I would like to rent a house in Vermont this fall to use as a base for leaf-peeping. Can you recommend the best rental agency? G.R., Pittsburgh, Pa.
The large number of Realtors in the area can be daunting, but Vermont Living (802/748-0187; www.vtliving.com; weekly rentals from $600) makes the rental process easy. Local agencies are listed from the Northeast Kingdom to Burlington and everywhere in between; search their Web sites free of charge for rentals and availability. Vermont Property (802/229-2433; www.vermontproperty.com; weekly rentals from $550) divides the state into regions and offers extensive interior and exterior shots of rentals on its site. We turned up a two-bedroom cottage on Lake Champlain, complete with a wood-burning fireplace and Adirondack views, for $750 a week. Once you've found what you're looking for, you can contact the owners directly. If you're not sure where (or when) to find the best fall color, check forecasts at www.foliage-vermont.com.
After a long flight, my neck always aches—any suggestions for a great travel pillow?—J.B., madison, Wis.
Now that many airlines have pulled pillows from flights, you're better off packing your own. The U-shaped Bucky Minnie (www.bucky.com; $19.95), stuffed with millet hulls, molds snugly around your neck. Its soft nylon cover is removable and easy to clean. The bulkier Föm Travel Pillow (www.brookstone.com; $25) offers more support. Made of nylon and "microbeads," this cushion can also be used to prop your lower back. Or, splurge on a goose-down pillow from Quixote (www.flight001.com; $52). The shell is made of water-resistant, ripstop microfiber, and it comes with a removable cotton pillowcase. It's also easy to compress, which makes packing it in a carry-on a breeze.
Since the Caribbean has been hit so hard by hurricanes lately, I'm thinking about booking a trip outside the hurricane belt. What are some island options?—H.O., Chicago, IlL.
According to Chris Vaccaro of the National Weather Service (NWS), atmospheric winds collide over the equator at the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, forming hurricanes that eventually move northwest toward the Caribbean. Several islands lie out of this path and are statistically less likely to be hit during storm season (June through November). Bonaire and Curaçao have seen only one hurricane since 1961. Trinidad and Tobago are options, as is Aruba, which hasn't faced a major hurricane in 44 years. However, rare does not mean never: hurricanes do strike islands deemed out of the high-risk zone, as we saw last September, when Grenada—considered safe by many—sustained severe damage from Hurricane Ivan. This year the NWS predicts activity comparable to 2004's record-breaking season: at press time there had already been five named storms in the first 41 days of the season.
We asked readers for their favorite photo-sharing Web site. Here, some of the responses:
—J.K., San Francisco, Calif.
—J.C., irving, tex.
—D.F., atlanta, ga.
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