Sunday, May 31, 2015

Don't Fly Spirit Airlines!



I love good deals, just like the next person. But sometimes something you think is a good deal, ends up costing you a lot more.  I'm sorry to say that I was lured in by Spirit's so-called "cheaper prices," but never again! Don't be fooled when you do a comparison of Spirit to other airlines.  Spirit charges unsuspecting customers for everything from an undersized carry-on bag to printing boarding passes. The next thing you know, they will be charging for going to the bathroom!

And it's not just the ridiculous charges that are infuriating, but their customer service is non-existent! All of this will end up costing you MORE.  Let's hope these unethical and deceptive practices don't cause other airlines to follow suit.

Yesterday, after a 4-hour delay in my flight, I go to pick up my bag (which was only checked because Spirit's "definition of a carry-on bag" is different from every other airline) and the flight was not listed anywhere on the arrival screens, so I didn't know which carousel to go to.  I followed signs to the Spirit carousel, but the flight listed on that carousel did not include my flight, so I went to seek out someone who could tell me which carousel would have my baggage.

I finally found someone who told me that all Spirit flights unloaded at carousel 5, but that carousel was empty by this time.  There were no Spirit representatives in sight on the baggage level, and I was told to go up to Spirit's ticket counter to find out about bags.

I didn't want to cut into the very long ticket line, but I wasn't about to wait in another long line when I wasn't even sure if this was the right line..  There were no signs anywhere that indicated where to go for baggage issues.  When I did finally talk to the ticket agent, he told me the bags probably hadn't arrived yet and to go back to Carousel 5 to wait for 15 minutes and if my bags didn't show up, to come back up.

Another couple who also were missing their bags went down with me, but it was very clear to us that no bags from our flight were going to show up.  On the second trip up, I described my bag, but the ticket agent said he couldn't find the guy who was supposed to handle bag issues.

Finally, after over an hour of trying to find someone who could tell me anything about missing bags, I did find the "bag guy" who said my bag was in the back.  The couple who had lost their bags weren't as lucky, and were writing a description of their bags on a piece of paper.  No forms or process for this airline...   Apparently, Spirit is too cheap to invest in any of that.

In the end, I was lucky to get my bag and only got home about 5 hours later than originally planned, so not a big deal for me.  But what was more incredible to me is that Spirit Airlines could get away with this type of service.  Do I really want to trust my life to fly on an airline like this? If they can't figure out how to display the Arrival information on the monitors, what else is missing? Safety checks?

And with such poor customer service, their poor staff is invariably taking the brunt from dissatisfied customers.  I know I had trouble keeping my temper in check when I had to keep interrupting the harried guy at the ticket counter who was undoubtedly having to deal with angry flyers finding out that their so-called "cheap" flight was costing a lot more than they'd bargained for.  It's just a matter of time before these employees go postal...

When I went to write this blog post, I googled "I Hate Spirit Airlines" to find an image and found that this sediment is so popular that even Spirit has made it into a marketing ploy! They put out a video mocking Spirit hate tweets and offer up 8000 Spirit points for your airline hate story.  Don't do it, people.  Using Spirit points would mean flying on Spirit, and that will end up costing you, not only in money, but in frustration.  I'd estimate 8000 Spirit points is worth about -$200 to the consumer.  But worse, it will keep this sleazy airline in business.

It's amazing to me that any business with such poor customer service can be profitable, but, apparently, Spirit airlines is making money from their deceptive marketing and cheap practices. I was pleased to see that there are already groups that are working at spreading the word, letting people know what to do to help shut down Spirit.

Check out  SpiritAirlinesFacts.com:  http://www.spiritairlinesfacts.com/how-to-shut-down-spirit.html
and this Facebook Page to Boycott Spirit: https://www.facebook.com/Boycottspirit






Saturday, January 24, 2015

Uber: The Frugal Traveler's Taxi


Being a Techy "TAiT" (my acronym for Travel Agent in Training), I've been on the lookout for cool travel apps. I'm also one of those people who loves to get a good deal, so it's an especially happy day to discover something that satisfies my inner geek, traveler and thrifty tendencies, all at the same time.  Uber is such an app.

Before I go much further, let me tell you that Uber also offers a referral bonus - a free ride, both to any new users I refer and to me, so if you try it out based on this post, please use referral code: yvettef39, so we can both get the free ride!

