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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    Your Canuck heart is about to swell with pride because Chris Hadfield and his family just delivered their latest gift to the Internet: a music video titled, “In Canada.”

    Collaborating with his brother David, the retired astronaut (and new member of the Order of Canada) uploaded the “polite song from two brothers who are just hoping your day is going okay,” to his YouTube page on Tuesday.

    And it is, thanks to this glorious track. Because there's nothing more Canadian than singing about doughnuts and how much you love winters in the thick of summer.

    The Hadfields said it was their goal to make “the most Canadian music video ever.”

    So, how did they do?

    Full lyrics below:


    Canada… what’s with Canada…

    We got great big cities but a lot of trees and rocks

    And yes the winter’s cold here – wear two pairs of socks

    There’s half the world’s fresh water, to paddle your canoe

    Camp along the shoreline, it’s what we like to do.

    In Canada… [each time]

    Livin in

    Float my boat in

    Bait my hook in


    We tend to do things different, we each have our routine

    Some of us eat kubassa, some of us, poutine

    But we have traditions, that help us stick together

    Our milk comes in a bag, mosquitos eat at leisure.

    Playing in a snowsuit, true north strong and free

    Hockey Night on Saturday, there on CBC,

    Center ice in

    He shoots he scores in

    A player in


    We pronounce the letter R like we’re pirates on a ship

    We’ll drive two thousand miles, on a summer camping trip.

    We wear Sorels in winter, while plugging in the car

    We eat the holes from donuts, we love Nanaimo bars.

    And we do possess a word that lubricates our speech:

    …“It’s pretty good, eh” …

    and it’s always within reach,

    How’s it goin in

    Out and about in

    Drop your G in


    I’ve slept out in the forest, scared I heard a bear.

    I’ve climbed a Rocky Mountain, just because it’s there,

    Crossed the great St Lawrence, said merci beaucoup,

    Pardon me; I’m sorry; excuse me; after you,

    Politely in

    Line-up here in

    You don’t butt in, in Canada


    Every city empties on the 24th of May.

    If we say “Not bad!”, we’re better than OK,

    There’s workman’s comp and pogie, for when we’re shown the door.

    There’s Canadian Tire money, in at least one kitchen drawer

    And we have a golden rule that runs between these shores:

    You stay out of my face, I’ll stay out of yours…

    I get along in

    Kissed the cod in

    The Friendly Giant’s in



    Oh………. Canada…


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    Temperatures are rising across the country as snowbirds flock north to settle in until the weather turns come fall. The thought of 40+ degree temperatures may not appeal to some, but if you're looking for an extra hot holiday for half the price, now is the perfect time to escape to Palm Springs.

    Having just returned from a five-day, last minute vacay with daily temps averaging 43 degree highs and 27 degree lows, I wasn't sure if I'd dig it or downright melt. If you plan your days accordingly, though, the desert is great this time of year.

    For the most comfortable experience, hiking, shopping and exploring are best between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., followed by an afternoon of lounging poolside until happy hour. Venture out for dinner around 7 p.m. to catch the sunset before settling on your evening locale. Here's some other tips and recommendations:

    2014-06-30-Diptic1.jpg



    Stay
    I chose to stay at the super hipster Ace Hotel & Swim Club. Don't be intimidated by the trendsetting crowd, as the laid back atmosphere, quirky decor and mid-century mod surroundings will have you feeling right at home. The L.A. crowd descends in droves on weekends for the pool party scene but security is tight -- hotel guests only.

    If you're after a boutique style hotel on the smaller scale, check out the Movie Colony Hotel. A favorite of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jim Morrison -- who famously leapt from the second-story balcony into the pool in 1968 -- the celeb folklore was enough for me to consider it. Nostalgia aside, the hotel is a modernist gem with theme rooms and townhouses decked out in stylish furnishings. Leave the kiddies at home for this one -- adults only.

    Eat
    Palm Springs isn't really known for an exciting food scene, but Workshop Kitchen + Bar will put it on the map. The decor is clean, monochromatic and cool with inventive dishes leveraging locally sourced fare. The long, communal table is perfect for mingling.

    If you're after authentic Spanish-style tapas and share plates, stop by Tinto in the Saguaro Hotel. Try the Coachella dates. They'll change your life.

    2014-06-30-Diptic.jpg


    Drink
    A visit to Palm Springs is not complete without stopping by Minibar at The Parker. Situated in the hotel's lobby -- when you see the word "DRUGS" you'll know you've arrived -- it's a place to see and be seen. Not into glitterati? No problem. Take your drink with you for a wonder around the grounds, a labyrinth of lush greenery reminiscent of the Queen of Heart's garden in Alice in Wonderland. If you're there after dark, roast s'mores around a fire pit. Ask the bartender for details.

    If you're traveling with kids, in which case you might be in need of a stiff margarita, stop by the family-friendly Las Casuelas Terazza in downtown Palm Springs. Live music plays nightly (think Jimmy Buffet tribute band) and the food is authentic. Did I mention the stiff margaritas?

    Shop
    If you're a seasoned vintage shopper with a boho wardrobe that rivals an Olsen twin, stop by Dazzles for a unique hodgepodge of jewelry, home decor, clothing and other mid-century treasures.

    Another great spot to pick up artwork and home furnishings is A La Mod. If you're converting your pad into a 1960s style dwelling, this is a great place to start, just as the name suggests.

    2014-06-30-Diptic2.jpg



    Do
    I was lucky enough to be there for opening weekend, i.e. no cover charge or crowds, but Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club has the makings of a longstanding Palm Springs staple. Think pool party all day, everyday with exceptional facilities, breezy grounds, and great food. Try the fish tacos...with a lime margarita, naturally.

    If all the pool lounging is affecting your bikini bod, venture to Indian Canyons for a hike through a proper desert oasis. The park is only open on weekends during the summer, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entry is at 4 p.m.). I opted for Andreas Canyon, a mile long, partially shaded loop that follows a stream lined with massive, skirted palms until you reach a bridge and turn back through the open desert. Quiet, peaceful and only one rattle snake to speak of.

