SiteGround Web-Hosting review highlights several reasons why I switched to this platform and the features I love. First and foremost, five years after launching my three blogs, I was fed up with recurring issues that wreaked havoc on my ability to consistently create content.
For example, I encountered constant upselling, malware, slow website speed, and a lack of customer service with my previous host. Moreover, the support team at the other company addressed most of the issues with a pitch about a service they sell that would eliminate the problem. Eight out of 10 times they offered me help to the tune of multiple service tickets for $80-plus.
Without fail, the issues I encountered after automatic WordPress updates often caused downtime that required me to get my web developer to resolve the issue. Similarly, there were many times when I spent hours researching issues in forums. A recent issue with autosaving was one of the most annoying problems I’ve had so far. If my web developer wasn’t available, I looked to my web-host for support and diagnostic help.
Plugins, WordPress, and other non-server issues are rarely covered by hosting tech support. However, security and malware fell under my coverage plan.
Choose the Hosting Plan That Best Suits Your Needs
Now that you have a general idea about why I switched, I’ll tell you about my positive experiences with SiteGround. I chose the GrowBig plan because I have multiple websites and this plan suited my style. SiteGround also offers free professional migration for one website and a free plugin to migrate the content for my other websites. My move was seamless and the team was quick to reply and guide my developers and me along. The best part of the deal is my monthly expenses have significantly decreased with the GrowBig hosting plan. SSL certificates, security, site backups, and hosting are covered under my plan.
Better yet, my websites are reaping the rewards of faster load time and more traffic since the move to SiteGround and anytime I’ve had a question or concern, the support team promptly responded to the ticket. This is the type of service that makes me smile and I look forward to blogging. The SiteGround support team often reply within minutes, depending on their service call volume.
Rejoice and Spread the Word
Immediately after I switched to SiteGround, I knew I had to tell my readers about this awe-inspiring company. As a result, I’m now an affiliate and rejoice the move EVERY DAY. Keep in mind, I only recommend products and services I use and trust. Likewise, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about my experience.
Explore More Articles on joanmatsuitravelwriter.com
Read one of my recent blog posts that features wildlife photography and a compelling narrative about Debashish Dutta’s search for five Royal Bengal Tigers.
Debashish Dutta, a Natural History Photographer, has been featured extensively on mainstream national media like CEO India, Asian Age, DNA, Indian Express Indulge and Fever 104 FM Radio.
Join Debashish here at joanmatsuitravelwriter.com every month as he shares his extraordinary photographs and stories from his travels. Follow his journey as he continues his quest to shine a light on Royal Bengal Tigers and other animals.
A good photograph speaks a thousand words and has the power to awaken the latent love for nature innate in every human being.
The forest was quiet. And it was dusty. Fine red dust formed a thin layer all over my vehicle, equipment bag and face. At almost 50°Celsius, it was incredibly hot, and the sun was beating down the soil mercilessly. The ground in return was reflecting back the heat in equal measure. Years of scanning forests during the peak of summers had taught me many lessons. Hence, I had the upper part of the body well covered by fine white cotton “dupatta” – a sort of Stole ladies use as an accessory in India. The garment exposed just my face to ensure my eyes were ready to catch any movement anywhere around me. That tactic is a key jungle craft developed over time.
When you think the forest is calm and the denizens have retired to cooler areas – caves, thickets, undergrowth, burrows, and watering holes, you might be surprised. If you’re alert, you might catch a sudden movement of an animal. Sipping water supplemented with essential salts helps to avoid dehydration. In the meantime, my driver and I rolled along towards a water hole we knew was frequented by a family of Royal Bengal Tigers. I, too, felt at home even though the forest was a veritable oven.
Such is the hold of nature and wilderness on those who are blessed by its magnanimity. Where else can a soul find such bliss, peace and the company of those who live life so meaningfully?
My eyes scanned the forest for the “Telia Sisters” who were growing up around the Telia lake region of the Mohurli Zone of Tadoba. The area is an extraordinary gift of nature to humans who, regrettably, are hell-bent on destroying every region of solitude on the only planet we call home. The intelligence I had was credible because the folks from the BBC were in the forest as well to film the formative years of the girls. Tracking wild animals, especially the very elusive big cats in the dense forests of India, is a game of patience that’s quite often under trying circumstances. I learnt this from the time I was a kid pouring over every book written by Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson. Those books are timeless classics that are a treasure trove of lessons on animal behaviour and jungle craft. No classroom can teach them.
In my own ways; I have always tried applying them when I am in the jungle. And after 12 years of meandering across forests of India and of late Africa; some degree of jungle tuning has been achieved. Another key lesson being – drive slowly. Thus, the emissions of a series of low growls and scratching sounds did not miss my alert ears. The Mohurli range of Tadoba is dotted with Bamboo forests – thickets of Bamboo interspersed with bits and pieces of open areas. In some of these open patches; the forest department had dug large holes that would be replenished with water regularly to help the jungle dwellers quench their thirst. Such a coping strategy is employed during years with relatively low rainfall.
If you go to Tadoba today; those water holes would not be visible as they were abandoned after heavy rainfall over the last few years. The jungle took charge quickly and covered them up with wild finery. But back in May 2013; the man-made watering holes were an absolute must. Extreme heat and low rainfall meant the jungle’s own stock of water was running dry. Slowing down the vehicle even further; the four eyes at our disposal peered at the Bamboo thicket earnestly. The low growls were at times replaced by snarls and I could gauge that they were not all coming from the same area. It was evident that the family was in the bamboo thickets to my left and lounging around liberally. They had no space constraint and it also seemed probable that the sisters were trying to play around a bit as well.
