Monday, October 21, 2019

Is it Worth It? The Empire State Building

   The Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the US, is arguably the most iconic skyscraper in the nation. Is a trip to the top of the structure worth the price of admission? Here's some inside information before you visit.

The View of Times Square from The Empire State Building

   The Empire State Building's Observation Deck is on the 86th Floor. Cost to go to the top; $27. The view is spectacular, especially at dusk when the city begins to light up. I thought the price was rather steep, but I figured it was a once in a life time trip to the top. For myself, it was worth it.

   Warning, the Management team who run the Empire State Building do an excellent job of trying to squeeze every last dollar from your wallet. Before you get to the elevator, you will find employees trying to sell you an audio tour, a special map, a photo and a spin in something called the New York City Sky Ride. All this at an additional charge and all this before you get to the first elevator.

   That's right, first Elevator. After waiting in line after line and being solicited by half of Manhattan, you finally take a ride in an elevator that goes to the 80th floor. Then more lines, to take another elevator to the 86th Floor.

After so many lines and two sets of elevators, finally the top

   You will also get an opportunity to take a third elevator to the top of the spire for an additional $17 dollars. This trip to the 102nd floor is not worth the additional cost. The view is basically the same and the viewing area is very small and cramped.

The Spire to the 102nd Floor

The Chrysler Building below a full moon

   More lines when you are ready to come down with an obligatory trail through the gift shop before you leave.  I was amazed at the number of lines you had to wait in to get to the the top, but the view of New York is something you won't forget.
   I would also recommend the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. The view is equally splendid and your vantage point allows you to see all of Central Park. The price is also $27 but the elevator ride up is a unique experience.

Apparently, it's okay to deface other skyscrapers 

Yes, the Empire State Building has a mascot, King Kong

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Leaf Peaping: An Enduring Look at New England in the Fall

  My wife Madelyn and I recently returned from a week in New England, an activity after referred to as Leaf Peeping.   I had been to New England in the fall before but Madelyn had always wanted to see it for herself.
    The goal is to be in there during "peak" colors. That can often be difficult, especially when trying to make plans an traveling a great distance.  We probably missed peak by about a weak. Some parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were spectacular, other parts of hadn't started to change yet.  Regardless,  the backroads of upper New England and the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire are postcard worthy regardless of the season.

The Colors

    The key to visiting New England in the fall is to hit "Peak," when the leaves are their most vibrant. There are numerous websites to help you plan your trip. 
    Even though we missed peak by about a week, we still saw spectacular colors and discovered a few trips. We discovered that there might be one section of the state where the leaves haven't started to turn, while a few miles away you may experience some spectacular colors.  
   We traveled mainly on Scenic Route 100, sometimes known as Vermont's Main Street.  We took advice from several of our innkeepers to find some of the best side routes. Enjoy some of our finds

Sunday, July 7, 2019

An Enduring Look at Gulf Shores

   If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that our family would be vacationing in Alabama, I would have not believed you. But a youth baseball tournament took our family to this little slice of white sandy beaches and a whole lot of fun called Gulf Shores, Alabama. 
   My travel buddy Billy Jones (from Episode 1), a frequent visitor to the Gulf Shores, joins the episode to discuss some of our favorite places to visit. 

One of our favorite places, The Gulf Restaurant

As Mentioned on the Podcast

My granddaugher on the white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama

The sun sets on Gulf Shores, Alabama

One of our favorite places, The Gulf Restaurant

My granddaugher's first day ever on the beach

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Visit Chernobyl!

    We recently sat down on the podcast with Sommer Mathis, Editor in Chief of our favorite usual travel site Atlas Obscura.  She discussed the excursions they are offering to the Exclusion Zone surround the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukraine.  Book a trip here

   The podcast also discusses Mythbuster Adam Savage's new book and his travel bucket list plus a look on how to avail long lines at Disneyland.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Episode 104 - San Antonio's Ghost Crossing and other Haunted Sites

   A historic joint podcast - Julie Fisk and Rebekah Black, hosts of the podcast "Haunted AF" join Hawkeye to discuss San Antonio's famous Ghost Crossing and other Alamo City sites.  My entries from my San Antonio Uncovered blog on San Antonio's most popular Ghost stories are below
   Plus we remember one of our favorite travel friends Todd Mulholland and our trip to the Atlanta Olympics

My San Antonio Uncovered Blog

San Antonio Uncovered - The Book

Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About The Ghost Crossing

UPDATE:  In October of 2018. Union Pacific Railroad upgraded the tracks and eliminated the grading that allowed your car to roll over the tracks.  The Ghost Crossing Phenomena was eliminated.  The following post was first published in 2013 and frequently updated.

