September 14, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
What's your idea of a dream vacation?
Sunshine and spectacular scenery probably play a part. Only the most delicious food will be on the menu, with an elegant and perfectly matched wine, of course.
Golf or tennis, casino thrills, the Great Outdoors, or a foray into the big city all beguile vacationers' dreams of the perfect getaway. Chances are, you will find the package that checks off the must-have boxes on your vacation list—and help assure aviation's future—by bidding on one of the many vacation travel offerings in the AOPA Foundation's A Night for Flight charity auction through Sept. 22.
There's even an opportunity to walk through history at the mountain ranch of a U.S. president.
Whether you are looking for a vacation package, once-in-a-lifetime aviation thrill, pilot gadgets, flight training, or other aviation-related memorabilia or experiences, check out the AOPA Foundation's A Night for Flight online auction. More than 100 items are open for bidding. And don’t wait: The auction closes Sept. 22. Proceeds will go to the AOPA Foundation in order to keep pilots safe and safeguard the future of general aviation.
It's been a rainy summer in the northeast, complete with a hurricane and two tropical storms coming through. One answer, if your summer was soggy, is to wring out your spirits with three nights for two at Tucson, Ariz.'s Canyon Ranch. The stays include gracious accommodations, three nutritious gourmet meals daily, use of a fully equipped spa complex, indoor and outdoor pools, and tennis and sports courts. There are a selection of more than 50 complimentary fitness activities each day, a wide variety of guided hikes and biking excursions, a daily selection of lectures and cooking demonstrations, and a personal program advisor to custom-design the stay, and a health and fitness assessment.
If the sea is a must-see for the view from your hotel window, Villa La Estancia in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, offers five-star luxury at its hotel-condo complex on the warm sands of Medano Beach within walking distance of the upscale marina district, restaurants, and shopping of downtown Cabo San Lucas. You'll stay in a two-bedroom, three-bath villa with stunning views of Lands End and the Sea of Cortez. DVDs and even a telephone with unlimited calling to and from the USA (with a USA phone number) are an added amenity.
The National Parks are always a hot vacation ticket—so of course you will find offerings in the auction such as two nights lodging for two in a two-room suite with fireplace and spa tub at the historic Groveland Hotel at Yosemite National Park. That includes dinner in the acclaimed Cellar Door Restaurant. Your dinner will include a bottle of 1997 Caymus Select Cabernet Sauvignon. You'll receive a special spa package of potions, lotions, and other goodies, and a round of golf for two at the Pine Mountain Lake Country Club.
Any vacation should be remembered as a unique experience, so what could top a private tour for up to four people of the beloved haven of an American president?
Wend your way up seven miles of rustic road in the Santa Ynez Mountains just north of Santa Barbara, Calif., cross several cattle guards, and find yourself at Rancho del Cielo—a "Ranch in the Sky" set on 688 acres of rolling, tree-covered hills. The ranch was President Ronald Reagan's home for nearly 25 years and served as the “Western White House” during eight of those. It embodies Reagan's character and ideals. Reagan said of his beloved sanctuary, “No place before or since has ever given Nancy and me the joy and serenity it does.”
The winning bidder is entitled to an exclusive private tour of the Reagan Ranch, which is not open to the public, including a visit to the tack barn which still houses Reagan's saddle collection. Take in many of the scenic sites on the ranch including the helipad where Marine One operated—still the site of the San Marcus VOR. The package includes a tour of the Reagan Ranch Center in downtown Santa Barbara, and transportation to and from the ranch property. The ranch tour is for up to four people and includes a picnic lunch on the ranch itself.
From California to the Caribbean, and from two nights in wine country to a spa trip to the desert, the A Night for Flight Auction has something to appeal to any aviator. All of the proceeds from the auction and gala support the AOPA Foundation's four-fold mission—to protect America's airports, expand the pilot population, improve air safety, and enhance the image of general aviation.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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