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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Adventure Cruises, No Longer an Oxymoron

I’m in the midst of writing a story for The Boston Globe on how cruise lines are adding more and more active shore excursions for their clientele. For years, cruise lines were the antithesis of an active lifestyle, catering to a sedentary clientele who were far more fixated on the buffet tables. That’s changed dramatically in the past 3 to 5 years. Cruise brokers like Todd Smith, owner of AdventureSmithExplorations, feature small cruise lines whose specialty is getting people off the ship for a dose of adventure. Next spring, they’re unveiling two ships in Alaska, the M/V Wilderness Adventurer and M/V Wilderness Discoverer, that will feature overnight hiking and sea kayaking jaunts, white water rafting, and fishing charters that pick you up right from the boat. Each ship only carries 49 passengers, which helps them cater to your every whim.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/08/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Sea Kayaking with My 80 Year-Old Dad on Lake George

When I tell people that I find Lake George more exquisite than Lake Tahoe, Lake Powell, or even that wondrous lake to the north, Champlain, they often look at me bewildered.  They equate the lake with the honky-tonk village on the southern tip, packed with T-shirt and fudge shops, video arcades, hokey haunted houses, a requisite water park, and my personal favorite, Goony Golf, a miniature golf course crowded with huge fairy tale characters. All folks have to do is drive about ten miles north on Route 9N to find the far more charming town of Bolton Landing. This section of the 31-mile long lake is more like a river, narrow and hemmed in by the peaks, offering vintage Adirondack beauty that once inspired Hudson River School painters to grab their canvases and head north, followed by Georgia O’Keeffe and her camera-toting husband Alfred Stieglitz.

Growing up in Schenectady, New York, we would make the hour-drive to Bolton Landing on a regular basis to reach our sailboat docked just out of town. Now I return on an annual basis with my family to visit my father and his wife who summer here, and treat my kids to a good dose of natural adventure. One of my favorite things to do is rent sea kayaks on Green Island and paddle around the classic Adirondack resort, the Sagamore, a large wedding cake of a hotel that’s been the lake’s premier address for over a century. This past weekend, I persuaded my dad and his wife, Ginny, to join me. I put my father in the front of a double kayak that I steered while Ginny paddled alongside us in a single kayak. The wind was strong and the waves choppy as we approached the sloping grounds of the Sagamore, but soon we were around the island singing sea shanties. Whether you sail, sea kayak, or prefer a motor boat, get out on this lake and make some memories.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/07/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, September 03, 2010

Top 5 Fall Foliage Picks in New England, Golfing at the Equinox or Stowe Mountain Lodge

A favorite in autumn, when the hillside is aflame in color, the dramatic ups and downs of the Equinox course offer quintessential New England vistas of white steeples, Mt. Equinox, and the grand hotel. You won’t forget the seventh hole, a par-five that plays over a road. Take a break at the ninth to have lobster rolls for lunch at the Dormy Grill. Over at Stowe Mountain Lodge, Bob Cupp’s ego-boosting design has five sets of tees to ensure that birdies, not bogies, are a reality. That is, if you can concentrate on your putts instead of peering off at the majestic views of the Green Mountains that form a silhouette of peaks around you. Celebrate your low score with a drink at the golf cottage, created from the yellow birch trees found on the course. For more information, read my story on fall foliage golfing in Vermont at The Boston Globe.
 

"Photo credit Destination360 Vermont Golf"


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/03/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Top 5 Fall Foliage Picks in New England, Mountain Biking the Kingdom Trails, Vermont

Just thinking about the Kingdom Trails in autumn, whipping through the red and yellow leaves on the maples behind the Inn at Mountain View Farm, and I want to jump in my car immediately. This 150-mile circuit, linking former farming roads with slender singletracks, offers the best of Vermont riding. One moment, you’re banking narrow turns on Coronary Bypass, the next you’re zooming through the tall barren pines in Webs. In fact, it’s such a glorious network that you’ll want to keep biking even when your legs are cramping and your Camelbak runs dry. Check out the article I wrote last summer for The Boston Globe on biking the Kingdom Trails with my son, Jake.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/02/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Top 5 Fall Foliage Picks in New England, Hiking a White Mountain, New Hampshire

The bugs are gone, the threat of a late spring snow washed away, and the leaves are already starting to change color. Not to mention, you don’t have to face the summer crowds on the trails. These reasons alone should make you want to fill up your water bottle, bag a lunch with requisite mackintosh apples and hit the Whites. Start with the Falling Waters trail up to the peak of 5,228-foot Mt. Lafayette. Strolling alongside a series of spectacular waterfalls, and then making the climb to a 1.7-mile ridge walk between two of the White Mountains' loftiest peaks, it’s no wonder this is one of the finest day hikes in New England. Grab some lemonade at the AMC’s Greenleaf Hut, or if you were wise, you booked a bunk for the night to savor the spectacular mountain panorama without rushing down. If you prefer a less strenuous hike, try Mt. Willard. In less than an hour, you’ll make it to the peak where jaw-dropping views of Crawford Notch stand below you, a reward for your accomplishment.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/01/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top 5 Fall Foliage Picks in New England, Biking Addison County, Vermont

