Everything Amtrak is Doing to Protect Travelers

As travel restrictions are lifted, Americans are looking to hit the road again, and Amtrak is ready to provide a safe environment to protect the experience.a train traveling down tracks next to a body of water: train, dome car, amtrak© photo courtesy of Amtrak train, dome car, amtrak

Amtrak has operated as an essential service throughout the coronavirus outbreak despite some routes being reduced or suspended, but an increase in demand in the coming weeks is expected to mean additional services.

The changes start as soon as customers book their travel, as Amtrak is waiving all change and cancellation fees for reservations made by August 31. The company also announced it would limit ticket sales to allow for physical distancing while traveling.

At Amtrak stations, travelers will notice enhanced cleaning protocols, social distancing guidelines, mandatory face coverings for all employees and customers, and passengers being asked to arrive only 30 minutes before departure.

“Now more than ever, we stand ready to play a critical role as our nation recovers,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to offer vital transportation services in a way that prioritizes employee and customer safety and well-being.”

Rail riders should be ready for a contact-free travel experience, with Amtrak now only accepting cashless payments, encouraging boarding with eTickets and sending gate and track information via the company’s mobile app.

Once on board the train, passengers will be encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, required to wear facial coverings while on trains or thruway buses and asked to follow the conductors’ instructions on where and when they can disembark to minimize crowding.

For travelers looking for a bite to eat, Amtrak’s cafe service will be available as carryout only and the company is temporarily offering flexible dining service in the dining or lounge car on all long-distance routes.

For added protection, protective plastic barriers are being installed at cafe countertops.

By Donald wood for Travel Pulse

Note: I posted this article because many people are having second thoughts about airplane travel. 3 across seating, no masks, and still the hassle of just getting through security and onto the aircraft. Although train travel would be ideal for short distances, say from Chicago to St. Louis (5 hours), long-distance travel via Amtrak may not work for you. It’s about a 36 hour train trip from Chicago to L.A., but less than 4 hours by plane. That’s the ugly truth about long-distance travel by train. An option is a sleeping berth, but it’s still 36 hours ! In terms of scenic travel, Amtrak is fantastic. Look into Amtrak’s California Surfliner route that runs from San Diego to San Juan Capistrano. It parallels the Pacific Ocean and stops at cities like L.A., Ventura, and Santa Barbara.

Lightweight Linen Joggers

Lightweight fabrics are an essential in your summer wardrobe, which is why linen is often a go-to choice for everything from garments to bed sheets when the temperatures rise. It’s one of those breathable materials that’s cool to the touch, making it the perfect casual option to wear in sweltering heat. a man wearing a suit and tie: Here’s why Nordstrom shoppers love them© Nordstrom Here’s why Nordstrom shoppers love them

With summer practically in full swing, now’s a great time to add some linen pieces to your lineup. Since we’ll be staying home more than usual this season, we’ve been searching for a pair of linen pants to replace our beloved sweatpants — and that’s how we discovered the Caslon Linen Jogger Pants.

Made from 100 percent linen, the pull-on pants have a loose, relaxed fit with a tapered leg finish that ends at the calf for most people. Their high-rise waistband features an elastic drawstring that makes them just as cozy your favorite joggers. The Caslon pants are so cozy, in fact, that hundreds of Nordstrom shoppers gave them a five-star review, calling them “the perfect summer pants” and a “WFH staple.” a person wearing a suit and tie: Nordstrom© Provided by People Nordstrom

Buy It! Caslon Linen Jogger Pants, $59; nordstrom.com

“Not only are these joggers comfortable, but they are linen, so they work well in the hot weather,” one wrote. “Plus, I think joggers are cute while staying at home. So happy with my purchase.”

“Great WFH pants. Super comfy without making you feel sloppy,” another chimed in about the stay-at-home style. According to one reviewer, the Caslon linen joggers are such a popular style, they sold out before she could get a pair last year. And it looks like they are on track to do the same in 2020. The white linen joggers are already sold out, but they’re still available at Nordstrom in almost all sizes (XS to XXL) in four other colors, along with a trendy camo print. 

The versatile pant is the elevated loungewear piece your wardrobe needs for summer. You can snag a pair for $59, which seems well worth it considering how often you’re likely to wear them this season. 

This article was written by Alex Warner for People ©


Barnard College’s Corpse Flower Bloomed for the First Time

Even though school may not be in session, the gardeners at the Arthur Ross Greenhouse at Barnard College in New York City are still actively working to exercise their green thumb. Recently, a rare and endangered corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanium) bloomed in the campus greenhouse after years of being nurtured. The corpse flower, affectionately nicknamed “Berani,” has been growing for seven years on the campus (Martha’s alma mater!), but it didn’t start to bloom until April 2020.

a group of people in a garden: The five-foot-tall flower gets a little stinky once it blooms.
© Courtesy of Barnard College The five-foot-tall flower gets a little stinky once it blooms.