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    If Canadian towns were TV shows, the village of Victoria in Prince Edward Island would probably be Cheers -- stay there long enough and everybody knows your name.

    And depending on where you stay, one of the village's 120 or so locals who will know your name is Stephen Hunter, a chef-turned-inn-keeper at the Victoria Village Inn.

    "When I bought the place, I was a chef. Now I'm a chef who can do a little plumbing, a little carpentry and a little electrical, although I kind of leave the electrical alone because I don't want to burn the place down," jokes Hunter.

    Hunter has owned the inn -- one of Victoria's two bed and breakfasts -- for the last 12 years but the building's history runs deeper than that.

    Created 140 years ago, the inn is one of Victoria's first buildings, built by a sea captain who owned a fleet of schooners docked by the nearby harbour. Its history has earned it a designation as one of Canada's historic places, one of the building's definitive characteristics marked by a blue circular plaque adorned just outside of the entrance.

    The designation is a source of pride for Hunter but it's not the village's main attraction. That would have to be the village's legacy as a whole.

    "The feeling and the heart of the community is in the heritage. The identity of Victoria is in the buildings that have been here for generations. People come and go from the buildings but the heart of the village still feels the same and that hasn't changed."

    Getting lost in Victoria, PEI is near impossible. It's laid out in a grid and to walk through all four of the village's blocks takes no more than 20 minutes.

    "It's very culturally dense here and I know it is in other places, but all the things I love about Canada I can find in one little area, says Hunter. "I know it's hard to believe you can find that in four square blocks but people here are from other places across Canada and they bring their ideas and you get a little of everything."

    The Huffington Post Canada Travel made the trip to Victoria by the Sea in PEI and chatted with Stephen over coffee. To see more of what makes the Victoria Village Inn special, check out the video above.

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.


    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here



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    LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Travel Channel is delaying the new series "Man Finds Food" after its star's online war of words.

    The channel said Tuesday that Adam Richman's show has been postponed indefinitely, but it didn't explain why. "Man Finds Food" was to debut Wednesday.

    The channel's move came days after the slimmed-down Richman posted his photo on Instagram with the hashtag "thinspiration."

    Some who viewed it accused Richman of glorifying negative body images. His response to one was to "grab a razor blade" in a bathtub, an apparent reference to suicide.

    In a statement, Richman apologized for what he called "inexcusable remarks."

    Richman also starred in "Man v. Food" for the Travel Channel. He showed off his weight loss in a semi-nude photo in this month's British edition of Cosmopolitan.





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    School's Out for Summer, but the Lessons Still Continue: How Travel Opens the Eyes, Minds, and Hearts of Youngsters

    As my husband piles the last piece of luggage into our jam-packed car, I slowly roll call all of my family's travelling necessities in my head. Passports? Check. Toothbrushes? Check. Bathing suits? Check. Sandals? Check. Reassured that everything is successfully stowed away, I calmly slump in the passenger seat and take a sigh of relief...Ahh, summer vacation.

    With all the hustle and bustle of my family's everyday lives, we collectively look forward to our summer vacations together. I turn to the back seat and look at my three beautiful explorers, travellers, adventure seekers. Radiant smiles were drawn across their faces as they investigated maps and brochures for our new destination. Happiness and pure excitement exuded from their chatter and laughter; not only were they out of school for a couple of months, but they get to spend their time off doing one of their favourite things -- travelling.

    Family holidays can provide great learning opportunities for children, all without a book or classroom insight! Exposure to diverse cultures, picturesque scenery, fun activities and people can teach kid's valuable life lessons and broaden their horizons...sometimes without them even knowing it.

    New Perspectives: Encompassing 196 countries the world offers a vast cultural landscape. Immersing yourself in a new culture can inspire new perspectives and insights, which can be a holistic learning experience for children. When I took my two kids on a trip to India, we visited Mahatma Gandhi's Memorial. It was amazing to see, my two little boys learning how the powerful movement of civil disobedience was rooted in India's non-violent struggle against British rule. Immediately recognizing the importance of the story behind Gandhi, they curiously asked me questions about him, his message, and the battle for independence for the rest of our visit. This experience opened my sons' eyes to the powerful and inspiring motivation behind the quest for freedom, cultural equality, and the importance of lessons from history.

    Adaptability: Along with new perspectives comes new customs, traditions, and ways of life. Travelling can teach children how to become adaptable to their surroundings and try new things. Have you ever tried to cross the street in India's second most populated city? With no traditional pedestrian stop signs or signals to guide them across, my kids and I were quick to learn how difficult it can be to cross a street in India. They had to adapt to the busy streets in order to discover a safe way get to the other side. This experience taught my sons how the rules and courtesies we take for granted in our own country can be very different in other countries. And of course -- to always look both ways!

    Stop and Smell the Roses: Travel can require a lot of waiting as delayed planes, detours and other unexpected situations can arise on vacation. Everyday, we are continually rushing to school, work, practice or a play-date; vacations are a time when children can see the value of being patient and living in the moment. Patience instills a quality model of thinking within children. If children recognize that things take time early in life, they are more likely to channel this positive mindset into future goals and aspirations.

    Giving: During our trip to India, I took my boys to Kabliji Hospital and Rural Medical Centre. At this centre, my children saw poverty and the fragility of human life firsthand. This experience opened their eyes, mind and hearts to those who are less fortunate then they are. On their own, my boys decided to give their whole piggy bank from years of birthday money ($575 dollars) to the charitable hospital, which sponsored five patients to receive cataract surgery. Children who perform acts of kindness at a young age experience increased well-being and display more signs of philanthropic behaviour as they get older. As a proud mama, I am hoping this experience leaves a lasting impression on my boys and that they continue to strive to help those in need.

    Gratitude: Travelling can teach children the value of appreciation and to treasure life's everyday affordances. Not every child in India (and many places in this world) has access to the Internet, a soccer ball to play with, or even a parent to tuck them in at night. But what many of these children do possess is optimism and a sense of gratefulness for what little they have. Experiencing different cultures can help children recognize what they do have and what you really need to live a happy, healthy and motivated life. Countless studies exist on the beneficial effects of gratefulness, such as an improved sense of happiness, personal growth, better social relationships, better sleep, less depression, less stress, and better coping skills.

