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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rafting the Kananaskis River with Rainbow Riders

Riding the Class III rapids of the Kananaskis River surrounded by the towering peaks of the Canadian Rockies is a favorite 2-hour family jaunt in these parts. It’s a rip-roaring ride on glacial-fed waters that will definitely cool you down when splashed. They call that a Canadian Kiss in these parts. I was enjoying that Canadian Kiss wholeheartedly while surfing on a rapid, the waters pouring over me. In fact, I was having such a great time that I didn’t notice my son was tossed out of the raft next to me. Suddenly I hear my wife scream, “Jake, Jake” and a rope being tossed to him by our guide, Cory. Lying on his back, we pulled him into the raft by his life jacket. A decade from now, those snowcapped peaks of Alberta will be a distant memory. But I’ll remember vividly my wife screaming her head off and seeing my son ride the rapids outside of the raft. Those are genuine travel memories.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/17/11 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rock Climbing in Kananaskis Country with Yamnuska Moutaineering

Less than an hour outside of Calgary, you reach the U-shaped valley of Kananaskis, the tumultuous river of the same name that beckons whitewater rafters and kayakers, and the snowcapped jagged peaks of the Canadian Rockies that’s ripe with hiking and rock climbing opportunities. Albertans have no qualms about letting the masses rush by on their way to Banff, Lake Louise, and the Icefields Parkway up to Jasper. This is their mountain playground and what a spectacular spit of scenery it is.

On a family vacation with Austin Lehman Adventures several weeks ago, we hooked up Dave Stark, a highly respected guide at Yamnuska Mountaineering. So well-respected, in fact, that on the steep trail up to the rock face on Mt. Yamnuska, a man smacked Dave on the chest while passing and said, “Have fun up there, Dave.” Moments later, the soft-spoken guide told me that guy was the first Canadian to ever climb Everest back in 1982.

The sedentary rock was perfect for finding ledges you could grip with your hands or plant your feet. We threw on our harnesses as Dave went over ways to grip the rock through edging, using the inner part of the soft-soled shoes to balance, or smearing, heading straight up as you rely on the traction of the sneaker. While my son is an expert at the indoor wall climb, none of us had ever tried rock climbing before. Especially on a wall of rock that overlooks the spectacular valley below. Jake was first and climbed up the face like Spiderman. Yet, it was my 13 year-old daughter, Melanie, who really impressed me. She went up twice, doing the more challenging climb the second time. I know because I did it, barely. When I made it to the top on that first climb, I looked down and freaked out. Especially when Dave shouted to kick my legs off the rock and rappel down. After the slight hesitation, I did what he said and soon found my way back at the bottom. You really can teach an old dog a new trick. One that turns 47 years of age today.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/16/11 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Biking Around Stanley Park, Vancouver

This past month, I had the good fortune to bike along the Lake Michigan waterfront in Chicago, alongside the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge, by the shores of the Bow River in Calgary, and around Stanley Park in Vancouver. I loved that all of these scenic rides were on bike trails, not having to worry about car traffic. Sure, I savor pastoral rides on the backcountry roads of Vermont, cruising on two wheels through the rainforest of Costa Rica, or biking past the coffee plantations on the Big Island of Hawaii. But I also enjoy riding in cities. The chance to pedal over the Brooklyn Bridge, with views of the Statue of Liberty in the background. Or heading north towards Navy Pier with the majestic Chicago skyline creating the perfect panorama It’s hard not to be impressed.

The 9 km ride around the Seawall of Stanley Park can be done in less than an hour. Yet, by the time you stop at the world-class aquarium, see the selection of totem poles, and dine on sablefish (a tender and rich Northwestern whitefish) at the classic Teahouse for lunch, the day is over. Riding under towering Douglas firs and along the rocky shoreline, you’ll also stop numerous times to take pictures of the bay. On my last ride around Stanley Park two weeks ago, we spent a good chunk of time being entertained by the sea otters at the Vancouver Aquarium. Less than 15 minutes later, we were watching river otters in the wild dining on crabs along the Seawall. Another unexpected find in a city of unexpected finds, the reason why I return to Vancouver as often as I can.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/15/11 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Costa Rica’s Finest Resorts Offers Discount Dependent on Age

It’s one of those rare days in Boston where there’s no humidity and the breeze is blowing through my window as I crank up Yes’ “Siberian Khatru.” What could be better? How about staying at a kick-ass resort in Costa Rica, heavily discounted this fall? The six upscale eco-lodges run by Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality, including two of my personal favorites, Lapa Rios and Finca Rosa Blanca, are offering a discount based on your age. That’s right. If you just hit 80, start celebrating. That’s 80 percent off the price of your room. Centurions get the room for free! The offer is valid for stays between August 28 and November 15, 2011.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/12/11 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Top 10 Adventures Along the New England Coast

