California Travel – From Santa Barbara to Monterey by Car

Northern Santa Barbara County, and the California coast beyond, offer tourist attractions worth spending a few days enjoying. There are a number of natural wonders and great tourist stops to be seen driving north from Santa Barbara. This trip is suitable for both couples and families.

Take the San Marcos Pass road as you leave the city of Santa Barbara. This is a breathtaking mountain drive that heads up the side of La Cumbra Peak on Highway 154. Along the way to the highest part of the highway, there are many scenic turnouts for a panoramic view of Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands National Park and the many miles of coastline.

Once over the pass, you’ll drive by Cachuma Lake. This is a state recreation resource for camping and fishing.

Santa Ynez, for which this valley and region are named, is an old California mission town. Here you will find a number of fine art galleries and the county’s fine wineries. Notable celebrity homes here include President Reagan’s ranch and the Neverland retreat of entertainer Michael Jackson.

The quaint community of Solvang is just a few miles west of Santa Ynez on Hwy. 246, just west of Hwy. 101. It is a remarkable replication of an old Danish village, complete with a giant windmill. The town boasts some of the best Danish bakeries and buffet smorgasbords in the country. Spend a few hours here for lunch, and to visit the Scandinavian craft and souvenir shops. You’ll forget, for just a while, that you’re in the heart of Southern California horse and wine country.

The beautiful state beach parks just a few miles north of the city are yet another group of attractions. Leaving town, travel north along the coast on Highway 101. The road today retraces the historic El Camino Real, or King’s Highway. Check out El Capitan, Refugio or Gaviota state beach parks. They offer fishing, camping, and picnic sites on remarkable beaches.

Santa Maria is the next town up the highway. Santa Maria Tri-Tip barbecue is a local tradition. It’s not like anything you’ll find in Texas or other barbecue meccas. This is rubbed and marinated barbecued sirloin roast. It’s sliced thin, and is usually served rare. Typically it is eaten with corn tortillas or on a sandwich bun, and along with Santa Maria’s slow-baked Poquito beans. It’s well worth the stop to try.

Less than half an hour north of Santa Maria is the picturesque seaside town of Pismo Beach. Most of the motels and restaurants are on the ocean side of the highway, set on the cliffs overlooking a view of miles of coastline. Pismo Beach claims to be the world’s clam capital, owing to the unusually large, tasty and abundant Pismo clam. Several versions of clam recipes are available in a number of the local restaurants.

The nearby Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. It is a 1,500 acre sand dune state park for ATV and 4-wheel vehicles. There are camping and RV facilities available. This is one of the few places in California where driving on the beach is permitted. Bringing folding beach chairs is a good idea.

Continuing north from Pismo Beach, you can drive up the tiny coast road to the town of Morro Bay. It’s a town with a distinctive New England coastal flavor. This is where the Pacific Coast Highway becomes part of the National Scenic Byways Program. Enjoy the road stretch from Morro Bay on the south, along the Big Sur coastline, up to Monterey at the north. Without exaggeration, this is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking roads anywhere in the world.

Exploring the central California coast is a great and affordable journey. There’s no need to forgo travel plans because of today’s high cost of living.

Traveling Single Doesn't Mean You Are Alone

If you have never been traveling alone, you may believe that it is boring. Not at all. Here are some of my tips and experiences for traveling alone. First of all though I would want you to consider why someone would be traveling single.

The benefits of traveling alone

I have traveled all over the world from a couple of days to months in a row. I have traveled with others and I have been traveling single. I love both, and don’t mind having a travel companion at all. It’s fun. However, there are several benefits of traveling single:

1. When you are traveling alone you don’t depend on someone else availability. If you go on a vacation for a week you will probably find one of your friends willing to join and being able to take off. But what if you want to trek through Asia or South America for three months, or even a year. How many people do you know that have the money and the time to do that? I don’t and since I don’t want to depend on that I’m traveling single. If friends want to join for part of the trip, they are more than welcome of course.

2. Traveling single is the ultimate self-indulgent. You can go wherever you want and can decide on your own whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it without having to bother about someone else. Sounds selfish? It is, but so be it.

3. You meet more people when you are traveling alone. How is that? Well, it’s easy and very comfortable to just stick to your friend and hang out with him or her. There is no real need to meet other people since you already have your buddy. When you are traveling single you better start talking to other people though. Also, other people that are traveling single are less likely to walk up to pair or groups since they are more closed-off. Don’t believe me? Try it in your local bar.

Isn’t traveling alone boring?

