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January 2011

January 28, 2011

Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, Texas: Sleep for Cheap!

FIELD OF DREAMS: Interior of Cowboys Stadium in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas (flygraphix/Flickr)

Sure, you can still pay through the nose to book your air-hotel package for Super Bowl XLV in Dallas on February 6, but here's a tip for saving a few greenbacks for Cowboy Stadium's Texas-sized Miller Lites and sausages on a stick: Pack your tent and sleeping bag and book a campsite at one of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area state parks. Nearby places like Cedar Hill State Park (16 miles to Cowboys Stadium) and Lake Tawakoni State Park (76 miles) are both still showing availability via the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's online reservations system. A campsite for two nights for two people over the Super Bowl weekend will only cost you up to $40 total, so a major discount on even the skuzziest motels in the area. Current projected weather forecast is predicting highs in the mid 50s for Super Bowl weekend, lows in the mid 30s—so chilly at night, but nothing a snug blanket and zero-degree bag can't handle! RV-driving Super Bowl fans can also pitch up at more affordable RV parks via, a site being offered through the Texas Association of Campground Owners. Now, good luck getting that ticket to the actual game!

Check out the list of Top Ten Football Stadiums around the United States for more inspiration about where to get your game-day tailgate on!

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Outdoor Adventures

January 27, 2011

A Better Way to Mountain at Canyons Ski Resort

(Gerry Wingenbach)

Up at Canyons Resort they’re calling it “A Better Way to Mountain.” And it is. They’ve got two new, state-of-the-art chairlifts, a repositioned gondola, expanded terrain, improved upon mountain dining, and blizzard-like snowmaking capabilities. Not bad, considering the place is as wild as the Canadian Rockies.

The most visible change is the brilliant orange bubble-enclosed chairlift, fitted with heated seats, rising from the car-less village. It’s like riding in a warm pair of tangerine-tinted ski goggles and it increases the uphill capacity by nearly 50 percent.

And in the way-out-there part of the resort, stretching towards Park City, a new high-speed chairlift scaling up Iron Mountain launches another 300 acres of skiing with ten new runs and all-you-can-dream glade skiing. Canyons now touts an impressive smorgasbord of 176 runs piercing 4,000 acres of what Utah state license plates claim is the “greatest snow on earth.”

Continue reading "A Better Way to Mountain at Canyons Ski Resort" »

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Related Topics: Skiing & Snowboarding

January 26, 2011

Food for Thought: Guinea Pig for Dinner

Guinea Pig... It's what's for dinner. (Lisa Costantini)

When you hear the words guinea pig, your first thought probably isn’t boiled or deep-fried. But in South America guinea pig, or cuy as they call it, is more likely to be found on a menu than in a cage sipping from a water bottle. In the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, guinea pigs are more than just what’s for dinner, too. Until they end up on the table they can be found running around under it, keeping the rats at bay, and warming up the house.

Continue reading "Food for Thought: Guinea Pig for Dinner" »

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · South America Travel

January 25, 2011

Spring When to Go Guide: Cherry Blossoms, Death Valley Wildflowers, and More!

View of the cherry blossoms and Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. (Eric Brodnax)

Spring is still some weeks away in most parts of the country, but it's time to start dreaming—and planning—for Mother Nature's big thaw. Here's an update on several of spring's big seasonal events.

Desert Wildflowers (Death Valley National Park, California)
Given the harsh desert environment, winter rainfall totals are a fairly predictable indicator of when the colorful desert wildflowers will bloom in the Mojave's Death Valley National Park (and elsewhere in North America's other three major deserts, the Sonoran, Great Basin, and Chihuahuan deserts). And unlike this winter's rain-drenched sections of the California coastline, Death Valley has only recorded a half-inch of rain since July 2010. Consequently, park officials are not anticipating a bumper crop of wildflower blooms this year. "We are seeing sprouts of wildflowers in the southern part of the park due to rain in October," the NPS website reports, adding that plants on the lower-elevation hillsides and alluvial fans around Jubilee Pass may come into bloom by late February. Look for an update from the NPS in early February. Low rainfall throughout the year and cooler winter temps suggest that peak bloom should occur in mid- to late March.

