From the monthly archives:

July 2008

Little Boat, Big World

by Alan Rider

I may not be a sailor, but I do know an extraordinary experience when I see one.  And I think it’s safe to say 16-year-old Zac Sunderland is having one right now.
Given the fact that he’s been raised on and around boats since the day he was born, it’s not really all that surprising that young Zac daydreamed about becoming the youngest person ever to sail around the world solo.  What is remarkable is that he’s found a way to make that childhood dream a reality.
Zac left Marina Del Ray, California in mid-June in a 36-foot  sailboat he bought with money he’d saved from doing odd jobs.  At last report, [...]

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Feed Me!

by Alan Rider

If you’re on the road this summer, you’ll inevitably face the dilemma of where to eat.  And while I understand the temptation to take the easy way out and pull into the first national chain restaurant or fast food place you see, allow me to suggest a much tastier alternative.
The folks at Roadfood.com have made it their mission to discover the country’s best places to stuff your face, from great barbecue joints and bakeries to authentic diners and drive-ins.   The kind of informal, inexpensive eateries that locals love but few travelers ever discover.
The website’s database of more than 1,200 restaurant reviews is searchable by state, city, type of food, or [...]

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To The Bat Cave!

by Alan Rider

With all the hype surrounding the new Batman flick, The Dark Knight, I thought some folks might be interested in seeing the real deal up-close-and-personal (tights and cape optional).
One of the most extraordinary bat experiences I’ve ever had takes place from March through October at New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  Each night at sunset, more than 400,000 Brazillian freetail bats fly out of the cave’s mouth in a spectacle that’s been delighting visitors for decades.  The bats, which weigh less than an ounce, then spend “the dark night” foraging over a range of as much as 36 miles, eating several tons of insects in the process before returning to [...]

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Movie Mania

by Alan Rider

This is the summer my 10-year-old son discovered both the Indiana Jones and Harry Potter film franchises.  And, not surprisingly, he’s crazy about them.  Which got me to thinking about how fans of both series can have an extraordinary experience of their own following in their movie heroes’ footsteps.
Let’s start with the newest Indy epic Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.   While it’s unlikely you’ll experience the same degree of peril as our fedora-wearing hero (which is a good thing), Seattle-based Wildland Adventures eight-day Undiscovered Belize Adventure  tours will take you to the ancient Mayan ruins of Lubaantun,  Belize where the famous Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull—a.k.a. ”The Skull of [...]

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Another Way-Cool Camp

by Alan Rider

The problem with learning about history is that it’s all-too often reduced to an abstract notion that’s hard for kids to identify with.  Well, let me tell you that I’ve just come back from a remarkable camp program at Petersburg, Virginia’s 430-acre Pamplin Historical Park that transforms the history of the Civil War into a truly extraordinary experience.
The park itself is a pretty phenomenal place, dedicated to preserving the site of the Siege of Petersburg, a nine-month struggle that led directly to General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  The park’s centerpiece, the 25,000-square-foot National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, is absolutely state-of-the-art to the extent that it makes [...]

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Affordable Adventures: Part 3

by Alan Rider

For the previous two installments in this three-part series, I’ve stuck to the $100 limit I set out in my first post. 
Now I’m going to stretch that budget just a bit to feature a couple of extraordinary experiences that are, in my opinion, well worth the few extra bucks you’ll spend:

Paragliding Torrey Pines:  Running off the top of a 300-foot cliff suspended by nothing but a handful of thin nylon lines attached to a giant kite may sound intimidating at first.  But make an effort to get past your fear and you’ll discover this is absolutely the closest you will ever come to flying like a bird.  To my way [...]

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Off To The Races!

by Alan Rider

Horse-racing’s Triple Crown may have been something of a let-down this year.  But no matter, as I’ve found a couple of other critter-racing events so extraordinary they’ll make you forget all about that $2 bet you lost on sure-thing Big Brown at last month’s Belmont Stakes.
Just Ducky!  Experience the pageantry of thoroughbred duck racing at the 29th Annual Great American Duck Race.  This weekend festival takes place August 22-24 in Deming, NM with festivities that include the legendary Tournament of Ducks parade and the crowning of the Duck Queen and her court.  As if that weren’t enough excitement, there’s also a green chile cookoff, a mass ascenion of hot air [...]

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