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6 Ways to Celebrate Halloween From Behind the Wheel



From “Christine” to “Crash!,” the killer car movie is a hallowed horror subgenre. Pick your vehicle — bulldozer, hearse, big rig — and there’s a scary movie about it.

But this Halloween, cars are here to save, not destroy. Coronavirus restrictions like masks and social distancing have forced attractions to reimagine in-person frights. The demons and ghouls who usually stalk narrow corridors of a spooky mansion will lurk at outdoor drive-through experiences, delivering gotcha scares at windshields and in rearview mirrors. At drive-in movie theaters, which are experiencing a golden age this year, people can scream from the safety of their own vehicles, with little worry about virus exposure from other viewers. And car-based activities are good news for people with disabilities, who are often shut out from traditional haunted houses.

Here are six places around the country to get your Halloween scares from behind the wheel.


Lehighton, Pa.


Open since 1949, this single-screen drive-in theater outside Allentown, Pa. — lovingly profiled in the 2019 documentary “At the Drive-In” — is for students and fans of old-school moviemaking. The venue uses 1940s-era Simplex E-7 twin projectors, manned by an actual projectionist, to show movies on a massive screen. According to Virgil Cardamone, who curates the films, the Mahoning is the country’s only remaining exclusively 35 mm drive-in movie theater, where scratchy prints are prized.

This year, highlights of the packed October schedule include a double feature of “The Thing From Another World” (1951) and “The Thing” (1982) and a screening of “Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master” with cast members making an appearance, including Lisa Wilcox, who played the final girl and the Freddy Krueger opponent Alice Johnson. The lot is limited to 500 cars, down from its normal capacity of about 1,000 to accommodate social distancing. Don’t worry about being too tired to drive home — overnight passes are available for guests who want to extend their stay on the grounds.


(Through Oct. 31)

Running for 31 straight nights, this drive-in movie series has real cinema bona fides: It’s presented by the horror-streaming platform Shudder and the Music Box Theater, a grand Depression-era movie palace that normally hosts a horror-movie marathon. Horror geeks will enjoy theme nights like Grindhouse Fridays (“Evilspeak” and “Black Christmas”) and Sequel Sundays (“Psycho 3,” “Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2”). A notable special guest is Karyn Kusama, who will appear in a pretaped Q. and A. on Oct. 19 after a showing of her darkly comic feminist cult film, “Jennifer’s Body.”

The films are shown at the Chi-Town Movies Drive-In, a former parking lot that’s been transformed into a now-permanent and intimate drive-in theater. It’s located in Pilsen, a historically Mexican neighborhood on the city’s west side; besides popcorn and hot dogs, concessions include tacos, frozen mango and Jarritos sodas delivered to your car.


Splendora, Texas

(Through Nov. 1)

For families watching their wallets, this drive-through is a bargain: It charges a modest $20 per car no matter how many people squeeze inside. Located in a rural town northeast of Houston, the Haunted Drive has increased its path from two to three acres this year. Taking it slow at two to three miles an hour, cars will encounter costumed actors and vivid animatronics at 10 installations, including a haunted carnival and a killer gas station.

“Make sure the bravest person in the car is driving,” joked Gary Rymer, a co-owner.

Costa Mesa, Calif.

(Through Nov. 1)

“People here have high expectations when it comes to Halloween,” said Mark Entner, the chief executive of Stardust Entertainment Group, the owner and producer of a new high-tech immersive drive-through at the OC Fair & Event Center.

On the drive, cars take paths to four outdoor spaces featuring elaborately designed, creepy set pieces where stories based on Southern California urban legends come to life. Expect to see supernatural cave dwellers inspired by the nearby Blackstar Canyon and a “warehouse rave disco queen” update of the Bloody Mary myth, as the creative director Josh Randall put it. V.I.P. tickets include a designated traffic lane with extra immersive experiences.

“Californians are dealing with Covid and fires and the election, and we want people to escape for 45 minutes,” Mr. Randall said.

