Back to profile

Ken Brooks

Stories by Ken

Plan now for future vacations

Now is not too early to begin planning a vacation for fall and winter. The airlines are cutting capacity because of slower sales after the summer, and the best accommodations in resorts and cruises are being reserved earlier than the past two years. Now, the best deals go early, and the later you book may mean higher prices. It used to be the reverse. We used to book later and wait for the “fire sales,” remember? It seems that cruise sales in parts of Europe are slower this summer because of high transatlantic airfares. Who knows what airfares will be this fall and winter. Not as high as summer, probably. It all depends on the price paid for fuel. Cruise ship fares have come down even for summer because the cruise lines can benefit with passenger spending onboard for spa treatments, gifts, extra fare restaurants, gambling, and shore excursions and so on.

Why I love movies

Many years ago when I was growing up in Los Angeles, my mother would take me downtown to shop the big department stores. There were few regional malls in those days. We would get on the streetcar and rail our way to the big buildings in the center of town. Perhaps this was the beginning of my liking trains. Often, the streetcars would be two cars coupled together during busy periods. I tried to ride up front across from the motorman driving the train. This trip took about 30 minutes as I remember. Mom and I would leave the streetcar on Broadway, one of the main downtown streets. The trip would usually begin around 9 a.m. On arrival, we would head to the first intended department store, which was usually the May Co. There was a childcare room in the store where Mom would deposit me for an hour or so. I played with other children in my age group and I remember there were a lot of toys spread around the large room. Great fun!

Planning and packing for your summer vacation

Planning for your next vacation can be fun and exciting and it starts the juices flowing early.

See the national parks this summer

The National Parks here in the U.S. are our natural treasures and are cared for by the National Park Service. If you have not traveled to places like Bryce, Zion, the Grand Tetons or Yellowstone perhaps you should consider these “wonders” for this summer’s vacation.

Summer Vacation Planning

Spring is here and summer is not far off. Have you started to make plans for your vacation?

Why I love cruising

When I was a small child, my parents would take me to the island of Catalina, located just 26 miles from the mainland of California across from Long Beach.

California delights

There is something special about Northern California. It is as different from Southern California as day and night. I suggest flying into San Francisco, renting an automobile, then “cruising” the area at your own pace.

It’s time to visit Branson

Branson, Mo. is known today as the Live Entertainment Capital of the World. Featured are more than 100 different shows in 52 theaters, ranging from intimate 50-seat venues to 4,000-seat palaces

Great Atlantic passenger ships of the past

Since I was a young boy I have always been interested in passenger ships.

Travel bargains, interesting places

Tim Leffel, author of the “The World’s Cheapest Destinations: 21 Countries Where Your Money is Worth a Fortune,” states that when there is trouble in an area, tourists tend to stay away from an entire region.

Traveling Australia

Australia is the only country that is itself, a whole continent. Famous for its natural wonders and wide open spaces, fantastic beaches, deserts and the “outback” Its leading cities are: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Traveling New Zealand

Some travelers avoid visiting New Zealand and Australia because they feel it is simply too far from home.

Family-friendly travel ideas

Perhaps one could say the family that travels together stays together. Summer is the preferred time because of the school holidays and the weather is usually better than other times of the year.

Some Travel Ideas

Already, many of us are beginning to think about what we want to do on our vacations this spring and summer. With this edition of “Travel Talk” we will attempt to start your thinking in that direction.

Down on the farm

When I was a kid living in Los Angeles my parents felt that my experience should not just be that of being a big city youngster.


Cruising the Caribbean in an international ship

We have just returned from a 14-day cruise in the wonderful Caribbean on a truly international ship, MSC’s luxurious Poesia.

Some favorite cruises of the past

If you are like me, you enjoy thinking and talking about favorite vacations you have taken in the past. My favorite type of vacation — cruises.

Beautiful Norway

Here is a country that has midnight sun, the northern lights and some of the most beautiful landscapes you can imagine. It also has some of the friendliest people on earth.

Expedition vacations

Part 2

If you are the type that enjoys the uncommon vacation and exploring areas of the world that most do not, I have some ideas for you.

Expedition vacations

Some of us enjoy taking the more usual type of vacation such as a tour, a road trip, a cruise or camping. There are a few that have practically done it all and look for adventure and expedition travel.

The Singapore Experience

If you have never traveled to Singapore, you have missed a special country.

A Palm Springs Break

Only a few hours from our area is the classic town of Palm Springs, Calif. It has been the winter hideout of the movie colony and a festival town for others. There is really a lot to do most of the time and rarely crowded.

