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Monday, August 23, 2010

One Helluva Climb

39 year-old Dan Nevins lost both his legs in Iraq. Neil Duncan, 26, had both his legs blown off in Afghanistan driving over a buried explosive in 2005. Kirk Bauer, 62, lost one of his legs in Vietnam. Together, the trio just finished climbing to the peak of 19,334-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. If you’re doing the math at home, that’s three men with a combined one leg they were born with. The six-day climb was part of Wounded Warrior Sports Challenge, a series of extreme adventures aimed at permanently disabled veterans. Designed by Disabled Sports USA, out of Rockville, Maryland, the company holds the same belief as me that adventure is the best form of therapy. Along with mountain climbs, they also feature a 26-mile run in the desert of New Mexico, scuba, sailing, and a 100-mile bike trek. Kudos to Dan, Neil, and Kirk for not only attempting but making it to the top!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/23/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Stop and Smell the Rugosas

I love stumbling upon an unexpected gem in a small community. The first time I entered the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, Massachusetts, I was blown away by their collection of Impressionism, with impressive works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, and a room devoted to American master Winslow Homer. I felt this same way in early July when I entered St. Andrews, New Brunswick, a seaside village of 1800 people and entered the Kingsbrae Gardens. Wave after wave of color greeted me from the bed of perennials, planted like an artist’s palette. Hummingbirds flew under the tall chestnut trees, water lilies dotted the fountains, and everywhere you looked, there was some whimsical sculpture or children’s playhouse nestled within the 27-acre grounds. My favorite section was the Scent and Sensitivity Garden, where you can smell the tangy lemon-scented geranium or the tropical pineapple sage (that really does smell like a pineapple) or touch the velvety soft leaves of lamb’s ear. On the way out, I bent down and took a big whiff of the sweet-smelling rugosas. For a moment, everything was bliss.

(Photo by Lisa Leavitt)
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/20/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blown Away in Chicago

The largest annual skydiving contest in the US, the USPA National Skydiving Championships, will return to Chicago from September 10 to 24. Located southwest of the city along the banks of the Fox River, Skydive Chicago will feature the world’s greatest skydivers competing for gold, silver, and bronze in five disciplines. They include formation diving, where teams of 4, 8, 10, and 16 skydivers create formations in the sky before opening their parachutes, and the freestyle artist event, where a jumper performs a graceful dance in freefall. All the championships are free and open to the public.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/19/10 at 12:59 PM
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Jersey Woman First Female to Paddle 740-Mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail Solo

This past Monday, Cathy Mumford of Colts Neck, New Jersey, became the first woman to paddle the entire Northern Forest Canoe Trail solo. The 50-year old mother of two started at Old Forge, New York, on June 19th, and finished her trip in Fort Kent, Maine, at the northern terminus of the 740-mile route. She paddled across Lake Champlain on her 50th birthday, made several wrong turns on the route to add to the mileage, yet still achieved her goal of completing this Appalachian Trail of the water in her trusty 9-foot kayak. And she only started kayaking several years ago in Tennessee. Talk about a quick learner!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/18/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Head to Uganda with An Award-Winning Photographer

Few people know Africa better than Rick D’Elia. Working as a renowned photojournalist, he’s spent the past decade recording the amazing work of relief and development organizations around the continent. By all means, see his talented portfolio at DeliaPhotographic. Now D’Elia plans to share the secrets of his trade, leading a tour through one of his favorite countries, Uganda. You’ll be immersed in the important works of NGOs in Kampala, meeting, greeting, and yes, taking shots of the folks hard at work. Then Rick will take you on a wildlife safari to see Uganda’s mountain gorillas, leopards, lions, and elephants. If you really want to see African culture and wildlife, and genuinely learn about recent politics and history, it’s hard to find a better guide. Obviously, you’ll also improve your skills as a photographer as well.

