook all the food. Yuck.
So... what's the answer? Read on....
clipped from
The collective government combine of the Secretary of State and Homeland Security has finally meshed the gears and let the clutch out. Taking the RV to Mexico or Canada? Now you don't need to buy an expensive passport, you can spend less and get in with a Passport Card.
When we queried local authorities about this seeming problem, they suggested we forget about the passport card and simply 'go for the gold,' and get a passport. After all, the processing time for a passport is now said to be a lightning fast four weeks.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

7 Money Saving Ideas Vacation Condos For Rent San Diego

According to "San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau," more than 31.6 million tourists visited San Diego in 2007. Most of them visited during the months of May through October, which is considered the "peak" season. In other words, sleeping accommodations can cost considerably more.

Idea #1: One of the easiest ways to save money when renting a beach house in San Diego is to rent during the off-season. You can find off-season rates on condos between May and June. Although temperatures can dip under 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the spring and early summer months, the gentle ocean breezes and close proximity to the water make these cooler temps worth putting a sweater on.

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Idea #2:
Vacation with friends and share the expenses. Many San Diego beach house rentals accommodate up to 10 or more people. These larger homes oftentimes provide extra amenities such as swimming pools, Jacuzzis, spas, golf courses, and community clubhouses. While you might not be able to afford to rent a $10,000 beach house on your own, if nine more of your buddies join in, you could be living the lifestyle of a celebrity for only $1,000 a week. Rent during the off-season and you could save up to 50 percent.

Idea #3: Cook at home... It can become quite costly to dine out for every meal during your vacation. Most beach house rentals include kitchen appliances and cookware. Many include outdoor gas grills or patio kitchens. Fresh produce and fish can be purchased year round in San Diego. Visit local Farmer's and Fish Markets and indulge in a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood. By cooking just half of your meals in your beach house rental, you could potentially save up to $1,000 or more for a family of four.

Idea #4: Rent from a private individual. When you rent directly from the beach house owner, you have a better opportunity for negotiation than if you work with a property management organization. Property management organizations oftentimes are unfamiliar with the property and unable to answer questions about the property location or condition. You'll want to verify references, conduct research on the area of the rental home, and use additional precautions to insure you aren't being scammed.

Idea #5: Rent in small cities or towns. Some of the best beach house rental deals can be found in less populated areas. An added bonus is the beaches are less congested and you can have more peace and quiet. There are numerous small towns within 10 or 20 miles from San Diego... try Ocean Beach, Oceanside or even Mission Bay... instead of Mission Beach. Even with higher gas prices, the money you save by renting a beach house in a small city or town will more than compensate for the extra driving.

Idea #6: Invest in a vacation package. There are many travel services available via the Internet, or work with a travel agent to arrange a vacation package. Vacation packages can include airline, rental car, rental homes or hotel arrangements, cruises, sightseeing adventures and more. Oftentimes, you can save 50 percent or more by packaging your vacation needs.

Idea #7: Exchange your home for a beach house rental. Home Exchanges are quickly becoming a popular option for people who love to travel. How it works is you allow an individual or family to stay in your home while you stay in their home. There is no cost involved, making home exchange a win-win situation. There are many reputable home exchange companies available via the Internet. Make certain you thoroughly research the company and understand their policies before committing to using their service.

We are renting a large house this year with friends. We all will get a better deal in luxury accommodations.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

San Diego Oceanfront Condo Rental

When making vacation plans that include a visit to the beaches of San Diego; consider renting a oceanfront condo. Not only will you have all the comforts of home available, you could also save a considerable amount of money.
Beach rental condominiums are are really beach houses, apartments and town houses all mixed into one. Rentals on beach locations are available on Mission Bay, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach. Their are other areas but these are the most popular beaches that out of state travelers seem to gravitate.

You do have a ton of choices when renting. Some are very inexpensive for a reason... they are not luxury and most were built many years ago and show the wear and tear that comes with renting to families with kids and the Spring Break crowd that doesn't know when to go home.

Most of the rental properties are attractively furnished and include basic amenities such as cooking appliances and cookware, linens and towels, televisions, stereos, telephones, and Internet access. Some may be sparse and some are over the top with luxury amenities.

The three beach house rental properties include access to golf courses or community clubhouses. Others include boats and other watercraft rental. Many include amenities for children such as inflatable backyard swimming pools and water slides, play houses, and swing sets.

Most San Diego beach house rental areas suggested above are near only one golf course. This course is located next to the Town and Country resort just off Interstate 8.

Beach area rentals offer a central location for visiting local sites.
  • Sea World
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Old Town San Diego
  • Seaport Village
  • Gaslamp Quarter
  • Little Italy
  • Several large malls and movie theaters
And don't forget... you are in walking distance of Crystal Pier and The old Boardwalk amusement park... which has a real wood roller coaster. Very historical.

Some condos are pet-friendly... but most are not. In the summer months beach housing is only available by the week... as it is considered high-season.

