Travelers face all kinds of nuisances at motels. Loud televisions, unsanitary room conditions and unexpected room charges all rank as typical inconveniences. But getting threatened with a four-foot long python typically isn’t a problem for guests – at least until now.
According to a BBC news report, a South Carolina man was threatened with a snake by another motel guest after a heated argument. Jeffrey Culp, the alleged victim, complained to his motel neighbor Tony Smith about loud music coming from his room. In retaliation Smith tracked down Culp, tapped him on the shoulder and thrust a four-foot long pet snake in his face, apparently leaving small scratches across the man’s lip. Mr. Culp, who told Smith he was deathly afraid of snakes earlier in the evening, was shaken up by the incident.
Mr. Smith, the snake aggressor, was arrested by police and charged with assault and battery. Future snake trouble-makers should take note: there’s a lesson to be learned. The next time you’re at a motel and wave your snake in someone’s face, don’t expect to get away with it.
Our country’s national parks and forests are intended as sanctuaries, zones of peace and quiet where visitors can get away from the give and take of modern life. But don’t expect to have it all to yourself: these days you might be joined by hidden cameras, placed by the U.S. Forest Service. Don’t break out the tinfoil hat just yet; this “conspiracy theory” may have some truth to it. According to a South Carolina newspaper, the agency has been placing hidden cameras in forest areas for some time.
Visitor Herman Jacob was camping and looking for firewood in South Carolina’s Francis Marion National Forest last month when he stumbled across a wire. The wire took him to a video camera and a remote antenna sitting in the middle of the woods. Perplexed, Jacob took the camera home with him and contacted the local police, who explained it had been set up to monitor “illicit activities” and demanded its return. Further investigation by the Island Packet, the newspaper that researched the story, confirmed that the Forest Service has used the cameras as a tool of law enforcement for “numerous years.” A Forest Service spokesperson quoted in the article indicated that images taken of those not targeted by an investigation are not kept.
In light of the fact drug cartels have been growing marijuana on federal land for some time, this type of surveillance makes more sense. And, legally, the cameras are on public land – surveillance is permissible. But is a policy that allows this type of monitoring, particularly in a quiet forest, a violation of our trust? Or is it a necessary evil, preventing misuse of public land? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.
The new Intimidator 305 roller coaster has opened at Kings Dominion theme park in Richmond, VA. The coaster, named in honor of the late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, has ride cars that look like Earnhardt’s famous black Chevy. Earnhardt’s daughter Taylor visited the park last week to open the ride.
The Intimidator 305 screams along at 92 miles per hour, thanks to a 300-foot drop at the start.
Kings Dominion says that makes it part of a new class of giga-coasters – “complete-circuit coasters with a height of 300 feet or taller.” You can now check “add a word to my vocabulary” off today’s to-do list. You’re welcome.
Universal requires 4-night stay for Harry Potter packages (Orlando, FL, USA)
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens June 18, and if you want to book Universal Orlando Resort’s vacation package to go see the wizard, you will be staying in Orlando until at least June 22.
Universal tells the Orlando Sentinel that the package was designed as a 4-night experience when it was introduced in February, but the minimum stay requirement was just set this week.
The Orlando vacation packages include a hotel stay, Universal Orlando tickets, breakfast at the new Three Broomsticks restaurant and early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.Coney Island Cyclone opens for 83rd season (New York City, NY, USA)
The landmark Cyclone roller coaster has re-opened for its 83rd season on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.
It costs $8 to ride the combination wooden and steel structure that cost $175,000 to build in 1927. Although the thrill ride is on the National Register of Historic Places, it is still listed among coaster enthusiasts as one of the best current roller coasters in the country – both for its great views of the Manahattan skyline and its 60 mph hairpin turns.
Nearby, the new Luna Park is set to open its 19 rides on the Coney Island shore on May 29.
Great Wolf Lodge tries for water-slide world record (USA)
3,651 miles. That’s the distance that bathing-suit clad visitors slid at 11 Great Wolf Lodge indoor water parks last weekend, in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record.
The Great Wolf Lodges each kept one water slide open for 24 hours and asked sliders to donate to the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. The charity event/publicity stunt resulted in 47,660 trips down the designated water slides.
Guinness is still verifying the information before making the world record – which will be in the category longest distance water sliding in 24 hours in multiple venues – official. Oddly enough, there’s no previous record-holder for this very specific, new category in the company’s record books.
SeaWorld’s Aquatic water park opens new water slide (Orlando, FL, USA)
Orlando water park Aquatica has opened its new slide, the Omaka Rocka. The tube slide deposits riders in funnels designed to mimic the sensation that skateboarders feel in the half-pipe.
This is the third year for Aquatica, SeaWorld’s venture into the water park scene. Omaka Rocka is the first addition to the park since it opened.
Future questioned at Freestyle Music Park (Myrtle Beach, SC, USA)
The troubled Freestyle Music Park is facing foreclosure. The Myrtle Beach, S.C., park – which opened as Hard Rock Park in 2008 then underwent a brand change for the 2009 season – missed a debt payment deadline last week.
The Sun News reports that the theme park’s owners have not been able to find new investors and are facing bankruptcy or foreclosure. Owners are saying it is “unlikely” that the park will open for the 2010 season.
Six Flags releases iPhone app (USA)
The Six Flags Fun Finder, a free app, is now available in the App Store. Beyond the usual park maps and event listings, that app integrates with Facebook to help you find the exact location of your friends within any Six Flags theme park. The app is free.
Of course, it’s going to be tough to tell how many people actually sink money into the state until 2011. We still don’t even know how much the recesion cost South Carolina in 2009, as the $18.4 billion result is for the year before. The 2009 data won’t be around for another year, so we probably won’t know about a 2010 recovery until 2012.
According to Chad Prosser Director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, golf is the key to South Carolina tourism, explaining to The Associated Press, “You see it very profoundly in the golf market. When they can’t golf up north it does increase our numbers.”
Everybody loves to publish lists, but few have so much data as OpenTable upon which to draw. So, when that site puts out a list of top spots, it’s definitely worth a look. The latest, “Fit for Foodies,” is the result of 3 million restaurant reviews, which ultimately led to 50 restaurants that are definitely worth your time. Upon quick inspection, I haven’t been to any of them (which probably makes the list even more legit — my palate is disappointingly simple).
What’s pleasantly surprising is that there don’t appear to be many clichés. Rather than go with critic favorites, this list runs down what eaters dig, so if you find yourself in one of the 13 states represented, ditch the guidebook and take a stab at what turns the locals on.