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    A few words in praise of birds

     

    Why do birds appeal to us ? Most people enjoy the sight of birds, even people who have never been active birdwatchers. Although birds are less like us in appearance and habits than our fellow mammals, birds undeniably hold a special place in our hearts. One reason that birds capture our imaginations is that they can fly, while we remain trapped here on earth. What child hasn't watched a bird fly overhead and dreamt of being up there in the sky flying alongside ? What adults have not, at one time or another, wished that they could take wing and fly away from all of their everyday troubles and cares ? Birds are natural symbols of freedom and escape. After all, what could better encapsulate our vision of pure freedom than the ability to fly off into the sunset ? Birds can soar overhead and they can also cover great distances. They are privy to a "bird's eye view" of a single building or a park, or an entire city or landscape, making them a perfect metaphor for obtaining a fresh perspective on a situation, or for taking a larger view of an issue. Birds often symbolize other things, as well, such as human character traits and qualities. There's the proud peacock, the noble eagle, the thieving magpie, squabbling crows, and billing and cooing love birds. Gliding swans are the perfect picture of grace and elegance in motion. The hawk is a symbol of war, the dove a symbol of peace. What else attracts us to birds ? Birds have feathers, soft to the touch and a joy to look at. Plumage seems to come in an infinite variety of lovely colors and patterns, from the subtle, earthy tones of the common house sparrow to the outrageous, iridescent regalia of the showy peacock. Birds are beautiful works of art, signed by nature. Their plumage adds color and spectacle to a humdrum world. Their colors may also suggest many different locales and associations to us. For example, those small, round, brown sparrows are homey, comforting and familiar to those of us who live in temperate climates. They are our backyard friends and neighbors. American cardinals and blue jays are highly colored, cheerful sights to behold on gray days, from the tips of their tail feathers to the fanciful crests on their heads. They are a bit more exotic, yet they are still familiar backyard friends. Then there are those birds who live in far off exotic places, such as African pink flamingos and tropical parrots, who sport wonderful tropical colors. We love them, not only for their magnificent colors, but also for their association with far-flung lands and exotic adventures. Birds also come in a great variety of shapes and sizes, which further adds to their appeal. We can relate to them, in so far as they, and we, have two eyes, one mouth and bilateral symmetry. Yet, they are also very unlike us. They have protruding beaks, from the sparrow's tiny jabbing beak to the toucan's enormous appendage. They have wings, more unlike human arms than those of other mammals, or even of reptiles. In fact, when their wings are folded against their sides, birds appear to have no arms at all. They also have thin, bare legs and they have claws. Their heads and necks flow smoothly into their bodies. Their forms create graceful outlines, whether round like a chubby European robin, long like an African parrot, or sleek like a regal swan. Yes, birds are beautiful to look at, but the beauty of birds is not confined to the visual aspects of shape and color alone, because birds also fill the air with music. They seem to offer us their song simply to entertain us, and they ask for nothing in return. Like a garden bursting with colorful flowers, the fantastic colors and songs of birds seem frivolous and out of place in a world full of harsh realities. It seems as though they were put on earth expressly to make life more beautiful. They were not, of course. Their color and song serve biological ends in the process of natural selection, but that does not prevent us from enjoying such sights and sounds. We can listen in on their free concerts and derive pleasure and serenity from the experience. We can also be amused when a few species of birds even mimic our own speech. Another characteristic of birds that we humans respond to is the fact that they build nests. They seem so industrious and we watch with wonder as each type of bird builds its own species-specific nest, ranging from a simple assemblage of twigs to an intricately woven masterpiece of craftmanship. "Nest" is such a cozy word. Birds build their cozy nests, care for their young, and raise their families, all in the course of a single spring or summer. We admire their patience and devotion and attentive care to their offspring. We observe and marvel at a parent bird's countless trips to and from the nest to diligently feed the helpless chicks. Birds provide us with fine role models for parenting. Yes, birds are homebodies during the nesting season, but they also migrate. Birds are free to come and go and many cover vast distances each year, as they travel between their summer and their winter homes. They are social creatures, moving in flocks and creating great spectacles as they fly. A glimpse of a V-shaped flock of geese passing overhead thrills us and stirs something in us. We admire their strength and endurance in carrying out such grueling journeys year after year. We envy them, too, for they are free to go beyond mere political boundaries and to cross entire continents. We up north are sorry to see them part each autumn and we are heartened to see them return each spring. The return of such birds as the swallows signals the return of spring, with its promise of birth and renewal. Each spring we are able to welcome them back into our midsts, for nearly everywhere that humans live, birds live also. Birds cover the earth. There is such a diversity of bird species to fill each ecological niche on earth and to contribute to its balance by doing such things as eating insects and dispersing plant seeds. There are the ducks and moorhens of rural ponds. There are birds who live in the forests. There are birds in the mountains and birds in the deserts. The forbidding oceans have their hardy puffins and pelicans. Even frozen, icy places have their own birds, the lovable penguins. Birds adapt to so many different habitats and situations, including human environments. The often ignored pigeon is a beautiful bird. (I have cared for and been grateful to have known many individual pigeons over the years.) As a species, they have managed to adapt to modern cityscapes, substituting cliff-like building ledges and bridge girders for their ancestral cliffs of rock. Other bird species may be less tolerant of such disturbances and avoid the prying eyes of humans. Wherever they choose to live, birds remain symbols of untamed nature, surviving despite man's interference with their habitats. They remain proud and free to the present day. They are also a living link to the mysterious and fascinating history of life on our planet, as birds are the surviving heirs to the dinosaurs. One look at unfeathered baby birds, with their oversized beaks and feet, and it is easy to see the dinosaur in them. Each of us may have our own reason, or combination of reasons, for loving birds, but their appeal is indisputable and universal. Birds represent the perfect blend of beauty, strength, grace and endurance, from the cuteness of a tiny sparrow to the majesty of an imposing raptor. Birds fill both the eye and the ear with beauty. We enjoy them. We admire them. Sometimes we envy them. They add appreciably to the quality of our lives and to the diversity of life on earth and the world would be a smaller, sadder, emptier place without them.

