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Planning Your Summer Vacation

Planning Your Summer Vacation

Where's Wilson, The Newest ICLEF Blog

In the newest Where’s Wilson 2-Part Series, our ICLEF travel expert, John Wilson explains how to plan for vacations.

Planning Your Summer Vacation, Part 1
By John Wilson

For me, there are three distinct parts to every vacation: planning, the event itself and for lack of a more discreet term, the afterglow. The afterglow is when you consolidate your memories, enjoy your pictures and souvenirs, and take the stories that were interesting and embellish them to amazing. Not many people enjoy planning a trip as much as I do. There are no travel agents who have the time or inclination to work with me in the detail that I enjoy. In this article, I will give you a number of techniques I use working on my own to make a trip more fun, more convenient and less costly. If you incorporate one or two in your planning process, I will consider this writing a success. If you like all of the ideas, we need to have lunch with an atlas….You buy.

How to Decide Where to Go:
Sometimes you decide on the vacation or location and other times it decides for you. I have a piece of paper with about twenty or thirty destinations that I have not been to, but would like to visit. I created it five years ago while sitting in front of a peat fire on a chilly, foggy night in Northern Ireland. My wife and I were visiting our daughter who was in Belfast for a year. I had been traveling a lot to interesting locations and thought I might be running out of places to visit. The exercise proved me wrong. I kept coming up with new places to get excited about in both the U.S. and elsewhere. Since then, I have visited a number of the places on the list, but not as many as I would have expected. Other places keep calling me in addition to those on the list.

On occasion, a family member or I have just wanted some R&R. To us, that usually means a beach vacation. If you need some R&R and beach vacations are the answer for you, take a look at my Where’s Wilson blog article, My Favorite & Least Favorite Beach Vacations.

Don’t have a specific vacation in mind, but want to start the dreaming process? Take a look at these websites which primarily have guided tours. I will discuss the pros and cons of guided tours later. For now look at the trips to see what interests you. These companies are able to offer these tours continuously because they go to some of the most popular destinations world wide. The tours they offer span the gamut from easy, both physically and culturally, to way out there, literally and figuratively. I tend to travel economically both for the obvious reason and because I find the people that travel this way interesting. Sites I look at (and sign up for e-mails on trips and specials) include: G AdventuresGate 1 Travel & Intrepid

Grand Circle Cruise Line and Viking Cruises have some great itineraries for river and other cruises. A little more upscale with mostly Americans over sixty with great itineraries is Overseas Adventure Travel (OATS). These sites consistently discount tour prices if you can travel on short notice. My twenty something daughter and I went on a short notice OATs trip to Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. The price and itinerary were great. Forty-nine of the fifty people on the tour were over sixty years old. This was not ideal for my daughter who was the fiftieth person. The fact that our tour guide sounded exactly like Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle (and the young international staff of the ship) made up for it. In the category I consider expensive is National Geographic Expeditions. For the purpose of the dreaming exercise, look at all. They all have trips that can stimulate thought.

I was on fire to go to Mongolia. By looking at popular tour company itineraries, I realized that Mongolia would have amazing sights and experiences, but would require much more time riding buses than I wanted. I also wanted to go to Morocco. Looking at organized tours on G Adventure’s website, I was able to determine feasible routes, places to visit, and that it was economically within my range.

South East Asia is on my mind now. Reviewing the sites above, I was able to determine there are more areas of interest and itineraries than I could experience on one or more vacations. India, Nepal for trekking, Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam and Cambodia for culture, and some beach time. Then down to Malaysia and Indonesia, Bali and Java. Borneo? Who knows? Reviewing the cost of the trips on the sites, allowed me to extrapolate that the costs in the area were within my budget, whether I traveled independently, on a tour, or did a mix of both.

Air Travel:
Next I studied airfare to South East Asia and time of travel. It’s a long way. Distance will not put a quietus on a trip for me, but cost will. Even though many tours include airfare (and my have the best price), I check air fare separately and on multiple sites. For international travel, I like Yapta, Skyscanner, and Kayak. I also use Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia, more for the US, Caribbean and Central America. Yapta is good because it can track the change of prices for specific flights going forward and alert you to those changes. Southwest Airlines does not show on most sites and should be checked separately.

If you are planning late for a trip and having trouble finding a reasonably priced room and/or flight, look at packaged vacations on Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia. They may have inventory that you cannot get to separately.

