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Rundown for the Week of June 27, 2003

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View a slideshow of the Savvy crew in and around Homer, Alaska

Planning your own trip to Alaska?
AlaskaThisYear.com: Books, travel planner, vacation tips and interactive events calendar

Interview Storytelling with "Homer native" Tom Bodett

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Public radio personality and famous pitchman for Motel 6 Tom Bodett joins Savvy Traveler host Diana Nyad to talk about how a Michigan son became an Alaska "native." After dropping out of college in the '70s and hitchhiking up the Alcan Highway to Homer for the summer, he just never left -- a common story in Alaska, actually. He talks about how a simple case of "scenery poisoning" can be cured with a simple trip to Homer. Somehow, it's hard to get used to orcas jumping out of the water while you're eating your morning corn flakes. Let's just say, being in the westernmost part of the U.S. has been great for a storyteller like Tom.

Learn more about Tom
www.bodett.com: Bio and information about his books

Interview and performance Songs from the Land of the Midnight Sun, with Bunny Swan

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Bunny Swan is an Alaskan-born Dena'ina Athabaskan who makes beautiful music channeling her spiritual, educational and cultural heritage. She has been an active voice for retaining and celebrating the Athabaskan ways of life. Bunny has been nominated for a Native American Music award and a Culture-Bearer award from the Alaska Federation of Natives. She shares her heritage with the capacity crowd in Homer through her songs "Strangers' and "Little Sister."

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"Little Sister"

Online resources
Nightworks Alaskan Music: Link to Bunny's music, which appears on a compilation called "Gatherings"
Kenai Peninsula Online: article - "Kenai couple's artistic gifts enrich communities of central peninsula"

Interview Advice from Alaskan Wilderness Guide Michael McBride

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Wilderness guide Michael McBride has been in Alaska for 37 years now. So, why have people called him "The Swiss Family Robinson of Homer?" It all started years ago when a native elder dropped him and his family at a small Alaskan bay with one small cabin -- and no electricity or water. With no boat and little money, they made the best of a rough situation. The result? The creation of the Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge. Now, Michael has some advice about the range of outdoor experiences in Alaska: things like taking daytrips to view the brown bears in Homer to wilderness adventures through the Arctic and traveling to the majestic Aleutian Islands.

Online resources
www.alaskawildernesslodge.com: The McBride family's Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge

Touring Around Halibut Cove

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We take a trip out to Halibut Cove, a small community of artists and fishermen across beautiful Kachemak Bay, 5 miles south of Homer. The population is about 75 in the winter and swells to about 200 in the summer. There are no roads -- just a long wooden boardwalk that connects storefront businesses and homes. And, the only way to get there is by boat. Savvy Traveler host Diana Nyad walks along the boardwalk, eating Kachemak Bay oysters, gallery hopping and meeting some of the creative locals.

Online resources
www.centralcharter.com: How to get to Halibut Cove on the Danny J fishing boat
www.halibutcove.com: Info on Halibut Cove
www.halibutcove.com/artists.htm: Info on artist Diana Tillion's Cove Gallery

Sound Travels Guess the Sounds of Homer

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In this week's "Sound Travels," the part of our show when we travel with just our ears as our guide, we're testing a panel of local "Homerans" to see if they really know what Homer, Alaska, sounds like. Big prizes hang in the balance -- OK, not that big. Think you can measure up? Take the quiz for yourself.

Want to visit Homer?
Homer, Alaska, Chamber of Commerce
Homer, Alaska, visitors guide
"The "Homer News"

Recent Sound Travels
Indian Wedding; The Call Of The Wild Orcas; One Man Banda, Paris Metro; Lava Flow, Hawaii's Big Island; Cicadas, dogs and frogs, Southeast Asia; Camel Races in Mali, West Africa;

Traveler's Aid Tools to find a great hotel rate

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One of the most common questions we're asked at The Savvy Traveler is: "How do you find cheap hotel rooms?" Well, our Travel-Expert-in-Residence, Rudy Maxa, has some suggestions.

This week, a consortium of hotels started a new Web site called www.travelweb.com. It promises negotiated, cut-rate deals at about 10,000 hotels. Should this be your only place to stop? No, says Rudy. Here are some other places to look as well to compare prices: Expedia, Orbitz, Travcelocity and Hotels.com. Check the discounters to see what prices they offer, and then go to TravelWeb. And, two handy compare-and-contrast sites, SideStep.com and Travelaxe.com, scan other hotel discount sites to give you comparative prices -- a really handy way to cross-check. Then, there are the name-your-own price bid sites Priceline and Hotwire -- but the drawback is you don't know what hotel you'll get until you've made a firm commitment with a credit card.

So, be sure to shop around!

Online resources:
New hotel discounting Web site owned by Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Six Continents (Holiday Inn and Inter-Continental) and Starwood (W, Westin, Sheraton): www.travelweb.com
Several of many "traditional" sites that offer discounted hotel rates: www.expedia.com, www.travelocity.com, www.orbitz.com, www.hotels.com
Programs you can download that search dozens of discount hotel sites to allow you to compare and contrast rates: www.sidestep.com, www.travelaxe.com
Name-your-own price bid sites: priceline.com, www.hotwire.com

"Rudy Maxa's Traveler" newsletter at www.rudymaxa.com

Deal of the Week Three Amazing Deals to Get You to Asia

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Our Travel-Expert-in-Residence, Rudy Maxa, made the trip out to Homer to give us his deal of the week: three incredible bargains from Singapore's Tourism Board, United Vacations to Hong Kong, and Thailand's Smiles Plus promotion. The drop-off in travel to the continent after the breakout of SARS is the reason for these great deals to Asia.

DEAL 1: Singapore's Tourism Board is conducting four online auctions for all-inclusive trips for two: United Airlines roundtrip tickets for two from the U.S. and 3 nights in a 5-star hotel. They're good through November 21. The first of these four auctions has just ended, but there are three more coming up for 10 days each. You just go online to www.tourismsingapore.com to make a bid. Highest bid wins.

DEAL 2: The Smiles Plus promotion in Thailand: Selected hotels in all different price categories are offering one night free for every night you pay for. The theory is, if you stay longer, you'll spend extra money on food, sightseeing and the kinds of things traveler spend money on.

DEAL 3: United Vacations, the vacation arm of United Airlines, has a great Hong Kong deal: Just $645 if you fly from LA, San Francisco or New York City -- $875 from Chicago. This includes a 7-day, 5-night stay with airfare, hotel, a Star Ferry pass and a cultural tour. This is good for travel between July 7th and August 27th. You have to book by Monday, June 30th.

Online resources
Bid on all-inclusive trips for two, including United Airlines tickets from any city served by United in the U.S. to Singapore, 3 nights in a 5-star hotel. Good for travel through Nov. 21. Go to www.tourismsingapore.com/auction for more info.
A free hotel night for each paid night in selected hotels in Thailand through July '03. www.thailandsmilesplus.com or 800-842-4526.
United Vacations $645 pacakges from NYC, LA and San Francisco to Hong Kong; $875 from Chicago. They're 7-day, 5-night packages to Hong Kong including airfare, hotels, Star Ferry passes and a cultural tour. www.uv-asia.com or 800-917-9246

"Rudy Maxa's Traveler" newsletter at www.rudymaxa.com

Deal of the Week sponsor
Orbitz.com - The travel Web site where your travel missions are accomplished.

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