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SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside
SAMPLE ISSUE 2014 FREE SAMPLE ISSUE What do WE have that they don’t? Exclusives Inside

SAMPLE ISSUE 2014

FREE SAMPLE ISSUE

What do WE have that they don’t?

Exclusives Inside

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Inside

America’s LGBT Travel Magazine

Read Connextions Magazine online or purchase your print edition through our website at:

www.connextionsmagazine.com

WRITE TO US:

Do you have a question or comment regarding this issue or future issues of Connextions Magazine? We would love to hear from you! E-mail responses and press releases are always welcomed.

shelly@connextionsmagazine.com All submissions become the property of Connextions Magazine.

The views and opinions stated throughout this magazine are not necessarily the opinions of staff at Connextions Magazine.

Connextions Magazine, LLC publishing office is located at 8601 Tartan Drive North, Cicero, New York 13039. Connextions Magazine will not knowingly publish or advertise text which is fraudulent or misleading. The publisher reserves the right to edit, limit, revise, or reject any text without cause. Connextions Magazine assumes no financial responsibility for typographical errors. If any errors are found, please notify Connextions Magazine immediately. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.

ISSN 2160-4347 (print) ISSN 2160-4355 (online)

contents

Exclusively from Connextions

2160-4355 (online) contents Exclusively from Connextions 06 Social Connextions - In Each Issue What you may

06

Social Connextions - In Each Issue

What you may have missed on our social sites, who’s talking about us & latest blog updates

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Local Travel Guides

Taking the Guesswork out of your weekend getaway

09

Rainbows on Canvas

Finding the Rainbow Flag

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2014 Editorial Calendar

Travel Features (not crowded with advertising!)

Calendar Travel Features (not crowded with advertising!) 12 An Alaskan Cruise As featured in Issue 12

12

An Alaskan Cruise As featured in Issue 12

14

The Crescent of Beverly Hills As featured in Issue 14

16

Caribbean Craves - Fav Island Foods As featured in Issue 14

18

Treehouse Glamping As featured in Issue 14

19

North Jersey Pride As featured in Issue 12

20

Gay Family Travel to the Poconos As featured in Issue 12

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Travel Products for your Sanity! As featured in Issue 12

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A Welcoming Texas Dude Ranch As featured in Issue 12

e c a The l Coupons, deals, p discounts, events, & notables t 26 e
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Coupons, deals,
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& notables
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Get social with us!
Get social
with us!
The l Coupons, deals, p discounts, events, & notables t 26 e k r a M

@Connextionsmag

MEET OUR TEAM Shelly Straub Editor-in-Chief Shelly uses her knowledge, creativity and experience to bring
MEET OUR TEAM Shelly Straub Editor-in-Chief Shelly uses her knowledge, creativity and experience to bring
MEET OUR TEAM Shelly Straub Editor-in-Chief Shelly uses her knowledge, creativity and experience to bring
MEET OUR TEAM Shelly Straub Editor-in-Chief Shelly uses her knowledge, creativity and experience to bring
MEET OUR TEAM Shelly Straub Editor-in-Chief Shelly uses her knowledge, creativity and experience to bring
MEET OUR TEAM Shelly Straub Editor-in-Chief Shelly uses her knowledge, creativity and experience to bring

MEET OUR TEAM

Shelly Straub

Editor-in-Chief

Shelly uses her knowledge, creativity and experience to bring readers an honest and useful travel publication for the LGBT community.

shelly@connextionsmagazine.com

Lucia Camarda

Art Director

Lucia brings innovation and creativity to create simple, yet sophisticated eye-catching layout designs.

design@connextionsmagazine.com

David Duran

Contributing Writer

David is a culinary, hospitality and travel writer who focuses on both domestic and international travel destinations for several different markets. His love for discovering cities and travel spots is evident as he is away from his favorite place and home base of New York City the majority of the time.

Manny Velasquez-Paredes Contributing Writer

MVP is a multicultural & diversity marketing professional focusing on the Hispanic and LGBT communities. He is a social media junkie and avid traveler, who brings the traveling family’s perspective to Connextions magazine.