Knowing this was where we had to stay put; my driver aligned the vehicle along the edge of the forest fire line in a manner that would enable me to get the right shot. It was still morning when unexpectedly, a slight breeze wafted towards us from the Telia lakeside, thereby bringing to our not so capable noses that unique smell of raw meat in the jungle. Shortly, the sound of the crunching of bones followed. My eyes popped out as I now knew that the sisters had a kill inside the Bamboo thicket and all those growls and snarls resulted from the feeding frenzy. Per eyewitnesses; the girls were very much with their mother, Madhuri, at this stage of their lives. That discovery prompted me to assess the animal I guessed was slain to feed such a big family. It was quite possibly the Indian Gaur – also called the Indian Bison, the largest extant bovine native to South and Southeast Asia and listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986. Had we been herbivores; we would have known the presence of a dead animal a long time ago.
We were parallel to the water hole that lay next to the bamboo thicket at a distance of about 30 feet sheltering the Tiger family. A straight line drawn perpendicular to the water hole would have reached us in about 18 feet. This description is intended to give you a mental picture of the distances between the three parties involved – the Tigers, the water hole, and me. It was now a game of waiting and watching. The presence of the Telia Sisters – Sonam, Lara, Geeta, and Mona, along with their mother Madhuri, was likely going by the number of growls and snarls we heard. The question was when and if at all they would step out of the thicket? They were daughters of the legendary and massive Tadoba male Tiger called Wagdoh. Although the time was around 8:30 a.m.; the sun was blazing away and the light already harsh. Those days I was armed with the still very capable Nikon D600 and the ever-reliable and effective Nikkor 200mm-400mm/F4/VRII.
In my assessment and per my experience; Tigers cannot do without a cool pool in peak summers. I was certain they would not resist the inviting water hole that had been replenished sometime earlier in the day. The fresh tire marks of a heavy vehicle were evident. My driver, on the other hand, decided to snooze. He knew this would be a long vigil while I kept peering at the water hole and the thickets surrounding the banks. The magnificence of the Royal Bengal Tiger has held the humankind in its sway since eternity. Deplorably, that fascination has led to the murder of a massive number of this magnificent beast. As a result, today we are grappling with the real danger of losing it forever. As I rested my chin on my DSLR that was sitting snug on a fat and stable bean bag; I wondered what the girls must be doing inside the thicket and why they weren’t stepping out. They led me to believe they had fallen asleep after a hearty meal and might not step out after all. I whispered my concern to my trusted driver who said we could not afford to desert this spot. And how right he was!
His belief reinforced my will to stay put and the experience I was rewarded with will stay etched in my memories forever. The jungle was still. The early morning bird songs were over. There was an eerie calm all around when clear rustling sounds – caused by the movement of heavy bodies – came from the undergrowth directly opposite me. Thickly padded feet were landing on dry leaves and twigs causing them to crackle. The Tigers were on the move. The signs were obvious. And then came the moment – two heads broke through the Bamboo thicket on the left bank of the water hole. And they looked straight at me. The adolescent girls were tentative and curious. Albeit gingerly; one girl headed for the water hole while the other for the other bank and straight into the Bamboo thicket.
Finding a Tiger in the wilderness is difficult and here I was in the company of two! Soon enough more Tigers emerged – from the left and the right. They added up to five. My mouth was a gaping hole! It was a scene like I had never encountered. Five Tigresses in one frame! That I was overwhelmed would be a gross understatement. Each Tigress noticed my presence – the miserable human. No one else was in the vicinity. I was greeted with glares, snarls, and growls but I felt no fear for unlike humans; animals have no malice and mean no harm to us unless we breach their circle of fear which compels them to respond in self – defense.
In time, the ladies settled down for a day out in the pool in big-cat style. What an incredible show nature was putting up for me and I couldn’t have been thankful enough! The girls were free and empowered souls. They were indulging in fun and frolic without a care compelling me to compare their society to ours where women are always concerned about their safety. How ironic! A forest and its dwellers present a perfect example of disciplined and harmonious living. No one crosses the line nature has established. For three hours I watched Madhuri and her daughters enjoy their pool party – a perfect girl’s day out and shot over 2,000 frames capturing their many moods and moments. And they allowed me to enjoy their company as they didn’t take long to notice my complete love and admiration for them. The girls were so playful – splashing and spraying water on each other, gamboling and jumping around under the watchful eye of their mother.
They were too young then to have any inkling that both their home and their ilk were struggling to retain their rightful place on this planet. And there I was with a mind that was convincing me to wonder how long humans would allow such Gardens of Eden to survive! That is a fear I live with every day. Over the last 6 years; Sonam and Lara have grown into dominant Tigresses while not much is known about Geeta and Mona. I am back in Tadoba later this month with tracking Geeta and Mona being a key objective. Come to Tadoba for a tête-à-tête with Royal Bengal Tigers in raw nature. Hope this story provides the inspiration.
Debashish Dutta was also a senior banker with 20 years of core corporate experience across global banks like HSBC, ABN AMRO, Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse and State Street Bank & Trust Company.
