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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One of My Favorite Covered Bridges in Vermont Washed Away Due to Hurricane Irene

I spent the morning with my family cleaning up my yard in suburban Boston after Hurricane Irene swept through the area on Sunday. There were more than 5 garbage cans filled with downed branches, including one massive limb that fell two feet from our car and could have caused extensive damage. All in all, we were fortunate as ole Irene was tired by the time she reached here. Vermont took the brunt of the storm in New England. I was saddened to hear that one of my favorite covered bridges in New England, the one that sits over the Ottauquechee River in Quechee, best seen while dining at the Simon Pearce restaurant, was swept away by surging water. In Rockingham, the 141-year-old Bartonsville Covered Bridge was washed away by the raging Williams River. Those bridges are irreplaceable.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/30/11 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Harvard Museum of Natural History Unveils Permanent Exhibition on New England Forests

While we’re on the subject of trees, the Harvard Museum of Natural History just opened the new Zofnass Family Gallery with its inaugural exhibition, New England Forests. This permanent multi-media display explores the wildlife and ecology of the New England forest. The exhibition will teach people about the trees, lichens, and animals right outside our doors while enjoying a forest walk with air conditioning and without mosquitoes. To further their educational goal, the museum will host a companion lecture series this fall.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/16/11 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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Friday, April 15, 2011

ActiveTravels.com Named One of the Top 125 Travel Blogs in the World

I was happy to hear this week that ActiveTravels.com was named one of the top 125 travel blogs in the world by the premiere adventure outfitter, Austin-Lehman Adventures. Not only that, but Austin-Lehman is offering two lucky readers from one of the nominated travel blogs a chance to win a trip for two on one of their glamorous getaways. Simply give them your name, email address, and mention ActiveTravels.com as your travel blog of choice. Thanks again for sticking with me these past several years! My brother just purchased a new HD video camera that’s perfect for video blogging, so I plan to talk to you directly in the upcoming months. I also promise to update my Facebook fan page and add more content to Go Play!, your one-stop resource to the great outdoors. Have a great weekend and do something active! I’ll be back next week with Canadian adventures.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/15/11 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

New at ActiveTravels

Today marks my 400th blog entry. To all of my subscribers, I want to thank you for sticking with me. To everyone else, you can simply go through the list of categories on the home page to find biking, green travel, lodging, family adventure, and many more topics that interest you. In the upcoming month, I’ll be updating the Go Play section of the website to include much more content on the outdoors from previously published articles that will be useful as a reference for any upcoming trip. I’ve also started to add video to my YouTube page and I’m working on a Facebook fan page that will be updated often. You can also follow me on Twitter at @ActiveTravels and visit Everett Potter’s Travel Report, where I’m a weekly contributor. Thanks again for checking in!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/17/11 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, February 11, 2011

A World of Adventure at the Boston Globe Travel Show Tomorrow

For those of you in the region, I’ll be leading a panel at the Boston Globe Travel Show tomorrow on “The World of Adventure.” A very generic name for what many travelers are really yearning for, an authentic travel experience. A truly authentic vacation refuses to be prepackaged and is hard to emulate. Indeed, it’s the opportunity to live like a local for one hour, one day, or one week. The panel includes Rob Burbank from The Appalachian Mountain Club, Judy Allpress from The Wayfarers Walking Vacations, and Joe Luchison from Ciclismo Classico, as we discuss off-the-beaten-track locales to hike, bike, and paddle across the globe. The talk takes place from 10:15-11 am, Saturday, at the Seaport World Trade Center. Hope to see you there! If not, do something active this weekend.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/11/11 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Join the Freelancers Union

These past several years have been tough on all of us. In the beginning of 2009, I lost many of my editors, who went down with the death of their magazine or were simply let go. The need for editorial content was reduced to a trickle because those sought after advertising dollars that the publishing world feeds on was gone. Yet, even though I was making very little, I couldn’t receive unemployment benefits because I was self-employed. Independent workers comprise one of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy, almost 1/3 of all workers, yet we’re still not recognized by the Department of Labor. When my freelance work started to pick up again, several publishers made me wait over six to seven months to be paid. Twice, I had to use the services of a good friend who’s a lawyer to make sure my check was forthcoming. We were lucky the first time when he realized that one of the investors in a website I wrote for does business with his law firm. One simple phone call to that investor and I was paid within the week. When a company’s employee is not paid, they can go to a state’s Department of Labor who can levy fines and impose jail time on that employer. All an independent contractor can do is ask repeatedly and then go to a small claims court.

