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Multisport Adventure

Monday, October 12, 2015

Spending the Week with Austin Adventures in Colorado

During his 40-plus years in the travel industry, Dan Austin has reaped accolades like “World’s Best Tour Operator for Families” by Travel & Leisure. We can vouch firsthand for Dan’s exceptional product, having taken the kids to the Canadian Rockies on one of his guided multi-sport adventures. Each day, we sampled a different activity including whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, and rock climbing. It was one of our most memorable trips as a family and it led to this story in The Boston Globe. Yes, that’s my son, Jake, falling off the raft in the photo! 

This week, I have the good fortune to cross paths with Dan again as he designs a new family adventure in Colorado with his dynamic daughter Kasey, recently voted “Outside Magazine’s Top Family Guide.” We’ll visit one of the most stunning rick formations in the West, Garden of the Gods, then spend the night at Cloud Camp, sitting at a cool 9,300 feet overlooking the entirety of Colorado Springs. The next day we hike 5.5 mile through the aspen and pine-covered hills of Pike National Forest to Emerald Valley Ranch, where we saddle up and go for a ride. We wake up the next morning and head to Seven Falls, a majestic series of waterfalls flowing through a 1,400-foot-wall box canyon, where we harness up and go on a zip line adventure. Last but certainly not least, we arrive at one of the classic resorts in Colorado, The Broadmoor, for dinner. 
I’m hoping to persuade Dan and Kasey to design a family trip exclusively for ActiveTravels members, preferably in his home state of Montana to visit Glacier National Park and a ranch outside of Missoula. So be on the lookout in early January, when we debut our first batch of custom-designed trips. I’ll be back next week with a more detailed account of our trip and some of the highlights. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/12/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Backroads Unveils New Trips in 2016

Backroads, a perennial favorite outfitter of our clients, just announced their list of trips for 2016. They include 27 new biking trips, 41 new multisport adventures, and 21 new walking & hiking trips. Active river cruising continues to be extremely popular and next year Backroads is rolling out cruises to more locations in Europe. Families can join the fun on new active river cruises designed just for them. In 2016 Backroads will launch new river cruise trips along the Danube, Rhine, Seine and Portugal’s Douro. Additionally, an entire ship just for Backroads guests sets sail on a Danube Full Ship Celebration River Cruise Bike Tour in September 2016. Family Breakaway trips have also proven to be a huge hit for families with older teens and college-age. To meet increasing demand, Backroads is tripling the options for families in the coming year, launching new Family Breakaway Trips to England, the Basque Region of France & Spain, Croatia & Montenegro, Alaska, the Canadian Rockies, Argentina’s Lake District, Peru, Patagonia, and New Zealand, as well as a Rhine River Cruise. These trips join an already-popular roster of Family Breakaway trips in Tuscany, the Dalmatian Coast, Hawaii and Costa Rica.

I'm off to Indiana with my daughter, Melanie. I'll be back next Monday. In the meantime, get outdoors and keep active! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/26/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Stowe’s Topnotch Resort Teams Up With Local Guides

I’ll be discussing my favorite fall foliage activities next month. But this just came across my desk, so you might want to lock in your lodging before it sells out. Topnotch’s new Experience Center has joined forces with some of the best guides in Vermont to offer unparalleled adventure during foliage season. Mansfield Cycle Bike Tours will take you on a guided loop on backcountry roads or serious singletrack--the mileage based on your experience. Sunrise Mountain Guides is offering guided hikes, runs, rock climbing, and bouldering. This is in addition to the Tennis Center and its four indoor and six outdoor courts, which gave Topntoch its reputation as one of the finest tennis resorts in America. Toast your accomplishment with the Topnotch Guided Brewery Tour, which visits a handful of microbrews like The Crop Brewery, The Rock Art Brewery, The Lost Nation and the von Trapp Brewery. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/05/15 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Maine Huts & Trails Week: Day One, Hiking to Stratton Brook Hut

I’ve been pining to get to the Maine Huts & Trails for some time now, ever since I first heard about this new nonprofit group and their lofty ambition to build 12 eco-lodges in the glorious western Maine wilderness. It seems my patience has paid off. Seven years after the Poplar Springs Hut was first built in 2008, there are already four huts in the network across a 45-mile span. Spearheaded by the passionate Charlie Woodworth these past 3 years, who made the wise decision to move their office from Portland to Kingfield to be closer to the huts, a consortium of big-name players like L.L. Bean, New Balance, and the Sugarloaf Ski Area are now squarely behind the project. Yet, perhaps the most important group involved, especially for those of us who want to sample the huts in the warm weather is the Carrabassett Valley New England Mountain Biking Association or NEMBA , who are using the latest round of funding to create some of the finest singletrack trails in the East. Runs that surprisingly connect the huts and give you the rare chance to go mountain biking lodge to lodge.

