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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Touch of Nature to host summer adventure camps

CARBONDALE -- Are you looking for something out of the ordinary for the kids this summer? Something memorable, exciting and fun?

“There is only one word for fun this summer and that is W.O.W.!” said Travis Geske, outdoor program leader for Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center. “If swinging on ropes, climbing rocks, canoeing, hiking and caving sounds appealing to you, then Wild Outdoor Week, or W.O.W., as we call it, is definitely the place for you to be this summer.”

W.O.W. is an experiential adventure camp with the emphasis on learning and individual growth through outdoor activities and adventure. The first session July 6-10 is for youth entering grades 5-7, while the second session, July 27-31, is for those entering grades 7-9. The day camp starts at 8:30 a.m. and wraps up at 4 p.m. each day at the center’s main office.

Campers can also ride a free shuttle bus from the SIU Arena to and from the camp. The bus departs the arena at 8 a.m. and campers return there about 4:30 p.m. each day.

Participants will enjoy the teams course and canoeing, rock climbing at Giant City State Park, caving at the Illinois Caverns, hiking at Panthers Den, lots of swimming and tackling the famous Touch of Nature high ropes course. W.O.W. is a component of the Underway Adventure Program, host since the mid-1970s to thousands of people participating in exciting outdoor activities.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Boys and Girls Club’s Summer Adventure signups under way

The Boys and Girls Club of Lower Merrimack Valley has announced its Summer Adventure Program registration is now open. The program runs the entire summer, starting Monday, June 22 through Friday, Aug. 28, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Ages 6-16 are welcome.

There are five two week sessions: Session I — June 22-July 3; Session II — July 6- 17; Session III July 20-31 and Session IV — Aug. 3-12; and Session V — Aug. 17-28. Each session costs $240. There is a one-time registration fee of $40 and includes a T-shirt plus. Membership is required; cost is $15 annually. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

The Boys and Girls Club is offering special activities throughout the summer, including field trips, sports, arts & crafts, nature hikes, indoor and outdoor activities, a talent show, computer games and sailing and woodworking. One of the special treats that kids enjoy is Ice Cream Day, which every Wednesday and every other Friday.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Large turnout for Arbor Day Celebration

MT. VERNON — Families celebrated the importance of trees and learned ways to care for the environment during the second annual Arbor Day Celebration Saturday at Veterans Park.

Presented by the Mt. Vernon Parks and Recreation Department and sponsored by AmerenIP, local organizations provided youth-centered activities and food while participants experienced nature firsthand.

“I hope that [the children] know that it’s more fun to be playing outdoors than on a video game inside,” George Bryant, director of the Parks and Recreation Department said. “This is part of our Family Adventure Series that is all about experiencing new and different things outdoors with your family. These programs bring the family together.”

Bryant, who is also a certified arborist with the International Society of Arborculture, demonstrated how to plant a tree and discussed some problems people may experience once it is settled.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Nature Report: Spring fishing in Laguna Madre

If you want to keep up with Captain Todd Casey, then you will have to get up early and stay out late.

Whether it’s fishing for big trout or oversized reds, spring fishing on the Lower Laguna Madre is at its peak right now.

This time of year every year is my favorite time to fish,” Casey said. “The water is starting to warm up, everything is starting to spawn, the bait fish are moving in, the tides are getting high, it’s just kind of a magical time to be on the water.”

Casey has a knack for picking the right spots to park his boat and make a wade.

And whether it’s a late afternoon adventure or an early morning session, the fishing is usually very productive.

The quest for a big trout is always a challenge, and when Todd catches one he invariably turns it loose….to spawn and hopefully grow even larger.

Monday, May 11, 2009

WWF-Canada Announces Earth Hour Contest Winner

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 28, 2009) - Today, one month after Earth Hour, WWF-Canada announced Wanda Hall as the winner of the Earth Hour Contest to win a trip for two to Churchill, Manitoba to see first-hand the effects of climate change.

On March 28, more than 4,000 cities globally, and more than 10 million Canadians from coast-to-coast participated in Earth Hour. As an incentive to encourage people to sign-up for Earth Hour, WWF-Canada ran a contest for on-line registrants for Earth Hour, with the prize of a trip for two to Churchill - the polar bear capital of the world. Currently, there are less than 25,000 polar bears left in the wild. Canada's arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet. In the past 30 years, 25 per cent of Arctic sea ice has disappeared, pushing the bears to the brink of survival.

Ms. Hall has won a three-night trip to Churchill Manitoba courtesy of Frontiers North Adventures and airfare courtesy of Sears Travel. Led by an expert guide, this adventure includes two full days on the tundra viewing and photographing polar bears and other wildlife, such as arctic fox, hare, and ptarmigan from a world famous Tundra Buggy(C).

"Visiting Churchill has been on my list of places to see for some time because I love polar bears," says trip winner, Wanda Hall. "With the effects of climate change pushing these majestic animals to the brink of extinction it makes me sad to think future generations, might never have a chance to see them in their natural habitat. I am so excited and hope I can use my experience to encourage others to do more for the planet."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

ILLINOIS STYLE: Oswego man travels ``green'' in RV

OSWEGO, Ill. - In the past year, Brian Brawdy has logged more than 60,000 miles on his RV while traveling through 48 states, all for the sake of exploration -- and conservation.

The Oswego man decided to take his wanderlust on the road after a close call with skin cancer.

"At 46, it was time for me to start doing the things I've wanted to do since I was a little boy," said Brawdy, now 47. That meant embarking on one hell of a road trip.

His adventure has found him trekking through Death Valley in 140-degree heat and kayaking next to alligators in the Everglades.

"People who don't know me probably think I'm crazy," said Brawdy, who recently dropped by the Chicago Sun-Times office en route to Colorado. "My friends already know I'm crazy."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nature's work of art

MARCO POLO called it the "Flower by the Indies" while Ibn Batuta described it as "One of the Wonders of the World".

And true to its reputation, the Maldives boasts some of the most spectacular sights that can only be seen in this part of the Indian Ocean.

As soon as my feet landed on the powder-fine sands of Kandooma island, I felt at home instantly.

Located some 35 km south of the capital Male, the four-star Kandooma resort features about 160 villas comprising beach and garden villas, two-storey duplex villas as well as water villas. Its contemporary aesthetic is seen in its large picture windows, and whitewashed floor boards that evoke a sense of fresh coolness, yet feel warm and textured to the bare feet.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Park It! The Great Outdoors Adventure

( - Ready, set, go! introduces Park It! The Great Outdoors Adventure - a stop and go excursion that lets you decide where you want to go, what you want to see and what you want to do. Nature inspired roadside attractions near bed & breakfasts such as local, state or national parks and/or monuments make it easy to find outdoor activities for extreme sports enthusiasts or leisure minded travelers.

Adrenaline Rush - If you crave excitement and unexpected surprises, how about a white water rafting trip on the Arkansas River? At America's Rocky Mountain Lodge & Cabins in Cascade, Colorado, guests can sign up for a half day or full day package and enjoy a fun and bumpy ride down Bighorn Sheep/ Parkdale Run or take a more advanced course down the Royal Gorge. If you'd rather use a little leg power instead, sign up for the "Pikes Peak by Bike," a challenging mountain bike course 20 miles down Pikes Peak.

Hunter's Paradise - Score your own big catch of the day. Birk's Gasthaus in Hermann, Missouri offers a "sportsman special," for fishermen and hunters who are on the prowl for deer, water fowl and turkey. Spring is turkey season and guests can request a packaged lunch at Birk's Gasthaus before heading out to turkey hunt at Canaan Conservation. If fishing is more your style, walk downtown along the Missouri River and stop by Hermann Riverfront Park and try to bait a catfish or two.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

South America trip an amazing adventure

"I remember you had told us when we booked this trip that South America had so much to offer," said retired teacher Katherine McDonald, "but Eddie and I simply never expected it would be such an amazing adventure.