    The slam of the trunk door snaps me out of my nostalgic daze. I take one last look at my little travellers, reassure them to buckle up and get comfy for the journey that awaits us. As the car engine begins to rev and soft melodies echo through the radio, I look out the window and recite one of Gandhi's memorable quotations in my head; You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Travel provides children with the opportunity to see the world and reflect on the person they aspire to be, their role as a global citizen, and the changes they want to make on our world.

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    We make lists and check them twice, but all too often we leave the house feeling just a little unsettled. And then it hits us -- sometimes when we're taxiing to the airport, and sometimes not until we've reached the destination -- but the thing we can't believe we left behind is nowhere to be found.

    I don't have kids, but I can only imagine the whole packing (and not packing) drama to be multiplied by 1,000 when there is a group of four or more involved.

    Global Discovery Vacations has made a business out of helping families take affordable annual vacations to resorts around the world. I asked one of their experts: What is something you often find your clients forgetting?

    "It's pretty common for people to forget prescriptions. They take the medicine and leave it on the counter. Also eyeglasses; it's always a good idea to bring your prescription along in case you break them," says Lori Smith, Travel Agency Manager at Global Discovery Vacations.

    Smith goes on to list six more must-not-forget items:

    -Sunscreen. Pack this so you don't have to waste time and money by buying over-priced creams at the resort shop. You and the kids want to get poolside immediately, after all.

    -Mini Medical Kit. Band-Aids, antibacterial spray, and allergy medications can easily be packed into a portable pouch. This will come in handy for those seaside scrapes... or in case a bee lands on a beachbum.

    -Airport Snacks. Delays happen. Although airports are improving their food options, it's always a good idea to have some extra healthy snacks in your back pocket. Food Babe has a few great tips on this topic.

    -Jackets and Light Sweaters. One per person, please. Just because it's 30+ degrees during the day does not mean nights can't be potentially chilly. In hot destinations, the occasional thunderstorms do occur.

    -Power Adaptor. This is the last thing you want to go hunting around for. Consider the myCharge Transit XT, a 2600 mAh portable battery provides on-the-go portable power with built-in wall prongs and car adaptor.

    -Laundry Powder. A few scoops in a Ziploc will go a long way when you're down to that last pair of underwear.

    And what if one has the ultimate unfortunate incident of forgetting or losing their passport?

    "Your identification should always be with you when traveling. Without it, it can be difficult to impossible to get on a plane," explains Smith. "On the rare occasion, you can vouch for your travel partner, but be prepared to be separated and asked questions to see if your answers match. Having photographs showing you together will help. The security agents want proof that you really know each other."

    Smith's final note for the packer-in-chief is to take time, about a week before departure, to research your destination "and really think about each individual's needs." Knowing exactly what has to be packed is an essential step before dusting off the luggage.

    Image courtesy of Photopin.com

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    Sometimes you visit a place and have to totally readjust your idea of what it's all about.

    Take Stratford, Ontario. This pretty little city in Southwestern Ontario, home to North America's largest classical repertory theatre, was once a major rail hub housing the Grand Trunk machine shops. When the railroad pulled out, the Stratford Festival moved in. In July 1953, Alec Guinness played in Shakespeare's Richard III inside a giant performance tent, and a trip to Stratford has been a rite of summer for tourists ever since.

    2014-07-02-Avon.jpg
    On the banks of the Avon River
    As a day trip, it's a no-brainer -- an easy two-hour drive from Toronto and less than four hours from Detroit. You can catch a Festival bus from either city or ride a VIA train from Toronto or Windsor. But last month, when I changed up my annual summertime day trip, my old take on this town got an overdue upgrade.

    Stratford, I thought: beautiful, smart and well-behaved? Yes. Radical? Not so much. Then I stayed for a few days, unpacked some new ideas, and found out that Stratford is about more than great theatre and little Justin Bieber's home town.

    Even the swans eat organic
    Stratford sits in Perth County, one of the most richly productive agricultural regions of Ontario. It has a well-established cuisine, fuelled by the talents at the Stratford Chefs School, and is developing a reputation as a hot culinary destination. No surprises there. It's the collective food awareness, the communal spirit, the depth and breadth of the culinary and environmental consciousness here, that turned out to be the eye-opener for me.
    2014-07-02-Muffins.jpg
    Organic muffins with fresh strawberries at Monforte
    At the forefront is Ruth Klahsen, the affable and erudite local chef turned cheesemaker extraordinaire. She is the daughter of a Mennonite doctor and has close connections with local farmers who care for the livestock and land that provide her ingredients. Uncommonly generous with her time and always willing to share her knowledge, she is a driving force in the sustainable farming and food community (but then, Ruth would be a force of nature just about anywhere).

    In the vanguard of artisanal cheesemaking in Ontario, she has generated serious buzz for Stratford, winning awards not just for her out-of-this-world cheeses (sheep, cow, goat and water buffalo, all from antibiotic-free, hay and grass fed animals) but for the customer-shared financing model she used to build Monforte Dairy, her small-production, sustainable cheese factory on the edge of town. Monforte on Wellington, the restaurant she envisioned as an unpretentious osteria, serves inspired small plate meals and breakfast dishes, and ended up being my favourite place in town.
    2014-07-02-Monforte.jpg
    Monforte on Wellington
    From the high end, like Rundles, with stellar chef Neil Baxter, through the mid range, like Pazzo Taverna, where chef Yva Santini was named "best under 30 to watch," to fun-on-the-run places like Boomers Gourmet Fries and Canadian Grub, Stratford treats food with the respect it deserves and, in the best moments, a quick dash of wit (some places take it so seriously that eating there is a mock-religious experience, but that's another story).

