Last Sunday, with Grandma in town from Calgary, we packed up the family for a visit to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF) in Toronto. The annual event is held at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds in the core of Canada's largest city.
Since the very first fair in November, 1922 the RAWF has grown to become the world's largest indoor agricultural and international equestrian competition.
The RAWF attracts more than 300,000 visitors to the greater Toronto area every November to see thousands of unique entries from elite Canadian and international breeders, growers and exhibitors, more than 4,500 large and small animals, shows, activities, shopping, dining and, of course, the Royal Horse Show.
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Winter is coming on, and the riding season is winding down for most of the country. This is the absolute best time to shop for a used bike.
Think about it -- the holidays are coming, cash is tight, and that motorcycle in the garage starts to look like an ATM to many people. Maybe they didn't ride that much this summer, maybe they have plans to buy a new bike next spring, maybe they're just tired of debating with their spouse about that motorcycle taking up valuable space in the garage. Whatever the reason, plenty of bikes go up for sale this time of year.
At the same time, there are fewer buyers to compete for used bikes. Impulse buyers will be less likely to spring for a motorcycle when Old Man Winter looms on the horizon. With the economy being so tight, even hardcore bikers will be inclined to save up their dough for family gifts rather than adding a bike to the stable.
All of which adds up to the perfect time to buy a used motorcycle.
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When it comes to my frequent traveling lifestyle, I've got long list of things to be thankful for at this time of year. Here goes:
- Faster Flying: Last week, my flight from New York to San Francisco arrived one hour early! I thought the pilot was joking when he came on the P.A. to tell flight attendants to prepare the cabin for an early landing. Early arrivals (or just on-time arrivals) are increasingly common these days because over the last two years, major airlines have cut their capacity by 10 to 20 percent--and fewer flights mean less congestion. Recent monthly reports from the Department of Transportation show consistent improvements in on-time performance.
- Lower prices: Nearly every travel expense is smaller this year than last. Gasoline is averaging about $2.65 this month--that's down about $.54 per gallon compared to this time last year, according to AAA. In addition, not only are holiday airfares down slightly compared to last year, but they're much cheaper for trips on non-peak days. (However, extra fees such as those for checking luggage are rising, but there's a bright side here, too--fewer checked bags means fewer lost or damaged ones.) Also, hotel rates are down about 10 percent compared to last year.
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This week, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, concluded their cross-Canada, 11-city tour. The red carpet was rolled out for the couple who certainly got the `royal treatment` (excuse the pun) and were greeted by large crowds at every stop. It was the 15th trip to Canada for Charles and the inaugural visit for his wife. It was very interesting to see the media attention which surrounded the visit and the rock star-like following the couple generated. As much debate rages on about whether the monarchy should be abolished, the brand seems strong and relevant with many Canadians.
If you are one of those "Royalty Wannabees," how about replicating the trip? You might not get the same attention, but let's face it...that would be stressful anyway. I warn you it's a busy 11 days but we can make it a lot more conducive for a non-royalty budget with locally-owned and operated Best Western accommodations along the way.
First stop: Newfoundland.
Day 1 - Morning visit to Cupids, N.L., to celebrate its 400th anniversary in 2010; afternoon visit to Brigus, N.L., including the home of Arctic explorer Capt. Bob Bartlett; opening of new housing project in St. John's; late afternoon visit to Marine Institute at Memorial University; evening reception at The Rooms (Provincial Archives, Art Gallery and Museum). Grab a quick private jet to St. Margaret's Bay and end a busy first day, but get a great night's sleep at the Best Western Chocolate Lake Hotel.
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There are so many great traditions that surround the celebration of Thanksgiving Day. Of course, there's the gathering of family, and all the food we eat. There's also football and going to the movies. Let's not forget that since 1924, Americans have been gathering along the streets of Manhattan, braving the weather in the early morning, to see the floats and balloons that make up the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
A fun alternative or addition to this 85-year tradition is to go see the parade's main characters, the balloons, while they are being inflated. These famous individuals begin to come to life at 4 PM on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving right next to the Museum of Natural History on 77th and 81st Streets.
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Have you ever found yourself sitting back and enjoying a great flick and wondering where a particular scene or battle is filmed? You'd be surprised by where a lot of epic movie scenes are filmed, and even more surprised that you can visit many of these locations yourself.
