NEW YORK (AP) — A man who says he's afraid to fly is spending the month of June living on a plane.
Mark Malkoff, 33, a comedian and filmmaker, boarded his first flight June 1 from LaGuardia in New York, where he lives, heading to Atlanta. He plans to stay on AirTran flights until June 30. The airline offers wireless Internet service, so Malkoff is posting updates about his trip on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and on his blog, http://www.MarkOnAirTran.com.
Entertaining videos on his blog show him playing a cramped game of Twister with other passengers in the aisle; his crazy dances when the plane is parked for the night, and a wacky experiment to see if the airplane bathroom will suck an entire roll of toilet paper down in one flush.
Malkoff, a former audience coordinator for "The Colbert Report," said in an e-mail that "the hardest part is washing my hair in the airplane bathroom. I use baby wipes to clean myself. ... The only time I leave the plane is once in a while to go on the tarmac to switch planes. I never go into to an airport. I'm trying to stay on the same plane for as much as possible."
His itinerary ranges from five to a dozen flights a day, with destinations including Raleigh, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., Denver, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
His wife flies to meet him on weekends.
He also tries to exercise between flights when the plane is empty by jogging in the aisles and doing push-ups on the seats. When the plane is parked for the night, he sleeps onboard, alone.
As for his fear, "the flying has definitely gotten easier. The biggest thing that's helped has been the pilots explaining the specifics I have a hard time with in detail such as turbulence."
He invites others to contact him "to give me support and keep me occupied as I face my fear."
Malkoff's past projects have included "Mark Lives in IKEA," documenting his weeklong stay in an IKEA store, and "171 Starbucks," in which he visited 171 Starbucks stores in Manhattan in less than 24 hours.
New water park attractions around the country
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Theme parks and water parks have opened a variety of new water rides and other aquatic attractions to keep visitors cool this summer. Here are some highlights compiled by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
—New parks already opened include Castle Rock Resort and Water Park in Branson, Mo., and a new Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, N.C., near Charlotte.
—Opening this summer: A tidal wave river, water coaster, slides and more in a 40-acre water park at the Schlitterbahn Vacation Village in Kansas City, Kan., and Wet 'n' Wild Phoenix, in Arizona, with 30 slides and attractions.
—At existing parks, new water slides debuting this summer include UpSurge at Alabama Adventure Theme Park in Bessemer, Ala.; the Twister at Coney Island in Cincinnati; the Curse of the Silverback, a double-tube ride at Enchanted Forest/Water Safari in Old Forge, N.Y.; a second Alberta Falls water slide at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas; Alpine Pipeline at Mountain Creek Waterpark in Vernon, N.J.; Wahoo Racer slide at Six Flags St. Louis Hurricane Harbor; and Dr. VonDark's Tunnel of Terror, a high-thrill water ride opening at Splish Splash on Long Island, in New York, and also at Wet'n Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro, N.C.
—Other new water attractions at theme parks include the Shore and Intercoastal Waterway at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa.; Tunnel Twisters water slides at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn.; Crater Springs at Liquid Planet Water Park, in Candia, N.H.; Congo River Expedition at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort in New Braunfels, Texas, and The Count's Splash Castle, at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa.
New edition of road trip guide out with trip ideas
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — If you're thinking about a road trip and you need more than a map to help you plan, Avalon Travel Books is out with a new edition of "Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America's Two-Lane Highways" by Jamie Jensen($29.95).
Chapters break the options for border-to-border and coast-to-coast cross-country drives into 11 routes:
—Pacific Coast, 1,500 miles on a mostly two-lane route through California, Oregon and Washington.
—Border to border south to north, from the Rio Grande in Mexico to Jasper National Park in Canada, along US-93 through Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.
—The "road to nowhere," US-83 north to south across the heartland of the Plains states, between North Dakota and Matamoros, Mexico, through South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, past sites ranging from Sitting Bull Memorial to the Alamo.
—The Great River Road, following the Mississippi from its headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana.
—Appalachian Trail — or the auto equivalent, from Maine to Georgia, with stops at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina.
—Atlantic Coast, a two-lane alternative route to I-95 down the Eastern seaboard from New York to Florida, with 2,000 miles of sightseeing that includes stops at the Jersey shore, Chincoteague, Va., known for wild ponies, and Kitty Hawk, in North Carolina, ending at Key West.
—Heading west to east across the continent from Seattle to Acadia National Park in Maine along the "Great Northern" route, following US-2 with stops in Glacier National Park and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
—The Oregon Trail, using US-20 to follow the footsteps of pioneers and pilgrims from Oregon's Columbia Gorge to Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore to Niagara Falls and Cape Cod, Mass., with a stop at Iowa's "Field of Dreams" along the way.
—A coast-to-coast route dubbed "The Loneliest Road" through the middle of the country along US-50 through a dozen states, heading east from San Francisco to the Maryland shore.
—The "Southern Pacific," following old US-80 and its equivalents 3,000 miles from San Diego to the Georgia coast, from desert to delta.
—Last but not least, Route 66, the Mother Road, between Chicago and Hollywood, where you can still find diners, motels and kitschy landmarks like the World's Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Ill.
One-stop shopping for Asia trip planning
NEW YORK (AP) — A one-stop Web site for planning a trip to Asia has relaunched with new features and deals.
