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Girl’s guide to glamping

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Must-have gear for women who love the outdoors but also love creature comforts

Hitting the back woods and camping out does not mean you have to completely rough it.  Whether heading for the hills for a weekender with the family or a girls getaway, take along the right gear that will make your next outdoor adventure a pleasure.

Trailing ahead

Trail blazers can hit the hills running in INOV-8 PARKCLAW 275 GTX ($150) trail running shoes, built to handle versatile terrain, from road running to trails. This durable yet comfortable footwear is engineered with a membrane that bonds directly to the shoe’s upper to create a protective casing that keeps feet dry and performs in harsh running conditions yet has the fit and feel of a regular running shoe. INOV8 features a full line of women‘s and men’s running shoes and runner apparel and accessories available at INOV-8 at www.INOV-8.com or running specialty retailers nationwide.

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Shirts and skin

Whatever the weather, the Showers Pass Bamboo Merino Henley shirt ($60-76) for women and is perfect for it.  This ultimate outdoor all-season performance shirt features down-to-earth high-tech UPF 50+ protection fabric consisting of bamboo and merino fibers woven together are designed to create a soft cool touch on one side and a warm layer on the other side. The side mesh panels of the shirt are body mapped to vent off excess heat, and the flat stitching and continuous underarm panels reduce chaffing.

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Sock it to me

Suit up head to toe for any weather and step into Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Socks ($27.20-$31.20), featuring three layers, including a knit exterior that feels like a regular sock, a breathable waterproof membrane and a moisture-wicking antibacterial lining so that it feels like a sock but protects like a rain booty.

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Get lit

Brighten up a camper’s holiday with the Dark Star 1000L Flashlight ($49.99) from Bass Pro Shops. This powerful beacon will illuminate any night with four light settings – low, medium, high and strobe, and the handle features a push-pull control that can adjust the beam from a spotlight to a flood light. The aluminum housing with anodized finish protects against rough wear, with a casing so solid that it could serve to wack a bear in a pinch. Requires nine AA alkaline batteries.

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Cooking with sass

Outdoor cooks will love to stir up gourmet eats in the Bass Pro Shops’ 5-Piece Cook Set ($49). This light (42-ounce) and compact set, made of sturdy aluminum, comes with a 4.7-quart pot, a 3.2-quart pot, 1.6-quart frying pan, two lids, and a handy nylon carry bag. All the cookware features silicone-coated, folding handles and abrasion- and a stick-resistant coating for easy cleanup. When it’s time to pack up, the nesting design keeps everything compact.

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Bag it

Sleeping under the stars is a dreamy experience, if you have the right sleeping bag, like the warm and cozy Slumberjack Big Timber Pro 20 ($89.95). Built for comfort, this bag features a larger footbox than tapered bags, allowing you to sleep on your back with your feet up in a natural and comfortable position, similar to a bed like experience. Equipped with a soft flannel liner, durable canvas outer shell and robust zippers – which can be joined with a second bag for two sleepers, the Big Timber Pro comes in 20 degree, 0 degree and -20 degree ratings.

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Ground up

Whether camping out in the deep wood or the backyard, avoid the hazards and discomfort of sleeping on the ground by bunking up on a Slumberjack Tough Cot ($89.95). This highly durable cot can hold up to 350 pounds and has a no-squeak steel construction to help you get a sound sleep. It features a spacious sleep surface and sits up high to give plenty of room underneath to store gear. It sets up easily (watch this video to see how easy: https://youtu.be/kbxnvpwkd8o) and comes with a carry bag for transporting and storage.

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Outdoor gourmet

Franks and beans are easy eats when you are cooking outdoors, but for those who prefer more elaborate camp cuisine, the GCI Outdoors SLIM-FOLD Cook Station ($80) has all you need for preparing meals the way you like ‘em. The station sets up and breaks down quickly with a hassle-free one-piece design. It has an aluminum counter top, a lower rack for storage and four plastic fold-out side tables. The side tables feature beverage holders, stem glass holders and hooks that can be used as a garbage bag holder or to hang cooking utensils.

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Pump it up

Why give up a good night’s sleep just because you’re camping? With a Coleman Quickbed Plus High Airbed (Queen size $59.99) , you can have a restful night’s sleep wherever you are. The antimicrobial treated sleep surface resists odor, mold, mildew and fungus that you might encounter in a camping environment, and it comes with the convenience of an included pump, so you’ll always be ready to inflate your bed, indoors or outdoors. Once you find the desired firmness, the airbed’s air-tight closure prevents leaks, and the soft top offers cushioning for added comfort. When you’re ready to pack up, the bed fits into an included carry bag for easy storage until your next adventure.

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Give three shelter

Three can be a crowd, but not on a three-dog night when you are huddled together in the Slumberjack Nightfall 3 ($169).  This lightweight, versatile and very compact three-person tent raises the bar for mountain tents. With only three poles, it’s quick and easy to set up, and the external pitch pole architecture keeps the inner tent dry even while pitching in the rain. The near vertical side walls provide plenty of interior space, and the no-see-um mesh keeps out even the littlest gnats and skeeters, to make your camp experience pleasant and pest-free.

