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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Appalachian Mountain Club Going Overboard to Attract Families

Calling all families! If you ever wanted to do a little hut-to-hut hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this summer might be the best time. The AMC has just launched a new campaign called “Kid Spoken Here” that reduces rates for all children at the huts, introduces a new Kid’s Menu like pasta and quesadillas, and even entertains Junior with counselor-led scavenger hunts and kite flying while mom and dad can sit down to a relaxing dinner. If you like the idea of having a guide around during the entire trek, consider one of the 5-night family adventure camps. Hike, paddle, and fish at some of the most serene spots in New England while being led by AMC guides and naturalists. The program is available to all children ages 5-12 and their parents.

Also, as previously reported on ActiveTravels, the AMC will reopen Gorman Chairback Lodge in Maine’s North Woods on July 1st after extensive renovations. Unveiled as a private camp in 1867, it’s hard to top the locale of Gorman Chairback, located on the shores of Long Pond in the shadows of the Barren-Chairback Range. This is for families who really savor peace and quiet.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/24/11 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, May 23, 2011

$10 a Night Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne

Drive across the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami above the waters of Biscayne Bay and you’re suddenly transported back to the Florida of yesteryear, where swaying palms and thick tropical foliage line the roadway. Welcome to Key Biscayne, a 7-mile long barrier island that feels like a Caribbean getaway, especially when compared to the glitz, glamour, and congestion on South Beach, its neighbor to the north. This is the quiet side of Miami, the place to reconnect with loved ones on a beach vacation. If you want to spend the night on this island paradise, you’ll have to book a room at the only resort on Key Biscayne, the Ritz-Carlton. With its cheery yellow facade, the 13-story building reigns supreme on the island like a queen at her court.

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne will be celebrating their 10th anniversary in July. Unlike most resorts that would simply charge $10 a drink to commemorate the occasion, they’re offering some serious discounts. Call 305-365-4582 at 10 am EST on June 10th and you’ll have the chance to book a guestroom in July for only ten bucks a night! If you can’t snag one of the rooms, book a Key Lime Treatment (50 minutes) in the spa for a mere $10 (call 305-365-4286) on Wednesdays in July. Or a $10 three-course menu at their signature restaurant, the Tuscan-themed Cioppino (also call 305-365-4286).

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/23/11 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Whitewater Rafting in British Columbia

My first attempt at video blogging or vlogging. Tell me what you think! I'm off to Bermuda next week, back on May 23rd. Have a great week!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/13/11 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rafting the Green River in Colorado and Utah

Roaring 44 miles through northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah, the Green River is one of the most desolate runs in the States. The Class III whitewater snakes through rarely seen Dinosaur National Monument, where red walls rise sharply to some 2,500 feet to effectively block out civilization. In its place, you’ll find one of the largest concentrations of endangered peregrine falcons in the States, bighorn sheep, and mule deer. John Wesley Powell explored the Green in 1869 and was so impressed with the river that he gave the most exciting rapids names like Disaster Falls, Triplet Falls, and Hell’s Half Mile. Adrift Adventures features a four-day run on the Green during June and August. Cost is $785 for adults and $250 for kids ages 6-12. Also ask about their Jurassic Journey and Rock Art and Rafting options, which add an extra day to the trip before heading down the Green. Jurassic Journey takes you to Dinosaur Quarry, where dinosaur bones have been found. The Rock Art package visits several sites near the Ute Indian Reservation to view southwestern Indian rock art. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/12/11 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Whitewater Rafting in West Virginia

Five hours west of Washington, DC, in the heart of West Virginia, families go whitewater rafting on West Virginia’s New River. Bordered on both shores by lush oak, hickory, and black cherry trees, this Class III-IV waterway cuts through a gorge of sandstone, shale, and coal, bumping into rapids with names like Surprise and Greyhound Bus Stopper. Minimum age is 10 years old. The truly intrepid rafter should take their chances on West Virginia’s Upper Gauley. This adrenaline-pumping Class V run drops 650 feet over a twenty-seven mile course. Located in Beckley, West Virginia, on the New River Gorge, Class VI-Mountain River has been taking shrieking families down the rivers of West Virginia since 1978. They also offer canopy tours and lodging in cabins.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/10/11 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, May 06, 2011

Travels with Mom

For Mother’s Day this year, the Boston Globe asked a handful of their travel writers to reminisce about traveling with their moms for a story that will appear in Sunday’s paper. This is the first memory that popped into my head. Happy Mother’s Day!

Growing up, I was often embarrassed by the decibel level of my mother’s voice. Her thick Bronx accent and layered laugh would echo off the walls of the high school auditorium much to the chagrin of my suave adolescent persona. No doubt flirting with some girl, I would hear her scream across the room, “Steeeeepheennn, come meet Mr. So-and-So. He likes to write too!”

Needless to say, I wasn’t relishing the thought of spending an extended period of time with my mother in Paris in1985. She was on her first trip abroad with my dad while I was backpacking through Europe with my college sweetheart, now my wife of 18 years. We met at a restaurant where my mom already had her Berlitz book open. She was practicing her French on the waiter who was laughing his head off, having never heard that unique blend of the Grand Concourse meets the Champs-Elysées speak. My mom ordered lamb and the waiter came back with three slices of bologna, having misunderstood her.