Today, however, my wife Lisa and I would be hiking from the Stratton Brook Trailhead to the newest hut, Stratton Brook just in time for a pig roast and bluegrass band that would help launch the summer season. As soon as we left the car behind (happily for 5 days), you could smell the sweet balsam and follow the butterflies as they flew from goldenrod to goldenrod. We climbed gradually under the tall pines on the Newton’s Revenge Trail and some 90 minutes later arrived at the hut. What a beauty it is, all light wood with an interior that rewards with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the 4,000-plus foot mountains of the Bigelow Range. This is no century old AMC Hut from the White Mountains, where you often share crowded rooms with many other bunkmates. We had a private room, the opportunity to shower, and my personal favorite, a chance to down a Maine microbrew or glass of wine to toast your achievement. 

Lisa and I grabbed a Baxter Stowaway IPA and glass of South African pinotage and strolled up to the Vista, where a lonely bench looked out on a wide swath of uninterrupted wilderness including that stupendous view of the Bigelow Range and its mighty backbone that forms a ridge walk on the Appalachian Trail. A blanket of green formed a carpet on the flanks of the peaks, leading to ribbons of blue, where rivers carved through the valley. Not surprisingly, we would head back here the following morning before breakfast with our first cup of coffee. In the meantime, it was time to listen to the foot-stomping sounds of the mandolin, violin, bass, banjo, and guitar while downing my pulled pork sandwich. Not a bad start to the week. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/20/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Oh Canada!

The favorable exchange rate for the American dollar not only extends to Europe. If you haven’t looked lately, $1 US will now fetch $1.25 in Canada. I haven’t seen an exchange rate like that since I was at an Expos game. If the exorbitant flights to Europe limit your options to the continent, especially if you want to travel as a family, head north. I’m already planning to go to Nova Scotia in early June and Montreal and the Eastern Townships in October. I’m also heading to the Canada Media Marketplace next week in New York, where I’ll be learning about all the new travel opportunities in the country. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively around Canada, biking around Niagara-on-the-Lake and Prince Edward Island, hiking in Cape Breton and the glorious Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, savoring the charming town of St. Andrews in New Brunswick and the resplendent beauty of Salt Spring Island in BC, going on such memorable adventures as whitewater rafting down the Klinaklini River in BC, a multi-sport vacation with the family in the Canadian Rockies, or canoeing through Ontario’s remote Wabakimi Wilderness, and loving my time in the cities while vintage shopping in Toronto and eating my way though Vancouver. If you need me to point you in the right direction, I’m happy to help! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/15/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, February 06, 2015

Five Favorite Adventures in the Caribbean, Multisport in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is gaining in popularity because of the increasing number of direct flights from the US and the fact that Americans don’t have to del with Customs. Spend time in Old San Juan, the walled-in section of the capital known for its handsomely restored centuries-old buildings. Then head out on one of the island’s ecotours—sea kayaking around Bioluminescent Bay, hiking underground in the massive caves of Rio Camuy Cave Park, or trekking in the lush El Yunque Rainforest. At El Yunque, colorful orchids line the trails, leading to a refreshing dip under a waterfall. All three adventures can be arranged as day tours from San Juan. There’s a wonderful B&B in San Juan where we book many of our clients, Casa Castellana. The owner, Natalia Richards, is the ideal host to the island, suggesting favorite restaurants, sites, and day tours. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/06/15 at 05:59 AM
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Play Outdoors in the Finger Lakes and You’ve Earned That Glass of Wine

