Outdoor Recreation


Sep 06 2008

Circling Alba — or Walking Around Scotland

Published by under News,Travel

Lonely Planet Walking in Scotland

Lonely Planet Walking in Scotland

Fun fact: Alba is the Gaelic name for Scotland.

Sinking knee deep in mud once is an accident; sinking knee deep three times on the same trail is just ridiculous. It happened so swiftly and suddenly - the sinking, I mean – that I imagine the mud having similar properties to quicksand. This is not a useful thought to have when you’re alone in a remote glen in Scotland tuck up to your knees in mud, but it came to me nonetheless. Thankfully, there were some blades of grass for me to hold onto while I freed my legs from the sludge. Heavy rains from the previous evening, and continued drizzle throughout the day, made hiking on the Isle of Arran a sloppy affair. However, after a short time in Scotland, you learn not to wait for a sunny day if you want to get outside; you just pull on your waterproof gear and wellies and dive in! Care must be taken and then a day’s hike in these conditions – whether you summit a ridge or reach a lovely waterfall – makes one feel triumphant. And what better way to enjoy a dram of whisky or refreshing cup of tea with milk than to earn it! Continue Reading »

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Sep 05 2008

The Greenscape -or- Boston’s Arnold Arboretum

Published by under Travel

Unidentified Flowering Tree--photo by Llalan

Unidentified Flowering Tree--photo by Llalan

After over three months of riding home on sweltering subways tucked under a stranger’s sweaty armpit, elbowing my way over simmering sidewalks between armies of tourists in mirrored sunglasses, and sticking to La Brea-like tar while waiting for egregiously late buses,  I needed a break. Hailing from the corn fields of the Midwest, I wither away under the glare of glass skyscrapers and blinking neon.  Without a car, the choices seemed limited. I could go to Boston Common and pretend not to notice the necking teenagers and muttering homeless. I could wedge myself between sunbathers on the Charles River bank and laugh at the runners. Or I could sit in the mini front garden of a Beacon Hill home when I thought no one would be home.

Fortunately I found there was a better way to get my seasonal dose of Vitamin Green: Boston’s Arnold Arboretum. At the end of the Orange subway line lays 14 acres of dignified oaks, poky spruces, ancient bonsai, wispy silk trees, and everything else in between that I couldn’t identify. The paved paths that wind through the Arboretum are not only a great place to identify plants, but also an ideal people- and dog-watching spot (by which I mean rambunctious children with training wheels and puppies who can’t believe so many trees exist in the world). Continue Reading »

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Aug 27 2008

Go Here! Mount Ascutney’s Weathersfield Trail

Published by under News,Travel

Mt Ascuney, VT -- photo by Jess

Mt Ascutney, VT -- photo by Jess

When choosing a day hike, I think it’s always important to have a sense of the vertical rise of the mountain and the total distance of the hike. That being said, I also know that hikers really seek a stunningly rewarding summit view that screams “take my picture!” and congratulates them for their hard, sweaty work.

With all this in mind, Mount Ascutney, located in Southern Vermont on the border of New Hampshire and Vermont, is a fun and challenging day hike good for all ages. Even if you lack tons of hiking experience, or are hiking with younger children, Mount Ascutney is quite managable and the Weathersfield Trail has a couple of convenient scenic stopping points ideal for a GORP (good old-fasioned raisins and peanuts) and a water break. Continue Reading »

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Aug 22 2008

Sarajevo Beckoned

Mostar, Bostnia & Herzegovina--photo by Lisa

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina--photo by Lisa

So, I decided to tear myself away from Dubrovnik and make the trip to Sarajevo. I absolutely adore Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is one of those unforgettable cities that always leaves a lasting impression. Unfortunately, a lot of the attention seems to be on the recent history and the siege of Sarajevo, as almost all visitors are quite curious about what happened. The city is still visibly scarred, but it wears its scars with a bit of elegance. Every year it seems like there are new renovations and construction around the city. The Old Town is inviting with its leisurely pace and seems to be like a smaller Istanbul, but on Valium. The Turkish influence is quite profound, and it seems worlds apart from the Dalmatian coast, even though it is only a six hour bus ride away. Just a block away from the Old Town, you seem to step into the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and then a few blocks down the street you step into the days of Communism. (I am not the biggest fan of the architecture of this area, but it is there.) Sarajevo seems to be gaining more interest as a tourist destination and even has an eco-tourism agency. Check out the slightly expensive, but wonderful, Green Visions if you want to go hiking or whitewater rafting. But when chatting with fellow travelers in the Balkans, we seem to unanimously agree that we love Sarajevo. Continue Reading »

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Aug 13 2008

Ocean City, New Jersey Forever!

Published by under News,Travel

New Jersey Moon Handbook

New Jersey Moon Handbook

My favorite time of the summer came and went for me the other week. It was my annual trip to America’s Greatest Family Resort: Ocean City, New Jersey. Hooray! Once a year my entire extended family makes the journey for a week of rest, relaxation, memories, and most importantly, food. I ate so much food. It was delicious. There was food in the house, food on the beach, food in the car, food on the boardwalk, and food in my belly.

If you are thinking of going on vacation with “the fam” to an amazing place in New Jersey, definitely check out Ocean City. The beach is very nice, the boardwalk is a lot of fun, and there are tons of activities going on at all times. Granted, I spent most of my vacation reading on the beach, but it was still totally worth it. One day I spent the morning sea kayaking and went on a bike ride in the afternoon before a late nap. This was all followed with family activities on the boardwalk where I managed to eat half of a huge pizza, right after a big dinner and before going out for ice cream. Needless to say, I enjoyed my week trip to Ocean City this year, and every year so far. Therefore I plan on going every year for the rest of forever. The saltwater taffy alone is worth the trip.

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Jul 19 2008

Smile: You’re in the Boston Harbor Islands!

Published by under Travel

The Islands of Boston Harbor

The Islands of Boston Harbor by Edward Rowe Snow

The day was Sunday, and my parents were on their way. They have visited me many times in Boston, but before there was always a school event already planned for us.  What was I to do this time?  Where would I take them?  The idea of going to the Museum of Dirt again popped into my head, but then I realized I needed an appointment.  This was my dilemma.  Whenever my parents come to Boston we have to go do something. Why, you might ask?  Because I live in a disgusting house with eight other people, and I know that they don’t even want to come in. This is why I need an event for them at all times when they come to visit.

The Boston Harbor Cruise was the event of the day.  I had never been, and neither had my family.  Since it was such a gorgeous day and we all enjoy boating, it seemed like the proper choice.  So off we went on this historic cruise: a cruise of islands, forts, sewage treatment plants, and abandoned buildings.

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Jun 25 2008

Ruby Slippers Will Get You Nowhere!

Published by under Book Reviews

Serengeti National Park

Map of Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

I love being outside, whether it is on my bike, camping, hiking, or even driving around with the windows open. It is one of the greatest things in the world. However, I have found myself in certain situations where being outside can be a pretty scary thing. Some examples: you go on a hike, get lost, and do not know which way is which. Another time, you get up at night in the pitch black while camping and your flashlight doesn’t work. Or, your boat battery dies when you are nowhere near land. I know you’re thinking that I am an ill-prepared moron, but that is not always the case. You never know what is going to happen next and the great outdoors is called “great” for a reason.

There is a book I would recommend to you persons who might encounter these situations: Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass, by Harold Gatty. This dude tells you everything, and I mean everything. Within the book you will find:
1. How to navigate when lost at sea based on sea swells.
2. How to find your way when all the navigational tools die on your plane.
3. Where the sun is on a cloudy day just by looking at trees.

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