As tomorrow is the busiest travel day of the year, I must ask. What are your thoughts about airlines allowing passengers to speak on their cell phones during flights? A comedian best summed my thoughts: I have no problem with passengers speaking on their phones during flights; I just want them to step outside to do so.
DALLAS – My birthplace has transformed from a mid-sized
Texas town to a booming metropolis since that fateful day in November, 1963.
way, on President’s Day, 1989, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, in the
Texas School Book Depository – a building that shares an infamous place in
history with the Ford Theater – was opened.
chronicles the tragic assassination that November day of President John F.
Kennedy, as well as his life, times, death and legacy.
Though I long ago moved from Dallas, for
years when I returned home I had been unable to visit this noted landmark and
its subsequent museum. It was too
Flashback to November 22, 1963.
The day, which began with an early-morning drizzle, had
cleared. Kennedy remarked to Texas Gov.
John Connally, “it looks as if we’ll get sunshine” and ordered the
non-bullet-proof top on his limousine removed.
Four miles away at the Trade Mart, my friends and I awaited
the presidential motorcade, standing on the curb for the best view.
Then we heard on a transistor radio that the president had
been shot. It seemed absurd.
This was before the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy
assassinations. Such things just didn’t
happen, not here, not in our town.
However, the dark-colored Lincoln Continental limousine
sped past us en route to Parkland Hospital, bypassing the president’s luncheon
destination. Just feet from the
open-topped vehicle, I distinguished Mrs. Kennedy’s pink Chanel suit in the
I know now that she was cradling her mortally wounded
husband. Kennedy was pronounced dead at
1 pm (Central Standard Time).
Kennedy had been assassinated as his motorcade traveled
along Elm St. at Dealey Plaza.
The fatal shots were believed to have been fired from the
southeast corner window on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository
building by an employee named Lee Harvey Oswald, who was later arrested in the
Texas Theater, a popular Friday night hangout for my friends and me.
My hometown of Dallas was suddenly infamous,
my routine haunts tainted.
It was more than 40 years
later when I visited Dealey Plaza and The Sixth Floor Museum that is housed in
As a former Dallasite, it
was a part of our history, of the nation’s history, and the “time heals” adage
Thus, like 400,000-plus
annual visitors (it’s more than doubled since the 1989 opening), I was
transported, not only to Nov. 22, 1963, but to the promise of the Kennedy era,
through written descriptions, photographs, artifacts, audio broadcasts and
historic film footage.
Museum features include visuals of Kennedy taking the oath
of office on Jan. 20, 1961 and the poignant quote from the governor’s wife,
Nellie Connally, on that fateful day – “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas
doesn’t love you.”
Narrated by an on-the-scene journalist, the audio tour added
additional insight and impact.
Especially chilling was the first audio news report of the
shooting: “We interrupt this program to bring you a special bulletin from ABC
Radio. Three shots were fired at
President Kennedy’s motorcade today in downtown Dallas, Texas.”
This historic announcement played repeatedly.
Video footage of the numbing weekend – the motorcade,
Oswald’s shooting and the funeral procession – was shown in short clips.
And the FBI’s model of Dealey Plaza (used by the Warren
Commission) was displayed.
But it was “the window” to
which everyone gravitated. Although the
sniper’s perch (restored to its 1963 appearance) was protected behind glass, it
was possible to peer from a nearby window down upon Dealey Plaza and to the
street below. The view was one I knew
from newsreels, one of an incident that changed history.
My personal pilgrimage – as emotional as I feared, yet as
healing as I had hoped – concluded at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza, a
nearby outdoor tribute.
There a plaque reads:
“The joy and excitement of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s life belonged to
all men. So did the pain and sorrow of
his death. When he died on November 22,
1963, shock and agony touched human conscience throughout the world. In Dallas, Texas there was a special
sorrow. The young President died in
Dallas. The death bullets were fired 300
yards west of this site. It is not a
memorial to the pain and sorrow of death but stands as a permanent tribute to
the joy and excitement of one man’s life. John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s life.”
Heads up Christmas travelers. Tips from Travelocity to keep the cost of air travel down are to book at least 6 weeks in advance which means to book by this Tuesday, November 12. Note that typically 3 weeks out (December 4) there's a small window where the fares may lower but this is a real risk this year. Bottom line: book now.