         
    A guide to arizona rv rentals

     

    Arizona is one of the most beautiful desert states in America. It is home to the Grand Canyon, the red cliffs of Sedona, mountains, and endless sights in Phoenix. And perhaps the best way to see all these attractions is to travel by RV whenever and wherever you like. The cost of owning an RV, or the long drive from your home to Arizona may make RV travel seem impossible. It’s not. The solution: renting an RV in Arizona. KOA, or Kampgrounds of America, provides a list on its Web site of its preferred Arizonan RV rental agencies, which are located throughout the state. The larger cities like Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Mesa all have RV rental agencies. The class-C motor home is the most popular RV rental for families or couples. The motor home has one double bed, but can comfortably sleep six to nine people. It also has a toilet and shower, microwave and refrigerator in the kitchen, and heating and cooling. Most Arizonan RV Rentals also sell home-keeping kits with dishes and linens for your trip, perfect for when you fly into Arizona. The summer season in Arizona lasts from the end of May to the start of September. This is the busiest and most expensive time to rent an RV in Arizona. RV rentals in the off-season cost around $20 a day less than during the summer season. You will generally get a cheaper per day rate the longer you rent your RV. Before you rent, shop around. Pay particular attention to the pricing of each Arizonan RV rental agency and find a scheme that works for you. Many companies charge a day rate on top of an additional mile charge. Also ask about insurance, as your car insurance may not cover the RV rental. Ask about clean-up costs and if a security deposit is needed. A little preparation in the beginning can save you money and frustration in the long run, but don’t forget to have fun along the way!

         
    A guide to resorts in the alps

     

    The alps are a popular winter travel destination. Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and other winter activities abound throughout the mountainous area. The Alps are shared among many countries, including Austria, France, German, Italy and Switzerland. Whether you are looking for a family vacation or are more adventurous and enjoy mountaineering and extreme skiing, you will find something for every one in this area. Family Resorts in the Alps Many resorts throughout the area cater to families. In these resorts, families with children make up the bulk of their business. There is plenty for both parents and children to enjoy. Horse drawn sleigh rides, skiing and snowboarding are popular family activities. Just about all family resorts offer ski instruction especially for children as well as adult lessons for mom and dad. Some offer night skiing, either nightly or on certain evenings during the week. After a day of skiing, parents can enjoy the sauna and Jacuzzi, while children enjoy the variety of play areas and activities geared especially for them. If mom and dad want an evening alone, many resorts offer babysitting services. Many family resorts are low tech and don’t have internet access or video games, but some do have these features available. Many families enjoy the low tech atmosphere, which encourages children to enjoy the outdoors and other activities offered. Many of these resorts are located in small villages scattered throughout the alps. These offer quaint scenery and older hotels. Restaurants are nearby, if you want to leave the resort, or you can eat right inside the resort. Others are in larger tourist areas and contain luxury hotels and apartments for families to rent. Singles Resorts in the Alps Other resorts are geared for the younger crowd. These are more popular with single people in their 20s and couples without children. These resorts offer more expert runs for skiing and snowboarding. Many are near glaciers and have monster pipes built into the glaciers that allow snowboarding even in the summer. More experienced skiers generally choose these resorts. Many of these resorts are wired with internet access. Rather than family based activities, they contain bars, lounges and a busier nightlife. Most offer night skiing with lighted trails for skiing or snowboarding in the dark. For the more adventurous, mountaineering is a popular activity in the area. Daily climbing excursions or multi day trips are common here. Hut to Hut tours make it easier to climb more difficult routes. These are great for multi day excursions. You won’t need to carry heavy overnight gear with you, as you would when camping. The huts have what you need for sleeping. Easier to more difficult routes are available with hut to hut climbing. The easier routes tend to be more crowded and the huts fill up quickly. The more difficult routes are less crowded, but are not meant for beginning mountain climbers. There is generally more room in the huts on these trips.

         
    A hiking guide to easter island

     