Just in case you don’t live in Boston or read the newspaper, I want to link you to an article I wrote in last Sunday’s Boston Globe on Top 10 Coastal Adventures. Included are some of my favorite jaunts in New England like biking on the Province Lands Bike Trail in P’town, sea kayaking with the osprey and harbor seals in Sheepscot Bay, Maine, and surfcasting for stripers on the Vineyard. Try one of these activities and you won’t regret it.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/11/11 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Check Your Bank Account Even While Traveling

So there I was lounging on my patio at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge after a week of adventure in the Canadian Rockies. I’ll delve into many of my favorite locales from my trip to Western Canada next week. Any way, I was checking my email when I noticed that Bank of America contacted me, saying my funds were getting low. I had transferred money from my savings to checking account before I left, so I should have had more than enough money for the trip. When I went online at Bank of America, I saw three purchases from Stop & Shop and Exxon made in New York and New Jersey the same time I was hiking, rafting, and rock climbing my way through the Canadian Rockies! Obviously fraudulent, I called Bank of America immediately. They cancelled my Visa debit card and quickly refunded me the money that was taken by Mr. Identity Theft. Since I no longer had use of my ATM card, they also wired me money for the rest of the trip. Morale of story. Even though you’d like to leave your life behind on vacation. Sometimes it’s better to check in now and then to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/10/11 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Sea Kayak the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

South of Anchorage, the shores of the Kenai Peninsula are glacial-carved inlets where 4,000 foot peaks plummet into the waters below.  Katchemak and Tutka Bays stretch more than ten miles into the forested interior, protected from the nasty glaciers and swells of the Gulf of Alaska. Sea otters, sea lions, porpoises, eagles, and seals use these relatively calm waters as a safe haven, and now sea kayakers are following their lead.  Through the second week of September, True North Kayak Adventures out of Homer organizes three-day adventures into this fjord-like setting. You’ll spend your days paddling under 400-foot waterfalls or hiking up one of the small peaks to get an eagle’s vantage point of the landscape.  At night, you’ll camp on Yukon Island and feast on freshly caught salmon. Trips start at $495 per person, including guides, food, and tents.

I’ll be leaving today on a two-week trip to the Canadian Rockies, starting with a weeklong family adventure jaunt with my friends at Austin-Lehman Adventures. We’ll spend two additional nights in Jasper at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, before taking an overnight train on VIA Rail into Vancouver. After spending three nights in the city, we’ll take a ferry over to Salt Spring Island, a personal favorite of Seattle-based writer and BC travel guru, Eric Lucas. I’ll be back on August 8th with an update on western Canada. Enjoy these two weeks, and, as always, keep active!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/22/11 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Raft the Tuolumne River, California

Snaking through the central Sierra Mountains, the Tuolumne (pronounced Too-all-uh-me) has the perfect starting point, the glacial-fed headwaters of Yosemite National Park.  From here, it’s a wild three-day ride on Class IV rapids through an isolated canyon.  We’re talking about thrilling drops, technical maneuvering through chutes, and intense paddling around churning holes. Once you’ve had your fair share of screaming on whitewater, you can spend the latter part of each day lounging in a placid swimming hole. Reputable rafting outfitter, O.A.R.S, has a slew of three-day jaunts going out in August including two trips that feature wine tasting. Trips start at $609 per person and include guides, food, and tents. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/21/11 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Canoe the Upper Iowa River, Cresco, Iowa

Don’t worry about crowds on this forgotten run in the glacial-carved valley of northeast Iowa. The Upper Iowa can be paddled for 110 miles from Lime Springs to the Mississippi, but a good 31-mile jaunt from Kendalville to Decorah snakes through cliff-lined gorges below 200-foot-high chimney rocks. Bald eagles frequently soar over the limestone outcrops and deer, mink, raccoon and beaver call the area home. Chimney Rock rents canoes, offers trip planning, and provides a free shuttle. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/20/11 at 12:59 PM
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Swim at Silver Sands State Park, Milford, Connecticut

Dyed-in-the wool New Englanders will call any nearby ocean or lake dip refreshing.  Depending how far north you venture, however, you could be in for one of those bone-chilling experiences where you run in for three seconds, scream, watch your ankles turn blue, and run out. To truly find warmth, head south to the shallow slopes of the Long Island Sound. The beach at Silver Sands State Park is small compared to other Connecticut state parks like Hammonasset or Sherwood Island, but alas more remote.  It’s also far more affordable than many of the private town beaches in this part of Connecticut. A long boardwalk leads from the parking lot across a marsh (good for bird watching, but not great if you’re carrying food, sand toys, and Junior). Take Exit 34 off I-95 to Route 1 east and turn right on Pumpkin Delight to the coast.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/19/11 at 01:00 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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