Becoming an Associate Travel Agent

Becoming an Associate Travel Agent is (probably) the Smartest Thing I’ve EVER Done: Part II

My husband and I were married in April 2005. We had purchased a house before the wedding, and we wanted to save as much as we could on our Honeymoon. In truth, we set a budget of $2,000 for our trip. However, while I was looking up different packages, I just couldn’t find anything less than $3000 including airfare, food and activities. We really wanted to go somewhere in the Caribbean, but it seemed as though it would be impossible.

That is, until I found a company that promised me the title of Associate Travel Agent. For just $225, I would have all of the benefits of a travel agent – including incredibly discounted rates – as well as earn a 10% commission on all of the travel that I booked. I also had to pay an additional $19.95 per month to maintain a website through this company, which was only a site that had a bunch of different links to other sites, such as Travelocity and Orbitz.

Still, I purchased my membership for $225, and I booked our Honeymoon at Sandals Grande St. Lucian for $1,400 TOTAL. I saved $5,600 on the hotel stay alone – and we had all of the benefits that other Sandals guests had. Since I had enough frequent flyer miles, we only had to purchase one plane ticket. So, add the $225 cost for the membership card, $19.95 for the website, $1400 for the resort and $300 for the plane ticket, I still came in under budget for the Honeymoon of our dreams.

Since I did so well with our Honeymoon, I was motivated to book travel for other people. I booked around $10,000 worth of travel in just 6 months, yet all I received was a $45 commission check from this company. I couldn’t believe it. So, I headed down to the local Department of Labor and registered my own travel business, Popular Resorts Transcontinental – Known as PRT Travel because the name is so long. I soon obtained a CLIA number for my company, and was well on my way to becoming a success.

I have booked 7 cruises in the past week alone. That means that I earned a $1,372 commission rather than the $137.20 that the other company would have paid me. I keep 100% of my commissions. I am no longer registered with the other company, because I don’t have to be. Besides, I did a search on the Better Business Bureau with the company’s name, and I learned that it has 40 complaints within the past 36 months. Because of these unanswered complaints, the company has an unsatisfactory record with the BBB. Plus, I have read many different accusations of this company (among others) being a scam from hundreds of people. I didn’t think that this was the case for me, as I saved a lot of money on my Honeymoon. But, after getting a check for just $45 after selling $10,000 worth of travel, I started to think otherwise.

Then, I started to think about the hundreds of other people that are in the same boat that I was in: spending $225 as a registration fee, $19.95 per month for a website that I could have created for free on Geocities or something, and a $50 renewal fee every year. That adds up to $515 for the first year and $290 every year thereafter. That’s a lot of expense for a very little return.

So, I decided to open my company up to more people that want to save money on travel and earn money booking it for other people. I don’t charge you for some bogus website that you could create yourself– If you want one, go ahead and create one. You will get 100% of the commissions that you earn through the different programs that you can register yourself for. I won’t leave you to work hard on your own, then take 90% of what you earn. It’s completely unfair, in my humble opinion. You will receive 80% commission off of all of your bookings, which will be paid via check within 15 (fifteen) days of the check clearing into the PRT account. The company will keep 20% commission for administrative fees and taxes. There isn’t any travel company out there that offers this.

You will be registered as a Specialist with Popular Resorts Transcontinental on every single booking engine where the company is registered. If there is a company that you want to register with that PRT isn’t yet registered with, all you have to do is send an email to PRTTraveller@gmail.com with your request, and it will be taken care of within a week. This is how a travel company should be run.

So, what do you have to do? Well, that depends on how much money you would like to make. I am simply providing you with the means to book travel and earn income. How much you earn is on your shoulders: Book as much or as little as you like. Plus, you can always use the membership card that you will receive in order to get your own discounted travel.

It’s simple, really. All you have to do is fill out the Registration Form, make your payment ($75), and mail your form, receipt and passport photo in. If you want more than one specialty, it is an additional $30 for each, and you will receive separate cards for all of them. You’ll receive your welcome kit within 2 weeks. The card is good until December 31, 2007, which is when the CLIA registration must be renewed. I am so tired of these other companies taking advantage or me and people like me, and it was time that I did something about it.