(Photo by Rick D'Elia)
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/17/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, August 16, 2010

FarewellTravels Now Offers Savings

Before you book your next jaunt, check out the savings on my friend, Susan Farewell’s website, FarewellTravels. You can save $500 on sea kayaking jaunts to Baja, $800 off the cost of a sailing trip along the spectacular Dalmatian Coast in Croatia, starting in Dubrovnik, and discounts at inns and resorts in northern Vermont, Maine, and the Greek Islands. Just trying to save you a few bucks!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/16/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Henry the Eighth, I Am, I Am

A mere 37-minute train ride from Waterloo Station in London brings you to Hampton Court Palace, the best-loved abode of King Henry VIII. All of Henry’s six wives lived at the palace at one point, including his last wife, Kathryn Parr, who married Henry in the upstairs chapel. Take the audio tour of the Grand Hall, apartments, and cooking area, where they would roast large quantities of beef on a spit, washed down with kegs of beer and far too young wine. Then stroll the grounds and try your luck at the Maze, the oldest maze in England, originally built in 1702. With hedges towering close to 8-feet high, the narrow, winding paths are over a half-mile long. It’s a special treat for the kids after touring the palace. A special treat for music lovers is happening on August 30th, when two of my favorite groups, Brand New Heavies and Incognito play a live concert at the palace. Check it out!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/13/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

London Walks

It’s impossible for a parent to teach his kids a British history lesson, without Junior blurting out in the middle of the Anne Boleyn beheading story, “Oh yeah, that’s cool. Can we go to the London Eye now?” So I was relieved to find an outfitter aptly called London Walks that for a mere 8 pounds per person (children under 15 are free) can educate, entertain, and keep my family walking for two hours. We took two tours with them last week, Westminster and West End and the Tower of London.  We were fortunate to have Tom Hooper as our guide on both walks. A former barrister, Hooper knows the history of the British Empire like the back of his hand. It also helps that Hooper is a wonderful orator with a booming voice and a penchant for digging into the sordid details. Like the beheading of Anne Boleyn, the beheading of King Charles the First, the beheading of Oliver Cromwell, after he died, no less. On the West End walk, we strolled from the Houses of Parliament to Westminster Abbey, all the way to Buckingham Palace, ending near Trafalgar Square. And my kids, ages 14 and 12, didn’t complain once. I quizzed them afterwards on how much they retained, asking them the names of the current prime minister and queen, and by God, they knew the answers. For that, Tom Hooper deserved to be knighted!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/12/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Biking Along the Canals in Hertfordshire

After spending 10 days in the cities of Paris and London, we wisely chose to book our last night of travel in the UK at The Grove, a country manor less than an hour’s drive from London and Heathrow. Perched on a hillside with rolling grounds, the place is best known for its golf course. But it’s also a wonderful family retreat, complete with outdoor and indoor pools, beach volleyball, lawn tennis, croquet, and a gluttonous feast at the breakfast and dinner buffet. Yet, our favorite activity was renting bikes and finding a canal that borders the perimeter of the property. Narrowboats were riding through the locks, on their way north to Northampton or south to London. This web of waterways has been traveled for centuries.  Indeed, these canals were Britain’s first business superhighway, transporting goods around the country. Once the railroads were built, they were abandoned, only to emerge in the last 30 years as recreational areas. It was fun to see these long slender boats, many rented for a week holiday, making their way through the forested shoreline under bridges and past families of swans and local anglers. We pedaled alongside the canal for some time on a dirt path before returning to the resort and having fish and chips, washed down with a pint of lager, at their casual pub, the Stables.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/11/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Strolling Hampstead Heath

There’s an excellent exhibition currently on display at the Morgan Library in New York on the Romantic Movement’s influence on landscape design. One of the mottos of the movement came from a line in a 1731 Alexander Pope poem, “Consult the genius of the place.” Translation: Preserve the wild, unadulterated beauty of the grounds and don’t overmanicure. I though about that line while walking last week in London’s Hampstead Heath with my family, friend Claire, and her adorable daughter, Evie. The rolling hillside is rich with old growth forest, shaded trails, long stretches of lawn, and streams, where we wound up feeding ducks and coots. After a week of fighting crowds at the National Gallery, Covent Garden, and the Tower of London, it was wonderful to spend the afternoon at arguably London’s best attraction, one of its many exquisite parks. On a weekday, Hampstead Heath was relatively quiet and off the beaten track enough to savor the serenity with locals. Only a few miles north of the city hubbub, it’s the perfect oasis.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/10/10 at 01:00 PM
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photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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