Traveling alone doesn’t mean that you are alone. Read the third benefit above again: You meet more people when you are traveling single. As a matter of fact in all those years that I have been traveling single, I had a travel companion almost all the time. How did that work? Simple: Take my trip from Western Europe to India over land. I started of traveling alone, but in Russia I traveled for a week with some Russian people I met, then in Siberia and Mongolia I traveled for a month with some Swedish guys who I had met on the train. In Tibet I traveled with a Canadian girl and a Dutch guy, in Nepal I traveled with an American girl for two weeks and ran into some people I met in Tibet again.

Is traveling alone boring? Not at all! And the good thing is, even though those people became my friends, I didn’t have to travel with them anymore if I didn’t want to. I could just go left when they turned right: benefit number 2: traveling single is the ultimate self-indulgent.

Tips for traveling alone:

1. Stay in hostels
2. Try couchsurfing
3. Go out to bars/clubs
4. Get off the beaten path to meet locals
5. Most important: be open minded. This applies to traveling single as well as with others of course

Things to Know About Party Bus Rental

Do you want to rent a party bus but you simply do not know where to start? Do not worry as I am here to help. Indeed there is nothing like a bus rental in order to help maintain the party mood when changing clubs or between dinners. There are various things that you will need to know when it comes to party bus rental and I hope that my article will be able to help.

First of all you should consider choosing a company that is legitimate and that will provide you a good service. Nowadays there are many companies that may charge some really affordable prices but only to give you a crap service. It is important that you keep this into account when looking for party bus rental. A lot of people simply underestimate that and ends up taking a bus with some inadequate equipment and also some unprofessional drivers.

You should also make sure that the party bus you choose is correctly insured in case of accidents. Here again choosing a reputed company should prevent you from having such problem. It is recommended that the insured amount be $1.5 million per vehicle in order to provide enough cover. Do not hesitate to ask question to the staff when you go to rent the bus. Some companies may even list all these information on their website and you should probably visit it in order to learn more on this.

It should also be quite helpful for you to pay a visit to the company before actually booking the party bus. This will allow you to have an idea about the amenities that you can expect from the bus. You should also seize the opportunity to ask the staff more information on the bus. For instance it will be interesting for you to find out what is included in the price. Also be sure to ask about pick-up time and the location.

If you want to save some money on your bus rental it might be a good idea for you to book early. Usually there is a form of early bird discount that is given to those that booked early and this should entitle you to have a discount. Also during the peak season there may be a shortage of buses and you will be in a better position if you book your party bus quite early.

Info 101 – School Bus Safety and Stopping Laws

While School Bus Safety Week is only observed during the third week of October-its message reverberates throughout the year. After all, some 25 million children ride school buses every day.

And, although school buses are said to be the safest form of highway transportation, accidents continue to happen. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seven school-age children are killed in school bus crashes every year-and 19 are killed getting on and off their school buses.

First and foremost, then, remind your child to avoid what’s called the Danger Zones-a ten foot area around the front, back, and both sides of the bus. The driver can’t see a child crossing too close to the front of the bus, and walking along the sides or back risks being hit by other motorists, as well.

Then take it further, reiterating how to get on the bus, behave while on board, and finally how to exit.

Kids should line up and board one at a time, and, once inside, quickly take a seat–and remain seated throughout the ride. To avoid distracting the driver, voices should be kept low. Should your child have a question, she should wait until the bus comes to a stop, then raise her hand, and call out the driver’s name to get her/his attention. Meanwhile, backpacks and such should be kept out of the aisle. And remember: rowdy behavior is never tolerated and is usually met by a loss of bus riding privileges.

When alighting from the bus, children should take their time and continually check in all directions for oncoming vehicles, making sure they can see and be seen by the driver. Once the driver signals that it’s clear to cross, kids should do so, steering clear of the bus’s Danger Zones.

Meanwhile, the school bus stopping laws differ somewhat from state to state. In Pennsylvania, motorists must . . .

1. STOP when meeting or overtaking a school bus whose red signal lights are flashing and stop arm is extended.

2. STOP when approaching an intersection where a school bus’s red signal lights are flashing and stop arm is extended.

3. STOP when traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus if there is only a ridged or grooved divider between the lanes.

4. Do NOT STOP when traveling in the opposite direction if there is a clearly indicated divider between lanes, such as trees, grass, etc.

5. STOP at least ten feet away from the bus and wait until both the lights stop flashing, the stop arm is retracted, and all children have moved to safety before traveling on.

Be forewarned: every year, about 1,000 Pennsylvania motorists fail to obey these bus stopping laws and receive a 60-day license suspension, five points on their driving records, plus a $250 fine.

So, for safety’s sake, be patient, obey the law, and heed the theme of this year’s School Bus Safety Week: “Avoid harm; obey the arm.”