As a Southern Californian I’ve visited
Phoenix, AZ often, but it wasn’t until my last trip that I discovered even more
about this great city. My holiday, like many times in the past, included a stay
at The Phoenician, dinner at a perennial eatery and a shopping stroll along Old
Scottsdale’s Fifth Avenue—all favorites. However, this time was different
because it included not only my tried-and-true but also new choices which
proved worthwhile and memorable. For those who have never been or are looking
for ways to change things up, here’s an easy guide to Arizona’s Urban Heart.
Photo by Cynthia Dial
different in the desert: the sky is bluer, the mountains sharper and the
contrasts greater. Perhaps this best explains that though Phoenix is the
nation’s sixth largest city, it is anything but a hustle-and-bustle kind of
town. Its lifestyle is relaxing, its scenery is radiant and its ambiance is
reflective of the quiet serenity of the Southwest. And though civilization
seems a world away don’t mistake its beckoning comfort for a lack of
worldliness, for it is the hub of sophistication.
Photo by Cynthia Dial
Here you are never far from reminders that the desert lives within the city—
arid landscape, scattered cacti and architecture that blends. Surrounded by
mountains and the Sonoran Desert, this region is known for its perpetual
But it’s known for much more. Phoenix celebrates a plethora of perks: authentic
cowboys, panoramic sunsets, fashion-forward shopping, spring-training baseball
(15 MLB teams), championship golf courses and palm-tree appointed resorts.
Celebrating its 25th
anniversary, the legendary landmark is as inviting today as it was in its
beginning—the entrance remains lined with palm trees and its greeting is as
warm as the day its doors first opened.
“Good morning on this beautiful day,” greets James Meeks, The Phoenician’s
long-time official ambassador. I’m told that Meeks began his hotel career at
the resort’s front gate, but that the entrance line became so long with guests
seeking lengthy conversations with the hospitable man that he was wisely
transferred to the lobby. He’s a tall, imposing gentleman with a baritone voice
that resonates throughout the luxurious foyer.
Photo by Cynthia Dial
The AAA Five-Diamond resort’s pleasures are plentiful: three eateries (Il
Terrazzo, J&G Steakhouse, Relish Burger Bistro, plus an Ice Cream Parlor
and an afternoon Tea Court), 27 holes of golf, 11 tennis courts, nine pools
(some with private cabanas) and a full-service spa—all on 250 manicured acres
at the base of Camelback Mountain.
It is no coincidence that ‘luxury’ is the resort’s common denominator. In 1985
financier and developer Charles Keating envisioned an Arizona resort reflecting
the elegance and sophistication of a fine European hotel. His vision became The
Phoenician—a resort complete with a white marble lobby (imported stone from
Italy), a ceiling etched in 24-karat gold, 11 rare Steinway pianos scattered
throughout and lush tropical landscaping created by island workers from the
Kingdom of Tonga.
Known only as the area’s central business district for years, 2013’s downtown
embodies the city’s action—Chase Field (baseball), US Airways Arena (basketball
and arena football), Phoenix Symphony Hall, hip hotels, trendy eateries, urban
residences and a light rail system. The epicenter seems to be CityScape, the noted hub of dining, nightlife,
shopping and business—all within walking distance of the athletic venues.
Kimpton’s luxury boutique Hotel Palomar is known for its artistic décor,
penchant for pampering and an open-air rooftop pool and bar serving up a 360̊
view of the city. On the hotel’s mezzanine level Blue Hound Kitchen &
Cocktails prides itself on its “gastro-lounge” concept—the pairing of Chef
Stephen Jones’ seasonal creations with artisanal wines, craft cocktails and
local brews (tip: sample the Shrimp Toast). So hip is this combo that the hotel/restaurant
celebrated its one-year anniversary with a huge pillow fight. Nearby Gold’s Gym
features Cardio Cinema—the opportunity to work out on cardio equipment while
watching full-length feature films. And don’t forget Yoga in the Park at
Patriots Square, first Friday Art Walk (one of the country’s largest) and the
seasonal ice rink.