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Blow up your kayak

If you’ve always wanted a kayak but didn’t think you had the space to store one, Innova Kayaks has a solution that blows traditional kayaks out of the water. These inflatable kayaks are lightweight and constructed of heavy duty natural and synthetic rubber that will last for years, even decades.  They blow up in minutes with a high-capacity foot pump, and after the adventuring they fold up compactly and can be carries away in an oversized backpack and loaded into even a compact car. One-person and three-seater models available, with capacity up to 900 pounds. Available at dealers nationwide $399 to $1,299.

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Entertainment

Outdoor entertainment into autumn, LA style

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Mild temperatures keep LA outdoor nightlife lively into fall

LA outdoor nightlife

Southern Californians don’t know how lucky they are. While East coasters are storing their patio furniture for the long winter, SoCal dwellers can enjoy shirtsleeves outdoors for months to come. Even at night, when temperatures drop to their lowest, a sweater or light coat is all one needs for a comfortable evening under the stars. So rejoice Angelenos, and enjoy the bounty of alfresco activities into autumn, such as these venues and events that define LA outdoors nightlife.

I-See-a-Bowl

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in LA who would not agree that the Hollywood Bowl is the most fabulous place to experience an outdoor concert. With a full summer series that trails into early fall, the Bowl hosts international musical headliners, such as this season’s lineup of artists including Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Pentatonix, Kool & the Gang and The Village People, Blondie and Garbage, movie soundtrack sing-alongs, and of course many of world-class symphonies like the Los Angeles Philharmonic and resident Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Over the years the 17,500-seat amphitheater has expanded to include a number of food venues inside the complex, along with 14 beautiful picnic areas so patrons can BYO-picnic, but in addition to its unique ambience, this iconic landmark continues to be most renowned among music lovers for its phenomenal acoustics, owing to the natural hillside setting in which it resides, where sometimes coyotes can be heard howling during lulls in the music. The bowl is the kind of place that makes you glad you live in LA, and it’s worth every moment of waiting to get out of the stacked parking.

 

Screen time

Well into fall weekends, Cinespia, the original and the largest outdoor movie event, hosts movie nights on the lawn at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Drawing crowds of thousands, this remains one of the coolest events in LA, with guest DJs spinning tunes and throngs spreading out across the vast grassy grounds in font of Rudolph Valentino’s mausoleum, with their low-back chairs, gourmet picnic dinners and flameless candles. Film aficionados talk along with and cheer their favorite lines from modern classics like Superbad and The Princess Bride and horror flicks that seem apropos among the headstones, like Night of the Living Dead.  Get there early to stake your space with a blanket, or pay a bit more for early access and VIP reserved seating.

Another excellent outdoor movie event is Showtime’s Eat See Hear, held at unique settings around LA, including Autry Museum in Griffith Park, La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles State historic Park, Rose Bowl Stadium, ROW Downtown LA, and the Santa Monica pier. This movie event boasts the largest outdoor screen in the West has a big focus on food trucks, and the Showtime sponsorship and dog friendly nature of the events distinguish it from others around town. With the variety of venues, it feels like a different event each time you go. For a slightly increased ticket price, patrons can get “Fashionably Late” seeming in the most desirable front-and-center section.

Endless summer

While the list of outdoor evening events in LA is nearly as long as the line at Pink’s on a Saturday night, other don’t-miss venues and attractions that are open into October or later, including The Greek Theatre at Griffith Park, The John Anson Ford Theatre in the Cahuenga Pass, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which hosts Jazz at LACMA through November.

 

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DIYLifestyleOutdoors

How to Make Skateboard at Home

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A step-by-step guide to making your own skateboard

Making a skateboard at home is very easy it’s not like a rocket science. Some people feel it’s difficult to make a home but will tell you it is straightforward to make. Anybody can make it at home with a little patience and little knowledge of carpentry work, vacuum press, glues and other materials.

Material requires making skateboard at home

  1. Hard rock maple wooden board.
  2. Three high-quality skateboard veneer glue.
  3. Mold for press
  4. Jig saw
  5. Router for rasp
  6. Paint for designing
  7. Painter tape.

Veneers

The first most important thing to make a skateboard at home. first you have to buy a hard maple not other types of maple like oak and pine because this kind of material is stiff, strong enough and it can’ break easily.

There are three type of veneers they are called

Face – this kind of veneer is sanded from one side and not sanded from another side.

Cross Band – This sheet of veneer is cut with grain but not cut against gain.

Core Layer- This type of sheet is same like a face, but a difference is that it is both sides of veneer is not sanded.

Applying glue at veneer

Once you have all types veneers now next step is to apply glue on it.

Tiebond glue is best for this. Then you can need of screwed on board. Use glue on all side first Apply glue on the unsanded side of a sheet and unsanded side and then apply on the face of a core layer.