Debashish is putting a whole new thrust on conservation and promoting visuals straight from the jungles. Voices combine together to form a movement and that is what Debashish is striving to achieve through his photography and a brand-new conservation project called Return to the Jungles. It is a two-pronged strategy – stir peoples’ hearts with evocative wildlife photographs and then leverage those emotions to motivate people to work for afforestation at individual levels.
Recognized by both BBC Earth and Nikon Asia; Debashish shoots extensively in the jungles of India and Africa. He has multiple exhibitions to his credit and is focusing on awakening and nurturing a love for nature, wilderness, and wildlife amongst school children as he believes that a significant onus of conservation is now on GenNext. His beautiful Natural History Photography portfolios are presented on his website www.fromdawntodusk.in. His premium wood-framed photographs are retailed under the brand name From Dawn to Dusk.
Royal Bengal Tigers are one of the many species of animals Debashish has photographed and you’ll be charmed by his stories and photographs in the coming months.
How My First Trip to the Land of the Rising Sun Changed My Life
Stop by joanmatsuitravelwriter.com every two weeks for a new story in Japan: Memories and Encounters’ series. Learn more about Japan from detailed notes I’ve taken directly from my trip journals and recommendations for the best of Japanese culture, art, food, and traditions.
“Japan: Memories and Encounters: A Journal,” transports readers to the Land of the Rising Sun.
In the coming chapters, I share heartwarming Japanese culture and heritage information based on my experiences during two 31-day trips to Japan. My life has been one positive Japanese cultural immersion after another. Enjoy the behind-the-scenes photos from quaint Japanese villages and other beloved national treasures.
Japan is one of the most picturesque and historically rich countries on Earth. From the downtown shopping areas to the coastal towns, the country breathes heritage with an earthy and metropolitan charm. Beach lovers will also find no shortage of sand and sun.
We celebrated our marriage with a wedding reception in Kyoto in May 1993. While visiting with my husband’s family and nearly 20 temples and shrines, we also located (with my father-in-law’s help) a woman my father knew many years ago. We found her contact information in a small phone book from the late 1940s.
Don’t miss this heartwarming story.
The search and outcome, much like our Japanese wedding reception, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Follow us on our adventures.
Each chapter offers a look back in time and paints a vivid portrait of Japanese culture, then and now. Use the information to plan sightseeing itineraries you can customize to suit your style. If you go, I assure you’ll find spectacular landscapes, romance, fashion, and culture from coast to coast.
From Fabulous Food to Festivals
Japan-talk.com estimates there are more than 200,000 annual festivals (matsuri) held throughout the year. Approximately 190,000 temples and shrines host the celebrations, according to Japan-talk. “Japan: Memories and Encounters: will guide you with recommendations for the most taste-tempting food and must-see happenings throughout the country.
Don’t leave without a tour of temples and shrines.
Spectacular Gardens and Shopping Areas
Similarly, each of the 47 prefectures is home to an array of enchanting shrines and temples, gardens, restaurants, and shops. A Shabu-Shabu and Tofu restaurant served two of my favorite meals.
Travelers find one-of-a-kind handcrafted pottery, art, Japanese paper, and home goods.
Keep a Journal
Overall, my travels inspired me to keep a detailed journal that years later undeniably led me back to journalism. But, equally, as important, I discovered, Chigirie, (Chigiri-e) a traditional Japanese art and have devoted 25 years to learning and mastering the art. Travel also sparked a renewed interest in photography and set the stage for an exciting travel writing career.
In conclusion, join me again in two weeks as I unveil the first chapter, “Kyoto: The Search Begins.”
Joan Mead-Matsui is a five-time award-winning freelance journalist; travel writer and photographer. She covers news and features’ stories that range from unique travel accessories and products to destinations and attractions. Prior to launching her websites, https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com and https://chigirie.com, Joan was a full-time freelance content and features writer for print and digital news sources and magazines.
Altmar, NY – Hilton honors the Tailwater Lodge with the Connie Award, the highest award for customer service.
A Tailwater-Hilton collaboration means guests will find even more services and amenities at the upscale Tailwater Lodge, a popular Altmar, NY, lodge known to fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Consequently, the partnership is a win-win for long-time customers of both hoteliers.
The word lodge often denotes rustic but at the Tailwater, expect Connie Award-Winning unparalleled attention to details and unrivaled customer service.
A fellow angler recently told me, “I’m done with scaled-down fishing lodges. I stay at the Tailwater because I want comfort and great food.”
About the Connie Award
Jenna Hackett – Tapestry Collection by Hilton global head
“The Connie Award is the highest hotel award for all brands across Hilton. The winning hotels are the perfect balance of product and outstanding service scores. There are only a few Connie Awards per brand awarded annually, making it extremely competitive to win,” says Jenna Hackett, Tapestry Collection by Hilton global head. “These hotels embody founder Conrad Hilton’s dream of spreading the light and warmth of hospitality and living his shared values each and every day. This distinguished award is presented to properties who have excelled in customer satisfaction and loyalty based on guest feedback and quality assurance standards.”
Before my arrival at the Tailwater two weeks ago, after four previous visits to the lodge in less than five years, I was curious how the Tailwater-Hilton collaboration affects the lodge’s overall theme. I reached out to Tom Fernandez, Woodbine Group representative, for answers.
Scroll down to read my interview with Tom Fernandez, Woodbine Group representative.
do you describe your company’s relationship with the Hilton?
