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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Top 5 Wildlife Viewing Experiences, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

We’re blessed with 57 National Parks in America. Some, like Yellowstone, attract more than 3 million visitors annually. Others like Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota are far less crowded, leaving the canyons of the Badlands to the wildlife and the lucky few who wander in. The North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt receives only 50,000 to 60,000 visits a year. Heading south from Watford City, I enter the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and soon I’m the only car driving along the Little Missouri River on the 14-mile scenic drive. Within moment I spot a herd of at least 20 bison and pull over. In Yellowstone, this sight would attract a caravan of cars, undoubtedly stopping short so drivers can get that National Geographic shot. Here, I get out my car, linger, laugh, all by my lonesome. And, yes, feel guilty about divulging this underused National Park. See the story I wrote on the park for The Boston Globe.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/21/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top 5 Wildlife Viewing Experiences, Sitka, Alaska

Unlike Juneau and Ketchikan, where cruise ship passengers are quickly immersed in streets filled with jewelry, T-shirts, and other souvenir shops, Sitka has more of an authentic feel. Stroll through the totem poles found at Sitka National Historic Park to the Alaska Raptor Center. Every year, 100 to 200 birds of prey, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, red-tail hawks and owls are brought to this large aviary hospital to rehabilitate. After your fill of town, splurge for the 3-hour Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest.  Not only will you view exquisite scenery like volcanic Mt. Edgecomb and the snowcapped peaks that rise dramatically from the shores of Redoubt Bay, but the abundance of marine life is astounding. Within moments of leaving the docks at Sitka, humpbacks raise their tales, followed by harbor seals, bald eagles standing in the tall spruces, a colony of more than 50 sea otters lounging in the kelp, puffins with their orange beaks, and sea lions.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/20/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Top 5 Wildlife Viewing Experiences, Masai Mara, Kenya

As the weather continues to warm in the Boston area, many people are thinking about summer plans. Hopefully, this involves seeing wildlife, one of the most memorable encounters you can have while traveling. July through October is the best time to see the big five in Kenya. Masai Mara National Reserve, on the Tanzanian border, deserves its legendary status as one of the finest safari experiences in the world. All it takes is about an hour of driving in the back of a jeep to be mesmerized by the wealth of wildlife. Mara is Swahili for “dotted hillside” and if you look across the savannah, you’ll spot giraffes, elephants, Cape buffalo, zebras, baboons, lions lounging under tall acacia trees, impalas, and hordes of wildebeests, especially if you travel here during the migration in early summer and fall. Unlike the Serengeti to the south, Masai Mara allows jeeps to go off-road so you get a close-up view of that leopard hiding in the bush. Visiting the Maasai villagers is an added bonus. For a good place to stay, see the story I wrote for Away.com on the ecoresort, Olonana.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/19/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Vermont Cheese Tour

The Old Tavern at Grafton, one of my favorite places to x-c ski in the winter and mountain bike in the warm weather (see my top 10 places to mountain bike in New England in The Boston Globe) is now offering a cheese tour. This makes perfect sense since their sister company is the award-winning Grafton Village Cheese Company just down the road. Priced at $725 per couple, you receive a welcome wine and cheese reception, visit three other acclaimed cheese makers in southern Vermont, three nights lodging at the Old Tavern, and daily breakfast and dinner. Dates are June 7-10, July 12-15, August 9-12, and September 13-16.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/16/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oil Spill Hits the Great Barrier Reef

As if the Great Barrier Reef didn’t have enough problems! Dr. Charlie Veron, the former chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, recently warned that the Great Barrier Reef will be “in tatters” by 2030, the result of global warming and rising sea temperatures. In fact, the Zoological Society of London feels the future of coral reefs is so bleak, they recently announced a plan to freeze samples in liquid nitrogen. Now comes news that a Chinese oil tanker slammed into the reef at top speed on April 3rd. The tanker has already leaked about two tons of oil, resulting in a three kilometer slick that could take years to clean up. Marine conservationists are particularly worried about turtles since it’s hatching season. What a way to be born into the world. Australian authorities have charged the captain for veering out of the shipping lane and running into the reef, but the damage is already done.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/15/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Surf Rincon and Stay at Roger’s Place