Because I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada, I'll start here. You may or may not know that Vancouver is often referred to as "Hollywood North", due to the huge amount of movies and television shows that are filmed here. Juno, X-Men, Fantastic Four, The X Files (often filmed at my alma mater - Simon Fraser University), 88 Minutes and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants are just a few pieces filmed in my hometown. No doubt you haven't escaped the Twilight hype... well neither has Vancouver, since Twilight: New Moon - recently released - was also filmed in Vancouver. Much of the movie was filmed in historic Stanley Park - one of the world's most renowned and luscious parks - and even in my own neighborhood of Kitsilano. The hype over the "Twilight" presence in Vancouver is so big that a tour company has even launched "Twilight Tours Vancouver", a formal tour company that will "provide movie fans who love the 'Vampire, Werewolf and Human Love Story' a first hand look at the locations used in bringing the stories to the big screen." The tour is six hours long and costs $159 for adults and $119 for kids 12 & under.
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I own two motorcycles. One I've had since 1980; the other (my new one) I bought in 1993. Recently, I've been thinking about buying a new touring bike like a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic. If I decide to pull the trigger on a new bike purchase, my other bikes will have to go. So, researcher that I am, I've been studying up on what steps to take in order to sell my motorcycles.
First, I'm going to perform an inspection. I'm going to decide which repair items will get fixed, and which items will remain unrepaired for the new buyer. One of my bikes has a very faded paint job. It would cost about $500 to repaint the bike, but repainting the bike would not increase its value. So, I won't repaint. But, I will repair that torn seat, tidy up that loose clutch cable and polish that rusting chrome -- all necessary maintenance that will cost me little more than elbow grease but could impact the sale price significantly. I'll also remove any accessories or extra equipment that I might want to keep or sell separately -- sometimes, a bike is worth more in pieces than it is as a running whole.
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Now here's a dash of good news: 53 percent of consumers plan to spend as much or more on holiday gifts as they did last year, according the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Whether you're giving gifts or receiving them this year, here are four items sure to warm the cockles of any road warrior. (Me included!)
- Home Monitoring Devices: This is so cool! While on the road, you can now view what's happening at home on your PDA with these new monitoring devices. Typical systems include small Web cameras and microphones placed around the home which are wirelessly connected to the Internet. Users get real-time streaming images sent to laptops or PDAs with high-speed wired or wireless connections. Costs vary based on individual requirements, but you can get a single Panasonic Network Video Camera for about $125.
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November 17 2009 by BW Innsider
Best Western, a long time sponsor of Michael Waltrip and his team, is now the primary sponsor of the No. 00 Toyota Camry driven by the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 winner David Reutimann for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race being held at the Phoenix International Raceway on April 10, 2010. Best Western will also serve as an associate sponsor of the No. 00 for the remainder of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.
"Best Western is one of the most dynamic and creative sponsors and we've experienced incredible success together over the past six seasons," said Michael Waltrip. "We know that when we start our engines that Best Western hotel owners and fans will be cheering both David and me on during the 2010 NASCAR season."
"Racing from dirt track to dirt track across the years, I spent a lot of nights in Best Western hotels across the country," said David Reutimann. "So I know personally the kind of amazing service and great value Best Western offers. Now when I stay at Best Western, I get my own king bed, so I feel like I've made some progress. I am just so thankful that Best Western sees the value in our partnership and has decided to continue to support Michael Waltrip Racing."
Best of luck to Michael and David and the entire Michael Waltrip team as they gear up for 2010!
For more information on Best Western Racing or to sign up for the Speed Rewards loyalty program, please visit www.bestwesternracing.com.
From the classic stainless steel car to the bright neon lights to the smell of apple pie and malts - the diner has officially made a comeback. Made trendy again by the popular show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and new generations seeking a retro flashback, diners have been an essential part of urban culture for over 50 years. Defined as quintessentially "American", they've been illustrated by pop culture artists and featured as a staple hang-out in numerous movies and television shows. Most diners are small businesses and family owned, which always adds to the character of the atmosphere, food and service. So, the next time you're traveling, be sure to stop by these unique, fun and delicious American classics.
Blue Benn Diner (Bennington, Vermont)
Many popular diners today offer a true culinary experience by providing non-traditional diner food in the same retro atmosphere. One of the country's most well-known diners is Blue Benn Diner in Bennington, Vermont which offers the traditional fare, but also unexpected dishes such as Syrian roll-ups and vegetarian enchiladas. If you take a look at the Diner Section of any restaurant review, you'll most likely find people raving about this little gem with fabulous food.
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I know you all have experienced this. You're out of town on business and you wind up with about 2 hours before you have to leave to catch your plane or check out of your hotel. Not a ton of time, but enough to do something interesting besides hanging out in your room watching old movies.
After some thought, I decided to put together a list of things you can do when faced with a little time on your hands and you'd like to do or see something memorable before heading home or to your next destination.