    "Even coffee is a culinary experience in Stratford," says Anne Campion, who owns Revel Caffe. Anne is the daughter of a Mennonite farmer and another proponent of the community-oriented food movement: "The communal table extends to our philosophy and financing as well," she says. She is a selective sourcer of anything not locally available, serving fair trade, hand-processed coffee from a Nicaraguan farmer and exquisite teas from local tea sommelier Karen Hartwick.

    Sleeping around
    Stratford knows how to treat its tourists, too. It has hotels, motels, apartment rentals and, as befits a heritage town, B&Bs galore. Brand new this year is The Bruce, a posh hotel in the country house style. Think airy rooms, private patios, Frette linens and Molton Brown toiletries. It's a short walk through the park to the Festival Theatre and just blocks away from the Costume and Props Warehouse (open mornings only; book in advance).
    2014-07-02-Millinery.jpg
    At the Costume and Props Warehouse
    Also new and nice are the boutique flats at XXVIII. Renovated with a whiff of urban chic, they offer a laid-back look at what it might be like to live on a leafy Stratford street. The best breakfast? No contest: Red Seal chef de cuisine Erin Delarge rocks the kitchen at the Stone Maiden Inn, a charming 14-room Victorian B&B.

    The play's still the thing
    Although Colm Feore's King Lear is the performance of the season, I opted to leave Lear for later in the summer. I saw Crazy For You, the Festival Theatre's bright and shiny musical, with its zippy dance numbers and great Gershwin tunes. And I caught the opening night of Hay Fever at the Avon, a smartly renovated old vaudeville theatre on Downie Street.

    And what else?
    I took the heritage bike tour at Avon Boat Rentals. Roger, a former teacher and great storyteller, showed us the building where Thomas Edison lived, the last Carnegie Library in Canada still in operation, and, because we're boomer music fans, the final resting place of native son Richard Manuel, late great pianist of The Band.

    On July 19 - 20, you can stroll the riverbanks and sample local food and wines at the Savour Stratford Culinary Festival, and between July 14 - August 24, catch a little Stratford Summer Music.

    There's Art in the Park through September, and ongoing exhibitions at Gallery Stratford, an original pump house built in 1883. There are also year-round self-guided food tours: the Bacon & Ale Trail, the Maple Trail and the Chocolate Trail.

    For more info: www.visitstratford.ca

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    It's interactions with people that lead me to create some of my favourite blog posts. This is no different.

    My travels took me to Dauphin Manitoba. August 9, they are holding a mud run in support of the MS Society. The event coordinators brought me up to run a portion of the event to get a feel for it, they also connected me with Tourism Dauphin and some country fest. It is a bit of drive for the event, and it involved some camping. The question I got asked the most was, how do I eat clean on a "vacation."

    When planning a road trip here's what I think.

    1) Water. Most people snack not because they are hungry, but because they are bored or thirsty. The number one thing to remember is water and to drink a lot of it. You may have to stop a few extra times, but you won't be consuming extra calories. Also, if you are on a vacation that involves the outdoors or activity in the sun, you need to be hydrates.

    *Note this is water, no artificial flavours or colouring. Just life giving water.

    2) Simple snacks. Well planned, local, and natural. Keep most things you eat very simple and as free from artificial ingredients as possible. Try to maintain your health on the road by having snacks that you can eat easily at a stop where you fill up gas, or when you get rid of the water you drank courtesy of recommendation number one.



    3) Be very careful of preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Pur Gum has a campaign that caught my attention called "Kick Aspartame." It's simple, make decisions on snacks, food and drinks that are naturally sweetened, stay away from man made substances. I chew a lot of gum while I drive, and for flying I got in the habit of using it to relieve the pressure in my ears. It's important that we make smart small decisions when it comes to what we put in our body. Remove artificial when you can. It goes for your snacks as well as food. Nothing is too small not even your choice in gum!

    4) Be active. Especially if you are in Canada. This country is awesome. You can run around and play at some many different National Parks. Add a few days to your trip, and take in a few of our National Treasures. Dauphin has Riding Mountain National Park, a stunning prairie gem. Move around, and then replace your burned off fuel with high quality snacks.

    5) Order what you want at restaurants, not just what's on the menu. Now, don't get rude about it, but tell the restaurant what you want to eat. If that means no sauce on top of the chicken, or a vegetarian meal that's not covered in butter. Or a vegan meal that has a little extra from the protein department. Ask nicely and see what they can do. Often times, they are more than happy to oblige or at least offer you a solid option.

    Do all the small things right, and then remember that you are on vacation and you need to cut lose every once in a while.

    So this summer go explore Canada, your province, or what ever you need to do. While you are out and about, don't let your health become secondary. If this is becoming a habit, and a lifestyle, it should just naturally all fall in to place.

    Fill that cooler up with water, healthy simple snacks, and work clean eating into your road trip. Get out there and make life happen. Take a few photos, remember, no more before and afters. I want to see a nation full of people creating "durings."

    Here's my latest "Durings" from the test run of the Manitoba Mud Run

    FEEL FREE TO LIKE THEM! IT MAKES MY DAY





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    Depending on who you ask, happiness might be a warm gun or a fish you can't catch. But ask Julie Rossman to show you what happiness looks like and you'll come across this:



    Rossman was on a whale watching tour back in August of 2011 near Provincetown, Cape Cod when a pod of 20 whales emerged, much to the delight of everyone on board.

    "The breath of a whale, right here at 1 o'clock," Rossman says calmly behind her camera. Things start off slow, but once the whales emerge everything changes and she bursts out into raw, unadulterated excitement.

    Her reaction's been compared to the infamous "Double Rainbow" video, but the self-described animal lover says she's happy she recorded everything.

    "To see so many whales was just shocking," Rossman told USA Today. "I sound like a fool — but it's such a lucky moment captured in real life."

    Admittedly, she was a little embarrassed at first. But after three years of encouragement from friends, Rossman decided to post the video on YouTube:

    "I was embarrassed, but the reaction is one of happiness and joy, so there's nothing to be ashamed of."

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    playlandhotseat

    Amusement parks are, by and large, a subjective experience. Some people like rides that twist you upside down, while others prefer a more tame day of swings and arcade games.