    Ask me which Pacific island has the most to offer hikers and I'll probably answer Easter Island. Here on an island 11 km wide and 23 km long you'll find nearly a thousand ancient Polynesian statues strewn along a powerfully beautiful coastline or littering the slopes of an extinct volcano. The legends of Easter Island have been recounted many times. What's less known is that the island's assorted wonders are easily accessible on foot from the comfort of the only settlement, Hanga Roa. Before setting out see the sights, however, visit the excellent archaeological museum next to Ahu Tahai on the north side of town (the term "ahu" refers to an ancient stone platform). Aside from the exhibits, the museum has maps which can help you plan your trip. The first morning after arrival, I suggest you climb Easter Island's most spectacular volcano, Rano Kau, where Orongo, a major archaeological site, sits on the crater's rim. But rather than marching straight up the main road to the crater, look for the unmarked shortcut trail off a driveway to the right just past the forestry station south of town. It takes under two hours to cover the six km from Hanga Roa to Orongo, but bring along a picnic lunch and make a day of it. (If climbing a 316-meter hill sounds daunting, you can take a taxi to the summit for around US$6 and easily walk back later in the day.) Once on top, you'll find hiking down into the colourful crater presents no difficulty. It may also look easy to go right around the crater rim, but only do so if you're a very experienced hiker and have a companion along as shear 250-meter cliffs drop into the sea from the ridge. Another day, rise early and take a taxi to lovely Anakena Beach at the end of the paved road on the north side of the island (you should pay under US$10 for the 20 km). A few of the famous Easter Island statues have been restored at Anakena and you could go for a swim, although the main reason you've come is the chance to trek back to Hanga Roa around the road-free northwest corner of the island. You'll pass numerous abandoned statues lying facedown where they fell, and the only living creatures you're unlikely to encounter are the small brown hawks which will watch you intently from perches on nearby rocks. If you keep moving, you'll arrive back in town in five or six hours (but take adequate food, water, and sunscreen). This is probably the finest coastal walk in the South Pacific. Almost as good is the hike along the south coast, although you're bound to run into other tourists here as a paved highway follows the shore. Begin early and catch a taxi to Rano Raraku, the stone quarry where all of the island's statues were born. This is easily the island's most spectacular sight with 397 statues in various stages of completion lying scattered around the crater. And each day large tour groups come to Rano Raraku to sightsee and have lunch. However, if you arrive before 9 am, you'll have the site to yourself for a few hours. When you see the first tour buses headed your way, hike down to Ahu Tongariki on the coast, where 15 massive statues were reerected in 1994. From here, just start walking back toward Hanga Roa (20 km) along the south coast. You'll pass many fallen statues and enjoy some superb scenery. Whenever you get tired, simply go up onto the highway and stick out your thumb and you'll be back in town in a jiffy. An outstanding 13-km walk begins at the museum and follows the west coast five km north to Ahu Tepeu. As elsewhere, keep your eyes pealed for banana trees growing out of the barren rocks as these often indicate caves you can explore. Inland from Ahu Tepeu is one of the island's most photographed sites, Ahu Akivi, with seven statues restored in 1960. From here an interior farm road runs straight back to town (study the maps at the museum carefully, as you'll go far out of your way if you choose the wrong road here). A shorter hike takes you up Puna Pau, a smaller crater which provided stone for the red topknots that originally crowned the island's statues. There's a great view of Hanga Roa from the three crosses on an adjacent hill and you can easily do it all in half a day. A different walk takes you right around the 3,353-meter airport runway, which crosses the island just south of town. Near the east end of the runway is Ahu Vinapu with perfectly fitted monolithic stonework bearing an uncanny resemblance to similar constructions in Peru. Easter Island's moderate climate and scant vegetation make for easy cross country hiking, and you won't find yourself blocked by fences and private property signs very often. You could also tour the island by mountain bike, available from several locations at US$10 a day. If you surf or scuba dive, there are many opportunities here. A minimum of five days are needed to see the main sights of Easter Island, and two weeks would be far better. The variety of things to see and do will surprise you, and you'll be blessed with some unforgettable memories.

         
    A mental wilderness survival kit

     

    : A survival kit should be carried by anyone who goes deep into the wilderness. What should be in it? Matches, a blade of some sort, and first aid supplies are among the usual recommendations. When you read the true stories of survival, though, you start to see that it is what's in a persons head that often determines if they survive or not. What, then, should be in this mental survival kit? A Survival Kit In Your Mind 1. Willingness to learn. Even those who know nothing about survival until lost in the wilderness can still learn as they go - if they are willing to. If you're cold, watch that squirrel dive under a pile of leaves, and try that to stay warm (it works). Notice what's working and what isn't, and keep trying new things. 2. Willingness to do what's necessary. This is one of the most important items in your mental survival kit. Hey, they can eat hissing cockroaches just for the chance to win some money on "Fear Factor," so you can do it to save your life, right? Spoon with your buddy to stay warm, break open logs to find grubs to eat - do whatever it takes. 3. Positive attitude. This is an essential. In many stories of survival it is clear that those who expected to survive did. Even if you're not sure you can survive, encourage this attitude by acting as if you expect to. 4. Inspirational thoughts. This is how to have that positive attitude. An easy and enjoyable way to get this inspiration is to read true stories of wilderness survival. Some of the stories are about situations far worse than anything you are ever likely to encounter. Remembering them at the appropriate time is a sure way to see that you can survive. tell them to others too, if you are in a group. 5. Wilderness survival knowledge. You don't have to go to a survival training school to read and remember that you can safely eat all North American mammals, or that you can stuff your jacket with cattail fluff to create a winter coat. Any little bit helps, so learn a new trick or two each season, or take an edible plant guide on your next hike. 6. Reasons to survive. We all have reasons to want to live, but we need to remember to pull out those reasons when the time comes. Many people have attributed their survival to the constant thought of a loved one waiting for them, or something they want in the future. Maybe you've already done this mental preparation, but it can't hurt to look over the list above again. Is there anything you need to work on in your mental survival kit?