Style and Comfort

5 Additional Girls Guide Tips for Traveling in Europe in Style and Comfort

A trip to Europe is on the agenda of many high school and college students. Here are a few additional tips to consider, no matter what your age.

  1. Be aware of different business hours, especially banks!

In Europe, businesses, especially banks, are conducted at different hours that we are used to in the United States. For example, many banks are only open from 8 AM to 4 PM; with a long lunch break in between. In addition, in Spain, most businesses close mid-afternoon for a siesta. However, with the exception of banks, most reopen for the evening. When you arrive at your destination, do a little research into business hours and take care of your money situation right away. With those two pieces of advice, you will never be without cash and won’t be disappointed.

  1. Always utilize your travel time, whether that means time on a plane, train, or bus.

During my semester in Spain, I traveled nearly every weekend. For me, that meant a lot of time on buses and trains. I made the most of it. I used that time to read, listen music, or finalize trip plans. It was also nice to simply write or take in scenery. The point is, make the most of the dead time. It will mean that you can make the most of your trip.

  1. Visit Cathedrals, but you can take in too many at once! The same goes for historic churches.

Europe is filled with historic churches and cathedrals! They are wonderful to visit and the architecture is simply amazing. No two are exactly alike. That having been said, you can do too much of a good thing. By the end of my trip to Spain, I could have cared less as to whether or not I would ever see another cathedral in my life. If you are into visiting cathedrals and churches, just don’t overdue it. Mix it up and go shopping for a day!

  1. Do hit the main sites.

Many college students who are into being non-conventional may wish to skip the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London, and the like, but such huge tourist attractions are big tourist attractions for a reason. You owe it to yourself to do the touristy thing at least once or twice, just try not to stick out like a sore thumb.

  1. Plan fun, out of the way excursions.

While it is fun visiting the main sites in a city, it also can get boring, especially after a full day or two of doing the touristy thing. There is so much more to Europe than what is in the guidebooks! For example, I was in Cáceres, Spain during Valentine’s Day 2002. I decided to get all dressed up, go to a free play all by myself, and then met up with a bunch of friends at a local hang out. It was a blast! I had the best of both worlds: I spent time alone and then had the time of my life partying with all of my friends. It was a great evening and took very little planning. In many places in Europe, all you need to do is visit a café or small store in order to find out what is going on locally. You won’t be disappointed.

By following the advice given above, you won’t go wrong. You will have a European experience that you won’t soon forget.

On the Way to Amsterdam

On the Way to Amsterdam

As a young pothead in 1999 I had one major thing to look forward to, and that was the Cannabis Cup held in Amsterdam, Holland. This would be my first trip on a plane and just getting there is a story in itself, thus, this travel story.

I awoke at 5 AM, that had not happened in about three years. My bags already packed I go take a shower, and then get my stuff ready. One half of the filthy, nasty, repugnant Anderson Brothers, Jason, picks me up. He receives some bonus money for the trip as do I. My Mommy kisses me bye and then continues to put a damper on the trip by crying, realizing this could be the last time she sees her beautiful baby boy in one piece.

One thing I forgot to pack for my trip were Philly Blunts. I figured they would have them in Amsterdam, and they did, for roughly $15 for two packs.

We eat breakfast at Denny’s. I didn’t have much, getting on a metal tube had me a little nervous even though it was hours away. Jason ate like a hog, he is part hog. I get the squirts at a gas station and use their facilities. Now, we are on our way to Atlanta. Being the spoiled young man with money that I was I would have much rather flown to Atlanta than driven. But the Anderson Brothers are part Jewish, they like to save money.

Three hours later we arrive in Atlanta. We check our bags. I stop and buy one awesome U.S.A. fanny pack that I never wore. A couple hours later and it is time to board. At the time I seen an imaginary line. Once crossing this line there was no turning back. I could get on the plane or not. Before leaving I called my mother like a good little boy, she was crying again, so I’m thinking damn, maybe I shouldn’t get on this plane. That was my choice. Not get on the plane, waste the money I spent, and go back home. Or take a chance, get on the plane, go to Amsterdam, and maybe fall from the sky in a metal tube.