    But what if it wasn't up to you?

    Downtown Vancouver's Playland is currently running a campaign called the Hot Seat, where people on the Internet choose every move that the park's attendees in the "Hot Seat" make.

    Gulp.

    Launched on Thursday and running until Friday, the Hot Seat will see a total of six contestants take their turn being told what rides to ride and what food to eat (people won a seat by sharing a photo of their best scream face with the hashtag #PlaylandHotSeat).

    Viewers control each contestant's moves by clicking options on the Hot Seat website, as well as assigning additional tasks — such as trying to eat a large amount of cotton candy in one minute — on Facebook and Twitter. Oh, and they have to do it all while wearing a GoPro. The whole thing is live streamed online and hosted by comedian Ryan Biel.

    These contestants are very brave...and very trusting.

    Would you take a turn in the Hot Seat?

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    It's that time again! This month we're excited to introduce you to the gorgeous nature and wildlife snapshots of Pam Mullins.

    Mullins grew up in Terrace, where she says "the wildlife outnumbered the people." She lived in Prince Rupert for 21 years and "learned to capture the beauty of the Great Bear Rainforest." Mullins currently lives on the Sunshine Coast.

    "I learned from an early age to love and respect nature; I still seek out the peace and tranquility of the forest and appreciate its beauty," she told The Huffington Post B.C. in an email "I believe nature is a gift, and we should cherish and protect its beauty."

    See some of Mullins' work:




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    Three easy solutions to save you a world of frustration
    The first time I boarded a plane by myself was one of the most terrifying AND exhilarating experiences of my life. I wanted to go home as much as I wanted the plane to take off right away. That first trip, long before there was an Internet to use for research or social media friends to offer advice, I relied on advice from my mom and girlfriends.

    Some of their advice I listened to. Some of it, I ignored. Considering my shocking lack of street smarts, I'm amazed I got home safely. My travel mistakes have ranged from budget-busting to stupid safety choices that (thankfully) ended with a good story to tell when I got home.

    2014-07-04-07Algonquin.jpg



    Feel free to learn from my solo travel mistakes so you don't have to make them for yourself.

    Plan arrival and departure times during the day

    A ridiculously cheap red eye can be hard to turn down -- but do you really want to arrive at a strange destination after dark? Last year, I arrived in North Carolina at 10 p.m. After picking up my rental car and saying no thank you to the GPS, I began a two-hour drive, which turned into three hours because I kept getting lost. Note to self, the iPhone is useless as a navigation tool when you're driving on a highway at 100 miles an hour in the dark, trying to avoid hitting other cars and an extraordinary amount of road kill.

    Needless to say, I began my trip tired and frazzled.

    Deb from Twitter had interesting map experience as well. "I showed up at a B&B, ate cheese, crackers, drank glass of tea. Then found out when complimenting on the B&B, I was at the wrong place. I very kindly thanked them for their hospitality."

    Dress appropriately
    2014-07-04-34juliaflyingsolo_2.jpg



    Flamboyant might be a way of life at home, but research your destination before packing your bags. Standing out in a crowd because you're a shock to the locals shows lack of respect and might put you in danger. Know what the locals wear and what they absolutely don't allow before leaving home.

    In San Juan, I learned the hard way that my spaghetti strap dress was not permitted inside the most beautiful cathedral I've ever seen. While the idea of bare shoulders not being allowed in a church might feel antiquated to me, it's not my place to disrupt local customs.

    Use common sense

    On GoGirlfriend we've shared boatloads of advice from travel safety experts but the best advice I ever received was to balance those smart travel tips with some old fashioned common sense. Spending an evening enjoying a local celebration is a great way to dive deep into the culture. But being stranded at a Pueblo at midnight in a dessert with hitchhiking or walking the only way home equals stupid. We'll leave that story there.

    My friend Carrie on Twitter learned the hard way that not all public transportation is safe. "Being a single blonde on a train in S. Italy at 10 p.m. with packs of young men roaming the cars. I found four nuns to sit with and I speak Italian quite well -- the nuns were gracious to the crazy Canadian! But I was scared...serious stuff! In all seriousness, when traveling alone, good to hook up with other travelers as needed: couples, families, nuns!"

    Traveling solo takes courage and I'm always amazed when I meet women who would never consider it. Fear is their GPS and they can't imagine just traveling for the sake of travel. I've had more than my share of botched travel days, most of them due to my own carelessness. But I've also had travel days that I make all those botched ones minor annoyances in comparison.

    Got any travel mistakes -- and the lessons you learned from -- to help other travellers? We'd love to hear them.

    Leave a comment below or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. I'd love to hear from you!
    2014-07-04-07travelwritingJulia.jpg


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    wolf

    I pull myself up onto a huge cedar log, and then sidle down the other side. The understory of salal is thick, and the glossy leaves slap my face. Following my dad's lead, I drop on all fours and crawl under another an enormous log.

    Suddenly, he stops in his tracks and turns back to me, his voice a whisper: "Do you hear that?"

    Carried on the breeze is an eerie, mournful cry -- the disembodied voice of our quarry.

    We have been tracking wolves through the forest for three hours now. This is the first howl we've heard. The sound is beautiful -- a long, low, almost supernatural cry that seems to wrap all around us.

    My dad and I are making a documentary for CBC Television, and we are trying to locate a wild wolf den to film. My father, wildlife filmmaker Jeff Turner, has filmed wolf dens many times over his 30-year career, and is an expert tracker. But based on the wolf sign we have seen today, it seems unlikely the wolves' have made their den in this area.

    chelsea turner

    The next day we decide to go to a different area to search for wolves. Stepping onto one of the beaches here feels like stepping onto an alien planet. The sand is milky white, the water piercing jade. A full moon hangs suspended in a dark blue sky, and three bald eagles are slowly circling it like they're tracing the lines of a mandala. The treetops are a fierce, verdant green, lashed by the wind into peculiar shapes.

    It feels so wild, so isolated. So I'm surprised when our guide and friend, Ian McAllister, tells me that people are encroaching on the wolves' home.

