CategoryOutdoors

A Seaplane Adventure to Dry Tortugas National Park

ccessible only by boat or seaplane, only about 60,000 visitors get to Dry Tortugas National Park each year. Compare that to the more than 300 million people who visited America’s national parks last year. But it’s really no surprise when you consider what’s involved just getting there. The jumping off point is Key West, Florida, and from there, you can choose between an all-day boat ride, and half- or full-day seaplane trips, assuming you don’t have your own vessel.

Pre-Flight

I opted for the seaplane flight and checked in at the Key West Seaplane Adventures office at 7:30 for an 8:00 am flight. Even though it was late March, the sun was just rising, filtered by wisps of pink and orange clouds. When the remaining nine passengers arrived, we received our briefing, were introduced to our pilot, Gary, and then walked out on to the tarmac together to board the DHC-3 DeHavilland Turbine Otter Amphibian. The plane can carry 10 passengers plus the pilot… and when Gary offered up the co-pilot seat, I literally jumped at the opportunity!

Gary has been flying to and from Dry Tortugas for years. He would make five trips to and from Dry Tortugas that day… and his early morning return flight to Key West would be a solo one.

Ready for Takeoff

Once we had our seat belts fastened, and perhaps more importantly, our headphones on, Gary began to narrate our early morning adventure as we taxied out on to the runway. I fired up my video camera… and before I knew it we were airborne heading due east into the morning sun, and just as quickly banking south, then west for a bird’s eye view of Key West. It was only then that I had the exhilarating realization I would be setting down in a place I’d only been able to conjure in my imagination – turquoise waters, green sea turtles, bright coral, frigatebirds, shipwrecks, and a coastal fortress nearly 170 years old.

The co-pilot’s seat offered the perfect view of Key West, its hotels, Duvall Street and Mallory Square, which quickly faded from view. Gary pumped some music into our headphones… though I wasn’t quite sure what to make of his first selection: Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'”!

Flying to Dry Tortugas

Flying at at 130 knots, we were quickly over an area called the “Flats,” a body of shallow water just 3-5 feet deep extending almost 20 miles to the west. Flying at just 500 feet above the water, these shallows are teeming with Loggerhead turtles and you could clearly see dozens of them swimming about as we cruised overhead.

25 miles out, we flew directly over Marquesas Islands, a coral atoll… and then over an area called the “Quicksands.” Here the water is 30 feet deep with a sea bed of constantly shifting sand dunes. This is where treasure hunter Mel Fisher found the Spanish Galleons Antocha and Margarita – and more than a half a billion dollars of gold and silver strewn across an eight mile area. They continue to work the site, and even today, there are regular finds of huge Spanish Emeralds.

But it wasn’t long from my vantage point in the cockpit before I could begin to make out Fort Jefferson on Garden Key, Bush Key and further west, the lighthouse on Loggerhead Key.

A Little History

Once Florida was acquired from Spain (1819-1821), the United States considered the 75 mile stretch connecting the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Ocean important to protect, since anyone who occupied the area could seize control trade along the Gulf Coast.

Construction of Fort Jefferson began on Garden Key in 1847, and although more than $250,000 had been spent by 1860, the fort was never finished. As the largest 19th century American masonry coastal fort, it also served as a remote prison facility during the Civil War. The most famous inmate was Dr. Samuel Mudd, who set the leg of John Wilkes Booth following the assassination of President Lincoln. Mudd was convicted of conspiracy and was imprisoned on the Dry Tortugas from 1865 to 1869. The fort continued to serve as a military prison until 1874.

Almost There

Gary banked the De Havilland to the right, providing a spectacular view of the islands and Fort Jefferson, heading the seaplane into the wind for the smoothest landing I’ve ever experienced – on land or sea – gently skimming the surface and we glided effortlessly across turquoise waters and headed towards shore. One more roar of the engines, a quick turn, and we were up on the beach ready to disembark.

We arrived about 8:30 AM… and aside from the 10 passengers on board, a half dozen campers at one end of the Garden Key, and a few National Park Service employees, we had the island to ourselves.

As I watched the seaplane take off, heading back to Key West, it struck me just how isolated we were in this remote ocean wilderness.

It was still reasonably cool, but the sun – and the temperature – was rising fast. Taking advantage of the early morning light, I headed inside the fort, making my way up the spiral staircase, and stepped out of the old Garden Key lighthouse built in 1825. The lighthouse is no longer in use, since the “new” 167 foot tall lighthouse on Loggerhead Key, completed in 1858, continues to flash its beacon to mariners, warning of the shallow waters.

The view from atop of Fort Jefferson provided a spectacular 360 degree panorama. And besides the few spits of land that make up the park, there was nothing but sky and sea in every direction.

About the Park

Dry Tortugas National Park, situated at the farthest end of the Florida Keys, is closer to Cuba than to the American mainland. A cluster of seven islands, composed mostly of sand and coral reefs, just 93 of the park’s 64,000 acres are above water. The three easternmost keys are simply spits of white coral sand, while 49-acre Loggerhead Key, three miles out, marks the western edge of the island chain. The park’s sandy keys are in a constant state of flux – shaped by tides and currents, weather and climate. In fact, four islands completely disappeared between 1875 and 1935, a testament to the fragility of the ecosystem.

