Category Archives: Hobbies

What Happened at ZorkFest Did Not Stay at ZorkFest

When we last chatted, you may remember I posted about the first-ever ZorkFest. This was a one-day event on Dec. 2 in Atlantic City where experts in travel and casino loyalty programs gave attendees the scoop on both. Created by Founder Michael Trager, the event brought more than 100 attendees from across the country to Bally’s.

ZorkFest started the night before with an opening reception, where I got the chance to meet other attendees and share a cocktail. Fun fact: the casino enthusiasts were as interested in our #avgeek/travel proclivities as we were with their high roller ways. Michael held a private dinner for speakers and special guests, where I was seated across from Cousin Vito and his lovely wife.

Cousin Vito, who also did the opening remarks on Saturday, is one of the first in the country to create a podcast specifically targeting casino enthusiasts. He noted that the first time he ever gambled was at Atlantic City’s Tropicana when he was 17 and his cousin Mikey was 20. Wearing what he called “cheap suits,” they won playing the slot machine and decided to spend their earnings on caesar salads.

“It was one of the most memorable salads of my life because me and Mikey paid the bill on our own with our winnings,” he recalled. “With that little luck and cheap suits, we were able to create more than we ever imagined during that day in Atlantic City.”

Cousin Vito uses his podcast to help listeners make luck happen.  “Today you’re going to learn shortcuts to unlock casino awards. This first ZorkFest is a training camp for those aspiring for free rooms or even trips to Vegas,” he said. “You’ll learn ways to earn points more efficiently and maximize the return on investment.” This community has afforded me the opportunity to meet amazing people, he added.

The podcast is a way to share my love of casinos with everyone, said Cousin Vito. “The slogan of the show is “win more, lose less at the casino,'” he said. “It’s not about wining big, but about minimizing losses and maximizing your fun in the casinos.”

Podcast listeners love the show, saying it gives them the confidence to try different games, like craps, said Cousin Vito. “We make it OK to not gable a lot. You don’t need a big bankroll to have fun at the casino,” he said.

The Main Event

I’m not a gambler (but my ex is a high roller), so I was curious to learn about a group that was as passionate about their passion as the travel folks are about theirs. For my first session, I decided to stick with my avgeek travel side and go to Seth “Wandering Aramean” Miller’s presentation, “Maximize Miles & Points.” A few things I learned:

  • Seth is one of the original members of Flyer Talk;
  • He uses, and for the best hotel deals; and
  • He uses SkyScanner, ITA Matrix and Google Flights to find the best airfares.

I also learned more than I ever imagined about travel, points, miles, and deals on credit cards from Angelina Aucello, a Newark, N.J.-based travel aficionado and expert who blogs at Angelina Travels. Sorry you all missed how she is now banned from Kohl’s for something she did to earn credit card miles that help her travel the world with her family (come to ZorkFest 2018 and maybe she’ll spill again).

So watch this space for details on ZorkFest 2018, which will be in Las Vegas, baby! I’ll see you there! And check out these other posts about ZorkFest 2017.

Miles To Memories
ZorkFest: Travel and Casino Loyalty Combined. Do Not Miss the Next One (Pics Included)
Vegas Confessions Podcast
Vegas Confessions Post Zorkfest…I think we survived!
Cousin Vito’s Casino Podcast
E:66 Back from Atlantic City: A Zorkfest Trip Report

First-ever ZorkFest To Celebrate Travel, Casino Loyalty Programs

There are those of us who are travel loyalty geeks. Then there are some of us who are nuts about casino loyalty programs. A new event, ZorkFest, will bring together those who are fans of both. The event, the brainchild of Founder Michael Trager, is a unique one-day education seminar that will be held in Atlantic City on Dec. 1-2 that will specifically focus on Travel and Casino loyalty programs.

ZorkFest begins on Friday, Dec. 1 with a Welcome Beer & Wine Reception from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the seminar will cover topics including: 

  • Maximize Miles & Points: Fly more conveniently and for free. Learn how to efficiently find the elusive award inventory and book those great mileage redemptions for FREE flights;
  • Optimize Your Casino Rating: Do you play consistently but your casino offers do not seem to get better and sometimes get worse? Learn how to optimize your play to ensure you will get what you deserve, including comp rooms and more free play; and
  • Airfare, Hotel, Rental Car Shopping: We’ll focus on some of the best methods and tools to help you find the lowest airfare, hotel and car rental prices.

Sessions will run around 45 minutes, and you’re not required to attend all sessions, which will be confirmed about two weeks before Zorkfest.  Each 45-minute time slot will offer two sessions, and the event will also include a 45-minute lunch break. There will also be “Ask Me Anything” sessions for travel and casino loyalty programs.

