U.S. Hospitalizations Break Record as Omicron Surges: Live Covid Updates


ImageMedical staff treated Frank Clark for Covid-19 at Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, last week.
Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

The number of Americans hospitalized with Covid-19 has surpassed last winter’s peak, underscoring the severity of the threat the virus continues to pose as the extremely contagious Omicron variant tears through the United States.

As of Sunday, 142,388 patients with the virus were hospitalized nationwide, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, surpassing the peak of 142,315 reported on Jan. 14 of last year. The seven-day average of daily hospitalizations was 132,086, an increase of 83 percent from two weeks ago.

The Omicron wave has overwhelmed hospitals and depleted staff who were already worn out by the Delta variant. It has been driven in large part by people younger than 60. Among people older than 60, daily admissions are still lower than last winter.

The hospitalization totals also include people who test positive for the virus incidentally after being admitted for conditions unrelated to Covid-19; there is no national data showing how many people are in that category.

As cases soared over the past few weeks to an average of over 737,000 per day, far higher than last winter’s peak, public health officials have argued that caseloads were of limited significance because Omicron is less virulent than Delta and other variants, and vaccines, and especially boosters, offered protection against severe illness.

But the surge’s sheer volume has overwhelmed hospitals across the country. And outside of cities like New York, where Omicron hit early and has pushed hospitals to the brink, it is unlikely to have peaked.

Current hospitalizations are one of the most reliable measures of the severity of the pandemic over time, because they are not influenced by testing availability or by spikes in minor cases.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, told ABC News last week that it was “much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations,” which lag cases.

About a quarter of U.S. hospitals are experiencing critical staffing shortages, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Some states, like Oregon, have deployed the National Guard to help. Others, like Illinois and Massachusetts, are delaying elective surgeries — meaning surgeries that are scheduled, as opposed to an emergency, a category that can include procedures like a mastectomy for a cancer patient. In some cases, employees with asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic coronavirus infections have been working, potentially putting patients at risk.

After nearly two years, “even the most dedicated individuals are going to be tired and worn out, if not burned out and dealing with mental health issues as a consequence,” said Dr. Mahshid Abir, an emergency physician at the University of Michigan and a researcher at the RAND Corporation.

Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are also falling ill themselves, and while the vast majority are vaccinated and haven’t needed hospitalization, their illness still keeps them out of work, reducing staffing just when it is needed most.

“The demand is going up and the supply is going down, and that basically doesn’t paint a good picture for people and communities, not just for Covid but for everything else,” Dr. Abir said, alluding to the fact that hospitals overwhelmed by coronavirus patients are ill equipped to handle other emergencies, from heart attacks to appendicitis to traumatic injuries.

Data in some of the first cities hit by Omicron also show deaths spiking sharply — not as fast as case rates, but fast enough to warn of more devastation to come.

Adeel Hassan and Albert Sun contributed reporting.



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Holiday Tipping Guide 2021: How Much to Give and When to Break From Tradition


Figuring out whom to tip—and how much—during the holidays can be tricky. Doing so during a progressing pandemic and period of rising inflation is even harder.

Still, however pinched people feel, many in the service industry are feeling it even more acutely. So finance and etiquette professionals offer this rule of thumb: If you can afford to give more than you do in a usual year, do it. However, if your budget is under significant strain, don’t give too much.

“Because of everything we’re experiencing today with the various setbacks that some folks are having, it is acceptable to stray somewhat from the norm,” said Elaine Swann, a San Diego-based etiquette professional and founder of the Swann School of Protocol.

For workers you see regularly, like your dog walker, hair stylist or personal trainer, your holiday tip can be up to the cost of one service, Ms. Swann said, emphasizing that this gift should be separate from your regular gratuity.

The standard holiday tip for your doorman can range from $50 to $100, she said.

It is also helpful to know the economics of the workers’ employment, said Jodi R.R. Smith, a Boston-based etiquette professional and founder of consulting firm Mannersmith. For example, a barber who is renting a chair in a shop might tug on your wallet a little more than one who owns the shop or operates from their home.

Tipping can have a significant impact on the recipient.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management found that higher-than-expected tips had a positive effect on workers’ feelings of social dignity as well as their discretionary efforts on the job, such as in interacting with customers. With yet another coronavirus variant threatening the hospitality sector, tips for service workers are particularly crucial for their bottom line.