We are part of the Hilton Tapestry Collection. Tapestry is a Hilton Soft Brand meaning that the hotel maintains it’s ownership, branding, original fit, and finish. We are still owned by the Woodbine Hospitality Group and we continue to be an Orvis Endorsed Lodge.
What’s the significance of the Tapestry Collection and how does the Tailwater fit into that category?
Tapestry is a grouping of hotels that are very similar to independent properties. The focus of the brand is creating a high level of guest experience in nontraditional properties. Tailwater Lodge is a perfect example of the Tapestry collection – adaptive re-use of an elementary school re-purposed into a high-end lodge. We are the epitome of the brand.
How did the relationship evolve?
Tailwater Lodge’s sister property Hotel Skyler was asked to be the first hotel for Hilton’s Tapestry Collection. In conversations, both Hilton and Tailwater believed the brand would be mutually beneficial for Tailwater. So… Tailwater was Hilton’s third Tapestry hotel and we were awarded the Connie Award, the highest award Hilton gives for Customer Service. We have had a wonderful time being part of the Hilton Family and helping to grow the Tapestry Brand.
What Tailwater qualities have you retained and where will your longtime guests notice the changes?
I would say all qualities were retained. The only customer-facing differences are the online booking engine and the ability to be part of Hilton’s Honor Program.
How did your designers incorporate the new addition, spa, and pool design, so it remains consistent with the Tailwater’s lodge-like atmosphere and the antiquity of the original building?
The Third Phase of Tailwater focused on bringing additional amenities and guest rooms. We wanted to make sure that the addition was of the same feeling as the original space but highlighted some new aspects. Guests will find similar finishes, but some different tones throughout the space. We also wanted to make sure that our amenities and common areas worked well, for families, fishermen and women, bridal parties, and corporate guests.
How do the original rooms in the Altmar school differ from the new guest rooms?
I would say they are very similar. We were no longer working within the confines of the school building so we were able to have some fun with the space. The biggest change to the guest rooms was the addition of desks and desk chairs for either some business or maybe some fly tying. We also were able to create two suites that are truly standouts at the property.
There’s so much discussion about branding. How did the change affect the Tailwater brand or is your brand a work in progress?
Hilton doesn’t really change our branding, we are still Tailwater Lodge and we are continuously adding to our brand.
How did the spa’s name evolve and who would you say is your target audience? Bridal parties? Fishermen? Do you have any anglers’ specials or deals my readers should be aware of?
Our Spa is a Hilton Spa. Eforea can be found all over the world. Again, it was inspired and designed by our team, especially the small touches like the steelhead tiles throughout the cobblestone floor in the space. We are part of a global brand but designed and operated by Woodbine Hospitality Group. Our clientele ranges from day-use, overnight leisure guests, bridal parties, and our fisherman specials will actually begin next week.
Overall, I’m curious how your teams – Tailwater and the Hilton – agreed upon the upscale fishing lodge idea? Does the Hilton partner with other lodges?
Tapestry is an interesting brand. I do believe we are the only lodge as part of the Hilton Collection but that’s not say there may not be more in the future.
Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit. The Tailwater Lodge pool is a wonderful way to wind down after a long day outdoors.
Want to Learn More About The Lodge?
Jenna noted properties in both the Curio and Tapestry Collection portfolios must feature a unique story and honor that story by weaving extraordinary elements, not limited to design components and an array of top-notch on-property amenities throughout the hotel. She explained,
“Properties in both the Curio and Tapestry Collection portfolios must feature a unique story and honor that story by weaving it into elements throughout the hotel – from design components to on-property amenities. As a result, we have been able to provide guests with one-of-a-kind experiences at over 100 unique destinations, like those available at Tailwater Lodge Altmar. This off-the-beaten-path location is ideal for the Tapestry Collection guest, who we know is an adventure-seeker that wants to experience and explore a destination to its fullest. After a long day of fishing on the Salmon River, explorers can wind down with a craft beer at The Tasting Room or treat themselves to a massage at eforea spa.”
– Jenna Hackett
As the seasons evolve from fall to winter, plan a weekend of salmon or steelhead fishing or map out a hike in Altmar. Contact the Tailwater to book your weekend getaway and inquire about upcoming events at and around the lodge.
Take a few minutes to read my Tailwater companion stories.
My accommodations at the Tailwater were comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences.
Joan Mead-Matsui is a five-time award-winning freelance journalist; travel writer and photographer. She covers news and features’ stories that range from unique travel accessories and products to destinations and attractions. Prior to launching her websites, https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com and https://chigirie.com, Joan was a full-time freelance content and features writer for print and digital news sources and magazines.
Salmon River Fly-Fishing Tales is a three-day account of my first-time salmon fishing in the Salmon River, Altmar, NY.
by Joan Mead-Matsui, a five-time award-winning freelance journalist; travel writer, and photographer.
If you’re looking for Salmon River fly fishing tales and stories from my freshwater fishing expedition, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s all here – the angling, flies, bait, encounter with international anglers, and the final word on my success during my first salmon-fishing trip to the Salmon River. My Salmon River fly-fishing tales are more about my experience as a whole, rather than one specific story or incident.
The primary objective for this story assignment was to arrive at the river and learn as much as I could through listening, observing, and interviews with other anglers.
Where To Stay in Altmar, NY
Keep in mind you’ll need a place to rest your weary legs after a full day on the water. My late September trip to Altmar began in Pulaski, NY, with a long-time friend who also loves fishing and culminated with an overnight travel assignment, outstanding meals, and lodging at the Tailwater Lodge.