         
    A spectacular trail find on the swan range of montana a trek to the summit

     

    This time was different. Previous years I had settled into a tent near the car at the viewpoint below Richmond Peak, a timbered ridge to the north and east of Seeley Lake, Montana. Time and again I had enjoyed the awesome view of the mighty wall of mountain ridge that rose up from the canyon below me, towering over all surroundings - the majestic Montana peak of Sunday Mountain. From the Richmond Peak vantage point the face of the peak, made up of bare slide zones, with a few ridges of trees and brush, appeared to rise almost straight up from the valley floor below. It was not a mountain wall that I would expect to yield a trail, a bit of a cliffhanger path that would lead to the summit. Awakening that Saturday morning in August though, again at the Richmond Peak viewpoint, after a quick breakfast, I threw my pack on my back. I then hit the trail up the side of Richmond Peak across the canyon from Sunday Mountain. On a previous hike in the area I had found an unmarked trail that departed the mapped trail/abandoned logging road leading up the side of Richmond Peak. The unmarked trail crossed the saddle where the canyon rose to meet the ridge, and appeared to connect with the Sunday Mountain face, and then head upwards - at a sharp incline. I wasn’t certain where the trail would lead, but it sure gave the appearance of providing a possible access route to the top of Sunday Mountain. With clear blue skies of an incredible Montana August day, the climb ahead would still be a cool one as the sun of the day was to the east behind the Sunday Mountain ridge. No question about it, this was also bear country - Grizzly bear country. The initial distance on this unmarked trail led off through dense, overgrown brush as it led across the saddle. What better place for them to be hanging out than in the dense brush I was working my way through. Such a huge relief to make it past the dense brush, with no bear tales to write home about. Out into the open I was on the lower flanks of this mountain I had dreamt of tackling for years. As noted, the trail immediately took a sharp turn, upward in a steep climb. Then, veering off to the north across the face, a slightly leveler trek ensued as it angled upward across the face through wonderful fields of bear-grass mixed with a myriad of flowers in a rainbow of colors. It was almost beyond belief - trekking through chest high fields of flowers on the trail to Sunday Mountain. The trail led across 2 or 3 avalanche draws filled with bear-grass, then doubled back, requiring scrambling up rock ledges, and again leading off across the draws. With another hour of scrambling the steep path, to my surprise I found myself working through a high mountain meadow area apparently home to a band of mountain sheep. My heart beat faster as I realized that this high meadow was tucked in directly below one of the summit cliffs outcroppings. Given the climb to that point, like my heart could beat much faster. Another 20 minutes of scrambling, and at last, the summit ridge for Sunday Mountain was conquered. The view stretched before me down and back into Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. To get to the Sunday Mountain summit called for another half hour of scrambling, following the ridge up and up until I could go no further, the highest point on the mountain ridge. What a sense of triumph! In all directions the ground dropped below me, to the east off into the vastness of the Bob Marshall Wilderness with a large expanse of Grizzly Basin directly below. To the west from this birds eye view, the steep drop off I had just come up opened out on an expansive view of the Swan Valley with the Mission Mountain Range lining the western horizon. Below me, drifting lazily on the breezes, an eagle circled looking for it’s afternoon snack. To the east from my perch at the top of my world, 2 or 3 snowbanks in the draws below me persistently held out for upcoming fall and winter reinforcements. An absolutely spectacular find on the Swan Range. From that wonderful vantage point other primary access jumping off routes for the Bob Marshall Wilderness were visible up and down the Swan Range. To the north Holland Lake marked the trail system from there, and south Pyramid Peak marked the access routes over Pyramid Pass. The area - such a wonder, and now I knew there was another route into the Bob. Truth be known, even though the climb was, well...., a climb, it really didn’t take as long to make it to the Bob Marshall boundary as taking the other two primary routes. Regardless, it was still a physically challenging journey that would lead to a host of aches and pains in this 50 something Montana explorer. It was certainly great to know that there was a cozy, comfortable base-camp set up in place with a hot shower when the hammering up the face and back was accomplished. Either direction from this incredible corner of Montana there were whole sets of quality motel accommodations with soft beds, hot showers or even a Jacuzzi to soak the tired muscles. Perfect base-camp lodgings were available either locally in the Seeley - Swan Valley, at the northern end in the Kalispell and Columbia Falls area, or at the southern end in the Missoula area The crowning touches to a truly stellar Montana mountain adventure.

         
    Adventure on hoodoo creek the boys explore mount gunnison in colorado

     