David Perry Contributing Writer

Hailed as “one of the most recognized and well-respected travel writers for the North American LGBT market,” David Perry is a humor writer with a really, really, really well-used passport.

davidboothperry.wix.com/davep

Maria Lesetz Contributing Writer

As the CEO of Lovin’ Life, Maria is living her purpose and passion by teaching women how to reclaim their power, thrive through adversity and create success from the inside out. www.LovinLifeNow.com

Follow @Lovin_Life on Twitter

www.connextionsmagazine.com

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Social Connextions

Social Connextions Follow us on Pinterest (@Connextionsmag) Organizing all your favorite travel destinations by location

Follow us on Pinterest (@Connextionsmag)

Organizing all your favorite travel destinations by location

Some of our followers favorite pins

56 repins Jersey City Waterfront
56 repins
Jersey City Waterfront
174 repins Grand Cayman
174 repins
Grand Cayman
71 repins Moose Meadow Lodge, VT
71 repins
Moose Meadow Lodge, VT

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Reader feedback | What’s new on the web | Social media

Latest Blogs on connextionsmagazine.com

Quickly find any topic on the connextions website by simply typing in any keywords into the search bar

website by simply typing in any keywords into the search bar From one town onto the

From one town onto the next, Ogunquit, Maine

the search bar From one town onto the next, Ogunquit, Maine Official Queen of Salem Photo

Official Queen of Salem Photo Shoot, Salem, Mass

Maine Official Queen of Salem Photo Shoot, Salem, Mass Join Connextions at this year’s GLBT Expo

Join Connextions at this year’s GLBT Expo in New York City.

Keyword ‘Journey of Connecting’

Keyword ‘Salem Queen’

Keyword ‘GLBT Expo 2014’

Tweets
Tweets
‘Salem Queen’ Keyword ‘GLBT Expo 2014’ Tweets Letters to the Editor Just wanted to let you

Letters to the Editor

Just wanted to let you know that the magazines arrived! Thank you / and what a wonderful publication you have. It's also fun to see some of our neighborhood businesses highlighted on this issue! Please keep up the wonderful work!

Take care! Chris - Richmond, Virginia

My husband David and I are from Vancouver, Canada and are planning on purchasing a motor coach and travel for a few years as well. Very excited to have found this article and are hoping we can follow along your journey.

Lloyd - Vancouver, Canada

where is everybody going?

Grand Canyon of the East Letchworth State Park, NY photo courtesy: Sue & Jamie
Grand Canyon of the East
Letchworth State Park, NY
photo courtesy: Sue & Jamie
& Michael San Jarl Juan, Puerto Billy Rico
& Michael
San
Jarl Juan,
Puerto Billy
Rico

We want to know where everyone is traveling to. Where did you take your last vacation?

Submit your travel photo and you could be

featured in the next issue of Connextions Magazine.

Travel Guides

Exclusively from Connextions Magazine

An itinerary created just for YOU! Travel Guides include packing lists, complete cost breakdowns, maps and discounts on lodging, restaurants & adventure - along with helpful tips for a GREAT getaway!

adventure - along with helpful tips for a GREAT getaway! No need for a travel agent
adventure - along with helpful tips for a GREAT getaway! No need for a travel agent

No need for a travel agent or chaperon - Get the guide, grab your partner and JUST GO! Complete listing of available travel guides at www.connextionsmagazine.com

and JUST GO! Complete listing of available travel guides at www.connextionsmagazine.com 8 www.connextionsmagazine.com

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and JUST GO! Complete listing of available travel guides at www.connextionsmagazine.com 8 www.connextionsmagazine.com

Editorial Calendar

MISSION: Connextions Magazine celebrates the lifestyle of the LGBT traveler. Making connections to travel like a local, whether on a quick weekend getaway or a luxury vacation. Connextions transports our readers through dazzling photography and insightful content about travel, dining, culture and style, to destinations and memorable travel experiences across the globe.

Issue 14 Releases Spring 2014 (Feb) Advertising/Editorial deadline Jan 3, 2014 Editorial focus: HOTELS Fashion – latest travel trends/travel products/travel style

Issue 15 Releases Summer 2014 (May) Advertising/Editorial deadline March 15, 2013 Editorial focus: PRIDE Family Travel/Group Travel Off The Beaten Path Travel

Issue 16 Releases Fall 2014 (Aug) Advertising/Editorial deadline June 15, 2013 Editorial focus: DINING Singles Travel Major City Travel

Issue 17 Releases Winter 2014 (Nov) Advertising/Editorial deadline Sept 15, 2013 Editorial focus: Holiday Gift Guide Destination Weddings Beach Vacations

LIVE | TRAVEL | CONNECT

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photo courtesy David Duran
photo courtesy David Duran

It’s Not A Cruise

by David Duran

an amazing 7 night luxury cruise in South East Alaska spending two magical days in Glacier Bay