The Tailwater’s accommodations tie in seamlessly with my outdoor recreation travel writing assignments and that’s why I’ve been a guest writer there four times.
If you’ve never stayed at the Tailwater, it is a phenomenal home-away-from-home upscale lodge that’s an independently owned Hilton Tapestry Collection award-winning property. It’s also adjacent to the Salmon River. The decor offers a lodge-like atmosphere but the accommodations are all about comfort, exceptional casual dining, and exemplary customer service. Bright and early, you can walk out the front door, hang a left, and within 50 ft., you’re on the river’s banks.
Need Room for Fly Tying?
The guest rooms are equipped with a desk and chair so you can set up your vise and tie flies should you deplete your supply.
Now that you have a place to hang your waders at night, the experienced fisher should have no problem catching at least one Chinook, Coho, or (landlocked) Atlantic salmon. The less skilled will learn a thing or two.
Longtime Goals Met Trepidation
Salmon fishery evolved into one of my goals not long after I learned to fly fish eight years ago. Only recently, did I find the courage to schedule a trip.
Why? Because I couldn’t coax any of my trout-fishing friends to take off time from their work. As a result, solo salmon fly-fishing was my only option and synonymous with wading into foreignterritory. Despite mind-boggling self-doubt that actually kept me awake for a few hours the night before I departed for Altmar, I packed my gear in my car and embarked on my travel assignment to upstate New York.
A September trip, when the water is warm, appeals to me more than steelhead fishing in late October and early November. A few years ago, on a bitterly cold November day, my friend, our fishing guide and I set out to the Douglaston Salmon Run in search of steelhead. Within an hour, my fingertips and feet were numb and I was chilled to the bone despite several layers of clothing.
In stark contrast were the recent picture-perfect not-a-cloud-in-the-sky fall days with an ideal temperature for wading. Although they set the stage for three relaxing days they aren’t the ideal conditions for salmon migration. Salmon, much like trout, is a coldwater species and the air temperature was 70 degrees or higher by mid-day. That boosted the water temperature, which slowed the relocation.
One fisherman told me to return to the river to see the mass migration in mid-October. He assured me I’d see droves of salmon coming up the river once the weather turns ugly and cold.
My mood turned more serious as my trip was winding down. Keep reading for additional Salmon River Fly Fishing Tips.
Salmon Larger Than Me?
Maybe not that big but I’d heard many stories about the weight and size of an average-sized salmon caught in the Salmon River. Twenty to 30-lbs is the most common range. As a result, I wondered how someone my height and weight could reel in a 20 to 30-pound salmon.
After watching anglers in the Sportman’s Pool the first night I arrived in Pulaski, a neighboring town, I had my doubts if I had the skills to keep a salmon on the line and reel it in.
I awakened at 6:15 a.m. on my first full day in Altmar and was ready to fish by 8 a.m. Breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts took longer than I expected and I decided to make a quick stop at a fly shop on Route 13. The sales clerk offered expert advice but my river arrival time was set back by an hour or more.
The crowd thickened on Saturday as multiple drift boats and a large group of fishers arrived along both sides of the shoreline. More people on the water seemed to have an impact on the number of salmon I saw but a change in travel plans allowed me to stay until late afternoon.
TIP: Be sure to get your hands on a fishing map so you don’t waste your time driving. You’ll find one online beforehand or at the local tackle or fly shops when you arrive.
Fly or Spin-Fishing?
I wanted to increase my chances of catching a salmon so I brought the spin rods my friend loaned me and also rigged my fly rod with a heavier-weight line and attached weight and an egg pattern I bought at the fly shop. I’m skittish about using borrowed equipment so I tried both and eventually switched to my Orvis 9-ft, 8-wt Encounter rod. I set out down the path to the Sportman’s Pool, a popular spot along the Salmon River and joined a group between the deep pool and the riffles.
After walking around fishing gear for more than a mile along the river bank, I was relieved to find an opening spot where the riffles spilled into a calmer pool. That seemed like the ideal scenario for me, a person who doesn’t feel comfortable in water above my knees.
Salmon Fishing Tips and Lessons Learned
Every year, thousands of anglers toting spinner and fly rods descend on the river but not everyone leaves with a salmon. The beauty is those who don’t catch a salmon, have an opportunity to assist a fellow fisherman.
Throughout the day, there were times when anglers were elbow-to-elbow but folks came and went throughout the day. You’ll eventually find a vacant spot. Don’t crowd your neighbor.
Move out of the way of an angler who has a salmon on his line. You might hear the phrases, “Coming up,” “Coming down,” or “Fish on.” As a courtesy, you should move out of the way and allow them to safely follow the salmon. You can also offer to help.
Female anglers are still a minority. Only a mere 10 percent of the fishermen I saw fishing were women.
Fewer than 40 percent of the fishermen I watched fished with fly rods.
Mostly everyone is willing to give advice.
Watch an instructional video before you go. There is an abundance of YouTube videos that will give you tips.
Read this Salmon River article and learn more about the salmons’ migration and spawning habits.
Salmon rise above the water and thrash as though they‘re frolicking. Who knows? Maybe they’re celebrating their last days on earth.
The onset of the salmon run is similar to a silent alarm that sets off a flurry of activity that continues for months.
Anglers from around the world fish in the Salmon River.