Apply pressure

Once you apply glue on all faces of veneer now, it’s time to make pressure on it.

Take two pieces of cardboard about 3 inches long and put the veneer in between mold and cardboard. Next to take 4 channels irons with 20 inches nuts and washers. Tight a channel iron in the center of a mold so to give a tight press. Once this step is done, let it take shape for about one day to make a hard and stiff.

Designing the uncut after rest one day take it out from a mold and remove the piece cardboard. One you unmold it next step if make your design on it. You can use your creativity or use a cadd program for embossing nose to tail and can draw your design on graph paper. But don’t apply a tape on it once your design is not complete according to your choice. Once everything is complete marking for trucks position, and you can start to apply a tape and cut the outlines.

Cutting the Uncut

Once you do this all process the next step to use a band saw because it is a more accurate technique to cut, but if you not have you can use a handy dandy little jigsaw. After cutting is done take a router rasp to curve edges. Then apply sand paper on it.

Assemble a custom board: final step is to assemble your skateboard

Trucks: this is large metal pieces that hold your axle and attached to wheels.

Bearings: it allows to move your wheels smoothly, and it comes in steels and ceramics.

Wheels: the central part of skateboard there is a wide variety of wheels available in a market.

After applying all these on board, your skateboard is almost ready.

Finishing touch:

At last, you can design a logo and other painting according to your choice. Now your skateboard is ready to ride.

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AdventureEnvironmentLifestyleOutdoorsScienceTech

How to safely view the total eclipse

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This astronomical event is a must-see, but see it safely

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that August 21 is the date of a total solar eclipse, the first mainland America has seen in yearly 40 years. During this historic event, the sun, which is 400 times larger than the moon, will cross pass with the moon which is 400 times farther away from the earth then the moon. During this time, the sun appears to be blocked out by the moon, except for its blinding halo formed by the sun’s gaseous atmosphere that shines around the moon’s silhouette. This will be something you and your children will want to see and experience, but viewing it must be done carefully so that the sun’s rays do not damage the naked eye.

Anytime you stare into the sun you can damage your eyes. This can happen in as little as 30 seconds. The reason an eclipse is more dangerous to the eye is because it causes people to look directly into the sun and for extended periods of time. The only time it’s safe to look directly at the eclipse is during the 1 or 2 minutes that the moon completely blocks the sun, and only people watching from a narrow band from Oregon to South Carolina—known as the path of totality—will witness that.

If you’d like to view this fascinating spectacle, make sure that you wear proper eyewear or use a viewing device. It is not advised to even use a camera or other lenses, as the rays can damage lenses and filters; and it is definitely not recommended to look through any sort of lens, binoculars or telescope. The best advice is to wait until after the event and view images in media taken by professionals using the proper equipment.


It is not safe to use regular sunglasses to watch an eclipse, though inexpensive eclipse glasses I readily available online and it many retailers for the price of about $5 to $10. Make sure to purchase your glasses from a reputable source, as several brands of these glasses on Amazon were recalled due to safety issues. Check out companies approved by the AAS Solar Eclipse task force.

If you have not purchased your glasses yet, you may be out of luck, because most vendors are sold out. But you can still make a pinhole viewer. Using this method, you pass the sunlight

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Beauty productsEat & DrinkLifestyleOutdoorsShoppingTravel

10 must-haves for end-of-summer

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Last-days-of summer essentials that will make the fun last

 

A hot Indian summer can last for weeks, or longer, after Labor Day, so don’t give up yet on fun in the sun. For summer’s last hurrah, do it right with these are six essentials for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors. Gear up and get outside, while you can.

Beach head

Let your groovy self go, with Violet Love chic headbands ($17 and up) and bandeaus ($24) that stay in place, at the beach, riding in the convertible, or wherever you head out or bust a move. This playful line of headwear, strapless bra tops and other accessories and apparel items features fun prints and styles and soft, stretchy lightweight fabrics that are comfortable, cute, and functional.

Throw on the towel

Distinguish your base camp on the beach with colorful Lacoste beach towels (Macy’s, $42). These stylish, crocodile-emblazoned towels are lightweight yet plush and absorbent, and their large size makes them a cross between a towel and blanket, to wrap up in after splashing in the water, or for sandphobes who want spacious ground cover when basking in the sun.

Blow up your kayak

If you’ve always wanted a kayak but didn’t think you had the space to store one, Innova Kayaks has a solution that blows traditional kayaks out of the water. These inflatable kayaks are lightweight and constructed of heavy duty natural and synthetic rubber that will last for years, even decades.  They blow up in minutes with a high-capacity foot pump, and after the adventuring they fold up compactly and can be carries away in an oversized backpack and loaded into even a compact car. One-person and three-seater models available, with capacity up to 900 pounds. Available at dealers nationwide $399 to $1,299.