Here is some advice on holiday tipping this year.

Who’s on your list?

Service-based workers, from barbers to landscapers, often rely upon holiday or year-end tips and are presumably on your list. Think about who else might make your list based on ways your life has changed over the past two years, such as a new sitter or your block’s FedEx driver, said Thomas Farley, a New York-based etiquette specialist and founder of consulting firm What Manners Most.

“Are there service people that you are now suddenly on a first-name basis with whom you were not before?” asked Mr. Farley.

In general, tip the people who have made the year easier for you, said Ms. Smith.

You should also find out what is allowed legally, she said. For example, federal workers are usually barred from receiving cash gifts of any kind, and Postal Service rules state that your mail carrier can receive only noncash gifts worth $20 or less.

The rising U.S. inflation rate is triggering a debate about whether the country is entering an inflationary period similar to the 1970s. WSJ’s Jon Hilsenrath looks at what consumers can expect next.

How much to tip?

While the rules are clear for some service workers, they are less clear for service workers you see more rarely.

For example, if you see multiple hairstylists and some of them just a couple of times a year, you might tip them a little extra throughout the year rather than send individual year-end tips, said Ms. Smith. She also suggested a hack: If you keep track of how much you pay for someone for a specific service all year, you can add up the cost of those services and tip them 10% to 15% of the amount.

While the standard for optimal service in the restaurant industry is 18% to 20%, if you want to tip servers more during the holidays, consider entering a larger amount manually on the point-of-sale, said Zarak Khan, senior behavioral researcher at Common Cents Lab, which focuses on financial wellness for economically vulnerable communities. The same strategy applies to taxi or Uber rides.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

How are you approaching holiday tipping this year? Join the conversation below.

Still, that may be a larger sum from a year ago given inflation has likely increased the bill that the tip is calculated from, said Mr. Khan.

For gifts to educators, it is generally considered unacceptable to give cash to school-district teachers, said Ms. Swann. You should check the school’s official policy but err on the side of caution. However, if there is a collection taken among parents for staff appreciation, she said, a good range is $10 to $25 per parent. This can also apply to daycare providers, she said.

For regular nannies, you can give them up to one week’s pay, Ms. Swann said. For a babysitter, up to one evening’s pay is acceptable.

Make tipping a line item in your budget

Financial planners and etiquette professionals stress that people should examine their broader finances before giving holiday tips. To do this, create a budget plan for holiday spending—including travel and gifts—and lump that sum into your calculations, said Brittney Castro, certified financial planner at Mint.

“You might want to tip generous amounts, but you have to be real with your financial health,” said Ms. Castro.

In addition to making a list of the people you want to tip, she said, jot alongside their name the ideal dollar amount you want to give, to see what is and isn’t feasible for your budget.

What if you can afford only a small tip—or none at all?

Say you typically tip your dog walker or manicurist $50 at the end of each year. If you need to tip $20 this year due to belt-tightening, acknowledge it, said Mr. Farley.

“If you tip them $20 for no reason other than you just forgot how much you tipped last year, they are going to take that as you were somehow dissatisfied with their service,” he said.

Instead of ignoring the inflation elephant in the room, write in a card—which should always accompany cash gifts anyway, Mr. Farley said—a genuine note of appreciation for the service they provided and something along the lines of: This monetary amount goes only a small way toward expressing my true gratitude for what you’ve done over the last year. I wish it could be more.

If you aren’t able to give any tips this year, that’s OK. In that case, a smaller, personalized gesture can go a long way, such as a fragrance or baked goods, or something they can use for a coming trip.

“It should be meaningful and memorable,” said Ms. Swann. “You are acknowledging that they, in fact, deserve more.”

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Bad break for Aztecs as Lamont Butler suffers wrist injury


Three thoughts on San Diego State’s 72-47 win against Long Beach State on Tuesday night at Viejas Arena:

With 9:02 left, sophomore guard Lamont Butler split the defense, dribbled down the lane, elevated and threw down a two-handed jam that drew maybe the loudest roar on a night when the Aztecs would dunk six other times.