Final Approach to Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson

The surrounding coral reefs make up the third-largest barrier reef system outside of Australia and Belize.

The Dry Tortugas are recognized for their near-pristine natural resources including seagrass beds, fisheries, and sea turtle and bird nesting habitat.

Bush Key, just 100 yards or so from Fort Jefferson is home to a vast assortment of birds that frequent the islands and features a mix of mangrove, sea oats, bay cedar, sea grape and prickly pear cactus, reflecting the original character of the islands.

A great wildlife spectacle occurs each year between the months of February and September, as many as 100,000 sooty terns travel from the Caribbean Sea and west-central Atlantic Ocean to nest on the islands of the Dry Tortugas. Brown noddies, roseate terns, double-crested cormorants, brown pelicans and the Magnificent frigatebird, with its 7-foot wingspan, nest here as well. Although Bush Key was closed to visitors, hundreds, if not thousands of birds filled the skies and the sounds of their screeches and calls filled the otherwise tranquil surroundings.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Fort Jefferson National Monument under the Antiquities Act on January 4, 1935. Expanded to it’s current size in 1983, the monument was re-designated by an act of Congress as Dry Tortugas National Park on October 26, 1992 to protect the island and marine environment, to preserve Fort Jefferson and submerged cultural resources such as shipwrecks.

There is no water, food, bathing facilities, supplies, or public lodging (other than camping on Garden Key) in the park. All visitors, campers, and boaters are required to pack out whatever they pack in, so the National Park Service has created a wi-fi hotspot – only at the dock – where you can scan a QR code and download a variety of PDFs to your phone or tablet. It’s an idea that’s bound to catch on with so many mobile devices, reducing the need to print (and throw away) paper brochures. Inside Fort Jefferson, a small visitor’s center has a few exhibits and shows a short video. I stepped across the entranceway, and found an equally small office that houses the National Park Service employees who maintain and manage the park.

Almost 500 Years Ago…

I imagined the islands didn’t look much different to Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, credited for discovering the islands in 1531. He named them Las Tortugas, or “The Turtles,” as the islands and surrounding waters were aswarm with loggerhead, hawksbill, leatherback, and green turtles. For nearly three hundred years, pirates raided not only passing ships, but relied on turtles for meat and eggs and also pilfered the nests of roosting sooty and noddy terns. Nautical charts began to show that The Tortugas were dry – due to the lack of fresh water – and eventually the islands were renamed as The Dry Tortugas.

Shipping, Trade, and Riches from the New World

Explorers sailed through the Dry Tortugas and the route was frequented by Spanish ships returning to the European mainland from the Gulf Coast of Florida, Veracruz and the Caribbean. The Dry Tortugas proved to be an important trade route… and served as a significant marker ships used to navigate the Gulf’s coastline. While Florida remained under Spanish rule, merchants used this route transporting coffee, tobacco, cotton, meat, livestock and merchandise across the Atlantic in exchange for silver and gold from the New World.

Some of the best snorkeling in North America

Although I was only on the half-day seaplane trip, I still had enough time for a quick swim and snorkel on the west side of Garden Key.

In the late 1800s, the US Navy built piers and coaling warehouses for refueling, but strong storms destroyed them, leaving only their underpinnings. These pilings, and the deeper water of the dredged channel, now offer an excellent opportunity to see larger fish like tarpon, grouper, barracuda… as well as the occasional shark.

I’ve had my GoPro for years, but had never used it underwater and I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the water. Multi-colored sea fans swayed in the gentle current. Colorful reef fish – with their vivid and boldly patterned reds, yellows, greens and blues – are camouflaged amongst the bright coral and sea grasses. Today, turtle populations have diminished, but you may still be able to see green, loggerhead, hawksbill, and leatherback sea turtles.

As I walked back to the changing rooms at the dock, the seaplane for my return flight was just landing and I realized my time at Dry Tortugas was coming to an end. If I ever have a chance to get back, I would definitely opt for the full day trip.

A week later, after returning home to Colorado and was shoveling snow off of the driveway, a small plane passed overhead and I suddenly thought of my flight to Dry Tortugas – the bright sun, the crystal clear waters, the abundant life – above and below the water’s surface – a surreal landscape that seemed much farther away now. So captivating, so remote, that even having seen it with my own eyes, I still somehow could barely imagine it.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who is currently on a quest to photograph and create posters for all 59 National Parks in time for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in August 2016.

But Rob’s professional training really started at age 19, when he had the rare opportunity to study under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park during the summer of 1979, less than five years before Mr. Adams passed away.

Since then, he has visited and photographed nearly half of the national parks, and has plans to visit as many as he can during the next 12 months.


New Orleans Outdoor Fun

Hello, Spring! While the actual first day is still a few weeks away, the weather in New Orleans keeps rising to the perfect temperatures… low 70s and humidity-free! Why not take advantage of clear skies and balmy temps and explore outdoor New Orleans? Take it outside with our perfect-weather picks.