You can start by asking your hotel concierge about local landmarks, parks, zoos, antique shops or museums that are located nearby. It's a great way to soak up some of the local landscape and get a feel for the people living there, especially helpful if you will be returning to that city again. I know that all of the Best Western properties list local attractions and distance from their hotel property which you can find on www.bestwestern.com.
To get even more specific, I thought I would suggest a few things in three different cities across the U.S. that could turn your run-of-the-mill business trip into something a little more memorable.
New York City. Head over to the West Village (the original, western portion of Greenwich Village) and take a leisurely 2 hour stroll around the virtually unchanged 19th century neighborhood. The West Village was originally home to quite a few literary artists, but that has changed in recent years. It's a delightful diversion from the hustle and bustle of Times Square and Central Park. You'll find beautifully renovated brownstones and some great neighborhood restaurants, some offering locally grown food. If walking around New York neighborhoods aren't your thing, how about a helicopter tour around Manhattan getting a bird's eye view of Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty or the Hudson River? Some companies offer as little as a 7 minute tour up to 30 minutes, perfect for the 2 hours or less!
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You may not know this, but Best Western is not a franchising operation, but a membership organization. All Best Western hotels are independently owned, and owners opt to join Best Western as Members.
Every year several thousands of these Members gather with Best Western's top brass for a big powwow known as "Convention." Since many readers of this blog spend much of their lives at Best Western hotels, I thought they'd be interested in an outlook gathered from some of the most important speeches and presentations at the latest Convention held in Phoenix last month.
- Enhancing Best Western Rewards® is a key initiative for 2010. Elite level members can expect more than just bonus points for each stay--you'll likely see more welcome gifts or room upgrades. Similar to what you saw this year, you can expect at least four big bonus point promotions in 2010. Plus, a new Best Western Rewards credit card will make it even easier to fatten your account balances.
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November 11 2009 by Amy Graff
Lake Placid, N.Y.
This little lakeside village surrounded by the Adirondacks has hosted two winter Olympics. It's a great spot for sledding, ice skating, and skiing at the nearby Whiteface Mountain, where you can hit the slopes for $35 on select Sundays and $38 on certain Wednesdays. Play: At the Olympic Center, skate around the Olympic Speed Skating Oval where Eric Heiden won a record five gold medals in the 1980 Winter Games--costs only $5 for adults, plus a $3 skate rental. Eat: At the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, the onion soup ($6), made with Moose Island Ale, is sure to warm you up. Also, try the steak salad ($11), and fish and chips ($10). Stay: The Best Western Adirondacks has an indoor hot tub and heated pool.
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I don't know if you saw the news recently, but Brad Pitt had a little tipover on his motorcycle while evading the paparazzi. He was unhurt, but it made me think about how many celebrities ride motorcycles.
Pitt is well-known for his love of motorcycling. So is his buddy George Clooney, who rides with a posse of friends on a regular basis. Other big-time actors who are unrepentant motorcyclists include Aaron Eckhart, Adrien Brody, Antonio Banderas, Jeremy Irons, Billy Bob Thornton, Scott Glenn, Bruce Willis, Ewan McGregor and Tom Cruise, just to name a few. Motorcycling and movie stars have always gone hand in hand.
Marlon Brando and Clark Gable rode bikes, but the golden age of celebrity motorcycling may have been the 1960s. That's when Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood and every cool guy in Hollywood was on two wheels, influencing an entire generation of motorcyclists. Arnold Schwarzenegger redefined motorcycling onscreen as the title character in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and rides prominently in real life, even as he serves out his term as Governor of California.
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America is a great place. It is the land of hope, opportunity and many of the world's largest things (like Best Western - The World's Largest Hotel Chain).
I remember the first time I came across something that bared the name "World's Largest". I was 4 years old, riding down Interstate 94 just outside of Detroit, Michigan. I looked to my right and my eyes locked in on the world's largest tire. The tire, built by the Uniroyal Tire Company, stands proud at about 80 feet tall and weighs 12 tons. I can remember, even at a young age, marveling how completely unnecessary such an object was. Unnecessary, sure--but, so cool.
Since that day, I've always made an effort to seek out many of the other "World's Largest" when traveling. They range from kitschy to cool, tall to wide, and homemade to complete and total engineering masterpieces. They are a great cross section of America. They are built on every budget and can appeal to the oldest and youngest of travelers.
Here are a few of my favorite "world's largest" objects:
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"The Land of 10,000 Lakes" is where you will frequently hear the greeting "Velkommen" or "Welcome" in Norwegian and is home to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
The Minneapolis-Saint Paul cities offer all the culture, shopping, theatre, arts and sports that you would expect from any large metropolitan area but without some of the other hassles. There is a great vibe that surrounds these cities many unique and interesting things to do while visiting.