How To Produce Taxi Driver Accounts Plus Tax Returns In Less Than 2 Hours

Since the majority of taxi drivers, but certainly not all, have little accounting or bookkeeping knowledge the lower the level of expertise required the more suitable such an accounts package will be. Data entry basically consists of just 3 records, being an excel spreadsheet for taxi receipts; another for taxi expenses plus a further worksheet in which assets such as a vehicle can be recorded.

Taxi receipts are entered on a series of excel worksheets within the taxi income work book preset with each day of the financial year. Weekly and monthly totals are added and transferred through the linking system from the taxi bookkeeping sheets to the taxi financial accounts sheet.

Taxi expenses are listed on a series of twelve monthly spreadsheets which have preset columns with appropriate headings for taxi drivers to record office and rental costs, fuel bills, other vehicle costs and license fees. The total of each expense is entered on each row and a single letter used to then analyze the taxi expense to the column required. As with the taxi income sheet the columns are then automatically added which includes a check on data entry accuracy before being transferred to the taxi driver accounts sheet.

Cash and bank spreadsheets are not provided as not required by taxi drivers as taxi drivers do not need to produce a balance sheet.

In addition to entering purchases on the taxi expense sheet the only other entries required from the taxi driver to produce a set of taxi driver accounts is to also enter vehicle and any other assets purchased on the fixed asset spreadsheet. The fixed asset spreadsheet having already been preset with both depreciation rates and the capital allowances that taxi drivers can claim. The taxi accounts software is then complete.

The financial accounts file contains formulae to produce a monthly profit and loss account that includes the taxi capital allowances from the fixed asset schedule.

A unique feature is that both mileages covered and vehicle running costs can be entered. The tax rules in the UK state that drivers cannot claim both mileage allowances and vehicle running costs. It has to be one or the other and only at the end of the financial year when it becomes clear which is the most tax efficient.

This taxi accounts package compares both the mileage cost and the vehicle running cost and automatically selects the most expensive. This ensures the highest costs are selected into the calculation of the net taxable profits and highest cost equals lowest tax bill.

Also in the taxi accounts file is an excel spreadsheet designed with the same layout, color codes and box numbers as the inland revenue self assessment tax return. The taxi self assessment tax return is completed automatically by the cabsmart taxi accounts software. No entries are required leaving the taxi driver only to click print to produce the self assessment tax return.

Finally having calculated the net taxable profit for the year the accounting package also has a tax calculator that calculates the amount of income tax and national insurance to be paid.

The taxi driver accounts package has been tested many times and the annual receipts and expenses for a full year take approximately 2 to 3 hours to enter, and have been completed in less than 2 hours. The end product is a full set of taxi driver accounts including the self assessment tax return.

Both couriers and van drivers have similar businesses to taxi drivers in that they move items from one place to another in a similar way in which taxi drivers move people from one location to another. And because of the similarity in business activity then this taxi accounting package would be equally suitable for couriers and van drivers.

Explore the Country As a Traveling Nurse

Traveling nurses are registered nurses who travel around the United States filling temporary nursing positions. If you are a nurse and you love to travel, then this may be the right career move for you. Most travel nurses enjoy the experience of traveling, meeting, and working with new coworkers. They hope to gain a well-rounded work experience that will serve them if they decide to settle on working full time at a specific medical facility. Many travel nurses claim that the experience allows them to develop a better understanding of their chosen specialty. Many travel nurses also claim that their unique work experiences have helped introduce them to better patient focused nursing.

Travel nurses are registered nurses, usually hired by travel nurse companies, who take temporary positions in a variety of settings in order to fill a shortage. Generally, they will work in the hospital setting, where shortages of nursing personnel are rampant.

Travel nurses also have the option of traveling to other countries experiencing shortages and may even become independent contractors. As an independent contractor, though, you must find your own housing, negotiate for pay, and pay your own insurance to name just a few things that you will be required to negotiate for on your own. But for our purposes, we will speak generally of travel nurses hired by travel nursing companies.

Hospitals hire nursing personnel, as well as other health care professionals, for a number of reasons. The major reason for hiring temporary help is to fill a gap in the numbers of nurses required. With such a shortage of qualified nurses today, many areas of the country are experiencing the deficit. Travel nurses bring a variety of knowledge and experience and are able to seamlessly fill these vacant positions.

Other areas of the country experience large population fluctuations which are more seasonal in nature. In some areas, the population can double due to these changes. For example, Florida experiences huge population shifts during the winter as snowbirds flock to warmer climates. Other areas have become huge tourist towns and require more professional help for the seasonal changes related to tourism.