Spend at Day at City Park

Smack-dab in the middle of New Orleans sits City Park, a public green space that is 50% larger than NYC’s Central Park. On any given day, there will be intramural sports teams practicing and playing, golfers (and mini-golfers) trying for that elusive hole-in-one, school children on field trips learning about the botanical gardens and century-old live oak trees, joggers running along the myriad of tracks and walkways and art aficionados viewing the latest traveling exhibit at NOMA: New Orleans Museum of Art.

It’s easy to spend an entire day here, especially when it’s a pretty one. Wear your sneakers and something comfy, so you can be prepared for any and every activity. After you work-up an appetite, grab lunch at Café NOMA. It’s central to the park, located inside the museum and by the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group – the perfect combination!

Mix n’ Mingle at the Lakefront

While New Orleans is known for the Mighty Mississippi that flows through it, there is also another body of water that creates its northern border: Lake Pontchartrain.

On a beautiful day, head to the lakefront for fishing, sailing, paddleboarding and more. No boat? No problem! There are boat captains ready to take you out on 600+ sq. miles of water. If venturing out onto the water is not your style, try one of the many waterfront restaurants lining the shores. Try and grab dinner around 6 o’clock and you’ll catch one gorgeous sunset over water.

While on-the-water activities are fun and waterfront restaurants are delicious, one of our favorite things to do will always been just sitting along the lakefront, watching the sailboats pass by.

Walk on the Wide Side at Audubon Zoo

Hop on Magazine Street and head all the way to its end for Uptown’s Audubon Park. You’re just 6 miles from downtown, but will feel worlds away.

The Audubon Zoo is one of New Orleans’ best attractions. Kids and adults both love the swamp exhibit, complete with a houseboat and bathtub, in which the Louisiana black bears love to lie on a warm day. Monkey Hill, one of the park’s oldest and most cherished spots, was created in the 1930s to show New Orleans children what a hill looked like. No, that’s not a joke. Audubon Zoo’s quirks have made it one of New Orleans’ prized attractions.

Not quite ready to head back to the bustle of downtown? The Fly (located next to the zoo) is a local favorite for picnicking, sunbathing and catching up on a great book. The green space sits on the banks of the Mississippi River, so it’s the perfect spot to watch barges traveling to and from port.


Capsule History of Breckenridge, the 10th Mountain Division and FDR

Franklin D. Roosevelt began his 3rd term as President of the United States January 20, 1941, making him the only president to be elected for three terms. He served during both the Great Depression and World War II. During World War II, the United States Army’s 10th Mountain Division trained between 1941 and 1945 by executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt.

Before the ski resort developers arrived Breckenridge, was a small mining town with dusty streets rusty implements sticking from the ground. The elected Summit County sheriff was sole county law enforcer. If he needed backup, his grown sons were sworn in as temporary deputies. The former mining community had been in decline for some time. Little could Breckenridge inhabitants imagine the upscale ski resort and condos that was to come.

During World War II the United States Army’s 10th Mountain Division trained in the mountains near here, that winter training lead to their victories in the Alps Mountains. The army chose a site at 9,300 feet altitude and named it Camp Hale. Trails were cut and the longest T-Bar in the country installed. Built in 1942, Camp Hale was decommissioned in 1945.

The men who prepared here went through challenging training before being sent overseas where the 10th Mountain Division penetrated a purportedly unconquerable area in the Apennines, thus playing a vital role in the liberation of northern Italy. When the Germans surrendered in May 1945, 996 ski troopers had lost their lives and nearly 4,000 were wounded, making this was the highest casualty rate of any U.S. division in the Mediterranean.

After the War it was the 10th Mountain Division soldiers who helped drive the evolution of recreational skiing in Colorado and Camp Hale was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Breckenridge 10th Mountain Division Memorial is in Riverfront Park in Breckenridge and dedicated to the mountaineers who fought and died leading the allied drive to push the German Army out of Italy during World War II.

Perhaps the chronicles of the 10th Mountain ski troops contributed more to the legitimacy of ski mountaineering in the United States than any other event. Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division became true war heroes. There was one Medal of Honor, three Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Metal, 449 Silver Star Metals, seven Legion of Merit metals, 15 Soldier’s Metals and 7,729 Bronze Star Metals. The division itself was awarded two campaign streamers.

A new 10th Mountain Division was organized at Camp Drum, New York in 1985, but the original “10th” is memorialized in Colorado where Oliver North filmed a segment of his “War Stories” about the 10th Mountain Division on the Colorado slopes.

Breckenridge has become one of the most popular destination ski resorts in the world attracting more than 1.5 million skiers a year. With a wide variety of film, music, theatre, and arts and crafts related events as well as the outdoor activities that the Rocky Mountains have to offer besides skiing, Breckenridge is a true year round destination.

Main Street boasts a row of western facades from the 1800’s that now house upscale boutiques and trendy eateries. Breckenridge Starbuck’s is at the highest elevation of any other Starbuck store. Development infused an interest in historic preservation. Pictures of some of town’s forefathers are featured in various display cabinets depicting the community’s past.

