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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Is Your Driver's License Going to be Enough To Get Through Security Next Year? You Need to Check!

**2020 Update: The Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline for full REAL ID compliance by a year. Adults aged 18 and older now have until Oct. 1, 2021, to ensure their driver’s license is REAL ID-compliant, or acquire another accepted form of identification — like a passport — in order to fly within the United States.

Starting October 1, 2020, U.S. travelers who are age 18 and up and don’t have a Real ID driver’s license or another  piece of compliant identification won’t be permitted to fly.

If you’re unsure whether your identification card is Real ID-compliant, here’s how to know: It generally has a star in the top right corner.  If you’re not sure, contact your state driver’s license agency on how to obtain a REAL ID compliant card.

Is Your Driver's License Going to be Enough To Get Through Security Next Year?  You Need to Check!
Courtesy of

Recently, the TSA issued a reminder that to travelers that they will need at Real ID, but American citizens will need the Real IDs for official functions like entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants also. A passport will still be required for travel abroad.

The agency initially imposed a deadline of October 2018 for enforcing the new ID rules, but since many states didn’t adhere to the rules, an extension was granted.

Don't go too early to get a new identification if you live in a state that isn't compliant. Here are the states and territories still non-compliant with Real ID requirements and when their extension ends, according to the Department of Homeland Security:

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Denali National Park and Preserve Tundra Wilderness Tour Is a Special Experience in Alaska Like No Other!

Denali Park Road is 92 miles long, parallels the Alaska Range and travels through low valleys and high mountain passes. It is the ONLY road in the park. Along its route, beautiful landscapes can be seen at every turn, and there are many opportunities to view Denali - if the normally cloudy skies permit. Wildlife can often be seen too, although sightings are not guaranteed - they are, after all, wild animals roaming an unfenced land.

There are two main types of buses in Denali - narrated trips (tour buses) and non-narrated trips (transit buses). In addition, a few free buses travel routes around the park entrance, connecting visitor centers and points of interest in the same area where visitors may drive their own vehicles. We opted for the Tundra Wilderness Tour, a 7-8 hour excursion into the park with a certified driver-naturalist. This tour provides in-depth information about the history of the park, while maintaining a keen eye in search of wildlife and photography opportunities. Chances to see wildlife are greater on this trip than on other tours.

Here's what we'll cover in this post!

  • Pickup
  • Inside the Park
  • Course of Tour and Stops Along the Way
  • Tips
  • Bottom Line


The bus came to our hotel to pick us up.  We were already briefed that this would be a rugged experience with the bus being a "nostalgic" school bus which is the only type available  Supposedly the rugged transportation is due to the nature of the roads and narrow passages that we would experience later in the day.  The pickup was prompt and it becomes clear that there are certain scheduled times to tour throughout the day. Remember, the days are long during the summer in Alaska, so even an afternoon departure means you will have daylight the whole tour.   We left the hotel about 1PM.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Bahamas closing airports, seaports to United States visitors due to COVID-19

The Bahamian Prime Minister announced travel restrictions into the Bahamas during a national address attributing the closures to a spike in coronavirus cases.

International commercial flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers will not be permitted to enter the Bahamas, unless they are from Canada, the United Kingdom or the European Union, beginning Wednesday, July 22, said Prime Minister Huberg Minnis.

Effectively immediately, its national air carrier, Bahamasair, will cease all outgoing flights to the United States.

“Our current situation requires decisive actions,” Minnis said.

Fifteen new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the Bahamas, a record daily count since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March. There have been 49 new cases since the borders reopened on July 1 — 31 were from Grand Bahama island.

Bahamasair flies from Freeport and Nassau to the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Miami International Airport, and West Palm Beach International Airport.

Monday, July 13, 2020

NorthStar Trekking Helicopter Ride, Glacier Trek and Ice Climbing Shore Excursion from NCL Cruise in Juneau, Alaska

Glacier hiking is a surreal experience. You’ll never forget the satisfying crunch of ever-shifting ice underneath your crampons or the giddy feeling of drinking 100-year-old water from a glacial waterfall. Hands down, hiking a glacier is a must-do excursion in Alaska.

