From the monthly archives:

September 2009

National Parks Sans Crowds

by Alan Rider

Don’t know about anybody else, but I’m looking forward to this weekend’s premiere of Ken Burns’ latest documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.
The six-part series, which starts this Sunday night on PBS stations everywhere, was filmed over the course of six years in wildly diverse locations ranging from the seemingly endless river of grass that is the Florida Everglades to the frozen fjords of Alaska.  Along the way Burns and writer/producer Dayton Duncan chronicle the birth and development of the uniquely American notion that these extraordinary places—now totaling 58 national parks and 333 national monuments and historic sites—should be preserved and protected for future generations to enjoy.
The downside, [...]

Read More →

Shark Season

by Alan Rider

Remember the scene in the movie Jaws where beachgoers ran screaming from the water’s edge when someone spotted the movie’s toothy star (no, not Roy Scheider) in the waters off the fictional Amity Island?  Well, call me crazy, but I had exactly the opposite reaction last week when I heard several great white sharks had been seen cruising the waters around Cape Cod.
You see, I’m one of those people who’d go way out of my way to see a great white in the wild.  If you’re similarly inclined, you might want to check out the one-day shark diving trips to California’s Farallon Islands or five-day [...]

Read More →

Top 9 Tales Never Told

by Alan Rider

Given the fact that today’s date—9/9/09—is kind of unique, I thought I ought to mark the occasion by doing something equally unusual here.
Which got me to thinking that, while I’ve written about more than 30 of my most extraordinary experiences on the pages of XTRORD.com, I’ve had a number of equally cool once-in-a-lifetime adventures over the years that I’ve yet to share here.
With that in mind, I thought I’d give you a quick look at nine of my favorite extraordinary experience tales never told:
Airship Venture’s Zeppelin Flights
Cruising serenely 1,000 feet above San Francisco Bay landmarks like the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz aboard one of only three zeppelins on [...]

Read More →

Rock Band, Only For Real

by Alan Rider

Some songs are timeless. Like, oh, say the entire Beatles catalog, for example.  Which makes next Wednesday a big day, for reasons that go beyond the numerology implications of its unique 09/09/09 date.
First, it’s the day the folks at Capitol/EMI release the first digitally-remastered versions of all 12 of the Beatles studio albums in 22 years.  A team of engineers at London’s Abbey Road Studios spent four years reworking the albums using a combination of the latest technology and vintage equipment to create what promises to be unparalleled sound quality that faithfully reproduces the original analog recordings.
Not coincidentally, next Wednesday also marks the long anticipated release of The Beatles: Rock [...]

Read More →