National Park – something that the

big cruises just can’t do

Park – something that the big cruises just can’t do “ photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventure
Park – something that the big cruises just can’t do “ photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventure

photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventure

just can’t do “ photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventure photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventure 12

photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventure

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There’s nothing wrong with cruises. I mean, we all love to take them. They are massive ships with everything you could want onboard. The problem is, sometimes you feel like a small fish in a ginormous ocean when on a standard cruise. Having to fight over people to sign up for activities, long buffet lines and traffic in the hallways back to your room which you can never seem to find. Cruise ships nowadays have so many options for destinations and when herded on these monstrous ships, you don’t really know who is on there with you and why they chose to take your cruise. Some are there for the adventure; some for the destination, and some are just there to indulge in their inner gluttonous beasts.

For those wanting to experience the open water and the most important amenities of a cruise, mixed in with adventure and activities, there’s an option in the form of Un-Cruise Adventures. With smaller luxury yachts and maximum guest numbers capping at 86, this different type of cruise might be your best bet. The company offers a variety of small ship adventures in many destinations including Hawaii, Mexico and Alaska. These trips come standard with the basics; food, comfortable rooms and enough staff to attend to all your needs, but what you will most get from an un-cruise is the action packed custom day agendas.

photo courtesy David Duran

Discoverers’ Glacier Country

One of the signature voyages for Un-Cruise is an amazing 7 night luxury cruise in South East Alaska spending two magical days in Glacier Bay National Park – something that the big cruises just can’t do. Embarking in Juneau, the quaint capital of Alaska, mostly still in existence due to the daily cruise ships coming and leaving. Bring your wallet; Juneau takes full advantage of unexpected cruisers coming in for the day. During the trip, stop at Ford’s Terror and Endicott Arm– a pristine tidal inlet and fjord. Guests can discover the fjord by kayak or skiff and view ice-covered mountains above a beautiful glacier. Watch for wildlife when passing by

Frederick Sound and Stephen’s Passage- an excellent place to view humpback whales and other marine wildlife.

By day 3 of your un-cruise, you will be sailing by Chichagof Island and Baranof Island, as well as taking advantage of more land activities or more kayaking if that’s more enticing. By the time you reach the Icy Straight on the way to Glacier Bay National Park, your eyes will not be prepared for the ultimate spot in whale sightings. This is the place to just marvel in the awesomeness of humpback whales. The final portion of your un-cruise takes you to the national park where you will travel nearly 60 miles up bay to the tidewater glaciers of Grand Pacific

and Margerie. Here is where you will see puffins, sea lions, mountain goats, bears, moose, eagles and an unlimited amount of serenity encompassed in majestic scenery.

This particular cruise offers an open premium bar, fine-dining prepared each day by their on-board chef and crew, a wellness staff, over-achieving guides and a hospitality department that will make you feel like it’s “your cruise” and not anyone else’s. All activities and adventures are included in one price and although the price may seem a bit steep at first, consider what all you are getting and the quality in which you are getting it.

at first, consider what all you are getting and the quality in which you are getting

The

of Crescent

Beverly Hills

by David Duran

The o f Crescent Beverly Hills by David Duran Ah, Beverly Hills, the place where the

Ah, Beverly Hills, the place where the rich and famous live. The beautifully manicured streets, lined with high-end shopping and obnoxious tour busses passing by, trying to catch a glimpse of a celebrity. We’ve all seen it on television and on the big screen, but most of us have not ventured to actually visit and stay the night. With so many great shops and restaurants inside the city, visitors shouldn’t quickly dismiss the opportunity to lodge themselves in Beverly Hills.

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Originally constructed in 1927 and established the first boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, the Crescent Hotel is dead center in the best spot of the city. Directly across from the original MCA studios, the property played host to the studio’s stable of actors, giving this place a very colorful history. It’s also just two short blocks from Rodeo Drive and some of the best shopping in the world. The property is art deco architecture with an abundance of modern luxury. Having recently completed a full

interior renovation, the Crescent, with its historical past, has been contemporized to fit the needs of the current traveler.

