From the category archives:

Offbeat

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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Hot Wine & Cold Sauna: 2 Extraordinary Spa Treatments

by Alan Rider
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In my 20-plus years as a travel writer, I’ve been to a fair number of fancy-schmancy spas (I know, tough job but somebody’s gotta do it). And, invariably, I come away convinced that most of the exotic spa treatments they offer—especially the ones using downright bizarre ingredients—are mainly designed to separate well-heeled visitors from their money.
That said, I just heard about two unique spa treatments that I think qualify as truly extraordinary experiences. Not that I actually believe they have any real therapeutic benefit mind you but, hey, these people certainly get points for originality.
The first, offered at Japan’s Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Spa Resort, offers a chance to [...]

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Take A Walk On The Wacky Side: Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade

by Alan Rider
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Here’s a sad side effect of the time I spent living in New Orleans: Once you’ve been to Mardi Gras, most other parades seem downright dull by comparison. The one notable exception, of course, is Pasadena’s annual Doo Dah Parade.
This year’s event—the “34th Occasional” version of this terrifically tongue-in-cheek sendup of the city’s stuffy Rose Parade—rolls down a new route along Colorado Boulevard in East Pasadena this Saturday morning at 11. What thankfully hasn’t changed is the full-on wackiness of the festivities.
Just how oddball can a parade actually be, you ask? Well, part of what makes the Doo Dah Parade so much fun is that you never know [...]

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Extraordinary Event: RoboGames Gives You The Chance To Say “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto”

by Alan Rider
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For those of us who grew up on sci-fi movies and television shows like Forbidden Planet and Lost In Space, the idea of a world full of robots seems like some far-off fantasy. Which is precisely why this weekend’s RoboGames—a three-day event certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the planet’s largest open robotics competition—seems like such an extraordinary experience.
This six-year-old San Francisco-area geek-fest features the highly imaginative creations of individuals and teams from more than 20 countries, competing in dozens of events ranging from soccer to sumo. The stars of the show, of course, are the battling bots that come in sizes from 5.3 [...]

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Tanks For The Memories: 2 Unforgettable Tank-Driving Adventures

by Alan Rider
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Of all the extraordinary experiences I’ve had over the years, the chance to take the controls of a 55-ton British Chieftain battle tank has to be among the most memorable.
Unfortunately, the Dallas-based operation that gave me that opportunity is no longer in business. The good news, however, is that I’ve found a couple places that still allow ordinary civilians to have similar tank-driving adventures:
Lazer Tanks
This small mom-and-pop shop located just north of Reno, Nevada is now the only place in North America where individuals and small groups can spend time in the driver’s seat of Cold War classics including a Soviet-era T-55 battle tank and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle.
Tanks-A-Lot
Think [...]

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Never A Dull Moment: These 3 Unique Events Will Give You Lots Of Tales To Tell

by Alan Rider
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Even if this is your first visit to XTRORD.com, it won’t take long for you to figure out that this isn’t your typical “travel” website. No stale tales of traditional vacation destinations or generic activities like cruising. No “hot tips” about new low airfares to Europe or last-minute discounts to some mega-resort in the Caribbean. Mainly because that stuff bores me to tears.
Instead, you’ll find these pages filled with reports of truly extraordinary experiences you never knew existed. The kind of once-in-a-lifetime adventures that will give you great stories to tell for years to come.
Which brings me to a handful of upcoming events that seem [...]

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Adventures In Aviation: Zeppelin Flights

by Alan Rider
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In a world where many people have come to view flying as an ordeal to be endured, there are still lots of us for whom the act of leaving terra firma behind remains an adventure to be savored. If you’re one of us, you owe it to yourself to book a seat on the first zeppelin to take to the skies above the U.S. in more than 70 years.
The company responsible for the zeppelin’s return to America, Airship Ventures, offers one- and two-hour flight-seeing tours around San Francisco Bay in the 246-foot helium-filled Eureka, as well as occasional cross-country flights as they reposition the zeppelin for tours in [...]

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