So, because I want to inspire you to consider such a vacation, too, I begged these veteran travelers of the world to share some of their most unforgettable moments on a recent journey to South America:

# Seeing Iguazu Falls and trying to grasp its enormity.

FYI: Iguazu Falls was short-listed as a candidate to be one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The waterfall system consists of 275 falls along 1-1/2 miles of the Iguazu River. Some of the individual falls are up to 270 feet in height, although the majority are about 210 feet, according to Wikipedia. The most impressive is Devil's Throat on the border between Argentina and Brazil.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hawaii: Side trips in paradise

Foster Botanical Garden: Home to Hawaii's largest collection of tropical plants, it took root in 1853 when a German botanist planted some trees, including the island's first banyans. The 14-acre garden's orchids are famous; its oddities include a palm that bears 50-pound coconuts. It's an oasis in the city, with sun-dappled paths and shaded glens. Alas, the birds can't quite drown out the freeway roar. The huge Bo tree was a gift to Mary Foster, an ardent Buddhist who willed the garden to the city. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. $5, including an optional tour at 1 p.m. daily except Sundays. 50 N. Vineyard Blvd., Honolulu;(808) 522-7065,

Liliuokalani Botanical Garden: Once part of Foster Garden, but now separated by the H-1 freeway, this 7-acre garden is a work in progress. Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last reigning monarch, liked to picnic here -- and so do locals. You can too. There's a footbridge across a rushing stream fed by a waterfall, and a shaded lawn with tables. Try to ignore the ugly apartment building abutting the gardens. Free, but very limited, parking. Open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 123 N. Kuakini St., Honolulu; (808) 522-7060,

Lyon Arboretum: Visitors to this 200-acre rain forest deep in the Manoa Valley are warned right off, "You're going back to nature now, and therein lies the adventure." (Translation: Beware of wasps, falling branches) My first thought: Thank heavens Hawaii has no snakes. A research unit of the University of Hawaii, the Lyon's mission is to preserve endangered native flora. There's a children's garden and a world-class palm collection. Scenic walking trails can be wet and slippery. $5 donation. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays until 3 p.m. Guided tours by reservation. 3860 Manoa Road, Honolulu; (808)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finding Florida's natural side

QMy 10-year-old son and I are planning a summer adventure (emphasis on "adventure") in central Florida. We want more than the usual Disney-like tourist options. Any advice for off-the-beaten-track things that would appeal to a young boy (and his dad)?

A: Who needs Disney? Mother Nature can hold her own quite nicely when it comes to special effects, and for a lot less money. At Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, about 35 miles east of Orlando, you and your son can take a nighttime bioluminescent kayak tour on the Indian River. That's right: You don't have to travel to Puerto Rico to experience this eerie phenomenon, in which organisms in the water emit blue-green lights with each dip of your paddle. A Day Away (321-268-2655, offers 2½-hour tours at $32 for adults, $24 for children.

As long as you're in the neighborhood, you could always do the whole Space Coast thing (Kennedy Space Center, 866-737-5235, But back to the nature theme: State parks are a great way to experience the real Florida, with all kinds of ways to get wet. At Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon (352-465-8555,, about an hour and a half northwest of Orlando, there's tubing on the Rainbow River, swimming, canoeing, hiking and bird-watching. Camping is available at $19 a night.
Continue reading

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Environment activists in Rajkot mourn felling of trees

Rajkot, Mar 3 (ANI): Environment activists mourned rampant felling of trees by holding a condolence meeting in Rajkot.

The activists owed their allegiance to Rajkot Nature and Adventure Club. They assembled on the premises of a residential complex housing government employees. They held a condolence meeting to mourn the loss of trees in their city.

The activists also held a prayer ceremony and garlanded the cut trees playing devotional songs. They wanted the culprits to be brought to book. read more...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ikes offer scholarships

Austin Chapter 10, Izaak Walton League of America plans to renew two popular efforts this year to introduce youth to environmental issues.

Starting in 2006, Austin Chapter 10 has provided scholarships for area students to attend summer camps at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center outside of Lanesboro.

In 2009, Chapter 10 will provide four scholarships to Eagle Bluff. Scholarships range from $215 to $250 depending on the summer camp selected. read more...

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Early Word: Budget Blueprint

This morning, President Obama presented the broad outlines of his first budget, which projects a huge deficit number — $1.75 trillion — as well as a combination of cuts in government spending as well as tax increases.

The Times’s Jackie Calmes and Robert Pear point out that wealthy Americans will face tax increases to help pay for the Obama administration’s health care proposals. They write:

The tax proposal, coming after recent years in which wealth has become more concentrated at the top of the income scale, introduces a politically volatile edge to the Congressional debate over Mr. Obama’s domestic priorities.

The combined effect of the two revenue-raising proposals, on top of Mr. Obama’s existing plan to roll back the Bush-era income tax reductions on households with income exceeding $250,000 a year, would be a pronounced move to redistribute wealth by reimposing a larger share of the tax burden on corporations and the most affluent taxpayers. continue reading...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

California paid for top officials' free rides

Reporting from Sacramento -- John Cruz, the appointments secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, lives hundreds of miles from the state Capitol, where his staff scrutinizes candidates for California's many boards and commissions.

When Cruz works there, he goes by plane. He has charged taxpayers for his flights and for hotel bills of up to $382 a night on regular trips between his Orange County home and Sacramento, records show. continue reading...

Monday, March 23, 2009

About 6,000 travel to Orlando to oppose budget cuts

ORLANDO - About 6,000 teachers, support personnel, administrators and public school supporters stood together Saturday to share ideas about the importance of education with a statewide "Make Our Schools A Priority!" rally at the University of Central Florida.

Whether their intended audience, the Legislature, heard the message remains to be seen. But organizers from the Florida Education Association and attendees said they were pleased by the turnout and tone of the event in the UCF Arena.

At issue are potential budget cuts to public education in wake of an economic crisis that has Florida facing a shortfall approaching $6 billion in general revenue. These cuts would be on top of $3.9 billion in reductions that have occurred the past two academic years.

"I really wish we didn't have to be meeting here (Saturday)," FEA president Andy Ford said. "I wish we didn't have to state something so simple: Make our schools a priority. If we have massive layoffs, that will continue the downward spiral in our economy. Let's send a message to Mr. Politician: Make our schools a priority."

The rhetoric played well to this crowd, which included about 250 who traveled from Lee County, 150 on three charter buses and another 100 on their own.

"I'm here to bring a voice to a better solution," said Drew Coffman, a fourth-grade teacher at Veterans Park Academy for the Arts in Lehigh Acres. "We need to find ways to build revenue instead of making cuts. There's got to be a better way." read more...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Top Schwarzenegger staff travel on taxpayer's dime

SACRAMENTO—Despite a ban on nonessential travel, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's top administrative officials charged taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for airfare, hotel stays and meals with virtually no oversight, according to a published report.

Expense reports and calendars for 10 high-ranking staff members from Southern California—including three cabinet members—show many of the expenses were incurred after the governor issued an executive order a year ago requiring state agencies to reduce travel costs due to California's budget crisis, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site late Friday.

John Cruz, the governor's appointments secretary, charged for flights and hotel bills of up to $382 a night on routine trips between his Orange County home and Sacramento. Carrie Lopez, the director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, billed the state transportation costs to attend a Justin Timberlake concert with her daughter.

And Rosario Marin, head of the State and Consumer Services Agency, reimbursed the state $582 after the newspaper inquired about her flight to Washington to speak at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, an appearance for which she received $1,000.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A College Baseball Team, Always on the Road

Two days after leaving the Canadian border town of Presque Isle, Me., the bus with 14 players, 2 coaches and a manager pulled into a lot at the baseball field of Ferrum College in western Virginia. The drive had been 22 hours, but for this baseball team, the journey was finally over.

Or was it just beginning?

This February day’s doubleheader against Ferrum would be the first of 37 successive away games scheduled for the University of Maine at Presque Isle team this year.

