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Travelers Take Detours, Change Plans

Through nearly 45 years of marriage, the McGrearys have weathered just about everything. But the Ohio couple didn't want to take on Hurricane Isabel (search), so they canceled a weekend anniversary trip to Niagara Falls (search).

• Map: Isabel's Path (NOAA)

"We'll go west," Nora McGreary, 72, said Wednesday. "It was going to be special, but we'll do it another time."

Many travelers around the country are changing their plans or canceling their trips altogether to stay out of the path of the hurricane.

Isabel appeared to be on a course to hit the North Carolina coast on Thursday and move up through Virginia and into the Great Lakes (search).

The storm's 110 mph winds and the heavy rain it was expected to bring stopped Bob and Betsy Reger from making the family's annual nine-hour drive from Vienna, W.Va., to Ocean City, Md.

They had been booked in a first-floor room in a motel on the beach, "and I could just picture the water coming in," Reger said.

The Regers are disappointed they will miss what he calls "the best seafood in the world" but said they will return next spring. For now, they are headed to West Virginia's scenic New River Gorge, then maybe on to historic Lewisburg, W.Va.

Nice, Reger said, but not quite the same.

"It's not eating crabs at Captain's Galley II in Ocean City," he said.

AAA in Cleveland sent members advice, warning them to avoid driving through water and to stay away from low-lying areas.

The hurricane has kept Albany, N.Y., travel agent Rosanna Aiuppa busy dealing with callers worried about flight delays.

"I'm almost like sleep-deprived," said Aiuppa, a travel agent from Bright Horizons Travel. She was working to make sure clients were not penalized for late or canceled trips.

Amtrak, American Airlines and USAirways, among others, said customers would not be penalized for making hurricane-related changes to tickets. Amtrak on Wednesday canceled service for several trains, including all service south of Washington, D.C.

In Kansas City, Kan., Dr. Steve Richter canceled a two-day dental convention he had organized in Boston. By Tuesday, nearly half of the 5,000 people registered had canceled or expressed concern about getting there.

The Boston native, who knows what to expect from a hurricane, didn't want attendees to be stranded at the Boston airport.

"Anything disrupts air traffic at Logan -- especially a hurricane," he said. "It was a bad business decision, because we lost a ton of money. But having our speaker and everyone safe was important. So I pulled the plug."

As for Jack McGreary, he will not let Isabel ruin his plans to romance his wife on their anniversary Saturday. He plans to drive west without a destination and stop at a nice restaurant.

"We're going to have a dinner that we can't afford," McGreary said. "We just like to get away. When you're 45 years married and you're our age, you have to look at reality. It might be the last chance we get to do something like this."