Be creative in checking flights. For example, even if you want to start your trip in Hanoi, also check the flight to Bangkok, because it’s a hub. It may be cheaper to fly to Bangkok and get a regional flight to Hanoi. On my recent trip to Sochi, flights on the above sites were all showing around $2500. By breaking up my search to be Indy to Moscow, $950, and Moscow to Sochi, $300, the flight came within my means. (I did also check reviews for the Russian airline I was using, S7, which turned out to be on time, with new planes and flight attendants right out of the 50′s of U.S. air history.) For trips from Indy, I also check flights out of Chicago. Recently, a flight to Quito, Ecuador from Indy was around $1200. From Chicago, it was $750.

I have airports that I like and others that I avoid. I do not fly to Chicago from Indy. In my unproven, but strongly experienced opinion, because Indy is so close to Chicago, when backups occur in Chicago, Indy is one of the first airports from which flights are delayed. The weather can be fine here, you can be on the plane and still not get to Chicago for hours. I do not want to risk missing the only connecting flight to Kathmandu because I can’t get to Chicago. If Chicago flights are too good to pass up, I drive there. I will consider returning through Chicago because the long distance flights into Chicago will not be cancelled. However, flights to Indy, even though there are a bunch of them, can be frustratingly delayed also. If you fly through Newark, I will not respect you in the morning. – And that will be the morning you are still in Newark because your flight-in was delayed and you missed your connection.

My favorite airport is Charlotte which is relatively small, convenient to navigate, and from which you can catch a surprising number of connections to Europe and the Caribbean. For connections, I also like Detroit (you don’t have to go into the city), Minneapolis (in the winter, they know how to handle snow), and Cleveland. Atlanta and Houston are larger airports, hence I plan a little more time between connections, but I have had good luck there. I have had a lot of burgers in the Friday’s at Hartsfield International in Atlanta after coming off a week of great seafood in the islands. Others may disagree, but I will also travel out of Boston and Philly. The New York and Miami airports are not my favorites, but I will fly out of them when other options are not working.

Join us next week for Part 2: Where to Go and Accommodations and Things to Do


This is one of an ongoing series of travel discussions by John Wilson, retired lawyer and trust banker. John was motivated to start this series when he realized that his travel bio was more extensive and interesting than his legal credentials for doing ICLEF talks. He has traveled to forty-five states, over sixty countries and all continents except Antarctica.

If you have travel questions or tips of your own that you would like to suggest please contact ICLEF’s travel expert, John Wilson, by Clicking Here.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Posted in Where's Wilson: Travel Discussions0 Comments

Trial Court Must Make Spousal Maintenance Determination at Time of Decree

Case: Marjorie O. Lesley v. Robert T. Lesley 
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll (with thanks to Tamara McMillian)

HELD: A trial court must make a spousal maintenance determination at the time the Decree is entered, and it may not defer that decision to await additional information that becomes available after Decree.

Husband and Wife married in 1991. By 2009, Wife had been diagnosed with lupus, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and anxiety. Wife filed with SSA for disability benefits, which was denied by SSA and which Wife appealed.

In 2010, while Wife’s appeal of her SSA denial was pending, Husband filed for divorce. In response, Wife filed a request for incapacity based maintenance in the divorce.

In 2011, after a final hearing, the trial court issued its Decree. In the Decree, the trial court recited that Wife’s claims for SSA disability had been denied, and that Wife had not otherwise presented a case to the trial court that would support a maintenance claim. Importantly, however, the Decree added: “Upon a determination by the Social Security Administration that Wife is disabled, the Court will re-evaluate issues of child support, maintenance, and educational expenses, retroactively.”

In late 2011, the SSA ruled on Wife’s appeal of her disability benefits denial, determining that Wife had been disabled retroactive to October 2009. Wife then filed a petition with the trial court requesting spousal maintenance based upon the SSA’s determination. After a hearing, the trial court issued an order granting Wife rehabilitative maintenance – not incapacity-based maintenance – for a period retroactive to the date of Decree and for a term of three years. Wife appealed the trial court’s award of rehabilitative maintenance, rather than incapacity-based maintenance; Husband cross-appealed arguing that the trial court lacked authority to reconsider its original denial of maintenance in its Decree.

The Court of Appeals noted this to be an issue of first impression. The Court noted that the burden to establish her incapacity at the final hearing rested entirely upon Wife, and the trial court’s findings indicate that Wife failed to meet that burden. “As a matter of law, the trial court could not retain authority to reevaluate, postpone, or defer that determination based upon a subsequent decision from the SSA.”

The trial court’s award of maintenance in favor of Wife was reversed.