At least it’s a good memory to hold for the next month, while he sits out with a broken left wrist.

Butler immediately pointed to his wrist and asked out of the game. The initial prognosis was a sprain and that he could return if necessary. It wasn’t necessary, with SDSU up 27, and he didn’t.

But X-rays Wednesday showed a non-displaced fracture (that won’t require surgery), and the Aztecs now must play the remainder of the nonconference season without their 6-foot-2 bull in a china shop.

“It’s like a skateboard accident,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “He put out his hand to brace himself on the fall and fractured the wrist.”

The good news: Because of exam week and the Christmas holiday, that encompasses only five Division I games. Had he missed the month of January, it would be nine. And because it’s an arm instead of a lower body injury, he can maintain some semblance of fitness.

The bad news: He won’t play at No. 24 Michigan on Saturday or Dec. 17 against Saint Mary’s in Phoenix — the two remaining nonconference chances at quality wins so important for NCAA Tournament selection purposes.

Butler had made the biggest stride of SDSU’s three-man freshman class from last season, earning a starting spot ahead of fifth-year senior Adam Seiko, regularly guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player (he held USC leading scorer Boogie Ellis to two points, 15 under his average). He also was becoming one of the Aztecs’ most consistent offensive weapons, averaging 12.0 points over the last five games while shooting 47.6 percent overall and 47.1 percent behind the arc.

Now what?

The obvious replacement is Seiko, who participated in part of practice Wednesday after missing the last 2½ games with quad contusion. He played some point for the Uganda national team at the FIBA AfroBasket tournament last summer but doesn’t have the same dribble penetration skills. That, and even more minutes for starting guard Trey Pulliam.

Other candidates for increased minutes are less experienced: sophomore Keith Dinwiddie, who appeared in just seven games last season; and Duquesne transfer Chad Baker-Mazara, who at 6-7 gives the Aztecs more size on the floor but hasn’t yet mastered the defensive system and has made only 5 of 25 shot attempts.

“We can fill minutes,” Dutcher said, “but we can’t replace Lamont. He’s been playing great for us. He’s so tough defensively that he takes the pressure off Trey by guarding the other team’s point guard. The No. 1 concern is whether Trey is capable of playing heavy minutes and having primary ballhandling duties. When he and Lamont are both in the game, they can take turns bringing the ball up the floor.

“But we’ll just have to figure it out.”

2. Next man up

Dinwiddie entered Tuesday’s game with 11 points in six games this season.

Then he scored 12.

It wasn’t an en-fuego, heat-check shooting performance — 4 of 9 overall, 2 of 7 behind the arc — but it was a welcome, timely step forward by a guy whose role will expand with Butler and Seiko both injured. This is a team desperately in need of a reliable, respected perimeter marksman; Dinwiddie might be the only guy on the roster who fits the job description.

“Keith has to shoot the ball for us to be good,” Dutcher said. “Every time Keith shoots it, I think it’s going in. But he missed a couple wide open ones. As he continues to grow in his confidence and his percentage rises from 3, we’ll be a more dangerous team at the offensive end.”

More impressive, in some ways, is what he’s done at the other end. You don’t play defense, you don’t play at this program. It took a freshman season sitting on the bench for him to fully embrace that, and he’s become a committed defender who is taking charges, tipping passes and grasping the sophisticated rotations.

So much that when he wasn’t scoring, he stayed on the floor because he wasn’t a defensive liability.

“When I’m not scoring,” Dinwiddie said, “old me would just be out there. Now, being here, there’s so much more to the game than just offense.”

Added Pulliam: “You can tell defensively, he’s in the right spots. He knows when he makes a mistake now. He doesn’t need anybody to tell him. That’s the biggest thing, him recognizing it.”

Dinwiddie played a career high 20½ minutes against USC last Friday. He played 21 on Tuesday.

“If I have this opportunity and not come in and produce, it’s just going to be the next man up,” Dinwiddie said. “I’m just trying to take as much advantage of this as I can.”

The Aztecs get an extra day to prepare for Michigan, which has a 9:15 p.m. EST tip at North Carolina on Wednesday night as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. They’ll use it, too.