Hot or not

Need to Facebook while you are on the beach? Stop being a lame-o and enjoy the beach, but if you do need your phone for an emergency, take along ClimateCase ($34.99) insulating smartphone case. The lined pouch protects your phone against extreme temperatures that can cause a phone to stop working.  The case features a multi-layered thermal system comprised of 7 mm of Neoprene and gel infused materials. Pop it in the fridge for four hours before using (or in the microwave for 20-25 seconds in cold weather), to keep your phone safe; or if the worst happens, you can restore an overheated (or frozen) phone in less than 60 seconds.

Skeeter-free

Mosquitos don’t stick to any calendar when it comes to biting season, so keep them away from you and your patio party with Thermacel Patio Shield.  ($39.99, at retailers nationwide). This sleek little portable-speaker-sized mosquito repeller burns an insect repellent mat that creates a 15’ x 15’ protection zone, perfect for a small outdoor area. It uses butane cartridges (four included, to last 48 hours) and two AA batteries to operate.

Coolest cooler

You’ve got your hands full, with beach chairs, blankets, boogie boards and kids. Free up a hand by strapping your cooler on your back, with the IceMule ($49.95 to $69.95), a portable insulated backpack that will keep your food and drinks icey cold for up to 24 hours. These padded sacks feature a heavy-duty inner and outer skin, a range of sizes and a ventilated backpack strap system.

Who wears skort skirts?

In between summer and fall, it’s the perfect time to wear something in between shorts and a skirt. The Royal Robbins Jammer Skort ($60) is a sporty and comfortable skirt with stretchy built-in shorts underneath that allow you to be active and lady like at the same time.

Shoe be do

Step out in fashion forward and comfort-driven Off the Beaten Track sandals. You can stride in style the best thing next to bare feet, on the boardwalk, at the theme park, shopping, strolling, or anywhere you want to wander in these casual go-anywhere, do-anything earth-inspired leathers, with attention to detail that will make you want to put your feet up, to show them off.  The line also features shoes and boots for all seasons, $79 to $179.

Hydrate, or dry

If summer’s sun had taken a toll on your skin, hydrate and refresh it with Vichy’s Mineral 89 ($29.50), a skincare formula comprised of 89% Vichy Thermal Water, derived from mineral-rich volcanic territory in Vichy, France, plus the addition of hyaluronic acid which ramps up the performance of the mineralizing water to boost skin’s resistance to daily aggressors, for year-round healthy-looking skin.

Snack on

When you are tossing some treats into your tote for an outing, its hard to find nutritious and yummy snacks that won’t melt into mush on a hot day. All-natural KUTOA snack bars ($23.99 fo r12-pack)are not only delicious, they are perfect for packing along to the beach or pool, soccer game, or other outing, and you can feel good about eating these oatmeal bars because they are non-GMO verified, vegan, gluten, and contain no dairy, soy, wheat, preservatives or added sugar, plus for every bar that’s purchased, KUTOA helps feed a children in need around the world. Flavors include Chocolate Banana, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Blueberry Almond, Chocolate Espresso Bean, and Cherry Cashew.

 

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HealthLifestyleOutdoors

I’d rather be spinning, said no cyclist ever

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Cycle right for stress-free riding

Whether for recreation or a mode of transportation, bicycling is an excellent way to get exercise and get where you want to go. Cycle safely by following riding rules for the trail, the street or anywhere your two-wheeler takes you.

Be a helmet head

A helmet is a no-brainer, and it’s the cheapest form of head-injury insurance you can get, yet many riders forgo a helmet thinking unless they are performing extreme BMX tricks that they don’t need it. No matter if you are on a short ride around the block or a rocky single-track, cover your head.

Check it out

Check your equipment before every ride. Make sure tires are inflated properly, and test out your brakes, handlebar, and shifting to make sure it’s in good working order before you ride. Make sure your bicycle is in good mechanical condition with a regular checkup and tune-up by a certified mechanic.

Best buddies

Always bring your phone and ID, and ride with a buddy. If you break down or are injured, your riding companion could be a lifesaver. Coordinate with your partner before you set off as to your riding plan, and make sure your companion knows what hand signals you will use for turning, slowing and stopping. Also, tell others when you are going for a ride, where you plan on going, and when you plan to return.

Hydrate your ride

Bring along plenty of water. Most bicycles have cages to keep a water bottle or predrilled outlets to mount them. If you don’t want the extra weight or the obstacle of a water ball bottle mounted on the bike itself, or if you want to be competitive and streamline your ride without water breaks, Camelback and many other brands make backpack style hydration systems so you can sip while you ride.

Get lit

When driving at dusk or dawn or in traffic, use a bike light. The safest lighting systems are those that are always on, like car running lights, with front- and rear-facing daytime lights which have been proven to decrease the likelihood of a collision up to 33%.

Bontrager Flare R bike light is one of the best for daylight visibility, as demonstrated in this video:

 

Dress up

Wear contrasting clothing and gear. Accessorizing in tennis-ball-bright fluorescent and reflective gear and apparel has been shown to decrease a rider’s risk of incident by as much as 53% during the day and makes you 72% more noticeable at night.