Judge Baker wrote a separate concurring opinion, indicating that the better approach for the trial court may have been to continue its final hearing until after the SSA had made its determination of Wife’s appeal of the denial of her benefits.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Marjorie O. Lesley v. Robert T. Lesley


The Indiana Family Law Update is a free service provided by the Matrimonial Law Group of Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP. While significant efforts are made to ensure an accurate summary and reproduction of each opinion, readers are advised to verify all content and analysis with a traditional case law reporter before relying on the content and analysis offered here.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Posted in Family Law Case Review, News0 Comments

Upcoming Live CLE in March

Below is a list of our upcoming Live CLE Seminars in March. Click any seminar below for additional information or to register. To see which CLE seminars are near you, Click Here to search our Video Replay CLE Seminars. Once there you can choose a location and/or legal topics, as well as a date, all on the left side of this search/info page. You can also, Click Here to see our On Demand CLE Seminars which are available online Anywhere, Anytime.


Advanced Worker’s Compensation
An ICLEF Masters Series Seminar
6 CLE – This seminar is no longer available. Please join us next time. For additional Worker’s Compensation On Demand Seminars, Click Here.

Probate Litigation
6 CLE - This program is no longer available as a Live In-Person Seminar. However, you can still view the Video Replay, the On Demand Seminars or purchase the Publication of this Seminar by Clicking Here.

The Ethics of Legal Marketing A Law Practice in a Social Media Environment
Featuring National Speaker Cynthia Sharp
3 CLE / 3 E - This seminar is no longer available. Please join us next time.

Strategies for Taking Charge of Your Law Practice
Featuring National Speaker Cynthia Sharp
3 CLE / 3 E - This program is no longer available as a Live In-Person Seminar. However, you can still view the Video Replay, the On Demand Seminars or purchase the Publication of this Seminar by Clicking Here

14th Annual Property Tax Institute
6 CLE / 6 CE Level I or II - This program is no longer available as a Live In-Person Seminar. However, you can still view the Video Replay, the On Demand Seminars or purchase the Publication of this Seminar by Clicking Here.

17th Annual TASC – Trial Advocacy Skills College – “Trial Camp”
28 CLE / 3 E  - This program is no longer available. Please join us next year for the 18th Annual TASC.

Long Term Care Planning
3 CLE - Tuesday,  March 25, 2014    9:00 A.M. – 12:15 P.M.
Live In-Person Seminar - ICLEF Conference Facility, Indianapolis
Live Group WebcastMuncie
Live Individual WebcastFrom your home or office computer

The Big 3 in IP: Copyright, Trademarks & Patents
3 CLE - Wednesday,  March 26, 2014    9:00 A.M. – 12:15 P.M.
Live In-Person Seminar - ICLEF Conference Facility, Indianapolis
Live Individual WebcastFrom your home or office computer

Bankruptcy & Your Family Law Case
2 CLE - Thursday,  March 27, 2014    11:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.
Live In-Person Seminar - ICLEF Conference Facility, Indianapolis
Live Group Webcast - Mishawaka
Live Individual WebcastFrom your home or office computer

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis 




Posted in Highlighted Seminars0 Comments

ICLEF's Where's Wilson 2014 Sochi Olympics Speed Skating

Where’s Wilson: Live from the Sochi Winter Olympic Games

Our travel expert, retired attorney, John Wilson is now a 9-time Olympian! Not as an athlete, per se, but definitely as an adventurer! He has been traveling to the Olympics since the 1976 Montreal Games. John has been fondly reminiscing about his Olympic past in this exclusive ICLEF 4-Part Series. Having now attended the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, John will regale us with what he learned from his Russian adventures. Click to read Part 1,  Part 2, & Part 3.


Live From The Sochi Winter Olympic Games
By John Wilson

If You Knew Sochi Like I Know Sochi…

Привет  (Hello – Russian)

Even though I had attended eight prior Olympics, I did not intend to go to the Sochi. I learned, as you have, that Sochi does not have a Siberian climate. As we left Indy, the temperature was -6 F. in Indy and 60 F. in Sochi. Next, with very few Americans interested in going to Sochi, Olympic tickets which usually have been very hard to get, became available. Mo and I have an unbelievable set of event tickets, including the men’s USA v. Russia hockey game in pool play.

It wasn’t easy. The visa process gives interesting insight into the local political culture via some of the questions on the application. In the case of Russia, in addition to questions about what clubs and organizations I belonged to, they wanted to know my last three employers, when and why I left. Because I worked at my last employer for thirty-two years, I had to do a little memory dredging to come up with a response.