Entering the new mini lobby of the hotel, guests are warmly greeted and made to feel more than at home. With extremely personalized attention, guests are escorted to their room, either on the first or second level. Each of the 35 rooms is unique in size, as the older property has been reconfigured throughout the year. Individually decorated

to blend together and reflect the layered history, each room stands out on its own. The headboards in Grand King rooms and Prime Queen rooms feature digital art prints designed by Oliva Villaluz, while Petite Queen rooms feature locally designed upholstered and built-in headboards. Each room offers inviting warmth in a comfortably scaled setting with Libeco Belgian linens, down pillows and quilted throws. Sleek concrete bathrooms are outfitted with plush towels, kimono-style yukata robes, and slippers. Additionally, each bathroom features skin-friendly seasonal and organic custom blended Crescent Hotel bath amenities.

The hotel offers a lounge with a palm-lined terrace for warm Southern California days, and an indoor-outdoor fireplace for candlelit evenings. The bar features classic as well as unique cocktails, small production wines and a good selection of craft beers. Cocktails like the Honey Bee, made with Honey Bourbon, maple, citrus and soda, and the Earl, made with Earl Grey Tea infused Gin, simple syrup and lemon juice, are among the favorites. In addition, there is a restaurant, currently open for breakfast and dinner, and run by Executive Chef Diana Hernandez (Soho House, Hotel Bel Air), who has created a guilty menu, that will not fit into the typical Beverly Hills starvation diet. From truffle fries to the most mouth-watering burger you can get in the area, Chef Diana is making sure that with the property renovations completed, her kitchen and menu were not left behind in the race to modernize the hotel.

The Itty-Bitty Room Hidden within the 35 guest rooms are two, very itty-bitty gems. Each totaling just 130 sq. feet, including the bathroom, the two rooms are the area’s hottest rooms. Each is beautifully decorated and provides the same amenities as a standard room, but just in a tighter space. It’s the perfect room for a quick overnight guest, a local who might need a place to crash after a night out, or a super budget traveler. With a year-round rate of $99, the two rooms are in high-demand. The two rooms are not available to the general public on traditional hotel booking sites. If interested in an itty-bitty room, guests must call the hotel directly. The remaining 33 rooms range from $159-$249, still a steal for Beverly Hills.

directly. The remaining 33 rooms range from $159-$249, still a steal for Beverly Hills. www.connextionsmagazine.com 15
directly. The remaining 33 rooms range from $159-$249, still a steal for Beverly Hills. www.connextionsmagazine.com 15
directly. The remaining 33 rooms range from $159-$249, still a steal for Beverly Hills. www.connextionsmagazine.com 15
directly. The remaining 33 rooms range from $159-$249, still a steal for Beverly Hills. www.connextionsmagazine.com 15

Crave

the

Caribbean

4

Island

Faves

4 Island Faves KEY WEST ARUBA A famous and favorite on the eccentric and diverse island
4 Island Faves KEY WEST ARUBA A famous and favorite on the eccentric and diverse island

KEY WEST

ARUBA

A famous and favorite on the eccentric and diverse island of Key West is the key lime pie. We recommend stepping outside the box and grabbing a key lime pie ‘BAR’! Dipped in dark chocolate and served on a stick, this dessert is heavenly! www.mattheessens.com

You can’t go wrong with seafood straight out of the Caribbean sea! One of Aruba’s oldest restaurants is serving up some serious international cuisine inside a seriously fun atmosphere! Check out Buccaneer’s Restaurant next time you drop by the island. http://buccaneeraruba.com/

time y ou drop by the island. http://buccaneeraruba.com/ PUERTO RICO C U R A C A
time y ou drop by the island. http://buccaneeraruba.com/ PUERTO RICO C U R A C A

PUERTO RICO

CURACAO

Known as the birthplace of the piña colada, Barrachina is a quaint restaurant in Old San Juan that boasts open ceilings, an abundance of atmospheric foliage, and the most refreshing piña colada in the land. TIP: Not hungry? Not a problem, head to the bar and kindly ask the adorable bartenders for a piña colada in a to go cup! www.barrachina.com

Cheese lovers and Gouda fans- you have landed on the island of plenty! As one of the oldest recorded cheeses in the world, there’s no shortage of this Dutch delish in Curacao. Tip: If ‘smoked’ Gouda is your pleasure, you’ll have to eat it all before you leave the island, unless you’ve packed a cooler with your carry-on.

Redwood Treehouse, Santa Cruz, California
Redwood Treehouse, Santa Cruz, California

Hidden Unique Getaways by Joe Stabb

In every region of the world, there are some great, unique hidden getaways that would be fun for you and the special someone or a friend. With a little googling, you can find some interesting places to stay and sometimes they are cheaper than an actual hotel room or B&B.