Wear wading boots with studs to help keep you safe in the water. Salmon River rocks are slick and the current strong.
When Does Salmon Fishing Begin?
Salmon season on the Salmon River typically begins in September, although weather plays a role in the migration. Suffice to say, schedule your trip from September to November or whenever a dorsal fin is spotted emerging from the water. Colder temps can bring on excellent conditions and you’ll be more likely to hook a salmon.
As you wade, wait, and watch for the shockingly large salmonoids to rear their heads and make their infamous splash, look around you and admire the scenery. A Yugoslavian fisherman told me salmon fishing is his opportunity to wallow in nature and cleanse his soul.
By this time, you’re probably wondering if I caught a salmon. The answer is no and as much as I would have loved to present one to my family, I went to Altmar to learn and observe. I felt a few hefty tugs on my fishing line but to make catching any fish the ultimate goal would take away from the invaluable lessons I learned and the friends I made.
Room for Improvement
5 Improvements I Should Make (Based on a Survey of Fisherman I met)
According to the Yugoslavian man, the egg patterns I had were not the best for salmon fishing. He recommended a mealworm fly.
My line was too long
I needed more weight on my line.
The salmon ignored my fly because I didn’t move it in front of them.
My casting needs work.
To Eat or Not to Eat
A salmon is a salmon and they’re all edible, correct?
Not necessarily, I learned. Depending on the salmon’s age and overall condition, not all salmon flesh is pink, flaky, and delicious. One fisherman told me some can taste fishy and others are downright foul-tasting. That was a disappointment to hear, considering I practice catch and release but would have made an exception.
Read my previous Tailwater reviews and stay tuned for my upcoming Tailwater Lodge coverage. Discover Oswego County here.
A massage IS without a doubt, one of the best natural remedies. For example, when everyday stressors are taking their toll on your general well-being, opt for a Hand & Stone massage treatment.
Now’s the time to schedule an hour of sheer massage bliss that I guarantee will help you relax and calm your nerves.
Hand & Stone, with more than 300 locations, offers a variety of spa options from massages to facials and hair removal. My lifelong friend and I elevate a Hand & Stone massage to the top of our list of “girlfriend” activities when I visit her at her home in West Chester, PA.
Make Time for Yourself
If you don’t have hours to spare, you’ll find at least one massage treatment that’ll loosen your tight muscles and lessen the impact tension has on your body.
A Massage Offers Relief from TMJ
During my most recent visit, I arrived at Hand & Stone seeking relief from an ongoing TMJ ( temporomandibular) issue — an annoying and sometimes painful jaw ailment. TMJ is, at times, attributed to jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
Try A Gentle Swedish Massage
A Swedish massage, the most popular of all massages was the perfect fit. Some of the benefits of massage are reduced muscle tension, improved circulation, and the reduction of stress hormones. Even after my treatment, the positive effects lasted for days and reminded me to take care of myself every day.
Finding a Massage Therapist
Finding a licensed massage therapist with the skills and touch necessary to soothe your tired, weary muscles is often a trial and error process. We all have different criteria for determining the ultimate massage. But for me, it’s a gentle touch and pressure that reach the muscle without the tenderness afterward.
Hand & Stone offers solutions that support health, wellness, AND beauty. Browse the products before or after your spa treatment.
Sandi, a Hand & Stone licensed massage therapist, came to my rescue. Her calming voice, combined with a gentle touch alleviated the muscle tension I was holding onto throughout my aching jaw. From the moment we met in the lounge, her immediate goal was to set the stage for a memorable and therapeutic experience. Using moderate pressure, she relaxed the muscles from the base of my neck, along my shoulders to my face and jaw.
Not sure what treatment is best for you?
The Hand & Stone menu has a variety of options from Swedish and Himalayan Salt to Decompression Therapy. Combine a massage and a facial and leave the shop feeling extraordinary.
Appointments are recommended but walk-ins are welcome. You’ll find the hours particularly convenient. Hand & Stone is open seven days a week, with extended hours.
Visit Hand & Stone
In six weeks, the shop will move to a larger location in the same shopping plaza. The new address will be 301 Buyers Drive, Concordville Town Centre, Glen Mills, PA. Call (610) 361-6171 to schedule an appointment or visit https://handandstone.com to find a store near you.
Rest assured, my massage was comped but my opinions are my own and based solely on my experience.
Joan Mead-Matsui is a five-time award-winning freelance journalist; travel writer and photographer. She covers news and features’ stories that range from unique travel accessories and products to destinations and attractions. Prior to launching her websites, https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com and https://chigirie.com, Joan was a full-time freelance content and features writer for print and digitals news sources and magazines.
Learn “3 Interview Tips for Journalists” from five-time award-winning freelance journalist Joan Mead-Matsui. Conquer your fears and boost your confidence with practical tips you’ll use time and time again.
Do you want to strut into an interview beaming with self-confidence
The 3 Interview Tips for Journalists will help you stand out from the moment you sit down for your interview. Do you want to show your style but you’re not sure where to begin?
Do you want to stand out from the crowd? I’ll teach you how to tap into your interviewee’s story.
Take it from me, interview skills are the single most important instrument in your reporter’s toolbox.