Proper biking attire is not just for fashion. Wear appropriate clothing for cycling that is snug to the body to prevent it catching on saddles, handlebars or other bike parts. Fear not, you do not have to look like leg-warmer-wearing extra from Glow. Many cycling apparel brands make functional but decent looking hoodies, sweatshirts, jerseys and other performance wear that you might even wear out after your ride. Never tie clothing around your waist, wrap clothing around handlebars, or otherwise attach items to yourself or your bike where they can come lose and catch in moving parts.

If you are riding with clipless pedals, make sure your shoes are properly fitting and cleats and clips are free of mud and are in good working condition. Practice snapping in and snapping out of them before each ride to make sure you are able to clip out in a hurry if needed.

Map it

Know where you are headed. There are many mobile GPS tools like Avenzamaps can help you map and mark your way so that you don’t get lost on the road, woods or mountains. Make sure you are riding for your skill level.  Rails to Trails Conservancy has ratings and reviews on many trails to guide you in choosing your riding terrain.

Road rules

 Stay on designated trails. Wherever there is a marked bike route, use it. But be aware of vehicles around you at all times, even if you are in a bike lane, as motorists don’t always yield right of way. Obey traffic signs and follow the rules of the road the same as if you would behind the wheel. Ride in the same direction as traffic, on the right side of the road. If there is no bike lane, ride on the shoulder, but ride slightly in the lane rather than the edge of the road, which will cause cars to cautiously pass you, and you will have room to maneuver or bailout if needed.

If you are at an intersection with a traffic light but your bicycle will not trigger the sensor for the light to change, the best option is use the crosswalk as a pedestrian.

Listen up

If you want to listen to music while you ride, wear wireless headphones that can’t get tangled on handlebars and use an earbud with an open design that allows ambient noise so that you can hear your surroundings.

Even if you’re on a biking path, you must still follow the rules of the road. Use an audible signal when you are passing, and only pass on the left. On single-track mountain biking trails, the uphill rider has the right of way. Ride single file and give hand signals when turning, slowing and stopping.

Follow your heart

Nobody wants to be so concerned about safety that bike riding loses its fun. If you have the correct gear, in working order, and you know where you are going and the rules of the road, you will be relaxed on your ride, so plan ahead, so that you can get rolling with ease.

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AdventureLifestyleOutdoorsThe Left CoastTravel

A summer snow skiing vacation in Lake Tahoe

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Mountain resorts make history by extending ski season to July Fourth

 

Careful what you wish for

For the first time in history, mountain resorts in Lake Tahoe have officially extended their ski season through July 4th weekend. After several dry winters, the Lake Tahoe resorts saw their snowiest season on record, reporting 700 inches of snow, approximately 300 percent more snow than a normal season. While the Reno-Tahoe area has always attracted many year-round visitors, for art and culture events and outdoor activities on the mountains and Lake Tahoe, this year visitors will enjoy an epic après ski.

 

For anyone who didn’t make it yet to Tahoe for the 2016-17 ski season, or for those who didn’t get enough, excellent powder and no crowds make it a perfect time to visit. And that’s just what a couple of my besties and I did, on a blizzard of a vacay of skiing, dining and lounging, hitting five resorts, in five days.

Parking it at Parc Foret

Our posse met up in Reno, where we enjoyed ultra-luxurious accommodations at the Parc Foret at Montreux. If you haven’t heard of it, this enclave of the Montreux master-planned development of luxury homes, about 30 minutes from the Reno-Tahoe airport, is a high desert oasis with year-round appeal, known for its 300 days of sunshine, world-class golfing, nearby casinos and nightlife, and of course, its proximity to the mountain resorts.

As we arrived at Parc Foret and got directions from the guard at the gatehouse to our abode, we kept looking for the landmark of the clubhouse, but we got confused, because we mistook every gigantor eight-bedroom manse on the street as the clubhouse.  “Oh, there it is; no, that’s a house. Now I see it, oops, that’s another house…”

 

 

The custom-built homes in the Montreux development impressed us with both their grandeur and design. We were lucky enough to experience the Stay and Play package, whereby potential homeowners are invited to reside a few days in the community – a clever marketing tactic, as its pretty impossible not to fall in love with the place.

Our modest 7200-square-foot house featured an open floor plan on the first level with a full kitchen and marble bar that opened into an enormous family room with a long, wall-to-wall gas fireplace, a perfect for gathering place to hang after a day on the mountain.

Each of us had our own grand master bedroom and bath, and there was plenty of space to spread out, from the downstairs game room and bar to the sunny deck overlooking the snowy woods. We also enjoyed lounging around our outdoor fireplace, right outside the front door.

We felt very at home at Montreux, where we were taken in at the clubhouse by the residents with whom we made fast friends, dancing the night away at a private party, as the DJ played surprisingly current rap and hip-hop. We were tempted to hang out there all day and skip the skiing, but the mountains kept calling our names.