“Our brave Barnard ‘Berani’ has chosen to bloom during an unprecedented time of anxiety, sorrow, isolation, and social distancing. Fortunately, we were always planning to augment in-person experiences with online tools so that Barnard students who are away from campus in summer could enjoy the event,” said Hilary Callahan, the greenhouse director and Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Biological Sciences.

The corpse flower, which hails from Sumatra, Indonesia, is notoriously smelly once it blooms. It’s aptly named; some say that it smells, well, like a corpse when. But greenhouse administrator Nick Gershberg told Mental Floss that it really smells like dead fish, Camembert cheese that has been left out overnight, and the odor of slightly decayed lilies. Are you intrigued yet?

What started as a plant the size of a potato has grown to nearly five feet, rising four to six inches each day as it bloomed. This species is noted for being the tallest unbranched inflorescence. Gershberg confirmed that that the flower reached its peak on May 31st, at which point it measured 72 inches tall and 44 inches wide. The flower only stays in full bloom for about 48 hours, then starts to wilt. Experts at the Arthur Ross Greenhouse are currently planning ways to preserve the flower’s petals. After the roots die, Gershberg says that they will replant the tuber, which will begin the re-growth process within three to six months.


See the USA–Michigan

Michigan Has A Grand Canyon, Canyon Falls And It’s Incredibly Beautiful

It’s no secret that the Grand Canyon is one of America’s most breathtaking attractions. If you’ve ever seen it, you’ll agree. The sweeping views are jawdroppingly gorgeous and a humbling reminder of how beautiful nature can be. But did you know that Michigan is home to its own “Grand Canyon,” complete with natural beauty that will leave you speechless? Lace up those boots, because today we’re taking you to one of the most beautiful natural attractions around, Canyon Falls in Michigan. Affectionally called “The Grand Canyon of Michigan,” you’ll quickly fall in love with this natural oasis, and it might even become your new favorite hiking spot! Let’s take a closer look.

We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures!

Flickr/Larry McGahey
Situated south of L’Anse, off US 41, the scenic Canyon Falls and Gorge is a true treasure of the Upper Peninsula. No trip to the U.P. is complete without a stop at this gorgeous location on the banks of the Sturgeon River.
Flickr/Jim Liestman
A mostly level mile-long hike will take visitors to the marvelous Canyon Falls, where many enjoy picnic lunches and unparalleled views of Michigan’s natural wonder.
Flickr/Larry McGahey
The hike to the falls includes a trek through some of Michigan’s majestic hardwood trees.
Flickr/J. Stephen Conn
Past the falls sits what many call “The Grand Canyon of Michigan,” or Canyon Gorge. This magnificent site is a hidden gem, as the Mitten State isn’t usually associated with this type of natural canyon formation.
Flickr/Scott Smithson
At its widest point, the gorge is a mile wide and more than 300 feet deep.
Flickr/Larry McGahey
A stop at the gorge will take your breath away and leave you marveling at the beauty of Michigan’s landscape. And it’s just a short hike from the roadside park, making it accessible to visitors of nearly all athletic abilities.

So the next time someone mentions their trip to the Grand Canyon, be sure to ask for clarification: “Which one?”

Have you visited Canyon Falls in Michigan, “The Grand Canyon of Michigan?”

Thanks for the article by Sophie Boudreau of onlyinyoustate.com

Note: this part of Michigan is in the upper part, situated mostly above the state of Wisconsin. Watch for Canyon Falls Roadside Park on Rt. 41 more near the town of Alberta, Mi.


June is PTSD Awareness Month

Learn. Connect. Share. Raise PTSD Awareness, June

Help Raise PTSD Awareness

There are currently about 8 million people in the United States with PTSD.

Even though PTSD treatments work, most people who have PTSD don’t get the help they need. June is PTSD Awareness Month. Help us spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available. Everyone with PTSD—whether they are Veterans or civilian survivors of sexual assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events—needs to know that treatments really do work and can lead to a better quality of life.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?
There are 4 types of PTSD symptoms, but they may not be exactly the same for
everyone. Each person experiences symptoms in their own way.

Reliving the event
Unwelcome memories about the trauma can come up at any time. They can
feel very real and scary, as if the event is happening again. This is called a
flashback. You may also have nightmares.
Memories of the trauma can happen because of a trigger — something that
reminds you of the event. For example, seeing a news report about a disaster
may trigger someone who lived through a hurricane. Or hearing a car backfire
might bring back memories of gunfire for a combat Veteran.