Practice these 3 Interview Tips at your next interview
1. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. Prepare for the unexpected answer and immediately follow up on any comments you believe will interest your readers. Don’t hesitate to ask for additional information but give your interviewee time to finish a sentence,
2. Keep your options open but have your list of questions on hand. I can tell you from experience, (and more than 1,500 interviews to my credit) interviews that begin and end as a conversationwill make your story easy to prepare and are, by far, the most interesting to read.
3. Read or listen to your interview transcript less than 24 hours after your interview. Follow up with your interviewee by email no later than a day after your interview. If you have an equipment malfunction or you’re not sure about an answer to one of your questions, don’t wait until you’re ready to prepare your story.
Do you love what you’ve read so far?
Think about the most memorable television, radio, YouTube, or podcast interviews you’ve watched or listened to in your lifetime. If one, in particular, comes to mind, chances are the interviewer’s style is one of the factors that set the interview apart from the others you’ve seen.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking to some of the world’s most famous journalists as role models but develop your own style. 3 Interview Tips for Journalists will guide you through some of your more challenging interviews.
Preparation is Key
As a journalist, you set the tone. Prepare for your interview, stay calm, show respect, be patient and inquisitive.
Why do I love interviews?
Above all, people and their stories are intriguing. Everyone I’ve met in my life, from the artist to the politician has a story that’s ripe and ready to tell. In other words, extract that information and present it in an interesting and engaging way while adhering to basic style rules.
Is a travel writer a journalist?
Travel writers are journalists and one of my goals as a mentor is to convey the importance of integrity, creativity, and professionalism to new writers who cover the travel and tourism industry. I’ll expand on tips for travel writers in new lessons in the Journalist Support Hub, a members-only Facebook community. I created the group to give news writers the tools they need to compete and thrive in a highly competitive market.
Do you have your copy of my course, “The INCREDIBLE Interview: Tips for Journalists and Travel Writers?” Learn how to interview with style. I dispell myths, debunk your pre-conceived notions you’ve come to believe about yourself, and teach you everything I learned as a freelance journalist for newspapers and magazines. You’ll walk away with the lessons I learned that led me to win five newspaper association awards.
“I was really nervous about being interviewed but you’re a great interviewer.” “I can tell you love your job.”
We all love praise. Positive comments propel us to work harder and smarter. Even the occasional positive review is a motivator and indicator you’re moving in the right direction. Soak up the praise and ask for feedback every time but above all, ask your interviewee for final comments. For example, you might ask, would you like to add something? Is there anything I forgot to ask you?
Learn how to put your mind at ease, squash your fears, and set the stage for compelling and engaging INTERVIEWS with people from all walks of life who want to tell their stories.
As always, message me with any questions.
Learn new skills today. Join the Journalist Support Hub, my members-only Facebook group I created to give you ongoing support. Learning is a lifelong process but the truth is, we can’t always find the guidance we need.
Reptiland: 7 Reasons to Visit introduces you to slithering snakes, alligators, two Komodo Dragons, frogs, giant tortoises, parakeets, and an emu. They’re the seven reasons you should plan to spend a morning or afternoon at the Reptiland.
Turtles, lizards, snakes, frogs, and crocodilians from around the world flourish in naturalistic habitats with an educational element that spans 6,500 square feet. Reptiland exhibits and gallery houses are open year-round.
Should you need more coaxing, Reptiland: 7 Reasons to Visit, is the best of both worlds: entertainment and education. Adults and children can count on learning a thing or two about each of the animals who call Reptiland home. Displays and exhibits offer visitors a chance to observe and learn.
ZOOS: MORE THAN ENTERTAINMENT
Very often, we look to zoos for entertainment but, they can provide so much more and ignite curiosity and nurture a sense of respect and wonderment for children and adults of all ages.
Take a moment to browse the photo gallery and then scroll down and continue reading about Clyde Peeling, Reptiland founder and owner and the astonishing animals in his life. At the bottom of the page, click on the links to watch my candid video interviews with Peeling, an astute and captivating speaker with years of expertise.
Reptiland Photo Gallery
Celebrating Success: One Step at a Time
Peeling’s dream began as a roadside zoo and has evolved for more than 50 years as a result of his perseverance and genuine concern for the welfare of the animals. Opening a zoo was a lifelong goal and that dream came to fruition on July 11, 1964, when he opened the Reptiland doors to visitors. Creating “a zoo along the road,” rather a roadside zoo, according to Peeling, has been his focus since he bought the tract of land, formerly a vacant strip of Pennsylvania farmland in Allenwood, PA.
REPTILAND: GROWTH TAKES TIME
Reptiland wasn’t an instant success and the zoo has grown as a result of Peeling’s diligence, periodic expansions, and renovations, and most of all, his dedication to the animal preservation, responsible propagation of a variety of endangered species, and conservation. Peeling is recognized and respected for his efforts throughout the zoo community and it’s not a mystery why. Once you’ve been inside Reptiland you’ll understand.
MEET CLYDE PEELING
Here’s your chance to watch my series of interviews with Clyde Peeling. You’ll learn more about his aspirations and current happenings at Reptiland.
Visit https://reptiland.com for visitor information, current show schedules, and other important details.
Many thanks to Clyde Peeling and his staff for the opportunity for my sons and me to visit Reptiland. I hope you’ve enjoyed Reptiland: 7 Reasons to Visit. My visit was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experience.
Be sure to check out my related zoo coverage. As a newly married couple and for years while we raised our children, we made a point to regularly visit zoos as a reminder of how we, as humans, can peacefully and respectfully co-exist with the animal kingdom.