    Mount Gunnison was calling as we three 13 year old boys laid our plans and set out on our next Colorado back country adventure. We had studied our Forest Service map and convinced our parents that we knew what we were doing. It seemed fairly straightforward. We would follow the Forest Service trail about a mile toward Minnesota Pass from Beaver Reservoir up the East Fork of Minnesota Creek. To get there you headed southeast from Paonia, Colorado following Minnesota Creek along road 710. Paonia, Colorado, was a quiet little town about 25 miles up in the mountains from Delta, Colorado following highway 92 and 133. Growing up in the area I saw Paonia valley as a Shangri-La. The mountain ringed valley provided a glorious abundance of apples, peaches, cherries, plums, and pears, and the 4th of July was a community celebration called “Cherry Days”. Completing the Shangri-La illusion, southeast of Paonia, Mount Lamborn and Landsend Peak form an amazingly close mountainous backdrop for the town. East of Lamborn, above Minnesota Creek, Mount Gunnison stands tall, remote and seemingly inaccessible. We three boys meant to change that perspective, taking on the peak, or at least taking a good shot at it. Ron, Larry and I laid out our provisions across the living room floor, checking our lists and divying up the loads accordingly. Larry with his weight training had the dubious honor of the heaviest pack load. Ron and I split the remaining supplies. Our adventure forty some years ago was outfitted in a pre-modern camping gear era - at least in our lives. My Boy Scout backpack was an open bag into which everything was piled, our tent a piece of tarp strung between two trees. And my bedding - a couple of wool blankets that Mom thought couldn’t get too badly damaged. Interesting the way the world and our expectations change over time. My folks dropped us off up at the Beaver Reservoir dam, and the adventure began. We excitedly covered the first mile of the trail quickly. Around a mile, a side trail turns sharp left leading around the side of Mount Gunnison, over to Coal Creek on the other side. That was not for us though. It appeared on the map that you could head directly east at that juncture, following HooDoo Creek as it led up a draw toward the summit of Mount Gunnison. You could see the beginnings of a trail heading up that direction - the trail we chose to follow. The excitement of exploration drove us onward, upward through aspen groves on the lower flanks of Mount Gunnison. Always keeping HooDoo Creek within sight to our left, we followed that narrow, windy trail through the increasingly dense brush. It became apparent that the “trail” we were following was probably a game trail going nowhere in particular. Hitting multiple forks on the path, within an hour of leaving the main Minnesota Pass Trail our trail disappeared completely. Undeterred, we struggled onward and upward through dense brush for another hour or so. The relatively open aspen grove transitioned into dense pine forest, the trek becoming even more challenging as dissension arose within the ranks. It was unclear that there was any easy route through the timber, or which way to go, and some were questioning if we were - lost. Lost? How could we possibly be lost? Three 13 year old boys way off trail, bumbling around in dense forests on the flanks of Mount Gunnison in the West Elk Wilderness Area - lost - it’s possible. Ron climbed a taller pine in the forest to see if he could make out where we were. It was obvious where we were - in the middle of a deep pine forest somewhere on the side of the mountain. We seldom apply - lost - to our adventures. Afterall, we spent days and days out exploring the mountains, creeks and draws throughout the whole Paonia valley. As long as we could hear HooDoo Creek cascading down the draw to our north, we hadn’t strayed far from it. We knew we could follow it down to the East Fork of Minnesota Creek and our main trail out. But the upward trek toward the summit of Mount Gunnison was questionable. The journey became bushwhacking, and the day was waning. So, we halted our upward struggle, worked our way across to HooDoo Creek, and found a wonderful spot on the creek bank under the tall pines to pitch camp. The tarp strung between trees, the three of us jockeyed for which rock we were going to be sleeping on underneath it. With a fire in the fire ring, we whipped up standard gourmet camp fare - Lipton chicken noodle soup - accompanied by excellent shoestring potatoes and home made cookies. Following rousing camping songs, where we learned that Larry had a budding career in the bluegrass industry, we settled in for a memorable night in the woods. The following morning dawned cold and rainy. Yes, a little rain into the “tent” during the night, soaked the three of us to the skin. We struck camp early and waded through dripping wet brush, plodding back down from the lower ridges of Mount Gunnison, continuing singing those same great tunes we shared around the campfire. Maybe we understood why there was no trail straight up next to HooDoo Creek, leading to the top of Mount Gunnison. “Wouldn’t it be great if there were a trail up there?” we laughed, enjoying the view of the peak as we waited at Beaver Reservoir for our ride. Reflecting back forty-some years on that wonderful adventure, I probably wouldn’t change a thing, except for the gear. And now that I’ve found that I can begin and end that journey in the comfort of nearby motel accommodations in either Cedaredge or Delta found at: montanaadventure/out/state/us-co. html I am excited to re-explore that wonderful area.

         
    Adventure summer camps tips for finding the best ones

     

    The true reason behind any adventure summer camps is to send the children somewhere where they will not only have a great time but will learn and grow as a person. The adventure summer camp programs that you are searching, should offer a wide range of adventurous activities to choose from. If the summer camp is a special type camp, then their summer camp programs must focus on the specialty areas. An example is that an adventure summer camp programs especially for a ‘baseball camp’ should include things like batting, catching, defense, running bases, etc. Make sure that the programs offered by the camp organizer will make the child have a good and challenging time. Why You May Ask? Well! Students will benefit from a broad ranging and ‘all-inclusive’ summer camp activities program. You may start with an exhilarating selection of outdoor activities, day trips, evening entertainments and the exclusive Highland Adventure, that guarantees the summer of a lifetime, not to be missed. On the other hand, teen’s summer camps focus on things that are important to teens like growing up and learning about real life and gaining a sense of independence. The key to any adventure summer camp grilling is to be safe. Do not attempt to grill indoors under any circumstances. Programs without clear features, meanings or definitions use phrases like outdoor behavior programs, boot camps, wilderness camps, wilderness programs or ‘wilderness boot camps’. ‘Behavior Outdoor Intervention’ curricula have been mounting in ‘popularity and variety’ enormously for the past few years. Programs are essentially free to call themselves whatever they want. Parents’ understanding of these programs is becoming imprecise and uncertain. So don’t go with these catchy words, know in detail what they actually offer before you make any payment. Parents searching for an ‘unrealistic quick fix’ to their youngsters behaviors, particularly over the ‘summer months’, generally prefer and hunt for what are known as troubled kid’s summer camps. Whether you go for boot camps or wilderness camps, make sure that the summer camp activities are clearly displayed and you understand them properly to choose the best one form the options.

         
    Adventure travel tours a day on the trail

     

