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June 28, 2017

Ask Merle

Q My family is planning a winter trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and I'm the only one that's not into skiing. Will I have to hang out at the lodge and count casts or are there more exciting things to do? Arthur Grace, New Jersey

A Since I refuse to pay someone to fall down their mountain, I had sought much to do. Snowmobiling can be more exciting than skiing. If Yellowstone National Park is available you can get a great ride and view geysers and wild animals. Take a tour to see the Elks. But do make it a point to ride the gondola up to the top of the Teton Mountains. The view is awesome!


Q I'm coming to New York for the first time and have three weeks to spend. I know that there are websites and books, but since you live in New York, can you suggest places that tourists tend to miss? Janet Newman, Cincinnati, Ohio

A Most people spend too much time in Manhattan and miss what the other boroughs have to offer. For instance, did you know that the first General Assembly was located at Flushing Meadow-Corona Park in Queens prior to the United Nations being built in Manhattan? The building is now the Queens Museum. The park itself houses Arthur Ashe Stadium, an excellent theatre and one of the best Science Centers in the country. Typical tourism pushes Chinatown, but the better place in actually downtown Flushing, also in Queens. It's easily accessible as a train, the number 7, goes from Times Square in Manhattan to Main Street in Flushing. I find that there is more of a variety in Asian cuisine and the location is almost in walking distance from Flushing Meadow-Corona Park. Although there are botanical gardens and small zoos in many of the boroughs, you have to travel to The Bronx for the best. The Bronx Zoo and Bronx Botanical Gardens are in the same area and easily accessible and quite awesome. If you're into aquariums, the New York Aquarium is located in Brooklyn and not far from Coney Island. As for Staten Island, presently, the best football is located there as the New York Sharks, women's tackle football team has their venue there for the season. At least, they win.


Q I see that you have an article written about McCormick & Schmick's restaurant. I went to one while I was in Oregon and my experience was totally different from yours. In fact, it made me not want to bother eating at any of the others located in the areas that I traveled to. Fess up. Did they pay you to boast about them? Ronald Sullivan, Chicago

A Sounds like it huh? No they didn't. Although McCormick & Schmick's is a franchise, each of the restaurants is owned and operated separately and so you can't expect all of them to necessarily have the same quality, even though they supposedly strive for it. Each is supposed to have a different lunch and dinner menu each day to denote the fresh fish being used and where it's from. It's possible that even though you did get the freshest fish, the chef may not be up to par. So far I can only vouch for the one in New York and Boston.


Q I noticed that you have some gay destinations on your website. They tend to lean more toward men. What can you recommend for women other than P'Town and Northampton in Massachusetts?

A I recently traveled on Sweet's inaugural cruise to the Caribbeans. They do sea and land with a focus on "voluntourism". One great destination that's not publicized enough is around Sacramento, California, namely Amador and Calaveras County.


Q I've been reading your articles and noticed the things that you take on. Frankly, I don't believe you really did these things and confess that you're afraid of heights and don't know how to swim. And are you really over the age of 50? Laurie Katz, New York

A It's no joke. I'm okay with water and height as long as I'm in something and don't have to feel that I may have a need to swim or deal with the fear of falling. That's why I take on things that have boundaries. I went into a stock car because I didn't have a "pre-fear" of anything. I figured that this guy driving does it enough and he has no intention of being in a wreck, since we weren't really racing. I also love trying things that may be unusual, because I feel that if I can do it, so can anyone else. I have ridden a Segway as well as experiencing a zip line in California and "soaring" in a piloted plane without an engine. As for my age, I will be 61 in June of 2010.


If you have a question you would like to Ask Merle, just send her an email at: mexit@toyou.com.