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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The New Trend, Renting Cabins at Campgrounds

Summer reservations are already up 8 to 9 percent at campgrounds across America, another strong sign that travelers are once again striving for affordability. But if you think those campers are sticking solely to RVs and tents, you’d be wrong. All across the country, campgrounds are building cabins to accommodate the growing number of requests. And these aren’t little shacks either. The six new cabins at West Glacier KOA in Montana near Glacier National Park feature full bath, kitchen, and an outdoor deck with barbecue. Many campgrounds also feature nightly entertainment, like live music. So the next time you need to book a room, also visit the Go Camping America site to see if there are any interesting alternatives nearby.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/01/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Top 5 Paddling Spots in America, Upper Iowa River, 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 05/28/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 5 Paddling Spots in America, Allagash River, Maine

Maine’s rivers have attained near-celebrity status from paddlers nationwide. Mention the Allagash River to a canoeist and his eyes suddenly become moist and dreamy as he inevitably responds, “Yeah, I'd like to go there someday.” The river has somehow attained legendary stature. Perhaps it's the way the blue streak of water slips off the map of America’s northern fringes, remote and isolated, hundreds of miles from the nearest metropolis. Or maybe it’s the legacy of writer, philosopher, and inveterate traveler Henry David Thoreau, who ventured down the waterway a mere 140 years ago, waxing lyrically about the last great frontier in the East in his book, The Maine Woods. Whatever the reason, the 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway continues to lure 10,000-plus paddlers to its shores every summer, turning farfetched dreams into reality. Go with a trusted guide like Mahoosuc Guide Service, who led me down the West Branch of the Penobscot River in Maine last fall. That led to an article in this month’s Sierra Magazine.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/27/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Top 5 Paddling Spots, Niobrara River, Nebraska

Canoeing and Nebraska may bring to mind images of portaging through cornfields past cows and combines. But avid Midwestern paddlers know there’s a gem in the rough and it’s called the Niobrara River. A coveted Cornhusker secret, the Niobrara is arguably the prettiest prairie run in the States. A 30-mile, three-day jaunt from Valentine’s Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge to the take-out at Rocky Ford is a smooth ride on a wide and shallow river between sandstone cliffs. Along the way, there is excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Scattered groups of bison

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/26/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Top 5 Paddling Spots, Boundary Waters, Ely, Minnesota

Maybe it’s the 1,000,000-plus acres of seemingly endless wilderness—a whopping 1200 miles of canoeable waters through countless lakes, rivers, and ponds—that gets paddlers all dreamy-eyed over Minnesota’s northern frontier, the Boundary Waters. You can go days without seeing another person, replaced instead by moose, whitetail deer, black bears, beavers, otters, and those laughing loons. Wilderness Outfitters has been taking people away from civilization since 1912. Fish for smallmouth bass as you canoe from Mudro to Crooked Lake in early June, or wait for fall foliage in late September and you can paddle when moose are in heat. They also offer canoes and maps for self-guided trips. 
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/25/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Top 5 Paddling Spots in America, Adirondack State Park, New York

The weather in Boston has been sunny and warm this past, which, believe me, is a rarity in spring. It’s a great time to grab a canoe and paddle one of the rivers or lakes before the mosquitoes start to swarm. This week I’m going to discuss my top 5 places to paddle in America. First up, the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

The countless rivers, lakes, and ponds in the Adirondacks are connected by short trails, resulting in a seemingly endless combination of canoeing options. One of the finest is a 4-day figure eight loop in the St. Regis Canoe Area that includes eight ponds and the Upper and Middle Saranac Lakes. Creeks, inundated with beaver dams and lily pads, connect the placid waters of the ponds. Mountains hovering over 2500 feet surround the lakes. St. Regis Canoe Outfitters will help plan an itinerary and provide all the necessary amenities for a canoe trip including canoe, paddles, maps, tents, backpacks, and sleeping bags. 
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/24/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Adventures in North America with the Family

As an adventure travel writer, I’ve been paid to bike around the Big Island of Hawaii, sea kayak the Fijian islands, dive the Great Barrier Reef, and paddle the Allagash River during a memorable foliage. Then I had my first child and the canoes, skies, and other outdoor paraphernalia started to collect dust in the basement of my suburban Boston home. Going stir crazy one summer day, I called my dad who gave me the sage advice to integrate family into my work. The next thing I know I’m going up and down the hills of Vermont with my toddler on the back of my bike. Like many parents, I began to realize that I don’t have to give up my passion simply because I have little ones. It was time to introduce my kids to the real me. Now I travel with Jake, 13, and Melanie, 11, as much as possible without getting scolded by their teachers. And they’re the ones teaching me a thing or two about every sport they try.  
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/21/10 at 12:59 PM
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Great Food and Great Biking Can Only Mean a Phenomenal Time in Italy

One of the latest trends for active travel outfitters is to combine their specialty with a noted chef or sommelier. After all, what can be better than biking in Veneto, from the foot of the Dolomites to waters of the Adriatic Sea, and then having your dinner menu prepared by a James Beard-award winning chef? If that chef happens to be Jody Adams, owner of the beloved Rialto in Cambridge, Massachusetts, than you can expect the most tantalizing Italian ingredients in that dinner. Adams has teamed up with Vernon McClure, owner of Active Italy Tours, to create a customized biking trip through Veneto, stopping to find fresh produce and fish from the Rialto Market in Venice and wine from the Prosecco region. Dates are June 26-July 3 and September 25-October 2. If you can’t make it to Italy with Adams, do the next best thing and book a table at her new outdoor extension to Rialto, La Dolce Vita, set to open in Cambridge in mid-June.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/20/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Where to Put Your Keys or Camera? Spibelt!

Drive somewhere to go for a run or bike ride and you are quickly aware of the problem of what to do with your keys. Do you really want them jiggling in your pocket, worried about the keys falling out somewhere along the way? That’s exactly the dilemma facing Kim Overton when she went for a jog one day. But instead of just dealing with it, she invented the SPIbelt, a belt that wraps easily around your waist that contains a small pocket. I love it and have quickly used it on many of my outdoor excursions. It’s so light and non-invasive that I quickly forget it’s there. The fabric of the pocket is thin enough that I can also throw in an iPod and change the songs easily. I’ve also used the pocket to carry my Flip camera when traveling instead of having to hold it all day.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/19/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Long Trail Turns 100

On March 21, 1910, 23 avid hikers (or trampers as they were called at the time) sat in a room in Burlington, Vermont, and had the wacky idea to create the first long-distance hiking trail in America. The Green Mountains had been largely unappreciated, so James P. Taylor (1872-1949) made a promise that his group would “make the Vermont mountains play a larger part in the life of the people.” They called their organization the Green Mountain Club and remarkably finished a 273-mile long route that snakes through the Green Mountains the entire length of the state. The high-country trail is a narrow, unforgiving footpath in the wilderness that winds through the finest greenery of this sylvan state. A century later, as our leisure time becomes more and more diminished through overwork and lack of vacation time, the Long Trail seems too long for most of us.  Only 120 hikers took a month out of their life in 2009 to complete the entire route and become certified “end-to-enders” by the Green Mountain Club. If you ever wanted to take advantage of James P. Taylor’s dream, the centennial celebration would be a good time.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/18/10 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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