Northeast of Scottsdale is a living memorial to
the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. Designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright, he began
constructing this sprawling 600-acre complex in 1937 as
his personal winter home, studio and architectural campus. The site offers a
broad range of guided public tours, giving visitors the up-close-and-personal
chance to experience Wright’s ingenious ability to integrate indoor and outdoor
130,000 square feet of space to Native
American history, the Heard Museum showcases artwork, pottery, books, textiles, and jewelry. A standout exhibit is the impressive grouping of Katsina dolls (many from Barry
Goldwater’s collection). Originally debuted as a temporary exhibit, the
now-permanent Boarding School exposition is spellbinding. “Noexhibitat
received such emotional comment as America's untold story of the U.S.
government forcibly removing Indian children from their homes and transferring
them to militaristic boarding schools,” states the Heard. Tip: Visit the Heard
Store, where the fine quality of merchandise reflects the experience of
Director of Sales Bruce McGee, who spent years working in trading posts.
Photo by Cynthia Dial
The latest to Phoenix’s collection of
museums is the Musical Instrument Museum, from the vision of Robert J. Ulrich, chairman emeritus of Target
Corporation. Complete with a 300-seat theater for world-class concerts and an
Experience Room where you can play rare instruments from different cultures,
what most captured my attention was the wireless headset system which allows
visitors approaching displays to hear the instruments being played, whether
solo or as an ensemble. Among the museum’s prized treasures is John Lennon’s
Model Z Steinway on which he composed Imagine, Toby Keith’s American flag
guitar and a video of the country star singing Courtesy of the Red, White and
Blue to the troops and Taylor Swift’s red Gibson Les Paul electric guitar and
gold Robert Cavalli dress from her Speak Now World Tour.
iconic eatery, El Chorro, has a rich regional history. Originally built as a
girls’ school the adobe structure was converted to a restaurant and lodge in
the 1930s; attracted such celebs as Clark Gable, Milton Berle and David Wright
(son of Frank Lloyd Wright); significantly expanded and extended the hours to
year-around (as opposed to closing in summer, which had been the tradition
until 1990). Though known for both atmosphere and food, such as flash-fried
lobster tails and buffalo burgers, the Valley’s pleasures of the palate go
beyond El Chorro Lodge.
My restaurant revelation, Beckett’s Table, is commandeered by Chef Justin
Beckett who presents a selection of hearty Americana favorites—typically with a
fun flair. Think selections such as Deep Fried Deviled Eggs, Chicken ‘n’
Dumplings with Herbed Saffron Cream and Chocolate Dipped Bacon S’mores and
you’ve got a picture of this culinary scene. In
mythology a Phoenix is a long-lived
bird that repeatedly regenerates itself. And in the Southwest the city of
Phoenix continues to reinvent itself again and again and again. To see the published piece on the luxury-driven web site, JustLuxe, go here.
London taxis have been voted the best taxis
in the world for the sixth year in a row, according to the annual global taxi
survey from Hotels.com. London secured 22% of the votes, a clear runaway winner
followed by New York with 10% and Tokyo with 9%.
Photo by Cynthia Dial
The global Hotels.com taxi survey also revealed the world's
more obscure objects that travelers have admitted to leaving behind, which
~ A wig and a bird in a cage left behind in a US cab ~ A prosthetic leg and an ex-boyfriend in Australia ~ A trombone in Finland ~ A Rubik's cube in Italy ~ Dentures in Germany
Globally the survey found that people tend to text or email whilst in cab
(19%), while sleeping was the second most popular activity (15%), followed by
eating (10%) and kissing (9%). When asked which nation was the most amorous in
the back of a cab, Brits came out with 14% admitting to displaying passionate
behavior- 10% higher than the global average of 4%. According to the survey,
48.5% of Indian respondents wanted a newspaper and music in the cab.
Other global findings include:
~ Over half of us (53%) would choose a taxi as our desired
mode of transport from airport to hotel.
~ The majority of people tend to not tip more than 10% for the journey.
~ The most important feature in a taxi is WiFi (14%) beating
both the radio and music.
~ The pet peeve for UK travelers is when taxi drivers
take a longer route to the destination.