We received the following email from Judy McFarland of Columbia, Mo.
Please let Kate Appleton know that she missed one Wacky Festival in Missouri, the Testicle Festival. I've attached a billboard picture from the festival, which happens in Olean, Mo.
Duly noted, Judy. We clicked these photos on Flickr to learn more. But you may be heartened to know that Budget Travel mentioned the Testicle Festival in its recent Road Trip: Eastern Kansas. [Update: A reader has reported on a second testicle festival. See comments below.]
You can see Judy's testicle festival photo...
And here is Kate Appleton's terrific roundup of Wacky Festivals.
Lord of the Skies: Air New Zealand
Last month, I boarded a 13-hour flight from L.A. to Auckland, New Zealand, expecting hassle, discomfort, and general unpleasantness. But I was in for a surprise because I was flying with Air New Zealand. As I boarded, I was politely greeted (gasp!) by genuinely friendly flight attendants. Once seated, I was offered a choice of beverages that included fine teas, coffees, wines, and much-appreciated water. This service continued throughout the flight like clockwork. As the cabin dimmed for dinner, I, for the first time, consumed an entire airline dinner--a tasty and fresh New Zealand lamb loin, which was a far cry from traditional airline fare, to say the least. The pre-arrival breakfast was equally impressive, including quiches, frittatas, spinach omelets, and French toast. My fellow passengers who forgot to pack sleep aids were glad to know that each seat on Air New Zealand is outfitted with an on-demand entertainment system. Over 250 programming are offered: current and classic movies (including a selection from New Zealand directors), games, sports, travel guides, television shows, and a wide selection of music channels. I even found myself slightly bummed when the pilot announced our arrival, halfway through my Lord of the Rings movie marathon. The leg room in "Pacific Class," like most airlines, could stand improvement, but, all aside, Air New Zealand proved that flying (even on epic trips) can still be painless and (dare I say) enjoyable.--Liz McKenzie. Related: A Month in New Zealand With No Set Plans [Photo by Liz McKenzie.]
Godspeed to a traveler's hero
Clarke Bynum, who saved the lives of several hundred travelers back in 2000, died this week of cancer. Here's his inspiring story, which wasn't in the major newspapers this week: On December 29, 2000, then 39-years old Bynum, a former Clemson basketball star, caught British Airways's Flight 2069 from London's Gatwick Airport to Nairobi, Kenya. He had missed a direct flight to Uganda because of winter weather delays in London and was on the flight by happenstance. He was heading for a two-week Christian mission trip in Uganda, where he would be speaking to Sudanese refugees. During the flight, a young mentally ill passenger burst into the cockpit and attempted to seize control of the plane. The autopilot was disengaged, and the plane nosedived about 16,000 feet. Clarke heard screams coming from the cockpit. He ran forward. With the help of another passenger and the flight crew, he restrained the man. All 398 passengers were saved. Clarke is survived by his wife, Mary Lynn, and four children. Services are being held today in Sumter, S.C. He was 47. [Thanks for the reminder from Online Travel Review, Jared Blank's blog]
Dine Out in Fort Lauderdale
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is running a promotion, Dine Out Lauderdale, during Oct. 1 to Nov. 15, with 35 restaurants offering three-course prix fixe dinner menus for $35. The restaurants are in Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, and other popular destinations. The participating restaurants include Cero at the St. Regis, Cohiba Brasserie (in Pembroke Pines), Himmarshee Bar & Grille, Lola's on Harrison, and Mark's Las Olas. A complete list of participating restaurants is at sunny.org/dineout. The program is co-sponsored by American Express, but you do not need to use an AmEx card to pay for your meal. [via the Miami Herald, from an article not online] Related: Find BudgetTravel.com's latest Real Deals in Florida.
We love Lucy (our ancestor, that is)
An exhibit starring the 3.2-million-year-old fossil known as Lucy opens today at The Houston Museum of Natural Science, marking the first time these pre-human remains have been displayed outside of Ethiopia. The exhibit includes a three-dimensional reconstruction of what the 3.5-foot, 60-pound hominid might have looked like. Also on view are dozens of artifacts from where Lucy was discovered, such as paintings, pottery, and musical instruments. Unearthed in northeastern Ethiopia in 1974, the fossilized remains are "the oldest and most complete adult human ancestor fully retrieved from African soil," according to the museum. Details: "Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia", 713/639-4629, $20 for adults, $12 for children (3-11), college students, and seniors. The exhibit is open through April 20. --Amy Chen Update (Sept. 4): Budget Travel recently recommended a source for great deals in Houston relating to the Lucy exhibition. Themed deals combine VIP passes to the show with a stay at one of 16 area hotels. Prices vary, but start at $120 per night at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Houston--Hobby Airport. Price is by room. When: Until the exhibition ends on April 20. See VisitHoustonTexas.com. Related: A recent Houston Chronicle story detailed the controversy over this exhibition. Some scientists think the exhibition may damage the fossil. Feel free to sound off below, if you have an opinion.