I'd heard about Uber from a couple of my friends...  "Uber is excellent! It's a great way to get home from a party if you've been drinking." "I'll just use Uber to pick up my daughter from the concert."...  I imagined it was just a local way to get a quick ride, but since I rarely need quick rides, I didn't even think to check it out or download the app as something I'd use when traveling.

Then last weekend I decided to take advantage of a cheap fare to Miami to escape the cold.  The one-way ticket from Denver was only $39! (It did mean taking the red-eye, but I'm not complaining! I arrived for a gorgeous sunrise over Miami Beach!) However, the taxi ride from the airport to the resort cost $55 before tip... more than the airline ticket!

The next day when South Beach was on the itinerary, someone at the hotel suggested Uber rather than a taxi.  I downloaded the app, pressed a button, and, as if by magic, suddenly "Hans" was at the hotel with a BMW ready to be my chauffeur.  It reminded me of one of those commercials where the Allstate agent suddenly appears like a genie to get you out of a rough situation.

Hans, our driver and a 4th year med student, was extremely friendly and we chatted the whole way to South Beach. After a fun afternoon in South Beach, I used the app again, and this time a Mercedes appeared in less than a minute, with friendly J.J. who drove us back to the hotel, raving the whole time about Uber and how he'd found his calling.

When it was time to get back to the airport, I used the app for a 3rd time, and this time, the fare (before tip) was $26.10, less than half of what the taxi fare was.  I'm sold!

All that being said, there are a few tips that new users should be aware of to optimize your dollars if you're on a budget.


  • There are car types such as UberX and UberSelect that you can set using a slider bar at the bottom of the screen when you sign into the app.  UberSelect is the most expensive and was the default setting when I first used the app.  With this setting you get rides in the fancier cars (BMWs, Mercedes), but at about twice the price of the cheaper option, so not really that much savings over a taxi. It wasn't until the ride back to the airport that I discovered how to set my option to UberX, to get the best deal.
  • When you set up your account, you have to tie it to either a credit card or a PayPal account.  This is convenient because you don't have to worry about having the cash on you, like you do with a taxi, but I'm always a little leary of having an app directly linked to one of my accounts.
  • The tip is not included in the fare that is pulled out of your account so you still need to have some cash on you to tip your driver.  If the drivers are friendly, as all of ours were, it's nice to be able to pass along some of the savings from not using a taxi along to them in the form of a good tip. Be aware, though, that they don't seem to carry change, so it's good to be prepared with the bills you'll need. 
  • Remember that the fare is pulled directly from your account and let any of your travel companions know that.  On our way to the airport, my companion hadn't realized that the fare was already being pulled from my account, so gave the driver the amount of the fare plus the tip and the driver ended up getting  a very big tip! (When we discovered the mistake, we both agreed that he deserved the good tip.)
  • There's a promotional code you can use ("AppStore") that I discovered on my iPhone to get $10 off, but it's only good the first time you use Uber.  I tried to use it on my 3rd time, but it was too late.  However, remember you (and I) can get a totally free first trip if you use my referral code: yvettef39.
  • The rates change depending on demand, time of day, etc. so check the fare estimator to get an idea of how much a ride is going to cost you.  
  • I've only used the service 3 times in Miami and I imagine there are a variety of experiences depending on what driver you get, where you are, etc.  I've only heard positive things about the app and the service, though, so I'm guessing this is the way of the future!  Next time you need a ride, give it a try!


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Three's Company Beats Traditional Marriage

I've written a lot on this blog about being single...   Well, guess what? This year, I'm living with not one, but two cute, incredible guys.  Kind of like "Three's Company," but with two guys and a girl, or "New Girl," but with one less guy. Any way you look at it, it's awesome for me.

When Scotty went off to Purdue, I couldn't afford to live in this big house without child support, so I put an ad in roommates.com, and the first person who came to look at the place was a firefighter named John.

That was over two years ago. John is amazing. He takes care of my yard, shovels my driveway, and takes better care of Chloe than Scotty or I ever have.  He takes out the trash, cleans my house, and even stands up to my pain-in-the-neck neighbor who complains about everything. Because his whole job is about handling emergencies, I always feel so much more secure when he's around.

Then last summer, another friend, Chip, needed a place to stay temporarily, and I had plenty of room, so I got a second male roommate.  Like John, Chip has been an incredible addition to our little household.  He's helpful and friendly and an awesome cook, filling my kitchen with delicious aromas. Last night, for Christmas Eve, he cooked one of the most delicious dinners I've ever had as a gift for me. One day last summer, I came home from work to see he'd planted lavender, one of my favorite flowers, in my garden.

