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Friday, April 02, 2010

Rafting the Chilko River, British Columbia

It was 1997 when I first met Brian McCutcheon, owner of Rivers, Oceans, and Mountains, or simply ROAM. I had been hired by Men’s Journal magazine to write about the first descent of the Klinaklini River in British Columbia. It was a spectacular journey down a rip-roaring river dwarfed by snowcapped peaks and glaciers. I was accompanying Johnny Morris, the owner of Bass Pro Shops, who came to the Northwest with his entourage to hook salmon on the fly. The fish weren’t biting but the scenery and excitement of riding the Klinaklini more than made up for the lack of salmon.

McCutcheon now offers multisport trips around the globe, including his latest and greatest, the lakes district of Argentina. But it’s his native BC that he knows best. For starters, try one of the most exciting whitewater rafting runs in North America, a weeklong jaunt down the Chilko River in southwestern BC. Take an hour seaplane flight from Vancouver to 4,000-foot high Chilko Lake where a new $10 million lodge was recently unveiled.  Then let the rollercoaster ride begin. You’ll cruise 130 miles, dropping 3,000 feet through a tumultuous blur of lava gorges and narrow chutes. Looming overhead are sloping carpets of forest and jagged peaks. And, on those rare moments when you slow down, you might find yourself staring at an eagle or grizzly. BC also stands for serious Bear Country, home to 12,000-plus grizzlies.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/02/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Washington DC for Families, Now an iPhone App

More and more of my travel writing buddies are entering into the world of iPhone apps, simply utilizing their expertise in another medium. Take my friend, Alistair Wearmouth, a writer and editor at Away.com who happens to be a parent living in the Washington, DC area. Few know the region better than him, so it makes perfect sense that he’s just come out with an app on the DC area for families. It includes more than 125 listings for the best places to sleep, eat, play, and visit, slideshows of over 1,000 photographs, and recommendations relative to your current GPS locale. Since Alistair has a love of the outdoors, many of the sites have an active component, like places to bring the kids to bike, paddle, and stroll in parks. Cost is a measly $1.99.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/01/10 at 12:58 PM
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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Viva Italia!

Maybe it’s the lure of Italian cooking, the chance to finally see the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican in Rome, biking through the countryside of Tuscany, or driving along the spectacular Amalfi coastline, that has made Italy such a hot destination in 2010. I just received a call from Go Ahead Tours in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who noted that bookings are up a remarkable 55% on trips to Italy compared to last year.  So much, in fact, that they decided to host an event on April 10th called “A Taste of Tuscany in Boston.” On hand will be best-selling author Frances Mayes, who’s releasing her new book, “Every Day in Tuscany.” Italian food and wine will also be presented. Join in the festivities at the EF Center on 1 Education Street in Cambridge from 2-5 pm. Save a spot by remembering to RSVP.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/31/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Hotel Deal in New York

Last December, I wrote about staying at the Hotel @ Times Square, a new hotel that just opened up in Midtown Manhattan, on 46th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. Since the place was spanking new, the beds were comfortable, the baths had large shower heads, and the room was equipped with Wi-Fi, Ipod docking station, and flat screen television. Included in the $150 a night price was a free continental breakfast of bagels, donuts, hot and cold cereal, coffee and juice. Word spreads quickly, because the hotel was already packed with European families when I arrived. New this month in Midtown Manhattan is the Distrikt Hotel, 155-room property located on West 40th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. Through April, the Distrikt is offering an introductory rate of $159 a night. Each floor of the hotel is decorated in the style of New York’s many neighborhoods, from “SoHo” on the 12th floor to “Chelsea” on the 20th floor. The hotel is also home to Collage restaurant, celebrating New York foodie favorites paired with local microbrews.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/30/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Undiscovered Labrador

Cruise North Expeditions, the Inuit-owned cruise company that brings travelers to the remote Canadian outposts of Baffin Island, Hudson Bay, and the High Arctic, has just announced their first land-based safari. This summer, the company is offering 4 and 7-night packages to Canada’s newest national park, Torngat Mountains. Located at the northern tip of Labrador, this large chunk of wilderness has no amenities, no roads, and no accommodations, thus the necessity to head here with a reputable outfitter like Cruise North. You’ll hike with Inuit and Park City wardens to spot moose, caribou, and polar bear, sea kayak amidst the whales and icebergs, and spend the night at safari-style tent camps dining on traditional Inuit cuisine. Prices start at $3190 per person, including lodging, food, and all amenities.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/29/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Following the Flight of an Osprey