Going Around-The-World

It has been my good fortune to have traveled to 128 countries to date. I was bitten by the travel bug as a teenager and have never gotten over it.

What happens in Vegas is fun

We try and do an update on Las Vegas at least once each year because there is usually so much change in this dynamic city.

Remembering early television

In 1948 only one American in 10 had seen a TV set. I remember first watching TV lingering outside the windows of stores that sold the new wonder.

Exciting cruises

Now that we are closing in on the cooler months, it may be time to think about a vacation in warmer climes.

An unexpected experience

I began serving in the United States Navy in the late 1950s. My first duty was at the submarine base at Vallejo, Calif.

Christmas shopping in Europe

Yes, it’s time again to think about ordering Christmas cards and to consider what you want to do for the holidays.

An African Photo Safari

Of the many people I speak with about adventure travel most tell me their ultimate goal is go to Africa for a photo safari.

Adventures and Expeditions

When we think about our next vacation we often consider visiting relatives for a week or so, or perhaps camping and fishing or even a cruise to the Caribbean or Alaska.

Autumn in New England

Hard to believe it’s autumn and time to think about a fall foliage tour in this rather unique part of the United States. New England offers so much history of our early days as a nation and the scenery in autumn is famous the world over. Travelers are stunned with the bright colors of red, yellow and browns mixed in with deep greens.

The worst job I ever had!

Occupations throughout my life have, for the most part, been very enjoyable.

Special Vacations

I call today’s article “special vacations” because the combinations of itinerary and method of travel are not too common.

My First Tour

When I was 19 and had finished my first year at the University of Southern California my parents allowed me to take a two-and-a-half month student tour of Europe.

Magical Mammoth Lakes

Located in the east-central portion of California lies one of the more beautiful parts of that state. Known to many Southern Californians as a fantastic ski area in the winter, Mammoth is also a wonderful play land in summer.

Escape to the Islands

What do you look for when considering the perfect vacation islands? Some think of great beaches, others just want a superior get-away while some desire tropical weather, quiet, and plenty of sun.

Tall Ship, small ship cruising

So many of today’s cruise ships are of the mammoth variety carrying from 2,500 to over 5,000 passengers, however, more and more cruisers are looking at the smaller vessels that are available today.

Riding trains a lifelong passion

I grew up in Los Angeles at a time when the streamliners were coming into service with the various railroads.

a Driving tour through California

Having been born and raised in California I am naturally prejudiced regarding the many sights and experiences found in the state.

Idaho – vast and diverse

Wherever you travel in Idaho you will find spectacular scenery with beautiful mountains, rivers, streams, valleys and friendly towns and cities.

Vacations you’ll enjoy

Some time ago I became aware of a tour operator who uses imagination and uniqueness in their planning. At the end of this column I’ll give you their name and contact information.

My passion for ships


Beginning when I was probably 5 years old, my parents would take me to the Los Angeles Harbor to board the S.S. Catalina for a two-and-a-half hour sail to the island of Santa Catalina located 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles.

Colorado, a vacation dream

Colorado creates travel experiences that last a lifetime. With usually good summer weather and an annual average of 300 sunshine-filled days, Colorado is a great get-away destination.

Wonderful Portland

Portland is a progressive, multicultural city with much to see and do.

Travel bumps

Much of what I am about to share in today’s article occurred when I was a tour manager for a leading tour company in the late 1960s.

Outdoor adventures await the summer traveler

The weather is improving and perhaps you are already thinking of where to get out and experience the great outdoors. Of course, there are many choices and today I will outline a few locations you might consider.


A few years ago we decided to take a cruise up the Amazon River in Brazil. Being the largest river in the world, we thought we should experience some of it.

A surprise adventure

In the 1990s I was set to give a speech in Washington, D.C. for a company with which I was employed.

Driving Through England

England is one of the few countries I will drive in besides the United States. At least I can read the signs.

A visit to the holy land

Many years ago I was on an around-the-world tour that worked its way from Los Angeles west through the Orient, Middle East, into Israel, Egypt and Greece before returning to Los Angeles. By the time we were to fly into Israel I was so tired of travel and flying that I almost wished that we weren’t going to Israel. However, as the aircraft approached the shores of Israel to land at Tel Aviv airport, I began thinking of my Sunday School days and the Holy Land. By the time I had deplaned I was anxiously looking forward to visiting the places I had studied in the Bible. You will too.