From the monthly archives:

January 2009

Giggles Per Greenback

by Alan Rider

Look, I watch the nonstop gloom-and-doom festival they call the nightly news and I know that times are tough all over.  But I also know that, if ever there was a time when we could all use to blow off a little steam and have a few laughs, well, this is it.
Which is why I’ve created  a thoroughly unscientific list of extraordinary experiences that I feel are outstanding values.  We’re talking about maximum yucks for minimum bucks. 
All will set you back less than $500.  Which seems like a small price to pay for an adventure guaranteed to make you forget all those news reports that had you feeling so freaky-freaky in [...]

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My Kind of Light Show

by Alan Rider

Growing up on the shores of Lake Erie, I had enough brutal winter weather in my first couple of decades to last me the rest of my life.  Which makes it all the more surprising that, upon reading this story about a mid-winter visit to Finland’s Hotel Kakslauttanen, I immediately thought: “Wow, I wanna go there!”
You see, viewing the northern lights has long been on my extraordinary experiences “to-do” list.  The problem, of course, is that these psychedelic atmospheric disturbances are best viewed during the long dark nights of winter at extreme northern latitudes where, to use the technical meteorology term, it gets friggin’ cold.
Turns out that the owner of [...]

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Asleep In The Cockpit

by Alan Rider

While I’m not a card-carrying aviation geek like some of my friends, one look at the list of adventures collected on XTRORD.com’s Xperiences page and it’s not hard to tell I’m into pretty much anything that flies.  Which may explain why the new Jumbo Hostel at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport caught my eye.
Built inside the shell of a mid-1970s-vintage Boeing 747-200 that’s been grounded at the airport’s entrance, this budget-priced hostel makes a way-cool alternative to your typically dreary airport hotels.  Inside are two-dozen rooms that range from bunk bed-equipped dormitory-style digs to a “Cockpit Suite” that retains many of the flight deck’s original gauges and controls and offers an impressive [...]

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"Killer" Cereal

by Alan Rider

Look through the pages of XTRORD.com and this blog and you may get the idea that I have a thing for food.  While my tastes are admittedly too low-brow for me to be considered a gourmet and my interest is a bit too casual for me to qualify as a true “foodie,” I do love discovering people and places that transform the often mundane act of eating into an extraordinary experience.
Which brings me to this quirky little café franchise called Cereality where they serve up more than two dozen brands of your favorite hot and cold breakfast cereals in any mix-and-match combination your twisted little taste buds can imagine.  To [...]

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Do It NOW!

by Alan Rider

While I normally have zero interest in the world of celebrities, I have to admit I was touched by the recent death of John Travolta’s 16-year-old son Jett (love that name) on a family vacation in the Bahamas.
As the father of a bright, energetic, funny 10-year-old boy, I feel for this man’s loss on a very visceral level.  My son Schuyler (Sky, for short) is hands-down the most consistent source of joy in my daily life, and watching him grow up honestly gives new meaning to the phrase “extraordinary experience.”  All of which makes the mere thought of losing him utterly devastating.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life can [...]

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Have Family, Will Travel

by Alan Rider

Given the sub-freezing overnight lows here in the last couple of weeks, I’m really looking forward to a little family trip to Florida we have planned for next month. 
Highlights include going back to swim with the manatees off Florida’s west coast, an interspecies encounter that I found to be nothing short of amazing the first time around.  We’ll also be checking out a few new extraordinary experiences, including watching one of the last remaining Space Shuttle launches before NASA pulls the plug on the giant rocket-planes in 2010.
And speaking of family travel, I wanted to say a special thanks to Shannon Hurst Lane, one of the four adventurous ladies [...]

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The Original Chocolate Factory

by Alan Rider

Alright friends, time for a little game of word association.  Now, if I say “chocolate factory,” you say…what?
If the first words out of your mouth were “Willy Wonka,” give yourself two points for pop culture awareness. If you said “Rocky Mountain,” deduct one point because you’re probably spending way too much time at the mall.  Ten points and the win go to those of you who thought of the ancient Mayans, the first people to grind up the seeds of wild cacao trees and whip them into a bitter chocolate beverage nearly 2,000 years ago. 
Fast forward a couple of millennia and the truly chocolate-obsessed can now get a first-hand look at [...]

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