Consequently, without an executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt and the men of 10th Mountain Division return to Colorado after the War, Colorado towns like Breckenridge most likely would have followed the path of hundreds of other former western mining towns that are today vacant ghost towns.

Like most writers, Kathy’s life experience have made their way into her writing. She is a free-lance writer of published essays, articles in a variety of magazines newspapers. Her monthly travel column highlights experiences off the beaten path.


The Dangers of Rip Currents to People and Pets

A rip current is a strong, localized and rather narrow current of water. Rip currents are usually strongest near the surface of the water and they move directly away from the shore, cutting through the lines of breaking waves. From oceans, seas and large lakes rips can occur at any beach that has breaking waves.

Rip currents are hazardous because they can be difficult to identify. This is especially true because they are often encountered by people with no experience with ocean waves and currents. I live in a small coastal town in the state of Washington and I’m saddened by the number of children, adults and pets that lose their lives every year on our beautiful beach.

The average beachgoer or vacationer needs to know the clues to identify a rip current. Some of ways to identify a rip include:

• A break in the wave pattern as the waves roll into shore by this I mean a flat spot in the incoming waves.

• An area of churning and choppy water.

• Seafoam, seaweed or debris moving in a line steadily seaward.

• An area of different colored water beyond the surf zone.

One or several or sometimes none of these clues may be present to indicate that there is a rip. It’s important to ALWAYS use caution when entering the water in our oceans and lakes.

Learning to spot a rip current can help you get caught. Some inexperienced beachgoers will notice a calm patch of water between more turbulent breaking waves which presents as an inviting pathway. This area is actually a rip above a deep sandbar channel, and people will inadvertently enter in the most dangerous spot because it looks calm.

Avoidance is the most important way to survive a rip current. It’s very important that anyone who enters ankle-deep into the ocean needs to know how to swim and how to float. It’s easy to be caught in a rip, most often it happens in waist deep water. If the person were to dive into a wave they will resurface much further from the beach and still being pulled further out from the beach.

What the person does next can decide the fate of their beach experience:

• Remain calm and conserve energy, a rip is like a giant treadmill with no off switch.

• Never try to swim against the rip. Even a small rip tide can move faster than an Olympic swimmer can swim.

• Try swimming parallel to shore and out of the current. Rip currents are often narrow so once you are out of the current you can begin swimming back to shore

• If it’s too difficult to swim sideways out of the current, try floating or treading water and let nature take care of you by conserving energy you’ll be able to swim to shore when the current circulates back to shore.

If you are with someone who gets caught up in a rip current, Do Not attempt to rescue them. Call 911, get help from a lifeguard if one is available and throw a floatation device into the rip current. We see too many tragedies of people trying to save the rip victim becoming drowning victims themselves.

So when you head out for a fun vacation at the beach, stay safe and keep your kids and pets close into shore. Always have one person in charge of watching to make sure they stay in shallow water and don’t throw balls into the deeper water for your dog. They can get caught in rip currents also. Keep everyone safe and keep your pets happy. Check out [http://www.GoToLuxuryDogBeds.com] to find the best Luxury Dog Beds for your happy dog! Stay Safe and Have a Great Time.


Lake Baikal, World’s Deepest Lake of Freshwater, Turning Into Swamp

The world’s oldest and deepest body of freshwater, Lake Baikal, is turning into a swamp, Russian ecologists warn. They say that tons of liquid waste from tourist camps and water transport vehicles is being dumped into the UNESCO-protected lake.

One of the natural wonders and the pearl of Russia’s Siberia, Lake Baikal has recently been a source of alarming news, due to an increased number of alien water plants which have formed in the lake waterlogging it, ecologists said at a roundtable discussion recently held in the city of Irkutsk.

A recent scientific expedition discovered that 160 tons of liquid waste are produced every season in Baikal’s Chivyrkui Bay, said the head of Baikal Environmental Wave, one of Russia’s first environmental NGOs, according to SIA media outlet.

Locals have complained to ecologists that the waste easily drains into the lake, SIA reported. The growing number of tourist camps in the area are unwillingly contributing to the pollution. The report elaborates that the camps pass on waste to special organizations, but disposal vehicles often don’t reach the facilities and instead end up dumping the waste into Baikal or rivers that flow into the lake.

In addition, a large contributing factor to the contamination of the lake is water transport vehicles. Ships, boats, yachts, and other vessels produce 25,000 tons of liquid waste annually, but only 1,600 of them end up at the proper disposal facilities, according to the head of Baikal Environmental Wave.

The waste dumped into the lake sparked the growth of water plants such as Spirogyra and Elodea Canadensis, which have never grown there before.

Researchers found a significant accumulation of water plants and dead lake mollusks on the northern coast of Lake Baikal, according to report. They monitored the coastline from the mouth of the River Tia to Senogda Bay, finding rotting water plants down the coast. An increased level of pollution was also discovered in Listvenichesky Bay.

In an effort to prevent waterlogging, ecologists suggest equipping garbage vehicles with satellite monitoring devices to track exactly where the waste is delivered. In addition, new technologies and educational programs should be introduced to reduce the production of waste, Baikal Environmental Wave pointed out. Ecologists also offered to support initiatives of the residents, as well as local environmental projects.