This past week I was traveling to California -- with two housemates, I also have more freedom to travel because I know Chloe and my house will be well cared for while I'm away.  When I got home, I was surprised to see Christmas lights on my house.  There was also a big box in the living room that said, "Don't open until Christmas" from Chip.  My traditional advent calendar "tree" which I had been meticulously adding an ornament to each day, had been tended to as well. And the biggest surprise was the big fir tree in my back yard was covered with lights! I am just ga-ga about that kind of thing! It was as though Santa had already visited my house (though I suspect it was John!)

These surprises were more magical than any surprises I ever remember getting from my husband.  Maybe it's because when we're in a relationship we have expectations that we will get gifts or surprises and then we're disappointed when we don't.  Instead, I have no expectations from these men, yet they continually surprise me with their thoughtfulness. It is so utterly endearing for me to experience such sweetness.

I try not to get too dependent or spoiled by this pampered life. As much as I wish I could marry John and Chip, I realize that our society does not allow such things. Yeah, maybe they'll want their privacy or own houses or decide to move in with girlfriends or get married like "traditional" people do. After this blog post, undoubtedly women will be showing up at my doorstep wanting to get in on this action...  Not so fast, ladies.  For now, these guys are living with me, and I'm not letting them go without a fight..

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I'll Pay You To Read My Book

It's been awhile since I thought much about my book, The Laptop Dancer Diaries.  Though I still get the occasional sale, I don't spend time marketing it.  I admit, though, it's exciting for me to get a sale... not for the money, but just because it's cool to think a stranger wants to read my book enough to pay for it.  It's even more exciting when I get a review from a stranger.  I make a profit of about $3 with each Amazon sale, and about $1 with the Kindle sales, so...  I'm definitely not going to be quitting my day job any time soon, but I'm quite happy that I fulfilled my goal of becoming a published author.

Though I hardly sell any books these days (maybe one a month), I find it odd that currently there are 13 "used copies" and 16 "new copies" of my book on Amazon that sell for cheaper than it cost me to publish.  It seems like there are a lot more copies of my book floating around than I know about. First of all, since a vast majority of the books I've sold have been signed copies given to friends and relatives, I'm sometimes tempted to buy one of those used books just to see if I can tell where these used books are coming from! However, though I know my book is not (yet) a collector's item, I can't imagine anyone I know going to the trouble of reselling it!

I have no idea how 16 new copies of my book can be available for cheaper than it cost me to go through Amazon to publish, but it's not worth it for me to go to the book police about this.  There are also questionable sites out there who even offer to download the .pdf version for free.  I have to admit feeling a bit of pride when I saw a forum where someone was asking if they knew how they could find a free version of my book.  My first thought was: Someone wants to read my book! Oh loyal reader, let me send you all the free books you want!

Then, today, I read an article about an idea to pay people to read your book.  The article describes an idea that an eReader could have software that would determine if the purchaser actually read the book, and if so, refund them the cost of the book plus an additional amount.  The idea was based on the theory that a lot of people buy books, but don't read them, so the author would only be losing money on the smaller percentage of people who actually read the book and making money on all the people who bought it and didn't read it.

I thought the idea was interesting, but didn't like the idea of the eReader software because I think that just sets people up for gaming the system.

I'd like to try a variation of that idea, though, and pay people who purchase my book via Amazon from me (not a reseller), if they send me an email and tell me what they thought of the book.  I'll pay back the cost of the book + $1.  If they give me a review on Amazon, I'll pay back the cost of the book + $5.

Even though I'll lose money on everyone that responds or gives me a review, I'll be getting feedback and maybe gaining a readership or even some new friends.

What do you think? Wanna get paid to read my book?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Those with ALS can still LOVE... please share with pride



Short Message: Please Watch and Share!  Can I get to 100 shares? [Subliminal Message: I'm not asking for money]

Long Message:

The Ice Bucket Challenge videos have been criticized by the media about missing the point, sometimes not even mentioning ALS.  This one is real.  

I want the world to know that people with ALS need our love and help.
Even when they can't say the words, 'I Love You,' they do love and they need to hear those words from you!

"Don't be embarrassed or shy to ask. Be proud! This is for a great cause!"

That was part of the pep-talk I gave at a kick-off meeting for the Walk to Defeat ALS.  I reminded people that those suffering from ALS have to depend on help for every task they do. Certainly the least we can do is send an email or share a link.