If you need proof that birds are starting to fly north right now, check out the flight of an osprey that’s being tracked on the website Westport Osprey. A 13- year-old named Hudson left Venezuela on March 9th and through the use of satellite technology, we see him making his way to his summer nesting ground on the Westport River in southeastern Massachusetts. As of yesterday, he had reached the Hudson River, less than 150 miles from his final destination. Westport Osprey was also tracking another osprey named Ozzie, who spends his winter in Cuba. He must be enjoying the Cuban music scene, because he hasn’t left yet.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/26/10 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Best of Connecticut Birding

Migrating shorebirds are prevalent along the Connecticut shoreline in late spring and fall. Green backed herons, yellow warblers, snowy egrets, swallows, ospreys, doves, and Canadian geese are just some of the birds sighted at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Of the 399 species known in Connecticut, over 300 have been recorded at this 840-acre nature preserve. There’s also nesting piping plovers, least terns, American oystercatchers (rare in Connecticut), and both types of night herons. Ask about their naturalist-guided canoe trips to the Charles E. Wheeler State Wildlife Management Area, one of the few remaining wilderness areas on the Connecticut coast.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/25/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Best of Cape Cod Birding

While the interior of Cape Cod is rich with cardinals, mockingbirds, goldfinches and woodpeckers, it’s the coastal variety that entice many a visitor here.  Shorebirds by the thousands, returning from their Arctic breeding grounds, stop along the Cape coast for much needed respite and food as they fatten up for their journey south. One of their favorite overnights is Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. The Massachusetts Audubon Society, who own and maintain the property, have claimed to have seen over 250 different species like oystercatchers, stilts, avocets, plovers, turnstones, and sandpipers.

The Goose Pond Trail is a leisurely ramble though marsh, forest, ponds, and fields. At low tide, continue on the Try Island Trail to a boardwalk that leads to Cape Cod Bay.  Green herons and large goose-like brants are prevalent in the surrounding salty marsh.  Retrace your steps back to the Goose Pond Trail to reach Goose Pond. A bench overlooking the water is one of the most serene spots on the Cape. Northern hummingbirds fly in and out of the branches overhead forming a choir whose voices will soothe any man’s soul.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/24/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spotting Puffins at Machias Seal Island, Maine

Near the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, Machias Seal Island is a tiny unspoiled sanctuary for a number of Maine’s most noted marine bird species. You can visit the island via a charter boat operating out of Cutler or Jonesport, Maine. An hour later you disembark onto a small low-lying island. Hundreds of plump birds whiz over your heads searching the waters for breakfast. Some have hooded black heads that look like Batman’s disguise. These are the razorbill auks. Others have eyes the size of a parrot with beaks dotted red, black, and yellow. This is the bird everyone is excited to see, the Atlantic puffin. 

Weather permitting, you can climb atop the seaweed-slick rocks and see puffins two to three feet away. The eastern part of the island is covered with Arctic terns. The razorbill auks might look like superheroes, but it is the aggressive tern that keeps predators like seagulls away from the eggs of all the island’s birds. Paths lead to four blinds where you can set up shop and watch the puffins return to feed their young. 
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/23/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Seeing Bald Eagles at Umbagog Lake, New Hampshire

Spring is here and the birds are starting to chirp outside my bedroom window. Soon I’ll be grabbing my binoculars as the yellow warblers make their April and May pilgrimage back north. To celebrate the reawakening of nature, I’m going to devote this week to my favorite bird watching sites in New England.

Nothing quite prepared my wife and me for the extraordinary pair of bald eagles we found nesting on a dead oak tree on Umbagog Lake one spring day. Loons were lounging on the glass waters, their call (the sound of laughter) echoed atop the spruce and fir trees, as we paddled in the calm waters. This vast 7,850-acre lake, whose shores lie half in New Hampshire and half in Maine, is a National Wildlife Area, primarily due to the sight we were about to see. We glided to our right where we found a large nest perched atop the highest branch of a leafless tree. As we drew closer, we spotted the mother guarding her home, her pointed beak sticking out through the maze of twigs. The sight of her mate standing on the branch below was mesmerizing. His white head was cocked in a royal pose, his eyes aware of everything around him, hence the nickname “eagle eye.” We skirted the island for a long time, fascinated by the awesome spectacle, before canoeing back to the put-in.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/22/10 at 01:00 PM
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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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