Continue reading "Spring When to Go Guide: Cherry Blossoms, Death Valley Wildflowers, and More!" »

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Related Topics: California Travel · Family Vacation · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · National Parks · Trip Ideas

January 20, 2011

Epicurian Skiers Rejoice: The Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic Is Upon Us

Joey Campanaro displays his talents (Courtesy, Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic)

For those of you who envision a ski vacation as more than just ski-eat-ski-eat-sleep-repeat, you now have another reason to head into the mountains this January. From the 27th to the 29th, Colorado’s Beaver Creek Resort hosts the 13th-annual Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic, a three-day epicurean event that brings Bon Appetit magazine-selected celeb chefs like Marco Canora, Joey Campanaro, Francois Payard, and John Besh to the resort’s famed restaurants. Prices—which include two nights lodging, two lift tickets, and tickets to the Master Chef Challenge and the Grand Tasting—start at an insanely reasonable $522 per person. Other activities during the event include wine and cocktail seminars, cooking classes, tickets to the Master Chef Dinner, and more. And if you need something to placate all this gluttony, know that a portion of the proceeds goes to the Bright Future Foundation, a local organization that works to prevent domestic violence.

Oh, and for those hardcore skiers and riders out there, most events happen in the evening, so consider crowning a day of deep powder turns with heady epicurean indulgence. It might even change the way you think about taking on a mountain.

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · Food and Drink · Last Minute Trips · Outdoor Adventures · Skiing & Snowboarding

January 19, 2011

Jackson Hole—The Mountain, The Myth, The Mystery

Jackson hole
Statistics don't do it justice: Jackson Hole, Wyoming (Gerry Wingenbach)

The mountain statistics are staggering—consider the vertical drop (4,139 feet) or its sheer size (2,500 acres). But the numbers don’t say that the vertical is continuous. Nor do they take in the acres and acres of accessible backcountry. And the rating of 50 percent expert terrain gives no hint of the perfectly groomed boulevards that skirt the chutes and cliffs.

Named for an early fur trapper, the town is called Jackson, while Jackson Hole is the name of the entire valley that starts at the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park and runs 60 miles south through Grand Teton National Park on to Jackson. The ski resort rises from Teton Village, 12 miles north of Jackson.

Continue reading "Jackson Hole—The Mountain, The Myth, The Mystery" »

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Related Topics: Skiing & Snowboarding

January 18, 2011

Five Culinary Highlights of Barbados

(Kendra Bailey Morris)

Winter is clearly in full swing (in most parts of the country). If it isn't snowing, it's sleeting, and all of this cold and ice has many of us (myself included) craving an empty beach chair perched on a warm, sandy beach where we can pass away a quiet afternoon with tropical drink in hand.

The good news is, this fantasy may not be as unreachable as you might think. The island of Barbados, with its pristine azure waters, 3,000 hours of annual sunshine, 1,500 rum shops, and amazing traditional Bajan cooking (think the freshest fish, macaroni pie, and Cou-Cou, a cornmeal and okra combo) is a brief three-hour flight from Miami.

So, why not treat yourself to a little taste of the islands, and while you're there, don't miss out on these five must-dos.

1. Eat a Flying-Fish Sandwich
Flying fish was recently declared the National Dish of Barbados along with Cou-Cou. This acrobatic fish earned its name because it can literally break out of the water and "fly" distances of up to 100 yards. Flying fish can be found on a variety of menus, from chalkboards outside the local roadside fish shack where traditional "cutters" (sandwiches made with salt bread) are sold for a few Bahamain dollars, to the fancy faux-leather fold-out menus found in many fine-dining establishments which dot the island.

Continue reading "Five Culinary Highlights of Barbados" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Caribbean Travel · Culinary Travel · Food and Drink · Holidays, Events, & Festivals

January 14, 2011

Introducing Adam Barker, Featured Photographer

courtesy Adam Barker Photography 

The first time I ever met Adam Barker, he was a fresh-faced ski-bum just graduated from the University of Utah and working what he thought was his dream gig in the marketing department of the Ski Utah. The job afforded him more days on skis than in the office every winter, bringing journalists out to experience the five-percent powder covering the Wasatch Mountains west of his hometown Salt Lake City. Which was pretty similar to where I was in life at the time, an assistant editor at Skiing Magazine recently off a post-college stint in Breckenridge, skiing as much as I was writing. I took Adam to be one of the legions of Ski People, as I dubbed them. Someone whose primary career goal was "spend as days on snow as possible." Little did I know that Adam would turn into one of the best outdoors photographers in the game today. 