Because winter can last until May in northern Maine, Presque Isle routinely plays its entire season on the road. With their campus 400 miles north of Boston, the Owls have not played a home baseball game since 2005, when there were two. continue reading...

Recession-friendly travel: Seeing Philadelphia on a budget

Recessions make you rethink traveling. And the current economic downturn has brought about the revival of both the staycation and the day trip.

One of the best day trips to take from the Lehigh Valley and northwestern New Jersey is to Philadelphia. And when you look into it, it's amazing how many things you can do for free or little money there.

Admission to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are both free. You can jump up and down like the movie character Rocky Balboa on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for free too. And there are bargain places to eat and drink ranging from cheesesteak stands to beers at Monk's Cafe. continue reading...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mayor Kenoi submits first budget proposal, down 4.2%

The proposed operating budget for Hawaii County's fiscal year ending June 30, 2010 was submitted in writing to the county council by Mayor Billy Kenoi on Friday.

The proposed balanced budget, the first to be drawn up by the Kenoi administration,
estimates "revenues and appropriations of $386,279,510, which is 4.2% less than the current year's budget" according to the mayor's message to the council.

The message says there will be no increase in property taxes.

"Today we are confronted with a worldwide economic downturn that has hurt the tourism and construction industries," Mayor Kenoi wrote. "There is a consensus that this is the most severe economic upheaval in decades. In this environment, the County is forced to consider all options for balancing the budget in a way that maintains essential public services such as police and fire protection."

Departments were asked to cut 10% of their budget, targeting costs like overtime expense, travel and training, contract services, and equipment purchases.
continue reading...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meeting Your Personal and Business Travel Needs The Travel Bug

The Travel Bug American Express has been meeting your personal and business travel needs since 1978. As an American Express Representative Travel Office, choosing the perfect getaway has never been so easy. Let the professionals at The Travel Bug get you started with a customized itinerary that will save you time and money, and make your vacation getaway unforgettable.

The Travel Bug/AMEX Business Travel Services is able to offer you programs that will help maximize savings. “We can cater to our customers’ own individual needs and demographics as well as take advantage of all the Global services American Express provides,” states owner Geri Jacobs. “We take the stress out of business travel planning, from the minute you call us until the point you return.” Enjoy the advantages of an independently owned and locally managed company providing their customers with personalized care and attention while benefiting from the extensive business travel resources that American Express has to offer.

The Travel Bug is able to provide you with major discounted hotel and car rental rates, as well as a 24 hour, 7 day a week emergency phone service, where corporate travelers have immediate assistance to help facilitate them with possible changes in travel plans such as accommodations and reservations. Management reports are also provided to corporate accounts to help businesses budget their accounts and itemize money spent. This allows your business to help budget and control expenditures on car rentals, hotel accommodations, airfare and more. Let the highly trained professionals at The Travel Bug provide you with corporate travel solutions that give you the positive results. continue reading...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spano travel, credit card expenses down

Like many Americans, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano isn't using his plastic as often - he cut his taxpayer-funded credit-card expenses by thousands last year.

The county executive and members of his office - then Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz and chief adviser Susan Tolchin - spent $18,569.67 on county-issued credit-card purchases, cell phones and gas bills in 2008.

That's less than the nearly $34,000 the three spent in 2007.

"In 2008, there was a lot of things cut from the budget in every department, and the county executive is no exception," said Tolchin, now the deputy county executive following Schwartz's move to the governor's office. "Everything was looked at and everything was eliminated. We continue to do that this year."

All told, Tolchin said, the County Executive's Office slashed $13 million in 2008, which included some travel, meals and other expenses. read more...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Polar attraction

ABOARD THE AKADEMIK IOFFE IN THE CANADIAN HIGH ARCTIC - He was a cooperative walrus, but a strange one, lolling in the September sunshine on an ice floe in Croker Bay, somewhere around the 75th parallel. He seemed oblivious to the 60 humans in inflatable boats closing in on him. We were only about 20 yards away, close enough to distinguish his tusks (splayed outwards, a clue to his gender).

The engines were idling, the cameras clicking. Yet his only response was to test the water with a flipper and lean his head over the surface as though rehearsing an escape plan. Then he rearranged himself on the ice and kept on lolling.

I was thinking, is this creature stupid? Why wasn't he afraid? Somehow the 500-pound beast knew we were friends, not foes. And when we finally putt-putted away, the walrus picked up a flipper and waved to us. Really.

"He's saying goodbye," laughed Meeka Mike, one of two Inuit resource people on our trip. read more...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wyo native competes for country in nature's most grueling sport

PUNTA ARENAS, Chile -- Kayaking more than 100 miles against 75 mph winds and 15-foot swells, slogging another 100 miles by foot through wetlands, fjords and glaciers and climbing thousands of feet by mountain bike.

And don't forget to add 30 pounds of gear and a battle with sleep deprivation.

Pinedale native Sara Percy is ready for all those challenges, which the 31-year-old starts facing with the American team in the Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race on Tuesday on the southern tip of Chile.

The four-member Americans -- Percy is the only female -- will attempt to cover approximately 400 miles of brutal terrain in Southern Patagonia while competing in what some call the last, truly-wild race in the world. If they hope to win this ultimate title, they'll need to navigate all of it in seven days. read more...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Have a Heart for Animals on Valentine's Day Asks The HSC

VANCOUVER, BC, VALENTINE'S SUGGESTIONS--(Marketwire - Feb. 6, 2009) - If you are looking for a unique Valentine's Day gift for that special person or furred, feathered or finned someone in your life, you might consider doing your shopping at The Humane Society of Canada's (HSC's) Online Adventure Store at Not only will you be surprising the recipient with a thoughtful present, but your gift will be helping animals and the environment as well!

"The revenue generated from our Online Adventure Store helps fund our numerous animal protection and environmental programs" says Al Hickey, HSC Western Regional Director. "So, if you purchase a gift from our Online Adventure Store, your thoughtful gesture will have several benefits for animals and the environment - some for years to come."

"All of the items we sell are reasonably priced, quality products which have been carefully chosen," says HSC Executive Director Michael O'Sullivan. "There is something for everyone - including wonderful gifts for children, four-legged family members and our wild bird friends."

The Humane Society of Canada works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals and the environment. They carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, fund non-invasive scientific research, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education. read more...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pulitzer-winning nature expert to lecture at Stetson

DELAND -- As an adventure-seeking nature boy, Edward O. Wilson lost sight in one eye after a fishing accident.

He turned his attention to ants and other little creatures he could hold in his hand. By 13, he made his first discovery, a colony of non-native fire ants near his home in Alabama.

More than 60 years later, Wilson is a world-famous biologist whose work has earned him two Pulitzer Prizes. And he's coming to DeLand.

He will deliver "Can Nature Be Saved? Science, Religion and Our Future" Monday night at Stetson University. Doors at the Edmunds Center open at 6:30 and the capacity is 2,000. The 79-year-old Wilson holds the title of Pellegrino University research professor in entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

As a myrmecologist -- one who studies ants -- Wilson helped, in the 1960s, to develop the theory of island biogeography, an approach to assessing species' richness in natural communities. He later published a Pulitzer Prize-winning volume, "The Ants."read more...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Adventurous Woman

Back in the ’90s, Daphne Merkin, one of our best critics and trend-­watchers, predicted that “if the last decade of the 20th century is to produce any great literature” it will be “around the subject of death.”

This has proved true.

The literature of death may have begun with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s classic “On Death and Dying” (1969)or with Judith Viorst’s “Necessary Losses” (1986), a book I buy for anyone who is grieving. Or the subject may linger in the air because of global warming and terrorism.

How does an atheist prepare for death? This is a theme Diana Athill explores in “Somewhere Towards the End.” Her grapplings are impressive: “My own belief — that we, on our short-lived planet, are part of a universe simultaneously . . . ordinary . . . and incalculably mysterious . . . — does not feel like believing in nothing and would never make me recruit anyone for slaughter. It feels like a state of infinite possibility, stimulating and enjoyable — not exactly comforting, but acceptable because true.” read more...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sacramento: Set a Course for Adventure

Behind glass doors and inside brick buildings throughout the region, memories are being made every day as Sacramentans escape the rigors of daily living and see brand new worlds, relive the past or conquer previously unexplored continents.

