Starling Travel

July 17, 2009

Free Weekends in Your National Parks

Filed under: Camping,Nevada,Places To Visit,Tourist Attractions — Laura Moncur @ 8:33 am

Lake Mead, NVThis weekend, you can hike, camp and enjoy at over 100 National Parks for FREE! They offer fee free weekends a few times a year and there are a couple left. You can find out more here:

Mark your calendars for fee-free weekends this summer:

  • July 18-19, 2009
  • August 15-16, 2009

Mike and I enjoy several of the nearby National Parks. The photo shown is from a trip to Lake Mead in southern Nevada (near Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam), which is on the list of free parks this weekend. You can see all the photos of that camping trip here:

If you are feeling the financial squeeze this year, take advantage of the parks that your tax dollars go toward maintaining and try them out this weekend free of charge.

July 10, 2009

United Airlines Breaks Guitars

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 12:00 pm

As if we didn’t already know that airlines are ruthless with baggage, Dave Carroll lost his $3500 Taylor guitar to rough handling on a United Airlines flight. After a year of trying to work with the airlines for compensation, they denied his claim. Instead of crying, The Sons of Maxwell wrote a song about it. Here is the video:

You can read the whole story here:

In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged.

They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss.

So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world.

After they released this video, United Airlines called him to try to make it right. Honestly, it really shouldn’t take one million views on YouTube to get the service we deserve. Why can’t they realize the power their customers have when we live in the age of online reviews and YouTube videos.

When I was a teenager, my family flew on a trip and one of our suitcases were lost. The airline was just as unhelpful as poor Dave Carroll experienced. Whenever I get my luggage after a flight, I feel like a miracle has happened. The idea of checking a $3500 guitar makes me break out in a sweat for fear of it being lost completely, much less for rough handling.

That’s why Mike and I choose to “go by car” more often than not. Thanks for reminding all of us why, Dave Carroll!

July 1, 2009

Ikea Hack: Wi-Fi Antenna

Filed under: Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Ikea Wi-Fi Antenna from Mutated JellyfishWhen you are staying at a hotel with a weak wi-fi signal, a homemade wi-fi booster antenna like this one can be a godsend.

Here is are the directions to make yourself one, including links to the materials:



  • Connect the USB wi-fi adapter to the USB extension cable.
  • Tape the wi-fi adapter to the end of the popsicle stick.
  • Mount the popsicle stick onto the strainer with the USB wi-fi adapter as close to the center of the strainer as possible. Tape it in place wrapping the electrical tape around the stick, the handle of the strainer and the USB extension cord.
  • Plug in the USB extension cord into your laptop and turn the wi-fi antenna until you are able to get the best wi-fi signal.

If you pack this wi-fi booster antenna in your car on your next trip, your likeliness of getting wi-fi at your hotel increases exponentially. Give it a try!


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