See Adam Barker's Grand Teton National Park photo gallery here. 

Continue reading "Introducing Adam Barker, Featured Photographer" »

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Related Topics: Outdoor Adventures · Skiing & Snowboarding · Travel Photography

Best Belizean Bed & Breakfasts on a Budget

By Guest Blogger

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Rio Frio River, Cayo District, Belize, Central America, National Geographic 72768541
Rio Frio River, Cayo District, Belize (National Geographic)

You might consider Belize to be the sole domain of honeymooners ready to splash the cash at exclusive eco-lodges and beachside villas. Or you may think of this Central American country as a hippy hangout for backpackers seeking a spot to pitch their tent or hang a hammock. You'd be right to assume Belize caters to both ends of the spectrum. But what if you want to stay somewhere clean, charming, and comfortable without breaking the bank or returning to your student days? Belize caters to you comfort-seekers as well. Characterful lodging can be surprisingly affordable and suitably stylish in this Caribbean-facing oasis, provided you're in the know. Here are five of the best bed and breakfasts in each of Belize's five districts.

Crooked Tree Lodge
Crooked Tree, Belize District
Double room from $60
One of my favourite B&Bs in Belize is perched on the southeastern edge of Crooked Tree lagoon. All five hand-crafted, hardwood cabanas—with lagoon-facing verandas—are tastefully decorated in neutral tones with soft, ivory bed linen. Embroidered, sequined textiles—fashioned into wall-hangings—add a touch of sparkle. Born and raised in Crooked Tree, owner Angie Webb serves excellent, home-cooked meals in the open-plan lodge, decorated with eclectic artwork from husband Mick's travels (they met when he was serving in Belize with the British army). I sat out by the fire pit and shared stories with the Webb family as night fell and wildlife called. I wouldn't leave without going birding by canoe with their neighbor and friend, Glenn Crawford. This gracious gent is one of Belize's best birding experts.

Hickatee Cottages
Punta Gorda, Toledo District
Double room from $60
When a business is a labor of love it shows. Owners Ian and Kate Morton could easily charge more for their beautiful Caribbean-style cottages, but of course I hope they don't. They're equipped with comfortable beds, soft cotton linens, local rattan and hardwood furniture, and ceiling fans (no A/C). With fantastic food—including Kate's Belizean breakfast pastries—and complimentary tea and coffee delivered to your garden-facing verandah every morning, you'll wonder what the catch is. As far as I can deduce, there isn't one. This delightful British couple's unmistakable passion for Belize makes them keen to share Toledo's natural and cultural treasures. Borrow a bike to explore Punta Gorda, Belize's southernmost district capital, or take a stroll on their carefully tended trails. They're really plugged into Toledo life—comes in handy when you need help deciphering those elusive village buses to get you to the nearby Lubaantun ruins or sparkling waterfalls just like a local.

Continue reading "Best Belizean Bed & Breakfasts on a Budget" »

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Related Topics: Central America Travel

January 13, 2011

The Big Airport Uproar: TSA-Proof Undies, Invasive Scans & Extreme Fees

By Lacy Morris

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Airport security(Photodisc,Digital Vision,Getty)
WE'RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER: Passengers wait their turn at airport security (Photodisc)

Security pat-downs (GateRape), full-body scans (Nude-o-Scopes), and fees for, well, everything was the going trend for globetrotting travelers in 2010. No one or nothing was spared. "In the unlikely event of loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down. To start the flow of oxygen, simply insert your credit card," one joked. But with the economy slowly rebounding and airline prices unlikely to see much of an increase, 2011 is looking to be a healthier year for travel. People are finally planning that vacation that had been postponed due to the economic downturn. But a consumer travel survey suggests otherwise. In fact, it shows that only 30 percent of Americans plan to travel more in 2011, close to the same figure saying that they will travel less. Though there are no figures to show why, one can only speculate that the public backlash over the Transportation Security Administration's screening procedures has a little to do with it.

Continue reading "The Big Airport Uproar: TSA-Proof Undies, Invasive Scans & Extreme Fees" »

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Related Topics: Air Travel · From Around the Web

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