Come Feb. 7, it will be even easier to explore them.

The 11th annual Sacramento Museum Day will be held Saturday, Feb. 7 as 26 Sacramento-area museums will offer a free and educational day of fun for people of all ages. It’s a chance to see the best Sacramento can offer in the way of educational venues—see one or all.

Beginning at 10 a.m. and concluding at 5 p.m., with the final guests being admitted at 4 p.m., the event, which has become a local cultural tradition, showcases the capital city’s wealth of history, art, science and wildlife. read more...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mountain Voyeurism and the Fauna of Africa

Those in search of investment properties during these parlous times might do worse than a small hotel in the Drakensberg. That supremely photogenic mountain range, often referred to as the roof of southern Africa, seems poised for adventure-travel stardom: featured over the last few years in shows like “Perilous Journeys” and “Globe Trekker,” it stars this weekend in the more elegant milieu of PBS’s “Nature.”

The episode, titled “Drakensberg: Barrier of Spears,” is an unashamedly lush gift for armchair travelers. The dramatic basalt spires (source of the Afrikaans name Drakensberg, or dragon’s mountain, and the Zulu name uKhahlamba, or barrier of spears) are photographed from every angle while the African fauna frolic and the time-lapse clouds rush in. This conventional but still potent imagery is set to the a cappella drone of the vocal group Insingizi, which couldn’t sound more like Ladysmith Black Mambazo if it. ... Oh, it probably did. read more..

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mapping a Northumberland adventure

NORTHUMBERLAND - Northumberland is a place for adventure, and now there's a map to show you exactly where to find it.

The recently released Northumberland County Outdoor Adventure Map highlights the limitless ways residents and visitors alike can have fun and experience nature throughout the year. A brainchild of Northumberland Tourism, the map covers the entire county and shows where nature and sporting enthusiasts can take part in activities like fishing, birding and cycling, to name a few. It features a full map of Northumberland as well as summaries and contact information for a bevy of destinations. Many of these, including the Spartan Ravine Walkway, the Ferris Provincial Park and the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area, are fit for a number of different activities like skiing, cycling and more.

"Northumberland is such an oasis," said Eileen Lum, manager of tourism for Northumberland Tourism. "We're surrounded by forests, beaches, and hills. It's no wonder that visitors have come to enjoy our natural heritage. We want to make sure that outdoor experience is accessible to our visitors."

The goal of the map is to attract more of those visitors and to keep them coming back throughout all the seasons of the year. read more...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nature’s ways: A rare adventure

There seems to be something in human nature that enjoys a rarity. We like thinking we are having a unique experience or seeing a rare sight. Is it because we spend so much time in groups and have so much in common with our fellow humans that something unusual and seemingly individual makes us feel special and different?

When I was about 8 years old and the proud owner of a new Kodak Brownie camera my family piled into the old 1955 black Oldsmobile and drove to Wellfleet to see a rare bird. Now, my family was not a family of birders. My parents fed the birds each winter and knew the names of the common birds, but some of my first memories of my dad were of him crossing the barren cornfields next door in autumn looking for crows. Did I mention my dad was carrying a rifle?
Anyway, this trip from Hyannis to Wellfleet was to go see an albino robin that had been captured and was being held by Wellfleet Audubon (which is what we called it then.) A newspaper article had said the public was invited to come see it and so we were off on an exciting adventure. This was probably in 1963 or ‘64 but like many childhood memories it’s a bit blurry. read more...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Adventure rules on frozen falls

MUNISING -- The 100-foot ice curtains that form on the cliffs of Grand Island off this Upper Peninsula resort town are among the most spectacular natural beauties of Michigan, gleaming under the winter sunshine in shades of blue and green and diamond-bright whites.

They may also be the most rarely seen by people. The ice shelf that allows travel between the island and the mainland usually doesn't form until late February; and by the end of March, the spring sunshine has turned the ice bridge and the cliffs into another winter memory.

Munising is a winter mecca for Midwestern climbers, offering dozens of gleaming ice faces and columns on both the island and the mainland cliffs in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. read more...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nature exposed

Famed big-wall climber and photographer Mike Libecki plans to reveal the harsh faces of Antarctica and Greenland in Ashland tonight.

Libecki's free slide show documents his efforts to climb 4,000-foot granite walls and live in hanging structures on the cliff side for as long as a month. His multimedia presentation also depicts dramatic landscapes, fierce weather and wildlife, as well as isolated cultures.

"It is about sharing the adventure," says Libecki. "The flora, the fauna, the mystery."

The 35-year-old resident of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, says he has been climbing most of his life and traveling to the ends of the Earth for the past 13 years. Recipient of numerous grants and climbing awards, Libecki has been profiled by National Geographic, Men's Journal and Outside magazines, as well as ABC News. read more...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adventure of the Week: Come celebrate the birds of the bay

Though it would be fun to imagine that the millions of migrating birds congregating around Mare Island and San Francisco Bay this month are awaiting the opening of the nearby Six Flags Discovery Kingdom amusement park Feb. 28, that would be a stretch.

Myrna Hayes knows in her heart of hearts that all those shorebirds and raptors are hanging around Vallejo and the bay for the 13th annual San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival. She's the founder and coordinator of the event, and she's appreciated the natural cooperation of the birds over the years. read more...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hit the trails with Family Take a Hike Week

There is no better cure for Spring Fever than Family Take a Hike Week at Stamford Museum & Nature Center!

The whole family can enjoy three days of fun, hands-on activities during Family Take a Hike Week, Tuesday, April 21, Wednesday, April 22, and Thursday, April 23, with guided nature hikes, tree plantings, and a scavenger hunt. Back with some new twists this year is a scavenger hunt with an Earth Day theme, set for Wednesday, April 22. Come test your riddle solving skills while exploring the unique attractions the Museum has to offer!

Back again is "Wildman" Steve Brill of Mamaroneck, N.Y., to lead a popular hike in search of wild edibles. The Stamford Museum & Nature Center’s 118-acre site has a vast network of trails, including the Wheels in the Woods universally-accessible trail, and 80 acres of forest. read more..

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Life in a tepee

Dressed in a navy suit, red tie and shined shoes, 25-year-old Jonathan Paulson looks like any other recent college graduate trying to make his way in the world.

As a commodities broker with his dad’s company, Paulson Commodities, the Lake Oswegan spends most of his work days on the Internet and calling clients on the phone. He’s tall, with straight teeth and is knowledgeable about the stock market.

His secret?

“I keep my suit outside the tepee,” Paulson said. “I don’t want it to smell like smoke.”

For three years, Paulson has lived outdoors – bearskin rug and all. He weaves baskets, makes fire by rubbing sticks together and uses a hippopotamus skin to keep warm at night. continue reading...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

winter: the not so off season

cheap winter sports can be found not far from your backyard

Forget the $70 lift tickets, gas money for the two-hour trek to the slopes, airport-priced resort food, lessons and equipment. No doubt, there are things to be depressed about financially right now, but the exorbitant cost of winter sports does not have to be one of them. Alpine skiing and snowboarding are merely two options among a long list of winter sports that rival in adventure and win in affordability.

cross country skiing

Long before the days of gondolas, groomed trails and manmade snow, people in northern latitudes set out on skis as a mode of winter travel. Invented by the Nordic peoples of Norway and Sweden 1,000 years ago, cross country or Nordic skiing exists today as a sport of worldwide popularity.

Hillary Behr, a Dover resident and long-time skier, says she loves cross country because it can be done almost anywhere.