The new troubles come after an almost two-decade battle to close a major polluter of the lake – Baikal Pulp and Paper mill. In December 2013, it was finally shut down after 47 years of dumping effluent into the site.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities held talks in Irkutsk last week regarding the improvement of legislation on the protection of water resources, using Lake Baikal as an example.

The closure of the Baikal Pulp and Paper mill took a toll on the region’s economy, with almost 2,000 people left jobless, Oleg Kravchuk – the minister of natural resources and ecology of Irkutsk region – said at the meeting. The mill was the town’s only major employer and accounted for 80 percent of its income. Local residents have been staging protests in an effort to bring attention to their economic problems.


5 Cool Facts to Know About Garner State Park

Would your ideal vacation spot be a perfect natural haven filled with hiking, canoeing, tubing, geocaching, and even dancing? For many the answer is yes, and each year many outdoor enthusiasts choose Garner State Park as their ideal summer destination. Chock full of numerous nature-based activities, loaded with Mother Nature’s wonders, and highlighting the beauty of The Frio River, this state park could be your prime location for summer outdoor adventures as well. Are you unfamiliar with this amazing state park in Uvalde County? Here are 5 cool facts to know about Garner State Park.

1. Location

This beautiful state park is located in Concan, Texas on the southwestern edge of what is known to be the Edwards Plateau in the Balcones Canyonlands. It was created during the Cretaceous age due to fault line activity. Deep cliffs and mesas define this picturesque canyon land and surround clear rivers and streams perfect for fishing, canoeing, and tubing. The location, although visited by many year after year, remains mostly unchanged by human activity. The natural changes that occur due to weathering, flooding, or plant growth are allowed to constantly redefine the landscape without human intervention.

2. Wildlife

Being that the naturalness of this park is preserved as much as possible, much wildlife live and thrive there. Visitors to the park will frequently spot this wild life around them. Squirrels, raccoons, and white-tailed deer are the most common, but more exotic animals exist there too. Look for Rio Grande turkeys and mourning doves amongst a whole selection of various birds. If you are a bird watcher then you are in for a treat. The golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo, both endangered species, nest in the park from spring until summer.

3. The Frio River

Rising from springs as the West Frio River, it promptly joins 2 other tributaries and flows southeast for 200 miles before draining into the Nueces River. The name Frio means cold in Spanish and this name perfectly describes the fresh cool waters that lure swimmers and campers up and down the length of its banks. This river is given a shout-out in the song, “All my Ex’s live in Texas,” by George Strait who grew up in Frio County.

4. Geocaching

Merge the joys of hiking and exploring with a scavenger hunt and you have geocaching. Hundreds of geocaches are hidden throughout the park and can be found using a GPS device or an app on a smart phone with GPS capabilities. The GPS device tells you how far away a geocache is and you must go off searching for it. They can be hidden in trees, under rocks, or even placed behind signs and landmarks. Often times a geocache will house a log book so you can write in your name and claim victory over that treasure forever.

5. Dancing

Back in the 1940’s during summer evenings, people would gather at the park’s concessions building and host a dance. This tradition has survived to this day and the park hosts dances each evening. They are very popular and require early arrival as they fill up quickly.

As you can see, this national park is a wonderful vacation destination filled with wildlife and natural beauty.


A Wise Man Does Not Own A Boat

A wise man (or woman) has friends who own boats. Why is that so? Because a boat is really a hole in the water, into which you pour your money. A boat is also a means to isolate yourself from other people or it can be a gathering place for your family and friends. That is why I say that you want to be one of those friends, and be a generous friend to the boat owner.

There are different kinds of privately owned boats: sailboats, motor boats, boats powered only by oars, boats propelled by long poles, pleasure boats, working boats, and they all have one thing in common: they suspend human and/or material cargo above a body of water. Depending on what your friend, the boat owner, does with his or her boat, adapt yourself to help the owner as well as to share their joy of being on the water.

By not owning a boat, you may not know that a boat that is purchased new can cost as much as a new car or even a new house. Plus, there are docking and storage costs, equipment maintenance, repair, and replacement costs, a cost for weather damage, fuel, membership dues, taxes, and if the owner generously invites you to sail, motor out, or simply to lounge upon the boat while it is tied up at the dock, the owner will likely provide food and drink, music, and the owner may have to purchase additional seat cushions. The list of expenses goes on-and-on.

Most people will accept the boat owner’s kind invitation, and bring nothing to give to the owner. That is why most people, other than the owner’s family and closest friends, rarely get invited to sail again. Bring something special, something good to eat that you have prepared in your kitchen, something that you know is tasty. Bring that good food in abundance.

Perhaps bring a couple of bottles of champagne with you too. Spend between $25 and $50 on such gifts, and the boat owner will think you are royalty. Smile and be gracious to all aboard. Everyone who sails with you will like you, and they will admire you as the generous person that you are. You can safely bet that the boat owner has invited other boat owners to sail too. Make friends with all of them, and you will sail again, wise man.