Travel nurses are needed in both kinds of situations to fill a void in healthcare left by the fewer numbers of nurses.

Another reason where a nurse may find temporary employment while traveling is the opening of a new medical facility. Rather than hiring all new nurses, these new organizations benefit from the great experience of travel nurses. Newer staff members also gain from working with more experienced members of the nursing field.

Other areas of work in which a travel nurse may find temporary employment include: acute care facilities, outpatient surgery centers, assisted living or nursing homes, or working with children in schools or camps. Still other positions may include: physicians offices, correctional facilities, clinics or laboratories. Most places require at least one year of experience in the hospital setting.

Travel nurses generally enjoy a more lucrative salary than they would receive if they worked in a single location. The salary the travel nurse earns is generally based on the location where they are working. Typically a travel nurse will not earn as much working in a hospital in a rural community as they will earn working at a larger inner-city hospital. Some nurses prefer travel nursing to nursing in a single medical facility because they enjoy the opportunity to see the world and other cultures. Working in a constantly changing location challenges a travel nurses knowledge and talents. The skills that the travel nurse develops on their journeys are skills that they will be able to utilize should they settle on a home base.

Although most travel nursing jobs average 13 to 26 weeks, some can be as short as four weeks or as long as 52 weeks. Maybe you are looking to live in another state and want to be able to experience particular areas and the employment opportunities available in those areas. Travel nursing makes this possible while continuing to earn a living.

Travel nurses, generally, will be employed through a travel nurse agency. The agency is responsible for filling positions and medical facilities with qualified and interested candidates. These agencies usually have had a long relationship with hospitals, medical facilities, and medical professionals in certain parts of the country, sometimes, countrywide at larger agencies. A recruiter at the agency will assist the nurse with obtaining the proper state license or hospital requirements. You will have a contract drawn up by the agency, with the hospital, for salary, length of assignment, and hours worked. The travel nurse agency generally pays for travel expenses and will also have made living arrangements for you in your area of choice. If there are any professional criteria that must be met, your agency and recruiter will assist you with that as well.

There are some things that you need to consider before becoming a travel nurse. These are the things that can make up your mind on whether being a traveling nurse is the right choice for you. The jobs that you accept could take you away from your family for up to a year. Depending on how far away the job is could be another deciding factor. Generally it is best if you do not have pets because it is possible that the housing provided for you will not accept them. You will have to be licensed in every state that you choose to work in. These are things a good traveling nurse agency will help you work out.

If you are looking for a rewarding career that allows you to travel across the United States, then a career as a traveling nurse could be just what you’re looking for. Look for agencies in your home town or on the Internet to help you get started on your journey as a travel nurse. They will help place you in a job that is right for you. Happy nursing.

Taxi 'Recap' – The Short Version; Part 2

“Our focus [is] on taxi operators who intend to exit the industry and…is certainly about ensuring that we do not destroy vehicles that still have value.”

Delays in the program were attributed to owners holding onto their old vehicles until compensation became available, but ongoing indecision about necessary specifications delayed the manufacturing process. Factory floors can never afford to remain idle, in anticipation of final decisions that never seem to be finalized. Production is planned months ahead and one ‘run’ must be completed before another can begin.

The government was called on to subsidies the industry in the same manner as it does urban rail and buses. Mass action was threatened. When this happens, taxis are not the only public transport that comes to an abrupt halt: strikers stone buses and have been accused of deliberately sabotaging rail services. Intimidation tactics work very well on average citizens, who subsequently also lose income because they are too fearful to venture out to work.

“…applications for conversion of permits into operating licenses…for transfers and upgrade, including those applications made during the Be Legal Campaign [have not been processed].”

Permit issues became cause for fury on both sides of the fence. Authorities officiously claimed that operators were delaying, but instances, where processing channels, meant to deliver within three months, were taking “three to five years” were then exposed. Decisive action was demanded by the Minister. But little glitches are part of process when the tendered management allocation is only R250-million.

“many taxi operators…bring to my attention the serious weaknesses that characterize(s) many of the Operating Licensing Boards in the Provinces.”

Applications finally closed in the latter part of 2006, only a year later than originally planned. Operators at last began seriously to calculate the affordability of the new vehicles on offer.

Making the price right

“For us, a strong, safe and vibrant taxi industry remains a vital element in Government’s efforts to bring about significant improvements in our public transport system.”

The initial taxi recap plan to tender manufacture, relied on high numbers keeping the prices low. When that option fell away, government no longer had any control over the pricing and since then, their only task has been to lobby in defense of an often non-creditworthy market.