“I told our guys I’d like to give them the day off but we’re not,” Dutcher said. “We have an extra prep day, so we have to take advantage of it. I told them, ‘We won’t tax your legs. It might be more mental. But we have to prep for Michigan.’ They’re traveling, they’re playing North Carolina, so all their focus is on North Carolina. Our focus right now is (already) on Michigan.”

There’s another reason. Because of the four-hour flight and three-hour time change, Dutcher won’t have his normal road routine Friday, where his team practices in San Diego before getting on the plane. The best option was a nonstop that leaves at 7 a.m.

They’ll get in Michigan’s Crisler Center after arriving, but not for a full practice. Experience has taught him that much.

“After we travel a full day and then try to practice, usually that doesn’t set itself up for a good performance on the practice floor,” Dutcher said. “You’ve been on the plane four hours, our flight is at 7 in the morning, we’ll be up early. I like to just get there and shoot around, get familiar with Crisler, maybe walk through a few things but try to get all our prep work done Wednesday and Thursday leading to Friday’s travel.”

The game Saturday is at 1 p.m. EST, so there isn’t time for a shootaround, usually at noon, like there would be before a night tip.

That makes Wednesday and Thursday key prep days. Friday is for travel and a brief walk-through. It also helps that he was able to save legs in the blowout win, using 14 players and no one more than 25 minutes.

“You have to set what you want to accomplish and have a smaller amount to work on,” Dutcher said of the Friday evening session at Crisler. “If you try to do everything in that day, they are taxed mentally and physically and they can’t get it done.”





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Four luxurious London hotels for a tip-top break in the capital


Twinkling lights, fabulous shops, stunning shows – there’s much to love about London at this time of year. The capital can, at first, seem a hard and grey place when the clocks go back, but it certainly starts to show a cheerier face in the run-up to Christmas, with festive displays in Mayfair shopfronts, bustling markets popping up in Hyde Park and on Southbank, and all manner of fun entertainment to enliven the cold winter evenings. It’s no wonder that for many locals, December shows the city at its best and brightest.

So, whether you’re after a spot of retail therapy in Knightsbridge or some sightseeing in the West End, here are the top places for a magical Christmas stay.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park 

Knightsbridge

Best for: Wow-factor dining

Pride of place in the heart of Knightsbridge, directly opposite Harvey Nichols, this is perfectly placed for Christmas shopping. Inside, the lobby of this towering Edwardian building is a spectacle in itself, all marble walls, magnificent open fireplaces, an entire wall of deep purple and rust-red hydrangeas and gaily suited concierges. Bedrooms are similarly spectacular; ours – a presidential suite – was gargantuan with a whopping living room, flat-screen television dominating one wall and a wall of windows looking out on to Hyde Park on the other. There was a modern freestanding oval bathtub, the firm bed was big enough for four and the minibar was an entire cabinet – loose-leaf teas, delicious chocolate pralines, every spirit thinkable… Even the desk was stocked with thoughtful touches such as Tipp-Ex, fresh rubbers and staplers, plus there was a shelf of curated novels by Julian Barnes and John Le Carré. 

We unwound in the basement spa, complete with warm whirlpool, large lap pool for lengths (with fireplace) and well-equipped gym. Treatments are beautifully curated; we completed a ‘yin and yang’ questionnaire, then the masseuse tailored the Aromatherapy Associates oils to our mood (ours contained lemongrass, cardamom and coriander). The hands-down highlight, though, is the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Dishes are woven with historic meaning (Meat Fruit, a chicken liver parfait wrapped in mandarin jelly and fashioned to look like a mandarin orange, is one of the most famous), and service is beyond impeccable (we, a party of three, had three waiters and a sommelier tending to us). Ask for the table next to the glass wall looking into the kitchen – no sign of Heston, sadly, but watching the chefs at work is more like watching a beautifully synchronised orchestra than a busy Saturday night restaurant. 

Stella loves: Watching the spit-roasted pineapples slathered with caramel twirl on the rotisserie in Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, and seeing preparation for Tipsy Cake, one of the finest puddings we’ve tasted.  