Flights were interesting. Using standard search engines like Orbitz, Yapta and Skyscanner, tickets from Indy to Sochi were running around $2500 which was above my budget. By breaking the flight search to Indy–Moscow, $925, and Moscow–Sochi $250, I made the booking.

In prior Olympic blogs, I mentioned that many times I have waited to get housing until close to the Olympics. That is when reasonable rates and terms seem to reappear as property owners realize that not as many tourist are coming as they thought and it becomes a buyers market. I have seen online where Russian tourist regularly show up in Sochi without a room and find one when they arrive. There are limits to my adventurous spirit, especially in Russia. I also thought that the housing would be dismal soviet era apartments. Then, also online, I found that a credible organization had arranged to have a credible cruise liner docked in Sochi for the Olympics. My favorite and only daughter, Mo, and I are staying on the Norwegian Cruise Liner, Jade, with two thousand of our best new international friends. It is docked in Sochi Seaport for the Olympics. I also could envision bad Soviet food in a few restaurants with sullen/surly wait staffs. In addition to the ship’s restaurants which are excellent and surprisingly inexpensive, Sochi has been a resort for generations and is noted for a wide variety of family restaurants serving excellent regional and international fare. Who knew?

We do not know what the media is saying about security, but from our on the ground spectators view, it has been outstanding. Before arriving, I was required to get an Olympic photo I.D. to be able to use my Olympic Tickets. I had to have that pass validated in Sochi. I need a boarding pass to be able to get on the Norwegian Jade. I also need another pass to get into the seaport. The boarding passes had not been sent until about ten days before the Olympics began. (But all of us on the good ship Jade were in the same boat.) And got them upon arrival.

All train and bus transportation is free during the Olympics. To get on a train, you go through a typical airport scanner, always get a pat down, and they have a kind of heat sensitive  scanner on you while this happens. They have sufficient staff that we have never had to wait more than one or two minutes to get through. The train ride from Sochi to Olympic Park takes forty minutes on new trains. In addition to fencing and security cameras, a soldier stands guard every few hundred yards along the train line, even for the train from Sochi to the alpine events. The Cossacks have made a come back for the first time since Czar Nicholas and are helping with security. They are very serious fellows, but we got a little smile out of this one.

ICLEF's Where's Wilson Olympic Series 2014 Sochi Olympics Cossack Guard

We stopped for one night in Moscow on our way to Sochi. We stayed at the Katerina City hotel which is owned by Swedes. We met another guest on his way to the Olympics who is from Trinidad, but lives in London. Upon recommendation from the hotel staff, we all went to a German restaurant where we drank Czech beer with the Russians. The international vacation was officially started.

The weather has been great.  The train from Sochi to the venues follow the Black Sea shore line.  We saw people swimming yesterday.

ICLEF's Where's Wilson Olympic Series 2014 Sochi Olympics Black Sea

The vast majority of the Olympic visitors are Russians, but there are guests from all over the world, particularly the countries with winter sport backgrounds. The family of the Canadian pairs skaters, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are on the boat. I didn’t know who they were when I sat down to talk to them and asked how their day had been. They said, “pretty good, our son won a bronze medal today”. We have met parents of an Irish Grand Slalom skier and Canadian ski jumper. I had a late night with Kim and Jacob from the Danish IOC who were entertaining sponsors from Sweden. We met Jeff and Tom on the way to aerials. They were from the U.S. but were working in Abu Dhabi.  Jeff is the nephew of Mary Marsh who is retired PNC Trust Counsel in Indy. They really wanted to buy our two extra tickets to USA v Russia hockey, but I had promised them to Conner, from Dublin and his friend, Liann, who is a solicitor in London.

ICLEF's Where's Wilson Olympic Series The 2014 Sochi Olympics Rings

Olympic Park is huge. The walk from the entrance to the circle of event venues and the Olympic Torch is over a mile. The are some country exhibits, including USA house which would not let us in because we were not on the Olympic Committee. How rude! There are also sponsor exhibits, a couple of which were pretty interesting. One three dimensional photo exhibit exceeds my ability to explain it, so if you see me, ask to see the video. The ice climbing wall was very cool and open to all comers.