The total cost of replacing the 100 000 fleet is estimated at R15-billion. Wesbank pledged R3.6-billion to the cause over five years, whilst a memorandum of understanding was signed by ABSA, Nedbank, Asset Finance, Standard Bank, DaimlerChrysler Services and Santaco.

“…affordability will be determined by other important factors such as the level of competition in the market, willingness and ability of the financial institutions to develop differentiated products suitable to the taxi industry.”

The law regarding Road Accident Fund (RAF) payouts has recently changed to limit the benefits that can be obtained by claimants, but the possibility exists for players in the taxi industry to access top-up public- and passenger-liability cover.

Should the industry consider this, it should be said that their contributions could be high and the limits imposed on insured providers could achieve more to regulate the industry, than the government: clauses could include the need to prove regular vehicle maintenance and safety checks, regular driver training, permit restrictions, regular driver health checks, etc.

“The taxi industry should also be in a better position to negotiate better terms from both the financial institutions and manufacturers.”

The other change that might possibly rock the nation would be that all vehicles on hire purchase must legally be insured. In theory, this sounds like a revelation, since few taxis presently are. But don’t hold your breath and do cancel dreams of insurance payouts in cases of taxi crashes! Rumour has it that, with the increase in vehicle purchases, a new phenomenon has already hit the country.

Apparently, our car pounds are filling with crashed vehicles whose private owners cancelled their insurance despite the fact that those vehicles still belong to the banks that financed them. The vehicles are repossessed as soon as they are involved in accidents, neither use to man nor beast. Since the majority of these vehicles were privately purchased, it seems logical that the same tactic may be adopted by the taxi fleet.

“It is the taxi operators, and not Government, who are ultimately responsible for their businesses and for the choice of vehicles, and as such will still make their business decisions.”

Taxi owners reeled under the Taxi Sector Agreement at the end of April 2005, which defines issues such as working hours, unemployment insurance and minimum wages (between R945 to R1 350 a month; hardly exorbitant) for rank cleaners, marshals and taxi drivers, for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, taxi operators immediately sunk their teeth again into the question of receiving government subsidies in line with rail and bus transport. This is surely their due, and the Minister agrees, but that will require of operators, stricter adherence to government regulations – a game two sides can play. Mind you, buses have also got away with ‘murder’ through the years, so perhaps the theory will not match the practice!

“I hope and trust that the taxi industry will organize itself into appropriate business models and take advantage of this economic opportunities.”

One bright idea for financing the taxi sector came from the Sowetan (Taxi industry could go public and flourish, 4/8/2005) with the suggestion that the taxi industry form a co-op with each member’s contribution being his approved vehicle(s) to be valued at a ‘share’ percentage. Should the co-op then go public, shares could be traded to raise the finance to buy the new vehicles.

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at that. Surely it’s not possible to contribute something one doesn’t own into a co-operative that would surely belong only to the banks, have a value attributed to your (which is really mainly their) contribution (when your ownership is only R 50 000 of the total value) and then raise money from independents to buy what you have already contributed although it was never yours to contribute.

Don’t think I’d take a risk on shares like that, but it is possible, I suppose that black economically empowered individuals would back such a deal, doubtless in the interests of economic empowerment, although I would have to add that it would be in their interest to ensure that the money raised from the shares went directly to the finance houses, without passing ‘Go’.

“Municipalities are responsible for the provision of public transport infrastructure and facilities…[often] approved without due cognizance given to public transport requirements.”

Durban and Gauteng are already planning to incorporate the taxi industry into such initiatives as single ticketing strategies: allowing commuters to switch modes of public transport while using the same ticketing system. Not only does this option allow for greater regulation, but many commuters who buy season/monthly tickets, will be able to convert, when their first choice of public transport operators, takes time out to march.

Delivering the vision

One of the difficulties that arises from the three tiers of government is the different perspective that each tier has. National government has the vision, which generally, from the hallowed halls of Pretoria, is pretty benign. Provinces have the difficulty of interpreting the vision for local benefit and often finding that it is not always very pragmatic or ‘do-able’ for local government to achieve.

“…the lack of effective planning frameworks between the three spheres of Government…the absence of planned public transport systems…”

With so many municipalities in financial difficulties and unable to account for their budgets, it is easier to make demands from on high than to deliver the service and pay the bills incurred in so doing. The taxi industry, as an informal sector, has historically and notoriously made up the rules as it went along and municipalities seldom have the ability to maintain the status quo at their pleasure.

For instance: taxis might take over a spare piece of ground at a freeway off-ramp, as a rank, simply because the position is close to an industrial area and therefore convenient to commuters. The local municipality can hardly build a formal rank on a freeway verge, or accommodate any other public transport modes in the same limited area.

