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May 12, 2011

Images: Mississippi River Flooding

Looking N from old river structure

Barges being pushed up the Mississippi River south of Natchez. Old river beds visible with rising water.

    Gates open

Old River Structure, gates open allowing water to escape and taking pressure off the levees in lower Louisiana.
Churning Water near LT

Rising waters churning near the LeTourneau manufacturing plant south of Vicksburg.

South Vix 30 min

South of Vicksburg, MS approximately 30 minutes. Levee is on the Louisiana side of the river.

Posted by Jo Wilson on May 12, 2011 at 03:55 PM in Current Affairs, Inside DOT, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 11, 2011

Earlier today, I flew from Baton Rouge to an area just north of Vicksburg, MS. I observed the Old River structure east of Angola prison and saw that the locks were open and the water flowing. In general, what I saw was that the old ox-bow lakes are swollen and the water is against the levee system for the full length of the flight. Vicksburg is still 10 days from its expected crest but there is already significant flooding of the low land inside the levees. I'll post some pictures as soon as I have them available. Nothing catastrophic to tell or photograph, just a slow spreading flood at this point.

Posted by Jo Wilson on May 11, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2011

Tuscaloosa Tornado Damage

DiscoverOurTown offer prayers for all of those families and small business owners effected by the destructive tornados. Even though the storm is commonly referenced to Tuscaloosa, we recognize that the destructive nature of the storm was much greater and effected people all across Alabama and Georgia.

We would like to update our database with any businesses that are closed or were destroyed. You can help by clicking on the "Is this Accurate?" button on each profile page. The sooner we get our data updated, the sooner that users can feel confident in the information presented on DiscoverOurTown.com. Uneffected businesses will again be able to utilize our online referrals more quickly.

Thank you for your help and comments.

Posted by Jo Wilson on May 10, 2011 at 04:59 PM in Current Affairs, Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Illegal Charter Flight Warning

Stratos Jet Charters Warns Travelers About Illegal Charter Flight

In recent air charter news, the European Business Aviation Administration (EBAA) has launched a campaign to curb illegal charter flight activity in Europe.  Stratos Jet Charters is a member of the prestigious Air Charter Association of North America (ACANA), which distinguishes our company as one of the finest and most reputable charter service providers in the private aviation industry.  As a member of ACANA, we believe it is our responsibility to help the EBAA promote safe and legal charter flight operations in North America.  In the following article, we would like to take this opportunity to discuss the issue of illegal charter flights, and the different ways you can protect yourself and your family from the threat of illegal charter operators.

 In light of the recent economic recession, we understand that many aircraft owners are looking for ways to offset the high cost and expense of aircraft ownership, just as air charter consumers are searching for lower-cost options for private jet travel.  But, before you set out to book a “discounted” charter flight from a small brokerage firm or operator, consider this: what price would you pay to ensure your personal safety?

 Let’s assume that you were offered a stellar deal on your next charter flight by an unknown charter brokerage or operator.  Initially, you might be pleased to find the pricing to be much lower than that of several long-standing and reputable charter brokers.  Wouldn’t you be foolish not to go with the lowest-priced flight?  Well, what if we told you that the aircraft you will be flying in wasn’t inspected according to FAA regulations, or that the flight crew wasn’t type-rated to fly the aircraft?  What if we told you that your charter flight was illegal?

 The safety issues caused by illegal charter flights has long plagued the air charter industry.  According to the EBAA, a large number of air charter consumers unknowingly purchase illegal charter flights each year.  An “illegal charter flight” occurs when a Part 91 aircraft owner conducts a charter flight under the guise of a fully-licensed Part 135 aircraft operator.  Illegal charter flights pose significant safety risks to air charter consumers, which is why it is our goal to teach you about the possibility of illegal charter flight operations.  Keep in mind that the goal of this article is not to frighten you, but to help you identify the signs of an illegal charter flight and the ways you can protect yourself and your family.

