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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Road Tripping on a…Bus?

It is too expensive to own my car. Insurance, gas, and upkeep take nearly half my paycheck and basically all I ever do is drive back and forth from work; I never do anything exciting anymore even though there are so many fun things to do in DC. (Yes, I got a job, and no, it doesn’t help that I drive a 1982 jalopy.) I’ve decided to sell my car, yet I refuse to believe that that means the end of roadtripping. In fact, I think considering my last cross country excursion, I’m pretty well equipped for any sort of travel!

Here’s my plan: My dad is actually paying for a flight out to Madison to see him (thanks dad!). I’ll be with him for a few days and then take the Madison to Chicago bus (I think it’s Van Gelder Bus Lines). I’ll be in Chicago for 4 days and I’m already got a list of places to visit in Chicago that’s as long as my arm.

Okay, so then some more long bus rides—this time to Denver. Got another long list of places to visit in Colorado, both in Denver and Colorado Springs, and I even found AN AMAZING deal on a shuttle from DEN to COS which is great because…I have a conference for work (my first!!) in Colorado Springs and then they’re paying for my flight back!

Meanwhile, when I get back to D.C., I think I’m going to start to like my car-less life. The Metro goes straight from my apartment to work and I figure that since I work for an environmental lobbying group (yes, I got my dream job J), it’s really the right thing to do. And since I’m new to the area, Greyhound is going to become my new best friend as I explore all the cool places to visit in Washington, D.C. I’ve been there for months and have barely done anything.

Wish me luck!

(P.S. Ryan and I broke up. Last I heard he was working on an Orlando Casino Cruise….It’s a long story, but all I can say is…Good riddance!)
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Christmas in Albuquerque

I have a daughter, Janet, with whom I’ve been mostly out of touch for the last five or six years. It is a long and painful story, which is now in the past and I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy have plagued me (and her too, it turns out), and this holiday season, we made our amends and spent some time together. It was intense, emotional, and very special, to say the least. The best part of it all, is that I saw my six year old grandson, Shane, who I had only met once.

Janet lives in Albuquerque, so it was fun to travel around a new city, take Shane to some parks and museums, and do a little roadtripping on the way there and back, while I was at it.

Shane’s favorite place by far was the American International Rattlesnake Museum. It wasn’t his first time there either. Apparently it’s a popular spot among the six year old boys… though, I must say, less so with the 60 year old women…eek! I also took him to the Explora! Science Center and Children’s Museum, which was much more my speed.

Probably the highlight of our trip was riding the Galaxi Roller Coaster at Cliff’s Amusement Park. I’ve never been so scared in all my life, but seeing Shane’s excitement made it all worth it.

Janet is a historian, so found a babysitter one day for Shane and took me to some of her favorite sites, including the Pueblo Cultural Center and the Turquoise Museum (which I LOVED), and had lunch at a nearby reservation where she’s got a few friends.

It all went by so fast, like a dream. There were certain moments, like when Janet and I stayed up late talking over a cup of tea, one single woman to the other, where I literally had to pinch myself. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, and this Christmas we each gave each other the gift of forgiveness and family.

I wish the same to all of you and a wonderful holiday season,
Martha
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Meditative ski slopes

If you’re like me (which is probably in general not something to aspire to…), you like skiing, but hate the skiing experience. Sometimes I go out to Hunter Mountain, which is pretty close by, and then regret it almost immediately. Basically: I HATE CROWDS. I HATE COMMERCIAL SKI SLOPES. I HATE SKI SCHOOLS THAT CROWD MY MOUNTAIN. Yeah, that’s right, I get a little possessive. I usually drive for hours or even days to get to the slope of my choice, spend a crapload of money, and then can barely move as I get pushed down the icy, well-too-worn slopes. This winter, I’ve got one roadtrip planned and my goal is to find some empty slopes where not only can I ski in peace, but I can meditate and relax. Is it possible? We shall see.

Here’s a list I’ve found so far, posted a year ago on ForbesTraveler.com – but doesn’t the fact that it’s already been advertised as “crowd-free” for one year mean that all the crowd-avoiders will be there, thus making it a bit crowded? Well, maybe you’ve got insight—please let me know if you know of more crowdless slopes. (Though I understand if you don’t want to share—publicizing them would sort of defeat the purpose, right?)

Enjoy! Hopefully I won’t see you out there – you know what I mean.
(Thank you, forbestraveler.com for the list.)

Good Info on Skiing in General

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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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Ghost Towns, USA

I’m baaaaack! And I appreciate all of your emails of concern. I did not get eaten by mountain lions, as one of my very humorous readers asked. In fact, I am, sadly, back in New Paltz, the land of the living dead as I like to think. Back to the cubicle, back to grind. Gotta build up the cash stacks before my next adventure…I’m thinking somewhere colder this time. The northwest, Alaska, or I may even *gasp* cross the border into Canada.

There is so much I haven’t told you about the remainder of my Southwest/Midwest journey. It will take time, my friends, for me to put it all in words. And so, in celebration of Halloween Month (that’s what we called it as kids), I thought I’d share a bit about my Ghost Town travels. These totally came out of nowhere. I was hanging out with some completely random people in Colorado and they brought me around on their ghost town tour. We also went to the Ghost Town Museum near Denver. A rollicking good time was had by all.

First, what IS a ghost town, you ask? Well, wikipedia will tell you that it is “a town or city that has been abandoned, usually because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as flood or war.” But I would add, that a ghost town is an isolated, desolate, haunted area. Many of the places on this list I’m about to make used to be near railroads, but were abandoned when people moved out to the highways. Some were old mining camps. But all of them are spooky. mooo hooo hahaha! (That was my spooky cackle.)

Here are some ideas for Halloween fun if you happen to find yourselves out in the middle of nowhere in Colarado. The key to a good ghost town experience is to go with the right people. You have to be in the mood to pretend to be scared (because shhhh…they’re not really scary.)

And if you happen to be in California, take the “walk you’ll never forget”—the Calico Ghost Walk, a 90 minutes after-dark tour of the Calico Ghost Town in Yermo (Barstow).

Happy Halloween!
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Back in North Carolina… with a car!

Back to school this year is definitely at its most exciting. First of all, it’s my senior year, which is pretty cool in itself, but more importantly…I have a car! My mom got a company car, so my dad took her car and I got to take his! I drove back down to school with another friend from Richmond and now I’m parked outside my dorm, ready to make a list of all the things in North Carolina that I want to do in the next few months. I plan on driving all over the state and seeing and doing everything! Senior year is supposed to be fun, right? This area I’m starting with is kinda near Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Asheville. Sort of near the North Carolina-Virginia Border in the Southern Appalachian Mountain region.

It’s gonna be a great year!
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