For years, San Antonio teenagers have headed to the south side to experience the "Ghost Crossing." Local legend states that a school bus stalled on the tracks and was hit by a train at this crossing. Today if you leave your car in neutral, the ghost of those school children will push you across the tracks to safely.

Where: The crossing is on Shane Road where it intersects with the Southern Pacific Rail Line. Take Presa south off SE Military Drive. Turn right on Southton Road, travel under Loop 410 and right again on Shane Road. Continue to the train tracks.

What to do next: Turn off your engine. Put your car in neutral. Your car will mysteriously start to roll from a dead stop over the tracks.

Scary Scooby Doo Stuff:  After your car is pushed over the tracks, take some baby powder and dust the back of your car. You will find finger prints of the ghosts that pushed your car across the tracks.

Reality Check: Chances are pretty high that those fingerprints are yours, from the last time you got into your car's truck, unless of course, you wipe your trunk of fingerprints every time you access your hatchback.

More Scary Stuff: The subdivision nearby has streets named after the children who died at the tracks.

Reality Check: The streets are named after children. However, Bobbie Allen, Cindy Sue, Laura Lee, Nancy Carroll and Richey Otis are actually the names of the developer's grandchildren.

Even More Scary Stuff: If you listen closely, you can hear the cries of the ghost children in the distance.

Reality Check: There is a nearby farm, which has peacocks. The haunting noise you hear is actually the cries of the peacocks.

History of the Ghost Crossing: There is no record of a bus accident at the rail crossing. The story of the Ghost Crossing goes back many years. At one time, there was a version that a horse drawn cart was caught on the tracks.
There was a school bus that was caught on tracks in Salt Lake City in 1938. Twenty six children lost their lives in the accident, and the story was front page news across the nation.  Today it is law that school buses must stop at rail crossings and look for trains before crossing the tracks.

Reality Check: The Ghost Crossing - A Scientific Explanation: The Ghost Crossing is an optical illusion. The road is actually at a slight decline which causes your car to roll over the track. However, the horizon gives the impression that the car is actually being pushed uphill.

Similar Legends: Gravity Road in New Jersey is quite similar to the Ghost Crossing. Notice how close that legend parallels the San Antonio tale

The Ghost Crossing has received interest from a number of Television shows. Here is an excellent clip from one national broadcast which debunks the local legend.