If you like the ocean view, maybe you should consider renting a houseboat for your overnight or weekend getaway. In cities from Boston to Key West, you can rent a houseboat for cheaper than a hotel room.

Or, for those that want something a bit more rustic, you can go “Glamping”. Glamping is luxury, high-end camping. Don’t worry, you will not get your hands dirty here, unless you want to. Enjoy your time in a luxury tent with a hot tub, in a remodeled caravan, or enjoy the wilderness from a forest treehouse.

There are plenty of options to enjoy a unique hidden getaway that is off the beaten path. Although the parties and clubs in the “big city” are seductive, a unique getaway can create a lifelong memorable experience.

a unique getaway can create a lifelong memorable experience. http://glampinghub.com/ 18 www.connextionsmagazine.com

http://glampinghub.com/

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Treehotel, The Cabin, Sweden
Treehotel, The Cabin, Sweden
Having been to dozens upon dozens of pride festivals over the years, I can honestly
Having been to dozens upon dozens of pride festivals over the years, I can honestly
Having been to dozens upon dozens of pride festivals over the years, I can honestly

Having been to dozens upon dozens of pride festivals over the years, I can honestly say that North Jersey Pride offered something I have never experienced at a previous event. The 2013 festival boasted over 80 vendors, and 3,000 visitors, with headlining entertainment including, Newark Mayor Cory Booker who gave a powerful speech that had the crowd roaring with energy. What’s unique wasn’t the attendees or entertainers, it was the atmosphere.

Before making the 4 hour drive to Maplewood, New Jersey, myself, along with my partner and my teenage daughter, made

a pit-stop to pick up my daughter’s high

school friend who would join us for the day. I went to great lengths, explaining to

the friend’s mother, that we were headed to

a “gay” pride event and her daughter may

encounter some eccentric individuals, either dressed in drag or barely dressed at all.

Pride events have always been the ‘safe zone’ to let your freak flag fly, although I have always found it somewhat disconcerning, since the LGBT community fights so hard

to be treated as an equal, yet thrives at the

chance to show the world what they look like in ass-less chaps. Having come out of

what they look like in ass-less chaps. Having come out of the closet at age 23,

the closet at age 23, with two kids in tow, one of the first things on my agenda was to hit up a pride festival and meet others that I could relate to. But a pride event back in the early 90’s was never a place for children and families.

Finally, after two decades and dozens of LGBT events over the years, North Jersey Pride offered me a festival I was proud to bring my children to! Various vendors with unique items for sale; more dogs in attendance than drag queens; a courtyard playground area for children, including face painting; and a delicious array of specialty food choices, such as lobster rolls, vegan wraps, Ethiopian buffet, and rainbow cupcakes. What’s more unique is that the great lawn area welcomes blankets for lounging and your own picnic basket of treats, if you should choose to bring one.

Founded in 2011 and an attendance growth of over 400% in such a short time, these pride volunteers at North Jersey Pride deserve huge kudos for their efforts in offering an event that the suburban gay community can bring their entire family too, including grandparents!

For more photos of the 2013 North Jersey Pride: www.connextionsmagazine.com

Wolf Lodge

Great

at

Family Fun & Adventure

It’s not the Destination that Counts, but the Journey

I n order to escape what can only be described

as one of the rainiest and coldest Spring seasons

I can remember, my partner and I packed up the kids and drove to a water park in the Poconos, where we booked a Kid Kamp Suite

at the Great Wolf Lodge. The drive from Long

Island to Pennsylvania was very uneventful, since we are now experts on what to bring with

us on long road trips to keep the kids occupied. Amidst the kids’ DVDs, leap pads, and etch-a-sketchers, I usually pack snacks, juices, water, sandwiches, fruits and sweets, anything

to keep everyone happy and engaged.

I always say that my partner and I are “outlet junkies,” because we love shopping and are always looking for deals and sales. So, on our

way to the water park, we couldn’t resist a stop

at the Crossings Premium Outlets Mall, which

is about five minutes away from the lodge. Finding that the prices were comparable and sometimes higher than that of shopping in New York, the only thing we bought was lunch. Although not recommended for

bargain hunters, it did give us an opportunity

to stretch our legs.

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As usual, we didn’t let our kids know the destination, because we love to see their surprised faces upon arrival. And what a surprise it was, to see the huge water slides sticking out of the building! The kids put every toy away and with huge smiling faces, expressed their desire to climb each one.