So when I heard about the Freelancers Union that is now 150,000 members strong and growing quickly, one that has its own Political Action Committee to fight for the rights of the self-employed, I immediately joined. The union was started by Sara Horowitz 16 years ago and she has since received a MacArthur “genius” grant for her work. Based in New York, Horowitz graduated from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, or ILR as it was dubbed when my brother, Jim, graduated. She then went on to get her law degree and work as a public defender, before spending a year at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. So far, IT professionals, television and film producers, advertising workers, and graphic designers make up the bulk of the union, but freelance writers and other self-employed workers would be wise to join the swelling ranks. The Freelancers Union has already opened an insurance company to help with health care, and is working diligently to create unemployment protection, fight against unpaid wages, and eliminate any punitive double taxes on independent workers, like the one in New York City that was recently thrown out. Please go to the Freelancers Union website and become a member.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/28/11 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, January 24, 2011

The New 7 Wonders of Nature

A Swiss-based organization is sponsoring a campaign on the web to vote for your favorite natural wonder. A list of 28 finalists has already been announced and they include Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher, Table Mountain in Capetown, and New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy, and America’s lone entry in the contest, the Grand Canyon. Some 1 billion votes are expected by 11/11/11, when the final 7 will be announced.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/24/11 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Choice Music Cuts of 2010

Most people think the life of a travel writer is glamorous. Realistically, I’m only on the road a quarter of the year. The rest of my time is spent chained to a desk cranking out stories on my third-floor home office in solitude. To overcome my hermetic existence, I crank up the tunes. In fact, I savor music far more than literature, with most of my day listening to iTunes and Pandora. One of my favorite times of the year is when the Boston Globe music critics put out their list of top CDs. In the past, I found favorites like Passion Pit and Jamie Lidell on this list. This year, there are some strong Jazz songs like young trumpeter Erik Telford and his smoking groove, “Kinetic.” Also good is the live sax playing of the Sherman Irby Quarter. Check out the tune “Bohemia After Dark.” R&B and Electronica were pretty weak this year, though I did like “Locked Inside” from Janelle Monae’s first CD and “Low Shoulders” from the chillhouse sounds of Toro y Moi.

The strongest genre by far was hip-hop. Forgot about all the airplay Eminem, Kanye, and Drake receive. Listen to “Famous” by Curren$y, “Leaders” by Nas and Damian Marley, “Angels” from Diddy’s surprisingly good “Last Train to Paris” release, and Big Boi’s “Night Night.” However, my choice for album of the year goes to Rick Ross and his “Teflon Don.” Listen to the symphonic “Maybach Music III,” featuring my girl Erykah Badu, and just wait for Ross to come in at the end with that take-no-prisoners voice. Oh yeah, I’m ready to kick some ass.

As always, thanks for checking in. I’ll be back with my “Top 5 Adventures in 2010” on January 3rd.  Wishing You a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2011!

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/23/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Amman Imman: Water is Life

Today, I’m pleased to introduce my first guest blogger on ActiveTravels, my brother Jim Jermanok. I hope it will be the first of many guest writers!

Five years ago, following graduation from Yale, Ariane Kirtley went to West Africa as a Fulbright Scholar. Her career seemed assured. Almost overnight her life changed. Friends encouraged her to visit the Florida-sized Azawak Valley, the most abandoned region of Niger, the poorest country on Earth. In the Azawak, half the children die before reaching five years old, often of thirst. Ariane thought she’d seen everything in Africa, but she was so devastated by the conditions she found that she decided to dedicate her life to the people of the Azawak, and bring them water from unlimited supplies 600-1000 feet underground, much too deep for conventional wells to reach.
 
Since 2006, Ariane has worked against harrowing odds to save lives in the Azawak, among some of the most defenseless minorities in Africa – a half million Tuareg and Wodaabe nomads who have no water most of the year due to unremitting drought. Ariane set aside career goals and founded her own organization, Amman Imman: Water Is Life, to build permanent borehole wells for these nomads. Working far from civilization in suffocating Saharan heat, facing persistent health risks, Ariane and her team do major infrastructure work normally carried out by governments. In early 2010, persevering under the threat of Al-Qaida terrorists, she finished building her second borehole, the Kijigari “Well of Love.” This follows completion of Tangarwashane borehole in 2007-08. Each borehole serves 25,000 people and animals. 
 
Ariane’s dream is to build fifty such “Oases of Life” to eliminate water scarcity for the half million forsaken people of the Azawak. During this Holiday Season, please think about helping this brave woman save the lives of children and nomads who are on the brink, by donating generously to her 501c3 organization, Amman Imman: Water Is Life
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/09/10 at 02:00 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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