Starting with the arts, Minneapolis is home to the Walker Art Centre, considered one of the world's best contemporary art museums. In addition, they also have an outdoor sculpture garden that features some fantastic sculptures including a few by Frank Gehry that is definitely worth seeing. If you enjoy theater, you'll need to pay a visit to new Guthrie Theater, featuring both classic and contemporary plays. If you're a fan of birding, this is a great bird watching venue considering the urban setting. Spend a day simply wandering the art center and the outdoor gardens. It is worth the trip.
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With just more than100 days left until the start of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, why are people talking about Quebec City and the Olympics? And why is travel and tourism at the forefront of the discussion?
The issue centres on Quebec City's desire to have a new $400 million arena erected to replace the relic known as Le Colisee. The story has become a national one with two very compelling angles already taking shape. The first is the potential to have NHL hockey back in Quebec City after it left town in 1995. The second buzz surrounds the opportunity to bid for the Olympics yet again (Quebec City was eliminated from the running for the 2010 Winter Olympics) in either 2022 or 2026.
Quebec's timing is very opportunistic with both of these story lines very front-and-centre with Canadians. The hockey angle has been very top-of-mind as Jim Balisle's bid to bring a 7th team to Canada stole the headlines all summer and Olympic excitement really heating up with only three months left until the Games.
It all sounds good, but with a $400 million price tag, who is going to pony up the cash?
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Prognostication is a dangerous exercise, especially out here in the blogosphere where anything you publish can easily come back to haunt you. But as we enter the fourth quarter of a tough year, I'm going to stick my neck out and point to some positive things I see coming our way in the next year...
- The rebound in business travel is going to be led by road warriors from small- and medium-sized companies. These "unmanaged" travelers are the folks who call their own shots when it comes to business travel and aren't bound by any corporate policies that may have hampered some of their "managed" traveler counterparts from getting out there and snagging new business this year. In a recent survey, nearly 80 percent of them said they'd be traveling as much or more this fall than last. I expect more of the same early next year. However, as the year progresses and the economy continues to warm up, those corporate policies will slowly melt away-- though it's going to take a while for things to return to "normal."
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When you're riding your motorcycle, in the best of all possible conditions, the only thing that touches the road is the contact patch on your tire. And yet many riders pay little or no attention to their tires before heading out for a ride.
I'd like to encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about your tires right now; a few minutes inspecting your tires later; and a few minutes checking your tires before each and every ride.
What should you look for when you check your tires?
We all know that it's important to check tire inflation pressure. Your bike should have a VIN sticker or VIN plate that displays recommended tire pressure and GVWR. Your owner's manual will also have a page detailing correct tire pressure, front and rear -- the numbers are frequently different, depending on the size and type of bike you ride. Try to check your tires and add air (if necessary) when the tires are cool. Once tires heat up from riding, air pressure readings will rise, because hot air expands.
Don't overinflate or underinflate -- both conditions can lead to handling issues, and possible tire failure.
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November 2 2009 by BW Innsider
We received great response on our summer photo contest. So much that we are can't wait to see even more of your travel adventures! Fall is a great time for seeing the sights, beating the crowds and discovering new spots. Submit a photo of your fabulous fall travel and enter for a chance to win a digital picture frame.
Submit your photo by November 30, 2009 to enter for a chance to win a digital picture frame to display your vacation memories.
To enter the contest:
1. Submit an email with your photo attached.
2. Add "YMBT Fall Photo Contest" in the subject line.
3. Add your name and email address in the body, so we can notify you if your photo is selected as the winner!
Submitted photos will be featured on YMBT.
Enjoy your fall adventures!
November 2 2009 by Sam Lowe
Millions of readers across the globe have involved themselves with the thrilling stories created by the late Tony Hillerman. In his many novels, Hillerman combined Native American culture with murder mysteries, taking his readers across Navajo, Hopi and Zuni lands through the eyes of Joe Leaphorn and Jimmy Chee, his lawman heroes.
Now his fans can personally experience some of the intriguing settings of the novels on a five-day Hillerman Country Tour that departs from Phoenix, Arizona, and travels to some of the destinations the author described in his books. One of the first stops is at the Grand Canyon where participants will meet with James Peshlakai, a Navajo elder and silversmith whose name appears in Hillerman's "The Wailing Wind."
Also in Arizona, the tour stops at the Hopi village of Walpi, situated on the top of a towering mesa that rises hundreds of feet above the semi-desert below. Tour guides explain that it was here where Jimmy Chee arrested a criminal but, due to a lapse in judgment, let him escape. The 10-passenger van then winds through the Chuska Mountains on the Arizona-New Mexico border, then passes the legendary Shiprock Pinnacle, believed by many Navajos to be their place of origin.
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