Great Wolf Lodge is a massive indoor water park with over 79,000 square feet of rides and entertainment, including flabbergasting slides for the adults and zero-depth entry areas for the little ones. The park is always a comfortable 84 degrees and there are plenty of areas where everyone can get splashed and even smashed – yes, there is an adult bar inside the water park and another one in the restaurant!

Check-in is 4pm, but if you arrive early, you can hang out in the water park until your room is ready. Wristbands are given to everyone in your party, which are meant to be used as keys to your rooms and IDs for all guests, but can also be programmed for use as your method of payment throughout the lodge. I definitely recommend attaching a credit card to the

by Manny Velasquez-Paredes

parents’ bracelets, this way you won’t need to carry your wallet or purse in the water park.

When we entered our Kids Kamp Suite, the kids were instantly thrilled to see their room, which was beautifully decorated as a tent, and furnished with a bunk bed, a night stand and

a TV. The walls were painted to resemble the

inside of a tent, with adventure maps and stars.

I, on the other hand, was surprised and a little

scared to find out the beds were not equipped with guard rails, although they do offer cribs. My little boy, Max, is now 3 years old and hasn’t

slept in a crib for a while, so we didn’t request one. He slept on the bottom bunk, although

I still feared he may fall out. Hence, I didn’t

get much sleep. Pleasantly surprised to find that he didn’t fall out, I enjoyed a milestone moment, as I realized how quickly my children are growing up.

While researching the resort, prior to our trip, I had read some negative comments online about the food, but everyone in my family thoroughly enjoyed all the offerings. The breakfast buffet, which I recommend purchasing during the

booking process, was fresh and tasted great. My favorite choice was the omelet station, where
booking process, was fresh and tasted great. My favorite choice was the omelet station, where
booking process, was fresh and tasted great. My favorite choice was the omelet station, where
booking process, was fresh and tasted great. My favorite choice was the omelet station, where

booking process, was fresh and tasted great. My favorite choice was the omelet station, where the chef will create your specialty omelet with all the fixins -- and by the way they have feta cheese if you ask for it!

Have your cameras ready, because you just may encounter one of Great Wolf Lodge’s mascots:

Violet, Oliver or Wiley. During breakfast, we were delightfully surprised when Violet came to our table and greeted the children, happy to have her picture taken with them. If you are obsessed with vacation photos like I am, you will be thrilled to learn that Shutterfly.com has an awesome deal with Great Wolf Lodge, where you can receive a free 8x8 book. Just grab the card in your room, with the code, and upload your own photos. In case you forget your waterproof camera, the lodge’s shops have plenty of stock available.

After breakfast, we relaxed by the Great Clock Tower in the Grand Lobby for story time, which is repeated three times throughout the day. We then went to the water park and this is when I had another milestone moment and realized just how brave and fearless my little girl, Jaslene, has become. Ready for action, we started with the kiddy slides, and before I knew it, she was doing belly slides and wanted to try the bigger rides. My four year old princess was pulling me to take her to the Totem Towers, which is described as “twin three-story slides offering the fastest escape route out of the Fort Mackenzie

tree house.” Off we went, I got a wedgie and felt I was about to fly off the Totem, but she was sporting a huge smile and a desire to go again. My partner and I swapped places, and I was able to catch my breath with Max in the kiddy pool. Virtually every area of the water park is supervised by lifeguards and we felt extremely safe, also life jackets are available free of charge on a first come, first serve basis.

The staff was absolutely awesome; they have games to keep the kids entertained throughout the day, and they make balloon animals. Kids and adults can get magic wands and go on scavenger hunts throughout the resort and even battle a dragon in MagiQuest games located all over the lodge. There’s even an ice cream-themed manicure at the kid Spa, an arcade, a pizza place, a sweets shop, a bowling alley, miniature golf, as well as a spa and gym for adults. The fun never ends at Great Wolf Lodge. If you go, say hi to Bill the General Manager, Brieanna the Front Office Manager and Michael the Manager and let them know that Manny from Connextions Magazine highly recommended this resort. We had such an amazing experience, that we returned a couple of months later for Fathers’ Day.

Email me your comments, thoughts, or questions and I will try to address them in upcoming issues, (velasquezmanny@gmail.com), or follow me (@mannyvp), also head over to www.facebook.com/ gayfamilytravel for engagement and interaction with myself and other proud gay parents.

www.connextionsmagazine.com

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1
1

Priority Pass

o c f o y t n i a t r e c n u e

Ever wonder why some travelers are always so relaxed and smiling while traveling? It’s most likely because they have some sort of lounge access.