Looking at the slopes through Mt. Rose-colored goggles

Our first stop was Mt. Rose, which is so close to the airport – about a 25-minute drive – that the resort offers discounted lift tickets for those who show their same-day airline boarding passes.

The resort is known for its spectacular views and its mellow attitude.  The resort features terrain for all levels as well as the longest continuous vertical in North America; and at 8,260 feet elevation, Mt. Rose is Tahoe’s highest base resort, which means the resort often has the best conditions even on the warmest spring days. As far as amenities, Mt. Rose is pretty much hard-core skiing, with not a lot of frills, but this may all change soon as the owners plan to develop it soon into a luxury resort.

Skiing large at Squaw Alpine

Our second day we spent at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadow, now known as Squaw Alpine since the two neighboring resorts merged in 2012.  The resort is massive in size, boasting a combined 6,200 acres and 43 lifts and 270 trails, attracting 6000,000 skiers a year. Although lift tickets and amenities are interchangeable, the two resorts feature distinctly different feels to visitors.

Squaw, famed as the site for the 1960 Olympics and recently voted as the top resort in North America by USA Today, is a high-energy resort that attracts many professional skiers, though it has a variety of terrain, including 25 percent beginner’s slopes. Alpine Meadows is known for its down-home and approachable hospitality and its easy-riding progression parks and wide-open bowls, with terrain for all levels of skiers.

Because of Squaw Alpine’s size and resources, it has amazing offerings. From tubing and snowmobiling, to dog sledding and ice-skating, there’s just about no snow sport you can’t do there. There is also a lovely village at Squaw with terrific dining and shopping and generally except for holiday weekends, it’s not too crowded.

Wishing upon Northstar

On day three we hit Northstar California, aptly named for its location on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. The resort is part of the Vail Group which also includes the Tahoe resorts of Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood, which all have the reputation as resorts dedicated to a premier visitor experience.

It was a bit of a drive from Parc Foret, about an hour and half, but we were glad to make a day of our venture to this luxury destination. Northstar features a Ritz-Carlton and other upscale accommodations and dining for visitors who like their skiing experience made easy. On-mountain dining includes the popular Zephyr Lodge, accessible by tram for pedestrians, which makes mincemeat of the standard chili and hot cocoa lodge fare with gourmet cuisine, which of course comes at a cost, but the typical Northstar clientele are not too concerned about a $25 lunch.

Northstar prides itself in its laid-back luxury, which is exactly what it sounds like. You’re treated like a VIP, but the tenor of the staff and the vibe in the village is definitely not uptight. The resort features amenities such as a valet who will carry your skis to the snow’s edge, though if you are staying in the luxury accommodations in the village, there’s hardly a reason for such a service, since the slopes are about 100 feet from your door step. In true ski-in-ski out fashion, one of the gondolas actually travels underneath the village condominiums.

Treasure of Sierra-at-Tahoe

As a storm came in, we rushed on our second to last day of vacation to Sierra at Tahoe. Unfortunately, the only road up to the mountain was bumper-to-bumper with other vacationers on the holiday weekend with the same idea. We spent more than 90 minutes edging up the hill for the last 7 miles to the top. The situation got a little desperate after morning coffee, forcing us to make an unscheduled stop behind a snow mound for a potty break.

The lumbering ride up to Sierra-at-Tahoe is worth the trip though. Having the only half-pipe on the south shore, Sierra is popular with snowboard riders, and because of its focus on value and affordable lift ticket packages, it draws many day users, making base camp a vibrant place to hang out. Being on the south shore, Sierra is also close to the night life and casinos, so it has become a favored resort of the party crowd.

In keeping with their theme of fun in the snow, Sierra’s kids lessons and the Smart Terrain classes for all ages are led by qualified instructors, upon whom the resort has bestowed the Certified Unserious badge, a designation that guarantees, among other things, that staff are dedicated to guests learning in a fun environment suited for their skill level.

 

Heavenly Can’t Wait

Our last day was at Heavenly Mountain Resort, which in my experience skiing there for more than 25 years has always lived up to its name. As the resort with the highest elevation of the Lake Tahoe area resorts, with a peak elevation of 10,067 feet, Heavenly has some of the most magnificent vistas. For skiers who like their terrain raw, Heavenly has no shortage of intense backcountry terrain, along with plenty of varied terrain from wide-open cruisers fo plunging 1,600-foot chutes. While they didn’t need it this year, Heavenly owns the largest snow-making system in the area, so even during dry years, they usually have decent conditions.

Our last journey down the mountain was on Roundabout, a winding narrow intermediate trail that traverses the mountain at a leisurely pace, sometimes where we had to use our poles to push ourselves. It’s a good thing the mellow terrain allowed us to catch our breath, as it would have been taken away by the spectacular views we got to enjoy all the way down.

Cool digs

We changed our accommodations our last two nights to the new Hotel Becket, a Joie de Vivre property.  It was quite a switch from our Parc Foret three-bedroom luxury home, but we expected and got a different experience at this uber cool millennial lodging spot. Directly across from the Heavenly Village of restaurants and bars, and sporting its own Ten Crows Restaurant, this happening hotspot is social central.