How to Choose an Urban Scooter

The living conditions in the city influence the choice of transport we use. Against the background of the endless traffic congestion, crowding and lack of air buses and minibuses, the scooter has gained its popularity all over the world, especially in cities.

Reviews suggest that the most popular urban scooters are used for commuting and just walking through the streets. They are designed for driving on asphalt road and equipped with polyurethane wheels. An urban scooter has a small size and is suitable for driving on sidewalks and tile. The main advantages of these scooters are the ease, compactness, relatively low price.

How to Choose an Adult Urban Scooter

Before you choose an adult urban scooter, you should know much about it. Collapsible scooters are most often made of steel withstanding considerable weight, with reliable polyurethane wheels and a broad deck for the adult feet. They are always adjustable in height so that everyone can choose a comfortable position. An important condition is the safety, which depends on the quality material and high reliability of all connections.

To select the appropriate for the city, it’s necessary to pay attention to several parameters. Firstly, you should pay attention primarily to the wheel. It has the meaning of their size. The larger the wheel is, the higher the drive speed is. But at the same time, it reduces maneuverability. Such a model will suit an adult, self-confident rider. The width of the tire is directly proportional to the stability of the scooter. The material from which made the wheels is too important. Plastic wheels are rare, usually in cheaper models. They serve not for very long and are suitable for driving on a perfectly flat surface. Polyurethane wheels differ in stiffness. The higher the score is, the more sensitive you will have to clash with stones and potholes on the road. Soft wheels would negate such inconvenience. But on the perfectly smooth asphalt road, of course, they lose more stringent control. The most versatile can be wheels with inflatable tires. They can travel on a variety of roads and even on the easy road (on the sand and grass).

Recommendation

If you are badly in need of an urban scooter, the X8 portable folding scooter would be a right choice.

With the folding design, this scooter is light, compact and portable. The unfolding size is 1056*1190*188mm and the folding size is 188*480*860mm. It weighs only 13 kg, but its max load is 120 kg. The frame is made of aerospace aluminum alloy so that the whole scooter is light but solid. It’s powerful and drives fast. And the max speed is up to 30 KM/h.

In addition, it offers safe and comfortable travel experience because of the professional design. The shock absorption system in includes the front pneumatic tire and built-in rear shock absorber. The security system includes high-and-low-speed control, cruise control and rear disc brake. The full protection system includes battery over-discharging protection, battery over- charging protection and battery operation protection. Moreover, the smart digital display shows battery and motor status, current speed and travel distance.


5 Tips Every First Time Frio River Cabin Guest Needs to Know

Thousands of visitors flock to the Frio River each year to enjoy the rugged and beautiful Texas hill country. For a lot of those vacationers, they choose to stay in a Frio River cabin to enhance their experience. A cabin on the river is a great option for those planning on taking advantage of the many water activities available. Cabins are convenient and certainly more comfortable than camping. If you are a first time cabin user, though, consider the following five tips to make the most of your trip:

1. Consider your location.

The Frio River runs through several counties, including Uvalde County, and makes its way through Leakey, Concan, Utopia and also Garner State Park. The state park is better for those who like crowds, while areas like Utopia and Concan are less crowded. More rural areas offer more rugged beauty and privacy while more popular areas can afford more activity. Consider Concan for a smaller town that offers access to tubes and kayak rentals but is still less crowded than other, larger areas.

2. Know which amenities are important to you.

There are cabins available for most needs. Consider whether you are looking for a more rugged experience or in the market for a more luxurious stay. There are cabins that come furnished while others require the user to bring linens, etc. Frio River cabins come in different states and are rented privately by families and also by larger companies. Privately owned cabins can offer unique and personal experiences while others owned by larger entities can save you time and money. Just evaluate your needs first to know which type of cabin you are searching.

3. Travel during the off-season to save money.

Summertime and the weeks of Spring Break are probably the busiest times of the year for the Frio River. When the sun is shining and the Texas heat is reigning, the Frio River offers visitors a chance to enjoy the outdoors while staying cool – a rarity for a Hill County summer. However, the Frio River is a great option during the cooler months, as well, for those enjoy hiking, kayaking and fishing. A bonus for the off-season months includes deals and specials. Take a look online to find these coupons and special offers or contact the visitors’ bureau.

4. Plan to plan ahead.

If you are looking to stay during the busy season, make sure you make your reservations early. Many places, like the local state park, fill quickly. As an added perk for reserving early, you may encounter specials. Sometimes discounts are available for rentals, including tubes, kayaks, coolers, etc. Take a look in the area, as well, for special festivals and local attractions.

5. Use the resources available!

Today’s technology enables vacationers to plan early and thoroughly. Don’t forget the local visitors’ bureaus as well as the Chamber of Commerce centers and tourist centers. Local residents who know the area well and can offer great tips and suggestions for finding a Frio River cabin often work in these offices.