Out and about: No need to take a Tube or cab from here. To one side is Hyde Park, great for morning runs or ‘Boris bike’ rides. Horseriding can also be booked in the park (hydeparkstables.com). Knightsbridge has every designer shop you could want, plus iconic department stores Harvey Nichols and Harrods, alongside high-street favourites such as Zara. Check the hotel website for a list of additional experiences, from a tour of London’s markets and food halls to a private tour of the British Museum (britishmuseum.org). The V&A is within walking distance, too – catch the end of the Alice: Curious and Curiouser exhibition, which runs until December 31 (vam.ac.uk). 

How to do it: Rooms from £892 a night. Special offer with the new Travel Again package starts from £520 a night; for more information call 020 7325 2000 or visit mandarinoriental.com. Read the full expert review here



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What to do and where to stay on a city break to the Big Apple


Travel essentials

When to go

There’s never a bad time to visit New York, but with the US now open again to visitors from the UK and Europe and Thanksgiving taking place next week, hotel prices have shot up. Luckily, The City That Never Sleeps also doesn’t hibernate. So while the warmer months are wonderful for eating al-fresco or rooftop cocktails, winter is just as lively. From ice-skating in Central Park (1) to pictures by the Rockefeller Christmas Tree (2), the festive season in the world’s most filmed city always delivers some movie magic.
The pandemic has seen the city embrace all-season outdoor dining. Each restaurant has its own take on the dining hut, with some streets bursting with diners eating below wooden cframes and plastic tarp.

Where to stay

Pendry Manhattan West (3) (pendry.com) opened in September, bringing SoCal cool to the edge of Manhattan’s luxury new riverside district, Hudson Yards. Its raison d’être as a high- end sanctuary apart from Manhattan matches that of the high-rise new development that it borders. There’s a rooftop bar, Peloton gym (guests can order the bikes to their room), Eastern Med restaurant Zou Zous, and the Garden Room – a relaxed, leafy space for light bites and evening cocktails. The building’s rippling glass façade is meant to evoke Pacific waves, while inside it’s contemporary-cool with fireplaces and an attention to the art of great lighting, especially at exclusive Bar Pendry. Doubles from $514 (£379).

Henn na Hotel (4) (hennnahotelny.com) – “Strange Hotel” in Japanese – opened its doors to families and tech-nerds in October. It’s the first US outpost of a Tokyo classic, where guests are checked in by an animatronic T-Rex. Rooms at the Midtown hotel have cupboards that will clean and steam your clothes. Japanese breakfast lunch and dinner is at onsite sushi restaurant Gosuke. Doubles from $135 (£100).

How to get around

Contactless payments are now accepted across the MTA, making bus and metro travel a breeze (just tap once on the way in). Masks are mandatory and unlike London, everyone follows the rules. Above ground, Uber and Lyft were once king but with the pandemic prompting a boom in new cycle-lanes, the Citi Bike ride share scheme is now a real alternative for tourists. Find the docked cycles on almost every block – ebikes were introduced just before the pandemic – then unlock with the Citi Bike or Lyft app (from $3.50 for the first half hour). You must show your NHS Covid Pass to enter public indoor areas, including museums, restaurants and bars.

Saturday

Start the day

Grab a stool at the bar at Baz Bagel (5) (bazbagel.com) for Jewish comfort food, with retro vibes – think diner style seating and Barbara Streisand on the stereo. The Little Italy institution does one of the city’s best lox salmon and cream cheese bagels.

Don’t miss

City Climb (edgenyc.com), New York’s stomach-dropping new attraction has just opened at the top of 30 Hudson Yards (6), the city’s 6th tallest building. For the world’s highest open air building ascent, thrill-seekers climb out onto the roof and hike 161 steps to the tip of the building. After admiring, or trying desperately to ignore, the view the final test is to dangle nearly 400 metres above the sidewalk below. Higher than the Empire State Building or The Shard, the skyscraper also has Edge, the highest observation deck in the Western Hemisphere that protrudes from the building at 100 storeys high for spectacular views over New York City and beyond from the west.

The Edge NYC at sunset (Photo: Related-Oxford)

In Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (7) (mocada.org) focuses primarily on social justice through its public art exhibitions, by artists such as Caribbean-American Theda Sandiford. Open Fri-Sun, $10 (£7.50).

Time for a drink

The Garret in the West Village (thegarretwest.com) is, according to owner Gavin Moseley, “the best secret everyone knows about”. A spot to impress your partner with, the secret speakeasy is above a Five Guys on Bleecker Street (8). Enter the burger chain outlet and walk past the counter to a staircase that leads up to a hidden cocktail bar.