Priority pass offers different types of memberships but for $400, you can have unlimited free access to lounges in almost every major airport. No need to join just one airline lounge, when you can have access to them all. Download the accompanying smartphone app, which shows you the closes participating lounges in each airport.

http://www.prioritypass.com/

2

GoGo

lounges in each airport. http://www.prioritypass.com/ 2 GoGo Internet. We all need it and crave it, especially

Internet. We all need it and crave it, especially when traveling. Before GoGo, I would panic the moment I had to shut down my devices on the plane, knowing that I would be disconnected from work, emails and the ridiculous baby photos my friends post on Facebook. GoGo offers a monthly-unlimited package on just your favorite airline, or on all airlines that use GoGo. In addition, day passes and hourly passes are available. Set up an account, and don’t be left behind.

www.gogoair.com/

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Travelpro’s Crew 9 21” Expandable Spinner

This is the perfect carry-on luggage with its expandable option for all the extras you pick up on your trip. The spinners, durability, and lightweight are three conveniences that make TravelPro so popular. Airline professionals use this brand for a reason; it’s truly the best.

http://travelpro.com/whereToBuy.cfm

MSRP $219.99

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If you are that person that already owns a travel pillow, and paid for a decent one, not a cheap blow up one, then this list is for you. You are a savvy traveler, a frequent traveler, and an expert traveler.

What follows is a list of essential items for the person who is always on the go and who rolls their eyes at time zones. Being one of those people, traveling about 2/3rds of each month, I've come to learn what works and what just doesn't.

There are plenty of marketed products out there that claim to be for the frequent traveler, but unless you have tried them out and evaluated them for yourself, you just don't know how necessary they are. Fortunately for you, and I'm speaking directly to the frequent or aspiring frequent traveler, I've done all the work already. Hence - the essentials to ensure a comfortable and drama free journey; whether you are taking short domestic trips or long haul international journeys.

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short domestic trips or long haul international journeys. 4 PayPower Visa TravelMoney Card Easy to use

PayPower Visa TravelMoney Card

Easy to use and it acts just like any other Visa in your wallet. Funds are easily added and you can keep track of your spending online. This card is not linked to any of your personal bank accounts or credit lines. Whatever funds you add to it, are the only funds available on it, and it has the added protection of the Visa Zero Liability policy. It’s accepted anywhere Visa is accepted and is more secure than carrying cash or personal bankcards. The last thing you want to worry about while traveling is your money. With pre-paid Visas, those stresses are alleviated.

www.paypower.com/Pick-A-Card/Travel-Content

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Brenthaven Broadmore Backpack

An x-ray TSA approved backpack!? Sounds like perfection to me, and it has

lived up to its reputation. With a spacious interior and multiple pockets and compartments, I fill this completely full and when passing through TSA security, I just unzip a zipper, which splits the pack in two and allows it to lay flat on the scanning belt. No need to take out laptops, or

flat on the scanning belt. No need to take out laptops, or anything. Luxurious and high-quality

anything. Luxurious and high-quality product which makes the security line just a bit less tedious.

www.brenthaven.com/broadmore/backpack

MSRP $249.95

Malin+Goetz

eBags Packing Cubes

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Love to travel, hate to pack? These 3pc sets help out when you are not sure what to take. The convenience of separating and packing the cubes, and then placing them inside your luggage, will save you time once you arrive and create extra space. There are many colors and patterns to choose from and are low-priced. Each set comes with 1-small, 1-medium and 1-large cube, all with mesh top panels for quick identification and ventilation.

www.ebags.com

MSRP 29.99

Some hotels offers amazing toiletry products, and others, well, don’t. With this 1oz Malin+Goetz Essential Kit, which is carry-on approved, take high quality products with you in once convenient travel case. Included is a cleanser and moisturizer for your face, body and hair.

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www.malinandgoetz.com

for your face, body and hair. 9 www.malinandgoetz.com 8 MSRP $30 Shauns Sunglasses A pair of
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MSRP $30

your face, body and hair. 9 www.malinandgoetz.com 8 MSRP $30 Shauns Sunglasses A pair of good

Shauns Sunglasses

A pair of good shades is essential while gallivanting all over the world. I recently discovered a hip California based brand that offers many styles for an affordable price, when compared to high-end designer sunglasses. You can never go wrong with aviators, and the Shauns Arran style doesn’t disappoint. For a more retro look that gives a little edge, try my personal favorites, the Shauns Harris.

www.shaunscalifornia.com/shop-the-shade

Clarks Desert Boot

These boots are absolutely the best and come

in many shades. Clarks are so well made and

easy to travel with. Wear them on the flight, or squeeze them in your luggage. They are beyond comfortable and can be worn casually or used to dress up a business casual look.

