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Planning a Trip to Sedona? Here is Your Guide

Cathedral Rock is one of the most hiked red rock formations in all of Arizona. Travelers come from all over to see the gorgeous geological formations. Additionally, the city of Sedona that sits surrounded by multiple red rock formations is a popular destination for those seeking a higher power and rejuvenation. Sedona has a lot More »

Sante Fe Welcomes You

Do you long for the good old days? Do you wish that people stopped and took the time to help you out or share a story? What if you heard that old-fashioned friendly hospitality still existed? You’ll find it in Santa Fe! Santa Fe Hotels are a Home Away From Home Santa Fe hotels delight in More »

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Six Best Budget-Friendly Hotels in Rosemont, Illinois

Located a mere 20 minutes from downtown Chicago, Rosemont may fool you into thinking that it’s only a sleepy little suburb, but the city itself is virtually in Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s backyard. With the city itself receiving close to 75,000 visitors a day, according to the city’s website rosemont.com, you can be certain Rosemont More »

Tag Archives: activ travel

New adventure venues put the ‘zip’ in zip lining

Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida

A man zips along the Rattlesnake, a 1,000-foot-long line utilizing a rigid-rail system that has riders dangling as they swoop through a series of dips and curves.

Looking to add a little zip to your summer vacation plans? The zip line industry feels your ennui. From the cypress forests of central Florida to the edge of Denali National Park in Alaska, zip line operators are offering experiences that are higher, faster and wilder.

“Zip lines have been around for 40 or 50 years,” said James Borishade, executive director of the Association for Challenge Course Technology, an industry trade group. “They were originally an element of challenge courses; then they became they’re own entities. Now what we’re seeing are aerial adventure parks that combine zip lines with challenge elements.”

And the options just keep growing, said Michael R. Smith, president of ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, which operates a zip lining course at Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont. According to Smith, there were 319 venues (including zip line/canopy tours, aerial trekking facilities and single-element zip rides) in the U.S. and Canada in 2011, an increase of 66 percent over the year before.


In fact, the offerings are so varied that would-be zippers would be advised to do their homework, deciding beforehand what sort of experience they want. For some, that may mean a Costa-Rican-style canopy tour, in which the environment and natural history are emphasized; for others, a more adventurous experience that combines dizzying heights, mile-long lines and speeds that tend to clench various body parts.

“You want to be careful about which zip lines you pick,” said Smith. “Some are better suited for Baby Boomers and active seniors; others are better suited for the young and adventurous.”

Either way, one of the following operations, all of which are new this year, should fit the bill:

Aerial Forest Adventure Park
Opening at Loon Mountain Resort in N.H., on Friday, this park is a prime example of the new, multi-level, multi-element challenge course. It features 61 different challenges spread across five courses that combine zip lines, swinging bridges and other elements made from logs, chains and ropes. The self-guided tour uses a Smart Safety Belay system so users remain tethered even while switching courses and costs $49 for a two-hour session.

The Rattlesnake
For a glimpse of the future of zip lining, head to St Cloud, Fla., where you’ll find Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida, home to the nation’s first zip line roller coaster. Instead of cables, the 1,000-foot-long line utilizes a rigid-rail system that has riders dangling as they swoop through a series of dips and curves. Admission to the park, which includes The Rattlesnake, plus the multi-segment Zipline Safari, a bike-based canopy tour and three other new zip-style rides, is $135.

Rumrunner Moto Zip Ride
Or maybe the future of zip lining is … motorized! At least that’s the idea behind this new ride at Pirate Cove Resort, outside Needles, Calif. Starting atop a 50-foot platform, riders climb aboard three-person seats equipped with steering wheels that allow them to initiate circular spins as they travel 1,000 feet across an inlet of the Colorado River at up to 50 mph. The kicker, though, are the 30-horsepower motors that allow you to defy gravity and zip back up to the start. Two roundtrips cost $25 per person.

Angel Fire Zipline Adventure Tour
Among the newest zip line offerings in the country, this course at the Angel Fire ski resort in northern New Mexico is also the nation’s highest. Opened on July 6, it starts at the mountain’s 10,600-foot summit; traverses six zip lines, and ends with an ATV ride back to the summit. The highlight is a 1,600-foot-long “dual” zip designed for side-by-side racing that soars several hundred feet over the forest floor. Price: $89 per person.