Los Angeles

(Through Nov. 1)

Killer food is also on the menu at this new experience from Justin and Melissa Meyer, husband-and-wife event producers. This open-air drive winds along Legg Lake, a popular loop trail located in the Whittier Narrows recreation area. The first leg features a “creature safari,” where visitors use flashlights from their cars to spot costumed monsters among the trees. That’s followed by stops at eight haunted tableaus, where masked characters deliver pre-packed bites, including cinnamon-sugar doughnut churros, and fall-inspired drinks like hot apple cider. (Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available.)

The trip finishes with a virtual campfire consisting of 3-D projections of flickering flames and “ghost stories that come to life,” Mr. Meyer said.

Roseville, Minn.

(Through Oct. 31)

There’s something very queer about this new theatrical experience. It’s created by Chad Kampe and his husband, Matthew Felt, the organizers of a drag-tastic “Golden Girls” fan cruise. There’s a mostly queer cast and crew. And it’s as camp as it is creepy.

The show takes place at a parking lot at the Rosedale Center mall outside Minneapolis. Attendees check in and use their phones to watch a short film about a crazed mall murderer on the loose. Then they pull into a tent and hand over their car keys (to be returned later) in exchange for a (sanitized) radio and — let’s just say drivers will appreciate the spray bottles on hand to clean off the blood and guts (i.e., laundry soap and food coloring) that coat each car at the end of the mayhem.

The show’s macabre tagline? “No one can hear you scream from inside your car.”

By: Erik Piepenburg
Title: 6 Ways to Celebrate Halloween From Behind the Wheel
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Published Date: Sun, 04 Oct 2020 03:22:09 +0000

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Witnessing Peru’s Enduring, if Altered, Snow Star Festival




Stubbornly unfazed by warnings of “soroche,” or altitude sickness, I swung my legs up onto a donkey and began to ascend the steep trails. After trekking for a few dizzying hours alongside hundreds of others, I approached a glacial basin. The scene began to unfold before us: an immense valley flooded with so many pilgrims that it seemed to be covered in confetti, each tiny speck representing a huddled collection of tents and people.

The altitude sickness began to overtake every inch of my body. Even my eyeballs ached. But, undeterred, I slowly navigated through the throngs of people trying to take in every sight and sound.

Each year in late May or early June, thousands of pilgrims trek for hours on foot and horseback through Peru’s Andean highlands — slowly snaking their way up the mountainous terrain — for the religious celebrations of Qoyllur Rit’i, held some 50 miles east of Cusco, once the capital of the Incan empire.

Practiced annually for hundreds of years, the celebrations mark the start of the harvest season, when the Pleiades, a prominent cluster of stars, return to the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere. The syncretic festival, which is on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, interweaves Indigenous and Incan customs with Catholic traditions introduced by Spanish colonizers, who sought to undermine Andean cosmology.

Celebrations were suspended this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the route to the valley completely blocked off. But when I attended in 2013, the crowds were remarkably dense.

The festival takes place in the Sinakara Valley, a glacial basin that sits around 16,000 feet above sea level. Celebrants swarm in colorful droves with costumes, enormous flags, instruments and provisions in tow.

The festivities begin with the arrival of a statue of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i, transported from the nearby town of Mahuayani, to the valley’s small chapel. For three days, from morning until night, amid the nonstop sounds of drums, flutes, whistles, accordions, cymbals and electric keyboards, the air is filled with billowing clouds of dust kicked up from twirling dancers; it settles on the sequins, neon scarves, ribbons, tassels and feathers that adorn people’s traditional costumes and attire.

Pilgrims here are divided into “nations,” which correspond to their place of origin. Most belong to the Quechua-speaking agricultural regions to the northwest, or to the Aymara-speaking regions to the southeast. The delegation from Paucartambo has been making the pilgrimage for longer than any other.

“It’s important to maintain this tradition, because we have a lot of faith,” said a young Paucartambo pilgrim dressed as an ukuku, a mythical half-man and half-bear creature. Costumed in red, white and black alpaca robes, the ukukus are responsible for ensuring the safety of the pilgrims; they act as intermediaries between the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i and the people.