“…we see informal taxi ranks mushrooming around major shopping malls, with provision made for parking, but without any consideration for pedestrians and public transport inter-modal facilities for buses and taxis.”

The only suitable land may lie half-a-dozen kilometres away and both taxi drivers and commuters are put out when they find their informal rank is no longer accessible and that their daily journeys must be broken one more time, each way. In the same way, how can taxis be expected to stop at approved stops that are not clearly posted? This is the case in many areas.

The myth of self-regulation

“It does not help when we urge the taxi industry to act in a manner consistent with legislation, when in fact State institutions fail the taxi industry by not upholding requirements of the law.”

The Interim Minibus Taxi Act of 1998 and the National Land Transport Act of 2000 were followed by the Public Transport Bill of 2004, which was set to pass into law at the end of 2005. By September last year, Johannesburg was planning to clamp down on taxis and buses that stopped
illegally on the roads, by constructing dedicated roadside parking bays to allow other road users to pass unhindered.

Since I haven’t visited inland since then, I have no way of telling whether anything has changed, but the habit of taxis to stop as and where they prefer, to the detriment of traffic flow, is one behavior pattern they have in common with Durban buses – a breed that happily comes to an abrupt halt in the centre of two lanes, holding up everything behind it..

“The leadership of the taxi industry must address problems [of] operators [who] pay exorbitant amounts…to use and access what are essentially publicly provided facilities, as well as taxi routes.”

Cape Town reeled under accusations that their May 2005 street battles and shootouts between rival minibus-taxi associations were linked to organized crime and in July of the same year, Metrorail reported that sabotage of the city’s rail system could be traced back to the taxi industry. Durban taxi-related inquiries are common and, if they are not in Johannesburg, it’s not for lack of suspicion.

The Cape Town report found corruption rife in the licensing bodies and a mafia-style industry where hit squads are hired by mature (in age only) drivers to murder rivals. A provincial list of the sixty-two ‘most wanted’ was compiled for investigation (with a view to subsequent prosecution) in an attempt to stop “corruption, extortion, money-laundering and murder in the taxi industry” (Cape Argus 7/9/05).

“there is no taxi operator or association that has the authority to prevent other operators from using these facilities.”

And the only people, surprisingly, who were surprised at these findings, were those who commissioned the investigation! Deregulated, the taxi industry became totally lawless. We all know that. As is said: ‘it doesn’t take a rocket scientist…’. Why on earth would self-regulation ever have been suggested

On a lighter note, the local South African National Taxi Drivers’ Association begged Tshwane’s Metro police for amnesty from their outstanding traffic fines, for its members. Either way, it seems clear that taxi drivers seldom understand the game of socially responsible consequences.

Empowerment tool

“…a comprehensive strategy (that) also seeks to empower the taxi industry and set it on a sustainable path. Our strategy will lay foundation.”

In declaring the taxi industry a “lucrative, black-empowerment tool” (IOL, 22/8/05), the Minister suggested that the industry learn lessons from its dark past for taking advantage of economic opportunities in the future. I, for one, believe the power has been on their side for many years (to the detriment of commuters) and I certainly believe that breaking completely away from the past would be a far better strategy.

In four years, we are promised, three out of every four taxis on South African roads, will be brand new vehicles. For me, that Maths does not add up: in four years, rather, 25% of taxis will be older than four years, another 25% will be four years old, another 25%, two years old and the last 25%, one year old. And then, Dear God, the warranties will start expiring and who will fund ongoing maintenance then?

“We are here to further strengthen and empower an industry that is synonymous and has everything in common with the disadvantaged masses of our people.”

Looking ahead

There is little doubt that, despite how little Mr Joe Average likes competing with minibus taxis for road space, they are virtually all that has kept mainstream South Africa mobile for the last fifty years, plus. Dissolution of the industry would have caused ongoing, total havoc, although its very existence now intermittently causes not much less.

The very thing that ails the industry is what ails the entire country: lawlessness; and God bless anyone attempting to turn that around. I suspect that it’s all a bit like marriage from a woman’s perspective: go into it believing you can change him much and divorce is virtually certain.

“In a nutshell, the taxi industry is doing a pretty job for our country and providing an important service to our commuters.”

At this point, public perception is, that the taxi ‘recap’ process is mostly about lousy drivers taking control of bigger vehicles and cause more devastating accidents, thereby killing greater numbers. The taxi industry doubtless believes it’s being pushed into corners it doesn’t choose to inhabit and it will doubtless retaliate again before acknowledging defeat. Retaliate physically, to the detriment of itself, its customers and their safety, on an ongoing basis, for quite some time.

“I had come here to deliver a message of hope and to assure you that our Government and our movement, the ANC, could not work against the interests of the taxi industry.”