ICLEF's Where's Wilson Olympic Series 2014 Sochi Olympics Ice Climbing

Our first event was speed skating, the Men’s 500 meters. Each participant skates twice and the  skater with the best aggregate time win’s. The Netherlanders prevailed, but the Russians got a medal to the great joy of our hosts. After our event we took the half hour train ride back to Sochi and went to the ship. The events run late so the ship has two restaurants they don’t even open until 10:30 and serve until 2:30 A.M.. The next day we had no events. We did some walking in Sochi. They have a promenade along the water with the same type of tourist trap shops that we have along our beaches in the U.S. We didn’t buy anything. Those cool red and white sports jacket only cost 27,500 rubles at 35 rubles to the dollar. Next was short track speed skating. The Olympic equivalent of roller derby.

ICLEF's Where's Wilson 2014 Sochi Olympics Speed Skating

After watching the Russians beat Slovenia in hockey, we went to the Today Show set where they were filming live at 6:00 P.M. Sochi time and 9:00 A.M. New York time. Did you see me? I was right behind Al.

The next day we had tickets to Women’s Aerials at the Rosa Khatour Extreme Park. The village at Krasnay Polyana  looks much like a new American  ski resort like Vail with upscale accommodations, stores and restaurants. The only souvenir Mo wanted from Russia was a “Big Russian Hat”. We bought it here.

ICLEF's Where's Wilson Olympic Series 2014 Sochi Olympics Mo in "Big Russian Hat"

The only problem was instead of charging 9000 rubles to my Visa card (about $270), they charged 90,000. And Visa would not let them back out a charge of that much. We were blissfully unaware of the problem as more employees came to discuss it and the solution among themselves. I did notice that one lady was counting out a lot of rubles. When it came time to give us the bad news, their English was not sufficient to explain the problem and proposed solution. A Russian whose English was better, stepped in to interpret. It took quite awhile to resolve the problem and our new Russian interpreter stayed with us the whole time. He made us promise to e-mail him that all was okay when we got back to the States. The solution was that now I was the proud holder of 81,000 rubles in cash. As I was going to get hurt on the currency exchange, we then found a Russian Visa employee, Vladimir, who also went out of his way to help us, including having a colleague bring an international cell phone up the mountain so we could call JPMorgan Visa in Columbus, Ohio.

We rode the tram up to the venue with a news team from New Zealand. The Kiwi’s only had fifteen athletes and had not won a medal. We asked how their work was coming along, and they said it was hard coming up with eight ways to say, “It was another tough day for New Zealand”. We were in the standing section for the Aerials. The Russian in front of Mo, wanted to talk to us, but his English was not good and our Russian was still basically non-existent. Eventually, we understood he was from Siberia. He gave Mo a writing pen and we gave his little boy a Kennedy half-dollar. Detente again. The U.S. had the best performer in the event but did not medal as she fell in the finals.

Russia v. USA hockey was the biggest event yet and we had tickets. What a great game! The Russian fans were out in force, but the U.S. a surprising number of fans. If you didn’t see it, the game was tied at the end of regulation, tied at the end of a five minute overtime period with the U.S. finally prevailing in a shoot out that went to eight shots. The Russians were stunned.

ICLEF's Where's Wilson Olympic Series 2014 Sochi Olympics USA v Russia Hockey. USA Wins!

The Russians have a different culture than we do with respect to lines and personal space. Mo and I were standing in a short line to get a victory beer after the U.S. win over Russia in hockey. A Russian guy in a black leather jacket and two day beard growth (something of a Russian fashion statement) walks right past us and all the others in line, including Russians, slams  money on the counter and growls something in Russian to the server (I’m pretty sure he said, “Give me beer now, or die”).  The server stops taking care of us, gets the guy his beer and the guy walks off. The practice of cutting lines and shoving through crowds was so prevalent that we even met some Canadians who were upset by it.

Overall, we feel the Russians did a great job with the spectators, signage was very clear with English sub-titles. All verbal announcements on the trains and in the Olympic Park were in Russian and English. Every where we went if a volunteer did not speak English, the volunteer would have another nearby who did.

The Games are over for us now. It was a great adventure. We now spend a couple of days in Moscow and then will come back to the U.S.


This is one of an ongoing series of travel discussions by John Wilson, retired lawyer and trust banker. John was motivated to start this series when he realized that his travel bio was more extensive and interesting than his legal credentials for doing ICLEF talks. He has traveled to forty-five states, over sixty countries and all continents except Antarctica.

If you have travel questions or tips of your own that you would like to suggest please contact ICLEF’s travel expert, John Wilson, by Clicking Here.

Photographs © 2014, John Wilson. Photographs may not be used without permission. 

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN


Posted in Where's Wilson: Travel Discussions1 Comment