    : An adventure travel vacation is a great way to explore your world. Join a group of fun people who share your interests as we go on a day hike in the Alps. Enjoy a little taste of Switzerland. Up, Up, and Away After consuming a hearty breakfast, we depart for the trailhead. It's close to our conveniently located inn, so we take a leisurely stroll - greeting friendly locals and shopkeepers along the way. We board a bright red cable car that whisks us soaring above the valley to a far away peak. One of your companions excitedly nudges you, "Look, marmots!". We gaze at a trio of cuddly creatures staring back at us from the rockface - so close we feel we could reach out and touch them. We disembark at a solid rock and timber mountain station - now peaceful, this station hosts a clattering mass of skiers during the winter season. Clean Mountain Air and Emerald Lakes Breathing in the fresh mountain air, we set out on our trail. Carpets of wildflowers surround us. Gentle cows graze the alpine grasses - serenading us with a cheerful tinkle of bells. Hiking here is so refreshing. A meandering path leads us through hillocks of glacial moraine, now cloaked in a splendid green, to the edge of a startlingly beautiful emerald lake. The nearby mountains reflect on its surface. We make a brief stop to admire this natural jewel. Some of our group rambles around the tiny lake - others lay back and enjoy the serenity. Hiking Amongst Towering Peaks Our trail continues along a high mountain valley bordered by towering snow-capped peaks. Beautiful Alpenroses form a lovely rolling heath. We tramp across a small snowfield - its coolness underfoot contrasts with the glorious warmth of the alpine sun. We spy a cairn ahead with the familiar red-and-white trail marking painted on one of its rocks. Rounding a corner we spot our lunchtime destination in the distance - a solid Berghaus growing out of the surrounding rocks. Lunching on the Sonnenterrasse As we settle ourselves on a rustic, sun-drenched Sonnenterrasse, a tantalizing smell of frying onions and sausages greets us. Lunch is hearty mountain fare - plates heaped with Rosti mit Spiegeleier und Speck (a wonderfully golden, crispy fried potato pancake with egg and bacon) - served by a flaxen-haired girl in a traditional, powdery-blue farmer's smock. We wash down our delicious lunch with bottles of local beer and gaze out across a massive glacier winding its way down between two peaks and glistening in the sunlight. Stunning Views Well sated, we regain our trail and soon find ourselves breaking out onto a sloping hillside - affording us stunning views of the valley far below. We see a tiny hamlet across the valley, its sun-burned houses and barns surround a central church spire. A massive mountain rears up behind this peaceful scene. Slowly dropping down a gentle path, we enter a straggle of dwarf pine. We're greeted by a pungent fragrance that reminds us of the cleanliness of this wonderful habitat. The afternoon sun is gaining strength and it's a perfect time for us to enter the cool loaminess of the lower forest. We follow the edge of a cascading glacier-fed creek - its frostiness refreshes the air around us. Warm Sun and the Smell of Hay We clatter across an ancient wooden bridge - its surface well worn by generations of cows being driven to Alpine meadows. In the lower pastures, local farmers are harvesting the hay with large wooden rakes. A comforting, sun-rich smell of dried grasses greets us. Off to the Konditorei The relaxing smell of hay and the warmth of the sun has put us into a peaceful, lazy mood. We beeline to the nearest Konditorei to debate our biggest decision of the day - is it to be the daintily glazed apricot torte, the decadent chocolate mousse with lashings of whipped cream, or the traditional (and oh so tasty) Engadiner Nusstorte. We relax in a cozy nook and relieve today's experiences. Relaxing Back at the Inn We amble back to our welcoming inn - a great time for relaxed exploration of the local shops. Back at the inn, some members catch up on reading in the inn's glorious wood-paneled library - others send postcards or nap in the warm afternoon sun. Later, we'll watch as the sun paints the mountains with golden color. An adventure travel vacation in Switzerland is a fantastic experience. Tomorrow, we set off on another lovely adventure.

         
    African safari preparation

     

    If you are planning on going on an African safari, the last thing you would want to do is spoil the trip right out of the chute by forgetting some essential things. Make yourself a list of things to do and check everything off as you go along. There are some important things to consider before you head to Africa. You will want to wear comfortable, but protective clothing on your safari. Long sleeved shirts help protect your arms from the sun, and long pants will help protect you from mosquitoes. Wearing neutral colored clothing will help you blend in with the surroundings while you are admiring the wildlife, and will help to reflect the sun, keeping you cooler. Remember, your transportation may not allow you to carry a lot of luggage, so be conservative. You may have to travel by a small plane or boat and not be able to carry more than a few pounds worth (maybe 20 or 25). Be sure your gear and clothing is packed in something waterproofed like a duffel bag. Most safari guide services recommend only 2 or 3 days worth of clothing be taken as there will be facilities to do laundry in most camps and lodges. If you are planning on being in any of the larger African cities with restaurants, they may require more 'dressy' attire, so take something appropriate. Here are a few items you might want to take along on your African safari: Clothing - sweater and jacket, raincoat, jeans, dress pants or skirts (if you plan on going into the city; you might even want to take a tie and some dress shoes), t-shirts, underwear, sports bra, sun protecting hats, socks, hiking shoes Miscellaneous - large handkerchief or headband, oral hygiene supplies, hair care supplies, shaving gear, sun glasses, wash rag, plastic storage bags, sunscreen and insect repellent, medications for allergies, colds and headaches, flashlight, pocket knife, camera and film (this is important - don't count on getting it there), batteries, small first aid kit, eye drops, lip balm You should plan on visiting your doctor several weeks before your trip to make sure you have the vaccinations and medications you may need. There are some things you may be susceptible to in Africa that you want to guard against. A Yellow Fever Vaccination Card is required for entry into Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Malaria prophylactics are advisable before entering into a malaria area (particularly Kruger). Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, so take other precautions, too. Avoid Bilharzia (caused by tiny parasites) by not swimming in stagnant rivers or streams. If you are a non-resident of Africa, you will need a passport that does not expire for at least six months after your return home. Visas which are acquired before you travel are required in Egypt, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Visas can be obtained upon arrival in Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Also, plan on getting at least the minimum amount of travel insurance. Many places outside of the African cities accept American currency as well as local currency. Also, take travellers cheques in small denominations for incidental expenses. Many establishments in the cities also accept international credit cards. Some banks have ATM machines where you can use an international credit card to obtain local currency. You will need to ensure you have some American cash for visas, airport departures, taxes, tipping, etc. Carry small denominations like $10 - $20 USD and plenty of $1 USD for tipping. So, getting ready for your African Safari is a job in itself, but if you arrive prepared you will certainly have a much more enjoyable and hassle free trip.