The variety of terrain on the Seacoast offers cross country skiers the opportunity to practice classic skiing on groomed trails and flat tracks, and backcountry glade skiing through the woods. Behr has already made a number of trips to her favorite local ski spot, Kingman Farm off Route 155 in Madbury, a property owned by the University of New Hampshire that is open for public recreation. UNH hosts a number of places to ski including College Woods, East and West Foss Farm and groomed fields behind the Field House Arena. Other free trail systems for cross country skiing can be found at state parks, conservation areas, old logging trails, snowmobile trails, frozen lakes and golf courses. read more...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Adventure abounds on world-class hiking trek

Taiwanese mountain enthusiasts and hikers have long regarded their home as a paradise for short walks, long-distance treks and camping in the wilds. Forty-five percent of the island is 500 meters or more above sea level, while some 258 peaks exceed 3,000 meters.

Japanese hikers have known about the mountains of Taiwan since the years of Japan's 1895-1945 colonial occupation of the island. In 1900, Japanese anthropologists Torii Ryuzo and Mori Ushinosuke made the first confirmed ascent of Taiwan's tallest peak now known as Jade Mountain. With a height of 3,952 meters, the massif exceeds Japan's highest and most famous peak, the 3,776-meter Mount Fuji.

North American and British travelers have been publishing accounts of climbing and hiking in Taiwan since the 1930s, but even so the island's alpine treasures are not well known in the West. However, efforts to draw international visitors to Taiwan's mountains have received a boost from National Geographic Adventure, a monthly zine published in nine languages by the U.S.-based National Geographic Society. read more...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Travel down the Colorado in 'Adventure'

Azure skies and tumbling waterfalls contrast with the craggy red rock and the formations of millennia in "Grand Canyon Adventure."

The impact of an Omnimax movie relies on three things: visuals, music and message. "Grand Canyon Adventure" scores top marks on all three.

It's hard to screw up the visuals in a movie about the Grand Canyon. Point, shoot, and show us the greatest vista on earth. See what Mother Nature can paint when she really puts her mind to it.
Click here to find out more!

But the filmmakers take it a few steps further, varying the stunning helicopter shots with perspectives that really take us into this colossal wonder. We watch a man take snapshots of his daughter, then pull back to see the massive, glorious vista behind her. They don't spare the breathtaking scenery, luxuriating in the vast expanses carved into the rock of Arizona.

But it isn't all grand vistas. We follow the team on their exciting river trip, rolling underwater with the kayakers and holding our breath as if in sympathy for the rafters running the rapids. Then we smile with the young people swimming playfully in the waterfall. read more...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Quickie getaways and other trends for 2009

Suddenly, it's fashionable to be frugal. This is just as apparent in the travel world as it is on Wall Street, Bay Street and everywhere in between. There's no shame in holding out for the best bargain; has there ever been?

This year, prognosticators insist, people will reap the travel rewards amid the economic doom and gloom -- if they have the stomach and the cash to spend. Re-sole those walking shoes, instead of buying new, pack the faded bikini and bring your own snacks on the plane or to the ski hill in the interest of saving your pennies for what really counts -- the destination or the experience.

And if you're spending big bucks on a vacation, keep it to yourself. Inconspicuous consumption is also in vogue. continue reading...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Where Are The 2009 Travel Hot Spots?

Where will the travel hotspots be for recession-ridden Americans in 2009?

Would you believe St. George, Utah? Or Budapest? Here are some annual Top 10 lists.

Budget Travel has posted its top budget travel destinations for 2009:

* Austin, Texas -- A hot venue for indie rock, bluegrass and country music, Austin is home to the South by Southwest music festival and Austin City Limits.
* Washington, D.C. -- On top of the presidential inauguration, the Capitol's visitor center has undergone a major makeover. Better yet: Admission is free to all national monuments. continue reading...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Iowa lawmakers keep commitment to renewable energy

The Iowa Power Fund and other efforts to promote renewable energy in the state should be largely protected from budget cuts despite a projected shortfall that could top $600 million next year, top Democratic lawmakers said.

But a Republican legislative leader said the fund should face the same scrutiny as other areas of the budget when the Legislature convenes Jan. 12.

Slumping tax revenue already has forced Gov. Chet Culver to order a 1.5 percent across-the-board cut in state spending for the fiscal year that ends June 30. In addition, the governor has ordered $180 million in cuts for the current year.

Democrats who lead the Legislature said they face big challenges as they deal with the economic crisis, but efforts to encourage and develop renewable sources of energy in Iowa are too important to cut deeply. continue reading...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

$7.5M in budget cuts proposed as Rockford deficit worsens

The Rockford City Council gathered today to sift through proposed budget cuts totaling $7.5 million as the city’s economic and financial condition grew grimmer.

Finance Director Andres Sammul told aldermen his projection of a 2009 city shortfall worsened by $200,000 that week when he received the city’s latest sales tax payment. With jobless rates on the rise and sales tax revenues on the decline, Sammul said he now predicts the 2009 general fund deficit will be $5 million — up from $4.8 million — unless drastic cuts are made.

Mayor Larry Morrissey’s administration and city department leaders submitted a list of potential cuts totaling more than enough to balance the ailing general fund. Submitting more than was needed to solve the deficit was necessary, Morrissey said, because there is no telling how long the economic downturn will continue, and the deepest cuts depend on agreements with the city police and firefighters unions. read more...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Do a little dreaming at Breton Village Travel Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- There's fantasy baseball, fantasy football and even fantasy NASCAR ... so no surprise, 'tis the season for Fantasy Travel.

Dreaming of visiting Jamaica, Barbados, the Cayman Islands? Preview those destinations and more, get a jump on your passport application (get that photo and file) and check out special show deals at the Breton Village Travel Expo, Jan. 24 at Breton Village mall, 1830 Breton Road SE.

More than 30 travel suppliers and six tourist boards will be on hand at the seventh Expo, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Kim Schneider, travel writer and Traveling Coach columnist for Booth Newspapers and is scheduled to share tips and trends.

For more information, call (800) 942-2887, or go online to read more...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy travels to readers in ’09 and beyond

Travel is probably pretty far down on your list right now, given the economic gloom and doom.

Travel suppliers are among the hardest hit. Few of us, except the very brave or the very rich, can possibly be thinking of lounging around a Caribbean resort or barging down some French canal while everything around us is falling apart.

In fact, one travel agent we know told us that at this time of the year she’s usually in the planning stages of upwards of 30 overseas trips. This year it’s a mere half a dozen.

We’re not feeling too perky ourselves, what with depleted nest eggs, the weather, and all. The idea of simply pulling up the covers and going into some kind of hyper-hibernation feels like a pretty good option.

But then we got a hold of ourselves, and decided that perhaps “alles ist noch nicht verloren” (all is not yet lost). read more...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Adventure Rabbi encourages soaking in nature’s beauty

COPPER MOUNTAIN — Adventure Rabbi Jamie Korngold’s nontraditional Shabbat service encouraged the congregation to gain awareness through nature at Copper Mountain on Saturday.

“Look around,” Korngold said. “Just be awake to all the amazing things that surround us.”

About 24 attended, reading Jewish verse and contemplating the day.

Though more traditional Jews may spend the Shabbat resting indoors or worshipping in synagogues, this rabbi’s progressive approach encourages adventure.

Korngold said the type of Judaism she follows doesn’t take the scriptures literally, but is based more on the intentions. The tradition of rest on the Shabbat is derived from a time when people spent their week outdoors working hard.

“A lot of us spend the week behind computers and in meetings,” she said. “It’s more meaningful to get outside.”

And her “radically different” approach to the religious service lasts about 20 minutes relative to traditional one-and-a-half- to four-hour services. read more...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Alaskan adventure for Discovery

Discovery Channel has unveiled a raft of new series here at the Television Critics Association tour in LA, including one that abandons nine strangers in deepest, coldest Alaska.

Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment (8x60') is described as "a riveting depiction of man’s struggle against nature" that "captures what is core to Discovery viewers," according to John Ford, channel president and general manager.

Pilgrim Films and Television is behind the series, which will debut in April during Discovery Channel’s Alaska Week. Craig Piligian, Tim Pastore, Eddie Barbini and Adam Briles are executive producers.