    "The wolves here did OK years," he says, "But now there's more kayakers and campers coming. It's changing the dynamic."

    He looks grim.

    "I'm worried these guys will get in trouble... I'd be amazed if they last the summer. Some people still have a real hate on for wolves."

    He says that one of the wolves in this pack was recently shot -- only 10 days ago - when she wandered near a group of campers on one of these beaches.

    Wolves have long been cast as the villains in Western culture, and it's amazing how deep this misperception runs. If we can't co-exist peacefully with wolves here -- in the most isolated of places - what does that mean for the wolves' future?

    ~

    The three attributes a wildlife filmmaker needs most are stamina, patience, and optimism. You need the stamina to endure the lack of sleep and biting cold; the patience to sit waiting for hours; and the optimism to enjoy the whole process.

    It's 5 a.m. the next morning, and we're in a small boat about 50 metres from the shoreline, scanning the beach for wolves. Suddenly, Dad spots a pair of wolves coming down the beach. One is dark and a bit scruffy looking, almost like a hyena. The other is slightly larger, and has a beautiful grey colouring.

    The black wolf moves back into the forest, but the grey wolf continues to amble down the beach in a relaxed fashion. She stops several times to snack on crabs amongst the driftwood.

    Watching this wild wolf, it feels like my heart is in my throat. When an animal accepts your presence and allows you to observe and record its life -- when you can feel it trusting you in that moment -- it gives you a feeling of overwhelming honour.

    Eventually the grey wolf saunters away into the lush darkness of the forest. I feel elated to have been so close to her. Maybe tomorrow more wolves will come out on the beach and we'll get a great sequence featuring the whole pack!

    ~

    The next morning everything changes. A hunting guide has arrived and anchored his boat next to us. Even though this area is part of a provincial park, the wolves have no protection. In B.C., it is legal to kill a wolf regardless of age and sex (even pups), and hunting is allowed in most parks and protected areas.

    After weeks of longing for the wolves to show themselves I am now praying that they stay hidden in the forest.

    The grey female wolf we spent time with yesterday was so relaxed in our presence, appearing to not even notice our boat on the water. If a boat of hunters neared the shore, would she know the difference?

    Blog continues after slideshow:


    The wolves do not show themselves and the hunter departs at dawn the next day. We breathe a huge sigh of relief, but I know that the feeling of safety is an illusion. After we leave this area, the hunter could easily come back and kill the wolves without any witnesses.

    And we are leaving in just two days. It's time for one last-ditch effort to locate the wolves' den. Dad departs in the early evening to scan an area of forest that we haven't explored yet. When he returns, his face is lit up with excitement.

    "I found the den!" he exclaims. He says the den was so well hidden amongst the roots of a giant cedar that it was barely discernable. Then he noticed the small dark entrance, and to his amazement, a tiny roly-poly wolf pup waddled out to look at him.

    "Can we film there?" I ask excitedly.

    "Not possible," Dad replies, "There's so much dense brush that we couldn't film from a respectful distance."

    I feel disappointed, but I know that he's right. We might not be able to film at this wolf den, but we can return later in the year when the pups are older and more mobile.

    I hope this wolf pack makes it through the summer without any trouble from their human neighbours. We've pushed wolves to the margins of our world already -- there's nowhere left for them to go.

    It's up to us to leave a little room for the wild.

    To be continued. Chelsea and her dad will be returning to film the wolf pups in August.

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    "Nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people," wrote Mark Twain in an 1867 letter to a San Francisco newspaper.

    Twain, a fan of travel, naturally hated to see it end. In another letter, this time to a friend, he remarked that "There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage."

    Twain's love of travel begged the question of how to do it affordably. In Twain's age, venturing far from home was mostly the preserve of the rich given the relative expense. It was also painfully slow with journeys often measured in days and weeks, not hours.

    Fast forward to the 21st century and travel is speedier and relatively cheaper. But for Canadians, our vacation (and business) bills could be reduced if we were not the victims of poor government policy.

    For example, compare Canadian airfares to what Europeans pay.

    Booking three weeks in advance, using the travel website Kayak.com (and others to calculate fees and taxes, travel distances, and currency conversions to the Canadian dollar), the results are as follows:

    For five return flights in Canada this summer (Calgary-Victoria, Toronto-Ottawa, Halifax-Montreal, Vancouver-Kelowna and Winnipeg-Regina) totalling 5,367 kilometres, your total bill is $1,357.73 or 25 cents per kilometre.

    Contrast that with five in-country flights in Europe (London-Edinburgh, Paris-Nice, Milan-Rome, Dusseldorf-Munich, Barcelona-Madrid) totalling 5,358 kilometres. Your European airfare bill? A palatable $723.79, or 14 cents per kilometre, almost half the cost of the Canadian flights.

    One might theorize that taxes and fees explain the difference between Canada's higher five-city airfare bill and Europe. Except taxes and fees in Canada account for 32 per cent of the $1,357 five-fare bill; in Europe, taxes and fees account for 49 per cent of the $723 cost.

    For more "fun," let's now compare cross-border flights between Canada and the United States and then across Europe.

    If you fly Toronto-Chicago, Vancouver-San Francisco, Calgary-Denver, Winnipeg-Minneapolis and Montreal-New York, the total bill for 9,660 kilometres is $2,004.82, or 21 cents per kilometre (with taxes and fees at 32 per cent).

    Now consider five cross-border flights in Europe with a total return distance of 9,995 kilometres (Munich-Rome, Dublin-Berlin, Vienna-Athens, Prague-Barcelona, London-Paris). Total cost is $1,348.68 or 13 cents per kilometre. In this case, taxes and fees comprise 35 per cent of the bill.

    A caveat. This is only a case study as tracking every airline fare is obviously impossible. Still, I perform the comparison year after year and the results are consistent. Europe has cheaper fares relative to Canada.

    There's no mystery as to why. Europe has the world's most open airline markets. That means robust competition which puts downward pressure on fares, facts also noted by the European Union and the OECD, both of whom praise liberalization of the world's airline markets.