The hotel has everything a guest needs for a quick and comfortable slumber, wide screen TV, Wi-Fi, spa services, etc., and guests’ choice of rooms, either the rustic alpine charm of the Sierra-style Woods rooms, or the newly renovated and contemporary Village rooms, with architectural details such as reclaimed barn wood doors. But honestly, the target clientele of this hotel does not spend much time holed up in a hotel room, no matter how luxuriously appointed.

Rent-and-go

Hands down the most aggravating part of the skiing is returning rental equipment, but our newfound friends at Tahoe Dave’s made it a breeze.

Getting our gear there was much smarter than renting at each resort. We kept the gear overnight and saved ourselves the hassle of waiting in lines to rent and return gear each day. The folks at the shop were highly knowledgeable and helpful. They are also great salespeople, as they convinced us to buy the top-of-the-line ski goggles with chroma-pop lenses, which we were glad we did when we skied in blowing snow and the goggles did their job of amazingly sharpening the definition of the contours on the terrain.

You’ll be coming year-‘round the mountain

Even if you don’t want to hit the slopes for summer, there are plenty of warmer-weather attractions that will be in full swing during the overlap of spring skiing and summer season, such as scenic gondola rides and even a mountain coaster at Heavenly, as well as mountain biking, hiking, camping, ropes courses and ziplines, river boat tours, fishing adventures, water sports on the chilly waters of Lake Tahoe – and fun events like Squaw’s Peaks and Paws dog swim fest – bring a boon of year-round business.

While for ski resorts generally the rule is there can’t be enough snow, the 2016-17 season was a challenge. Some resorts brought in snow melting equipment from New York to clear parking lots. Also, because of the fierce storms and winds, many chairlifts were grounded and slopes opened late or not at all due to dangerous weather conditions.

The good news of course is that a more than 60 feet of snow is slow to melt, and for the first time ever, après ski will include Fourth of July fireworks.

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EnvironmentLifestyleOutdoors

Smithsonian Earth’s Sea Turtle Rescue follows turtles on a journey away from endangered status

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In new series endangered turtles get rehabilitated at a unique South Carolina Aquarium 

NEW YORK – MAY 23, 2017 – At the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center, wildlife heroes spend countless hours rehabilitating sea turtles back to health and safety with sheer determination and compassion. Smithsonian Earth’s new, original series, SEA TURTLE RESCUE, sheds light on each journey to recovery, from the time they are brought into the hospital to the moment they return home at sea. This new six-part, short-form series takes viewers to the front lines with the staff who are dedicated to helping preserve the endangered sea turtles, from massive loggerheads to the Kemp’s ridley, the world’s smallest and most endangered. All six episodes of SEA TURTLE RESCUE begin streaming exclusively on Tuesday, May 23 on Smithsonian Earth, available on Apple®, Roku®, Amazon, and at SmithsonianEarthTV.com.

SEA TURTLE RESCUE is an emotional, intimate and sometimes heartbreaking behind-the-scenes look at one of the busiest sea turtle emergency rooms in the country. From pierced shells and fishhook injuries to commercial dredging tragedies and shark and stingray attacks, these turtles don’t just wash up on the shores of South Carolina, they are flown in from hundreds of miles away in an effort to preserve this endangered species. At the Sea Turtle Care Center, no job is too big or small, and SEA TURTLE RESCUE aims to shine light on these amazing creatures and their journey.

In the premiere episode, viewers meet Glenn and Hopper, two Kemp’s ridley turtles, one of the rarest species of sea turtles on the planet. When a ship accidentally injures them – one severely – the Sea Turtle Care Center team must race to perform emergency surgery to save their lives.

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Outdoors

Fishing tournament a win, despite no fish

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My son and his cousin were among about two dozen participants in a new free kids fishing tournament, sponsored by Fauquier County Parks, on April 29, at C.M. Crockett Park.  The catch-and-release competition awarded prizes for the biggest fish and the most fish caught.

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The tournament started at 10 am so we arrived early at 9:15 am, but our map skills failed us and we walked the looong way around Germantown Lake to the concession stand, to the registration table, so we were last to sign up and last to hit the water, which may have contributed to our poor — read no fish — catch of the day.

At least we had a quick start with our inflatable Airhead Angler Bay boat, which we filled up in record time with our new cordless Ryobi One + 18 V Power Inflator.  This wonder tool got us from flat to full in under 10 minutes.

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Another good word about his pump: it was much quieter than other motorized air pumps, and it was so light and portable, the size and weight of a standard drill, that I could take it out on the dock and inflate the boat, instead of having to inflate it close to my car, so that the cord could reach.

Also, I was glad to not to have to use an air pump that connected to my car battery, as last time I used that type of pump my car battery went dead the next day, despite the fact it was only eight months old.  The Lexus dealership proclaimed the battery was dead on arrival with a bad cell, and luckily it was under warranty, but I can’t help but think somehow the pump was responsible.