Avoiding things that remind you of the event
You may try to avoid certain people or situations that remind you of the event.
For example, someone who was assaulted on the bus might avoid taking
public transportation. Or a combat Veteran may avoid crowded places like
shopping malls because it feels dangerous to be around so many people.
You may also try to stay busy all the time so you don’t have to talk or think
about the event.

Having more negative thoughts and feelings than before
You may feel more negative than you did before the trauma. You might be
sad or numb — and lose interest in things you used to enjoy, like spending
time with friends. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can’t trust
anyone. It may be hard for you to feel or express happiness, or other positive
emotions. You might also feel guilt or shame about the traumatic event itself. For example, you may wish you had done more to keep it from happening.

Feeling on edge
It’s common to feel jittery or “keyed up” — like it’s hard to relax. This is called
hyperarousal. You might have trouble sleeping or concentrating, or feel like
you’re always on the lookout for danger. You may suddenly get angry and
irritable — and if someone surprises you, you might startle easily.
You may also act in unhealthy ways, like smoking, abusing drugs and alcohol, or driving aggressively.

Why get treatment for PTSD?
Treatment works.
There are many treatment options for PTSD.
For many people, these treatments can get rid of symptoms altogether. Others find they have fewer symptoms or feel that their symptoms are less intense.
After treatment, most people feel they have a better quality of life.

Common questions about treatment
Can a therapist really understand what I’ve been through?
Therapists can treat your PTSD whether or not they have been through trauma
themselves. What’s important is that your therapist understands how you think about your experience, so she can teach you the skills you need to manage your symptoms.

Is it ever too late to get treatment for PTSD?
It’s never too late. Treatment can help even if your trauma happened years ago. And treatment for PTSD has gotten much better over the years. If you tried treatment before and you’re still having symptoms, it’s a good idea to try again.

There is a wealth of information available in the booklet that I have linked to below. If you think you may have symptoms of PTSD, there is a questionaire to fill out. Also, a description of what PTSD therapy is and how it can help you manage your stress. Please have a look. Do it today. And remember, you are not alone !


5 Easy DIY Ideas for Your Ho-Hum Terra-Cotta Pots

Want a fun weekend project? Dress up your terra-cotta pots! HGTV Magazine has some DIY ideas.

Add a Decal

Paint the pot with paint and let dry. Apply a face decal to the front of the pot, following the package instructions.

Stencil a Pattern

Attach the stencil to the pot with repositionable spray mount and pieces of delicate-surface painter’s tape. You may have to cut the stencil into a couple of pieces to help it adhere to the rounded surface. Fill in the stencil with paint. Let dry slightly, then remove and reposition the stencil pieces. Fill in, repeating until the entire pot is covered. Let dry.

Layer on Fringe

Starting at the bottom, hot-glue rows of fringe to the pot, layering each additional row on top of the previous one as you go.

Ombré It

Working from the top down, divide the planter into three equal sections — use a pencil to lightly mark dashes around the circumference. Spray-paint the top part. Then spray-paint the middle section with a different color, slightly overlapping the area you just painted. Repeat for the third section with another shade. Let dry.

Wrap It With Rope 

Starting at the bottom, wrap rope (we used cotton clothesline) around the pot, securing with hot glue as you go. When you get to the top, wrap a few rows on the inside, too. Then paint a pattern on the rope. Use painter’s tape to mark off the design you want to paint. Lightly outline it in pencil, remove the tape and fill in with paint. Let dry.

Photo credit: Philip Friedman


Weatherproof Your Plot

Scorchio shocker or torrential downpour, there are sensible ways to keep your plot protected and thriving. We ask Lucy Chamberlain for her top tips on growing fruit and veg whatever the weather…

Weatherproof Your Plot Main

Weatherproof Your Plot

In times of a changing climate, we’re not sure whether summer will bring us deluge or dearth. But come rain or shine, we can take action to ‘weatherproof’ our fruit and veg via careful soil management, says Lucy.

Protect From The Wet

So you want to weatherproof your plot. Great! First of all, add bulky organic matter (such as composted bark or well-rotted farmyard manure) to your plot – it makes light soils more moisture-retentive and heavy plots less claggy.

Weatherproof Your Plot Gullies

Dig gullies alongside your crops, plugging them up to catch your irrigation water in a drought or opening them up in times of heavy rain.

Grow a little bit of everything –for instance, try drought-tolerant asparagus and globe artichokes alongside moisture-loving rhubarb and Oriental leaves.

Weatherproof Your Plot Rhubarb

Choose raised beds on low-lying areas, but grow on the flat if your plot is on the upper slopes.

And add plenty of water butts to capture rainfall. This way, Mother Nature can throw her worst at you, and your crops will survive!

Article written for Amateur Gardening by Janey Goulding

Note: FYI the water butt referred to in the article would be called a rain barrel in the U.S.

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