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Fall’s Here. Can We Still Go Apple Picking?



Across much of the country, fall is the season of apple-picking, corn mazes, winery harvests and Halloween hauntings, luring day-trippers and weekenders to rural areas. But if summer is any guide, many fall festivities may require more planning this year to avoid the crowds.

While visitors may still launch a pumpkin from a catapult, pandemic restrictions will touch everything: Hay rides will now be socially distanced, and masked clowns will be poised to scare haunted house visitors from six feet away.

Apple-picking, pumpkin patch visits and corn mazes are fall traditions at many businesses.

In Hendersonville, N.C., 25 miles south of Asheville, the annual North Carolina Apple Festival celebrates the area’s fruit growers and has, in recent years, drawn some 250,000 attendees to town. This year, the September event was largely canceled, but area orchards remain busy.

“Down are the tour bus groups and church groups, but we’re getting a lot more families,” said Leslie Lancaster, an owner of Grandad’s Apples N’ Such, a 120-acre farm in Hendersonville that offers apple picking (pecks from $11) and has a store and bakery. “Everyone is trying to find something to do with their kids.”

The orchard, one of 20 on the regional Crest of the Blue Ridge Orchard Trail, isn’t taking reservations, but is monitoring the number of visitors to ensure social distancing, and recommending its slower hours, early in the morning or late in the afternoon, to avoid congestion. It runs a tractor-pulled train on the weekends, but has kept the jump pillow, where children may collide, closed this year.

“A lot of farms have gone to timed entries or tickets for a certain time frame to encourage crowd management,” said Suzi Spahr, the executive director of the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association, a nonprofit trade group.

Admissions policies may vary by state or by county. In South Natick, Mass., Lookout Farm is requiring reservations for apple picking, and has shut down its train ride and play area (admission $20, including a half-peck of fruit). Pickers must wear masks, wash their hands before entering the orchard, use bags supplied by the farm and refrain from eating fruit in the orchard.

At Dr. Davies Farm in Congers, N.Y., about 30 miles north of New York City, reservations are strongly suggested for 30-minute windows, and visitors must buy a seven-pound bag each or a 25-pound bag for a group of up to six people (prices vary).

Carter Mountain Orchard, in Charlottesville, Va., has implemented a ticket reservation system — guests can choose from three time slots per day. “We absolutely cannot accommodate the same number of people this year that we have in previous years,” said Cynthia Chiles, the owner of the orchard. Visitors can also drive through the 200-acre orchard and purchase ready-picked apples from their cars. Tickets aren’t needed, but ordering in advance is recommended.

The alterations are similar at you-pick pumpkin patches. Though it does not take reservations, Hank’s Pumpkintown in Water Mill, N.Y., in the Hamptons, has added hand-washing stations and hand-sanitizer dispensers across the grounds that include areas for apple picking and a corn maze (admission to attractions from $10; free admission to the pumpkin patch; pumpkins sold by the pound).

At Whitcomb’s Land of Pumpkins and Corn Maze in Williston, Vt., opening Sept. 19, the spacing between pumpkin rows, like its corn maze aisles, are wider and hand sanitizer is provided upon entrance (corn maze admission, $5).

Many corn mazes this year will have wider paths, and additional passing lanes where maze-goers can distance themselves from others at points where they must decide which way to go; some are reducing the number of those decisions or eliminating dead-end options, according to Brett Herbst, the owner of The MAiZE, a company based in Spanish Fork, Utah, that works with more than 280 farms in North America and Europe in designing and building corn mazes.

“These are about three to four times the size of a Home Depot or Walmart,” Mr. Herbst said, noting mazes run 300,000 to 600,000 square feet. “I don’t know of a business that can social distance better than we can given that we’re outdoors and have such a large footprint.”

Mr. Herbst also operates Cornbelly’s, a corn maze in Lehi, Utah, that has partnered with Disney to theme its 2020 maze after the movie “Toy Story” (admission from $13.95). Both the maze, opening Sept. 25, and the film turn 25 this year.

To comply with pandemic-imposed capacity restrictions, most mazes require timed and ticketed admission this season. Near Fredericksburg, Va., Belvedere Plantation is selling timed tickets to its maze to keep within the state capacity limit of 1,000 people, and has made everything cashless except the animal feed dispensers that still take quarters (admission from $13.95). Its 34 campfire sites are available by reservation for four-hour windows ($75), though most attractions, including a pumpkin patch and hayride, are included with admission.

Many farms that held fall festivals had to cancel or reduce them, often spreading more low-key celebrations out.

Lawrence Orchards in Marion, Ohio, canceled its annual Applefest and replaced it with Harvest Saturdays throughout September and October with events including pumpkin painting and scavenger hunts (free admission).

Fishkill Farms, in East Fishkill, N.Y., has also scrapped its fall harvest festival weekends, which feature live music and face painting. But one celebratory touch remains in the form of a fiddler who roams the fields serenading customers.

“That was a way that we could maintain a little bit of a festival atmosphere, without creating a crowded congregation area around live music,” said Joshua Morgenthau, the owner of the farm.

At Happy Day Farm, in Manalapan, N.J., the annual Fall Festival will take place on select days through Oct. 25, but at half capacity and without activities involving contact, including children’s pony rides and photos with the Pumpkin Princess (admission $16). The corn maze route is a little wider and the new hay wagons are 32 feet compared to the 20-footers used in previous years. Each activity features hand-sanitizing stations and signage on social distancing.

“We’ve never had to wipe down a tether ball before, but this year, we will,” said Tim Stockel, the owner of the 130-acre farm.