The Rubies of the Silver State

It’s the Yosemite of Nevada. Lamoille (“luh-MOY-uhl”) Canyon in northeastern Nevada’s Ruby Mountains is a glacier-carved feature in the middle of an arid land. The Ruby Mountains themselves are a surprise, as they support aspens and mountain goats and other critters that one doesn’t expect to find in the desert. The many lakes in this area are also home to many kinds of trout. These creatures thrive here because the Rubies are among the highest and wettest of the Great Basin’s mountain ranges.

The best place to begin your visit to the Rubies is in Elko, Nevada, off Interstate 80. This is the seat of Elko County, one of the largest counties in the United States. The friendly people of the Elko Chamber of Commerce at 1405 Idaho Street can help you plan your visit and arm you with plenty of literature. You’ll also want to check on what events will be taking place in Elko. For instance, the town hosts the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January, the Elko Western Festival Days and the Elko Mining Expo in June, and the National Basque Festival (the oldest and largest of the Basque celebrations in Nevada) in July. And in September the Elko County Fair and Livestock Show takes place, as well as the Man-Mule Race, a 20-mile jaunt from Lamoille to Elko.

To gain an even better understanding of the region, visit the nearby Northeastern Nevada Museum at 1515 Idaho Street in Elko. Perhaps one of the best local museums in Nevada, this facility exhibits local artifacts, slide shows, and traveling displays of the winners of an annual photo contest.

A third excellent “first place” to visit is the Humboldt National Forest office at 2035 Last Chance Road, in Elko. You can find out where to camp and picnic in the Humboldt National Forest, which encompasses the Ruby Mountains.

Once armed with knowledge, head west from the Elko Chamber of Commerce or the museum on Idaho Street until you reach 12th Street. Turn left and follow the signs for state routes 227 and 228. After proceeding 1.3 miles from the museum, turn left at the junction with the state routes onto State Route 227. After another 3.2 miles you’ll reach Elko Summit and can look ahead to your destination, the Rubies. Stay on Route 227 toward Lamoille; before reaching the town, turn right onto Lamoille Canyon Road, approximately 19 miles from Elko.

The Ruby Mountains, like other ranges in the Great Basin, are long and thin; they measure 100 miles long and a maximum of 10 miles wide. The Rubies are geologically complex, consisting of ancient metamorphic rocks such as gneiss (metamorphosed granite), slate (from metamorphosed shale), and quartzite (from sandstone), all found in the northern two-thirds. Mixed in with these major rock types is garnet, a semiprecious stone that is usually red. The garnet was mistaken for ruby by early settlers, and thus the range acquired its name. The southern third of the Rubies consists of limestone, which makes for a drier-looking landscape. Rain tends to soak through the limestone. The mountains also have a steep eastern face and a gentle western slope, which, from a mountain-range-type perspective, puts the Rubies in good company. Many of the Great Basin mountain ranges, as well as the Sierra and the Tetons, sport this profile. And as do the Sierras and Tetons, the Rubies offer ample evidence of being ground down by glaciers, especially in Lamoille Canyon.

Lamoille Canyon Road – the 13.5 mile drive from the junction of state routes 227 and 228 – takes you from the sagebrush plains at an elevation of 5,800 feet; enters the Forest Service Scenic Byway; and continues another 12 miles up along Forest Service Road 660 to the subalpine zone at the Roads End trailhead, situated at an elevation of 8,850 feet. As you drive to Lamoille Canyon, look for the four road signs that demarcate the forest’s self-guided natural history auto tour.

The Rubies were subjected to glacial carving during the Pleistocene Epoch between 10,000 and 3 million years ago. The glaciers in this range were some of the largest and deepest in the Great Basin, and were some of the few that actually reached the adjoining plains. The first indication of Lamoille Canyon’s glaciated past is its U-shape. As you continue up the canyon, you’ll also notice side canyons that hang high up on the walls. These hanging canyons are another glacial feature. The main glacier in a canyon carves downward faster than the smaller tributary glaciers, thereby leaving the canyons hanging after the glaciers recede.

Besides glacial evidence, Lamoille Canyon offers many recreational opportunities. Among them are camping, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, bicycling, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, nature observation, and picnicking. The first picnic location you’ll come to is the small but attractive Powerhouse picnic area. A particularly good time to visit this spot is when the creek is full from springtime snowmelt. It offers five sites for families and one group site for 25 people, but no piped water.

If you’re traveling with motorhomers, your first opportunity to camp is where the Right Fork of Lamoille Canyon meets the main canyon – a campground managed by the Elko County Lions Club. Groups of at least 25 people are accepted here; the facility is not designed for single-family camping. To make reservations, contact Heidi Draper at (775) 934-2096. From the Right Fork, the Forest Service offers camping in dispersed primitive sites downstream of the Powerhouse Picnic Area. The canyon’s only developed campground is farther up at Thomas Canyon. It offers 42 sites with water and rest rooms. All of the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis; however, 19 RV non-electric sites and 16 standard non-electric sites can be reserved online. (see resource box)

A highlight of your canyon tour along Lamoille Canyon Road comes next on the Lamoille Hanging Canyon Nature Trail. One of several hiking trails within the forest, this half-mile-long trail starts at the Avalanche Overlook and leads through aspens, whose yellows and oranges can be enjoyed during the fall. You’ll learn that the Ruby Mountains began as sediment in an ancient ocean that covered much of the West a half-billion years ago. Later, magma intruded into these sediments, leaving pockets of granite when the magma cooled. By the time the Rubies were uplifted 15 million years ago, these rocks had been metamorphosed into the gneiss, marble, and schist that we see today. The glacier that carved Lamoille was 700 feet thick at times, and exerted almost 40,000 pounds of pressure per square foot on the rock.