Other participants include the ch’unchus, who wear headdresses and represent Indigenous communities from the Amazon; the qhapaq qollas, who wear knitted masks and represent inhabitants from the southern Altiplano region; and the machulas, who wear long coats over fake humpbacks and represent the mythological people to first populate the Andes.

Hundreds of ceremonies are held throughout the three-day festival. But the long-awaited main event is carried out by the ukukus in the early morning hours of the last day. Carrying towering crosses and candles, ukukus from each nation ascend the Qullqipunku mountain toward a nearby glacier, regarded as alive and sentient. (The snow-capped mountains circling the valley are also believed to be mountain gods, or Apus, that provide protection.)

According to oral traditions, the ukukus, after scaling the icy slopes, once partook in ritualistic battles that were eventually prohibited by the Catholic Church.

Another tradition was also recently put to rest, this time by Mother Nature.

Up until only a few years ago, ukukus would carve slabs of ice from the glacier, whose melted water is revered as medicinal. Pilgrims would eagerly await the ukukus, backs bent from the weight of the ice, who would place the blocks along the pathway to the temple, to be used as holy water. Sometimes the ice was even transported to Cusco’s main square where, as Qoyllur Rit’i draws to a close, Corpus Christi celebrations kick off with comparable religious zeal.

Many believed that carrying the ice was a penance for sins, and that fulfilling this ritual meant the Apus would offer blessings.

But because much of the glacier has melted, significantly reducing its size, the tradition of carrying chunks of sacred ice down the mountain has been banned.

Climate scientists say that glaciers in the tropical Andes have been reduced by nearly a quarter in the last 40 years. Some scientists predict that such glaciers could disappear entirely by 2070.

These changes have not only affected agricultural practices in the Andes, but also, as witnessed by Qoyllur Rit’i pilgrims, cultural ones, too.

Although the ukukus now carry only wooden crosses back down the mountain, they’re still met with great jubilation — a testament to human resilience in the face of destruction caused by climate change.

By: Danielle Villasana
Title: Witnessing Peru’s Enduring, if Altered, Snow Star Festival
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Published Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2020 09:00:33 +0000

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British Airways updates interim catering with – gasp! – hot food




British Airways have been offering an extremely abbreviated on board service during the pandemic. Only passengers in first class received hot meals, with everyone else relegated to cold food. The interim catering has received a mixed reaction, especially as other airlines continue to offer full on board service.

All of this was wrapped in the safety banner, to reduce touch points and protect people. While perhaps admirable in its intention, frequent flyers have pointed the finger squarely at cost cutting, due to various inconsistencies in the approach. Either way, things are now moving back towards normality.

Updated Interim Catering

Hot food is back on British Airways long-haul services. First class continue to have theirs, and now everyone else on the plane gets to experience it too. That means business class passengers flying Club World, premium economy World Traveller Plus and economy World Traveller people can all chow down on something a little more fitting.

The Club World meal will be hot and served on a meal tray with a table cloth, with the second service a chilled item delivered the same way. The second service will come in a box as it does now on some return catered flights.

Those at the back of the bus will also get a hot meal, served on a half tray for the interim catering period. The second service will be chilled and be issued in a box or bag, depending on how lucky you are.

What About European Flights?

There are no changes to the current interim catering for European flights. This means that Club Europe continue to get a meal in a box or bag, and EuroTraveller customers receive a small complimentary on board snack.

The previous buy on board menu from M&S won’t be coming back, as the agreement expired this year and is not being renewed. A replacement British retailer is in the process of being recruited, so we will see a totally new buy on board menu on BA in due course.

Overall Thoughts

It is great to see some changes in the long-haul interim catering offering at British Airways. Not too soon either! Emirates return to their usual pre-Covid service on board from 1 November for example, so competition is afoot.

No doubt we will see further changes from BA as time passes on. Until the catering changes, I see no value in booking a flight with BA in a premium cabin. All my future travel is booked in economy with BA, as the value proposition for me in the higher classes has a lot to do with the food and drinks, which anyone who has read a flight review of mine will well know.