Progress expected by January/ February next year, Mr Editor? Your guess, Sir, is as good as mine, but I’d lay a bet that what hasn’t been achieved in the last twelve years, is unlikely to fall into place in three short months. As with land reform, free housing, free medical treatment, free education, free services, etc., you have to be a real optimist to believe things will ‘be sorted’ overnight.

One week ago (10/11/06) DoT released a press statement about a meeting convened to address grievances submitted last month by the National Taxi Alliance after a strike had left thousands without transport to work. It went so well that a second meeting (two weeks later) was scheduled to “continue with the deliberations” and find “a common ground”.

Trust is an important issue here, and an ongoing PR and information campaign, that targeted the entire industry, might have saved a lot of time, feelings and ‘face’, over the years. Associations, operators, drivers, rank officials all have independent interests in the whole and all deserve equal attention. The message of hope, above, delivered by Minister Radebe more than a year ago, must have worna bit thin, by now.

Place your bets, Gentlemen and Ladies. But I’d hazard a guess that the common ground will not be concealed in Minister Radebe’s stocking this Christmas or in his egg by next Easter!

City View Trolley Tours – Key West Florida

Okay, even a guy who writes about mob guys needs a break once in a while. So me and the wife took a four-day vacation to Key West, Florida for a little R&R before I go back to mob-busting again.

The quandary you face when going to Key West is what to see and how to see it. There are scores of attractions to see and great food to eat at dozens of restaurants. And every hotel, and even the Key West Express boat we took to Key West from Fort Myers, is pushing a Trolley Tour Bus that goes for 29 bucks for maybe an hour, or so, tour of downtown Key West.

So we decided not to decide on anything until we actually took a cab to downtown Key West from our Comfort Inn Hotel. Our cab driver Richie from Brooklyn (who moonlights as an excellent drummer for several Key West bands) dropped us off at stop number 5 on the City View Trolley Tour. We stepped up to the information counter and was greeted by a cheerful young lad named Marty. We asked Marty a few questions, which he answered effortlessly, and then Marty told us about the City View Trolley Tour.

The City View Trolley Tour makes eight stops in all, each stop having its own great tourist must-sees in the area. And get this: you can get off the bus as many times time you want, get on as many times as you want, see the sights, and a bus stops every 15 minutes at all eight stops to pick you up again and continue on the tour. And if you want to take the tour again that day, no problem. Just get on the bus again at any of the eight stops. The City View Trolley Tour costs only $19 a person, and if you come back the following day, it’s only 9 bucks a person.

The best part of the tour is the constant banter and boundless information the cheerful and always humorous bus driver regales you with over the bus loud speakers, as he tools around downtown Key West. It seems that every street on Key West has its own story, and even the cemetery is filled with fun-stuff information. Like the one tombstone that says, “I told you I was sick.” And another tombstone, where a weary wife put on her philandering husband’s tombstone, “At least I know where you’re sleeping tonight.”

In the course of the two days we took riding the City View Trolley Tour, we must have seen everything two or three times, but never told in the same manner, by one of the tour buses dozen or so drivers. Of course tips are permitted, and believe me even a buck or two is greatly appreciated, and much deserved.

In addition, Marty gave us several discount tickets for various attractions, and bars and restaurants, including 2 for 1drink coupons (he gave us four) for the Conch Republic Seafood Company, which has the best sea food this side of heaven.

One place you must see in Key West is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum ($12.50 per person). A nice lady gave us a grand tour of Hemingway’s house, and besides all the great tales of Ernie, you get to see 44 of Hemingway’s six-toed cats, which are all descendants of Hemingway’s original six-toed cats. (Actually, the genes for six toes are present in all the cats, but only about a half of them actually have six toes.)

Other grand tour must-sees are: Harry Truman’s Little White House, West Martello Tower, Southernmost Point (which is actually the Southernmost tip of the United States), all of Duval Street (which is like Key West’s Broadway), Clinton Square Market, Higgs Beach, Pat Croce’s Rum Barrell, Sloppy Joe’s Bar (Sloppy Joe Russell was Hemingway’s best friend in Key West), Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.

So remember this folks, if you plan on visiting Key West for the first time, or maybe you’ve been there before but wanted to see more of the attractions, stop at the City View Trolley Tour. The main office and stop number one is located at 105 Whitehead Street, right across the street from the Clinton Square Customs House. Or see Marty at stop number 5, where you can also buy tour tickets, Stop 5 is located one block from the Southernmost Point near the end of Duval Street (upper Duval Street.