         
    African safaris where to go

     

    If you have never been on an African safari before, you may be at a loss as to where to go. If you have been on one, you might want to plan on going somewhere different. Not because you didn't enjoy where you went, but because there are so many beautiful things to see in Africa. From snow covered mountains and beautiful waterfalls, to sandy deserts and aquatic reefs, Africa has got it all. Not to mention all the wildlife. Gorilla trekkers, bird watchers and fly-fishermen will all be equally delighted. If you love beautiful landscapes and communities rich in culture, you'll find that, too. East and Central Africa The eastern Africa and central African regions are loaded with many game parks which include a large variety and population of animals, from the wildebeest of Kenya (middle of the year) and Tanzania (early in the year) to the gorillas of Uganda. East Africa's landscape includes the spectacular and majestic Mount Kilimanjaro and the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, the largest of its type in the world, which is home to thousands of animals such as Zebra, wildebeest, black rhino, prides of lion including the black-maned males, leopard, cheetah, hyena, elephants, warthog, impala, buffalo, hartebeest, eland and other members of the antelope family. South Africa Southern Africa also offers a magnificent scenario for a great safari. South Africa offers an outstanding and rewarding game-viewing experience. Tours here are normally conducted in open 4x4 safari vehicles, giving you greater visibility than a mini-van (commonly used in eastern and central African safaris). South African guides are highly trained and professional. Many camps offer night tours and walks, as well as safaris by canoe and even elephant back! Some of the cities are beautiful, and the coastline of South Africa and the striking landscapes are sure to please. Namibia is a good place if you are looking for elephant, rhino, lion and giraffe. All the large mammals can be found in Botswana; elephant, buffalo, red lechwe, lion and cheetah are plentiful. Many consider Zimbabwe to be the best of Africa. This beautiful country offers Victoria Falls, rolling hills, rock art, and game parks that are home to large herds of elephant and buffalo, sable and roan antelope. Zambia is a definite favorite for those who love to go on an African safari. Zambia has many well managed camps in wilderness areas known for concentration and diversity of game, bird life and game fishing. These can be found in the national parks of South Luangwa and Kafue National Park. A great way to wrap up your African safari is to visit the Indian Ocean islands, which include Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, and the Seychelles Islands. These waters hold hundreds of species of fish, making them a haven for anglers. You can also enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving among the colorful fish, gorgeous flora and fauna, countless coral reefs and marine life. Be sure to send a postcard.

         
    Arrowhead hunting and rock collecting

     

    We weren't planning to go rock and arrowhead hunting in Arizona. My wife and I just liked that hotspring in the desert. It was agood place to escape the Michigan winter for a while. Then we met Felix, an old Mayan Indian living in an old RV. After sharing meals and campfires for a week, he took us into the desert to show us ancient metates (grain-grinding stones) and arrowheads. We also found hundreds of beautiful rocks of every type, including Apache Tears, Fire Agate, and various quartzes. Irina, a nineteen-year-old "rainbow kid," who had been living in her van for months, rode with Felix in his old pickup. We took our van. We spent two hours at the first stop. The recent rain had made the rocks and artifacts stand out, washing them clean. We were mostly just rock collecting. Irina and my wife Ana found odd pieces that may have been arrowheads. We found old pottery pieces too, and Felix came back with half of a pot painted with an intricate design. It was probably hundreds of years old. Felix had been in the desert for years, and kept seeing things we missed. Pony Express Ruins At our second stop, Felix showed us ruins of an old Pony Express station. Unmarked and forgotten, the grass-and-mud-block walls were still partially standing. I realized we still hadn't seen a single other car. There are some isolated areas in Arizona, and this is one of them. We started arrowhead hunting around the ruins, because Felix insisted the building would have been fired upon by arrows. Up the hill behind the ruins, Felix showed us rocks with six-inch wide holes a foot deep or more, and perfectly round. They were filled with water - their purpose, according to Felix. We like water with fewer bugs, but he and Irina drank the water collected in them. It was a peaceful spot, overlooking the valley below. Arrowhead Hunting Success Over the hill, we had some luck searching for rocks and arrowheads, but not like Felix. We saw hundreds of pieces of pottery, but all very plain looking. He found pottery that had beautiful designs on it, and metates. He found a tiny clear quartz arrowhead, perfectly made, that had probably been used to hunt small birds two hundred years earlier. Each of us wandered a bit. Ana and I made it back to the van first, and when Irina and Felix returned, we cooked beans with instant rice on our camp stove. After the meal, we said goodbyes, and traded addresses. They went back to the hotsprings, while we headed the other way with bags of rocks, an antelope antler, and two broken arrowheads. Notes: For interesting rocks, go out after a rain and you can see Fire-agate and Apache Teardrops laying on the sand. For the best rock collecting, visit the designated rockhound areas in southeastern Arizona. As for arrowhead hunting, and ancient pottery, enjoy yourself, but it may be illegal to keep any artifacts now. The BLM office in Safford can give you directions and more information.