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worn casually or used to dress up a business casual look. 7 www.ClarksUSA.com MSRP Harris Matte

www.ClarksUSA.com

MSRP Harris Matte Black Frame - $295 Arran Light Gold Frame - $240

Adidas Terrex Hoodie and FleeceMatte Black Frame - $295 Arran Light Gold Frame - $240 Weather is unpredictable and packing

Weather is unpredictable and packing jackets for trips can take up a lot of space in your luggage. Adidas Terrex collection offers light weight options that are comfortable, sporty and easy to pack. The fleece is made from activated carbon from recycled coconut shells, it also provides odor and UV-management.

PONTETORTO TECNOSTRETCH makes it durable and provides a perfect body hugging fit. The PrimaLoft hoodie has insulated stretch inserts that provide enhanced freedom of movement and the partial COCONA lining gives you moisture management.

http://www.adidas.com/us/

MSRP $195 (hoodie) $130 (fleece)

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MSRP $119.99

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Briggs & Riley TORQ Collection

23 MSRP $119.99 5 Briggs & Riley TORQ Collection For the heavy-duty traveler, and overseas aficionado,

For the heavy-duty traveler, and overseas aficionado, the TORQ collection offers all you could possibly want. The hard-shell exteriors provides an extra level of protection while your suitcases travel and experience the different luggage handling skills, each airport around the world has to offer. The smaller carry-on provides a document/laptop compartment for easy accessibility.

carry-on provides a document/laptop compartment for easy accessibility. http://www.briggs-riley.com/ MSRP $479-$569

http://www.briggs-riley.com/

MSRP $479-$569

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T raveling from New York, Wildcatter Ranch offered the taste of Texas I was looking
T raveling from New York, Wildcatter Ranch offered the taste of Texas I was looking
T raveling from New York, Wildcatter Ranch offered the taste of Texas I was looking
T raveling from New York, Wildcatter Ranch offered the taste of Texas I was looking

T raveling from New York, Wildcatter Ranch

offered the taste of Texas I was looking for. A real western experience with cowboys, horses, and longhorns -- minus the tents and snakes.

Wildcatter is a 1,500 acre ranch in Northern Texas. The quiet surroundings invite you to relax and reconnect. There are no crowds and no waiting lines, only a perfect opportunity to unplug and unwind.

The guest suites, impeccable service, mouth watering meals, and activities on the ranch will remain an unforgettable experience.

The most memorable moment during my stay, was the tipping of the hat by each cowboy, upon introduction – my jaw literally dropped. Their mama raised them right! I was truly under the belief that chivalry was dead -- and being the feminist that I am, I have become accustomed to opening my own door – BUT, it felt so good to be treated with such honest respect that this memory will remain embedded.

Wildcatter Ranch offers 16 individual luxury cabin suites; 16 guest rooms within the western style hotel; one charming cottage with two bedrooms, one bath and a full kitchen; as well as one completely secluded luxury guesthouse with two king bedrooms, each with private bath, large living room, dining area, full kitchen and rock fireplace.

I had the pleasure of staying in the Fort Belknap Cabin Suite. The room was beautifully decorated,

it was clean, and certainly spacious -- from the

tall log cabin style ceiling and the large wooden doors, to the separate toilet and shower room.

I instantly felt relaxed and at peace, without

lacking the comforts of home. The bedding was cozy and comfortable; the atmosphere is quiet and private; and sitting in the rocking chair on the back patio offered serene panoramic views that took my breath away.

Guest room amenities include:

Internet access; Satellite TV with DVD player Fireplace; Coffee, microwave & refrigerator; and back porch rocking chairs!

The on-site steakhouse offers true Texas “hand cut” mesquite grilled steaks, barbeque, fresh fish and chicken fried steak, along with an award winning wine list and great selection of craft beers. Outstanding service coupled with fresh food and an incredible view give Wildcatter Steakhouse 5-stars.

Find a romantic getaway; find southern hospitality; find cowboys, horses, longhorns, big skies, tons of stars and scenic landscape views! Find a taste of the old west at Wildcatter Ranch.

www.wildcatterranch.com

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