It was dinner hour during a transpacific flight when a passenger in front of Insider leaned across the aisle, addressing a fellow tour-group member thus "Don't worry, Connie; that's not turbulence. It's just me trying to cut this veal!"

Dry holy days

The effects of Hurricane Floyd were felt by travel agents on a fam trip to the Holy Land on the eve of a very holy time.

Agents on a fam trip to Israel got to see more of Tel Aviv than they bargained for. Above, a street fair in the port city. Glenside, Pa.-based Gate 1 reported that 45 retailers were on its Israel fam trip and due to arrive back at Newark Airport, aboard Continental, on Friday, Sept. 17, the day after Floyd swamped the Garden State.

The group's departure from Tel Aviv was put on hold until Newark could dry out. Complicating matters was the fact that Friday night, Israeli time, began the Jewish Sabbath, which limited airport service.

Furthermore, there was an urgency to get passengers and staff home in time for Monday night, when Yom Kippur, the holiest day for Jews anywhere, would commence with supplications for a safe new year.

Continental promised to provide agents accommodations in Tel Aviv until it could get them home, no matter how long it might take, and Gate 1 treated them to meals and tours.

As it turns out, it took only one extra day. The group bailed out of Israel Saturday night and got home just in time to mop up and pray.

Floyd the Redcoat

Sometimes people can get kinda grouchy when bailing water. We were in the riverside hamlet of Millstone, N.J., cleaning up after Hurricane Floyd, when we overheard a remark of decidedly local flavor.

The old forge, now a museum, has withstodd Redcoats, tourists and Hurricane Floyd. Millstone has a rich history. During the Revolutionary War, it had been set ablaze by British troops, and some folks there just can't seem to forget it.

The town features a few surviving Colonial-era structures, such as the forge museum pictured here, as well as notable buildings from more recent times.

As volunteers were helping to remove debris from a riverside house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, some of the conversation centered on downriver towns that happened to fare much worse.

Just a few miles away in Bound Brook, not only were 1,000 homes flooded, but a fire had broken out among a block of buildings on its flooded main street.

In chewing over this incident, one longtime Millstone resident was heard to remark, "Yeah, we don't mind Mother Nature getting us wet, but that fire -- it must've been set by the Redcoats."

What day is it?

Steve Loucks, who does public relations for Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Minneapolis these days, has a proven knack for getting himself to his appointed rounds in a timely fashion.

But he seems to have gone overboard recently. We know because we were to dine with Steve in Minneapolis one recent Monday.

Not a complicated deal. Steve knew the restaurant, and he had the name of another that had been considered.

So when he turned up at the first restaurant and found no companion, he visited the second eatery. Still no dinner companion. Then, it came to him: He had shown up a week early.

But the next day, Tuesday, was another story. He rose at about 4:30 a.m. to meet a flight that was to bring his parents and grandfather to the Minneapolis Airport around 6 a.m. for a layover of an hour or two.

He called the airline and learned the flight would arrive at 5:30.

He raced to the airport, arriving in time to wait patiently as the entire aircraft emptied. No parents. No grandfather.

He finally asked a gate agent about his family members. He had come to the airport a day early.

This was because someone (not Steve) had not factored in the International Dateline.

So, yes, Steve rose before the roosters again the next morning, Wednesday, to see his family, but these days, he is reading his calendar and checking it twice before he even steps out of his house.

P.S.: When we e-mailed Steve to let him know we wanted to report his misadventures here, he e-mailed back: "Just don't call me 'the late Steve Loucks.' "

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