 Aircraft owners who conduct illegal charter flight operations do so at great expense to consumer safety.  Here’s why - illegal charter flights violate Part 135 Federal Aviation Administration Regulations (FARs), which specifically require aircraft operators to hold a “Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate.”  An air carrier certificate is only granted to aircraft operators that show “sufficient financial strength and compliance with other legal requirements, including proof of proper insurance coverage,” according to the National Business Aviation Administration (NBAA). 

 The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration requires aircraft operators to adhere to all Part 135 regulations, which spell out the necessary criteria for conducting a safe and legal operation.  Under these requirements, aircraft operators are subject to many regulations regarding  aircraft maintenance, flight crew experience, pilot training and insurance requirements.  Outright aircraft owners, on the other hand, adhere to a separate set of rules and regulations, known as Part 91 regulations, which are far less restictive than Part 135 regulations. 

 So what do the FARs have to do with air charter safety?  Well, everything.  First, you need to know that the FAA makes an important distinction between aircraft owners and aircraft operators.  As a rule, aircraft operators are held to much higher safety standards than owners because they are “certificate-holding entities,” rather than “self-interested parties.”   As such, aircraft operators must adhere to more rigorous operational and maintenance requirements.  In addition, aircraft operators are subject to routine audits, such as performance audits, flight reviews, pilot training and safety checks, to verify their compliance with FAA safety standards.  Meanwhile, aircraft owners are given more freedom to establish their own safety procedures and protocols.

Since certified aircraft operators adhere to much higher safety standards, they encumber the costs of maintaining their aircraft and flight crew at peak safety levels.  Oftentimes, these additional costs are factored into the price of your charter flight.  Illegal charter operators don’t operate in accordance with Part 135 regulations, which is why they can offer significantly lower pricing on charter flights.  Illegal charter operators create an un-level playing field and put consumer safety and confidence at risk.  Consider it an investment toward your safety when you work with a reputable charter broker or operator.

 So, how do you know that your private charter is legal?  It’s not always easy to identify an illegal operator from a legitimate one.  The first step is to ask some basic questions about the aircraft operator.  Ask your charter broker for the operator’s certificate number or read up on the operator through the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) at http:///www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/.  This information will help to ensure that your charter operator meets with all the necessary criteria for conducting a safe charter flight.  If your charter broker is unable or unwilling to provide you with a copy of the operator’s air carrier certificate, it’s safe to assume that your charter flight is illegal.  Any legitimate charter broker or operator should be more than happy to provide you with a copy of the operator’s Part 135 certificate.  If you are asked to pay the pilots separately, this is a major red flag.

Next, ask your charter broker to provide you with a copy of the operator’s D085 (aircraft spec sheet).  This important document will list every aircraft that is approved for service in that operator’s fleet.  The aircraft listed on the D085 have been found by the FAA to meet with aircraft inspection, maintenance and insurance requirements.  You should receive the tail number of your charter aircraft at least 24 hours in advance of your flight.  Check to make sure that your aircraft’s specific tail number is listed on the D085 as apart of that operator’s fleet.

Now that you know how to identify a legal charter operator, the next step is to find a safe and legal operator to conduct your next charter flight.  The Stratos Jets’ Approved Vendor Program enables our company to work with the safest and most reputable charter operators in the air charter industry.  Through our approved vendor program, we do our due-diligence to ensure that your charter flight is safe and legal.  All of our approved vendors are fully-licensed Part 135 operators that adhere to FAR regulations, along with our own rigorous safety standards.  We keep updated records on all our approved vendors, and can easily provide you with a copy of the operator’s air carrier certificate, D085, and/or insurance standards upon request.  We won’t send you a quote on an aircraft that hasn’t been fully-vetted on the front end.  By working with Stratos Jets, you can rest assured that your charter flight meets or exceeds with the highest safety expectations in the industry.

