28 09 17

This article was originally published by Thomas Woods on September 21, 2017 on Tourist Choice.

With rock formations rising in the distance, Albuquerque is a sunny New Mexico destination fun to visit at any time of year. It has both historic and modern elements within the city, and lots of outdoor activities that give you opportunities to view the beautiful mountains and dessert around Albuquerque. Easily spend three days here without ever getting bored, between exploring Old Town, visiting museums, and soaking up the nightlife.

Day One: Walk Albuquerque

Explore Albuquerque’s history, which dates back to 1706, by walking through Old Town in the morning. You can expect to find a plethora of museums, shops, and restaurants in Old Town. Arrayed as a traditional Spanish neighborhood, Old Town has the San Felipe de Neri church at the center of its square. The church itself dates back to the late 1700s, and is beautiful to behold.

In the afternoon, head downtown. You’ll find more museums, more restaurants, and lots of great nightlife. Go into a few shops, then find a great spot for dinner.

Evening One: Go for Drinks and Dancing

Before you head back to your downtown Albuquerque hotel, stop in a few bars. Downtown’s Central Avenue is where you want to be for those nighttime drinks and dances. Hotels near the Albuquerque Convention Center will also place you very near Central Avenue.

Day Two: Bike in the Manzano Mountains

Lots of mountain biking trails run through the Manzano Mountains around Albuquerque. You can rent a mountain bike and spend the better part of the day exploring the majesty of these mountains. Expect to see gorgeous rock formations and some wildlife. You can choose trails that are easy, and go through the foothills, up to very advanced ones that only biking enthusiasts should attempt.

Evening Two: Enjoy a Show

You’ve spent the day exercising, so take this evening to relax and be entertained. If you’re not already asleep in your Albuquerque hotel, the city always has a live theater performance going on, whether you’re into classic plays or sketch comedy. Check the Albuquerque Theatre Guild for information on the live shows playing while you’re visiting the city. Many theatres and productions are boutique, giving you a unique taste of the local theatre in New Mexico.

Day Three: Visit Museums

On your last day in Albuquerque, spend some time exploring museums. The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum is dedicated to the science and history of hot-air ballooning. You can see old balloon exhibits, visit a balloon flight simulator, and watch films about hot air balloons in the museum’s theater. It’s conveniently located near several Balloon Fiesta Park hotels, too, which gives you the chance to pack and check out before visiting this museum as your last stop.

Because of the beautiful weather, check out all the great pool hotels in Albuquerque. Spending an afternoon relaxing in the hotel, especially if you’re swimming outdoors while everyone back home is shivering, makes for an excellent vacation activity. Enjoy your time in sunny Albuquerque; three days isn’t long enough, so prepare to come back soon.


26 09 17

Life insurance companies are regulated by federal and state laws, so you’ll want to make sure you understand those laws before you purchase a policy. While most personal policies are regulated by state laws, employee sponsored policies are regulated by federal law, which trumps state laws. Also, depending on which state you live in, your marital status can affect life insurance policies.

If you’re married and live in a community property state, you’re both equally entitled to the life insurance policy. Also, your income will not determine your premium rate, whether you’re single or married. In fact, income is never used, and in most states, your age and gender will determine your premium rate.

State laws can be tricky for people who participate in the Medicaid program because it has a $2,000 cap on assets, which includes life insurance. Some states have a higher limit on assets so, if you participate in the Medicaid program, be sure to familiarize yourself with the Medicaid law before buying a life insurance policy.

If for whatever reason you aren’t able to make your monthly premium payment, there’s no need to fret. There are consumer protection laws in place that prevent insurers from canceling your policy. If you’re in a situation where you can’t make a payment, notify the insurance company so that you can make payment arrangements.

There are many state laws to be aware of, which can make understanding life insurance tricky. Now that you have reviewed some of the basics, test your knowledge by taking the following quiz.


26 08 17

If you’ve never heard of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, you’re missing out. This Wyoming location is near Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and several gorgeous lakes and rivers. The outdoor activities in and around Jackson Hole are the perfect ways to end your 2017. Visit in fall or winter to enjoy this gorgeous scenery; there’s always something to do, no matter the season.

Hike in Yellowstone

Yellowstone has some of the most spectacular hiking trails in the country. There’s a reason it’s so famous, after all. Many of the hiking trails are perfect for doing in a day. Pack a light backpack with a snack, wear your hiking shoes, and get ready to see breathtaking sights like waterfalls, creeks, and canyons. Lava Creek Trail, Fairy Falls Trail, and Elephant Back Loop Trail are just a few of the many majestic hikes you can take in Yellowstone. Honestly, you could fill up an entire Jackson Hole trip just at Yellowstone.

Tour Grand Teton National Park

Some of the best Grand Teton National Park tours happen via boat. These floating tours take you right by the gorgeous mountains, and a tour guide gives you information about the rock formations and Wyoming. Bring your camera in a waterproof case, because you’re definitely going to want to snap pictures of all the picturesque views you encounter.