As for me, I’m back home and have my head up the butts of the world’s worst mobsters again. But I’m looking forward to going back to Key West as soon as possible. And of course, I’ll take the City View Trolley Tour again. Maybe twice.

If Key West was good enough for Ernest Hemingway, it’s certainly good enough for little old me.

PS – Did I mention Al Capone visited Key West frequently when he had his winter home in Miami Beach? I wonder where he buried all the bodies.

Vacation Spots – Travel World Wide

According to the research which place is best for the tourism, the name comes with the highest percentage by the visitors is Europe. Travel Europe is one of the best destinations for vacation in the world. There are many reasons to travel Europe and the perception of each individual is different from the other. Europe is the mother of all the states which are present in it including England, France, Italy, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Poland and many more. There are many attraction and activities held for the visitors. Those who feel to have there vacation with full blast can come down and travel Europe. It offers many museum, arts, theater and music with endless cultural activity present here.

People like to visit Europe due to the famous landmarks are located in the hands of Europe including the world famous Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, The Coliseum and lot more which gives a flavor to Europe. Many of the visitors visit here to see their homes which once were made by their forefathers. Lets checkout some best vacation spots which are famous while travel Europe. Belarus is a wonderful place with rich culture and history. The most beautiful site is to see the Mir Castle. In Italy one can see a spectacular view standing at the top of the hill in the Island of Capri. One can walk in the Miniature Holland and experience you as a giant monster crushing the houses and trees, but one cant do this in that place. It is just a project where whole Holland is made in a small version. The best place to travel Europe is in the month between November and March where there is majority of cold and one can enjoy in the best islands and watch the romantic sunset.

Travel Australia is the exotic place and the most popular place for holiday destinations. While exploring this place you can come through various cultures, arts, museums and the best sightseeing monument. In Australia you can find countless vacation spots which can make your vacation more memorable. There are around 16 Australia’s icons which are famous for the landscapes and national park including Red Centre, Great Ocean Road, Kangaroo Island, Kakadu National park, Blue Mountains, Australian Alps and the list goes on. Things to do in this vacation spots features dive in Australia’s depth, whale time watch, and Australian cultural attraction, surfing in the blue water, canoeing and kayaking in Australia. In travel Australia one can do scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming and parasailing in the blue water of Australia. An Australian event is the main and plays a major part in this place. You can participate in the events as per the choice and also have fun and joy in the event. Events held here are of all types including Australia’s international events, uniquely Australian and aboriginal events, sports, food and wine, summer events, cultural, winter, autumn, spring events and Australia’s surf and surf lifesaving events. There are also various transports available to reach here.

Travel America is not a big deal to go for your holiday. It is the most famous and popular place in the world and is best for holiday destinations. In the mind of an every individual they wish to go to America at least once in a life. Today let’s check out what is special in America and why one has to travel America. While your busy exploring in America one can make a list of the best and the top famous vacation spots to be visited. The places to visit in travel America including Santa Fe the best area to ski in the snow, Albuquerque, Miami, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Honolulu and lot more to enjoy in the California beaches and experience the activities in water sports like swimming, scuba diving, rafting and lot more. Don’t forget to watch the spectacular monument in USA is Mount Rushmore, Manhattan Bridge, Las Vegas casinos for gambling and beaches and night clubs to groove.

Travel World Wide With Very Little Cash

Travel world wide without much cash? You must be crazy! Everyone knows that world travel takes a lot of money and that if you don’t have money, you can’t do it.

Wrong! The only thing it takes to travel the world is a passport and the will to travel. Just pick up one foot and put it in front of the other. The hard part is getting away from your attachments to the things that hold you back. If you have to pay a hefty mortgage bill, auto payments, insurance premiums, and credit card bills, chances are that you aren’t going to break free from your job and move out into the world of travel.

So, how do you break free and become a world traveling vagabond? First of all, you have to get rid of all that debt. If your house payments are costing you more than your house is worth, sell it. Get out from under that monstrosity, even if you take a loss. Next, get rid of your hummer and start taking the bus. Get a consolidation loan for all of your debts and then negotiate for a lower interest rate, or just go bankrupt! Why not! The whole world awaits you!

Worried about pulling your kids from school? Why? Public education stinks and your children will get a better education on the road than they will ever get in some under funded, state supported school. Maybe it’s your family that is holding you back. Wife doesn’t want to travel? Dump her, put her at her mother’s, or let her support the household while you are gone. Same goes for husbands. Who needs a stick in the mud?

Finally, the job. Tell your boss that you don’t want to come to the office any more. Tell him you will be more productive from home. Tell him that you need some time to figure things out. Or just quit. The world is waiting and you are dying! It’s time to live! Travel world wide and damn the consequences.