So hell yeah, I got on the plane.

I was a little leery of the takeoff. I had learned by this time that most airplane crashes occur shortly after takeoff and upon landing. So I grabbed my armrests and got ready, it was uneventful, yet scary. From watching movies I heard airline food and the in-flight movies are not great. The movies were right.

Our in-flight movies were Wild Wild West, which is Wild Wild West, no explanation needed. The next movie was Big Daddy. I’m an Adam Sandler fan but Big Daddy just wasn’t good. It didn’t help that I watched the flick a week earlier. The food wasn’t bad. We had a choice of chicken or pasta. I wanted the chicken, I wished for the chicken. The stewardess asked me which I wanted, I said chicken. She said they were out of chicken. I pondered why she even asked.

I couldn’t sleep on the plane, but I could get drunk off the free Heineken. I figured if the plane was to crash it would be my best bet to be drunk. I couldn’t sleep on the plane. Something about closing my eyes and hearing a jet engine doesn’t relax me. I listened to my headphones provided by the airline KLM, “Larger Than Life” by The Backstreet Boys became my in-flight anthem.

The hours ticked by slowly, our little plane on the big screen inched along, across the Atlantic, over Ireland, the United Kingdom. Our pilot informs us we are approaching Schipol airport. We come in for the landing, I pray we don’t crash, we land safely.

Step one complete. I’m now in Amsterdam. The time in Amsterdam is earlier than when we left the states, that will be mind trip one. I wonder what awaits me in this magical city?

Traveling in Cabo San Lucas

Traveling in Cabo San Lucas: What to Do and Where to Go on Your Cabo San Lucas Vacation

Overview

Cabo San Lucas, located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, was, until recently, a simple fishing town. However, in the last two decades interest in this relatively-unknown Mexican city has been building among adventure-seeking tourists, and, as a result, the city has built itself up to encourage and expand this newfound interest. Primarily a destination that caters to tourists looking to experience outdoor adventures, Cabo San Lucas is crawling with sun-ridden activities for its guests to immerse themselves in. The most amazing site to be seen is Land’s End. Here a huge arching rock separates the Cortez Sea from the Atlantic Ocean, and the rocks that surround Land’s End are the home of a local sea lion colony. Daring tourists may want to attempt to cross the rocks to reach the rock arch, but less thrill-seeking visitors may instead choose to arrive at the arch via the boat rides offered by local vendors.

Outdoor Recreation

Around the marina, you’ll find local vendors offering just about every service you could imagine. Here you can sail out into the ocean in a glass-bottom boat, rent a jet-ski, deep-water fish, scuba dive, bungee jump, snorkel, paraglide, or simply sunbathe. For tourists interested in scuba diving and snorkeling, some of the best spots are Pelican Rock, home to several schools of tropical fish, Cabo Pulmo, the location of a large coral reef, and Playa Del Amor, the location of a sand fall that starts at 100 feet below the sea level and drops more than 6500 feet below. For a more relaxing day in the sun, check out one of Cabo San Lucas’ many golf courses. Best of all, from January to March, the Ocean off of the coast of Cabo San Lucas is the home to whales, and visitors can watch them rise and fall in the water, for a price, of course.

Nightlife

The tourist-oriented restaurants and bars are mostly clustered around the marina, so you’re likely to find a wealth of dining and drinking establishments there, though the prices will be inflated because of the location. For a cheaper night out, head to Morelos. In Morelos, you’ll find Mariscos Mocambo, a fresh seafood restaurant that’s popular among both tourists and natives alike. For authentic Mexican cuisine, check out La Perla, Mi Casa, El Patio, and Senor Greenburg’s. To experience a Latin nightclub, the Giggling Martin should be your first stop.

Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park is a Disaster in of Itself

Blizzard Beach Water Park at Disney World in Orlando, Florida is one of the most disappointing water parks ever made. It’s one of two water parks in Walt Disney World Resort, the other being Typhoon Lagoon, which is where you should really be spending your time if you want some cool water park action, not here. Maybe I’m being a little too harsh, Blizzard Beach actually does have some cool rides but they’re a pain in the butt to get to (I’ll get into that shortly) and the running theme and concept behind this water park is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it’s very cool and it’s something different, then again, it’s a curse because it makes commuting from ride to ride a living hell.

See, the idea behind Blizzard Beach is some big snow storm attacked Florida and now there’s a ski resort there. And then somehow the warm weather returned, thus beginning the melting process. Now what you’ve got as a result is a ski-themed water park. So let’s talk about the good stuff first. Blizzard Beach houses one of the biggest and fastest water-slides in the world which is Summit Plummet — standing at 120 feet high, it’s a free-falling water-slide with a 12 story drop at a speed ranging between 50 to 60 miles per hour. Other cool water-slides include the Slush Gusher, Snow Stormers, the Downhill Double Dipper, and Toboggan Racers.

Then you’ve got your tube and raft-based rides like Teamboat Springs and Runoff Rapids. Furthermore, there’s the main star of the water park — the almighty chair lift. While it’s not necessarily a ride in the sense of the other attractions at Blizzard Beach, it serves as a mode of transportation and nothing more. However, this the park’s mighty downfall, so to speak, because having to wait to go back and forth on the chair lift is quite torturous. To make matters worse, it’s the easiest way to get to the top of the park where most of the rides await, otherwise you’ll have to navigate your own hectic journey up Blizzard Beach’s pathways and stairs.

Last but not least, you’ve got the two most important attractions which a water park can not live without – the wave pool and the lazy river. Every water park has them, to take them away would be like taking french fries off of McDonald’s menu. At Blizzard Beach, Cross Country Creek fills the shoes of the lazy river quite well. Then there’s Melt-Away Bay, the park’s very own wave pool — spanning over one acre, this wave pool is decorated with a number of waterfalls and extends up to about eight feet. Overall, if you want your time well spent in the water at Disney World, you’re probably better off at Typhoon Lagoon.

Winter Fun and Travel

Time to Book Your 2011 Winter Fun and Travel

Booking a winter wonderland vacation means many different things to the traveler. It is that time of year to begin looking into booking that winter trip. Remember the first tip to planning an inexpensive trip is booking early.

Make a list of those great places that you want to visit. This is the most important planning step for any traveler. Once the list is created then it is time to check and see who will be traveling with your party. Perhaps this winter you wish to take children or grand children. Prices always change from season to season and it is best to remember that traveling with children can be less expensive if you choose the off season for those theme parks and other activities geared to the young.

If getting away from your hometown’s weather is the reason for a wintertime trip, plan to visit a place that is experiencing summertime during your winter months. Places like South Africa have their spring in August. Research every detail of the weather and be sure to search out the historical weather patterns of the area being considered. Recently when planning a trip to South Africa myself, I used Accuweather at www.accuweather.com/ to check on the best time of year for travel. Don’t always depend on your travel agent to know exactly what the weather has been like or will be like in the future.

After choosing who is going and where you are going now it’s time to find out the price of that trip. When booking for overseas travel it is best to use a travel agency. One like Costco Travel can give a traveler a great price. Their upcoming 2011 season includes trips to the Caribbean, Jamaica, Italy, Spain, and more. When using a travel agency they are able to find some all-inclusive packages for travelers that include ground transportation and meals in the total cost of the package. Keep in mind that the agency is adding a cost for their services so a comparison of prices when booking with your agency and on your own can save money in the long run.

Booking a trip from beginning to end can be stressful but it can be done. Choose the dates, air travel, hotel, and then visit Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity and use your search guidelines to include air, hotel and rental car. It is a good idea when booking a trip like this to put in anytime as your flight time, locking yourself into a specific time of day can cause the prices to rise considerably.

If your choosing a place such as Italy, Spain, France or another destination that may have lots of driving, it may behoove you to chose to stay in more than one hotel/motel or even a villa. Research for these extras will need to be done separately as you cannot put in more than one destination when using sites such as Priceline, Expedia, or Travelocity.