Dinner reservation

Forget the reservation, and head out on a pizza-slice crawl of the Village. Joe’s Pizza (9), the Greenwich Village institution on the corner at Bleecker and Carmine has been serving the classic New York slice for more than 37 years. For more toppings, see Bleecker Street Pizza (10), named best pizza in New York City three years running. Its chicken, bacon and ranch contains so much caramelised meat it would keep its form without the dough.

Sunday

Go for a stroll

In the 12 years since opening, The High Line (11) – a park built on a disused elevated rail line – has flourished, with tree-lined sections at their fiery best in autumn. Traverse a mile and a half of Manhattan’s west side without ever stopping at a “crosswalk”, starting at Hudson Yards and finishing at the new Little Island park (12) (littleisland.org). Built atop 132 giant flower-shaped concrete “tulips” planted in the Hudson River, the park opened in May on the site of the storm-damaged Pier 55. There are lawns, paths, plants, viewing points and a 700-odd seat amphitheatre (free bookings mandatory in Spring and Summer).

Brunch break

Thai Diner (13) (thaidiner.com) is the new place to be on Mott St, Chinatown’s unofficial Main Street. The menu fuses American comfort food with Thai favourites while its bamboo-panelled walls and framed pictures of the late Thai King are Bangkok kitsch. Leave room for the extensive, diner-inspired dessert menu.

Wollman Rink in Central Park (Photo: NYC & Company)

Time to relax

Hop on a Citi Bike to explore the full scale of Central Park and find a quiet spot by one of its eight lakes. A six-mile cycle loop around the park gives you a feel for its scale (twice the size of London’s Regent’s Park).

Have a treat

Stop at Rice to Riches (14) (richtoriches.com) near Spring St Station for a rice pudding that’ll put nan’s Ambrosia to shame. Bowlfuls of the gloopy stuff are dished up in wacky flavours including Sex Drugs and Rocky Road, and Hazelnut Chocolate Bearhug.

Get out of town

Trains from Grand Central Station (15) to the seaside city of Milford, Connecticut take 1 hour 45. On the walk to Silver Sands State Park, pass homes on stilts built on the beach to defy the tides, then take a dip in the sea or wander the coastal park’s trails and boardwalks. Don’t miss the lobster rolls at Seven Seas or fully loaded hotdogs at Jake’s Diggity Dogs. For small town America, hop on a bus from New York Port Authority (16) to the village of New Paltz. Visitors to the Hudson Valley settlement can step back in time to America in the 1700s on Historic Huguenot Street or hike the S hawangunk Mountains.

Ask a local

Jennie Ng, Nurse

“Nitehawk Cinema (nitehawkcinema.com) in Williamsburg is my favourite. Old-ish, you can drink cocktails, order burgers and all sorts while you watch a movie. The theatre plays new, indie, and old school films. The last thing I watched there was Fear with Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon – part of the theatre’s erotic 90s thriller series.”



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Maia Turek: Celebrate fall with a break in the routine | News


To quote my son during a recent ride home from school, “fall is like a season made for kids!”

While he may have been referencing the abundance of candy and freedom to wear costumes, I couldn’t agree more! My childhood was always a celebration of natural resources — color tours, farm visits, neighborhood pumpkin carving events, and night hikes with the moon peeking through now leaf-bare trees.

When you live around the 45th parallel, there is just something special about this season. The smells, the sights, the experiences that create a sense that we’re all readying for a collective tucking in.

If you are looking for ways to celebrate fall, make it a road trip or just part of your trip to the grocery store. Every little break from your routine is an opportunity to create memorable experiences that shape how we define this gift of a season. Here are a few of our favorite family-friendly fall diversions to enjoy nature in Michigan.

The Fish Weir – 118 Hall St., Traverse City

Nothing delights a kid like seeing a giant salmon leap unexpectedly from otherwise swirling waters filled with monsters from the deep. The season is winding down, but the DNR provides staff from the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac inside Mitchell State Park to answer questions and share the story of this unique place.

Pick a Trail!