Before we departed on our Alaska Cruise and Land tour, we said to our friends "the one tour that you MUST do is the Helicopter and Glacier Walk!  There is nothing like it in the world! It is a bucket list item!"  We did a similar experience a few years before and felt strongly that this would be the most important experience for them.

What we will go over during this post:

  •  Outfitting Equipment
  •  Helicopter Ride
  •  Glacier Trek
  •  Ice Climbing 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Review of the Alaska Animal Wildlife Conservation Center in Anchorage for Cruise Excursion or Independent Tour

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to conservation, research, education, and animal care in Girdwood.  It is perfectly located along Seward Highway between the large Alaskan City of Anchorage and Whittier, a major cruise port for Alaska itineraries. Think about visiting on your own or as part of a guided tour.  We were part of a tour that dropped us off and we explored on our own.  

We had a couple of hours here and it was well worth the trip we saw black and brown bear, bison, caribou, moose, porcupine, wolves, deer, a bald eagle and owls just to name a few. The photographs we obtained were superb and overall this was an excellent introduction to the birds and animals of the region.

Getting There:

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is located between Anchorage & Whittier, from Anchorage about a 2 hour drive- it's some of Alaska's most beautiful scenery you could imagine, with Glacier- topped mountains and waterways, you can see some wildlife- keep your eyes open.  If you are taking a cruise this is a great stop off on the way to or from the port at Whittier.   We opted for transportation to our cruise and the Center was a stopping point along the way.


We found out that the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Alaska Wildlife through education and quality animal care, The Center takes in orphaned and injured animals and provides them with refuge and spacious enclosures.  They are a smaller operation and we were hoping to get closer to the animals than we could during our time in Denali all while enjoying great views of the surrounding mountains.  Our time here didn't disappoint! Don't just drive through, take the time to walk (it will be around 1-2 miles of walking on uneven surfaces) and visit the various enclosures.

Here are some of the animals we saw:

Friday, July 10, 2020

Anti Glare Yellow Lens Night Vision Driving Glasses Can Make Your Runs and Hikes Easier and Safer

When hitting the trails it helps to clearly see what may be in front of you to avoid missteps and falls, even if it's very dark and foggy.  "Night Vision" anti-glare specialized yellow tinted lenses provide protection from the elements and blocks glare and blue light, enhancing contrast and clarity. 

How many times did you hear in your childhood, "eat all your carrots so you can see better at night...?"  We heard it ALL. THE. TIME.  Or have you seen movies where the military are wearing night vision goggles to go on their mission.  What they can see is incredible!  Other than eating our carrots, what can the average Joe do to see better when the sun isn't bright when traveling, exercising or driving?  

We encounter all of these situations because we run and hike in all conditions, and of course travel to many unfamiliar areas.  One of our aged relatives who drives everywhere around the world, told us some words of wisdom years ago: "Get those yellow glasses that you see on TV!"  So to help prevent ourselves from falling on the trails when hiking and running we invested around $20 to get a pair.  We found a new piece of gear that we will use in more situations than we realized possible.

The glasses on TV advertise that "HD Night Vision Glasses" will help you see better when driving.  This has been debated by some experts, and there are lots of things you SHOULD do to help your driving vision, like KEEP YOUR WINDSHIELD CLEAN.  However, from personal experience, we cannot say enough about the yellow lensed glasses to help us see better when in low light conditions.  

We ordered inexpensive glasses from Amazon, and now we keep them in every car and travel bag.

You may have wondered in the past how your dog can see so much better when out for that nighttime stroll.  Think about it.  Humans are built for living in the daytime and sleeping in the dark. The retina (the light-sensitive part of our eyes) has cells called cones (for seeing colored light) and rods (for detecting movement and dim light). We have 20 times more rods than cones (120 million rods and only 6 million cones), yet we still are not very good at seeing in the dark.