The "Discover Asia Now" site at http://www.discoverasianow.com is a joint marketing effort by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, India Tourism, Japan National Tourism Organization, Korea Tourism Organization, Macau Tourism Board, Philippine Department of Tourism, Singapore Tourism Board, and Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The site offers maps, local weather, currency exchange information, destination guides and a contest to win a trip for two to Korea and Japan, including round trip airfare from the U.S., hotel accommodations for six nights, and city tours of Seoul and Tokyo. The contest ends July 31.
The site also lists deals from tour operators, hotels, and airlines, with promotions exclusive to the Web site, like $100 off packages for travel bookings prior to July 30.
Packages include a 14-day trip from Asia Classic Tours starting at $1,949 that goes to the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall; a $1,459 12-day "Affordable Thailand" trip from Gate 1 Travel; four days in Singapore starting at $489 from Goway Travel; and a Hong Kong and Bangkok tour for nine days starting at $1,399 from Club ABC Tours.
If you're planning a trip to more than one destination in Asia, check out Cathay Pacific's All-Asia Pass, which offers round-trip economy airfare to Hong Kong and your choice of two other Asian cities from New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco, for $1,499 for Monday-Wednesday travel. You can add another two cities for $300 more. Taxes, fees and security charges are additional. The pass is available for purchase by U.S. residents with U.S. mailing addresses only. Destination options include Bali, Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta, Manila, Phuket, Phnom Penh, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo. Other restrictions apply. Details at http://www.cathayusa.com/offers/allasiapass or from the Discoverasianow.com site, by clicking on "Asia Deals," then "Airlines."
Gatlinburg street festival each night through Aug. 8
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — Gatlinburg's 4th annual street festival is under way and runs nightly through Aug. 8.
Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales will feature costumed musical performers, storytellers and artisans portraying events as far back as 1800.
The characters will line the busy downtown parkway of the Smoky Mountains resort town.
There'll be bluegrass music, cloggers and craftsmen. All activities are free. The entertainment begins at 5 p.m. and runs every evening through 10 p.m.
The theme for this summer's festival is the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Details at http://www.gatlinburg.com.
Brookfield Zoo in suburban Chicago area turns 75
BROOKFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Brookfield Zoo's turning 75 soon.
The suburban Chicago zoo is offering a year's worth of discounts and special events to mark the occasion. That includes free admission for children ages 11 and under.
The celebration will culminate next year with the opening of the new Great Bear Wilderness exhibit featuring bald eagles, bison, polar bears and Mexican gray wolves. It's set to open in the spring of 2010.
The Brookfield Zoo first opened its gates to the public on July 1, 1934.
Over the years, it's set a series of firsts. It was one of the first North American zoos to exhibit animals in barless enclosures. It exhibited the first giant pandas in North America. And it was the first U.S. zoo to have a black rhino.
Temporary closure of Harry Truman home beginning in August
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — If you're a Harry Truman fan, you have until Aug. 2 to visit his home in Independence before it closes for renovations.
The work by the National Park Service, including new heating, ventilation, cooling and fire suppression systems, is expected to continue at the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site until spring of 2010.
The site's visitor center at 223 N. Main St. will remain open daily throughout the renovation period. The center offers a film about the president and his life in Independence, along with exhibits of family treasures and photos of the Truman home. Walking tours are available on certain days.
The Truman Farm Home in Grandview, Mo., is open for tours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until the home in Independence closes. Starting Aug. 3, when the renovations begin, the farm will be open daily for tours. Tickets are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and may sell out by early afternoon. The cost is $4 for adults; children 15 and under are free. The Farm Home will close for the season on Oct. 12.
TripAdvisor recommends 5 free attractions
NEWTON, Mass. (AP) — Editors at TripAdvisor.com have compiled a list of five free attractions recommended by the Web site's users, from New England to Florida to California and the Southwest.
—Mallory Square, in Key West, Fla., where you'll find food vendors, acrobats, musicians and a spectacular sunset.
—Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colo., home to sandstone rock formations and a view of Pike's Peak.
—Cliff Walk, Newport, R.I., a scenic 3 1/2-mile walkway with the ocean on one side and views of the famous Newport mansions on the other.
—Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, where you can look up at the night sky through a telescope or simply take in the view of Los Angeles and the famous Hollywood sign.
—Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah, in the scenic Angel Canyon, where you can volunteer to help with the animals or take a free tour of the grounds.
Southern Living mag recommends trips for kids
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Southern Living magazine is recommending 12 "quintessential Southern experiences for kids," from horseback riding on the beach in Jekyll Island, Ga., to history in Williamsburg, Va.
The other 10 destinations and experiences listed in the magazine's June issue are Disney World in Florida; Sun Studio and Graceland in Memphis, Tenn.; an authentic crab shack on the Maryland shore; a ride on a New Orleans street car; a boat ride in San Antonio, Texas; Rock City, a manmade rock garden and park atop Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tenn.; watching the Blue Angels flight demonstrations in Pensacola, Fla.; Washington, D.C.; the American Girl store in Alpharetta, Ga.; and civil rights sites in Montgomery, Ala.
10 secluded beaches from Coastal Living magazine
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Looking for a beautiful beach without the crowds? Coastal Living magazine recommends 10 secluded beach destinations in its June issue.
They are Lanikai Beach, near Kailua, Hawaii; Bahia Honda State Park in Florida; Bahia Sucia on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico along Highway 301; Indian Beach, on Oregon's Pacific Coast; Ocracoke Island, on North Carolina's Outer Banks; Cape Cod's Bound Brook Island in Massachusetts; Montana de Oro State Park in California's San Luis Obispo County; St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in northwest Florida; Lumahai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii; and Windansea Beach in San Diego.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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