Nestled between Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks to the west and the spine of the Green Mountains to the east, Addison County is a fertile breadbasket chockfull of dairy farms, vegetable stands, apple orchards, and green fields as far as the eye can see. Bike through the heart of this bucolic slice of pie on backcountry roads that sweep up and down ridges and you’ll be rewarded with vistas in all directions. The spectacular scenery is enhanced in the fall when the maples offer the best of Mother Nature’s light show. If you want a local to design your route based on mileage, go on a self-guided bike tour with Country Inns Along the Trail. They’ll create a detailed map, shuttle luggage from one inn to the next, rent bikes, and help out in case of emergency. This is wonderful news for New Yorkers who can take the Amtrak train from Penn Station and five hours later be at the small Ticonderoga Station, a 6-minute ferry ride across Lake Champlain from Addison County. Country Inns Along the Trail can drop off your bikes, take your luggage, and off you go. Try to include the Shoreham Inn in your itinerary. Built in 1790 as a country inn, this post-and-beam house is now home to a gastropub manned by an excellent Irish chef, Dominic. They also serve Switchback Ale on tap, one of the many reasons why it’s become a favorite stopover for bikers.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/31/10 at 12:59 PM
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Top 5 Fall Foliage Picks in New England, Paddling a North Woods River in Maine

It’s supposed to reach 90 degrees today in Boston, but my mind is already thinking ahead to fall foliage. The dry hot summer will lead to an earlier than usual foliage. Though we did get much needed rain in New England this past week, so trees that were wilting should be happier. This week, I’m delving into my favorite activities during the height of fall foliage.

12 years ago, I was hired to write a story about paddling the Allagash River for Men’s Journal magazine. It was late September, when the leaves on trees were yellow, orange, and crimson and the normally taciturn moose was in heat and was as talkative as Bullwinkle. There were no mosquitoes, no black flies, no humans, except our little group who paddled over 5 days up the narrow river corridor. Last year, I was fortunate to return to Maine’s North Woods in autumn, this time on assignment for Sierra magazine. I was in the capable hands of registered Maine guide, Kevin Slater, who with his wife, Polly, run Mahoosuc Guide Service. We spotted moose, bear, a barred owl, and once again we had the river, this time the West Branch of the Penobscot, to ourselves. There’s something about being on a lengthy Maine river in autumn, when the crowds are gone, and you have this serene scene of water, the pine-studded campgrounds, and mountains hovering in the background. It seeps into your skin and I yearn to be back there each fall.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/30/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Bike Across North America

Tour d’Afrique, the socially responsible bike touring company out of Toronto, doesn’t fool around when they create their dream bike trips. In 2003, they traversed the entire African continent in four months, from Cairo to Capetown. Then came the 50-day jaunt on the Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul, the 2752-mile Silk Route ramble from Istanbul to Samarkand, the 7500-mile Vuelta Sudamericana that traveled from Rio to Quito, and the upcoming 2050-mile jaunt through India that starts in January. Now the company has just announced a new itinerary next summer that will cross North America, from San Francisco to Newfoundland. Starting on May 29th, they’ll bike for 76 days, averaging 106 km per day. Along the way, you’ll hit California wine country, the Grand Canyon, Route 66, Chicago, Toronto, and Montreal.  Cost of the entire tour is $9,950 per person or you can do one of the five shorter segments for $1800. Cost includes guides, van support, and lodging.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/27/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Step Right Up and Win a Prize from the AMC

In an effort to attract more folks to their recently revised website, the Appalachian Mountain Club is giving away prizes to people who sign up for their monthly and bi-weekly e-newsletters. The grand prize winner will receive a 2-night stay at one of their huts in New Hampshire, Maine, or New Jersey. Other prizes include $110 gift certificates for Merrells, and a free Aria jacket.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/26/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting in Shape for that Fall Biking Trip

Just in case you missed this blog last August, I'm posting it again. It's that important! On a bike tour with Bike Vermont years ago, my brother and I watched as a guy, distracted by cows, flipped his bike over and broke his tooth. He said he hadn’t been on a bike in five years. Don’t make the same mistake. With many bikers heading out on fall foliage biking trips in the next month or two, now’s the time to get ready. Even if it’s a “No Experience Necessary” excursion, you should try the sport beforehand and be in somewhat decent shape. Don’t wait until the last minute to condition. If you plan on taking a week-long biking or walking outing, begin aerobic activity four to six weeks in advance, two to three times a week. And make sure you’re on the right trip by asking what level of fitness is required? Is this hike an obstacle course better suited for Marines, a stroll in the park, or somewhere in between? How many hours a day are we on the bike? You want to find an adventure that ideally suits your ability and prior experience in the sport. Brochures are not always accurate so it’s imperative to speak to a human being.  


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/25/10 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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