Last, but not least, nearly every beach house owner requires a 50 percent deposit due within ten days from the date you make your reservation. Additionally, most charge a Reservation Fee (usually $50 to $150); and a refundable Damage Deposit (approximately $200 to $500). Other fees may include pet deposits or cancellation penalties.

Mission Bay rentals are generally lower in rental cost. This beach is quite calm and very good for small children. Everyone is friendly... some cottages are year round residences for locals. You may have neighbors that are quite familiar with good dining and day excursions.

Mission Beach is where all the action is... if you love to people watch, you will never have a moment without something to look at. It's lively during the day, as all ocean view beach rentals are on the boardwalk.

The boardwalk is a 2 way street that is full of everything except cars. Roller blades, skateboards, walkers, joggers, bicycles, baby strollers.... etc. You will see most every type of dress... and undress on this boardwalk. We love it... because we are constantly entertained.

M.B. has few restaurant's and eateries... just pick the nearest one to your beach rental. You won't find a bad dining place in M.B. and we have been going for years. One of our favorites for breakfast is Mission Cafe', and eclectic eatery that is so much fun... oh, make sure you try the pancakes... to die for.

We eat at Rubios for the fish tacos. It's a chain, but it still feels special. And if your feeding a family its quite inexpensive.

The Boardwalk restaurant is the place to dine for really good fish. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat outside... the umbrellas make it nice and it just feels really special. This restaurant is not actually located at the Boardwalk amusement park. Mission Beach is about 2 miles long and The Boardwalk restaurant is located almost exactly in the middle

Ocean Beach doesn't have much in the way of Ocean Front Living. Some rentals are available on the cliffs with beautiful views but not great access to beaches. Ocean Beach is however one small beach town that attracts hoards of visitors every summer. They hold a giant farmers market weekly that is worth a late afternoon visit. The street is jam packed with live entertainment, food and craft vendors. Plus... you can get some of the best fruit and honey in the world.

O.B. also offers a diverse selection of restaurants, antique shops, beach wear and funky little artist galleries. Don't miss the restaurant on the beach. It's on the second floor of the only two story building at the beach. Sunset is best.... the view is wonderful and the food is very good.

Many years ago... when we first started to vacation on the beach in San Diego, we only stayed one week. Now... we always stay 2 weeks, and we highly recommend that you do the same. One week is just enough time to start relaxing... 2 weeks and we are limp like noodles.

Book your reservations... the best places are rented a year in advance.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Things To Do On Valentines Day In San Diego

Stumped for ideas for Valentines Day? Do you live in or are traveling to San Diego? Well... you need some great things to do on Valentines Day. How about taking a trip down history lane and spend the day in the Gaslamp Quarter?

The Gaslamp Quarter is in the historical district of San Diego. You will stroll past at least two-and-a-half miles filled with Victorian style buildings and over 100 restaurants. There is also an arts and entertainment scene with art galleries, theaters and nightclubs. Surrounding this is residential and work lofts.

So... you could park and take a leisurely stroll down the streets, stopping for a latte' and window shopping the galleries and unique stores. We found a shop that had hand rolled cigars... they were rolling them on the spot! Several corners have great gourmet coffee carts that serve just what you need to keep warm in the February San Diego chill.

One of the best ways to see and get around Gaslamp Quarter is by pedicab. Pedicabs (bicycle taxis) will take you on tours throughout the Gaslamp Quarter, and other downtown San Diego spots. These pedicab tours are ideal not only for tourists, but also for long time San Diego residents, who may simply want a romantic ride. Tours are about 30 minutes and prices start at $35 per couple.

If you are an art enthusiast, you can check out the Tim Cantor Gallery. His gallery consists of oil paintings, different writings and other types of art. There’s the CJ Gallery that focuses on art from an Asian perspective. If you’re looking to find art created by national and international artists, you can go to Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts.

Remember to look up as your walking (but watch out for lamp posts... :) and check out the architecture. You can see the building names and construction dates often carved in stone at the top of the buildings.

If you need a Hotel in the Gaslamp District:

There is the Ivy Hotel that has 16 suites with a spiral staircase that connects to a private cabana. To cater to your needs, a butler is available. This hotel also has a nightclub that boasts four levels, a restaurant, rooftop terrace and swimming pool. If you need to have a business meeting, they have facilities for that too.

The Keating Hotel is a boutique style hotel that features Italian design. These designs are created by the same people who are responsible for Ferrari and Maserati. The hotel’s interior has a historic look and feel to it. It features a concierge and a lounge that is located underground.

Now... It's Time To Eat

The late musician Jim Croce has a restaurant named after him. Croce’s Restaurant & Bars is owned by his widow, Ingrid. It has been in the San Diego are for more than 20 years and features jazz and fine dining.

Eating At Croce's is really special in the morning. Take a table in the sidewalk cafe' so you can people watch as you eat. The Eggs Benedict is highly recommended... by me :)! Oh... and don't forget the Mimosa... it is a special day after all.

We have dined at the Buca de Beppo Italian Restaurant... which has great food and unbelievable interior decor. But... as this is a romantic holiday, probably not the best place for dining.