The channel also unveiled a new 13-part series for spring about the inventors of kitchen gadgets called But Wait, There's More, from Thom Beers and his Original Productions.

The art of escapology is also under the spotlight in One Way Out, a series from North South Productions and escapologist Jonathan Goodwin that debuts on January 26. read more...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Travel can still fit into your budget

We're just 11 days into the new year and I'm already thinking about my next vacation. Mostly I'm thinking, "Can I afford it?" (And will I have a job when I get back?)

Many travelers are going to have to be even more thrifty about vacations this year. I suspect people will wait longer to make plans, hoping to get the best deal at the last minute. That's not a bad strategy, especially if your schedule is flexible or you're thinking about taking a cruise or booking a hotel. Fewer travelers means more vacancies at hotels, and desperate innkeepers willing to make a deal that's favorable to your pocketbook. Luxury hotels, in particular, are having a hard time, so if you have the cash, now is the time to stay someplace that you may have only dreamed of, such as the Four Seasons or Trump International Hotel & Tower.

Another idea is to decide where you want to go early on and then monitor airfare prices at, a Web site that keeps tabs on the highs and lows of airfare anywhere. Budget travelers can also save by signing up for e-mails from hotels or other travel providers that will give you the inside edge on coming deals. read more...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Florida nursing homes will gain funds despite big state budget cuts

TALLAHASSEE - Florida's 460-plus nursing homes will be an exception in the state Legislature's massive budget cuts to education and health care: They'll come away with more money, not less.

Nursing homes had been facing a 10-percent Medicaid rate reduction for the low-income patients they serve — a cut that would amount to $77 million over the next six months.

But House and Senate negotiators Saturday agreed to let the nursing homes use some federal budgetary alchemy to offset that cut, as well as previous reductions imposed in 2008.

By assessing a 5 percent "quality assessment" fee on themselves beginning in April, the homes can draw down more federal funds and create a total of $166 million, thanks to Florida's 55-45 percent federal-state funding formula for the health insurance program for the poor. read more...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

State running dry

When the Legislature convenes in Olympia on Monday, its agenda will be short on vision.

Never mind green jobs or health care reform. This session is all about how to balance the state’s budget in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Last week’s flooding, which cut off large swaths of Washington from the state capital and froze interstate commerce for days, provided a dire lead-up to what promises to be a grim 105-day session.

With a projected $6 billion budget deficit looming, it was a reminder that unexpected developments could throw a monkey wrench into lawmakers’ efforts to bridge the growing gap between revenue and the state’s progressive agenda.

Besides the weather, legislators will be grappling with other unknowns. read more...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Adventure tour operator seeks travel agent partners

The Adventure Company is hoping to work with more travel agencies as the adventure holiday market continues to see strong growth.

UK agency sales manager Vicky Gallear said the operator has launched a new Adventure Collection brochure for 2009/10 with the holidays offered taking in a number of different aspects, including city visits, nature experiences, new activities and beach time all in the same break.

It is hoped the variety of these breaks will prove attractive to customers who may only want to take one holiday this year due to the ongoing credit crunch.

Gallear said: “The adventure travel sector is one of the fastest growing in the market, but many travel agents are still unsure how to position and sell it. Even potential customers aren’t always clear on whether an adventure holiday would be right for them. read more...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Born wild

The experience of trekking via the Western Ghats to the Dudhsagar falls during the rainy season was out-of-the-world for Shilpa.

It’s his love for nature and wildlife that motivated Karthik to start Nisarga with a bunch of friends in 2003. Today, the organisation has grown to encompass various aspects of the natural world. “As time passed by, we gradually realised that there is a lot more to nature.” The main objective of Nisarga, according to Karthik, is to bridge the gap between human beings and nature.

Nisarga has three divisions — Eco tourism, Education and Research and Development. But the most favourite of all the members is trekking. “At least one weekend in a month, we indulge in backpacking. It can be through trekking or camping,” says Karthik. read more...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Activity and adventure breaks 2009: Get going! There's a whole world to explore

1. Private views

Follow in the footsteps of the great explorers and discover the world National Geographic-style. National Geographic Journeys – a new partnership between Titan HiTours, the escorted tours specialist, and the US-based National Geographic Society – will offer travellers such perks as tours with private access to museums, meetings with National Geographic experts around the world and specially arranged dinners in awe-inspiring locations.

Details: National Geographic Journeys (0800 988 5174;

2. Oman adventures

The buzz about the sultanate continues. Activity and adventure tours abound this year, including a new Biosphere conservation holiday: a liveaboard diving expedition charting the coral reefs of Oman's remote Musandam peninsula. Regaldive also newly explores the country's pristine reefs with liveaboard dive holidays. And Oman's rugged northern coastline has just become more accessible for non-divers with the launch of the world's fastest diesel-powered passenger ferry, linking remote regions with the capital.

For landlubbers, Pioneer Expeditions' new "full moon desert trek", guided by Bedu tribesmen, teaches how to tend camels, seek out desert fox, and use the stars as guides. read more...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Health advice: 50 ways to boost your wellbeing

Go fly a kite, join a boot camp, take up hula-hooping or even just re-arrange the furniture – getting your mind and body into shape does not have to involve the gym.


An adventure at any age, orienteering gets you back to nature, be it in the local woods or an urban park, and gives a mental and physical boost. British Orienteering’s website ( ) has a comprehensive guide to the sport, details of courses and orienteering clubs across the UK.


A thrifty way to a healthy diet is to sprout your own seeds. Home-grown sprouts, such as alfalfa, have more vitamins than shop-bought versions. To sprout seeds, soak, drain and rinse at regular intervals until they germinate, using a jar, cotton wool and water. Buy a starter kit at .


That feeling of satisfaction when the housework is finished is not just the sense of a job well done – you’re getting an endorphin release from the exercise. The physical exertion also reduces stress; experts have discovered that the risk of mental health problems, particularly depression, is reduced by a fifth in people who do 20 minutes of housework a week. read more..

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling Trailer

For San Francisco film lovers, we are pleased to present this story from “The Moving Picture.”

A trailer for the direct-to-disc sequel, Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling, is now online. The successor to the Seth Green and Dax Sheppeard comedy arrives on shelves January 13 and stars Oliver James, Kristopher Turner, Rik Young, Will Cuddy, Robert Blanche, Amber McDonald, Todd Robinson and Madison Riley. Check out the trailer, official synopsis and box art below. read more...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Alaska adventurers reveal what books they consider worth a read

The year is finished, a time for taking stock. We asked a trio of Alaska outdoors and adventure book aficionados what caught their attention in 2008.

Harlow Robinson, a two-time champion of the Crow Pass Crossing and president of the board of directors of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, joked that friends have come to dub his bookshelf "Harlow's Harrowing Tales" for his love of survival and adventure stories.

Robinson spent much of his year reading such classics as "Adrift," "Land of White Death," "Where the Sea Breaks its Back," "Endurance" and "Touching the Void" to name a few.

"I could go on and on," he admits.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fasten Your Seatbelts

When the present promises only economic hardship and political upheaval, what does the future look like?

In 2009, it looks like a world of gleaming spaceships filled with enlightened people who have emerged with their humanity intact after a terrible war. They have entered the 23rd century, shed racism, no longer use money, possess seemingly magical technologies and are devoted to peaceful exploration. I refer of course to "Star Trek" and its powerful story of a better tomorrow, which has been mesmerizing audiences for almost half a century and returns to movie theaters this coming May with an eagerly anticipated 11th full-length feature.

But wait. The future also looks like this: a dark, violent world where a horrific war between humans and cyborgs leads to the near-extermination of humanity. This vision, in the latest "Terminator" movie, is also arriving at your nearest mutiplex in May. read more...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Adventurers will count pennies

If the trend of last year's Adventures in Travel Expo was eco-conscious vacationing, this year's is a no-brainer: economy travel.

