Shopgirl: Learn history on one of these boat tours

A Petersburg Boat tours the Augusta Canal. Tours are offered throughout the year. FILE/STAFF

The Petersburg boat tours are a great way to entertain out-of-town guests or learn more about your hometown. While all the boat tours offer something interesting, the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area offers a special boat tour each month titled Voices of the Past – A Petersburg Boat Pilot.


This special performance-tour uses stories and characters from the oral histories of Mr. Buck Balchin about his grandfather, a real-life Petersburg boat pilot named James Henry Balchin. The senior Mr. Balchin crewed and piloted cotton boats in the 19th century from Petersburg to Augusta.

The next tour is May 20 at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. Admission is included with the cost of admission to the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area. For more on the boats tours, visit


WHAT’S NEW: Coach and Kate Spade have merged, to the tune of the more than $2 billion purchase price for Coach to acquire Kate Spade.

It’s an interesting move for Coach, who has taken costly and seemingly strategic steps in recent years to pivot more towards the luxury market – even designing couture for this year’s Met Ball.

Kate Spade is solidly in the younger, more approachable market.

Consumers of both brands were a little nervous on Twitter when the merger was officially announced last week, voicing concerns that Coach would tamp down Kate Spade’s quirky style, and that the addition of Kate Spade to the Coach house would inhibit this more fashion-y era for the brand.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how these two ubiquitous yet vastly different brands work together in the future.


WHAT’S TRENDY: Amazon is getting closer and closer to having a finger in every corner of your life. It was announced last week that the Amazon Echo is now capable of sending phone and text messages through all of its Alexa-enabled devices and with the Alexa app anyone has on their smartphone.

Most interesting is a feature they’ve called “drop-in,” which works most similarly to a radio or walkie-talkie. This feature is only available on the new Echo Show (which comes with a TV screen), and allows you to “call” someone without them having to pick up. It’s a great feature for someone with pets home alone, or for checking on an elderly friend or relative.



Pop Rocks: Augusta, my Christmas wish list has one thing

My family often accuses me of being a difficult person to Christmas shop for. While it is true that my tastes run toward the particular and tend to lean heavily on easy-to-wrap standards such as books and records, I believe that as I get older, I’m less concerned with the item than the idea. Give me something I believe you have thought about and carefully considered, and I’m happy. The present clearly purchased at the drug store the day before is met with considerably less enthusiasm.

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