         
    Atlantic ocean at great depths

     

    : The Atlantic Ocean is Earth's second-largest ocean. It covers approximately a fifth of the earth's surface. The name Atlantic Ocean came from Greek mythology; it means the "Sea of Atlas". The Atlantic Ocean is second only to the Pacific in size. With its neighboring seas it occupies an area of about 41,100,000 square miles. The land that drains to the Atlantic is approxcimately four times that of either the Pacific or Indian oceans. The Atlantic Ocean has a volume of approximately 354,700,000 kmі. 3,332m is the average depth of the Atlantic coean. The greatest depth in the Puerto Rico Trench is 8,605 m. Due to it's large area the Climate of the Atlantic Ocean varies greatly from one part to the next. The climate of adjacent land areas is directly influenced by the temperatures of the surface waters and water currents as well as the winds blowing across the Ocean. Because the Ocean can retain heat so well, maritime climates are always moderate and free of extreme season variations. Climatic zones vary with the latitude; the warmest climatic zones span across the Atlantic above the equator. The coldest zones are in the highest latitudes, with the coldest regions corresponding to the areas covered by sea ice. Ocean currents contribute to climatic control by moving warm and cold waters to other regions. Adjacent land areas are affected by the winds that are cooled or warmed when blowing over these currents. Feel free to reprint this article as long as you keep the following caption and author biography in tact with all hyperlinks.

         
    Awareness and cooperation equal safety and fun when families visit parks

     

    Many parents are finding that with a little bit of care and planning, fun and safety can go hand in hand when they visit a theme park with their children. "Parents and guardians can provide great examples for children of all ages," said Charlie Bray, President and CEO of International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). "As these adults exhibit safe behavior in a fun way, children will also find motivation to practice safe habits at every theme park, water park, museum and other attractions they visit." Here are some tips on how families can join the parks and attractions industry as "partners in safety" from a Web site called ticketforfun. The site offers consumers a comprehensive online directory of attractions, amusement industry news, safety tips and more: • Upon arriving at the park, designate a place to meet immediately if anyone gets separated from your party. Also, use the buddy system so no one in your party is left alone. • Observe all posted rules and follow the verbal instructions given by ride operators or by lifeguards. • Obey the signs. Abide by listed age, height, weight and health restrictions. Pay special attention to experience-level guidelines for water park rides as well. • Parents with young children need to make sure the ride can be enjoyed safely and children under-stand safe and appropriate ride behavior. • Apply waterproof sunscreen before leaving home (reapply throughout the day) and drink plenty of fluids, avoiding beverages that are heavily sweetened or that have caffeine. • When visiting a water park, make sure nonswimmers and weak swimmers have a life vest. Bring your own if you are unsure of availability and fit. • It is always beneficial to call the facility or visit their Web site in advance to familiarize yourself with their procedures and regulations. IAAPA reports that this year a number of new and innovative attractions are scheduled to debut around the country. Families can go to ticketforfun's directory to connect to some attractions with online ticketing or a reservation system. Some of the new parks and attractions include the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark-an indoor waterpark in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, and the Georgia Aquarium-the world's largest aquarium, located in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, the Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark-the world's only "convertible water-park" offering indoor and outdoor experiences in Galveston Island, Texas-will also open this year. New rides families may want to put on their to-do list include The Voyage at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana; Survivor the Ride at Paramount's Great America in San Francisco, California; Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida; and Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Some destinations are also introducing new family-oriented shows and park areas, such as the "Believe" Whale Show at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, San Antonio, Texas, and San Diego, California; The Grand Exposition at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri; Pirate Shores at Legoland in Carlsbad, California; and Pirates 4-D at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida.

         
    Backpack do s and don ts

     

    You need to buy a backpack for your son, but you are unsure which one to buy and don’t know how to choose the right one. After all there are those reports about how backpacks are damaging our children’s backs. What are you as a parent supposed to do? Here are a few do’s and don’ts about buying and using backpacks. Hopefully you will at least some of them helpful. Don’t buy the first backpack you see no matter how much your son whines. Do shop around. Check the department stores and sporting goods stores, do a web search. Try to find out what is available and how much you can expect to pay. Some schools require the children to have a backpack, and others do not. Also, some schools insist on see through backpacks, to cut down on he chances of kids bringing contraband, such as drugs or weapons to school. If your child’s school has this policy, then you have few choices to make. Some do not allow wheeled packs, they are seen as a tripping hazard. Do check to see if the product has a warranty. What is the store’s return/refund policy? Some of the well-known makers of backpacks give lifetime warrantees. We had a backpack for almost 10 years and the zipper broke and tore away from the fabric. We sent it back, and since that particular pack had been discontinued so they sent us a brand new one a brand new one. Don’t buy a backpack simply because it may be a few dollars cheaper than one with a warranty. The if you need to replace it, you may well have paid more for 2 packs than if you had gotten the one with the warranty originally. Do buy the best backpack that you can afford preferably one that has wide padded shoulder straps and at the very least, a waist belt. IF you can afford it get one that has a padded back and a chest strap. Don’t cave in and get a trendy backpack that your daughter wants if it doesn’t have at least some of the safety features. Do use an internet search to check the rating and testing results of the backpack you are considering buying. Consumer protection organizations routinely run this testing for durability, comfort, and safety. Don’t buy a backpack just because of a low price or because you recognize the brand name, or because all of your son’s friends have one like it. Or because he thinks it is “cool” Do check out the backpack. Make sure it is made of durable material. Look to see if the seams are strong. and if the zippers open and close smoothly. Check that the straps and belts work properly. Don’t go for cute. Just because your daughter loves a particular character, doesn’t mean you have to get her that pack especially if it isn’t back friendly Get her an umbrella with her character on it. Do decide ahead of time what features you want in a backpack, such as extra padding or a sternum strap. Don’t buy a backpack for you or your child just because it is the newest trend, the pack that everyone has to have. Do insist your child wear her backpack properly, using both shoulder straps, and the waist belt. Don’t allow her to wear it slung over one shoulder, or to take unnecessary items like radios, CD players or hand held games to school, they not only add extra weight, but are not allowed in most schools.

         
     
         
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