Dedicated travelers are not giving up their vacations in this slumping economy, but they are trying to make them more affordable, said John Golicz, chief executive officer of Unicomm, a trade-show company co-sponsoring next weekend's event at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont.

"The difference this year is value," Golicz said. "People are planning a lot more carefully. They can't make a mistake."

About a third of travelers recently surveyed by Unicomm said they plan to stay closer to home in 2009 or will visit somewhere where the dollar goes farther, Golicz said. READ MORE...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Grandparents who help watch the grandchildren are the lucky ones

Through Christmas, we've had some extended time with our grandchildren, especially with 3-year-old Walt when both his parents had to work. Things like vacuuming and post-holiday straightening didn't get done. A trip to the park and playtime with the cousins did.

Lucky are the grandparents who get to see their grandchildren often. Luckier still are the children whose grandparents get to play a part in their lives — sometimes a large part.

A few years ago I read statistics that told of an amazing number of grandparents who help with the care of their grandchildren. There are an estimated 8 million children being raised by grandparents in America today and a larger number who are cared for part-time daily by grandparents. The grandparents who have total responsibility for bringing up grandchildren when for one reason or another their parents can't do it are the ones who really deserve credit. read more...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sheffield Village opens 'Nature Spot'

On Jan. 3, the Lorain County Metro Parks brings locals their own close-up wildlife experience with the opening of the new "Nature Spot" at the French Creek Nature Center.

The grand public open house happens from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and it's free to all.

Visitors can tour the Nature Spot while learning about indigenous Northeast Ohio plants and animals that call this forest habitat their home. Rangers and naturalists will be on hand to explain the variety in this region.

The celebration begins at 10 a.m. with Silly Songs with Gary, followed by an exploration of the Nature Spot at 10:20 a.m. Visitors can pick up a "Nature Spot Scavenger Hunt" sheet at the Front Desk to aid in their explorations. read more...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nature's extraordinary books give you that special insight

Outdoors, nature and travel books address oft-entwined topics. If you want to see an Arctic fox or rappel into a cave, travel is mandatory. A winter adventure often means outdoors activities. Exploring Scotland shouldn't exclude its ecosystem and inhabitants.

Whatever the emphasis of your trip, embrace the options.

"Extraordinary Leaves" ($45, Firefly). Photographer Stephen Green-Armytage ("Extraordinary Chickens," "Extraordinary Pheasants") and botanist Dennis Schrader combined to create an extraordinary book.

These are more than 225 leaves at their finest, captured in artistic moments, with a complementary amount of text. The photographer groups them by color, edge, pattern, texture, shape, size and other categories. read more...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Events on Long Island

EAST MEADOW East Meadow Public Library “The Cats of Mirikitani,” a documentary about Jimmy Mirikitani, an 86-year-old artist, by Linda Hattendorf; Mr. Mirikitani’s work will be on display. Friday at 7:30 p.m. Free. East Meadow Public Library, 1886 Front Street. (516) 794-2570.

HUNTINGTON Cinema Arts Center “Brief Encounter,” by David Lean. Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. $4.50 to $9. “Alexandra,” screening followed by discussion with Vic Skolnick, co-director at the Cinema Arts Center; bagel brunch included. Jan. 11 and 12. $9 and $12. “Great Expectations,” directed by David Lean. Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m. $4.50 to $9. “Ashes of Time Redux,” by Wong Kar Wai. Jan. 14 at 7 and 8:40 p.m. $4.50 to $9. Cinema Arts Center, 423 Park Avenue. (631) 423-7611; read more...

Friday, January 16, 2009

ANGRY CAIRO Protests as Israel, Hamas Step Up Attacks, Vow to Fight on

Israelis and foreign observers from allied nations are beginning to question the tactical logic of Olmert’s air offensive against Gaza, even as they continue to defend Israel’s actions as self-defense against Hamas terrorism. Israel has announced the death of a top Hamas official, along with his 4 wives and 9 of his children, at his home in Gaza, and Hamas has vowed to seek revenge for the killings. Official death tolls now stand at over 400, and Israel’s 7th day of strikes included a mosque it says was used as a weapons cache for militant groups, with Hamas missile attacks into southern Israel increasing in number, range and sophistication. read more...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

South Elementary fifth-graders participate in science-filled adventure at Camp Grady Spruce

Fifth-grade students at South Elementary were in for a different science adventure with a recent trip to Camp Grady
Spruce, Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 17-19, just before the Christmas break.
Here, there were no desks, no walls, no books � just opportunities to experiment, identify, compare and live in a natural setting to experience interrelationship and interdependency between man and the environment.
The group included 100 fifth-graders and all fifth-grade teachers. One fifth-grade teacher, Cindy Cargal, stayed on campus to take care of the 18 students who didn�t make the trip for one reason or another. The teachers included Tracey Blackshear, Abby Moore, Lela Russell, Delnita Jones, Deedra Boaz and fourth-grade teacher, Kathy Collins, and sixth-grade science teacher, Brent Kofer.
Also included in the science adventure were Brent Evans, Jeff Fleenor, Lee Garner, Tonya Keyes, Tonya McKenzie and nine parents. The adults slept in the 10 cabins with the students during the science excursion.

The cost per student was $114 with about 50 per cent of the parents paying for their own child�s cost.
The fifth-grade teachers and South Elementary administrators made the decision from the very beginning that no student would miss the opportunity to go on the science excursion due to a lack of finances. read more...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Slopes and Waterslides Are Just a Drive Away

Winter is just beginning, but your family may already be in need of a vacation. Sure, you can bust open your emergency fund or charge to the credit card that tropical all-inclusive or fancy ski chalet, but in this economic climate, that's about as prudent as driving a jet ski into a hurricane. However, with holiday cheer still cozily enveloping you and a year's worth of new vacation days unused, one can't deny that early winter is a great time for a getaway with the kids. Although these options aren't free, they are certainly less expensive than flying off to a ski or beach resort.

So instead of springing for airline tickets, revel in again-affordable gasoline and plan a drivable family vacation. Here are three fun options, each just one to three hours from Washington, to satisfy weekend wanderlust: read more...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Red-Hot Brazilian Amazon Adventure

You need a very good reason to jump into a river swarming with piranhas, caimans, dogfish, stingrays, water snakes and electric eels. Heat was mine.

“If I told you everything that was in the water,” said guide Josh La Cruz, providing a short list of the notorious creatures populating the waterways of the Brazilian Amazon, “you’d never go swimming.”

With temperatures nearing 100 degrees and humidity close to 90 percent, I opted to ignore the river’s wildlife rap sheet. At that moment, boiling and sticky, I needed a dunk. So I plunged in and just as quickly scrambled out, not wishing to tempt fate. The South American sun had not driven me totally daft; I still had my fingers, toes and wits.

Brazil comprises 60 percent of the 1.4 billion-acre Amazon rain forest, and the hothouse jungle is stuck in terminal summer. “We have three seasons: hot, hotter and hell,” said Joyce Fernandes, a tour guide at the Amazon Theater in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state in northwest Brazil.

I visited during “hotter,” toward the end.

Monday, January 12, 2009

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is a technical marvel. I’ll give star Brad Pitt and director David Fincher that.

Seeing Pitt’s face wrinkled and convincingly aged to 80 is impressive. Watching that face grimace and move on the body of a tiny person signals something that, technically, is nothing less than brilliant..

My curiosity, however, focuses on the screenplay, Eric Roth’s loosey-goosey revamping of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 short story. Both are tales of a rather simple man whose body clock ages in reverse.

Benjamin Button arrives near full grown and elderly in the short story. In the movie, he’s a little infant-size bundle in an elderly package.

I have no quibbles about how Roth, the veteran screenwriter of “Lucky You,” “Munich” and “The Insider,” distances his screenplay from Fitzgerald’s.

My problem is how much Roth rehashes his own Oscar-winning “Forrest Gump” screenplay structure. I admire anyone who can just sit back and let this otherwise grand adventure unfold.

Sadly, I can’t. “Benjamin Button” just needs a speech about how many ways shrimp can be prepared to be a cinematic twin to “Forrest Gump.” read more...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

“wellness & anti-aging are a trillion dollar business” - al mansoori

Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori is a progressive Emirati national belonging to the young breed of UAE nationals who have made a name for themselves in the media and marketing fields in recent years.

Heba is an expert in the mass communications field. She graduated with a Bachelors degree in Arts with majors in Media, Marketing and Sociology in 1999. She worked with a mainline Arabic newspaper for three years before joining a leading Arab business magazine as its business editor. She then moved on to the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation to acquire some hands on experience in the broadcast field and headed their PR division for four years. She currently heads the Middle East office of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and leads a team of consultants promoting the destination in key markets across the region. read more...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

OUTDOORS: Fun things to do

Nature Walk: Myakke River State Park, Sarasota

The Manatee Sarasota Sierra Club is sponsoring a 4-6 mile nature walk starting at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 1. Wear sturdy shoes, bring water, sunscreen and a dish to share. There will be lunch afterwards near the river. Donation: $5. Space is limited. Reservations: 484-4113.

Friends of Myakka “Nature Adventure” Classes: Myakka River State Park, Sarasota

The friends of Myakka River State Park will kick off their sixth annual “Nature Adventure” series with new classes and the return of their most popular programs:

The Natural History of Myakka River State Park, a driving tour and nature walk will be 9- 11:30 a.m. Jan. 5. Tracking and Signs Left Behind, an exploration of animal tracks and scats will be 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 13. Participants must be 15 years old. Introduction to the Stars, a course in which participants and budding astronomers learn to use a sky chart and recognize stars and constellations, will be 7-9 p.m. Jan. 23. All classes will be led by Park Rangers and Friends of Myakka River all of whom are contributing their services and sharing their expertise in specific areas of nature and wildlife appreciation. Fees for classes range from $10-$80 and 100 percent of all funds collected will be contributed to the “Myakka Forever” Endowment Fund. Anyone singing up for three or more classes will automatically become a member of the Friends of Myakka River (a $25 value). The $5 per car park entrance fee will be waived for all Nature Adventure participants. Class sizes are limited. read more...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bay Area people of note who died in 2008

A restaurateur. A lion keeper. A breast cancer activist. A heroine in the AIDS epidemic.

A nightclub singer, Bayview-Hunters Point community activist, World War II hero and key figure in the Free Speech Movement.

They were among the thousands of people who died in the Bay Area in 2008.

Some were legendary in local history. Others led full lives, but were less well known. All of their lives reflected - and helped shape - the diversity of the Bay Area. read more...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cincinnati Nature Center’s Winter Travel Series begins January 4, 2009, with Richard Munson’s, “Mongolia: Land of Chinggis Khaan.”

In July 2007, Richard Munson accompanied his daughter and son-in-law, both residents of Mongolia and former Peace Corps volunteers, on a 1,440 mile excursion in central and southern Mongolia.

Visitors to Cincinnati Nature Center can journey with him as he retells his adventure during CNC’s opening Winter Travel Series program January 4, 2009 at 2 p.m. Munson’s travelogue presentation gives visitors a glimpse of a place of that most can only imagine. Each Sunday in January, visitors can take a trip to a new part of the world, without leaving the comfort of the Rowe Woods auditorium.

“I was enthralled with the vastness and the subtle beauty of the land that few Westerners have the privilege of knowing,” Munson said of his journey through central Mongolia and the Gobi Desert.

From the Flaming Cliffs of Roy Chapman Andrews’ fame—who was the model for Indiana Jones in the movies—in the dry and seemingly empty reaches of the Gobi Desert, to the vast herds of sheep, goats, yaks, camels, and horses in the steppes, Munson saw sights that forever changed his view of the world. Foremost, however, were the people, the proud and friendly descendents of Chinggis Khaan (the Mongolian spelling for Genghis Khan). read more...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

County offers Junior Snow Ranger program

Junior Snow Rangers is a free do-it-yourself winter nature adventure with self-guided hikes and activities designed to help children learn more about nature's winter wonders and how to cope with winter weather.

To get started, pick up a Junior Snow Ranger Booklet from rangers at Bartley Ranch Regional Park. Once the booklet has been completed, children meet with a park ranger to talk about what they learned. Participants who complete their booklet by March 31 will receive a Junior Snow Ranger certificate and an invitation to an end of winter party. read more...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

ANGRY CAIRO Protests as Israel, Hamas Step Up Attacks, Vow to Fight on

Israelis and foreign observers from allied nations are beginning to question the tactical logic of Olmert’s air offensive against Gaza, even as they continue to defend Israel’s actions as self-defense against Hamas terrorism. Israel has announced the death of a top Hamas official, along with his 4 wives and 9 of his children, at his home in Gaza, and Hamas has vowed to seek revenge for the killings. Official death tolls now stand at over 400, and Israel’s 7th day of strikes included a mosque it says was used as a weapons cache for militant groups, with Hamas missile attacks into southern Israel increasing in number, range and sophistication. read more...

Start the new year with a splash at Polar Bear swims

Dive into the new year with an audacious splash at one of several "Polar Bear" events today.

Inaugurate a year of adventure and ready-to-face everything bravery, with a chilly dip into Lake Washington. At least the ice and snow are gone and with showers and 41 degrees forecast, you won't be dripping icicles.

The original local polar-bear swim at Matthews Beach is in its seventh year and organizers expect to hand out about 1,000 official Polar Bear Plunge Patches to everyone who takes the plunge. It's free and festive, and costumes are encouraged.

Folks in the Mount Baker neighborhood invite anyone to join in their event at Mount Baker Beach. Renton Parks host a dip into the lake at Coulon Park.

The Resolution Run combines a healthy 5K run/walk with an optional polar-bear dive at Magnuson Park and post-race beer garden, chili feed and hot chocolate reward. read more...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

USC, Clemson Discuss Impact Of State Budget Cuts

While the state makes plans to cut spending by $380 million, two of South Carolina’s biggest colleges are making plans to deal with any upcoming shortfalls.

Football rivals Clemson University and the University of South Carolina are weighing options like hiring freezes, cutting back on travel and even cutting enrollment in smaller academic programs.

Both schools are responding to reports from the state that the budget cuts will deeply impact education and health spending.

The Associated Press says two thirds of the cuts will come from public school and health-related budgets.

The president of Clemson issued a letter Thursday on the cuts (reprinted below) while USC has published Web pages devoted to answering questions about the cuts. read more...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Virgin America Wins Best Low Cost Airline in Business Traveler Awards

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 12, 2008 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- Virgin America, the new airline on a mission to make flying good again, today took the award for "Best Low Cost Airline in North America" among domestic carriers in Business Traveler Magazine's 2008 "Best in Business Travel" Survey.
"We're honored to be recognized as the top low-fare carrier choice by the most selective and experienced travelers," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. "Virgin America offers attractive fares and next generation amenities that appeal to today's business travelers. With inflight internet fleetwide by Spring 2009, we're continuing to innovate and deliver a flight experience that keeps business travelers comfortable, entertained, and connected to their work and lives from 35,000 feet."
The Business Traveler "Best in Business Travel Awards" are based on a survey of four thousand randomly selected subscribers who were given open-ended questions about the overall quality and service provided by low cost carriers operating in North America. Business Traveler is the world's leading publication geared towards frequent business travelers. read more...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Gov. orders new spending cuts amid bleak forecast

INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered most state agencies to cut their spending even further Thursday to eliminate a projected $763 million spending gap through next June.

No state employees will lose their jobs as a result of the cuts, but they won't get 2009 pay raises and fewer will travel out of state as a result of the additional 3 percent cuts on top of 7 percent cuts a year ago.

Daniels made the cuts after the latest state revenue forecast showed the state collecting $721 million less in tax dollars during the current budget cycle than had been forecast just a year ago.

Some items won't be affected: The state still will distribute payments to K-12 schools as budgeted, and public safety won't be cut, Daniels said during a news conference in his office. read more...