Good vibes in the morning
Rattled by your travel alarm clock's annoying beep, chirp or whistle? Do you roll over after the wake-up call and go back to sleep. It might be time for something different. A new 3-by-2-inch clock gently rocks you awake. Originally designed for the hard of hearing, the aptly named Shake Awake rouses you by vibrating under your pillow. Available through direct mail by calling (800) 526-0402, the vibrating alarm clock costs $29.95, plus $4 shipping. Two AA batteries not included.
Tracking train service
Since Amtrak's announcement of service cuts in December, several states have been negotiating with the railroad to use state and local money to save some of the routes targeted for elimination.
While the Montrealer train from New York to Montreal via Vermont will stop operating next month, a new service, the Vermonter, is scheduled to offer daily service between Washington and St. Albans, Vt., with bus service to Montreal. One of two daily trips between St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., will be retained, as will three of the five daily "Capital corridor" round trips on the Roseville-to-Sacramento-to-San Jose line in California.
Daily service between Detroit and Pontiac, Mich., originally scheduled to be eliminated next month, has been preserved by Amtrak without the help of state or local money.
Service between Atlantic City, N.J., and Philadelphia, Pa., is scheduled to be discontinued next month, as originally announced in December.
And they're off . . .
Here's how you can spend a day at the races without ever leaving your hotel.
The new 175-room Comfort Suites in Vernon, N.Y., overlooks Vernon Downs Racetrack, so guests get a room with a view of the actual harness racing, and they can place bets from their rooms as well. Of course, they can watch the races on their TVs, too. And not to worry about food and drink: The hotel's bar, the Winner's Circle, is equipped with one 25-inch TV for every two diners, so you never have to take your eyes off the race to take a bite.
When the Vernon Downs racing season (February to Thanksgiving) is over, guests can still enjoy the sport watching simulcasts of harness and thoroughbred races from among 31 other tracks across the country. And they can bet on those races from their rooms, too. For information, call (315) 829-3400.
The daffodils of Nantucket
From mid-April to mid-May, daffodils are plentiful on Nantucket Island, a resort located 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. More than 10,000 new, late-blooming bulbs have been planted to bloom alongside the 3 million other daffodils already on the island. The blooms will be celebrated in Nantucket's 21st Annual Daffodil Festival, April 28-30.
The Daffodil Festival's highlighted event is the Annual Antique and Classic Car Parade. The procession winds through the town and across the island to the village of Siaconset for the Annual Daffodil Tailgate Picnic. Traditionally, picnic spreads range from gourmet cuisine served on fine china to box lunches. Prizes are awarded for the best presentation. After the picnic, festival-goers return to town along Poplis Road, where the daffodils frame scenic views of the sea. Other highlights include the Garden Club's Daffodil Show, the Store-Window Decorating Contest and the Daffodil Inn Tour, which offers an inside look at some of the island's historic inns.
The daffodils are in bloom for about five weeks. In addition to the festival, visitors can also participate in seal cruises, bicycling, hiking, fishing, bird watching and nature study. Since the island is accessible by foot, bicycle and taxi, visitors are encouraged to leave their vehicles behind. For more information, call the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce at (508) 228-1700.