Make sure when booking an overseas destination that the cost is being quoted in US dollars and not the currency of the geographical area. It is easy to use the currency calculator but the rise and lowering of the currency exchange can be several hundred dollars from day to day. Travellers need to keep this currency exchange fluctuation in mind when travel time comes also. Pick up some of the local currency at the airport before leaving the US. Most major airports have a currency exchange office. There will be a charge to change money over both leaving and coming from and to the US.

Travelers Checks and credit cards are not recommended. During our recent travels in South Africa we used a personal credit card, which was then compromised and used in Italy, Spain, and with several rental car agencies. If a credit card is a comfort issue then purchase a pre-loaded credit card to use on your travels. That way if the card becomes compromised it is for a specific dollar amount and will not affect your personal credit.

Passport to the Future

Malta’s Past is Its Passport to the Future

I first visited the tiny Mediterranean country of Malta in the early 50s.

I stayed for 5 magnificent years. It was where I found my passion for things archaeological. I was Associated Press’s stringer on the island (amongst other things) when I was invited to join Cambridge University’s archaeological team under the direction of Dr. David Trump, to record artifacts and excavations at the catacombs of St. Agatha’s in Rabat, adjoining the ancient capital of M’dina.

Prior to this I had been assigned the task of recording (photographically) many of the artifacts currently displayed in the churches that abound on this small catholic island and many of which dated back to the historic Knights of Malta. (1530-1798). My assignment at that time came from the then Central Office of Information, now replaced by the Department of Tourism and Heritage Malta.

Six years ago I returned to my beloved Malta for the first time in some 50 odd years. (‘Odd’ being the operative word here!) The only item I excavated on this occasion however was my lovely wife Rosaria. I stayed for another 4 years and left I must admit a broken hearted man. The heart I should add that I had bequeathed to my beloved Malta.

Although the country was moving ahead by leaps and bounds since severing its ties with Great Britton and now becoming one of the newest members of the European Union (EU), it had lost or perhaps better described, was losing, its focus on the one element that truly held its passport to greatness in the future, the archaeological and historic past that is surely unequaled anywhere in the world.

Across the island magnificent remains of this glorious past stood unattended and uncared for, the public even in government controlled sites like St. Paul’s Catacombs were allowed to wander unescorted, allowing them to add graffiti and untold damage to this magnificent site. By contrast across the street the magnificent catacombs of St. Agatha’s with its amazing original fresco’s remained intact only because the site is owned and maintained by the Sacred Order of the Society of St. Peter  amp; St. Paul, whose monastery and school is located above this remarkable crypt and catacomb complex.

Fr. Victor Camilleri whose side I was privileged to work at during the 50’s, still to this day (although his sight is almost gone) continues to safeguard some of Malta’s most sacred and amazing treasures.

Over the past few weeks I had the opportunity to again re visit with Victor and once again explore some of my old haunts. Certainly there have now been changes. It appears that the preservation on many of the ancient sites are under the care of private contractors though it was my impression that the government still retains an active involvement. Protective covers have been placed over some of the more spectacular archaeological sites to provide a modicum of weather protection, though somewhat taking from their previous visual splendor.

I discovered a new and very pleasant visitor’s center at the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra site. However sites like “Clapham Junction” with the remarkable and unexplained ‘cart ruts’, sit unsupervised and unprotected!

I took the time to re visit the Palace State Rooms and the Armory which by the way contains a collection unequaled of weaponry used by the Knights in the fortification of their home for several hundred years.

Though as remarkable as it is, it lacks attention to detail and the atmosphere brings no excitement to what should in this archaeologist’s opinion be a lifelong memorable experience. The same could be said of the Palace Staterooms with their magnificent paintings and memorabilia.

Mother nature has done her part in the preservation of much that remains on the Island but the time has come for the government to step up and preserve the remarkable wealth that history has placed in their hands. I recall a conversation with a fellow archaeologist in Egypt some years ago when he described the Pyramids as being Egypt’s Oil Well! Meaning of course that the countries ancient treasures would be its source of wealth for as long as they were maintained and treasured.