11 San Antonio Ghost Stories

Every town has tales of spirits that inhabit the area, and San Antonio, Texas is no exception. Here are eleven of the city’s most popular poltergeists.
ONE: The Ghost Crossing
Perhaps the most popular tale, the ghost crossing has enticed thousands of San Antonians to trek out to an obscure southeast railroad crossing to participate in an eerie phenomenon. The ghost crossing is on Shane Road, where it intersects with the Southern Pacific rail line. According to the legend, a school bus full of kids stalled on the tracks and was hit by a train. Today if a motorist stops before the tracks and places the car in neutral, the ghosts of those children will push the vehicle over the tracks. To visit the crossing, take Presa south off SE Military Drive. Turn right on Southton Road, then right again on Shane. Turn off your engine and give it a try. If you’re brave, visit the crossing at night. You will be amazed when your car mysteriously moves across the tracks. Is it an optical illusion? Are you really moving downhill? Or is your car being pushed across by ghosts? Part of this ghostly tale is that the nearby subdivision has streets named for the children who perished in the supposed accident. Actually they are simply the names of the neighborhood developer’s grandchildren.
TWO: The Ghostly Nuns
The basement of Santa Rosa Hospital is said to be the haunting grounds for these spectral beings. The ghosts are believed to be the spirits of five nuns who died on October 30, 1912, after trying to rescue children from a burning orphanage. The
wooden building of the St. John’s Orphan Asylum, which went up in flames that night, was located across from the hospital at the corner of Houston and San Saba Streets.
THREE: The Menger Ghost
Said to haunt the old portion of the Menger Hotel, Sallie White was a hotel chambermaid who was murdered by her husband. This poltergeist is rather stubborn, appearing only when she pleases.
FOUR: The Alamo Ghosts
Many guests who have stayed at the Menger Hotel in rooms that overlook the Alamo have said that they have spotted the ghosts of the Alamo defenders. Legend states that General Andrade of the Mexican army planned to destroy the Alamo after the Battle of San Jacinto. But when he ordered his troops to do so, the ghosts of Travis, Bowie, and the others appeared with flaming swords, screaming, “Do not touch these walls!” On Nacogdoches near Loop 1604 sits a stone tower atop a hill. It is said that this tower is also haunted by ghosts from the Alamo days. Lights are often seen at the tower at night, and many believe that the tower was a lookout post for the Alamo and that the lights belong to the spirits of the sentry.
FIVE: The Dancing Diablo
The site for this terrible tale is the El Camaroncito Nite Club, located at 411 W. Old Highway 90. It’s said that in the 1970s a debonair patron was dancing with many different women one evening, and at some point, one lady looked down and noticed that the dapper dancer had the feet of a chicken. This is of course the sign of the devil, so the woman screamed, and El Diablo ran from the club. El Camaroncito Nite Club is now closed, but the chicken-footed dancer has been reported at other establishments throughout the years.
SIX: The Ghosts of Milam Square
Few people realize that the public park between Santa Rosa Hospital and El Mercado was once a cemetery for the Canary Islanders. It is said that if you pass through the square with evil thoughts, you will be visited by spirits.
SEVEN: The Converse Wolfman
Set many years ago in the area of Skull Creek near FM 1518, the legend tells of a thirteen-year-old boy, who spent most of his time reading. The father thought the boy was too much of a bookworm, so he bought him a rifle, thinking that by forcing
the child to go hunting, he could reform him. After his first day out with the gun, the boy came home and told his parents of a wolfman-type creature in the woods. The father, not believing the boy, told him to go out and not to return until he had killed something. When the young hunter did not come home, a search party was organized. At the creek, the boy was found dead, and the wolfman was feasting on his body. The wolfman supposedly returns to the creek during full moons, and when he does, the water in the creek turns blood red.
EIGHT: The Donkey Lady
Also called La Llorona, the donkey lady was a beautiful poor girl who fell in love with a rich aristocrat. Because they were of different classes, they were forbidden to marry. The young lady thus became the man’s mistress and bore him several children. Some versions say she drowned the children because she was poor and could not afford to keep them. Others say she drowned them because she was evil.
Regardless, because of her awful actions, she was condemned for eternity to be a ghost with a donkey’s head on her beautiful body. La Llorona has been reported on Applewhite Road near Zarzamora and at the intersection of Blanco and Lockhill-
Selma. She also has been spotted by teenagers who go to Espada Park to neck. The legend is often told by superstitious parents to warn their children of the ghost that haunts youngsters who play near forbidden waters.
NINE: The Navarro House Ghost
This downtown landmark is the former home of José Antonio Navarro, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Believers in the paranormal have heard footsteps and spotted furniture that has been moved under mysterious circumstances. Some say the ghost is the home’s namesake; others say it is a slain prostitute, a murdered bartender, or a Confederate deserter.
TEN: The Seven-foot Chinese Woman
This large Asian ghost haunts an old cemetery near Stinson Field. One version of the tale claims the seven-foot-tall local woman killed herself because her Chinese contemporaries ridiculed her for being so tall. Some say she died in a fire. The
same area is said to be haunted by a bearded lady as well.
ELEVEN: Midget Mansion
This legend was fueled by the overactive imaginations of teenagers who attended Marshall and Clark high schools. For years, students went after dark to an old abandoned home situated between Datapoint Drive and Medical Drive near the Medical Center to tell the story of a mansion run by evil midgets.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Episode 102 An Endearing Look at Innsbruck

   We discuss out recent trip to Innsbruck, Austria along with Patricia Frommer (, Frommer Guides) who adds her perspective.
   Plus historical audio featuring ABC sportscaster Frank Gifford on the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics and the gold medal Franz Klammer downhill run that inspired this trip.