 Denali Zipline Tours
Also opened on July 6, this operation is located in Talkeetna, Alaska, just south of Denali National Park. It features nine zips, three suspension bridges, a rappelling station and, not surprisingly, spectacular scenery. “You zip through this boreal forest wonderland and end up on a ridge with wide-open views over town, the Alaska Range and Mt. McKinley,” said guide and marketing manager Sandra Loomis. “It’s just a bomber view.” Tours are $149 per person.

More stories you might like:

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.

Get moving! Try an adventure while on vacation

Kate Maxwell, contributing editor for Conde Nast Traveler and Editor-in-Chief of Jetsetter.com, shares spots for active summer vacations that provide surfing, rock climbing, scuba diving and more.

Kate Maxwell, contributing editor for Condé Nast Traveler, and the editor in chief of Jetsetter.com, talked today about vacations that keep you moving. When you want more out of your trip than just a beach and a book, try some of these adventure destinations.

SCUBA DIVING

Location: Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is a popular romantic getaway, but it’s also popular for those who love to scuba dive. The islands are surrounded by the third largest coral reef system in the world, and you’ll find some of the best diving here thanks to six-thousand-foot vertical walls and drop-offs adorned with coral and sponge —a draw for reef sharks, eagle rays, and tropical fish.  

SURFING

Location: Barbados
Barbados is the easternmost island in the Caribbean, and because of its location, a wave can travel nearly three thousand miles in the open ocean undisturbed by sandbars, reefs, or land, before it breaks on the eastern shore. That’s why it’s such a terrific surfing destination. Don’t miss the Soup Bowl —one of the world’s greatest surfing breaks, near the town of Bathsheba, which has gigantic limestone boulders casually strewn in the shallows.  

SURFING/PADDLE BOARDING

 Location: Montauk, N.Y.
Montauk is the best break on the East Coast and it attracts a lot of very good surfers in the water, so drop in at your peril. Also, be sure to wear booties while surfing at Ditch Plains Beach (the most famous spot out here) because the bottom is rocky. If the waves are too much for you, try stand-up paddle boarding on Fort Pond — it’s a terrific core workout.

HIKING/ROCK CLIMBING/MOUNTAIN BIKING

 Location: Telluride, Colo.
Telluride is typically thought of as a ski town, but summer offers plenty of adventure, too. Hiking is the most popular activity in the warm weather — you’ll find an abundance of scene nature trails, expansive jeep roads, as well as plenty of less-traveled paths. Mountain bikers can take on the vertical terrain, and climbers can try to summit a few fourteeners (peaks that exceed 14,000 feet) or hike from one alpine lake to the next.  The area is home to amazing natural sites, including Bridal Veil Falls, the longest free-falling waterfall ins Colorado, and the town of Telluride itself is a sight to see: clapboard storefronts, independent galleries, old-time bars — and no chain restaurants or shops.

BOATING

Location: San Diego, Calif.
About 70 miles of coastline and adjacent blue waters make San Diego a top destination in the USA for sailing and boating enthusiasts. Whether you prefer a sightseeing boat, a whale-watching excursion, a private charter, or a leisurely trip around the bay, there are plenty of options to get out on the water.

More on TODAY Travel

 

 

 

Climber’s dreams dashed far below Everest summit

Joe Martinet

Climber Joe Martinet en route to the base of the Lhotse Face on Mount Everest in late April.

For six months, starting last September, Joe Martinet went to the gym twice a day for six days a week. He spent hours on a steep treadmill, wearing climbing boots and a 25-pound backpack. Then he hit the StairMaster and lifted weights.

When Martinet, 37, wasn’t at the gym, he biked or ran near his home in Reston, Va. On the weekends, he’d drive 100 miles to Shenandoah National Park and scramble up one of the peaks, the tallest of which exceed 4,000 feet.

Martinet, a mountain climber who has scaled Alaska’s Denali (20,320 feet), was training to summit Mount Everest this month.


His body wasn’t the only thing Martinet, who develops satellite and cellphones, dedicated to his quest to summit the world’s tallest mountain: a guided trip through Himalayan Experience cost about $55,000. 

On May 5, nearly a month into his expedition, Martinet’s Everest dreams ended long before he ever got the chance to summit.