Experience the Old West

You can get a taste of what life was like in the Old West by visiting several venues in Jackson Hole. Try a Bar T-5 cookout tour, which will take you into the wilderness in a covered wagon drawn by horses. The wagon takes you to a camp where delicious food is being prepared. You can also visit the Jackson Hole Playhouse, where you get to enjoy a performance while you’re eating.

Raft on Snake River

Take a whitewater rafting trip down Snake River. Sit on the edges of the raft and paddle your way through churning water, or sit in the middle and hold on tight. You’ll experience adrenaline rushes as you ride through this bubbling river. You can go in spring and fall when the weather is chillier, but be sure you have a quick way back to your Jackson Hole hotel, so you can run a warm bath and relax after such an adventure.

See Elk at the National Elk Refuge

It’s no surprise that you can see Elk at National Elk Refuge. You can also see other gorgeous animals like bison, swans, eagles, and wolves. The refuge has specific spots where you can look at the wildlife, especially so you can take some beautiful pictures. Be sure to stop and do some of the educational opportunities to learn more about Wyoming’s wildlife.

Don’t let the rest of this year pass without a visit to Jackson Hole. Be prepared, because once you visit, you’ll want to return every year for this gorgeous piece of the American landscape. Whether you love water activities, wildlife, or mountains, Jackson Hole has picturesque scenery that’s going to delight and amaze you.

10 07 17

The Roman poet Horace said a play should not be shorter or longer than five acts. The German scholar Gustav Freytag defined those acts for the modern age. As Theresa May is poised to mark her first year as Prime Minister, most would agree that it has been quite a remarkable 12 months – in five acts she has manged to produce a true drama.

Act I: The Exposition

The protagonist is introduced

It is now hard to remember, yet vital to recall, that Theresa May took the Tory crown not by triumph but by default. Every other claimant removed himself or herself from contention: David Cameron quit after failing over Europe. Boris Johnson quit after failing to convince Michael Gove he was serious about Brexit. Andrea Leadsom quit after failing to realise that common decency demands you don’t try to score political points over the fact that someone doesn’t have children.

10 07 17

Dior, which celebrates its 70th birthday this year, has archives so deep and broad that they can be re-interpreted any which way. John Galliano, a previous incumbent at the house, pursued the fantasy element – the spirit Christian Dior encapsulated in 1947 when he designed a wasp-waisted suit that gobbled up as many as 80 metres of silk at a time when even rayon was rationed in some countries.

But Christian Dior wasn’t just some deluded “let them wear ballgowns” megalomaniac  “A complete collection should address all types of women in all countries,” Dior wrote in his second autobiography in 1956. Ok, he was sufficiently megalomaniacal to assume the world wanted to read all about him – twice.

And at least some of it did. Dior created not just a look but a language, from full skirts and nipped in jackets; neat, business- like lapels to romantic shawl necklines; extravagant bows to small kitten heels; day-time tweeds to sweeping ballgowns. Like all the designers of his time, he proffered an entire wardrobe for wealthy women of elevated taste. He had to. Designers still made most of their money from selling clothes back then.

It’s this facet of Dior that Maria Grazia Chiuri, now almost a year into her role as Dior’s first female creative director is tapping into. It was Chiuri who brought up that quote in the first place and plopped it at the forefront of this autumn/winter couture collection’s programme notes – quite a bold move. Did she succeed?

The broiling heat – the show was in the open air in a courtyard of Les Invalides and it seems Louis XIV did not believe in shade  wasn’t ideal for Chiuri’s ankle grazing hounds-tooth skirts, Tudor neck-lined velvet dresses or sheepskin trimmed jumpsuits.

But who knew Paris would be this hot? Or that the diamonds liberally dappling a client seated opposite me would reflect the sun’s rays like a giant disco ball, making it hard to see anything at times. On close inspection however, these clothes are stunning, cleverly matched to original outfits by Dior himself. The opener – a belted jacket and long dirndl in dark grey serge wool with flat brogues, based on a 1953 design was almost Victorian and one of many respectful yet thorough overhauls of archival pieces. Broken into each element – the jacket worn with jeans the skirt with a t-shirt or cashmere – the appeal to many women in many countries becomes apparent.

Chiuri’s is a new, understated Dior. One with aviator jackets and wool all in ones. One where the details reveal themselves gradually: the glistening beads hand stitched onto the knife-edge pleats of a skirt where they looked like frosted icing, the yoked capes of jumpsuits, the gathered Dior-esque pockets worn at the back or the ghostly tracing of tarot cards (something of an obsession of Dior’s) embroidered onto a coat . As for the commercial catnip for which Chiuri is becoming noted: those skinny knotted belts, the jackets, stripped of their lapels to become an elegant, easy hybrid- blouse, low alligator kitten heels, gossamer voile maxi skirts and perfectly proportioned trilbies should more than do the trick.