In many cases, restrictions have led to new activities.

“These entrepreneurs have very creative minds,” Ms. Spahr, of the farmers’ association, said, noting that many farms have added drive-through lanes to pick up things like flowers and doughnuts.

Among them, Leaman’s Green Applebarn in Freeland, Mich., offered drive-through cider sundaes in spring and a socially distant sunflower festival in summer. This fall, the you-pick farm is requiring timed tickets ($4 to $6) to limit the number of people on the 85-acre farm to no more than 150. Visitors are asked to sanitize their hands before and after activities and when each two-and-a-half-hour session ends, the proprietors will close for an hour to clean the playground, hayride and picnic tables.

“We want to provide a place to feel safe and still create family memories,” said Sara Reisinger, a manager of Leaman’s and a sixth-generation member of the family that runs the farm.

Fall is also high season for harvest visits to wine regions, and wineries are adapting to pandemic rules.

Instead of canceling harvest events entirely, members of the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail near Traverse City, Mich., created a disbursed event called Harvest Days that runs throughout September. Ticketholders taking self-guided tours have access to tastings and other perks at 26 wineries ($35).

In Starlight, Ind., Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards offers 30-minute walking tours and tastings in its winery and distillery on weekdays from Sept. 19 through Oct. 31, with limited capacity ($16.05). Visitors must remain six feet apart, and face masks are required for indoor tours and tastings. This season, the 600-acre estate also offers outdoor tastings of its wine and spirits on weekends. Tickets can be purchased on-site and include a fall harvest-themed glass.

In the Finger Lakes region of New York, home to about 140 wineries, indoor operations are limited to half capacity — at Fox Run Vineyards, tastings are indoors and first-come, first-served (flights $10), but most are entertaining visitors outdoors. Sheldrake Point Winery is offering flights, glasses and bottle service on the patio and allowing guests to bring their own picnic. The winery takes reservations online and asks same-day visitors without one to call for availability.

“We started with all reservations, but in so many cases we found people enjoying the views and missing their next appointment,” said Laury Ellen Ward, the president of the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association. “We encourage everyone to call, even if it’s 10 minutes ahead.”

Fall festivities that involve zombie chases, lunging clowns and stalkings by bloodthirsty psychopaths are having a harder time adapting to virus constraints.

“We thrived on big lines in front of the haunt that drew people in,” said J.F. Storm, a co-host of the podcast Big Scary Show that covers haunted attractions, often called haunts. “The best actor would entertain guests and build up suspense. That can’t happen this year.” When it comes to personal protective equipment, he added, “masks and face shields are becoming part of the character.”

Capacity limits, social-distancing measures and sanitation requirements are forcing many seasonal haunts to cancel this year, according to Larry Kirchner, who runs the website, which lists scary attractions worldwide. He also owns two haunted houses in the St. Louis, Mo., area, the Darkness and Creepyworld, that will open Oct. 2 with adjustments like nightly sanitizing, confining actors to scare zones and pinning back curtains that once guests reached through blindly to enter a room.

Some of the biggest pop-up Halloween horrors, including Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights at theme parks in Florida and California, have been canceled. “Terror Behind the Walls,” the seasonal fright at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, has been replaced with night tours, from Sept. 18 to Nov. 15, that aim for a quieter sense of creepy.

“There was no way to run a traditional haunted house safely when so much of the excitement of a haunted attraction is the surprise of being closer to someone than you realize, that startled scare,” said Sean Kelley, the senior vice president and director of interpretation at the 10-acre former prison, which opened in 1829.

With just 50 visitors per half-hour permitted, night tours, when floodlights sweep the grounds and a silent 1929 film made at the prison flickers in a cellblock courtyard, remain eerie.

Many attractions are emphasizing safety via mobility. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, featuring more than 7,000 lighted pumpkins on the 18th-century Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., Sept. 18 to Nov. 21, has reduced capacity by 67 percent with signs, distance markers and Social Distancing Ambassadors to keep visitors progressing safely on the walking path. Timed tickets will be sold online only (from $24).

Some attractions are going to a drive-through model, including Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses in Ulster Park, N.Y. Running Oct. 2 to 31, the popular 65-acre attraction in the Hudson Valley will replace its hayride with a one-mile drive through the haunted grounds decorated with 1,000 carved and lighted pumpkins. Costumed actors will maintain six-foot social distancing and cars are also required to stay six feet apart (tickets from $39.95).

“It’ll be a visual experience until you get out of the car,” said the co-owner Michael Jubie, noting that after the drive visitors can park and walk through seven haunted houses with some safety modifications.

In Orlando, a group of artists with extensive resumes at Disney World and other theme parks, got together to create the Haunted Road, a 40-minute drive-through event in which groups of cars travel from scene to scene to watch a live-action play with original music and sound and lighting effects that recasts the story of Rapunzel set loose in a terrifying world (Sept. 25 to Nov. 7; $15 to $30). The script was inspired by the restlessness the collaborators experienced during the pandemic.

“When we started thinking about story lines with cabin fever, we selected Rapunzel,” said Jessica Mariko, the executive producer and creative principal of the Haunted Road. “She’s in a tower and when she finally gets out, she enters a world unlike she’s imagined it to be, running into crazy scenarios, characters, horror and death.”

For terror-phobes, there’s also a family-friendly daytime version.

Sara Aridi contributed reporting to this article.

By: Elaine Glusac
Title: Fall’s Here. Can We Still Go Apple Picking?
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Published Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2020 14:37:34 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? 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.
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Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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