It should come as no surprise that the people who coined the phrase joie de vivre adored her exuberant personality and treated my mom like the next coming of Josephine Baker. At a jazz joint, noticing the Swing dancing skills that once garnered my mom awards in her youth, a Frenchman asked her for an opportunity. My father urged her on and my mom and that guy cut a rug into tatters they were moving so fast. All I saw was a blur of white teeth plastered on my mom’s face, framed by ruby red lipstick.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I miss that laugh!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/06/11 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston with the Histrionic Academy

May is my favorite month to be in Boston, which is why I just returned from Miami and I’m leaving for Bermuda, DC, and Watch Hill, Rhode Island in the next couple weeks. Go figure? I love the tulips in bloom at the Public Garden and the small of budding flowers and trees after a fresh rain. Several weeks back, my wife’s cousin and her family were in town and we took them on the Freedom Trail, the three-mile walking route that guides you to the most famous historic sites in the city. Toss your map in the garbage and simply follow the red line that takes you the Granary Burying Ground, the final resting spot for Paul Revere, before venturing to Paul Revere’s house in the North End.

This time, however, we booked a tour with the Histrionic Academy and followed a local historian in colonial garb as he taught me a thing or two about a trail I’ve written about ad nauseum. For example, the little hill I always pass in the Boston Common once was home to a large elm tree that was a popular venue for public hangings in mid-17th century. At the Granary, we stopped to salute the great garrison of the colonial era, James Otis, who coined the now famous phrase, “Taxation without Representation is Tyranny.” A brilliant orator, we learned from our guide that he fought passionately against the “writs of assistance,” which allowed the British to enter any colonist’s home without reason. I love learning something new about your hometown, even when you think you know it all.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/05/11 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Birdwatching at Mount Auburn Cemetery

On Friday, I’ll be waking up early to join Mass Audubon on a birdwatching outing at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Waking up early to visit a cemetery might sound like a macabre undertaking, but Mount Auburn is no ordinary cemetery. It was created on the outskirts of Boston in 1831 as America’s first rural or garden cemetery, a precursor to parks in urban areas. The city was yearning for a new aesthetic, a cemetery landscaped with rolling hills, ponds, flowering shrubs, and a mix of trees that provide shade not only for those in mourning, but for the entire public to enjoy their picnic lunch. It became a smashing success that would lay the groundwork for Frederick Law Olmstead to create Central Park in New York and the Emerald Necklace here in Boston some 40 to 50 years later.

Today, more than 200,000 visitors enter the gates of Mount Auburn annually. Sure, they might come to visit the final resting place of a relative or to stop and say thanks to a long list of luminaries in American arts and letters, like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Winslow Homer, and Buckminster Fuller, yet others like me simply follow in the footsteps of Roger Tory Peterson, the renowned ornithologist who once led bird walking tours here. The height of the spring migration for warblers usually happens around Mother’s Day each year. Bring your binocs and you might just spot the scruffy yellow chin of the divine Northern Parula warbler. To read more about Boston’s historic cemeteries, see my article from last summer’s American Way magazine, the inflight publication of American Airlines.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/04/11 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bike Manhattan and Stay at The Jane

One of my favorite outings last spring was a ride around the perimeter of Manhattan with my 14-year old son and close friends. There’s no better way to see the city than to slow down and bike along the Hudson, East, and Harlem Rivers under historic bridges with the Statue of Liberty peering down at you in the distance. Most of the island is now lined with bike trails, far away from the honking of taxis. One of the best sections of the ride is amidst Hudson River Park, heading south to Battery Park. Across the street from Hudson River Park in the far West Village is The Jane, an affordable hotel where rooms start at a low $99 a night. This spring, the hotel will offer complimentary bikes to guests, so you can cruise Manhattan on two wheels. Or simply take a stroll on the nearby High Line, once an elevated railway, now a walking corridor nestled with trees and gardens that stands 30-feet above street level. Grab a sandwich at Chelsea Market and you have the perfect picnic spot for lunch.

I'm off to Miami to bike Shark Valley, sea kayak at Oleta River State Park, and sail a Hobie Cat in Biscayne Bay. I'll be back on Wednesday, May 4th. In the meantime, keep active!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/27/11 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bike New England and New York with Great Freedom Adventures

I love an outfitter who sticks to one region of the world and does it well, especially when the owner lives in that region and knows it better than most. Before founding Great Freedom Adventures, Jeanne Rummel ran the Mountains to Sea bike tour across Massachusetts, a successful fundraiser for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Now the Mass native brings riders to her favorite haunts in Northeast, including the North Shore of Massachusetts, Block Island, Vermont, and the often overlooked Hudson Valley of New York. Rummel not only understands the salubrious benefits of a good day’s bike ride, both physically and mentally, but goes out of her way to show visitors a local cheese maker, a historic lighthouse, or the same incredible panorama painted by Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School painters in the mid-19th century. The daily itinerary includes a good dose of biking along with a chance to sea kayak, go on sunset sails, have lobster bakes, and take a necessary break at a local microbrewery. Not a bad way to push the eject button and de-stress!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/26/11 at 12:59 PM
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about us
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. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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