Posted on October 29, 2014All of this talk about Ebola and quarantine has set me to thinking. Suppose you were faced with an obligatory quarantine of twenty-one days. Presuming you were disease-free, how would this work for you? Are you one of those “people . . . people who need people,” or would you find twenty-one days without direct human contact to be a blessing? Would you go stir crazy after a week; or, is this your idea of heaven on earth?
Posted on October 24, 2014A year ago, I learned that the annual tourism outlook forum would be held in Atlanta, home of my beloved Braves. As a fan of 56 years (but, who’s counting?), I had visions of World Series tickets dancing in my head. Things looked good until September, when the Braves forgot two main goals of baseball: 1) score runs, and 2) win games. Thus deprived of my pipe dream, I headed to Atlanta this past Sunday. My rating of Atlanta follows.
Posted on October 15, 2014Those of you who reside in overwhelmingly blue states, or red states for that matter, may never realize how fortunate you are. You are shielded from the onslaught of political advertising that we more ideologically balanced states face every 2-4 years. In Vermont, where the two present US senators are bullet-proof, why would the Koch brothers waste their money? The situation is quite different here in New Hampshire. While Governor Hassan appears to be safe, the Senate and House seats are all too close to call. As a result, the Kochs and others of their ilk have dumped a huge amount of money in support of conservative candidates. Progressive leaning individuals have followed suit. All of this is much to the dismay of the residents here in the Granite State. As we suffer through all of this unwanted attention, I can’t help but ask “What’s it all about, Alfie?” Why is all of this money being spent? Let’s take a closer look.
Posted on October 8, 2014Growing up, I had two heroes: Hank Aaron and my big brother, Bruce. To this day, there is no male of the species who I love and respect more than the latter. So, a few years ago, when Bruce and Lydia–my favorite older sister-in-law (FOSIL, for short)–asked to see a real moose, I was determined to make this happen. Waiting until near dusk, Marla, Bruce, Lydia, and I drove north through Franconia Notch, then along much of Crawford Notch, looking for moose. For those of you who have never had the opportunity to see a moose in the flesh, they are tall, seemingly awkward, gangly, quite dark creatures. For this reason, the only way to find a moose in the evening hours is with the help of a set of very bright lights. The by-product of our search was skepticism, as not a single moose presented itself. Both my brother and my FOSIL admonished me for inventing the existence of those moose beasts. Subsequently, Marla and I brought them tee shirts, inflatable underwear (please don’t ask), and coffee mugs bearing images of the aforementioned animals. At that moment, not even a guest appearance by the cast of Rocky and His Friends would have saved my failing reputation.
Posted on October 1, 2014I’m not normally given to writing about specific accommodations; however, this post will be an exception. Like so many others, when we travel the highways and byways of the US and Canada, Marla and I are looking for a memorable place to eat and enjoy local ambiance. Several years ago, we discovered such a place in North Conway, New Hampshire, a once-quaint town whose appearance has been altered dramatically during the past several decades. Long ago, North Conway’s traditional character was subsumed by the influx of outlet stores. Over time, massive amounts of traffic supplanted the bucolic town and country roads. Soon, bargain shopping replaced sightseeing as the principal reason to visit the town. Despite the aforementioned metamorphosis, the Mount Washington Valley retains more than its share of quaint places, including one-of-a-kind shops, lodgings, and restaurants. And, yes, it provides one of the very best views of Mount Washington and the Presidentials, readily observable from Route 16. But, I digress.
Posted on September 28, 2014Several years ago, Marla and I faced a decision. We felt that it was time to give something back, in return for the educations we, our daughters, and other family members have been fortunate to receive. More than any other members of the Okrant family, I was a recipient of substantial scholarship and assistantship money along the way. . . funds that would not have been available without the generosity of others whose names I never knew. As we considered where and how to best spend our limited dollars, the answer was obvious. No educational institution has had a greater bearing on our welfare than Plymouth State University. It was Plymouth State that hired me as a comparatively unproven young faculty member. It was Plymouth State that allowed me the opportunity to develop a travel and tourism program, when there wasn’t another of its kind in New Hampshire. Plymouth State provided me with freedom to grow as an academic, and has even encouraged my development as a fiction writer. While faculty salaries are never apportioned to make people wealthy, our family has lived comfortably during the last thirty-five years. With all of this in mind, we established The Okrant Family Annual Scholarship in Tourism Studies. The purpose of the scholarship is to further the higher education and professional development of a deserving Plymouth State University student, one who will make a significant contribution as a professional in the field of tourism and hospitality. To date, we have given four of these awards, each to a wonderful young woman or man.
Posted on September 20, 2014As Marla and I near the completion of our first 44 years of married life together, each of us has been asked what our secret is. First, I can assure you that I have absolutely no idea how Marla responds to this question. Furthermore, I wouldn’t attempt a guess. To a large extent, marital bliss is based upon good fortune . . . being lucky enough to cross paths with one’s soulmate. In our case, it can probably be traced back to our respective reactions to our first (“blind”) date. I was immediately struck by two characteristics that Marla exuded, namely kindness and the best sense of humor I’d ever encountered. She could make me laugh when I was 22, and she can make me laugh now that I’m . . . older than 22. For Marla’s part, she returned from our first date and told her mother, “I’ve just met the nicest boy.” Did I mention that Marla also is keenly perceptive?