    Back in the early 1990s, the European Union made a move to full cabotage, allowing any airline in any European Union country to fly into any other nation, to schedule flights in-country, and to pick up and drop off passengers in that same country. The policy was fully effective as of 1997, when the skies became more consumer-friendly than anywhere in the world. It meant an Irish airline company could pick up and drop off passengers in Germany, a German carrier could shuttle passengers around France, and so forth.

    The European Union and others have noted the benefits of such liberalized travel and the resulting effects. They include a plethora of new, low-cost carriers, a 34 per cent reduction in real terms in ticket prices, a 220 per cent increase in cross-border routes between 1992 and 2009, a 310 per cent increase in the number of cities served by more than two carriers during the same period, a doubling of air travel within the EU, an economic boost, and increased employment in the airline business and related sectors.

    Alas, in Canada (and also in the United States), the federal government prevents such same country pick-ups and drop offs by "foreign" airlines. That prevents extra competition, more efficiencies and lower prices. Thus, it is little surprise that flights in North America are pricier.

    The Economist magazine once called such North American restrictions "bonkers." My guess is Mark Twain would agree.

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    #BikeRave 2014 from Jon Rawlinson on Vimeo.



    Almost a thousand cyclists rode through Vancouver as part of an annual bike rave, but at least one neighbourhood was unhappy with the event.

    Saturday night's gathering was billed as your "favourite annual glowtastic mobile dance party on wheels." Costumed participants rode decorated bikes from Science World, along the seawall in False Creek to Stanley Park, and then ended at Crab Park in Gastown.

    Organizers scheduled stops along the route under bridges and in parks for people to mingle and dance to a custom five-hour playlist streamed through portable sound systems.

    But people living near the north side of the Burrard Street Bridge told Global News that rave cyclists left garbage and damaged a community garden. They said empty liquor bottles and cans, cigarette packs and glow sticks littered the ground after the event. Volunteers were out on Sunday cleaning up.

    Rave organizers had urged riders to "be considerate when they are go through neighbourhoods after. The only complaints that have ever come up from these events were from groups rolling though unofficial areas afterwards, so please keep that in mind."



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    A massive $80-million Cham Shan Buddhist retreat temple is currently under construction just south of Peterborough, Ont.

    The temple will be on Ski Hill Road near Bethany, Ont. and is being built by the Buddhist Association of Canada. It will be a re-creation of the Sacred Mountains of China, according to PtboCanada.com

    Construction is expected to last over the 20 years but once completed, it will be the largest Buddhist temple outside of China. Experts are estimating 45,000 visitors annually from around the world, which could be a potential boom to tourism in the area.

    The site was chosen because of its serenity, tranquillity and natural environment.

    The wooden temple portion was built in China, but taken apart and shipped to Canada. Experts say it will take about two years to re-assemble the temple in its new home. And instead of using nails or cement, builders will be using interlocking rosewood brackets.

    The site, which will also include a meditation centre, will also feature a gift shop, restaurant and onsite accommodation.

    In 2007, Toronto was home to a $40-million BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Hindu temple, built with parts from India, Turkey and Italy, according to the Toronto Star.

    With files from Jamey Coughlin, PtboCanada.com

    Check out the photos below:

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    Fact: Everybody loves a good adventure story. It has suspense (Did I make the right choice?), intrigue, excitement, and — of course — adventure. Reading about adventures and thrilling quests is all well and good, but what about going on an adventure? Those happen in real life too.

    This summer, why not grab the family and seek out a good time, some new memories, and an adventure that will last a lifetime? It’s time to chart a course to the great outdoors!

    Here are some ideas of how to get everyone moving:



    1. Backpacking the Banff Highline Trail
    Climb along some classic Canadian Rocky terrain on the Banff Highline Trail. Going up the passes, you’ll see beautiful wildflower meadows and high mountain lakes. Consider making Mt. Assiniboine your potential final destination stop.

    2. Canyon Walk in the Rocky Mountains
    Learning while vacationing can be fun too, right? Discover the Grotto Canyon, a craggy, rocky sculpted adventure scene that took running glacier water thousands of years to create. Located in Canmore, AB, this bit of natural history also features ancient native pictographs.

    3. Hiking the Athabasca Sand Dunes
    Hiking the Rockies is a grand adventure, but it isn’t the only hiking endeavor you and your family can enjoy. In Saskatchewan head to the northwest corner of the province to Lake Athabasca to trek around the Athabasca Sand Dunes, the largest sand dunes in North America. These dune fields run for 100 km and boost a rich and active ecosystem.

    4. Working it like a cowboy
    See what it’s like to really live like a rugged cowboy by working on a dude ranch. Consider low key activities like taking care of the horse, packing up for a day trip to just explore the area, or even stay at the farm to help out and learn the ropes. More adventurous types can grab their lasso and wrangle themselves a wild beast or even try barrel racing.

    5. Rock climbing in Southern Ontario
    If hanging out West and climbing the Rockies isn’t what everyone in the family wants to do, try heading down to the Bruce Peninsula in Southern Ontario to climb rugged, stony terrain. All along the Niagara Escarpment — a 700 km stretch of limestone — families with an adventurous streak can discover what nature took thousands of years to form and sculpt. Rock climbing in Southern Ontario has become more and popular over the years with a number of different places waiting to be discovered.

    6. Gold rush expedition in the Yukon
    Immerse yourself in the richest history of the West and go on a gold rush expedition adventure. Learn about the Klondike from the living museum that is the Yukon River, where relics still hold the history and stories of the largest gold deposits discovered over a hundred years ago.

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    Spanish aviation authorities have launched an investigation after two planes nearly collided into each other in Barcelona over the weekend.

    Miguel Angel Ramirez, an aviation enthusiast, caught the close call on camera Saturday. On Sunday, he uploaded the footage to YouTube where it has since amassed over 3.9 million views as of Monday afternoon.



    Ramirez's video shows UTair Flight UT5187 preparing to land at Barcelona’s El Prat Airport. Just as the Russian Boeing 767-300 passenger plane descends, an Aerolineas Argentinas Airbus A340 turns onto the same runway, placing it on a collision course with the UTair flight.