Himalayan Experience’s lead guide Russell Brice announced that day that it was no longer safe to climb the peak, in what was described as a “somber” conversation in an account posted on the company’s   website. Minimal snowpack and warm temperatures, among other factors, had led to dangerous conditions, including rock fall and avalanches. 

“[The decision] was almost a blindside,” Martinet told msnbc.com. “To me, it wasn’t an option in my mind. When it hit, I was amazingly frustrated … I’m frustrated I never got to try and find out if I was good enough.”

Martinet will not receive a refund, though the company has said members of this year’s expedition can receive a discount if they choose to try again in 2013.

Still, Martinet considers Himalayan Experience a top-caliber climbing outfit. Martinet heard and saw two separate mini-avalanches and could hear the ice crack and groan as it moved in a particularly treacherous section. “It was really dangerous this year from what they explained to us,” he said.

Two Sherpas have died so far this season — one after falling into a crevasse and the other reportedly from altitude sickness, according to National Geographic magazine.  More than 200 people have died climbing Everest since 1950.

The cancellation of the Himalayan Experience expedition, however, is the first time that a guided trip on Everest has been abandoned at this point in the two-month climbing season, according to professional guides.

Teams typically begin an expedition in April and spend a few weeks moving between camps in order to acclimate to thinning oxygen levels. No one has reached Everest’s peak yet this season, but guides are hopeful that improving conditions will lead to several hundred summits by the end of May, which marks the start of monsoon weather.

“It was kind of unusual and kind of shocking to us that [Brice] pulled out,” Todd Burleson, president of Alpine Ascents International, told msnbc.com. Burleson first summited Everest in 1992; his company is currently leading eight clients, who paid $65,000, up the mountain.

Since the Himalayan Experience trip was canceled, Burleson said, more snowfall has helped stabilize fragile ice and rock in the Khumbu Icefall, a specific area of concern for Brice. Sherpas and guides have also established safer routes through the treacherous section known as the Lhotse Face.

Multiple attempts to reach Brice and Himalayan Experience were unsuccessful, but the company listed a number of reasons for the controversial decision on its website.

Of particular concern, it said, were how the team’s Sherpas were reacting to the conditions. They felt temperatures were too warm in the early morning, when climbers would be moving through the precarious icefall. The team was also frightened by the rockfall on the Lhotse Face, which had caused accidents. “A few more warm days like today in combination with big gusts of wind will see these rocks flying again,” the site read.

Michael Fagin, who provides forecasting services for Everest teams and runs everestweather.com from Redmond, Wash., said the spring had been very dry and windy. In the past week, winds had reached up to 80 mph; climbers on Everest prefer them under 30 mph. Since Everest does not have a weather station, Fagin relies on several forecast models. The recent snowfall and an expected break in the winds should lead to a summit window soon, Fagin said.

Eric Simonson, Himalayan program director of International Mountain Guides, said that to cancel an Everest expedition so early was “quite unprecedented,” but added it is unreasonable to expect every team to agree on how to handle difficult conditions.

“They’re betting on there being a problem and all the other expeditions that have stayed are betting on our ability to mitigate that problem. I don’t think it has to reflect poorly on anyone.”

Simonson said his team hopes to establish the summit route by May 18. “If the weather complies,” he said, “we could be seeing summits shortly thereafter.”

Mark Jenkins, a writer for National Geographic magazine, is attempting to climb Everest as part of a joint expedition between National Geographic and The North Face. His team, Jenkins said in an e-mail from Everest’s Base Camp to msnbc.com, is looking to summit before or May 25 depending on the weather, and that other teams were eying May 19.

“At this point,” Jenkins said, “I believe we have a strong team and a fair chance at the summit. We’ll see.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the National Geographic-North Face expedition, led by accomplished mountaineer Conrad Anker, canceled its plans to summit via the West Ridge due to icy conditions, but will still attempt to reach the peak via a different route.

Last year, a total of 537 climbers reached the peak from two routes. Simonson expects that at least 400 or 500 will try to summit in the next two weeks.

Martinet doesn’t want Brice’s concerns about safety to bear out for fear that tragedy could strike the teams still on the mountain. But it remains difficult for him to consider the alternative: he could still be on Everest, climbing his way to glory.

“There’s no way for someone like me to go back next year,” Martinet says. It would mean saving up another $50,000, convincing an employer to give him two months off and accept a time-consuming training schedule.

