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Best Ski Resorts in North America

Best Ski Resorts in North America

2010 is a year that has always been surrounded by hype and yes, hope – even before 2009 turned out to be the harshest year we’ve seen in three generations. When we were kids, the science fiction authors had us thinking we’d be skiing on the moon by now, and while those weird indoor ski hills in Japan are pretty close, we’re not quite there yet. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been plenty of hype surrounding this milestone year and the first ski season of this most futuristic decade. We decided to check in on some of the most hyped events, places and gear of 2010…

Best Ski Resorts in North America

Most Hyped Event – The Vancouver Olympics

The winter Olympiad returns to the slopes of North America this year, with events set for two weeks in February both around Vancouver itself and at Whistler/Blackcomb. British Columbia will be showing off its best and newest terrain and facilities, with Whistler hosting the alpine skiing events, and bobsled, luge and skeleton running on the resort’s new sliding center at Blackcomb Mountain. Back on the west edge of the province, tiny Cypress Bowl will host the freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions. Unseasonably warm temperatures at Cypress recently forced the area to close down and horde snow for the games, but Olympics organizers promise everything will be ready to go before the opening ceremonies on February 12.

As for the competition itself, there’s a North American grudge match taking shape, with both the Canadian and American ski teams set to own the podium and the medal count in Vancouver. Bill Marolt, president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, told reporters the goal for the group of skier and boarders from south of the border is nothing less than “best in the world” status, meaning more medals than any other country. Alpine speedster Lindsey Vonn, as well as young boarding legends like Shaun White will be part of the cast of American stars hoping to neutralize the Canadian team’s home-field advantage.

However the final results shake out, the Vancouver games stand to pick up where the Salt Lake City games left off – showcasing some of our favorite terrain to the world.

Most Hyped Destination – British Columbia (Honorable Mention: Alta)

The Olympic games have seen interest in B.C.’s ski areas reach what must certainly be an all-time high. Google may as well rename itself ‘Whistler’ for the next month or so. Of course, the terrain and facilities that many argue are among the best in the world even on a bad day are a pretty good reason to check out the province, even when the rest of the world isn’t in town. It also doesn’t hurt that Whistler has one of the longest ski seasons around, with an average of over 30 feet of snow, and more than 3,000 skiable  than Vail and Sun Valley combined. No, really.

But to be fair to the rest of the continent, we should acknowledge that there is skiing happening … Read the rest

Before You Build That Backyard Fire Pit

Before You Build That Backyard Fire Pit

As a homeowner, you no doubt have looked for ways to make your home as comfortable as possible. You may have upgraded appliances and renovated parts of the house, and if you have been interested in outdoor relaxation you might have looked at ways to improve your backyard. Having a fire pit installed for multi-purpose use is one alternative to improving backyard functionality and entertainment opportunities, but before you head to the outdoor recreation shop you ought to give yourself pause and consider a few things.

Before You Build That Backyard Fire Pit

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you make any calls or head to a masonry for the bricks and other construction materials:

1) What type of fire pit should be installed? Fire pits come in a variety of sizes and styles. A simple model may be a large copper or stone bowl for burning the wood that is portable so you can move it from your deck to your yard when the mood strikes. The chiminea, that outdoor fireplace with the bulbous bottom and chimney-shaped top, is also a popular style for outdoor recreation. Also, you have the option of having a stationary pit built – a brick or stone  structure that can be used for outdoor fires or even grilling. Wood and gas might be used in these types of elaborate pits.

2) Should a professional install it, or should I do it myself? If you are interested in an advanced setup that requires installation of a propane tank or a gas line, you may want to contact a contractor that specializes in this sort of construction. If you plan to buy a portable fire pit, there isn’t too much work to do, though you should make certain the pit is placed in a safe place.

3) Will it be used? A fire pit is nice to have in the backyard, but what good is it if you do not use it often? Before you commit to the expense, know that this is something that will be used any time of year, and used safely.

4) How much will it cost? Fire pits will range in price from fifty dollars to several hundred, depending on the setup. You definitely want to shop around for the style and price that best suits your budget.

When you know for certain a backyard fire pit is the perfect complement to your outdoor recreation, visit your local home recreation shop for ideas on creating an inviting and cozy environment for your family.… Read the rest

Eureka! Copper Canyon 1512 Twelve-Person 15-Foot by 12-Foot Family Tent

Eureka

We live in Seattle and we just came back from a weekend camping trip in Battle Ground Lake in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. I bought my family (wife and two kids) and my brother in law who is also college buddy of mine bought his wife and three kids. I know camping with a big group could be hard but I was kind of confident because I just bought my latest tent, the Eureka! Copper Canyon 12-Person Tent. I know that this is a big and heavy tent but my buddy and I wanted to make the kids safe and comfortable. Since it was a big tent I was glad my buddy Rick was there to help me. It really takes two adults to make sure that the fly is properly set up but other than that, the rest of the setup was a breeze. When the tent was already standing, Rick and I can’t help but admire the tent. We bought in four inflatable air beds and soon the kids were inside the tent excited to be camping the real way!

Eureka

I did not know how comfortable the tent was until it started raining. Although the rain dampened the kid’s spirit because they wanted at first to walk along the shoreline, they soon settled in seeing how warm and inviting the tent looked. The capacity of the tent at 180 square feet was just huge. The kids wanted to sleep in their own room so we just let the built-in divider separate the tent into a kid’s section and an adults section.