I've already raised $8700 for ALS, which is the most money I've ever raised and I feel proud and indescribably grateful for the generosity and support from my friends and family... More than I can properly say.  Every dollar, every word of encouragement, every "like," is a hug that warms my heart and often brings tears to my eyes. I've had so much emotion during this journey.  If I could scoop up the collective souls of all who have supported me in an embrace, I would be weeping uncontrollably... partly out of grief and sadness for those who are affected by ALS -- but mostly out of gratitude, joy, and hope at the mass attention and help that the ALS community is finally getting.

I had a goal to raise $12K by September 13 and I don't want to give up. I always take my goals seriously (ok, I'm a nut job), but this time... I just can't explain why it's so important, but those who have loved someone with ALS will understand.

Is it easy to ask for help? No! We don't want to put our friends and family on the spot or make them feel guilty. We're afraid they won't "like" our message (pressing the 'thumbs down' in their minds) or might even "unfriend" us! But are we really so insecure about our friendships that we're afraid to spread the word about a good cause? Would you really even want a friend who would fault you for being compassionate?

I finally figured out why the Ice Bucket Challenges were so popular, even though initially it made no sense to me why people would want to share a video about NOT donating.  They were more popular because they didn't make people feel like they were asking for money! It's probably why so many of them did NOT ask for money or even include a link.  This has been criticized by the media... calling the videos silly and narcissistic.  But maybe the not asking for money part was the key to why it went so viral? It allowed people to share without feeling self-conscious and the videos sparked enough interest for people to find out more and recognize how truly awful this disease is and to give.

So one last ask from me... Please just share this blog post. [Subliminal Message: I'm not asking for money, I am not asking for money, I am not asking for money.]  If I don't raise the $12K the world won't come to an end.  In fact, I really just committed to "being the top fund-raiser for the Denver Walk" and so far, I am! So technically, (unless no one surpasses me in the next 5 days) I'll have met my "goal."

But, I want this last chance to let the world to know about Craig and others with ALS.  I want everyone to remember how precious life is, to never give up, and mostly...  Love like you were dying....

Other links:
My new GoGoCarpeD Website: The complete collection of my Super Carpe Diem videos. http://www.gogoCarpeD.com

The Story of Craig: A series of posts I wrote about my experiences with Craig after he was diagnosed with ALS.

ALS Association Rebuttal to the recent fraudulent attacks to their reputation that went viral.

My Team Carpe Diem Page - There will be 30 of us Walking to Defeat ALS on September 13th in Denver's City Park. Come join! Go Team Carpe Diem!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

No words to describe...

I like to write. I love words. And yet, there are times when words feel so inadequate.

There are times when the only way you can describe how you feel is by describing an experience and if the person you're talking to hasn't had that experience, they can't completely understand.

For example, it's hard to explain the way your stomach flips when you're on the tilt-a-whirl unless you've ridden on a tilt-a-whirl.  Describing the pain and pure joy of giving birth is possible with words, but really only understood completely by those who have given birth (and even then there are a variety of birthing "war stories" that only certain mothers will identify with.)  Pride at watching your child perform, giddy infatuation of a secret love, fear while waiting for the results of a biopsy...  these are all feelings that those of us who like to write try to capture in words, but the words are imperfect, no matter how many times we consult the thesaurus.  We know that the only people who will truly "get it" are those who have had a similar experience.
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Another feeling that very few people really understand is what it's like to love someone who is dying from ALS.  Most people haven't had that experience.  And though I won't try and describe that feeling in this blog post, I'll tell you that my emotions are hyper-sensitive when it comes to anything ALS-related.  So whenever I get any donation or any support for my current fund-raising effort, I feel more than grateful. I feel moved. I feel the same type of comfort you get when someone consoles you after a death. Again...another feeling that's hard to describe unless you've experienced grief.  

Today I saw my donation thermometer on my Walk to Defeat ALS page go up by $1100 with a single donation. That's right. I received a donation for $1100 from someone I barely know. And it's not the first time. A few months ago, I was surprised by a $1000 donation from this same "angel." That's $2100 for ALS from a virtual stranger.

What do you say when something like that happens? Most people would think... Um.. How about, 'Thank you!'? Or, maybe they would tell me: 'That's gratitude you're feeling.' But it's more than gratitude. It's wonderment. It's awe that someone could be that generous.