Back to the tournament, we launched our boat with me as paddle power.  I tried giving the boys a turn at the oars, but they couldn’t seem to coordinate dipping the paddles in at the same time and rowing them in the same direction, so we spun around and drifted for about 30 minutes, running into other angler’s lines and too close to their boats, until I took over the oars.

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The boys finally baited their hooks with night crawlers and dropped their lines into the water.  Then as all good fisherman do, they laid back and waited.

After a long 30 or 40 minutes, the boys got hungry, so we noshed on Nutella sandwiches and Goldfish, waiting for the fish to bite.

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When we realized it was close to the noon hour when the contest ended, I started rowing back to the concession stand, where the prizes would be announced.  Even though we hadn’t hooked a thing, or even felt a single nibble, we wanted to see what others had reeled in.  Trouble was, the wind had picked up and the current was even stronger, and we were about two football fields downstream.

After about 30 minutes of rigorous, non-stop rowing, and blistered hands and tired triceps, I got us to the dock by the concession stand just in time for the awards presentation, a casual affair by a picnic table on the upper deck, officiated by a handsome young park ranger, who regaled the waiting crowd with stories of how he had recently encountered a juvenile copperhead coiled on the welcome mat of his office door, which he gently swiped aside with his foot and a few words to the snake, “It’s 4:30 am.  You are not going to bite me this early in the morning.”

As the children and families gathered round, the ranger read out the winners, which included a tie of eight fish each for the most-fish caught honor, and a prize for the biggest fish, which measured 14.2 inches and weighed 2.5 pounds. Prizes included fishing gear and gift certificates for free future boat rentals at the park.

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Fish or foul, the kids all had a great time, and next we are coming back with a battery-powered motor for the boat, so I can sit back and relax next time.

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LifestyleOutdoorsShopping

Cabela’s celebrates the great outdoors, opens 86th store worldwide

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Hunting, fishing and camping retailer hosts weekend fanfare with special guests, giveaways and family activities

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Mega outdoors outfitter Cabela’s will open its newest location in Gainesville, Virginia, on March 9. The opening ceremonies begin at 9:45 with an archer slicing through a red ribbon with an arrow. When the doors open at 10 am, guests can enjoy a variety of activities designed to showcase Cabela’s hunting, fishing, and camping gear and accessories.

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The 80,000 square-foot store, which employs more than 175 people, will dazzle outdoors enthusiasts with its massive array of merchandise, displays and demonstration areas, including multiple fishing pole aisles, an archery department that includes a tech room for tweaking equipment and an indoor range, and a firearms library that every hunter and sport shooter will want to check out.

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Besides the merchandise, customers will be able to browse the store’s collection of museum worthy vintage outdoor photos and memorabilia, hand painted murals of local scenes, such as an expansive fresco of the shores of the Rapidan River, and taxidermy exhibits of mounted bears, moose, bass, hawks, and all sorts of animals, fish and fowl that can be found locally in Virginia and around the world.handguns-1000-pixels

A huge mountain side replica is the most impressive fixture in the store, featuring a large aquarium that will be stocked with local fish, such as trout and bass, but these are just for the looking, not for hooking.

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If you are interested in trying your hand at fly-fishing or other forms of casting, trained staff will be on hand to let customers try out the rods, reels and lures.

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For those who can’t wait to get out and camp, a complete campsite is on display, including a faux fire, so that customers can crawl inside the display tent, test out sleeping bags and try out gear, such as a fishing pole like device for dangling hotdogs and marshmallows over a campfire.

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Even dogs will love the store, which carries a large selection of dog beds, chew toys, and training decoys for hunting dogs, such as Cabela’s resident mascot Ellie, a 10-year old yellow Labrador Retriever, who will be more than glad to show visitors how a pro flushes and fetches.

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If you prefer feathered friends, that you eat, you can gander at an assortment of turkey calls, that a staff expert can demonstrate, beckoning plastic prey to a camo duck blind on display.

As part of the opening festivities, famous outdoor experts will be on hand, such as Eva Shockey from the outdoor Channel, who will be at the store on Saturday, March 11, from 1 to 4 PM; Trent Cole, NFL pro and Cabela’s ambassador, who will be at the store on Sunday, March 12, from 12 noon to 4 PM; Captain Miitchell Blake, a professional saltwater guide; Mike Hanback, host of Big Deer TV on the Sportsman Channel; and Patrick Hoover, a renowned archery hunter.

For those who are lucky enough to be among the first 50 customers through the door on March 10, 11 and 12, there will be giveaways of utility bags, caps, and tripod stools, as well as a chance to win a GoPro Hero5 Black. There will also be a number of family fun activities on Saturday and Sunday, March 11 and 12, from 11 AM to 5 PM.

The new Cabela’s, which will be the third store in Virginia and the 86th worldwide, is located at 5291 Wellington Branch Dr. cross from the popular Stuff! Consignments shop and adjacent to Virginia Gateway Center.

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