Parking

Pittsburgh Airport Parking Some Fairly Cost-Effective Long Term Parking Facilities

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is actually renowned as one of the best airports in the country today, evaluated in consideration of quality and customer satisfaction rankings. Amenities and services here, like Pittsburgh Airport parking for instance, are the envy of other airports of comparable size to Pittsburgh Airport. Well over 8,000,000 passengers pass through Pittsburgh every year, but even with the moderately great number of passengers, airport parking at PIT is usually pretty adequate.

There are approximately 13,000 PIT parking bays available to passengers on-site. Let’s review your choices.

Airport Garage Parking

Garage Parking is, naturally, the most hassle-free parking choice at Pittsburgh Airport. This is a short-term alternative accessible in the 2 airport garages located right in front of the terminal. At $24 per day ($1 for the first hour, $3 for each additional hour), terminal garage parking is best used for short trips to the airport picking up or dropping off a passenger.

Airport Long-term Parking

Long-Term Parking is also a convenient service and much friendlier to the wallet. There are 3,750 spaces reserved for long-term Pittsburgh Airport parking. These are spread in the lots adjoining the Hyatt-Regency hotel and are connected to the Landside Terminal via a moving walkway. Parking here will cost you $12 per day and may be the perfect choice for passengers on quick trips, guests, and sightseers.

For anybody on a budget, the most practical airport parking solution is Extended Parking at only $8 per day. There are 7,350 parking bays designed for this option found just at the back of the long-term parking lots. The facility is served by cost-free luxury shuttle vehicles working continuously to take passengers to and from the Landside Terminal building.

Off-Site Parking

Like in every busy airport, the airport-operated parking facilities generally be at full capacity at some time during a given week (especially during the holidays), it’s always ideal to have other options in addition to the airport. There are quite a few private parking companies that can assist you in the event that there’s no longer any place to park at the airport. The good thing with these locations apart from the moderate prices is that you can in fact guarantee your Pittsburgh Airport parking space with them prior to your scheduled flight.

To point out one or two sites, Charlie Brown’s Airport Parking place on Flaugherty Run Rd features fees that are equivalent to the Extended Parking rate at the airport. The neighboring FastTrack Garage also offers equally cost-effective rates and both establishments operate their in-house free shuttle services to take passengers to (or collect them from) the airport terminal.

Pittsburgh Airport parking, specifically throughout the holidays, can be a bit of a bother for some people who decide to chance it, without reviewing availability early on with the airport’s website (they do put up real-time parking status in those facilities). Oftentimes, the on-site facilities are already jam-packed and that could certainly be a problem if you’re in a hurry to catch a plane.

If you’re commuting through peak season, the ideal course of action from my point of view, is to plan your trip in advance and reserve your airport parking via internet with the outside companies. Traveling can at times be stressful if you have a tendency to fret about a lot of things. Pittsburgh Airport parking need not be one of those.

Looking for a good Pittsburgh Airport parking space? Get directions for the best PIT and Philadelphia Airport parking spots at BestParking.com. Compute for parking rates fast. Secure your parking, today.

Buck Creek Winery

Buck Creek Winery Will Delight Your Palette

Buck Creek Winery was originally established as Durm Vineyards in 1991 by Jeff and Kelly Durm with the planting of 1500 vines. By 1996 Jeff was producing award winning wines, including ten medal winners at the Indiana State Fair that year. During those early years some grapes from the vineyard were sold to other vineyards and the public, including Korean and Amish church groups.

This enterprising family business had gained a state wide reputation for producing excellent wines and grapes. After Jeff retired from the Marion County Sheriff’s Department in 2004, he and his family were able to realize a long held dream: Opening a winery complete with store and tasting room. The Buck Creek Winery opened in April, 2006. Its growth in the number of varieties of wine produced and awards received since the opening has been remarkable, to say the least.

On the clear crisp January day that we visited Buck Creek Winery we were greeted by Dick and Josette Randolph. (Josette is Kelly Durm’s mother.) Dick gave us a tour of the production and warehouse portion of the winery. Dick explained that when the winery began they only needed four wooden barrels and one stainless vat. Today I counted 37 barrels and eight large stainless vats. Buck Creek employs five people full time and four people part time. Volunteers often help during bottling time. “Many people like to volunteer when we bottle” Dick told me with a smile on his face. “It’s fun to bottle, cork and label the wine, and you get free wine to drink!”

