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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 www.humanesociety.com. 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 K├╝bler-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 mlive.com/travel is scheduled to share tips and trends.

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