    A spokesperson with Spanish Airports and Air Navigation (AENA) told CNN that both planes had permission to use the same runway and that it was the UTair pilot who made the call to abort the landing. No passengers were hurt and neither airlines have filed complaints over the incident.

    AENA wouldn't elaborate to the Associate Press how close the planes were close to colliding but they insist the video didn't show how much distance was between the two planes.

    However, the Aviation Herald reports the UTair plane was less than 20 seconds from touchdown before pulling up, based on radar data.

    The plane eventually circled back and landed without further incident.

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    CALGARY - WestJet Airlines Ltd. said Monday it aims to have its own wide-body aircraft in the sky next year, setting the stage for a possible international expansion.

    The bigger planes will offer greater range than WestJet's current fleet of Boeing 737s and allow it to compete with Air Canada on more routes.

    The Calgary-based airline said it plans to operate four wide-body planes initially, with their first flights going between Alberta and Hawaii during the 2015 winter season.

    The carrier has been using two Boeing 757-200 planes operated by Thomas Cook for its Alberta-Hawaii winter service, but that agreement ends next spring.

    "This is the natural, next-step evolution for WestJet," said CEO Gregg Saretsky.

    "It's made possible by our low-cost business model, growing network strength, airline partnerships and our award-winning brand driven by the efforts of our more than 10,000 WestJetters from coast to coast."

    The company says it's in the advanced stages of sourcing the aircraft. The wide-body plan has the backing of WestJet's pilot association and board of directors.

    In addition to the 737s, WestJet's Encore regional service flies the Bombardier Q400 turboprop.

    WestJet began flying between St. John's, N.L., and Dublin last month.

    RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin said the move paves the way for an expansion into more overseas destinations.

    "With still profitable growth available from WestJet's existing operations, we believe some investors might have preferred a focus on the 737 and regional fleet before expanding internationally," he wrote in a note to clients.

    "However, we believe management sought to act sooner rather than later given the apparent strength in the international demand environment. Arriving too late might have put WestJet at a sizable disadvantage to competitors that could have blanketed the most profitable routes with newer aircraft."

    As WestJet's operations become more complicated, Spracklin said "maintaining a cost advantage, as well as successfully executing, will be tantamount in our view."

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    VICTORIA - When was the last time you played table tennis at a hotel? Probably never.

    Or spent time in a hotel lobby listening to vinyl records on a state-of-the-art turntable while lounging in a purple chair that could easily accommodate a small family? Likely never.

    Called room service with an old-school rotary-dial phone, or taken a ride in a hotel shuttle bus that happens to be a 1967 orange and blue VW van? Not since 1967 — maybe.

    Hotel Zed (pronounced the Canadian way) is the retro-kitsch dream of Victoria hotelier Mandy Farmer, whose idea of a hotel experience involves fun things to do while staying in funky rooms decked out in purple, blue and black geometrically challenged carpets, even brighter-coloured Jetsons-era furnishings and framed street-cred Victoria graffiti tags on the walls.

    Farmer, president and CEO of British Columbia's Accent Inns hotel chain, says Hotel Zed, which opened recently, is the happy ending to her decade-long vision of offering an edgy, eclectic, modern and retro accommodation experience in Victoria that rebels against the ordinary.

    "I wanted to create a place that was fun," says Farmer, 40, whose business card identifies her as a rebel and bike lover. "It's ridiculously fun. This is really out there, the mix of new and old, but not just old."

    She says she pitched her cutting-edge Zed zeitgeist hotel dream to the bottom-line-conscious Accent Inns directors at annual planning meetings for at least a decade and always received the same firm answer: no.

    "'Mandy, give up, move on, you've got to do something else. Why would anyone want to sit in an old car?'" was the answer. "But I couldn't stop dreaming about it."

    The conservative mood in the boardroom started to shift as the global economy struggled, and Farmer's pitch for a new Victoria-vibe hotel concept was greeted with fresh ears at the executive level, she says.

    Two years later, and with at least $1 million invested, the 62-room Hotel Zed has risen from what was a traditional mid-town, street-front, box-like hotel that formerly served as an independent hotel owned by the company.

    Farmer stands outside the hotel lobby and points to the jagged, diamond-shaped facade.

    "We had these hideous awnings covering this," she says. "As soon as we took them off and I saw this, I knew we could do something with this property."

    The formerly bland white hotel wall that faces Douglas Street, Victoria's main artery downtown, has been painted over with what looks like a Rubik's Cube of pink, purple, orange and lime squares.

    Farmer says the wall has become an unofficial photo studio as groups of people, including parade marching bands and wedding parties, stop to pose in front of the almost psychedelic backdrop. Truckers have posted messages saying the wall's burst of colours adds vibrancy to the city.

    Farmer says the rooms are equally colourful.

    "If orange isn't your colour, we've got the blue," she says about the doors and walls. The carpets are multi-coloured and the drapes appear tie-dyed.

    The dressers are repainted — lime — 1960s government-standard grey metal desks. "If you get it, you get it."

    Comics are in the bathrooms.

    Despite the homage to 1960s home decor, the rooms come with state-of-the-art Wi-Fi equipment that transmits what's on your phone, tablet or laptop to the room's 40-inch TVs. There's also step-by-step instructions on the proper use of the room's rotary phones.

    But there's no coffee in the rooms, says Farmer, who wants guests to come to the equally colourful and interesting lobby for a cup of coffee and a chance to listen to some music — on headphones — play board games or type out a postcard on a manual typewriter.

    Hotel Zed will mail the typed postcards home for free, she says.

    Farmer says she has visions of the lobby, which comes across as a comfortable living room from decades ago, and the table tennis lounge, complete with Wii games, serving as glorified rec rooms for guests.

    Outside, VW van driver Stan Yaxley, a retired transit driver with more than 30 years experience, honks his horn to summon another group of guests to pile into the van for a trip downtown.

    Farmer says the room rates top out at $150 a night, with the average price being in the $100 range.



    Check out Hotel Zed at www.hotelzed.com.


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