There are other restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter that you can choose from. They cater to about every cuisine you can imagine. Some of them include Afghan, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Persian, Thai and many more.

Nightclubs in the San Diego Gaslamp Area

The Side Bar features house and hip-hop music so you can get it on. If you don’t want to dance, you can just sit back and enjoy a refreshing cocktail in the lounge area. If you want to put some salsa in your dance, CafĂ© Sevilla features hip-hop music and Latin beats. On Fridays and Saturdays, you can enjoy a flamenco dinner show.

Other Holiday Celebrations In The San Diego Gaslamp District

  • New Orleans isn’t the only city that hosts Mardi Gras. The Gaslamp Quarter has a Mardi Gras celebration on Fat Tuesday. It includes a parade and block party held outside. There is also live music from different musicians.
  • On Halloween, the Monster Bash is annual event that features an outdoor music festival surrounding the streets. There are also live bands and a costume contest that’s out of this world.

  • If you decide to visit around St. Patrick’s Day, there’s an event called Shamrock that has live music, and Irish cuisine, green beer and lots of Guinness beer.

No matter where you go in the Gaslamp Quarter, there’s something available for people to do. There is never a dull moment in this historic area of San Diego.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Valentines Day Ideas | Unique Valentine Gifts and Poems

Why An Article About Valentines Day Ideas on A Travel Site? Well...

Valentines Day is just a few weeks away
. Yikes. I'm just digging out from Christmas and another gift and card giving day is sneaking it's way into my life.

Well... it is the one day a year we remind our loved ones and friends how much we really care about them. I know... I'm not one to wait for one day to proclaim my love, but this one day requires some special ideas and thought.

As always... I am on the lookout for special Valentines Day Ideas that will genuinely reflect my feelings of love. Personalized gifts are usually the best... but it does mean that I have to think about those gifts a few weeks in advance of Valentines Day.

I have been doing a ton of searching online and found some very unique Valentine Gift Ideas. I put together a website... so I could keep track of all these ideas in one place.

I found
  • personalized crystal heart paperweights
  • homemade style cookie baskets that can be shipped
  • soul-mate picture frame that can be personalized with a special phrase.
If your hunting for some unique valentine gift ideas or just a pretty Free Valentine Poem to tuck into a card check out this latest website:

Valentines Day Ideas

Oh and if you want to send a special love letter eCard... this site is so easy to use and has a huge variety of options. Just click on the banner below and get started... especially great if your working in a time crunch.

PassionUp Secret Love Letters & Poems

Now... back to our regularly scheduled programing. :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

3:10 To Yuma - Russell Crow Movie Review

Just watched the DVD release of 4:10 to Yuma. Because I live in Yuma, Arizona... this movie title caught my attention. The story isn't based on Yuma history or location... but in various other desert Arizona locations.

First... If you haven't seen the 1995 movie - The Quick And The Dead - starring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman and Russell Crow, get it now! Watching Russell Crow in this movie gives you an idea of why he was cast in 3:10 to Yuma. He is a versatile actor and creates believable characters. This can't be said about Sharon Stone in the Quick and The Dead. Although she is smart and of course gorgeous... she just didn't pull off the gunslinger roll.

Now... my take on the 3:10 to Yuma movie.

Get ready for a surprise beginning. Within minutes of the movie starting, the underling story starts to emerge... with an event that remains a constant throughout the movie. The family dynamics and conflicts portrayed are some of the same types of problems we face today.

  • Struggles with money
  • Teenage angst
  • Physical ailments and disabilities
  • Children not believing in their parents ability to protect the family
Portrayals of home life and the conflicts carry one half of the story throughout the movie.

The other half of the story...

It's just very hard to hate any character that is played by Crow. Is endearing smile and charming personality just permeates all his characters. Crow's character is Ben Wade, an outlaw thief and murderer. The plague of the railroad crossing the Arizona desert is Ben Wade. He has tested their patience with over 20 robberies. He and his gang are the other half of the story in the movie.

What is really interesting... is that these two stories coexist and mingle throughout the movie. The final scene's create tension and hold many surprises. The outlaw and his gang are at odds while the outlaw and his captor teach each about courage, love and overcoming odds.

Definitely not a tear jerker... 0 Hanky Movie.

I give this move 3*** our of 4***

Very engaging... and action packed. If you love a good Western... this one should be on your list of must see movies.

Oh... and did I mention... Peter Fonda is in this movie! And he has a much larger part than in - Wild Hogs.

3:10 to Yuma (Full Screen Edition)

3:10 to Yuma

Monday, January 07, 2008

Flagstaff Arizona Snow Photos 2008 Best Year For Snow

Flagstaff Arizona Has SNOW! I mean ton's of it!

My youngest son attended NAU for 5 years and we never had snow like this!

A good friend of mine sent emailed me this morning with these pictures to prove that the snow was really deep and this year was the best year in ages for skiing.

Does that mean that the greenhouse effect and global warming are not targeting Flagstaff Arizona????

Arizona Highway Patrol: Not going anywhere fast!