UPDATE: No one hurt in helicopter crash at Willard Airport

New 4:23 p.m. Wednesday:

A University of Illinois Willard Airport official said a helicopter was severely damaged during a minor crash at the airport Wednesday afternoon. But he said both people onboard escaped without any injuries.

Look ahead: Top picks from Melissa Merli for the week to come

Ballet performances

Travel/Scandinavian Cruise Part I: A voyage to remember


Sailing the placid blue Baltic Sea on a cruise ship during the long, lazy, hazy daylight hours of summer is as close to paradise as one could imagine this side of heaven.

State cuts blamed for falling Springfield hotel occupancy

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — The impact of Illinois' budget impasse has reached Springfield's hotel industry, which is reporting a four-year low in bookings.

Hotel industry officials say daily revenue and occupancy last year of the 4,000 hotel rooms in the Springfield market are expected to decline 3 percent to 5 percent, pending figures from December.

Travel/Wisconsin: Door County's fall colors


Just north of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., there is a road, Wisconsin 42, that reaches its spindly two-lane blacktop north past towns and villages with whimsical names, carrying those who follow it into a most colorful world.

Travel/France: Stepping back in time in Vieux Vannes


France has no shortage of beautiful small towns and villages. In fact, it's really quite hard to find an ordinary or ugly one.

Travel/Portugal: The hidden gem that is the Algarve Region


When Americans think about a vacation to Europe, they often look at the obvious choices: London, Paris or maybe Rome. Maybe you should venture out and look to destinations like Portugal, nestled on the western edge of the Iberian Peninsula.

Uni students find Japan defies their expectations

URBANA — Nothing reinforces what's taught in a high school Japanese class quite like a quick trip to Tokyo.

So Uni High teacher Mari Innami did just that — rounding up 19 of her students, plus a chaperone, and taking them on a December field trip of sorts to Japan's capital, as well as Naha, Okinawa.

Travel/Yellowstone National Park: In backpacking heaven


Last summer, my eldest son and I decided to go to Yellowstone for our annual backpacking trip. After picking up our permits at the South Boundary ranger station, we began our trip by fording the Snake River. A small group of mule deer greeted us on the other side.