All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.
City Hall Grand Hotel is a work of art.
Williamsport’s historic lodging option opened its doors three years ago. The famed City Hall Grand Hotel is a perfect example of design ingenuity. In fact, when designers transformed the downtown multi-level municipal building into lodging they honored Williamsport’s residents and the city’s most prominent industries. The late Joshua Butters saw this project as an opportunity to showcase Pennsylvania historic architecture, preservation, adaptive reuse, and revitalization of a downtown building.
Guests told me they find the decor and creative use of repurposed materials refreshing and commendable. Currently, the hotel draws travelers from around the world.
City Hall Grand Hotel: Repurposed Originality and Ingenuity
Time stands still when you step into this historic downtown Williamsport, PA building. If you envision a grand old style structure that features wooden interior doors with frosted glass and everything down to the doorknobs screams city government hub, you’re on the mark. If you’re looking for a re-purposed historic hotel near Wellsboro or the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, this grand hotel is within an hour from popular outdoor recreation attractions.
Initially, I set out to find lodging within driving distance from a well-known fishing creek. The room descriptions and images on the hotel’s website prompted me to book a room for my sons and me. I was intrigued by what I saw. Rest assured, City Hall Grand Hotel you’ll want to see this treasure – the epitome of Williamsport’s historic past.
Eber Culver: If He Could See It Now
Eber Culver, one of the city’s most prominent architects, designed the building in 1893. The five-story former city hall features a tower and yellow brick trimmed in stone, molded brick ornamentation, and columns of terra cotta. It’s a sight to behold.
Culver’s city hall stands alongside another historic Williamsport landmark, The “Trumpeter,” a Civil War monument erected 120 years ago. Williamsport offers the traveler a taste of the past and important insight into Pennsylvania’s former and current industries. Plan a Williamsport walking tour of the former “Lumber Capital of the World.” You’ll find other fine examples of equally impressive antiquity and the city’s industrial heritage.
Exterior Charm Untouched
The exterior facade remains unchanged due to preservation rules that govern the renovation of historic properties. Consequently, while the outside of the structure hasn’t been altered, the stone and architectural detailing pave the way for what’s in store inside.
The interior reveals Williamsport’s industrial heritage while offering guests modern-day comforts. During the renovation, brick and lumber were salvaged and incorporated as key elements in the overall design.
City Hall Grand Hotel, Williamsport, PA
City Hall Grand Hotel offers two types of rooms: Traditional and Hulk Rooms.
HULK ROOM? What’s a Hulk Room?
Joshua Butters, Hulk Destruction, Construction, and Salvage Company, had a kinship with the city’s history. As a result, authenticity abounds as Butters honors Williamsport and its residents with one-of-a-kind room and names.
Many of the Hulk Rooms feature open showers and separate toilet rooms that lend a European flair. Guests who are traveling with children and need more privacy should request the “Flood” or Lumber rooms.
Privacy A Priority
A sliding door in several of the Hulk Rooms gives adults traveling with children more privacy. Be sure to ask for one of those guest rooms when you book your reservation.
Every detail, from the bed frames and sliding doors to the sink and light fixtures have Butter’s creative stamp.
No two rooms are alike. Butters designed and crafted many of the accents exclusively for the City Hall Grand Hotel owners, Tim and Sandra Butters. Their vision for the late Victorian-Romanesque Revival-style building ties in with its former title, “Lumber Capital of the World.”
Salvaged lumber and hardware are repurposed in each guest room. Wood and metal were repurposed as headboards and other accent pieces.
Lodging options are anything but generic. Guests can choose from a Hulk or Traditional room in the City Hall Grand Hotel. Custom-made fixtures mix with the new, antique, and repurposed to create an artful atmosphere in both styles.
Bright and Airy
Once you roll up the blinds you’ll enjoy the light that floods the room through large windows. Meanwhile, a soft color palette is among the charms you’ll find in a City Hall Grand Hotel traditional room. Each room in this magnificent historic City Hall is equipped with a mini-refrigerator and Keurig machine.
Don’t expect to find a front desk in the lobby or anywhere else at City Hall Grand Hotel. One additional feature we love is the absence of wait time when you check-in. Guests receive a payment confirmation and a key code prior to their arrival.
City Hall Grand Hotel is conveniently located in downtown Williamsport at 454 Pine Street. Plan a visit and combine your stay with a trip to one of the nearby attractions. We visited Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland, which led to an extraordinary video interview with founder, Clyde Peeling. The following day we set out for Rock Run for an afternoon hike to one of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful array of waterfalls.
My lodging was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences.
Joan Mead-Matsui is a five-time award-winning freelance journalist; travel writer and photographer. She covers news and features’ stories that range from unique travel accessories and products to destinations and attractions. Joan was a full-time freelance content and features writer for print and digital news sources and magazines. Visit her art website, chigirie.com.
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Find the journalist and travel writers’ resources you need to support your journey into the world of writing in the Journalist Support HUB. The “HUB” is a members-only community packed with the time-tested tips and techniques that have helped me learn and grow as a travel writer. My online journalism and travel writing courses teach you how to interview and compose compelling articles.
Once you learn the essentials, you can apply those principles to freelance positions in print and digital publications or your own blog. In other words, you’ll soar to new heights and build confidence with each story you create. Contrary to what you’ve been told, you need to know the journalism ins-and-outs to craft informative and interesting articles.
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