As an air charter consumer, remember that you have a right to ask these important questions to ensure your personal safety on every charter flight.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact a Stratos Jets representative at any time.  Our air charter agents are both experienced and knowledgeable, and place a special emphasis on air charter safety.  Our goal is to help you find the safest and most well-maintained aircraft that can meet your personal travel needs for each and every flight.

Posted by Jo Wilson on May 10, 2011 at 04:41 PM in Lodging, Transportation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cooking with Fresh Produce from Our Own "Potager Garden"


This picture was taken standing in front of a wine barrel...in the Abbey of  Valmagne, one of the most prestigious and well preserved Cistercian abbeys dating back to 1139.  Valmagne Abbey is in Southern France in the Languedoc region of France...close to Montpellier.

Auberge de Seattle Inn & Specialty French Cooking School

On my recent trip to France I could not help but notice how much the French are into food.  It is not just a continual quest for that excellent restaurant; it's more than that, it's a continual all consuming pre-occupation with food.  Plain and simple they "honor" food, and have a far different approach from what we do here in America.

Wine is the cheapest drink you can buy, cheaper than bottled water, juice, milk or pop.  Everyone seems to have their own vegetable garden, what they call a "potager" garden, even if it is tiny, they are growing food or if they have no land, they will substitute with lots of pots of different sizes on their balconies.

This year I am also trying my hand at growing a "potager" garden.  My dream is to grow our own vegetables for the cooking classes. I'm excited and looking forward to you using and eating freshly picked vegetables in your cooking class! http://www.discoverourtown.com/WA/Woodinville/Lodging/-lauberge-edge-of-seattle-bed-and-breakfast-inn/148686.html




Posted by Jo Wilson on May 10, 2011 at 09:30 AM in Activities & Events, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2011

Hudson Valley Mother's Day Getaway

Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa

The Buttermilk Falls Inn, a unique bed and breakfast,  makes for the perfect getaway. The Inn has 10 unique guest rooms, and the property has expanded to include additional rooms in 7 special guest houses, all of which combine modern luxury and comfort with historic elegance and charm. Each room on the property has a fireplace, private bath, cable, high-speed internet and air-conditioning and each has its own fantastic view has its own fantastic view. The_inn

The on premise organic garden and bee hives also make for some delicious culinary treats and are even incorporated into our facials. Buttermilk Spa concentrates on a green philosophy by only using products that are naturally crafted and organic in all of our massages, facials and body treatments.

Dining:  Henry's Farm to table. The menu is inventive and delicious. With such bounty at his doorstep, Chef Paul Kelly and his kitchen staff have a never-ending palette to tantalize your tastebuds. His daily specials and staple favorites will have you making your next reservation before dessert!

Location: Just 90 minutes from New York City, Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa is located in Ulster County directly across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie at: 220 North Rd, Milton, NY.


Posted by Jo Wilson on May 7, 2011 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2011

The Monterey Wine Festival Celebrates 35

Now in its 35th year The Monterey Wine Festival continues to evolve into a platform for the regional wine industry and the community of wine lovers.  After 35 years the festival will take a historical turn and bring guests along for the sips and scenery.  On Friday, June 10th,  the festival will kick at The Monterey Hyatt Regency where bites and sips from the wineries will be enjoyed.  During this evening guest's can take a quick hop on the Champagne Shuttle sponsored by Sam Linder Auto Group and continue the party at The Monterey Museum of Art-La Mirada.  This museum is known for its historic architecture and the former celebrities that resided there.  Guests can enjoy the views from the hilltop and the art inside the gallery, but perhaps the most ardent competition for attention will be found in the sips of champagne and bites of chocolate dipped strawberries.  What fun to hob-knob in the same location as old Hollywood!  Glass

On Saturday, June 11th,  the celebration continues at another historic destination The Custom House Plaza and The Maritime Museum, which boasts a snazzy newly appointed foyer.  These historical edifices are on designations that many consider hallowed ground.  Guests will continue this day of celebration with a completely mouth watering experience from both the wineries and purveyors of food.  Along with these two ingredients live music is the final sensation that further ensures a winning combination. Wine, Food, Music! Aaa hhh!

