A Colonial Birthday

TRAVEL SMARTS

A revolutionary restoration began 75 years ago in Williamsburg, Va.

March 04, 2001

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is throwing a yearlong birthday party to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Beginning March 19, the 173-acre living-history museum will focus its programs on the events of 1774 -- when revolution was in the air and Colonists were itching for independence.

New this year will be seasonally changing events that highlight 1774 and the impact they had on the coming revolution. This spring, for example, visitors will learn how the House of Burgesses promoted a fasting day to support Bostonians after the Boston Tea Party. A summer program will focus on the First Virginia Convention and the election of delegates to the First Continental Congress.

When Williamsburg's restoration was begun in 1926, it was the largest project of its kind ever undertaken in the United States. Today, the town has more than 500 historic buildings and draws some 3 million visitors a year.

For more information about Williamsburg, call 800-447-8679 or go online to www.colonialwilliamsburg.org.

Elegant accommodations for the wheelchair-bound

After the success of its Lighthouse Suite, a luxury room introduced in 1998 for the visually impaired, New York's Hotel Delmonico has announced the opening of a Wheelchair Suite with the emphasis on an open, barrier-free layout. The idea is to make elegant accommodations available to everyone, with or without disabilities.

The suite, set to open this month, includes a folding partition between the bedroom and living room to give the option of privacy or an open, loft-like space; a wheel-in shower in the extra-large bathroom; remote controls for window treatments and other electrical devices; lowered counter tops and kitchen cabinets; large doorways; and a fully equipped computer workstation. Prices range from $225 to $305 a night.

The Lighthouse Suite has black and white decor with red accents for high visual contrast; large dial telephones with a sound system to indicate messages; a tactile thermostat; a large-numerical / Braille clock-CD player; large-print books; and matte surfaces on all furniture to decrease glare. Prices run from $180 to $305.

For more information, call the hotel at 800-821-3842.

ACK! WHERE'S A REST STOP?

There's nothing worse than being on the road, polishing off a 20-ounce cup o' joe and then passing a rest stop that doesn't show the number of miles to the next stop. You know it's going to become a concern sometime soon, but you don't want to get off at an exit and waste 20 minutes driving around in search of facilities. What to do?

Pull out your handy copy of "Rest Areas & Welcome Centers" (Roundabout; $7.95), and chill out. The guide lists all service areas along U.S. interstates by their mile markers, amenities and direction of travel. And, in case you've forgotten to pack any essentials, the book also offers the locations of Wal-Marts, Kmarts, Sam's Clubs and Targets for good measure. Other information includes rest-stop rules (by state) and telephone numbers for weather conditions, police and tourism authorities.

Conquering fear of flying

If "up, up and no way" is a personal mantra of yours, you might want to check out the Fly With Confidence classes at BWI kicking off next Saturday. The two-day clinic, led by a licensed therapist and an airline pilot, tackles fear of flying (aviophobia) with a two-step approach: education and behavior modification.

By explaining how an airplane works, what happens when a plane encounters turbulence and what kind of training airline staff members receive, the course hopes to dispel any myths would-be passengers may harbor about flying. Then a therapist teaches exercises and other techniques to manage or reduce stress.

The classes, which cost $345 or $495 depending upon whether you want the graduation flight included, run March 10 and March 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call 412-487-3163 or go to www. fearofflyingclasses.com.

-- Tricia Bishop

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