I think the best way to describe how I felt today is the scene in "When the Grinch Stole Christmas" when the Grinch's heart grows 3 sizes bigger and breaks out of its mold. It's that same kind of admiration I felt when I was around Craig -- a man crippled and unable to speak -- yet still with a twinkle in his eye, a mischievous grin on his face, and ready to play.

That huge admiration I had for Craig is one of the reasons it was so hard for me to watch him die. The world was losing this unique and wonderful man and there was nothing I could do about it. And then today, a unique and wonderful man did something incredible... and I got that same indescribable feeling of admiration.

That feeling -- that feeling that makes tears come to my eyes -- that feeling of gratitude that the world has such good people -- that feeling of hope that a cure for ALS is not far off -- that is the feeling that I can't describe. That is the feeling that there are no words for... that feeling requires a response that means so much more than 'Thank you.' Why doesn't the English language have some kind of 'Extreme Thank You' word?

So I offer up this blog post, not just to that generous donor, but to every person who has supported me on this journey.  I still have 9 days left and have a few Ice Bucket Challenges left in me, as well as a grand finale video, so I'm hoping to reach my $12,000 goal. But whether or not I make my goal, I am grateful for every dollar, ever "share," every word of encouragement, and every silly video that has been made in support of finding a cure for ALS.  I am more grateful than I can possibly describe.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Will Scott McNealy Take the Ice Bucket Challenge?

Today marks the 6th Ice Bucket Challenge I've taken for ALS Awareness.   "Super Carpe Diem Woman" is dressed in a bathrobe, representing the time her "secret identity" was sick at home, and received a phone call from Former CEO and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy.

When Scott did call me in 2004, I was sure it was a prank. It was hard to believe that the CEO of a major corporation would take time out of his busy schedule just to call someone on medical leave to "cheer her up." But Troy Wright, who was on my team, had emailed Scott and given him my phone number and suggested he give me a call! What a surprise!

That's not the only time Scott McNealy impressed me with his generous heart. When I asked for a congratulatory letter for my son's Eagle Scout ceremony, Scott personally delivered it to the Broomfield office so I would have it in time for the event.

Scott McNealy was always a leader I greatly admired.  "Kick butt and have fun" was one of his mottos and I loved the playful spirit that he instilled in the organization.

I remember being inspired once by a speech he gave about leadership. I don't remember the entire story but the moral of the story was something like this: It's easy to be positive when things are good, but truly inspirational leaders stay positive when things are not so good, and find a way to make things better.

I've thought of that lesson often over the years, and especially in witnessing Craig's positive attitude in the face of ALS. It was incredible to me how he could continue to find joy and humor in the face of such a devastating disease.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

ALS Awareness: Why the ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE is my dream come true

My name's Yvette Francino and I'm a goal addict. I set a challenging goal for myself and then I get so obsessed with it that I drive my friends and family crazy, trying to come up with ways to meet that goal. Often, if I have a dependency on someone else, it turns out that I bug them so much, they help me just to shut me up.

This year my "obsession" has been with raising awareness and funds for ALS. When 2014 rolled around and I was setting my goals, I decided I wanted to "make a difference" in honor and in memory of my friend, Craig Dunham. Watching him live and die with ALS, changed my life.  It's impossible to describe the tragedy of living with this disease, though Bo Stern, in her post What an ALS family really thinks about the Ice Bucket Challenge came close with this compelling piece and her empathetic exercises.

Seeing Craig progressively lose his abilities to move, talk, or swallow, while still displaying an internal strength, courage, and independence, changed my life. I still get teary-eyed whenever I think about him... not out of pity, but out of sheer awe and admiration of the incredible strength that I witnessed in the face of a disease that robs you of all physical strength. Yes, he literally had Super Power Strength to be able to find so much joy in life despite this debilitating disease.

So, in January of this year when I saw there was an opportunity to be on the Walk Committee for the Rocky Mountain ALS Association, I told the director: "My goal this year will be to join the committee and to be the top fund-raiser for that Walk." Since the top fund-raiser last year raised $12,000, that has been my goal. Thanks to many emails and very generous friends, I had raised over $6000 before the Ice Bucket Challenge even started!