Northern Michigan is ripe with beautiful biking trails with names as well-known as that of our towns, including the Leelanau Trail, the Wheelway, TART, VASA and Betsie Valley. Fall is a great time to find a trail you’ve not explored and make a day of it. Pack a picnic and seek a scenic vista to sit and enjoy.

Speaking of scenic vistas …

The North Country Trail is home to the High Rollways which overlook the Manistee River, offering an unforgettable fall color view just outside of Kingsley. If you are visiting with small children or dogs, be mindful of the steep drop-off from the trail. The Jordan Valley Trail is also a great challenge with rewarding views for hikers who have been building stamina all summer and want a little elevation challenge and great scenery.

WaterFALLs

While colors in the Upper Peninsula hit peak last weekend, with Tahquamenon Falls hosting a miles-long back-up of visitors wanting to catch sight of the splendor that is Michigan’s largest waterfall, there are other less-visited falls not to be missed while the color is still surrounding their riverbeds. Bond Falls, Michigan’s second largest waterfall is located in the western UP, not far from Marquette, the beloved “Porkies” (Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park), and the Keweenaw Peninsula — all iconic UP destinations. But if crossing the bridge isn’t in your plan, a road trip to Ocqueoc Falls near Rogers City. With six miles of hiking and biking trails and the largest waterfall in the Lower Peninsula, the Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway makes an easy day-trip date. The first loop is the most scenic and the distance is great for kids.

Oden and Platte River state fish hatcheries

As salmon, trout and steelhead make their epic journey upstream to spawn, these DNR facilities offer an up-close look at the process of supporting and stocking Michigan fishes. With interpretive panels, events and on-site staff that explain what you are seeing as you explore the properties, a visit to these or any of the 10 state fish hatcheries around Michigan are like getting a backstage pass to Michigan’s underwater world. Because the spawn happens every year, a visit to the hatchery is a great fall tradition. A trip to Oden’s trails and viewing pond is always on my son’s list, but it seems that has become a “Nana and Papa” tradition — no parents allowed!

No matter where you go, think about geocaching or searching for historic markers on your travels. These little hunting adventures add interest to any road trip for kids while giving you a reason to stop and stretch the legs.

A travel tip for anyone exploring outside your area – call ahead to make sure restaurants, breweries and other nearby amenities are available since staffing challenges may impact days and hours of operation.

For more ways to make exploring the outdoors interesting this fall, visit Michigan.gov/NatureAtHome for videos, printable games and activities, and links to guides and activities that can make an average weekend unforgettable.

Maia Turek is the resource development specialist for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, and the former marketing manager for the Record-Eagle. Turek will offer family- and pet-friendly Michigan trip and tour ideas.





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Mexico increasing capacity ahead of spring break — here’s everything you need to know before visiting – The Points Guy






Mexico increasing capacity ahead of spring break — here’s everything you need to know before visiting – The Points Guy






















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Less travel, more moviegoing over China National Day break


China saw a major dip in travel over the past week’s National Day vacation

BEIJING — China saw a major dip in travel over the past week’s National Day vacation. People staying home appeared to have chosen the cinema instead, with a patriotic Korean War film taking in more than 3.45 billion yuan ($535 million) at the box office.

Spending appeared to have bounced back, however, with tourists splashing out 389 billion yuan ($60 billion) during the holiday, up almost 60% from last year, Xinhua reported, citing figures from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Such figures are closely watched as China seeks to shift its economic model away from real estate and infrastructure investment to one more focused on services and consumption.

China became the world’s largest box office last year as it reopened theaters and other entertainment venues while the U.S. and other developed economies were still struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The government maintains tight control over what films can be shown and enforces an unofficial ban on foreign productions during national holidays, when it seeks to promote domestic releases praising the ruling Communist Party.

Under the title “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” the holiday’s box office champion tells the story of Chinese troops battling U.S. soldiers during the 1950-53 Korean War.

The episode is known in the U.S. as the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, during which U.S.-led United Nations troops fought their way out of an encirclement amid freezing weather by Chinese forces who had entered the conflict earlier that year in aid of their North Korean allies.

China hails the conflict, in which U.N. and Chinese forces fought to a standstill that continues to divide the Korean Peninsula, as a patriotic national struggle termed the “War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea.”



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