Top 5 Close to Home Ski Slopes

This year, looks like I will be skiing closer to home.  Last seasons adventures in Utah were great, but airfares seem to be up, new TSA rules are definitely a factor and I bet some others are thinking along the same lines. So….2009/2010 ski season starts with a road trip!

For the benefit of our readers  here’s a list I compiled of ski slopes you can actually drive to (and can afford):

  1. Mountain High Ski Resort
  2. Hidden Valley Ski Missouri
  3. Big Bear Ski Resort
  4. Snow Creek Ski
  5. Mt Pinos Ski

Of course, if you are lucky enough to actually live in Vermont, drive to Stowe Ski.

Good luck out there and look for more adventurous posts later this season (or next winter).
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Fall Foliage – the Golden Aspens

Hello friends! Long time no speak. I’m sad to say that my travels have recently been…bleak. Arizona is just too hot to do anything outdoors, I’m afraid. I have, however, been to my fair share of (highly air conditioned) driving excursions—which is what I’d love to share with you today. ( I am skipping the part about the shopping malls I have been to.)

People think that New England is the only place to find fall colors, that Massachusetts fall foliage and Vermont fall foliage are the only places where the trees turn majestic colors to welcome in the new season. Well, those people could not be more wrong! Beautiful fall colors can sneak up on you just about anywhere where there are trees, and sometimes as early as August. Just the other day I saw a lovely maple changing. Arizona and New Mexico fall foliage is absolutely stunning. I plan on driving out the forests around Santa Fe at the end of September when maples really are at their peak. And I’m not going to get a chance this fall, but a few years ago I drove up to southern Colorado and fall foliage in Colorado, against the blue mountains and blue streams, are the image of perfection.

So I’m not knocking Catskills fall foliage or  New England fall foliage or the colors of other northeast towns that become completely covered with oranges, golds, and deep reds—I’m just saying that you shouldn’t forget about the changing colors of the southwest! If you happen to be in Arizona this fall, give me a call and I’ll show you what we’ve got to offer!
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Fun Maize Mazes

I’m not quite sure why corn mazes are associated with Halloween. Maybe because corn is a fall crop. And I guess it is a bit eerie to walk through a field of corn where you can see nothing but talk stalks all around you. In any case, it’s a fun, green activity that boosts agritourism! So this Halloween, get the spooks and the eebie jeebies in a corn maze near you!

I’ll be going to the F & W Schmitt Family Farms out on Long Island. They’ve got what they call a “Serious After-Dark Scare”. For $11 you can get lost in a scary maze “filled with surprises”…I’ll let you know how it goes! You can also visit the haunted mansion while you’re there.

Here are some others that may be in your area:

  • Sever’s Corn Maze – Minnesota – Another family owned agricultural wonder, based on castle gardens from England…and a safari. You can also visit their Scream Town.
  • The Corn Maze at the Butterfly House – Whitehouse, Ohio – More day and nighttime mazes, including the “Sarah America” maze which is the carved out likeness of VP nominee Sarah Palin (okaaaay…that’s not weird). While you’re here, you can also visit the Butterfly House and Christmas Tree Farm.
  • Amazing Maize Maze at Long Acre Farms – Macedon, New York – A maze competition: two teams compete to find their way through the maze using clues (aka Kernels of Knowledge). Good place for birthday parties.
  • Great Vermont Corn Maze – Danville, Vermont – Complete with gardens, mini golf, a mini kid’s maze, and a nature center.
  • Great Adirondack Corn Maze – New York – A family owned farm (Tucker Farm) with a “million dollar view” of the Adirondack Mountains.
  • Mazeland – Alexandria Bay, New York – A maze of huge cedar trees, fun for kids and adults.
  • Cornbelly’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Fest – Lehi, Utah – An October celebration at the Cornuphobia haunted corn maze.
  • Dole Plantation – Wahiawa, Hawaii – This is Hawaii, not middle America, and it’s pineapple, not corn, but same idea, right? They call this the world’s largest maze. I don’t know why it’s hard to imagine a pineapple field being larger than a corn field. Ok, I have just confirmed: The Dole Plantation Pineapple Garden Maze was officially recognized as the World’s Largest Maze in the Guinness Book of World Records 2001. So to clarify, it was the largest maze a bunch of years ago.
  • Ashland Berry Farms – Ashland, Virginia – Again, not a corn maze, but a fun maze for kids using bales of hay.
  • Magnolia Plantation and Gardens – Charleston, South Carolina – A garden maze based on old English gardens. Also a romantic vacation spot!

To make your OWN corn maze (hey, I don’t know who’s reading this!), visit Corn Mazes America who can help you turn your corn crop into corn fun!

Happy Halloween!
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Top Ten Summer Picnic Spots

I came across this article about Memorial Day picnic spots, and since I sort of missed Memorial Day this year (I was on the road), and since there’s no rule that you can’t picnic after Memorial Day (on the contrary), I figured I’d post the Top Ten Picnic Spots now, for the summer.

Just so happens that the first three (of ten!) spots are in my homestate, two of them just south of Phoenix, Arizona and therefore, quite easy for me to get to!