Jeff Durm was kind enough to spend some time with us in the store and tasting room. He talked about their vineyard with its 2500 vines representing 14 different varieties. He described ripping out of one poorly producing variety and replacing it with a more viable type of grape vine. Then he asked if we wanted to do some tasting. “But of course!” was my reply.

Alley Cat, a red table wine is their best seller. Winner of an Indiana State Fair Gold medal, this wine tastes of cranberries and strawberries with a hint of spice. We also partook of samples of red raspberry and blackberry styles. All the wines we tasted were delightful on the palette. And then there was Pleasant View Pink, a wine named after a small burg just down the road from the winery. I asked Jeff what set Buck Creek apart from other wineries. “For one thing” he said, “a full 50% of our wines are made with Indiana fruit. Few Indiana wineries can say that.” In addition Jeff pointed out that “Here you will like most everything you try.”

Last year the winery produced 60,000 bottles of wine, or approximately 12,000 gallons. Buck Creek now offers 34 varieties of wine. In the most recent Indy International Wine Tasting Competition Buck Creek was awarded 22 separate medals, the most of any winery in the competition. After our visit, we realized why they have won so many awards through the years.

Buck Creek Winery is located at 11747 Indiana Creek Road, South, Indianapolis. See their web site for details and hours.

Animal Planet Portable Pet Kennel Review

Animal Planet Portable Pet Kennel Review

Having owned a cat that chewed her way out of a fabric pet carrier, I knew when I purchased the Animal Planet Portable Pet Kennel that it might not work for my 10 pound Australian Silky Terrier. However, the price was too good to pass up! This retailed for $24.99, but Kohl’s had them on sale for only $7.99. It was worth a try.

The Animal Planet Portable Pet Kennel is a very handy, portable kennel that can be placed in a car, as well as inside or outside of your home. It is made of a weather resistant fabric that resembles what most tents are made from. It comes in two colors, blue and brown.

The kennel has dome shaped ends, with three ventilated windows and a large ventilated door that zips closed. All of these openings also have flaps that can be dropped down to give a pet privacy and darkness, or they can be rolled up and secured at the top of the doors and window with a loop and plastic tab.

It measures 20″ wide by 22 length and is 20″ high. What I love about this kennel is the way it folds flat to take up very little room in storage. We used to have a hard sized kennel, and it was just to large to have around the home for occasional use, and we got rid of it.

While the Animal Planet Portable Pet Kennel does have a floor, it is very thin and I feel this needs some type of bedding to make your pet comfortable. The picture on the front of the box shows the kennel with a plush flat bed inside of it.

Set up is not hard, but I did run into one problem that I will mention in a few minutes. To set up the Animal Planet Portable Pet Kennel you spread it open and turn it upside down. There are two sleeves on each side of the kennel and you thread two of the poles through these two sleeves, securing them via hook and loop style closure tabs. Turning the kennel right side up, you do the same with two end sleeves and one center top sleeve. This is where I ran into a problem.

The kennel has a fabric handle running along the top, which is sewn into the middle of each end area. On my kennel the handle was sewn right into the closure for the middle sleeve, and I could not open the sleeve to secure the pole. I got out my pointed sewing scissors and snipped the threads to separate the handle from the closure, and this did the trick. The handle now is in the correct position for carrying, and the pole is secured in place. I will mention that the poles are a bit hard to put in place! I did a lot of pulling and stretching to get them where they belonged, and if you have to take this down and put it up very often, I personally wonder how well the stitching will hold up over time.

The kennel bears the Animal Planet logo on the side corner, so I know this is an authentic Animal Planet product. It seems like a good temporary solution to carrying your pet when travelling. Since my dog is a small breed dog, and she isn’t very aggressive at her age, I don’t have any issues with this kennel. However, I could see a larger dog or any aggressive animal being able to claw their way through this product.