th9 Traveling for Thanksgiving? You need this bag.Heading to your family of origin for turkey day? Or going somewhere as un-familial as possible?

Either way, it’s irritating to have spend big bucks for teeny-tiny toiletries in order to satisfy the Transportation Security Administration.

Thus I’m offering yet another TSA-friendly travel kit, in plenty of time to receive it before your long Thanksgiving weekend trip with a carry-on bag.


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A misstep in Manhattan.

th6 150x150 A misstep in Manhattan.The good news: I was reminded how nice New Yorkers can be. The bad news: I had to take a monumental fall near 31st and 7th to rediscover this.

I mean a full-tilt, face-down, wind-knocked-out-of-me fall. Damn curbs.


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th5 The first class stinkeye.I never expected to eat a delicious meal on an airplane. Frankly, I never expect to have a reasonably edible meal on a plane – that’s why I bring my own food.

But flying back from the Financial Blogger Conference I was given a chance to eat celeriac puree for the first time, along with beef short rib bordelaise and green beans.

These things were prefaced by an appetizer salad: a few strips of hot-smoked salmon, a small pile of chopped cucumber and tomato, a few fancy salad greens and a dab of dill crème frache. Oh, and a pecan tart for dessert.

Celeriac puree is pretty tasty, and the appetizer salad was so good that I wanted it to be the entrée. In fact, the foods almost made up for getting the first-class stinkeye. Almost.


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th2 300x300 On the road to nowhere in particular. Last week DF and I took a four-day driving trip around rural Alaska, aka “1,200 miles’ worth of postcard views.”

Now that summer is pretty much gone, we decided to treat ourselves to the sights of our too-brief autumn. While we don’t have the scarlets and oranges of New England, the changing colors were still pretty heart-stopping.

Brilliant yellow birch and rich gold willows glimpsed against backdrops of spruce so dark they looked black. Here and there some in-between leaves that gleamed chartreuse in the nearly nonstop sun.

Splashes of red fireweed and redder berry bushes alongside the highway and also carpeting the hillsides. Mountains festooned with blindingly white new snow as well as the more somber ivory of alpine glaciers.

September is a well-kept secret in southcentral Alaska. Most of the tourists have gone home, although we did see some at Denali National Park. Buttoned up to their necks, they were, and seeming disappointed that they didn’t get to see all of Mt. McKinley (which we call “Denali” or just “The Mountain”) due to partly cloudy skies.

At least they got to see the first 10,000 feet of it. Denali is like a stripper who generally doesn’t show you all the good stuff at the same time.


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th 150x150 The cheaper I sleep, the longer I can stay.I just had three really nice days in Austin, Texas. The total charge for lodging was about $84, breakfast included. That’s because I stayed at HI Austin, a 10-minute bus ride outside of the city’s bustling downtown.

Yes, I had up to four roommates at any given time and yes, the bed was extremely basic (a bottom bunk). But what did I care? Any time I was in the room I was asleep or headed in that direction.

I’ve stayed in hostels in the United States (Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City) and the United Kingdom (London, Cardiff) and always had an agreeable — and frugal — experience. These places aren’t nearly as scary as those Eli Roth movies would have you believe.

Well, there was that one hostel roommate who’d just been arrested for importing machetes. And the time that some Eurotrash dude decided he could make me into a cougar. But both those examples actually wound up being funny, as well as good blog post material.


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