If you want to get up close and personal with a polar bar in the wild, there’s one great place to do it and only two months you can do it. That place: the town of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada. The months: October and November. But you should book now.
October and November are when the polar bears are on the move around Churchill where they come to feed while waiting for the Hudson Bay (where they spend most of the year) to freeze over.
Natural Habitat Adventures has one of two permits to explore the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. It specializes in taking visitors in special, giant vehicles onto the tundra where the bears—and other wildlife—are on the prowl. You can even stay in a portable hotel that’s rolled out on the tundra for the two viewing months. No extra charge for the northern lights.
The cost of these excursions, which generally last about seven days, ranges between $5,000 and $7,000 a person. That covers lodging, food, touring, and a private airplane flight to Churchill from Winnipeg. There are additional excursions, such as a dog sledding and evening wildlife viewing, during your stay.
Money can travel, too, and in 1998, a data analyst named Hank Eskin thought it would be interesting to track the travels of America’s paper money. So he started a simple website called Where’s George and invited people to post on that site the location of a marked bill—along with its serial number.
Today, that site has tracked about 220 million bills. There are Where’s George clubs—members are called “Georgers” who mark bills and then distribute them around the country.
When a bill is re-entered into the database, that’s called a “hit,” and the most oft-tracked bill got 15 or 16 hits on the web site. Given that the lifespan of a piece of paper money can be as short as two years, that’s pretty impressive.
A researcher of communicable diseases even used Where’s George data to track the natural movement of people.
Writing on bills is frowned on by the Secret Service, but the agency admits it’s not really worried about the Where’s George movement.
I’d agree. Next time you come across one of those bills, go to the Where’s George web site and award it a hit.
With every ten year’s census, researchers at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration determine the exact center of America’s population. In other words, the one spot that marks where half of us live to the east, half to the west, half to the south, and half to the north. It’s called the Centroid, and people travel to find it.
I’ll tell you where it is.
Journalist Jeremy Miller wrote a fascinating article about the Centroid in the current issue of Orion magazine. Since the 18th century, the Centroid has been an interesting way to track America’s population shifts. In the late 1700s, the Centroid was near Baltimore, since most of us lived along the East Coast.
Today, though, you’ll find a silver disk signifying the country’s Centroid mounted on a slab of Missouri marble in the town square of Plato, MO. Obviously, as Americans moved west, so did the Centroid.
Early in the 1900s, the Centroid began moving southward, as well. Blame it on air conditioning. That made hot places such as Houston, Dallas, and San Diego habitable, and that accounts for the southward drift.
Some farms and ranches around the world open their doors to guests. You might stay in a cottage or an extra room. You might pay $55 a night or, if you’re at a luxury dude ranch, $2,000, though I don’t necessarily classify a luxury dude ranch as agritourism.
In Rochester, VT, for example, the family that owns the Liberty Hill Farm opened its working dairy farm to guests in 1984. It has seven guest rooms with four shared baths. Two adults can stay for $210 a night, a rate that includes breakfast and dinner. And obviously you get to meet the family that owns the farm and see how a dairy farm works. Which is ideal for kids.
A number of web sites can help you identify agritourism locations here and abroad. A couple good, general ones are Rural Bounty and Agritourism World com, but there are many state-specific sites, especially in big agricultural states such as Iowa.
I recently addressed the question of what happens to your frequent flyer miles when you die. After talking with Brian Kelly, curator of the web site called ThePointsGuy.com, I have some more information to share.
Recently Delta Airlines decided that even if you leave your miles to someone in your will, the airline won’t recognize that transfer. That’s because you don’t actually own your miles. If you did, you’d have to pay taxes on them. In fine print, every airline makes clear they can take them away for any reason.
Other airlines are more flexible, but here’s the key: An airline doesn’t know when you pass away. And just as you can go into your account and claim an award ticket for someone else today, so, too, could someone else if you grant them access your account. As long as they know your frequent flyer number and password.
Or you can gift them with your miles when you’re ready to ascend to that big airline lounge in the sky. Keep in mind though, there are usually fees involved.
Bottom line: Bequeath your miles in your will but, better yet, make sure the beneficiaries know how to access your frequent flyer accounts so they can spend down your miles at their leisure.