What say you? Are you happy with the improvements to the interim catering at British Airways? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by Rafael Luiz Canossa on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.
With thanks to Inflight With James.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: British Airways updates interim catering with – gasp! – hot food
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Published Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2020 13:03:17 +0000

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4 Top Stargazing Places to Visit in 2020




Dark skies, bright stars are every stargazer’s main attraction spots. All around the world, people travel to experience the best spot the world has to offer. To most city dwellers, their experience with stargazing is bumping into the latest celebrity at the mall or grocery store checkout line thanks to air pollution and the city lights.

But there is nothing as magical as looking up into the dark skies dotted with constellations, planets, and shooting stars. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) recognizes over 130 spots that preserve the most star-filled skies. UNESCO recognizes several starlight reserves on its Astronomical Heritage sites list. These spectacular spots offer stargazers an opportunity to reconnect with the planet and learn more about the universe.

We believe you deserve to know the top spots that will give you the most magical experience, yet.  Here are 4 top places to visit in 2020 for stargazing.

The Best Stargazing Places to Visit

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Located in the remote Lake Powell of Utah, Natural Bridges was the first to be certified by the IDA as the international dark sky park. The IDA is the leading organization in combating light pollution, it is a big deal. The designation recognizes areas with some of the darkest and clearest skies in the world. It acknowledged darkness as a resource worthy of conservation and protection and appreciates the efforts extended to achieve this. The main attraction of the dark skies of Natural Bridges is a phenomenon that rises over the natural rock formation of Owachomo Bridge creating one of the most spectacular Milky Way you have ever seen. The bridge forms some sort of a window to the sky by beautifully framing thousands of stars, all of which are visible with the naked eye.

Plan to camp here overnight to have the full experience. Night photographers do get some of the most marvelous shots at the Natural Bridges National Monument, but always remember artificial sources of light for photography are prohibited.

Mauna Kea, Hawaii, United States

Located about 2,500 miles Southwest of California, Hawaii has evolved to be one of the leading astronomy destinations. The high volcanic peaks offer some of the most spectacular sceneries around the world.

Mauna Kea Summit is perhaps the most popular stargazing spots in Hawaii.

13,803 feet above the town of Hilo and close to Mauna Kea is the Mauna Kea Observatory, the largest of its kind in the world. It is a major astronomy hub.

What’s more, is that it is one of the few places on earth you can drive nearly 14,000 above sea level. Just make sure you check-in at the Visitors Station to acclimatize. You don’t want to experience altitude sickness. Still, the journey is magical with starry rewards. Make sure to bring the best telescopes as from this spot you get to see the celestial wonders of the Northern Hemisphere from bands of Jupiter to the constellations of Orion. Also because Mauna Kea is close to the equator, the stars of the Southern Hemisphere are visible, too. This means that over 80% of the earth’s stars can be seen from Mauna Kea.

Photographers have been known to capture the rare lunar rainbow from Mauna Kea. Lunar rainbows are essentially lit by the moon and not the sun, and occur under precise conditions.

Pic du Midi, France

Located in the Pyrénées Mountains of France, Pic Ddu Midi is good enough of a spot for NASA to take photos of the moon surface in preparation for their missions; it’s good enough for you.

A cable car from the La Mongie will get you to the summit, where an observatory is perched right above the clouds.

Also, the reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a major French national park. Plan to book an overnight stay to experience an unforgettable night under the stars.

Los Angeles, California

It is primarily known for another kind of star, the Hollywood star, and smog that is ever-present. To many, Lost Angeles does not come off as an ideal place to go stargazing. But those that have visited the iconic Griffith Observatory will tell you otherwise. Perched atop Mount Hollywood, it is one of the most astronomically intriguing places to visit. Depending on the time of the year, from Griffith Observatory you can observe assorted double stars, nebulae, Jupiter, and Venus. And with powerful telescopes, the incredibly detailed view of the Moon’s craggy surface can be visible.

The stars are accessible from most places and to everyone but some locations can get you the most from a night sky. Add these spots to your bucket list and start ticking. Once you do, you’ll be treated to an amazing view few people will even get to see.

The post 4 Top Stargazing Places to Visit in 2020 appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: 4 Top Stargazing Places to Visit in 2020
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Published Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2020 15:30:03 +0000

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