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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bhutan or Bust

One of the biggest trends in travel right now is the increasingly popular multisport trip. Head off to a country and then try as many activities as possible, from hiking, to biking, to whitewater rafting. This has proven to be a huge success in places like Costa Rica which has a great mix of mountains, rivers, and ocean. Now Uma Paro in Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is entering into the mix. From July 6-13 and August 31-September 6, they are offering a weeklong adventure featuring rafting, biking, archery, and fly-fishing. The bike ride sounds like an incredible thrill. Guests are dropped off at the top of Chele La at 12,500 feet, Bhutan’s highest road pass. After taking in the magnificent views towards Mt. Jhomolhari standing at a mere 24,000 feet, you enjoy a 22-mile downhill run all the way back to Paro. You’ll also get to do a morning Puja (pilgrimage) to a local monastery.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/17/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shackleton’s 1914 Adventure in Antarctica Recreated by A Puppet Troupe

Combine marionettes with live music composed by the Kronos Quartet and you get a smaller-than-life reenactment of Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 trans-Antarctic expedition. Called 69 Degrees South: The Shackleton Project, the play is created by the puppet theater company, Phantom Limb, and will be shown at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts on Saturday, March 13 at 8 pm. It will attempt to recreate the true story of Shackleton and his brave men trapped in an ice floe for 497 days, a remarkable story of survival that lends itself well to an intriguing night with puppets.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/16/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Win a Spot on a Biosphere Expeditions Trip

All you have to do is tell Biosphere Expeditions a little bit about yourself and what you can contribute to one of their projects and you could be one of two lucky buggers who win a free one or two-week jaunt with the volunteer-oriented wildlife conservation organization. What exactly do these expeditions entail? How about photographing whales, dolphins, and loggerhead turtles off the shores of the Azores to help monitor their migration patterns in the Atlantic, tracking jaguars and pumas in the Brazilian bush, or finding the elusive Arabian leopard in the desert and mountains of Oman. Deadline for entry is November 1, 2010, and you can submit either a 300-word essay or a 1-minute video clip.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/15/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Pat yourself on the back for the walk you took around the neighborhood today, as you should. Then go to the web and cheer on Leo Rosette, 59, who’s currently in a 24-by-6-foot boat desperately trying to become the oldest American to cross an ocean in a rowboat. He started January 4th off the coast of the Canary Islands and has already battled 25-foot waves, a freighter that was about to crush him if Rosette didn’t radio the ship and tell them there’s a boat the size of Whoville directly in front of him, and numerous whales and dolphins. This is Rosette’s second attempt to cross the Atlantic, having quit after three days because of stomach pains in December 2008. But now the former deputy marshal is almost halfway to his goal of rowing 2,038 nautical miles to the shores of Antigua.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/12/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Legendary Mountain View Grand Offering February Vacation Week Deals

Three hours north of Boston sits one of the legendary New England properties, The Mountain View Grand. One of three remaining grand hotels in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the 1865 Colonial Revival resort recently underwent a $20 million restoration after being abandoned for most of the 90s. Located in Whitefield, just north of Franconia Notch, this immense resort has been restored to its original state and, in winter, features a free shuttle to nearby Cannon Mountain for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing under the tall pine and spruce, a large outdoor ice rink, sledding, an indoor pool and whirlpool, and a full-service European spa to rest that weary body after a day of play. I just received word that they are offering a rate of $179 per night over February Vacation Week. It’s a pretty good deal for a night at this historic property.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/11/10 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Important New Book for Bird Lovers

85 years young, Theodore Cross has had more than his fair share of success. He’s worked in the White House, helping to spur on African-American economic development, served as governor of the American Stock Exchange, worked as a real estate lawyer, and twice bought and sold publishing houses geared to Wall Street investors, bankers, and accountants, earning many millions of dollars. Now, with the release last October of his large coffee table photo book, “Waterbirds,” he’s been referred to as John James Audubon with a camera. Harvard University’s great naturalist, E.O. Wilson described the book as “a masterpiece.” For the past 40 years, Cross has been obsessed with photographing birds around the globe, from spotting a Ross’s gull in Siberia to snapping a red-tailed tropicbird in Christmas Island. The 344-page epic published by W.W. Norton & Company is also heavy on egrets, herons, and another Cross favorite, the roseate spoonbill. It’s requisite viewing for both the casual backyard bird lover and the avid bird watcher. 

(Photo of the masked booby by Theodore Cross)
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/10/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Self-Guided Bike Trips Gaining in Popularity

As outfitters are looking to cut costs, self-guided bike trips are becoming the norm. Last week, I received a press release from uber-sybaritic bike touring company, Butterfield & Robinson, stating that they are now offering self-guided bike trips. Yes, the company that built its reputation on biking to 14th-century chateaus in Loire Valley and then dining on a gluttonous five course meal with their small groups is now offering self-guided bike trips. Though it seems foolish to pay B&R prices for a trip where they don’t cater to your every whim. A better option is the more affordable Bike Tours Direct, which offers ten self-guided trips to Europe this summer, including jaunts into France’s Loire Valley and along the Danube River in Austria.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/09/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, February 08, 2010

Older Women Who Lift Weights See Cognitive Benefits

There’s an interesting story in the latest Archives of Internal Medicine, which I read religiously (just kidding), that talks about a recent Canadian study involving older women. Over the course of a year, The University of British Colombia divided 155 women in the 65 to 75-year old range into three groups—resistance training (lifting weights, using weight machines, or doing squats and lunges) once a week, resistance training twice a week, and a Tai-Chi based balance and tone training twice a week. The results: cognitive scores for the women who went to resistance training twice weekly were up 12.6 percent, once weekly up 10.9 percent, while those who only did Tai Chi fell 0.5 percent. So start pumping the iron!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/08/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, February 05, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards, Vento Nature Sanctuary, St. Paul, Minnesota

On the banks of the Mississippi River, Vento Nature Sanctuary is now home to bald eagles, blue herons, and acres of restored wetlands. It’s also popular with rock and ice climbers who like to propel themselves up the steep walls that rise from the river.  Yet, Vento was once a dying rail yard, left to rust by the Burlington National Railroad. Thanks to a grant from the city’s Metropolitan Council and private donations, all contaminated soil was removed and the boundaries of the park were expanded so folks can have more green space to play.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/05/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards, Spectacle Island, Boston Harbor

One of 34 Boston Harbor Islands that dot the waterfront and are part of a National Historic Park, Spectacle Island had its heyday in the 1840s as a large gambling resort and brothel. As of late, the island was merely a dumping ground for garbage. Then someone had the brilliant idea to create a dike to contain the trash and use the dirt from The Big Dig to reshape the island, providing topsoil for planting trees and other shrubbery.  Today, the heaping mound of soil has created the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard south of Maine. Leaving its smelly past behind, the 105-acre park has a trail system weaving through the interior, beaches to comb for sea glass, and public access by ferry. Local naturalist and Walden author Henry David Thoreau didn’t have Spectacle Island in mind when he spoke of preserving America’s “wild spaces,” but it’s refreshing to see good ole Yankee ingenuity at work.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/04/10 at 02:00 PM
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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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