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How the Other Half Travels

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Lucky for me, my friend Kent Foster is rich enough to own an 82-foot, magnificent sailboat. The Alsons Two comes complete with a crew including Joyce, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef married to Mike, the boat's captain. Over dinner in Washington Friday night, Kent suggested my date and I fly to Newport, Rhode Island, and spend a couple of nights on the water.

Well, Mrs. Maxa didn't raise any dummies. Usually last-minute fares are expensive, but it turned out both MetroJet and Southwest offered $138, round-trip, walk-up fares between D.C. and Providence. By Saturday evening, Lesley and I were on the aft deck enjoying the sunset as well as salmon in a cucumber sauce. So this, I thought, is how the other one-tenth of one percent lives.

As I surveyed the boats in Narragansatt Bay and looked across the water at the great summer mansions of Newport, I thought about old money versus new money. About Jacob Astor and Cornelius Vanderbilt versus Sam Walton or Bill Gates. Not only did previous generations make their fortunes differently, they also traveled and vacationed differently.

All too soon, our master stateroom on the Alsons Two turned into middle coach seats on Southwest. A three-hour weather delay postponed our departure. There was no Joyce at the Providence airport to whip up lunch, no first mate to pour the wine. It was back-to-reality time. On the flight home, we passed on the peanuts.


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