The best views of Puerto Rico come from the water. Watching the palms sway, seeing horseback riders galloping along the beach, and eyeing lighthouses as they stand tall, sending their beacon of light over the ocean waters. This is especially true if you’re on a board surfing Rincon. Called the “Caribbean Pipeline,” surfers from America, Europe, and South America flock to the western tip of Puerto Rico to glide atop the consistently large swell at spots like Maria’s, a monstrous reef break. The problem with Rincon was always the crime. Come back from a morning of surfing and your room is broken into. So it’s a joy to finally find a place that’s not only safe, clean, and serves delicious local food (included in the price), but is owned by a world-class Brazilian surfer. Roger Wagner’s six-bedroom villa, Surf 787, is perched on a hillside with water views just west of town. Depending on your level of expertise, he’ll guide you to the best surf spots within a 40-minute drive. Or you can venture out on your own, especially in the early morning hours when the local contingent of surfers are usually sleeping in after hitting the bars. December to April is the best time to surf Rincon. Check out the surf report, grab a flight into Aguadilla, and you could be on the water today!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/14/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Explore the Canadian Wilderness with Several of Canada’s Best-Known Explorers

It’s not enough that Canadian Mountain Holidays runs two lodges in some of the most glorious British Columbia mountain ranges, the Bugaboos and Selkirk, where granite peaks and spires pierce the peak over 7,000 feet high. No, it’s not enough that this well-known heli-ski company uses those same helicopters in the summer time to take hikers to trails traversed by far more bear, elk, and caribou than humans. Now you’ll get to explore those same trails in the company of Dr. Joe MacInnis and Dr. Roberta Bondar. MacInnis led the first team of divers under the North Pole and was one of the first to dive the Titanic. Bondar is Canada’s first woman astronaut and a neurologist to boot. Dates are July 24-27 with MacInnis and August 17-20 with Bondar.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/13/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Serious Rafting Only a 30-Minute Drive from Boston

Starting next Saturday, April 17th, you can go on a rollicking good ride on the Concord River, just north of Boston. Zoar Outdoor, known for their rafting trips down the Deerfield River in central Mass, is leading guided jaunts on the Concord for any one 14 years and older. For the price of $82, you can rip through three major class III and IV rapids—Twisted Sister, Three Beauties, and Middlesex Dam. Zoar supplies all gear. All you have to do is show up and get ready to scream.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/12/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, April 09, 2010

Yoga Atop New England’s Tallest Peak

Carlene Sullivan, owner of Symmetree Yoga in North Conway, New Hampshire, has just introduced a 2-night Yoga Adventure, where you take a guided hike or drive to the top of 6,288-foot Mount Washington, and top it off with yoga and meditation on the summit surrounded by the other ridges of the White Mountains. Prices start at $260 per person and include two nights' accommodation, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, yoga class, breath work, and meditation, and transportation to the site from North Conway. Carlene also offers day-trips, where you hike to a serene spot in the Whites and have your own private yoga session next to a waterfall or rambling stream. 
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/09/10 at 12:59 PM
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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Self-Guided Inn-to-Inn Bike Trips in New England

The rhododendrons are already in bloom and the yellow warblers just arrived at my birdfeeder in the Boston burbs. With temps hitting the mid-80s today, it’s time to break out the bike for a ride. For riders looking for a little inn-to-inn action this summer, it’s never been cheaper to bike in New England. Two outfitters, Bike the Whites in New Hampshire, and Country Inns Along the Trail in Vermont, are offering three days of riding for as low as $299 per person. What does that 300 bucks get you?  Detailed maps depending on you ability, from 20 to 80 miles a day, emergency roadside assistance, two nights lodging, two dinners, two breakfasts, and transport of your luggage from one inn to the next. Country Inns has rides in several of my favorite spots in Vermont, including Addison along Lake Champlain, where you spend the night at the Barsen House Inn. See the story I wrote on biking in this part of Vermont for The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/08/10 at 01:00 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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