Enter... THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE!  OMG! This was like a huge wish coming true! I had been obsessing about how I could raise awareness and funds for ALS and here comes an unbelievable viral movement that is doing that very thing! We're talking over $50 MILLION DOLLARS!!! My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude for all those celebrities and CEOs and superheroes and mere mortal people who are giving to ALS and spreading the word. How I wish Craig were here to see this. To tell you the truth, the "woo-woo" part of me feels like somehow he took part in orchestrating this whole thing, and that it WILL lead to a cure.

OK, so the real objective is being accomplished...  The funds and awareness are happening with or without my constant pressure, emails, posts to Facebook and YouTube videos.  Whether I raise $12K or not, whether I am the "top fundraiser" or not... these things don't really matter, right? That's all about MY ego... MY wanting to get recognized..  So why should I risk bugging my already-bugged friends with more messages and more videos asking to donate to MY page?

Well, for one thing, as we've already established, when I have a goal, I'm all in. I don't give up until I've met that goal. I still have over $5K left before reaching my $12K goal and just because $12K is a mere drop in that $50 million bucket, it's still a worthy drop.

Secondly, beyond making the money for ALS, what I want more than anything is for people to understand what it was like to experience what I experienced when helping Craig. We all hear how we need to "live life fully," but those words have so much more meaning to me now. We have no idea how much we all take for granted.  We have no idea how petty we sound when we complain or get annoyed by trivial things.

When I hear people complain about tiring of seeing the videos or being annoyed about getting asked to donate, I get it...  I complain about spam or about an overabundance of the same story on the news. So I feel shy or embarrassed about my constant requests for funds or my asks to share my posts or videos. I know that most people do not want to read or listen any more and I feel self-conscious that I'm getting on their nerves. Though I've gotten a few more donations since the Ice Bucket Craze, I feel I've kind of tapped out my friends and family, and don't feel very confident about raising another $5K.

And then I think about Craig and those who are currently living with ALS and realize, "How selfish am I?" Am I really so weak that I can let a little thing like being worried that I might bug someone stop me from fund-raising for a cause that I feel so passionate about?

I remember once when I was outraged because there was no wheel-chair access to Craig's church and I asked Craig if he was OK with me making a stink about it, and he typed out (with his one finger that still worked) "Yes! Thank you for being my voice!" So raising this money, spreading this message -- for me, it is part of how I can make some semblance of meaning to Craig's death. If I can do one good thing... if I can help spread the amazing spirit he demonstrated to one person..  if I can raise the money I committed to... then I'm keeping a part of him alive. Anything less, and I'd feel like I was giving up. One more of the very important lessons I learned from Craig was to never give up!

So I'm not giving up on my goals. I'll keep asking and sending blog posts and videos and ask you to share and some day a cure will be found to this awful disease.

Rest in Peace, Dear Friend
I'll do my best to live the way you did -- seizing the day

Monday, May 19, 2014

Urban Adventure Quest provides perfect entertainment for the playful traveler



Anyone who knows me, knows these things about me:

- I love to play games
- I love to travel
- I love a good deal
- I love technology

What's more, I passed these traits on to my son, Scotty. He's my favorite travel buddy because he's always up for whatever game I come up with. However, these days it's a little tougher for me to come up with games that will keep him entertained. Scotty, a 19-year-old engineering student, recently competed in the College Puzzle Challenge at Purdue and his suggestion of entertainment during our upcoming cruise was that we could work on puzzles from past years.  After trying one such puzzle, I quickly nixed that idea.

However, I did want to figure out something that we would both enjoy when we stopped in Catalina Island and I wasn't crazy about any of the overpriced excursions the ship offered.  (These definitely did not fall into the "good deal" category.)

When I googled "Things to do in Catalina," little did I expect I'd stumble upon the perfect activity for us: An Urban Adventure Quest Walking Tour of Catalina Island! The self-guided tour, part scavenger hunt, part game, was very reasonably priced and provided just the activity that was ideal for the two of us. The quest would guide us through the island with challenges and puzzles that were Goldilocks-perfect.. not too easy and not too hard. (OK, compared to Scotty's college-puzzles, they were super-easy, but not so easy that we got a perfect score. They could be a little tricky but were just right for our small mother-son team.  After all, who wants to think TOO hard while on vacation?)

The walking tour provided history and information about classic sites of the island as well as some hidden gems off the beaten path. Camera in hand, I snapped plenty of photos of the picturesque island and will savor the memories of the fun afternoon.

I highly recommend this fun way to see a new place. Urban Adventure Quest offers adventures for many major cities across the nation.  Their Facebook page is: www.Facebook.com/urbanadventurequest