Madelyn and I have lunch at an inn on the Stubai Glacier

Madelyn miniaturized in the town of Khutai

The Skypool in Khutai

Typical Tyrolian Inn in Khutai, Austria

Innsbruck's Arch

The Painted Ladies of Innsbruck

Innsbruck's famed Golden Roof

A small family owned inn at the top of Schlick ski resort
The Streets of St Anton

A copy of Otto Lang's book on downhill skiing in front of the home on Hannes Schneider, the skiing pioneer

Madelyn, on the trail between St Anton and St Christoph

Dining at the famed Arlberg Thaja in St Christoph

Outside the town of St Christoph, the birthplace of Alpine skiing

Outside the Palace in Innsbruck headed to the ski slopes on a Sunday morning 
The funicular stop from Innsbruck to Hungerberg

High atop Innsbruck at Nordkette Ski area

The Igloo Bar overlooks Innsbruck

The Giant at the Swarovski Experience

Friday, March 1, 2019

Episode 100 - One Hundred and Eleven Museums in NYC That You Must Not Miss

   Wendy Lubovich has written a wonderful book, "111 Museums in New York That You Must Not Miss."   We discuss how this book came about and some of her favorites and unusual museums.
   Plus David Yeskel discuss the way to bid on airline upgrades.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Podcast Episode 98 - Why Uruguay needs to be on your bucket list. Plus the Airbnb app for boating

   New York Times writer Nell McShane Wolfhart discusses why Uruguay needs to be placed on your bucket list. 
   Plus, Brian Petro of the Get My Boat app explains the idea behind the Airbnb of watercraft.  This week on the Travel With Hawkeye podcast 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Rising Cost of Lift Tickets

  I recently discovered a 1975 skiing article from Dallas based D Magazine.  The article discussed a number of resorts and included the 1975 price of lift tickets.  I thought it would be interesting to compare what tickets cost in 1975 adjusted for inflation compared to what they actually cost today.

  In fairness, skiing has changed much since 1975.  Modern high speed lifts allow skiers to get to the top of the mountain in a fraction of the time it took in 1975. Most chairlifts in the 70s held two to three people. Today many resorts now feature 6 pack high speed detachable lifts that go higher and faster.  You can ski a lot more terrain in a single day.      

    Plus, snowmaking and grooming are not only more prevalent today, it's expected and expensive. Let's also discuss terrain parks.  They didn't even exist in 1975.

    The biggest change might be the size of resorts. Below are the trail maps of Breckenridge from 1978 and 2019.  Not only is the resort 2 1/2 times larger than before, it also reaches higher into Peak 8 to offer some extreme in bounds skiing.

   That being said, the cost of skiing has risen greatly in the past few decades.  One must wonder if this effects the number of people who participate in the sport. Check out the cost of skiing on 1975 vs today and you decide.

                                   1975 Lift Ticket Price      Adjusted for inflation         Cost of Lift Ticket in 2019

Aspen                            $11                                  $51                                      $159

Breckenridge                 $7.50                               $35                                      $179

Copper Mtn                  $10                                  $46                                       $178

Crested Butte                $10                                  $46                                       $120

Vail                                $11                                  $51                                       $199

Angel Fire                     $8                                    $37                                       $77

Taos                              $10                                  $46                                       $110

Park City                       $9                                     $42                                      $169

Breckenridge Trail Map 1978

Breckenridge Trail Map 2019

Our 2019 Skiing Podcast

Monday, January 7, 2019

We Discover the Hidden Treasures of Route 66

Amy Bizzarri, author of the new book, The Best Hits on Route 66, 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road" takes us on a trip from Chicago to the Santa Monica Pier, across America to discover the history, the culture, the food, the people and the spirit of this country's most cherished highway.
    Stops include the Blue Hole in New Mexico, a little known desert oasis, and a road that play a tune but only when you drive the speed limit. 

   The portion of Route 66 in Tijeras, New Mexico that allows your car to play America The Beautiful but only if you drive over the rumble strips at the 45 mph speed limit. 


Check out the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, New Mexico


What's at the bottom of the Blue Hole?


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