Man it did rain the whole night and by the time we woke up at six, the rain had already stopped. The tent really lived to its 3 season category. We were all dry inside the tent and we went back to the car to get the rest of the stuff so that we can cook breakfast. Thankfully, it didn’t rain for the rest of the day. The kids had their full day outside while the adults just stayed inside the tent watching the kids have the time of their lives.… Read the rest

Argentina Travel: Bariloche’s Best Natural Attractions

Argentina Travel: Bariloche's Best Natural Attractions

Nature lovers cannot go wrong with an Argentina vacation in Bariloche. This Patagonian city is located in the western part of Argentina, at the foothills of the Andes on the border with Chile. Also known as the Lakes Districts, the region is dotted with gorgeous glacial lakes and surrounded by high mountains perpetually capped with snow. The city, famed for its Alpine-style architecture, is located on the shores of magnificent Lake Nahuel Huapi. For its scenic beauty, Bariloche is one of the best destinations for an Argentina vacation, offering a range of activities around the year and where nature pleases all the senses.

Best natural attractions in Bariloche

Mountains. The Andes Mountains mark the western edge of Bariloche and the surrounding towns and these offer unparalleled opportunities for outdoor sports in all seasons. The area boasts an extensive set of hiking trails where it is possible to hike for hours or day; for the latter, small cabins have been installed in the mountains for this purpose. Popular places for mountain climbing include the Llao Llao Circuit around Lake Nahuel Huapi and Lake Moreno, Refugio Grey over Cerro Catedral, Mount Tronador for views of glaciers and waterfalls, and a multi-day trek from Refugio Grey to Lake Jakob. A day hike to a mountain hut on Cerro Lopez is another great option. Some of these are only available seasonally because of weather conditions.

Forests. Bariloche is located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park and its preserved areas are ideal for taking in the breathtaking natural beauty of Patagonia. Other national forests are also accessible, including the neighboring Lanin National Park and Los Arrayanes National Park. The latter is filled with the tree species arrayan, famed for its purple flowers and said to have provided inspiration for the cartoon trees depicted in the animated film, Bambi. Within these national parks, travelers can explore trails, walk to waterfalls, picnic by the edge of various lakes and rivers.

Sail Lakes. There is no better way to take in the exquisite lake setting than to sail on the waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi or one of the other nearby lakes. A tour to Puerto Blest is one of the most popular options for Bariloche tours and excursions to Isla Victoria departing from Puerto Pa?´┐Żuelo are ideal for travelers who want to encounter the unique flora and fauna in a pristine setting.

Other popular activities in Bariloche

Ski season is the high season for travel to Bariloche. The ski resort on Cerro Catedral is a huge draw for domestic and international tourists who want to ski, snowboard, cross-country ski, sled, etc from July to October.

Summer season is another popular time to visit, but for a quieter experience, avoid June and July which is when high school students flood Bariloche to celebrate graduations.

How to get to Bariloche. Daily flights depart from Buenos Aires and other major Argentine cities. Travel by bus is a second option, especially if using the cama class, with ample reclining … Read the rest

National Parks And Natural Attractions You Should Not Miss In Albany, WA

National Parks And Natural Attractions You Should Not Miss In Albany, WA

There are lots of extraordinary natural attractions and national parks in Albany, Western Australia. Most of these attractions are too good to miss. Thus, it’s strongly-advised that you take some time to explore the many different sights and attractions when you choose to spend your holidays in Albany. Numerous national parks will give you enlightening and awe-inspiring experiences.

Albany’s natural attractions evidently display the beauty and power of nature. There are so many things to see and do when you visit Albany. You may need to spend a long vacation if you want to savor all the best things that the region can offer. A short holiday trip won’t do justice to the wonders of Albany’s attractions.

First off is the Torndirrup National Park. It’s where you can witness the amazing power and beauty of the sea. The park offers a view of The Natural Bridge and The Gap as well as The Blowholes. The Natural Bridge and The Gap have been sculpted by the Southern Sea itself. A safe viewing platform is provided for those who want to observe the fierce waves of the ocean while taking pleasure in the sights of extraordinary rock formations.

You should also check out the Porongorup National Park. Formed from granite rocks, moss covered from slow weathering, the range features several peaks and lush forests. From the peaks you can see the Stirling Range to the north, as well as views of the Southern Ocean.

The Stirling Range National Park is a must-visit if you wish to further explore the spectacular mountain ranges of the region. Some footpaths and natural trails are prefect for bushwalks, hiking and trekking. You may also want to climb Bluff Knoll, the highest peak in the south-west of Western Australia.

The park has been acknowledged by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA). The range offers a breathtaking landscape, especially during the season when the wildflowers are at their best. The Stirling Range National Park is ideal for people who want to bond with exquisite bird and flower species.

It’s also wise to visit Two Peoples Bay National Park, situated 35 kms east of Albany. It is a magnificent picnic spot and fishing site for couples and families. Two Peoples Bay is a center for ornithologists who want to get a glimpse on the area’s well-known rare species. You can either walk the heritage trails or learn about the wildlife of the area by looking into the Visitors Discovery Center.

If you have time, a little East of Albany you can enjoy magnificent coastal scenery in the Waychinicup National Park. The park is also where rare and elusive animals are isolated and protected. Another attraction that you shouldn’t miss is the Bibbulmun Track, West of Albany. You can delight yourself with impressive coastal views and many varieties of astonishing wildflowers right after you take a look at the famous Albany Wind Farm.

Relax at Emu Point or the ever popular Middleton Beach. Emu Point is … Read the rest