For the coming weeks, Martinet, who was laid off from his job just before he left for the expedition, plans to spend time with his wife and plot his next trip. He’s considering Peru after meeting fellow climbers on Everest who had specific recommendations.

“I don’t know what it’s going to turn into yet,” Martinet says of the experience. “It’s not settled for me yet. I hope it doesn’t haunt me.”

He is, though, left with some good memories of Everest: “It was just a great place to be as a climber. To meet Conrad Anker, to be hanging out at Base Camp. To be in that environment and go through the Khumbu Icefall was phenomenal, I loved it. It was what I had gone for — I wish I could have done more.”

Rebecca Ruiz is a reporter at msnbc.com. Follow her on Twitter here.

More from msnbc.com:

Climber’s sky-high dreams dashed far below Everest summit

Joe Martinet

Climber Joe Martinet en route to the base of the Lhotse Face on Mount Everest in late April.

For six months, starting last September, Joe Martinet went to the gym twice a day for six days a week. He spent hours on a steep treadmill, wearing climbing boots and a 25-pound backpack. Then he hit the StairMaster and lifted weights.

When Martinet, 37, wasn’t at the gym, he biked or ran near his home in Reston, Va. On the weekends, he’d drive 100 miles to Shenandoah National Park and scramble up one of the peaks, the tallest of which exceed 4,000 feet.

Martinet, a mountain climber who has scaled Alaska’s Denali (20,320 feet), was training to summit Mount Everest this month.


His body wasn’t the only thing Martinet, who develops satellite and cellphones, dedicated to his quest to summit the world’s tallest mountain: a guided trip through Himalayan Experience cost about $55,000. 

On May 5, nearly a month into his expedition, Martinet’s Everest dreams ended long before he ever got the chance to summit.

Himalayan Experience’s lead guide Russell Brice announced that day that it was no longer safe to climb the peak, in what was described as a “somber” conversation in an account posted on the company’s   website. Minimal snowpack and warm temperatures, among other factors, had led to dangerous conditions, including rock fall and avalanches. 

“[The decision] was almost a blindside,” Martinet told msnbc.com. “To me, it wasn’t an option in my mind. When it hit, I was amazingly frustrated … I’m frustrated I never got to try and find out if I was good enough.”

Martinet will not receive a refund, though the company has said members of this year’s expedition can receive a discount if they choose to try again in 2013.

Still, Martinet considers Himalayan Experience a top-caliber climbing outfit. Martinet heard and saw two separate mini-avalanches and could hear the ice crack and groan as it moved in a particularly treacherous section. “It was really dangerous this year from what they explained to us,” he said.

Two Sherpas have died so far this season — one after falling into a crevasse and the other reportedly from altitude sickness, according to National Geographic magazine.  More than 200 people have died climbing Everest since 1950.

The cancellation of the Himalayan Experience expedition, however, is the first time that a guided trip on Everest has been abandoned at this point in the two-month climbing season, according to professional guides.

Teams typically begin an expedition in April and spend a few weeks moving between camps in order to acclimate to thinning oxygen levels. No one has reached Everest’s peak yet this season, but guides are hopeful that improving conditions will lead to several hundred summits by the end of May, which marks the start of monsoon weather.

“It was kind of unusual and kind of shocking to us that [Brice] pulled out,” Todd Burleson, president of Alpine Ascents International, told msnbc.com. Burleson first summited Everest in 1992; his company is currently leading eight clients, who paid $65,000, up the mountain.

Since the Himalayan Experience trip was canceled, Burleson said, more snowfall has helped stabilize fragile ice and rock in the Khumbu Icefall, a specific area of concern for Brice. Sherpas and guides have also established safer routes through the treacherous section known as the Lhotse Face.

Multiple attempts to reach Brice and Himalayan Experience were unsuccessful, but the company listed a number of reasons for the controversial decision on its website.

Of particular concern, it said, were how the team’s Sherpas were reacting to the conditions. They felt temperatures were too warm in the early morning, when climbers would be moving through the precarious icefall. The team was also frightened by the rockfall on the Lhotse Face, which had caused accidents. “A few more warm days like today in combination with big gusts of wind will see these rocks flying again,” the site read.