Combine that with the fact that the glacier flowed one to three feet per day, and you can imagine how much grinding the rocks were subjected to. The creek that flows through this canyon bottom now is home to beavers that feed on the inner bark of the aspens. The canyon bottom boasts the best soil in the area and has the most luxuriant plant and animal life. As you look up at the canyon slopes, you’ll notice that they’re much different from the bottomland. The north-facing slope lacks the good soil but is cooler and moister than the opposite canyon wall, so it supports aspens, limber pines, and other scrubby growth. The south-facing slope receives sunlight more directly year-round, and so it is hotter and drier. This type of climate supports sparse growth dominated by mountain mahogany, and limber pines at the highest elevations.

Another good place to enjoy aspens is the Terraces picnic area, situated approximately 1/2-mile farther up the canyon from the nature trail. This is the most complete picnic spot in the canyon, with piped water, toilets, tables, and grills. It also provides an aspen-framed view down into the canyon.

From there, the byway gradually curves southward, reaching its end at appropriately named Roads End trailhead. At this point, you’ll be in the subalpine zone at 8,850 feet above sea level. The two picnic sites here lack fire pits but otherwise can serve as a spot for a snack before heading off on the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail. This 40-mile-long trail heads south to Harrison Pass and covers much of the 90,000-acre Ruby Mountains Wilderness Area.

This wilderness actually extends from near Secret Pass at the northern end of the Rubies and reaches almost as far south as Harrison Pass. It preserves the character of most of the higher elevations, including the largest area of alpine habitat in the Great Basin. The region’s flora has more in common with the alpine country of the Rockies or the Sierra than with other Great Basin ranges. In the 1960’s, mountain goats were introduced here, and beginning in 1989, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep were reintroduced, thus giving the Rubies a faunal touch of the Rockies.

Roads End is a popular trailhead for hikers and backpackers who want to enjoy the highest elevations of the Rubies. Incidentally, the highest point in the range, Ruby Dome, at 11,387 feet, is not along the crest trail, but is actually situated just south of Lamoille Canyon. But the crest trail takes the adventurous near many peaks that are more than 11,000 feet tall. This trailhead is also popular with anglers who enjoy fishing in the many lakes of the wilderness. All of the trails are open from late June through September, depending on how long the snow lingers.

If you want to see one of those Ruby Mountain lakes, then head up the trail near where the loop at Roads End begins. Take the steep hike for a four- to six-hour round trip to Island Lake, which sits in a cirque at the 9,672-foot elevation. Brook trout lurk under the lake’s 7-1/2 acre surface.

Enjoy the different perspective you’ll get of the canyon on your drive back out. Once you’ve returned to State Route 227, turn right and proceed approximately 1/2-mile to the little ranching town of Lamoille. The town was named by Thomas H. Waterman, who, along with John P. Walker, first settled there in 1864. The area reminded Waterman of his home in Johnson, a town in Lamoille County, Vermont.

As you head back toward Elko on State Route 227, take State Route 228 toward Jiggs to continue your Ruby Range exploration. Three miles beyond Jiggs, turn left, or east, toward Harrison Pass. After 3.5 miles, the pavement ends, but the dirt road is well maintained. In another 1.2 miles, you’ll cross the Humboldt National Forest boundary. Then, in 6.3 miles, you’ll reach 7,248-foot Harrison Pass. Ruby Valley will be ahead. Go down the other side for 3.4 miles and turn right into Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
The refuge headquarters is 7.6 miles from the Harrison Pass Road junction. At this facility bird lists and other wildlife information are available, as well as information about fishing, camping, and boating.

Ruby Lake owes its existence to the Ruby Mountains in this southern third of the range. Remember, this section is mostly limestone, which absorbs rain and snow. Well, that water doesn’t just disappear. It emerges as springs at the base of the mountains and forms this lake. The national wildlife refuge was established around the lake in 1938 and is home to ducks, geese, wading birds, and shorebirds. It is also one of the few refuges that boast nesting sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans among their occupants.

The lake’s greatest attraction is that it harbors trout and bass. Anglers can be numerous on the water at times, but regulations keep fishing from getting out of hand. Nevada state fishing licenses are required, and season, boating, and bait regulations should be checked before you head out. Fishing for bass is most productive in the middle of summer, and fishing for trout peaks in June and in the fall.
The refuge offers its own 35-site campground south of the headquarters with no-hookup sites; a dump station is located nearby.

From this campground, you’ll have 60 miles to return to Elko over Harrison Pass. That will give you a chance to see much of the length of the Rubies on your way – a chance to reflect on what you’ve seen and learned about the Yosemite of Nevada.