Speakers are:

  • Angelina Aucello, a Newark, N.J.-based travel aficionado and expert, shares her excitement about travel, points, miles, and deals on her blog, Angelina Travels. She has earned and redeemed millions of miles and points for smart luxury travel around the world;
  • Seth Miller, known as The Wandering Aramean, flies up to 200,000 miles a year, mainly in the comfy seats. He has developed a knack of blending good deals, points and a bit of luck to extend his travel budget and explore more of the world than he ever thought possible;
  • Eric Rosenthal, contributor to several gambling and travel related websites and podcasts, discusses all things Atlantic City and his passion for “Comp Harvesting.” He frequents Atlantic City and uses casinos as his summer beach home. He travels to Las Vegas and other warm-weather destinations and pays pennies on the dollar for flights and hotels by  combining his knowledge of miles, points and casino loyalty programs;
  • Catherine Smalfus, AKA Coach Kitty, has been working frequent flyer deals since taking her first solo flight on Piedmont Airlines and signing up for their credit card while onboard. She believes that with a little extra effort, you can get a discount and a little extra value for every purchase you make, and offers an extensive combined knowledge of travel and casino loyalty programs, along with video poker;
  • Cousin Vito, a casino enthusiast and creator of the Cousin Vito’s Casino podcast, is a recreational gambler and a fun-loving foodie. His love for casinos started with childhood trips to Atlantic City with his late grandfather, including enjoying football games, tossing dice at a craps table and participating in poker tournaments. He considers himself to be the quintessential recreational gambler; and
  • Special guest Marc Meltzer, who resides in Las Vegas. His roots in gambling run deep, learning how to play poker in grade school. He learned more when he worked down the street from a bookie who took action on anything from the mainstream sports to the last three digits of the purse for certain horse races. He is currently a freelance writer and social media consultant who about food, booze, gambling and Las Vegas —  a tough job, but somebody has to do it

Event Registration

Registration for ZorkFest is now open. The cost is $150, including the reception and lunch. But you can save money with two promotions. One, get $25 off if you register by Nov. 1. Two, if you use my promo code, zorkqueen (all lower case), when registering, you’ll receive another $10 discount. So if you register by Nov.1, it will cost only $115 to attend.

Attendees have the chance to win Caesars Diamond Status for one year if you register by Nov 1. And there’s a chance to win a free hotel night plus dinner at Bally’s Atlantic City.
The ZorkFest team wants to make it as easy as possible to attend this inaugural travel/casino event, so those who register can get a $99 room rate on Friday night at Bally’s Atlantic City, which is a great deal. If you want to stay Saturday night, it will cost $179. There’s also a $99 Saturday rate at The Claridge, a Radisson hotel that’s connected to Bally’s. Travel to Atlantic City from the New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore-D.C. areas is easy by bus. Check out Busbud to find the best fares.
When ZorkFest ends, attendees are welcome to enjoy  the Everything Atlantic City (EAC) Holiday Social Meet with drinks for the EAC FaceBook group. Those wishing to attend will have to RSVP on the EAC FB page before the event.

Travel Smarter. Gamble Smarter. Maximize Your Travel Adventures

Best Of Aviation Queen: Tail Dragging!

Editor’s note: I’m off in Palm Springs this week at the AOPA Aviation Summit, so you guys get the best-of this week.  First up is a post I originally did back on April 10, when I got to take the AOA sweepstakes plane out for a spin.  Enjoy!


Yesterday, my regular flight instructor was a bit under the weather, so she suggested I fly with my original instructor. Dave Hirschman has one of the best jobs at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Not only is he the senior editor of AOPA Pilot magazine, but he’s also the handler for our sweepstakes aircraft, the Aviat Husky.

Dave asked if I wanted to fly in the Husky, and I leapt at the chance. The Husky is what’s called a tail dragger. It has a wheel on the tail and an actual stick to control the yoke. The website describes it thusly:
“Access areas that will take your breath away in a Husky. Its rugged, handcrafted construction, wide-field visibility and tandem seating create an extremely comfortable and secure environment for safely flying into places other planes simply can’t.”Two Huskys (one owned by our CEO Craig Fuller) were the stars at the AOPA Tent at the recent Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In.  Folks stopped by to take a look, have a seat at the picnic tables and even chat with Craig, who was there most of the time.

The views from the Husky can’t be beat, with large windows.  Because you fly slowly, you can actually fly with window or the door open. And I had the smoothest landing ever — in the grass!  Below are some pictures I took during the flight. Enjoy!!

Husky cockpit
The view from my window

Random Aviation Photo

I’m still feeling nostalgic for Memorial Day, so today’s photo is one I took at last year’s EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis.  Despite my military upbringing, I never felt the love for military aviation like I do commercial aviation  — until I saw all the warbirds at Oshkosh.  Below is Miss Geraldine, a gorgeous and pristine North American P-51D Mustang. Enjoy!