Tomorrow, I’m heading to Ithaca, New York, to drop Jake off at Cornell University for his first semester of college. To relieve the impending void of not seeing my son everyday, I plan to immerse myself in the landscape of the Finger Lakes. Known for its award-winning Rieslings, the Finger Lakes deserve its reputation as one of the best spots in America to go wine tasting. Yet, its resplendent beauty also lends itself well to adventure. This is a pastoral region of New York State, where farmland rolls to bluffs high above the long lakes and waterfalls plunge down the many gorges. At Watkins Glen, I’ll hike amidst the canyon walls and watch the powerful surge of water. Watkins Glen is at the southern end of 38-mile Seneca Lake, an ideal place to go on a sunset sail aboard a schooner. The next day I’ll head to nearby Keuka Lake and bike the 20-mile Bluff Ride that starts at Keuka College on a quiet peninsula jutting out into the water. For a final taste of the countryside, I'll paddle the same river that inspired Mark Twain, the Chemung. Vineyards surround all of the lakes, so after my day of adventure, I’ll reap the rewards and yes, drown my sorrows. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/20/14 at 10:00 AM
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Monday, June 16, 2014

New Brunswick Week—First Stop, Grand Manan

Located off the coast of Lubec, Maine, but considered part of New Brunswick, Grand Manan not only feels lost geographically, but lost in time. Take the 90-minute ferry ride over from Blacks Harbour and you arrive on an island with one main road, several inns and restaurants, one liquor store, and relatively few other amenities. Pirate Captain Kidd found it to be the perfect place to escape the law. Winslow Homer found the sheer basalt cliffs ideally suited for his canvas. Writer Willa Cather found the necessary quietude to pen her novels. Little has changed since the author was here almost a century ago. Time is best understood by sunrise and sunset, low tide and high tide. And since Grand Manan is the largest island in the Bay of Fundy, expect those tidal shifts to be the largest in the world, often in excess of 35 feet. 
I arrive on Grand Manan later this afternoon as part of my weeklong trip to New Brunswick that will also bring me to the charming seaside village of St. Andrews for the reopening of the classic Algonquin Resort and onward to the capital city of Fredericton. Stick around to hear about my adventures biking, hiking, sailing, sea kayaking, and whalewatching the region, only to be rewarded for my efforts with a nightly dinner of freshly caught seafood. It’s great to be back in New Brunswick! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/16/14 at 08:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

O.A.R.S. Multisport Trip to Yellowstone

Along with Sobek, O.A.R.S has been a pioneer in the world of whitewater rafting, first making its debut in 1969. Today, the California-based company runs more than 1,230 miles of rivers in America, plus guiding clientele on rivers in 14 other countries. They include such classic whitewater runs as Alaska’s Tatshenshini, Idaho’s iconic Main Salmon River, Chile’s Futaleufu River, and the legendary Zambezi in Zambia. Lately, however, I’ve been intrigued by the outfitter’s expansion to multisport trips, ideally suited for families who want to sample a different sport each day. Just like Backroads has a strong biking component on their multisport jaunts, O.A.R.S. takes advantage of their expertise, water sports. Rafting and sea kayaking are combined with hiking and horseback riding options. For example, on their 6-day trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons, you’ll paddle on Jackson Lake under the snowcapped peaks of the Tetons, raft the Snake River, and sea kayak Yellowstone Lake, with hikes in Moran Bay and around the geysers thrown in for the landlubbers. The company also leads other multisport adventures to the Galapagos, Fiji, Belize, and my favorite whitewater run in North America, the Chilko in BC. Everett Potter's Travel Report is now offering a chance to win an O.A.R.S. trip to Yellowstone this summer. The winning prize is for two people. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/05/13 at 11:00 AM
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Monday, November 05, 2012

Winter Offerings from the Appalachian Mountain Club

If history is on our side, New England usually bounces back from a dismal ski season with an overwhelming amount of snow. The AMC is already preparing for this deluge by teaming up with local ski areas in New Hampshire. Stay at Highland Lodge in Crawford Notch or the Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch and ski at nearby Bretton Woods, Wildcat, Attitash, and the expansive network of Nordic trails at Jackson XC. The price includes lodging, ski pass, dinner and breakfast. And if you book before December 15th, you could save up to 30 percent off the price. Also check out their long list of programs for adults and families, including weekend courses on winter photography, snowshoeing, tracking winter animals, climbing a 4,000-foot peak, and other winter adventures. Finally, don’t overlook the opportunity to cross-country ski from Maine lodge to lodge on glorious backcountry ski routes nestled alongside the 100-Mile Wilderness Trail. The AMC will shuttle luggage from one historic sporting camp to the next and the price includes lodging and all meals. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/05/12 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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