Fee-free days at national parks
WASHINGTON — More than 2,000 national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and other federal lands will offer free admittance on select dates in 2013.
The 13 Fee Free Days in 2013 include Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 28) and Veterans Day Weekend (Nov. 9-11). The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.
In addition, active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those 62 and over, and an $80 annual pass for the general public.
Holiday Disney deals
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. — Walt Disney World Resort opens its New Fantasyland Dec. 6.
The largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom Park, New Fantasyland features two new themed areas: Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus. Enchanted Forest attractions and experiences will include Under The Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid; Be Our Guest Restaurant; Enchanted Tales with Belle; and Ariel's Grotto. Storybook Circus attractions include: The Barnstormer; Dumbo The Flying Elephant; Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station; and Fantasyland Station. New Fantasyland will feature more additions in 2013, which will include Princess Fairytale Hall and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Seven official Disney Resort hotels are offering special value rates Dec. 1 through 24 to coincide with the New Fantasyland opening. Besides being within walking distance of many Downtown Disney attractions, the hotels provide complimentary shuttle transportation to all four Walt Disney World theme parks, two water parks and to Downtown Disney.
Value rates start at $79 per room per night at the Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel; $89 at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa, $89 at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, $79.20 at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, $99 at the Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista Downtown, $69 at the Royal Plaza Hotel and $69 at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort. Some blackout dates may apply.
For more information on the "December Value Rates," or to make a reservation, visit www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com.
Johnson leads cruise
CHATSWORTH, Calif. — The AmaWaterways river cruise line will partner with Mark Johnson of Traverse City's Chateau Chantal Winery for an "In Celebration of Wine" Rhine River cruise in November 2013. Johnson is the first midwestern winemaker invited to co-host one of these specially themed cruises, designed for wine aficionados seeking to learn more about wine and Europe's rich wine-producing legacy.
AmaWaterways wine cruises feature shore excursions and complimentary wine-themed programming designed to showcase key European wine regions. Guests enjoy visits to local vineyards and wine cellars, meet vintners, sample unique and award-winning vintages and attend onboard lectures co-hosted by food and wine experts from top U.S. wineries.
Johnson will serve as wine host for a Culture & Wine Legacy of the Rhine cruise embarking Nov. 22, 2013. The 13-day itinerary begins in Amsterdam. Traveling through the legendary Black Forest region en route to Basel, guests will view the scenery of the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. The cruise concludes with a two-night stay in Lucerne followed by two nights in Zurich.
For more information, contact Carol Howell at 800-991-8404 or Carol.Howell@AvoyaTravel.com. Cruise-only prices start at $2,399 per person, with an optional land program in Lucerne and Zurich available for $1,040 per person. Full brochure and details can be viewed online at: http://goo.gl/q32ZM.
Wine, food history
WASHINGTON — Julia Child's kitchen is returning to public view as the National Museum of American History opens its first major exhibit about food.
Child donated her kitchen to the museum in 2001. Now it serves as the opening story for the new gallery, showing her influence on culinary arts, food television and the way Americans view cooking.
Curator Paula Johnson says the second half of the 20th century brought rapid changes in America's relationship with food.
One section of the exhibit explores the influence of immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America who introduced flavors that are now part of everyday life. The museum also looks at the science of food production and the rise of winemaking. By 2000, wine was being produced in all 50 states.
Writers & Readers
kalkaska — The Kalkaska County Library will host this year's final installment of the Writers and Readers Series at noon on Thursday, Dec. 6.
Frank Slaughter will discuss his book, "Echoes of Distant Thunder." The saga begins with the crushing Union defeat on the final day of the Battle of Chickamauga and ends with a life-or-death confrontation between two sworn enemies in the virgin pine forests of northern Michigan.
For more information about Frank Slaughter or about the Writers & Readers Series, call the library at 258-9411.
traverse city — Michigan Writers will welcome Michael Delp to present a writing workshop entitled, "How vain it is to sit down to write "¦ thoughts on Poetry, Process and Paying Attention." The workshop will be from 7 to 9 p.m., Monday, Dec. 3, at the University Center on Cass Road, Room 214.
Delp, who taught at Interlochen, has written "As if We Were Prey," a collection of stories. He is co-editor of the award-winning Made in Michigan book series published by Wayne State University Press.
The workshop is free and prior registration is not necessary.
Pirate's Guide reprinted
GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The "Pirate's Guide to Lake St. Clair & Surrounding Waters" has been republished in a special collectors edition.
From author Bill Bradley, the book covers the Lake St. Clair boating lifestyle, including exploring waters and beach towns from Boblo to the Blue Water Bridge. Topics include restaurants, fairs and festivals, fishing, charters, charts and emergency radio and more.
Flynn writing more
NEW YORK (AP) — "Gone Girl" novelist Gillian Flynn is sticking around.
The million-selling author has agreed to write two more books for Random House Inc. — a novel and a young adult novel. The books currently are untitled and publication dates have not been set.
"Gone Girl" has been among the top sellers of 2012, with sales approaching 2 million copies. Flynn's previous works include "Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places."