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Columns Hit the Road

Hit the Road: Tips for the travel-minded

My mailboxes — digital and real — are usually full of a lot of things that I don’t want or need, but occasionally they contain information worthy of passing along, like the following:

Under one roof

The 2018 Travel & Adventure Show is coming to the San Diego Convention Center Jan. 13 and Jan. 14. See big names in travel (Samantha Brown; Rudy Maxa; Pauline Frommer; Peter Greenberg); visit vendor booths to learn about best destinations and deals for 2018, and how to make travel easier (can you really pack two weeks’ clothing in a carry-on?); and sample cuisine and music from exotic places. Admission: $15/one day; $22/two days. Active-duty military and four family members are free. Visit

A full-size replica of the Wright Flyer hangs from the ceiling at the March Air Field Museum in southern Riverside County. The accredited museum is dedicated to telling the story of military aircraft from its beginning and the men and women who built and flew them. Photo by E’Louise Ondash

The coast is clear!

When fall and winter arrive, the tourists leave and Californians can call the coast our own. One of the best stretches: the San Simeon area of the Central Coast. Quaint Cambria offers the Christmas Market through Dec. 23, and the Central Coast State Parks Association presents free docent-led hikes, classes and workshops (some wheelchair accessible). Don’t miss the elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas rookery, 7 miles north of Cambria on Highway 1). Visit

Worth the drive

Military aircraft history buffs will love the March Field Air Museum, adjacent to March Air Reserve Base on Interstate 215. I’ve visited several times and there are always new exhibits, like the full-size replica of the Wright Flyer, in which Orville and Wilbur took their first flight. (Look up; it hangs from the ceiling.) In the main hangar: the massive SR-71 Blackbird, a Mach 3 reconnaissance aircraft that fit through the museum’s hangar door with barely an inch to spare. On the tarmac: dozens of historic aircraft — bombers, trainers, fighters and more.

In the small-scale category: Follow the life of World War II tail gunner Staff Sergeant Vincent Rogers through his sometimes deeply personal letters. 

Full disclosure: My mother, Marcella Fried Lucier, is featured in an exhibit honoring the Women Air Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II. She was one of 1,074 women who tested and ferried newly manufactured military aircraft to bases around the country, towed targets during live-ammo target practices and performed other jobs to free male pilots for combat. For their service, WASPs were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009. Visit

Lonely Planet’s Top 10

What’s hot in travel for 2018? Lonely Planet writers and editors have created a list of must-see regions, and yes, it’s a good thing that you haven’t heard of most of these.  10) Los Haitises National Park, Dominican Republic — “…a patchwork of craggy islets, blue canals and verdant forest … an ecosystem that appears plucked from prehistory.” 9) Bahia, Brazil — “ … tropical paradise of white sandy beaches … ” Also Chapada Diamantina National Park “famous for its wild waterfalls.” 8) Lahaul-Spiti, India — Rugged landscapes “bordering on the supernatural” and some of India’s most spectacular Buddhist art. 7) The Deep South — Yes, our Deep South — the Carolinas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana. Think Delta music, alligators, moss-covered cypress trees, great seafood and lots of American history. 6) Aeolian Islands, off the tip of Italy’s boot — Sublime seascapes, volcanic slopes, black-sand beaches and some of Europe’s best coastal walks and drives. 5) Kii Peninsula, Japan — Avoid the crowds and experience sublime scenery, steaming hot springs, Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and beautiful walking trails signposted in English. 4) Languedoc-Roussillon, France — With its white beaches, blue seas, country markets and Roman ruins, it’s a wise alternative to Provence and Cote d’Azur. 3) Julian Alps, Slovenia — The backdrop for many films, it is “mountain bliss in an overlooked corner of Europe.” Once was for only the intrepid, it is now accessible to the less hardy. 2) Alaska — Scenery and wildlife on steroids: Denali, glaciers and grizzlies. Personal note: see from land and/or air, not a cruise ship). 1) Belfast and the Causeway Coast — Once ground zero for sectarian violence, the capital of Northern Island offers hip neighborhoods bursting with bars, restaurants and the Titanic Quarter with a highly rated museum devoted to the doomed voyage. The coast offers “timeless beauty and high-grade distractions — golf, whiskey and some of the world’s most famous rocks.”

For more photos and winter travel ideas, visit


E’Louise Ondash is a freelance writer living in North County. Tell her about your travels at

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