Michael Fagin, who provides forecasting services for Everest teams and runs everestweather.com from Redmond, Wash., said the spring had been very dry and windy. In the past week, winds had reached up to 80 mph; climbers on Everest prefer them under 30 mph. Since Everest does not have a weather station, Fagin relies on several forecast models. The recent snowfall and an expected break in the winds should lead to a summit window soon, Fagin said.

Eric Simonson, Himalayan program director of International Mountain Guides, said that to cancel an Everest expedition so early was “quite unprecedented,” but added it is unreasonable to expect every team to agree on how to handle difficult conditions.

“They’re betting on there being a problem and all the other expeditions that have stayed are betting on our ability to mitigate that problem. I don’t think it has to reflect poorly on anyone.”

Simonson said his team hopes to establish the summit route by May 18. “If the weather complies,” he said, “we could be seeing summits shortly thereafter.”

Mark Jenkins, a writer for National Geographic magazine, is attempting to climb Everest as part of a joint expedition between National Geographic and The North Face. His team, Jenkins said in an e-mail from Everest’s Base Camp to msnbc.com, is looking to summit before or May 25 depending on the weather, and that other teams were eying May 19.

“At this point,” Jenkins said, “I believe we have a strong team and a fair chance at the summit. We’ll see.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the National Geographic-North Face expedition, led by accomplished mountaineer Conrad Anker, canceled its plans to summit via the West Ridge due to icy conditions, but will still attempt to reach the peak via a different route.

Last year, a total of 537 climbers reached the peak from two routes. Simonson expects that at least 400 or 500 will try to summit in the next two weeks.

Martinet doesn’t want Brice’s concerns about safety to bear out for fear that tragedy could strike the teams still on the mountain. But it remains difficult for him to consider the alternative: he could still be on Everest, climbing his way to glory.

“There’s no way for someone like me to go back next year,” Martinet says. It would mean saving up another $50,000, convincing an employer to give him two months off and accept a time-consuming training schedule.

For the coming weeks, Martinet, who was laid off from his job just before he left for the expedition, plans to spend time with his wife and plot his next trip. He’s considering Peru after meeting fellow climbers on Everest who had specific recommendations.

“I don’t know what it’s going to turn into yet,” Martinet says of the experience. “It’s not settled for me yet. I hope it doesn’t haunt me.”

He is, though, left with some good memories of Everest: “It was just a great place to be as a climber. To meet Conrad Anker, to be hanging out at Base Camp. To be in that environment and go through the Khumbu Icefall was phenomenal, I loved it. It was what I had gone for — I wish I could have done more.”

Rebecca Ruiz is a reporter at msnbc.com. Follow her on Twitter here.

More from msnbc.com:

Military families get free entry into national parks

Active-duty military personnel and their dependents will soon be able to enter every national park for free as part of an effort to thank service members and their families for the sacrifices they make, the Interior Department announced Tuesday.


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An annual pass will be made available to members of the military free of charge beginning Saturday, which is Armed Forces Day. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass ordinarily costs $80. It provides access to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

The initiative is being marked with a Tuesday ceremony at Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Va., the site of the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War. The park is nestled in a region of Virginia that plays host to all five branches of the military, including the world’s largest naval base.

“I think when one goes into Virginia and you see all the sites, the Yorktown battlefield and the whole history of the country, it’s important that those who have fought in the tradition of making sure the nation’s democracy and freedom are protected also have access to these wonderful sites there,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a conference call with reporters in advance of the announcement.

The National Park Service estimates that giving away the passes to service members and their families will result in a revenue loss between $2 million and $6 million. The passes allow the owner and passengers in a single private vehicle access to sites that charge per vehicle. At sites where entrance fees are charged per-person, it covers the pass owner and three adults age 16 and older.

“We collect about $150 million in fees nationwide, so we don’t think that this amount of decrease will be significant to the overall operations of the service,” said Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service.

Military personnel can get the passes at any national park or wildlife refuge that charges an entrance fee by showing their military ID. Each family member will also be able to obtain their own pass even if the service member is deployed or if they are traveling separately.

The pass will be accepted at National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees.

The free pass will be made available for activated members of the National Guard and Reserves, but not for military veterans or retirees.

The effort compliments the Joining Forces initiative being spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to support military families.

“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to our servicemen and women who make great sacrifices to protect our country and preserve our freedom,” Jill Biden said. “In recognition of their service, we are so pleased to be putting out a welcome mat for our military families at America’s most beautiful and storied sites.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.