It's a Chowdah Throw Down!

A sweet addition to the festival this year is the 2nd Annual West Coast Chowder Competition.  Professional chefs from the Western Coast will come to compete and chowder lovers will pay homage to their special creations.  This year chefs from Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, and other chowder known destinations will be landing in Monterey to compete against the local titans of chowder.  All competitors will be trying to slay the judge's tongues with their creations, take home the prize money and boast of their achievement in what is expected to be one of the most impressive competitions around.  Clam, Seafood and Creative Chowders are the categories that make up the contest and the big copper pot award goes to the people's choice along with a cash prize.  Guests can sample or buy a cup of chowder of their entries and pick their own personal favorites and compare their palettes to the judges.  Wines that pair with chowders will also be available to sample. 

Tickets online at www.montereywine.com

Posted by Jo Wilson on May 4, 2011 at 04:28 PM in Activities & Events, Art, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 02, 2011

Prince William’s Chocolate Crunch Cake

Tea & Sympathy's Easy Recipe

chocolate crunch cake! 
Serves eight


For the cake
1 box graham crackers
¼ c. raisins
¼ c. nuts, chopped
5 oz. dark chocolate
5 oz. milk chocolate
1 stick butter, room temp.
1 14-oz. can condensed milk

For the topping
5 oz. dark chocolate
1 tsp. milk

1. In a large metal bowl, crumble graham crackers into bite-size pieces. Add raisins and nuts.

2. In a saucepan, melt chocolates, butter, and milk. Stir frequently so chocolate doesn’t burn.

3. Add melted mixture to crackers and stir until dispersed.

4. Line an 11-by-7-inch pan with waxed paper. Pour mixture into pan; spread evenly. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

5. For the topping, combine ingredients in a saucepan; stir until melted.

6. Remove cake from fridge and cover with topping. Cut into squares and serve.

To see how it’s done, watch our demo. For more information on Tea & Sympathy, go to teaandsympathynewyork.com. Originally posted online @ dailycandy.com April 27, 2011

Posted by Jo Wilson on May 2, 2011 at 08:59 PM in Activities & Events, Current Affairs, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Auberge de Seattle Inn & Specialty French Cooking School

Mes Chers Amis...Bonjour!

I am sitting on a train on my way to Montpellier, France (30 minutes form the Mediterranean) watching the beautiful lush French countryside.  It is warm in France and the scent of flowers in bloom everywhere is really surprising to me.  As the saying goes..."spring is in the air" with wisteria, lilac and jasmine...then of course there is also the smell of coffee and pastries that you also can't help but notice.  My sense of smell is on high alert for all of the smells that I don't normally experience in Seattle.  Yesterday, it was 77 degrees in Paris, while in Seattle it was only 52.  One always hears about traveling to Europe in the summer, but April (flights are cheaper) is under estimated and should not be over looked next time you are thinking about planning your trip to Europe.

Even though I am in France...I am still thinking about my work.  The month of May is just around the corner with lots of cooking classes coming up that I think you will find both interesting and appealing.  On our cooking website:  Edgeof-seattle-cooking.com we have three Regional Cooking Classes posted for May; each one being taught by a different chef: Chef Philippe Naud, Chef George Stevenson and Chef Sally McArthur.  Chef Philippe's menu is from the Atlantic region of France (mainly fish), Chef George is doing a totally Crab menu and "five courses", and Chef Sally is doing a menu from the south of France, Provence.

By the time you read this, I will be back in Seattle, refreshed and inspired with new ideas and looking forward to the busy summer season ahead...see you soon, a bientot!


J'espere de vous voir bientot chez nous,
Nancy Gates-Douglas; Proprietress
Auberge Edge of Seattle Cooking

Posted by Jo Wilson on May 2, 2011 at 08:51 PM in Art, Dining, Food and Drink, Lodging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack