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    Prepare yourself for nature and the outdoors

     

    Camping outside in the woods or forest with your family, friends, and loved ones can be a very enjoyable experience. Whether sitting around the campfire and telling stories or bird watching and exploring nature, being outdoors can leave you with unforgettable memories. Now what memories you will leave with depends on how well you are prepared. If a camper is not knowledgeable about his surroundings, nature can give some pretty nasty surprises. Below are some advice and tips that will help you avoid certain situations that can damper your trip. Bugs go away. Bugs are always a very annoying problem for a lot of campers. These critters keep flying around your food, and buzzing in your ears. Also let’s not forget about more serious problems from some insects, like mosquitoes, which love to bite and give you itchy bumps. Then there are lice and ticks which can pass on diseases. Here are some tips to help keep the bugs away. 1. Try not to use fragrant lotions or products. Sweet smells attract insects. 2. Try to stay cool. Bugs are attracted to sweat. 3. Bring bug repellant/ Sunscreen. Just don’t use too much, 4. Avoid eating bananas – this fruit secretes an odor through your pours which attracts mosquitoes. 5. Use coconut oil – this repels mosquitoes Beware of Ticks Ticks can be a problem due to the fact they can spread diseases. Ways to prevent yourself from exposure to ticks is to avoid grassy areas, wear a hat, and do not wear shorts when you are on a trail. You should check for ticks and if detected remove it as early as possible. If you find a tick attached to your skin, use tweezers close to your skin as possible and pull off the tick, but do not squeeze its body. You should have the doctor check the bite as soon as possible. Ticks can spread diseases such as Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis to humans, which is fatal if not treated. General Advice Here is some useful advice that is good to know on every camping or outdoor trip or vacation: 1. Bring and keep a picture of the travelers with you, in case anyone gets lost. 2. When hiking remember to bring some water, food, a flashlight, and bandages. 3. Never hike by yourself. 4. 80% of your body heat is lost through your head, so to keep warm, wear a hat. The advices I gave in this article I consider very important in helping to keep your outdoors experience an enjoyable one.

         
    Rent a van when in southern california

     

    Traveling to Southern California and don’t have any resource to go around your city of destination? The best solution is to rent a van for a more comfortable and worry-free trip with your friends, business associates or your family. A van is spacious both for people and their cargo and this makes your trip a memorable and enjoyable one. In San Diego, for instance, visitors have a lot of places to go to for leisure such as the Seaworld, San Diego Zoo and Universal Studios. Los Angeles as well has so many exciting areas that should not be missed by vacationers. And it is only by renting a van that you can most conveniently travel to these interesting tourist spots. Van rentals are aplenty in San Diego, Orange County and L. A. you just need to look for the company that has long established a good reputation and is trusted by many travelers. And 5 Star Rent-A-Van is a firm to beat when it comes to rental vehicles. This company is known for its high quality vehicles with popular brands like Ford, Dodge and GMC that are top of the line models as well as for its personalized customer service. San Diego Van Rental caters to all kinds of travelers whether corporate, government and military, sports groups, religious groups, students, families and bands. It’s more than 50 rental vehicles including 15 passenger vans, 12 passenger vans, full size vans are in tip-top condition to make sure that clients travel without a hitch to wherever they want to go. Shuttle service, tow packages and GPS navigation systems are also available if desired by clients. The firm’s customer service is also unbeatable because of the friendly sales representatives and knowledgeable vehicular team who truly know what they’re doing and can assist clients in all their traveling needs. Since it opened to the public in 1996, San Diego-based 5 Star Rent-A-Van has gained a good reputation being a reliable rental agency. It is a family-owned business and is one of the biggest rental firms in Southern California today. Whether clients are locals or come from abroad, this company makes sure that they provide personalized and quality service for the total satisfaction of customers. Another reason why this rental firm is mostly preferred by travelers is because of its competitive rates that even students can well afford to rent a vehicle from them. Also, renters have various payment options from credit cards, debit cards, cash to traveler’s check, cashier’s check or money order. The latest service provided by 5 Star Rent-A-Van to give more convenience to prospective customers is its online booking system. With this system in place, clients no longer need to call to reserve a vehicle. All they have to do is visit the company’s site to find out the availability of their desired van and book it in just a matter of minutes. This online booking gives this preferred van rental company the edge among competitors in San Diego, according to its manager Ray Marashi.

         
    Responsible recreation in the backcountry

     

    Having a good time is pretty high on everyone’s to do list, especially when surrounded by awesome views and super-awesome friends. We hike, bike, climb, camp, raft, fish, hunt, four-wheel, sleep and eat – among other things – in the backcountry. If not done properly, that’s a lot of wear and tear on our natural resources. Responsible recreation ensures future outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors as you have. Without a recreation code of ethics, our backcountry would become a thing of the past. Here are some universally agreed upon keys for having a good time – the right way. -Take only pictures, leave only footprints. If you carry it in, carry it out. This will eliminate litter. -Protect water sources from contamination. Use bio-degradable soap, or try hot water soap-less dishwashing, bathing and clothes washing. When using soap (even bio-degradable) and toothpaste, dispose of the wastewater at least 100 feet away from natural water sources, well or faucet water sources. -Be a good neighbor - control your noise and your pets. Always keep your dog on a leash no longer than 6 feet, and away from public swimming areas. Barking and not cleaning up after pets leads to many complaints from other outdoor enthusiasts. Do not leave pets unattended. -Be respectful of the natural environment – keep the trees and shrubs alive and growing. Nails and wires should not be used on trees because they can cause serious damage to trees. Burn damage will permanently scar or kill a tree. -When hiking or biking, stay on designated trails. This keeps damage to vegetation and erosion in one place. -Before leaving your campsite, clean your fire pit and your campsite. Make it as clean as you would want it if you were arriving that day. The next user will appreciate it. Leave-No-Trace, lnt. org, offers the following Principles for Outdoor Ethics: Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife and Be Considerate of Other Visitors. Here is the Tread Lightly!, treadlightly. org, pledge: Travel and recreate with minimum impact, Respect the environment and the rights of others, Educate yourself – plan and prepare before you go, Allow for future use of the outdoors – leave it better than you found it and Discover the rewards of responsible recreation. Responsible recreation means having the common sense and the courtesy to enjoy the backcountry without spoiling someone else’s experience. Most outdoor enthusiasts understand this very well and spend a good deal of their time restoring, enhancing and conserving our backcountry. Have a good time when you’re outdoors and share these keys with your friends. Use this information and you’ll Get It Right The First Time. Get Outdoors!

         
    Riding the trains in italy

     

    The first time I arrived in Italy by train it felt completely different to anywhere I’d travelled already. It was the summer of 2000 and I had been travelling for a nearly 2 weeks. I was more than relieved when the train pulled out of Nice on that bright August morning, what a misnomer, Nice was in my eyes not very nice at all. So when the train wound its way around the rocky hillsides, passing over the coastal rocks below I put it from my mind and concentrated on the electric blue waters of the med and the thought of my first genuine Italian cappuccino. From my window seat I could see the vibrantly coloured flowers hanging from the trees clinging to the banks above the bays, bright flowers in pots along the platforms of the tiny train stations, and the heart warming sight of an Italian Nonna sweeping her porch out, her house sitting right next to the train tracks. As I was later to travel this track many times she became my ‘Italian Nonna’ and I looked out for her everytime I passed by. Arriving in Ventimiglia, the first real stop over the border from France, (Monaco was also along the way) into Italy I was pleased to see a distinct difference between the Italian locals and the French ones I’d left behind. Admittedly there is a real sense of the Mediterranean life all the way along the Cote D’Azur, with fairly laid back individuals, all there to soak up sun and wine, but these locals appeared even more so. The Carabinieri on the platform as we pulled up were looking so relaxed as to almost appear asleep, even the sniffer dog didn’t look at all bothered that 15 sweaty backpackers had just arrived. Nobody moved, no passports were checked, just a few cheery ‘ciaos’ and a ‘benvenuti’. After leaving our bags with the guide to mind we set off to explore for an hour before catching the next train. Having already spent the better half of the previous hour practising how to order a cappuccino in Italian I was eager to try it out. We found a kerbside cafй and sat down. To my amazement the waiter understood my request on the first go and duly brought me the coffee. I was still grinning when we got back on the train. The journey to Cinque Terre takes you through countless tunnels, carved into the cliffs hanging out over jagged rocks and pebbly beaches. Each time we hit the darkness, the curtains flapping dementedly in the open windows, I could still see the blue water imprinted on the inside of my eyelids. Nowhere else have I experienced that effect. The locals and us were all chatting amongst ourselves until one guy asks me where we are all going in Italian. I answer Rio Maggiore. Then he asks me where we are all from. I explain that I am a tour guide and my group are all from all over the world. He is going to Calabria to see his mother and he is from Milan. He works in a factory there making cars. Another lady opens her travelling cool box to share some iced coffee in tiny plastic espresso cups with the 2 Korean girls in my group, and another one pulls out some ‘dolce’, sweet pastries to share with the Canadian girls. Of all my train journeys in Europe I have found the Italians to be the most generous to backpackers, in terms of communication and sharing the contents of their cooler bags. Especially on the train going to Calabria from the north. I once spent the leg between Pisa and Rome stuck in a corridor with an old guy of 60, a phrase book and a lot of sign language. He was very keen to tell me his family history and was most impressed that a kiwi from ‘lontano’ was trying to speak Italian. He even gave me grammar lessons and corrected my pronunciation. That never happened on a French train. More recently on the train to Florence from Pisa I sat next to a girl from Romania getting an entire itinerary of what to see and do in Florence from the guy opposite her in Italian. The interesting bit was she only spoke a few words but seemed to grasp most of what he was saying. It was great to see the passion for which he was talking about what was obviously his home town. On one trip I managed to fulfil the desires of one rather shy Chinese girl who had a thing for men in uniform. She was trying to collect as many photos of them as possible from all over Europe. Some Italian Navy boys had got on at La Spezia, obviously from the Naval base there, heading to Rome along with a couple of Air Force boys. They were filling the corridor outside the dining car, laughing and yelling, all only too willing to pose for a couple of photos with my now tomato-red-in-the-face passenger. We thought we hit the jackpot when some army boys were spotted on the platform at Ostiense in Rome, but they were waiting for another train. She got a photo through the window instead. The most frustrating time on the trains can be Florence S. M.N. The letters could easily stand for ‘so many new platforms’ instead of Santa Maria Novella as they have an annoying pastime of switching tracks on you. You have to listen to the announcements very carefully. They do them in both English and Italian but as soon as one train is late arriving they start shuffling the rest of the platforms like a deck of cards. With a group of 12 individuals one day we were waiting an extra 45 minutes for the train to Venice, supposedly arriving on track 11, then it was track 9, then it was back to track 11 at the very last minute. We broke the rules and ended up hurling packs across the train tracks onto the end carriage as the guard blew his whistle for the departure and we had some stragglers who hadn’t heard the change walking back from the sandwich bar. Everybody made it with a sprint finish. On the contrary, in Venice the train guard was very accommodating when I had lost an American passenger between the baggage depot and the train in the short space of about 10 minutes. I explained she was late and he smiled, said ok, and waited an extra 5 minutes with me. Eventually he tapped his watch and we had to abandon her. This was the last train out of Italy to Austria that day so I wasn’t sure when I’d see her again. When I eventually did she had an awesome adventure to tell, but that’s entirely another story. For point to point travel you can’t beat the Italian trains for good value, not just in the price because with a train ticket you get so much more than just a seat. Sometimes you don’t even always get a seat, especially if it’s in the middle of August, but you get a fantastic opportunity to experience the local culture that just can’t be had from a guide book or the inside of a bus.

         
    Safari in africa

     

    It is thought that safaris as we know them now, i. e. hunting wild animals, started as long ago as the nineteenth century, the term being coined by Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, the English explorer, when gentlemen of a certain class took pleasure in killing beasts in their natural habitat, in order to prove their manhood and bag a trophy for the library wall. Nowadays, thankfully, there are few amongst us who would consider slaughtering the wonderful creatures of Africa as a sport, but we still like to experience the adventure of hunting them down in order to watch them in the wild. Most people are keen to see the “Big Five” - elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and leopard. Why the graceful giraffes and antelopes and cheetahs, the fastest creatures on earth, are left out of this revered group is a mystery, but that’s the way it goes. In addition to the mammals, there is also a fantastic array of colourful bird life as well as butterflies and insects, so never a dull moment on safari. Uganda is much improved, having recovered from the depredations of Idi Amin and you can risk Zimbabwe if you want but the best safariing is to be found in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa. Within these countries, there are many different game parks or reserves, each with a special character or attraction and often a different group of resident animals. For example, the Serengeti National Park/Ngorongoro Conservation Area is famous for the enormous herds of wildebeest, zebra and antelope where the calves are born before the grazing runs out and the herds move on. In Kenya, Tsavo East National Park is renowned for the largest herds of elephant in the country, whereas the Masai Mara is home to all of the Big Five as well as most other species as well as being the best place to see the migration south of the wildebeest, zebra and antelope back to the plains of the Serengeti. There are also many types of safari to choose from. You can travel by small purpose-built mini-bus which holds about eight people, by jeep, by elephant or horse or even, for the adventurous, on foot (accompanied by an armed guide, of course). You can stay overnight in luxurious lodges (very welcome after a hot dusty game drive) or permanent camps (nearly as luxurious), in tree-top eco-friendly hotels or join in setting up camp on the more rugged safaris. You can also book a beach holiday and just take a half-day or a night or two away, booked locally. The most important part though, is not your mode of transport or your accommodation, but the animals. The thrill of the chase, the news from your driver that one of his colleagues has just seen a lioness with her cubs, right by the trees over there, the excitement of actually seeing in the wild, a beast which you many only have seen previously in photographs or at best, behind bars in a zoo. You may see sociable elephants, usually to be found in large family groups, if you’re lucky, with babies in tow. You may see black rhino, but he probably won’t see you - they have extremely poor eyesight but a great sense of smell. Then there are tall, elegant giraffes, munching from trees far out of reach of the other beasts, dainty antelopes, big cats, ferocious or playful and so much more. Put these fabulous creatures together with the vast beauty that is Africa and the sense of the dangerous and the exotic and you have the experience of a lifetime so go and shoot a few animals (with your camera, of course).

         
    San diego beach hikes cardiff to carlsbad

     

    San Diego offers a bevy of interesting hikes. With the average home price being around $500,000, they better be interesting! To unwind, I typically stop on my way home from work to hike from Cardiff to Carlsbad on the beach. For picturesque sunsets and “tasty waves”, the beach between Cardiff to Carlsbad can’t be beat. Cardiff - Starting I typically start this hike by parking just south of restaurant row in Cardiff. Restaurant row is located to the north of the lagoon between Cardiff and Solana Beach on Highway 101. Parking is located on the side of the road, which is right up against the beach. Give me convenience or give me death! As you head north, you first pass Charlie’s and other restaurants. Past the restaurants, you will come to the beginning of the bluffs that will line the beach to the end of the hike. San Elijo campground is on top of the initial bluffs and extends for roughly a mile north. The campground is very popular and the temporary home of locals and tourist. You can tell the difference by contrasting tans with sunburns. Following San Elijo, you will walk through Sea Cliff County Park with bluffs over 100 feet high. An area known affectionately as “Swami’s” quickly follows this park. The name derives from the fact the area above the bluff is the home to the Self Realization Fellowship Center. This area is know as hot surf spot, but is very crowded. If you are a bit winded, you can stop and watch 50 or so surfers maneuver for waves. Yes, traffic jams aren’t exclusively restricted to California freeways. North of Swami’s, you will cruise along a long strip of sand hemmed in by 50 to 60 foot bluffs in the town of Encinitas. For those with a wicked sense of humor, there is a relatively popular game called, “Watch the house fall.” Yes, the bluffs are giving away slowly. As they erode, the homes first lose plants, then patios and so on. They say real estate is all about location, location, location, but sometimes a beach front home isn’t all that great. The Encinitas section of the hike is fairly long. With the high bluffs, you will find sections of the beach that are deserted. Yes, even during summer. The only thing breaking up the solitude is Moonlight Beach, a fairly popular beach with locals. Otherwise, it’s just you, shells and joggers until you arrive at the end of the bluffs and South Carlsbad. Time to turn around and find the car. The Cardiff to South Carlsbad hike is about 5 miles in each direction. The walk is flat and quick. By the end, you will be relaxed and forget that Bert in accounting is a jerk. Enjoy.

         
    Sea kayak sales

     

    As more and more people become aware of sea kayaking, we see sea kayak sales climbing. The great thing about this type of outdoor activity is that the entire family can enjoy it. In addition, sea kayaking is something that can be done by the elderly or young without experience as a peaceful activity or it can be done by thrill-seekers that look for the challenge, something hard and invigorating. Because sea kayaking is so diverse, it takes different styles of kayaks to keep up. Some of the more popular types of sea kayaks include the flatwater kayak, touring kayak, sea kayak, sit-on-top kayak, surf kayak, canoe, and then of course, you have your kayak accessories. In this article, we wanted to touch on the sea kayak specifically so you can see the differences in this category alone. With this, you can determine the right type of kayak for you and have a better understanding why sea kayaks have become such a hot commodity. Most people who start out kayaking will go with a recreational or flatwater kayak. Once the basic strokes have been mastered, they will generally progress to the sea kayak. With this, you would find you have more confidence on the water, having the ability to explore the ocean waters in a new and exciting way. However, to enjoy sea kayaking, you do not have to be a professional, although you could be. You will find everything from in-store sea kayaks that are your entry level choice to the expedition models, which are generally used for the more seasoned kayaker, to the adventure kayaks, those used by people who love pushing the envelop. § Dagger Apostle - This sea kayak is a high performance, large carrying capacity vessel that is made from durable plastic. Great for extended touring or expeditions in open waters, this sea kayak has three bulkheads and an easily accessible day-hatch located just behind the outfitted cockpit. This sea kayak comes with bow and stern hatches, neoprene cover and hard hatch, deck lines, shock cord deck riggings, recessed deck fittings, adjustable foot braces, carrying toggles, flip rudder system, padded seat cover, and three, secure mini-cell bulkheads. § Galasport Metax - This sea kayak is a light, fast option with an easy access cockpit and comfortable seating for extended touring. This kayak is also stable but responsible, quick turning, handles surf windward waves well, offers a functional deck layout, low stern deck, two water proof hatches, rudder, recessed fittings, and SS fasteners. § Perception Eco Bezhig - For this sea kayak, you will enjoy the ultimate in comfort. The design is sleek and responsible. This expedition boat is great for both day and multiple day trips. The kayak tracks well, offers increased stability, offers a roomy cockpit, although some feel it is a little too restrictive. § Australis Gecko - Known as the “budget” sea kayak, this is a great day trip choice. With two sealed storage compartments, you will find you have enough room for one to two nights of camping gear. The bow is shaped to cut and lift any oncoming swell while deflecting water from the kayak, keeping the kayaker dry.

         
    Serengeti safari memories and miscommunications

     

    The scene before me could be matched nowhere else on earth. Parched yellow grass spread out before us as far as the eye could see - broken only by the occasional umbrella tree and a few hundred thousand migrating wildebeest forming a dusty, thin gray line on the horizon to the north. As the sun pounded down from overhead, heat vapors danced up from the ground. This was the Serengeti - a place with no equal! Nine days earlier my six-year-old son, Jerry, and I had arrived in Arusha, a beautiful Tanzanian ‘metropolis’ and the main jumping off point for those wishing to book budget safaris. As with all visitors, the word of our arrival spread like wildfire. By dinner the first night, three of Arusha’s tour operators were courting us. By breakfast our journey was booked. Two days later we were off. Nothing was left to chance. A jeep, driver, cook, tents, water (though I felt it best to bring my own) and park permits, were to be provided for us as part of our safari package. WILDLIFE ABOUNDS Five days of photographic heaven followed. Tanzania’s best: Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge all were our playgrounds. Each was an oasis offering its own unique landscape and unimaginably diverse wildlife. Finally, as I looked over the edge of Ngorongoro I put my camera down. No photo could do it justice. Those who do not venture there will just never know! All this grandeur, and still the place of my calling, the Serengeti, was ahead. This was the safari I had dreamed of. An inconspicuous signpost in the middle of nowhere marked our arrival at my 14, 763 square km. field of dreams. We had four days to spend in the Serengeti. Yet, within twenty minutes giraffes galloped past in their slow-motion way. Playful zebras danced in dust storms of their own creation. Nearby, lionesses lovingly groomed playful cubs. This life long fantasy achieved was all laid out for our film to capture. What more did we need? I know we needed a drink of water. I reached, I looked, I counted, one! There was one bottle of water alone in its box. Next, I added. Two people, six days out, three days left, 13 bottles of water gone. I suspected a flaw in the plan. With little choice, I begrudgingly surrendered the last bottle of ‘good’ water to my progeny. I would drink the questionable water provided by the safari operator the rest of the trip. Why not? After all, It was a safari. An hour later, still roasting in our jeep, we photographed an incredible golden lion as he lazed in the mid-day sun. This magnificent beast was obviously oblivious to our presence. His bed, a gigantic reddish brown termite mound standing over three feet high, could easily have slept two more. FRUSTRATION MAKES AN APPROACH Inspired, and thirsty, it was time to go forth with the courage of that lion and consume the mystery water. Thomas, my driver, was a spotlessly tidy, smartly dressed, obviously well washed and well-watered fellow. As I approached, he flashed his perfect smile and asked what I needed. Water I replied. Thomas looked ‘off.’ “Ninataka maji ya kunywa” I tried. (attempting Swahili for I need drinking water) Ah, Thomas replied, “Maji hapana” (meaning no water). I tried English again. We still had no water. I am sure my body temperature rose five degrees as I tried to figure out why Thomas had not brought any water from camp that day. Then, it rose another eight degrees while I tried to figure out why he did not need to drink anything. Oh well, we would soon return to camp where I would indulge in all the beige colored water I could ever hope for. I decided to tough it out. Se la vies. We were on a safari. As evening approached, we relaxed in the shade near a water hole. The sweet sent of cool water filled the air. The emerald green pool shivered ever so slightly with each twitch of a hippo’s ear. When the sun sank low, the parched orange horizon beckoned for one last snapshot. It was time our crew headed for camp. Meanwhile, back at the camp, our cook had dinner ready and waiting. Before the Jeep stopped my door was open. I approached him parched, “maji ya kunywa?” I said. He responded, “maji hapana.” “I mean water,” I regrettably snapped. “You must have some to drink!” Both Thomas and the cook shook their heads ‘no’ and looked at me as if I was crazy for thinking anyone would have water in the bush. Didn’t I know I was on safari? Not being parent of the year, I took my sons water - some of it anyway. We put the rest away for morning. CONTEMPLATING THE SITUATION I sat grudgingly at dinner watching my son, my driver and my cook, all laughing together on the man side of the camp. As a zoologist, I knew they had to have water, didn’t they? Just how stupid did they think I was? Then the questions swam through my mind. How could we stay out here nearly three more days without any more water? What happened to the water the Tour Company agreed to send? What did the cook cook with? How was Thomas staying so freaking clean? If I killed my offspring and took his water, do they extradite me or would I stand trial in Tanzania? And, just how stupid did they think I was? That night I sat by the fire under the most brilliantly lit sky I have ever seen. I sat speaking to Thomas, explaining that Homo Sapiens consumed water. It was a necessity! It was a fact! He didn’t buy it for a second. Ultimately, I gave up. I told my crew we would have to return to Arusha the next day. Had I been alone, I would have risked death by dehydration for one more day, but the PTA frowns on this sort of thing. Obviously annoyed by my insane whims the guys turned in. The remainder of the night was dedicated to reflecting on days past, on our incredible experiences and on something else - something odd. The previous morning while we drove through a dust-ridden wallow, we had approached a Maasai Warrior walking barefoot through the grasslands. Thomas pulled near to ask of cheetahs and such. As they spoke, I eyeballed this magnificent looking man who leaned against the front of our jeep. His long, twisted strands of hair were red with ocher and draped elegantly down his perfectly built back. He wore the traditional red Maasai fabric that was slightly tattered. In his right hand was a spear, pointed at both ends. In his left hand was the less traditional orange Fanta. Yes, I did a double take. It remained an orange Fanta. Thinking back, I recalled droplets of condensation. I was sure it was cold. I could not even come up with H2O, well enough a refreshing sugary beverage. Was I hallucinating? Was I even on safari? VANISHING THROUGH THE BUSH The sweltering heat of morning came all to soon. Breakfast with thick condensed milk, missed the spot completely and reconfirmed my decision to leave. The cook and I began to pack up camp. Jerry and Thomas (Tom and Jerry?) wandered into the bush together long before the work was finished - surprise! Whenever, I started any project the men tended to fade into the trees. In fact, completing the task at hand, I realized my moisture-retaining chef had vanished. An hour later no one had returned. I was guarding our waterless belongings from a troop of misschevious baboons and could not go in search of my three self-osmoting delinquents. Besides, If the men perished, it would prove to them my theory that they needed water to live. Ha! I would be vindicated! Ritchesness would prevail! Thus instead, I sat filming my new found primate friends. After all, I was still on safari? Half an hour later the guys emerged from the bush, talking casually as they slurped on their strawberry Fantas. My mouth dropped. Jerry nonchalantly pointed off behind them as he passed and asked, “Mom, why didn’t you came to the soda stand with us? You could at least have gotten some bottled water.” I stood defining dumbfounded! Were they slurping away each time they vanished? What was a soda stand doing in the middle of…? Why hadn’t someone just said it was…? Ah..? Was there a Denny’s in there as well? How silly of me to have expected them to mention this. Auuuuuug! Hadn’t I realized I was on a safari?

         
    Should you buy or rent your camping gear

     

    Are you planning on taking a camping trip in the near future? If this is your first time going camping, you will need to get camping gear to take with you, as you may not already own it. While your first impulse may be to head on down to your local sports store, did you know that you have another option as well? You do. In addition to buying your own camping gear, you may also be able to rent it. When it comes to determining whether you should buy your own camping gear or just rent the camping gear that you need, you may have a difficult time deciding what to do. If you are wondering what you should do, you will want to continue reading on. Below, the pros and cons of both buying your own camping gear and renting your camping gear are outlined. As for buying your own camping gear, you will find that the biggest con or downside to doing so is the cost. Depending on what you need to buy, it can get pretty expensive to purchase your own camping gear. With that in mind though, there are a number of camping gear equipment pieces, like camping tents or sleeping bags, that can be purchased for affordable prices. If you are looking to camp on a budget, you can still buy your own camping gear, but you just need to know where to look. Although there are a number of downsides, like the price, to buying your own camping gear, you will also find that there are a number of pros or plus sides to doing so as well. One of those plus sides is the fact that you will own the camping gear in question. This means that you can use it as little or as often as you would like. If you are planning to take a number of camping trips in the future, you will find that it is easier, as well as cheaper in the long run, to buy your own camping gear. It is also important to mention the freedom that you have, when buying your own camping gear. When buying your own camping gear, you can buy basically whatever you want. For instance, if you would like a camping tent that is the color black, you are free to do so. When you buy your own camping gear, you have the ability to be picky if you want to be. With a large selection of camping gear pieces to choose from, from a number of different retailers, the decision as to what you want to buy is yours to make. If you are unable to buy your own camping gear or if you would prefer not you, your other option is to rent your camping gear. When it comes to renting camping gear, you will also find a number of pros and cons. As for the cons of renting your camping gear, you may find that you are faced with a limited selection of camping gear pieces to choose from. Many camping gear rental stations only carry the basic items, like tents, hot plates, and coolers. While you may have some choices, you will mostly find that your selection is limited. As for the pros or plus sides to renting your camping gear, instead of buying it, you will find that the cost is much more affordable. Despite being relatively affordable, different camping gear rental stations charge different rental fees. You will also find that camping gear can typically be rented for as little as one day or as long as a couple of weeks. Renting your camping gear is nice if this is your first time going camping and if you are unsure as to whether or not you would be interested in doing so again. As you can see, there are a number of pros and cons to both buying your own camping gear and renting it. In addition to the two above mentioned options, you may also want to think about borrowing camping gear from someone that you know. You may even be able to do so free of charge.

         
    Should you take a camping trip

     

    Are you looking for something to do this summer, spring, or even fall? Whether you are looking to do so something independently, with your family, or with your friends, have you ever though about going camping? If you have yet to examine camping, you may want to think about it, as camping is often referred to as a fun and exciting pastime. Although it is nice to hear that camping is a fun way to spend some free time that you may have, you may be wondering if you should really go camping. In all honesty, you will find that it depends. While individuals from all walks of life enjoy camping, camping isn't always for everyone. If you would like to know whether you should go camping or at least think about it a little bit more, you will want to continue reading on. One of the many signs that you should think about going camping is if you love spending time outdoors. Whether you just like sitting out on your porch, going swimming, or playing sports outdoors, there is a good chance that you like camping. Camping is based on the doors. You will likely find yourself sleeping outside, eating outside, and playing outside. For that reason, if you have a love for the outdoors, a camping trip is something that you may want to examine. If you are looking for a change, you may want to think about going camping. If you are wondering if you should go camping, there is a good chance that you have never gone camping before. Unfortunately, when many people take a short trip or a full fledged vacation, many end up staying on the "safe side." While it is more than possible to do this, you may want to think about trying something new, like camping. Another sign that you may want to think about going camping is if you are on a budget. Camping is nice is because it is a relatively affordable activity. When it comes to camping, many campers choose to camp in parks or other public campground areas. Many of these camping establishments will charge you a small admission fee or a small camping fee, but you will find that the cost is significantly lower than the cost of an amusement park or airfare for a long trip. It is also important to mention that you can get a lot of your camping supplies, like your food, for very cheap prices as well. Also, what is nice about going camping is that you will find that you have a number of different options. For instance, you will find that you can choose to camp in a traditional tent or an RV. If you don't own your own RV, you may be able to rent one. You will also have a choice when it comes to choosing a campground. No matter where you are looking to camp, you should be able to find a number of campground parks to choose from. If you carefully choose your campground park, you may even be able to handpick your own camping spot! Of course, the decision as to whether or not you want to go camping is your decision to make, but you may at least want to look into it. There is a reason why camping is regarded as one of the most popular American pastimes.

         
    Sight saving tips for viewing fireworks

     

    Fireworks displays are one of the most recognizable symbols of Independence Day. But there are risks, warns Lions Clubs International, a worldwide service organization dedicated to the conservation of sight. Each year, thousands of people across the country suffer serious eye injuries because of fireworks, and nearly three-quarters of those injuries occur around the July Fourth holiday. About 2,000 eye injuries are reported each year, with nearly half by bystanders, not the people who set off the fireworks. Even sparklers can be dangerous - they are the No. 1 cause of eye injury to children. Sparklers consist of metal shrapnel burning at about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. "Despite our many advances in the ability to repair severely injured eyes, the damage can be devastating, often resulting in blindness, permanently impaired vision or loss of one or both eyes," says Dr. Christopher Andreoli, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary's chief resident and director of eye trauma. But Andreoli says that most eye injuries caused by fireworks are preventable. Lions Clubs International and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary offer these sight-saving tips: * Leave it to the pros. Pack a picnic and attend a professional fireworks display instead of lighting your own. * Leave it to the adults. Don't let children ignite fireworks or stand near others who do. * Keep your distance. View fireworks from at least 500 feet away, and keep away from a lighted firework. Many injuries occur when checking on a firework that has failed to ignite. * Wear eye protection. Eyeglasses or sunglasses can help protect the eyes from smoke, falling ash and stray sparks. If an accident does occur, Andreoli advises covering the injured eye. Don't apply pressure to the eye or rub it, as that can make the injury worse and cause bleeding. Don't eat or drink anything until seen by a doctor. Most importantly, seek medical help immediately. Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization with nearly 1.35 million members in 197 countries.

         
    Sleeping bag liners instead of bags

     

    : Sleeping bag liners for camping? My friend Dion made fun of my "poor excuse for a sleeping bag," but it kept me warm as the temperature dropped to the low forties, and it weighed only five ounces. We were camping on the banks of the Manistee River in Michigan. So, how did it a sleeping bag liner keep me warm? The real secret was the fifteen minutes we spent gathering dead, dry bracken ferns to build a two-foot thick mattress. We set the tent on that. Then, in my liner with all my clothes on, I was fine. Actually, I've rarely slept as well camping as I did that night. Using Sleeping Bag Liners Instead Of Bags You can buy light sleeping bag liners from Campmor and other suppliers, or do like I did. I sewed a simple one of bargain-bin nylon material ($1/yard) obtained at Walmart. Buy the lightest nylon or polyester material you can find. Depending on what you use and how big you make it, it should weigh between four and nine ounces. I found I could stay warm with a light sleeping bag liner in autumn, at a few degrees above freezing, so this strategy should work well for summer nights in the sixties. Be careful, of course. It could be dangerous, or at least uncomfortable enough to ruin your trip. Test this strategy near home, and know yourself and your enviroment. You may want to learn a few tricks for staying warm if you try this strategy. When it isn't too humid you can breath in your bag, for example. Many backpackers will tell you not to do this, because you'll be damp in the morning, but in a dry enviroment you'll dry quickly once you hit the trail. Spread the liner out to dry during a break. Just as I did the first time, you can also use a mattress of dried plants. Use dead leaves, palm fronds, grass, cattail leaves, some softer tree barks, etc. A mattress of this sort insulates you from the ground, which normally takes away much of your body heat. Scatter the leaves in the morning so they won't smother the plants underneath. Try to go to bed warm. If you're warm when you get into your sleeping bag, you're more likely to stay warm through the night. If you start out shivering, it's difficult to warm up, especially in a thin bag. More tricks for staying warm: Hot tea before going to sleep... Exercise a bit... Cover yourself with extra clothes... Elevate your feet slightly... Go to sleep earlier or later. Experiment to see what works best for you. These are options, but not recommendations. I've gone out with nothing more than a bivy sack in my jacket pocket, but I'm not recommending that either. This is just to present all the possible options for the ultralight backpacker. One of those options is sleeping bag liners.

         
    Snowboard buying tips

     

    Buying a Snowboard is not as easy as it used to be. There are lots of different manufacturers and even more of different models. It can get very confusing process. There are many different types of snowboards all for different uses. Here are the most common types of snowboards. :Freeride :Park :Rail :Freestyle :All mountain :Powder The snowboard has evolved from a simple design to many different styles and functions. Purchasing a snowboard requires a few key questions to be answered, but guess what! We have the answersfor you right here. Your weight, height, foot size and riding style are the main factors that will define the appropriate stiffness, height, width and shape of the board you will buy. So lets start with the first question. Note down your answers so you can take them to the shop when you go to rent or buy a snowboard. Your riding ability? If you’re a beginner, first time, newbie, taking a lesson, snowboarded 1-3 times. Intermediate - board 3-5 times a year, ride switch/fakie catch some air, turns no problem. Advanced - buttering up those 270s on to boxes? What type of riding style do you enjoy most? Your desired riding style or the terrain you wish to ride will help determine the type of board you should rent or buy. The three main categories of riding styles are. 1. All Mountain / Freeride style snowboarder utilizes the whole mountain. You enjoy carving, catching air, making turns in fresh powder or just cruising the slopes. If you fancy a bit of everything, then all mountain is where your style is. 2. Freestyle includes mostly trick riding. Jumps, spins, grabs, jibbing, rails, basically tearing it up. Technical freestyle riding is usually found in the parks or near the halfpipe. Freestyle boards can tend to range from very soft boards(ideal for buttering and jumps) to very stiff(ideal for pipe). 3. Carve/Alpine style combines speed and deep turns and utilizes everything the mountain has to offer. Alpine riders are continually transitioning from one turn to the next. It is all about high speed and hard carving. Next we move on to the question of your weight and height, this will help us pick the correct size of board. Length A good rule of thumb for all mountain is that the board should stand between your chin and your nose when set on its tail. For freestyle it should be a little shorted so you can make faster spins or put more pressure at the nose or tail of the board. Width Snowboard width is usually directly related to your foot size, you need a board wide enough so your heel and toes do not drag in the snow while turning. Weight A major factor in determining the correct board size also has to do with your weight. Riders who are heavy should look for boards that have a stiffer flex. Lighter riders will need a board with a softer flex. Also if you are heavy for your size then pick a longer board this will give you more surface area. Like wise if you are light for your size pick a shorter board. As the increased size will make it harder for you to control the extra surface area of the board. CHOOSE YOUR SNOWBOARD Brand/Model There are multitudes of board manufactures, a good idea is when going into your local rental shop or ask the honest opinion of the brands. If you’re a newbie rider, go for one of the bigger brands, they tend to have better support and warranty. Price A new snowboard costs between U. S. $99.00 and $600.00.. Most Snowboard companies offer a selection of boards at different prices. The higher end boards are usually pro models or have a high technical built to them. Graphics Snowboards are a great way to get a message across. Most buyers choose a snowboard because of its graphical nature. This is a way to show the world your inner spirit, or not. Snowboards are quickly becoming works of art. Most Snowboard companies provide a large selection of designs and colors to choose from. Many manufacturers will not keep the same graphic for the model type board regardless of size. Graphics is a personal decision and should be considered only after the proper board characteristics have been decided. But most riders choose a board based on graphics rather than compatability. TIME TO BUY? Wait! Rent first If you are beginner it is a good idea to rent. This will allow you to try a few different styles, models and brands of Snowboards. Ski Resorts offer snowboard rentals. Board, boots and bindings can all be rented at the same time. Many local sporting goods shops also offer snowboard rentals. This is helpful to do the day before so all proper adjustments can be made. What about a used board A used board is a great way to go if your budget is tight, Just make sure the condition of the board is good otherwise you could be wasting your money on a board that wont ride very well. Check the rails(metal edges)for any cracks or separation from the board it self. Top sheet for any cracks in the top of the board, it might be an indication to how hard to board has been ridden. Check the base for any large scores or any signs of separation from the rails. Some boards can be fixed if they’ve had a nasty hole put in them and they can be as good as new. But just check , you your common sense. What about Last year's models? This is a good way to get a new board at a great price. Unless some new material is found in outer space, it is a safe bet that last years model will ride just about as good as this year's. Summer time is a great time to start your search for last years model, (even though its the same calendar year). Most shops want to get rid of these boards so they can make room on their shelves for the new boards. EX demo boards. Every shop will have last year's rentals or ex demo board lieing around somewhere. Ask them and you might find yourself a bargain.

         
    Snowdon interesting information about the mountain

     

    If you plan to visit Snowdon in Wales this summer, here is some interesting information about the mountain that you might like to know. Snowdon, in Welsh, is Yr Wyddfa, which means tomb or monument. Legend has it that it is the tomb of Rhita Gawr, an ogre who would kill kings and make cloaks out of their beards. He supposedly met his end when King Arthur climbed to the top of Mount Snowdon and killed him. No one knows who first conquered Snowdon, but ascents of the mountain became popular when Thomas Pennant published 'Tours' in 1781 and included his visit to the summit. Snowdon, as indeed the surrounding area, has been mined since the Bronze Age, and evidence of copper mining can be seen all over the mountain, from old mine buildings, to old tramways. Care should be taken around these old buildings. Facts and Figures of Snowdon Snowdon stands 1,085 metres (3,560 feet) high. Each year 350,000 people reach the summit, some on foot and some by train. The summit has 200 inches(508 cm) of rain per year, and can reach temperatures of 30 centigrade in high summer, and plummet to - 20 centigrade in the winter. Add to this winds of up to 150 mph and the temperature can feel more like - 50. The summit buildings at the top can by covered by ice and snow between November and April. Snowdon Mountain Railway Before the railway, ponies used to take tourists to the summit of Snowdon. Sir Richard Moon and Mr George Assheton Smith were responsible for the idea of the Snowdon Railway - Sir Moon as a way of boosting tourists using his standard gauge lines, and Mr Smith as he realised that tourist cash may compensate him from the loss of income from his declining mines. They imported a fully working 800mm gauge mountain railway from Switzerland. The railway remains the only rack and pinion railway in the UK. It has tooted racks in the centre of the track that engage with cogs under the carriages. The only accident on the railway occurred on the day it opened to the public in 1896. Engine #1, Ladas, derailed and plummeted down a slope. The crew jumped from the engine and survived, and the guard applied the hand brake to the carriages and brought them to a halt. Unfortunately, one of the passengers panicked and jumped from the carriage, falling onto the tracks and under the wheels. He later died from his injuries. The saga wasn't quite over, as just as the carriages stopped, the engine following behind (Enid - still operating today) hit them from behind! The railway was closed. Since it reopened the following year there have been no further accidents! And since that date there has never been another Engine #1 on the Snowdon Railway! The cost of the train trip is not cheap (apart from being a good walk in itself, another reason for trying to make the summit on foot!), but is a great way for those who cannot make the climb to travel to the top. However, good weather cannot be guaranteed, and you may start the trip on a clear day, only to find yourself in cloud as you reach the top. If you choose to take the train up Mount Snowdon, you can walk back down via the Llanberis Path. You can get some wonderful views of the trains puffing their way up and down from the path. Not all trains are steam - there are also diesel engines. If you plan to take the train up to the top of Snowdon beware that the trains get very crowded in the summer, and it is best to arrive early or even more advisable to book in advance by ringing 0870 458 0033 at least the day before. If you don't you may have a long wait. A board by the ticket office will tell you which is the next train with available seats. You can buy a return, or a single to the top. Single tickets for the journey down are sold on standby basis only. Weather permitting the trains run from mid May to the end of October right to the summit, but from mid March, and a little way into November, stop at Clogwyn. Trains start running at 9am and continue until late afternoon. Buildings on Snowdon Summit In 1820 the first stone shelter was built at the summit by a guide named Lloyd. A copper miner, William Morris, had the idea of selling refreshments from the shelter - an idea which continues to the present day. Having walked up the mountain it is probably as welcome today, as it was to the earlier tourist, to be able to have something to eat and drink before tackling the descent. Two hotels were opened on the summit, one called Roberts Hotel, the other the Cold Club. Both were in fierce competition with each other. There were often more visitors then beds though, and conditions were not the best. By 1898 the Snowdon Mountain Railway and Hotels Company had taken over the hotels, and started to rebuild them - the fierce conditions on the top of Mount Snowdon means that any building had a limited live. By the 1930s it was decided to replace the summit buildings with a multipurpose hotel, cafe and station. With little regard to conservation, the builders simply pushed the derelict old huts over the side of the mountain to make way for the new build (imagine the uproar today!). Sir Clough William-Ellis, the architect and designer of nearby Portmerion, designed the new building, complete with huge picture windows so visitors could best enjoy the panoramic views. Unfortunately the windows lasted only six months before they were blown in and had to be replaced with much smaller ones. During the war years the summit buildings were used by the Ministry of Supply for experimental radio work, and subsequently by Air Ministry, Admiralty and Armed forces, and the mountain top was closed to tourists. The hotel did not reopen to tourists after the war. In 2004 it was agreed that the summit buildings would undergo a total refurbishment. Demolition is due to start in the autumn of 2006, with the new centre being ready in 2007. There has been much debate about the form of the new buildings, but one thing is certain - whatever the new buildings look like, they will always be a welcome sight to walkers who have struggled their way to the top of the mountain!

         
    Solo backpacking safety tips

     

    Solo backpacking means peace and quiet. No one to talk to means no words are put between you and the beauty around you. The miles just flow. It's entirely up to you to say when you eat or take a break. Want to jump in that alpine lake? It's your decision alone. It's a unique experience. A solo backpacker also is vulnerable. Twist your ankle, and there's nobody there to help you. Have you ever been stuck alone without food for days? How can you make your solo backpacking trip safe? You can't. It's inherently more dangerous to go alone into the wilderness. What you can do though, is make it safer. Some Solo Backpacking Tips 1. Tell someone where you'll be, and when you expect to return. It's probably best if you leave a map with them, and let them know who to call if you don't return on time. 2. Bring a cell phone. I don't do this yet myself, but many lives have now been saved by cell phones. Turn it off and put it in the bottom of your pack so it won't bother you. 3. Bring the usual safety items (matches, 1st aid, iodine tablets, etc), but double-check to see if they are there and in working order, as you'll have nobody elses supplies to back you up. 4. If you're not sure of your abilities, or have a bad knee or other potential problem, stick to well-traveled trails. On many routes, another backpacker will be by every hour. That's good to know if you're in trouble. 5. Learn well how to read a map and use a compass. If you are two miles off route and can't get a signal on your phone when your knee gives out, you're in trouble. Even if you like to wander, you should be able to know where you are on the map for safety. 6. Know your abilities. Don't plan on twenty-mile days if you haven't done them before. 7. Learn to lighten your load. When you're alone, you lose the efficiency of sharing the load for stoves, tents and other common items. It's easy - and dangerous - to become overloaded when yours is the only backpack. You might want to read up on ultralight backpacking. Solo backpacking is riskier, but for some of us, it's well worth the risk. Try it, and you might agree. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions.

         
     
         
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