From the category archives:

Affordable

Looking For The Ultimate In Relaxation? Try An Isolation Tank Experience

by Alan Rider
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Honking car horns, ringing telephones, screaming children.  When the sensory overload that is modern life has pushed the needle on your stress-ometer into the red, you may want to try what many believe to be the ultimate relaxation experience by literally getting away from it all in the peaceful confines of an isolation tank.
Once the exclusive playground of experimental psychologists, the isolation tank experience has gone mainstream.  Dozens of spas now offer hour-long relaxation sessions in custom-designed floatation chambers filled with roughly 10 inches of water containing as much as 800 pounds of epsom salts.
The result is a fluid environment in which the human body is extremely buoyant.  This allows [...]

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5 “Prudent” Ways To Blow Your Tax Refund

by Alan Rider
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Not that you could tell it from the checks I had to write to the U.S. Treasury yesterday, but the Internal Revenue Service says the average American’s tax refund has actually grown by about 10 percent compared to last year. Which means there will be an awful lot of folks with an extra $3,000 or so burning a hole in their pockets over the next few months.
Now, I understand that prudence probably dictates it’d be wise to bank all that dough for a rainy day. But, honestly, that doesn’t sound like very much fun now, does it?
So here’s my compromise: Five affordable once-in-a-lifetime adventures you’ll be talking [...]

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The BIG Picture: Website Offers Easy Way To Create 360-Degree Scrollable Panoramic Photos

by Alan Rider
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As someone who’s had more than his fair share of truly extraordinary experiences, I can tell you virtually all of them share one recurring problem. Namely that they’re filled with amazing moments that typical digital photos just can’t do justice.
Which is why I found myself intrigued by the free browser-based digital photo app just introduced by the folks at Dermandar.com. While it’s still a work in progress, the website makes it ridiculously easy for even the least tech-savvy traveler to create surprisingly high-quality, full-screen scrollable panoramic images without the need for special cameras, tripods, or software.
Just shoot a series of pics with any digital camera—even the one in [...]

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Horsing Around: How You Can Ride Into History With Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

by Alan Rider

When I read that today was William “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s birthday, it made me wonder whether anyone out there was still putting on the kind of Old West extravaganzas this larger-than-life showman made famous in the waning days of the American frontier.  What I discovered will surprise city slickers and delight all those folks for whom cowboy skills are much more than just quaint historical relics.
You see, it turns out that Buffalo Bill’s Wild West is currently gearing up for its 39th season full of trick riders, fancy ropers, stagecoach robberies, Native American dancers and much more.  Modern-day impresario Montie Montana Jr. says he likes to think of this blend [...]

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Blown Up: Indoor Skydiving Offers A Much Saner Alternative To The Real Deal

by Alan Rider

As I look around this tubular chamber, a random thought occurs to me:  Aren’t rooms with padded walls usually reserved for crazy people?  Before I have a chance to consider what lying spread-eagled on the wire mesh floor of a two-story padded room says about my mental health, the gentle breeze generated by the giant fan beneath me quickly builds to hurricane force.  And suddenly I find myself flying.
Granted, the concept of “indoor skydiving” may seem a bit loony in its own right.  But the fact is this is about as close to the exhilaration of free fall as a relatively sane person—herein defined as anyone with more sense than [...]

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Three Places to OD On Chocolate

by Alan Rider

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I got to wondering whether it was actually possible to have too much chocolate.

Well, I did a little digging and found these three extraordinary experiences that will let you test that theory—I know, tough job, but somebody has to do it—by sampling a ridiculously wide range of indulgences produced from the seeds of the lowly cacao tree:
A Chocolate-Covered Month
Hershey, Pennsylvania—the self-proclaimed “Sweetest Place On Earth”—is offering hundreds of chocolate-themed activities this February, ranging from family-friendly Chocolate Lab experiences that allow you to whip up your own tasty treats to romantic multi-course chocolate-themed dinners.  To say nothing of the Spa at the Hotel Hershey, [...]

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Want Your Share Of The New California Gold Rush?

by Alan Rider

There are certain moments in history I would love to have been present at.  Not the least of which is the frosty morning of January 24, 1848 when carpenter James Marshall found those first few gold nuggets just downstream from the sawmill he was building on American River.
That’s because it was this chance discovery that started the California Gold Rush.  An event that quite literally made the Golden State what it is today.
But you probably knew that already, didn’t you? Well here’s something you might not know:  There’s still plenty of gold in the cold, clear creeks of those Sierra Nevada foothills, just sitting there waiting for someone to [...]

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