From the monthly archives:

February 2009

9 Things I Learned At Mardi Gras

by Alan Rider

Having lived in New Orleans in the mid-1980s, I’ve been to my share of Mardi Gras parades.  That said, I just came back from the biggest Mardi Gras weekend since Hurricane Katrina blew through The City That Care Forgot and I have to admit that I learned a few things (or at least remembered some things I’d forgotten).  In no particular order they are:
1.  New Orleans is back as a world-class destination.  While there are still many neighborhoods that remain devastated, all the things that make this town such a great place to visit—the food, the music, the friendly people—are still here and as enjoyable as ever.
2.  Everybody you meet [...]

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Pachyderm Polo?

by Alan Rider

Of all the mementoes hanging on the walls of my office, a simple black-and-white 8-by-10 of me riding in a celebrity elephant race many years ago is still among my favorites.
What I love about this image is the details, especially the elephant’s handler caught in a full sprint alongside my four-ton mount as we crossed the finish line.  You see, that was the day I learned that—sufficiently motivated—an elephant can outrun your average human.  To say it was an exciting ride is something of an understatement.
Which may help explain why I think the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament sounds like such an extraordinary experience.  This must-see spectacle takes place on [...]

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Shuttle Launch Sideshow

by Alan Rider

It’s one of the fundamental principles behind XTRORD.com: When it comes to extraordinary experiences, we figure you’d rather hear about them from someone who’s been there and done that. 
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to score a ride into outer space (not yet, anyway) so I can’t tell you what it’s like.  But I found some folks who can on a recent visit to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. 
Besides some tasty grub (thankfully not the freeze-dried stuff they feed real astronauts), the hour-long Lunch With An Astronaut program serves up a light-hearted video presentation that should answer just about every question you ever had about life aboard NASA’s space shuttles and the [...]

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Way More Than A Hotel

by Alan Rider

As someone who spends a lot of nights away from home every year, I admit I’m a little jaded when it comes to hotels.  Whether it’s a Four Seasons or a Motel 6, to my mind they’re all pretty much the same—a rectangular box with a bed, shower, and cable TV. Which makes it all the more surprising how impressed I am with the Nickelodeon Family Suites here in Orlando. 
The 777-room property is unique in a number of ways.  Not the least of which is the fact that—as far as I can tell—it’s the world’s only hotel with a theme based on a kids television network. 
For starters, all of [...]

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A Memorable Mardi Gras

by Alan Rider

Look over the list of extraordinary experiences I’ve had over the years and you might imagine it’d be hard for me to get really revved up about anything anymore. Well, let me tell you, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Case in point: I’m heading off to partake of Mardi Gras in New Orleans in a couple of weeks and I’m practically giddy about the experience I have planned. You see, while I’ve always had a blast being part of the crowd at Mardi Gras parades, this time around I’ve figured out a way to go from spectator to participant.
It all started when my friend Arthur Hardy (who [...]

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The Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades!)

by Alan Rider

When I had Lasik eye surgery a couple of years ago, one of the side benefits was that I discovered the wide world of non-prescription sunglasses.  Not surprisingly, I quickly became overwhelmed with the number of choices out there (read about my current favorite set of shades here).
Enter my good friend Robert Earle Howells.  His new website SunglassesBuyersGuide.com is designed to provide answers to all those questions you may have had about frame materials and lens tints but didn’t know who to ask.
With warmer weather just around the corner (c’mon people, think positive here!), I asked Bob to share some tips that can help us all make sense out of [...]

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