Next on the list is 90 miles north of Phoenix in Sedona, Arizona:

And here are the rest:

So pack and picnic and enjoy the sun! Maybe I’ll see you in Tempe!
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Best Florida Beaches and State Parks

I don’t BELIEVE so much time has passed since I last wrote. I think I last left you on my way to Rainbow, which was so long ago, that I can’t even begin to write about it except to say that it was awesome—a truly beautiful experience in a beautiful place, with beautiful people. I’ll write more about it later. While I was there I wrote in my journal (like the old fashioned paper type) so I’ve got things to say, but not now. Quick update: Ryan and I finally made our way back east to good ol’ Massachusetts (my parents missed me…awwww), but just a week later we got back in the car and drove down to Florida, which maybe isn’t the smartest thing to do I the summer because it’s a freakin’ sauna down there (oh, and it rains quite a bit!) but we’ve been staying cool, camping out a lot where there are cool ocean/gulf breezes, drinking a ton, and crashing at the occasional cheap motel when it’s just too painful.

Meanwhile, I came across some great lists while I was researching where to go next and thought that since summer in Florida stretches on forever, these should be quite up to date even in a few months from now. So here ya go!

From Associatedcontent.com: The Best State Parks to Visit in Central Florida During the Summer:

From Placesaroundflorida.com: Best Florida Beaches:

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Chillin’ in Montauk State Park

The other day I was in Montauk State Park (again), just walking and writing and thinking. Ryan will be meeting me here in a few days and then we’ll be off to Wyoming for Rainbow. And I hate to fast forward like this, but pretty soon I’ll be returning back to the big city—maybe. I mean, I quit my job so I don’t have plans, but the more I try and escape to the woods and mountains, the more I find myself missing my family and friends who, as luck would have it, live in (or near) big cities. So I was happy to come across this article in USA Today called 10 great leafy getaways tucked away in the big city.

So, if you’re a city dweller needing respite from the hustle and bustle around you, try finding solace in these tucked away getaways:

  1. Golden Gate Park – San Francisco, California
  2. Teardrop Park, Battery Park City – New York City, along the Hudson River
  3. Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois
  4. Zilker Metropolitan Park – Austin, Texas
  5. Balboa Park – San Diego, California
  6. Boston Common – Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Constitution Gardens – Washington, D.C.
  8. Gas Works Park – Seattle, Washington
  9. Loring Park – Minneapolis, Minnesota
  10. George Washington Memorial Park – Jackson, Wyoming

Why Central Park – NYC is not on the list… I’m not sure. As well as the Boston Public Garden. But it’s still a nice list. Hope it helps you city folk!

Rescued by some Moabites

I can’t even count the number of National Parks I’ve been in since I started my journey, the number of nights I’ve unzipped my tent and pulled my sleeping bag out so I could sleep under the starry night, the number of amazing people I’ve met who have taken me in for a night or shared some food or a shower (I mean, let me use their shower…we didn’t actually share…). And it’s on this last point (the people, not the shower) that I want to talk about now.

My most recent stop was at Canyonlands National Park which was beautiful. I hiked around for a few days and was just getting more and more tired by the second. I definitely should have stopped when I started feeling this way and should have headed right back to civilization. But I didn’t because I’m a trooper and I wasn’t going to let tiredness get the best of me. But then I must’ve passed out or something, because I woke up in the back of a pick up truck. There was another guy back there with me (his wife was driving) who told me that I was found outside my tent at the campground, unconscious. The guy suspected that I was dehydrated and they were bringing me to a hospital in Moab for an IV. Which they did, before bringing me to their tiny little home in Moab, right near Arches National Park for the night.

Let me just say: I am not a religious guy. I believe that there are some higher powers (maybe God), and I went to Sunday School when I was kid even though my parents were atheists. I have never thought much about Christianity or about Christian goodness, but these last few days, I have experienced it first hand.

Bob and Risa Berry and their 5 children took me into their home for three days, and it seemed as though this was something they were used to—taking in stragglers who they’ve found half dead in the parks. Two kids cleared out their room and moved in with the other 3 kids during that time and I got a room and access to a kitchen and bookcases filled with books until I recovered, from what was nothing more serious than exhaustion. Every night I had dinner with the Berrys and then the family sang hymns before bedtime that I was invited to as well. I felt like I was in a Christian children’s bible storyland.

I became particularly close with a nine year old boy, Johnny, who showed me all his secret hideouts on their vast woodland property and a treehouse that he and his 2 older brothers had built by themselves.

One day I went with Risa to the Dan O’Laurie Museum which helped me get a better understanding of the Moab region, which is known as a mountain biker’s paradise. So another day I actually went on a beautiful tour of the area with Bob on two of their bikes (does anyone work in Moab??).

And now I feel as strong as an ox. I’m going to do something I don’t usually do: I’m going to rent a car (even though gas will cost me my food for the next week). Apparently there are some scenic drives along the Colorado River that’ll bring me to Colorado. Probably just rent for the day and then get back on my own two feet!

Tim Groome is back!

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