From the category archives:

Offbeat

Cool Camps (Part 2): Why Let Kids Have All The Fun?

by Alan Rider
Thumbnail image for Cool Camps (Part 2): Why Let Kids Have All The Fun?

If you read Part 1 of this series, which featured seven way-cool summer camps for kids, you may have come away wishing there were a way us grown-ups could get in on the fun. At least I know I did.

Which lead me to put together this list of adult-only “camps” that’ll give the tweens and teens in your life just as many reasons to be jealous:
Hollywood TV Star Fantasy Camp
Get ready for your close-up as you play your part in this “made-for-TV” crime drama.
Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camp
Five days of jamming in laid back settings ranging from small combos to big bands.
Camp Winnarainbow
Run away to join the [...]

Read More →

Magic Man: 2 Places Where The Spirit of Houdini Lives!

by Alan Rider

Trolling around the internet last week, I noticed that today is Harry Houdini’s birthday.  Which got me thinking about the state of “magic” in our culture and science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke’s famous quote:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

In an era of computer-generated trickery ranging from software-doctored photos in magazines to entire computer-generated worlds in movies like Avatar, the idea of someone performing old-school prestidigitation seems almost quaint.  Just the same, anyone who’s ever been wowed by updated versions of these traditional magic acts as performed by the likes of David Blaine or Penn & Teller understands that there’s some part of the human psyche that truly [...]

Read More →

Sailing Away: 2 Extraordinary Cruise Ship Alternatives

by Alan Rider

As a general rule, I’m not a big fan of cruises.  The idea of watching the world pass by from atop a floating high-rise hotel, visiting over-commercialized ports-of-call with thousands of fellow passengers in what feels like an invading tourist army, and sitting through sequin-encrusted musical revues just isn’t my idea of a good time.
Which makes it all the more surprising that I find myself drawn to these two remarkable “cruising” adventures.  Though they differ in scale, both offer a chance to have true extraordinary experiences that go way beyond simply oohing-and-ahhing at the elaborate ice sculpture anchoring a traditional cruise ship’s midnight buffet:
Tall Ships
While the region you’re traveling through [...]

Read More →

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 [...]

Read More →

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 [...]

Read More →

Matadors, Machine Guns, Monster Trucks & More: 4 Politically Incorrect Adventures

by Alan Rider

Come on, admit it: There’s something you’ve always wanted to do, some extraordinary experience you’ve always wanted to have, that you just don’t talk about for fear of what people might think.  Well, you’ll find no judgments here.  Provided it’s not illegal or immoral, I say go for it.
If you’re one of those rare folks who don’t harbor such secret fantasies, allow me to put a few outrageous ideas into your head. Here are four thoroughly un-PC adventures that promise to be so unforgettable you’ll have a hard time keeping them to yourself:
Fight A Bull
There’s just something about squaring off with a quarter-ton of bad-tempered bovine that’s bound to make [...]

Read More →

Extraordinary Event: Spain's La Tomatina Festival

by Alan Rider

Last night’s post-Super Bowl celebrations in the streets of the French Quarter may have gotten a little wild, but it’s a safe bet they looked downright sedate compared to Spain’s La Tomatina Festival.
Each year on the last Wednesday in August, as many as 40,000 people pack the streets of the tiny town of Bruñol to pelt each other with their share of 45 tons of tomatoes.  In other words, the annual event is essentially the world’s biggest food fight.
Well, it turns out my friend Susie Wyshak was right there in the middle of all the action last year.  Her website, SuperViva.com, is built around the really cool idea of creating [...]

Read More →