Give the guys in your life the gift of travel.
Here are five ideas to consider:
The Ranch at Emerald Valley, Colorado Springs, CO.
Visitors to this high mountain, luxury outpost in the Pike National forest can team up with man’s best friend ( Reba, the fly fishing dog ) for an afternoon of casting for trout in one of two lakes on the secluded property. Later, give Reba a rest while exploring the surrounding area on horseback or hike to nearby lookout points. Challenge friends and family on the archery range or fireside for a masterful game of chess. Share stories while enjoying fresh, gourmet fare at the dinner table, in the hot tub or around the cozy fire pit. It's all part of the Broadmoor's Wilderness experience which also includes Cloud Camp and a Fishing Camp.
Fly Fishing Adventure, Jackson Hole, WY.
Catch the attention of fly-fishing enthusiasts with the promise of an overnight fishing trip on the South Fork of the Snake River. The extraordinary experience includes a two-day float through some of the most coveted, trout-rich water in the western United States. As the sun sets on the initial day, anglers arrive at the South Fork Hilton, a fully outfitted camp tucked in the pines with a steep, canyon wall as backdrop.
The overnight includes a deluxe dinner, tall tales and roasted marshmallows around a campfire. Participants rest up for the next day’s action in cozy platform tents. Day two promises stunning scenery, 16 miles of braided waters and the option to expand the adventure while wading gravel bars and maneuvering up productive side channels.
Contact: www.WorldCastAnglers.com; www.WyomingTourism.org.
Big League Tours.
Are the men in your life fans of Fenway? Are they eager to cheer inside Wrigley Field? If the idea sounds like a home run, then a Big League Tour might be a perfect fit for your favorite baseball fan. Word is tour participants hang out with MLB players, get on to the field, inside the dugouts and catch a batting practice in venues that continue to infuse allegiance to the game. Tours and vacation packages make it possible to hear the crack of the bat in your Dad’s favorite cities or an entire region.
Zion Adventure. Springdale, UT.
Send your guy to the slots where he can take on the famed canyons on his own or with a guide. The Narrows, a 16-mile corridor, can be hiked in one rigorous day, but most recommend an overnight or the Bottom Up hike that enables hikers to see some of the most stunning aspects of the canyon in four to six hours. Either way, Dad will thank you for the opportunity to experience the splendor of the twisting slots, where carved sandstone rises to the bright, blue western sky.
Bob Bondurant Performance Driving School – Phoenix, AZ.
Channel your guy's need for speed with a visit to this premier performance-driving academy. He’ll get the chance to sharpen everyday driving skills, learn skid control or don a fire suit and helmet and hit the track for some high octane track time. Learning the Bondurant Method, crafted by Bob Bondurant as a way to train pros as well as daily commuters, promises to shape drivers into capable and confident roadsters while having the time of their lives. Contact: www.Bondurant.com; www.VisitPhoenix.com.
Life is full of adventure!
If you are looking for a little inspiration, a few words to urge you into action, you've come to the right place.
Enjoy these adventure quotes!
The take-off is amazing. But, it’s the sound that stays with you, I’d been told. Still, I couldn’t imagine the impending glory of the moment.
I was too cold.
This was my first visit to Willcox, Ariz., for the town’s annual celebration of the sandhill cranes’ migration to their southern Arizona winter home.
The sandhills’ stop in the Southwest is perhaps their most famous performance. Scouting for a suitable mate, the birds spend nearly a month entertaining avid birders and the casually curious. The crane population peaks around St Patrick’s Day, before they depart en masse for the Arctic, where a demanding breeding season ensues.
I had heard about Wings Over Willcox and had been eager to introduce the birding extravaganza to my sons. My own interest in the cranes began when I first read A Sand County Almanac (Oxford University, 1970) in my 20s. Aldo Leopold, the late Wisconsin naturalist, wrote of his fondness for the sandhills in his 1949 classic.
Each year this farming community in Cochise County, roughly 80 miles east of Tucson, welcomes winter visitors of multiple species. Plenty of heat-seeking humans show up from places like Vancouver and Kansas. And as many as 30,000 sandhill cranes find their way to a 60-sq.-mile roosting site near Willcox. The Arizona Game and Fish Department owns the land where the birds roost and makes sure it is flooded each year to create the six-inch deep pool the cranes find so appealing.
In an era when Facebook, video games and sporting events are mainstays for the modern teen, it is not easy to arouse enthusiasm for a weekend spent in a small Arizona town, where the adventure’s highlight is a predawn excursion to see a mass of long-necked, pointy-billed, spindly legged birds take flight. I am fortunate to have raised nature lovers. When journalist and youth advocate Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonquin Books, 2005), sparked a national discussion about the lack of time children spend in the natural world, I feel grateful my sons have grown up exposed to desert wild flowers, the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, and now, the dance of the sandhill cranes.
There is much to be learned from these ancient birds that live long lives, up to 25 years, despite an arduous lifestyle; some are known to commute as far as Siberia. The cranes also are monogamous, have several offspring and even dance for their mates. They will mightily defend their loved ones and their territory. Their young even go through voice changes, just as humans do, says Michael Forsberg, a nature photographer and expert on crane migration and social behaviors.
National Geographic considers this avian traveling show one of the continents two greatest wildlife events, sharing honors with the great caribou migration. The residents of Willcox must be proud.
So it was that we found ourselves in the cold, dark Arizona morning, swaddled in warm layers to ward off the chill, waiting for lift off.
Then we heard it. As the rising sun spewed light on the shallows, a jarring whoosh filled the air and washed over us like a wave over sand. In that moment, thousands of birds, with a five- to six-foot wingspans, and weighing as much as 14 pounds, took flight. They were embarking on a day that would include lollygagging in nearby cornfields and flying in V formation to the delight of mesmerized onlookers. Later they would return, to roost once again, in this Sulphur Springs Valley sanctuary.
Thankfully, the rising sun, and the somehow haunting ritual, warmed us as well.
As we settled into a welcome breakfast of eggs over easy and piles of pancakes, we spoke of the birds’ flight. And of the sound. The amazing sound of the sandhill cranes, in unison, breaking the sacred silence of morning.
If You Go
Every winter, tens of thousands of sandhill cranes come to roost around the town of Willcox, 83 miles east of Tucson off I-10. For several years now, the town has decided to celebrate this event by staging a major festival during the third weekend of January, with birding tours and field trips to Willcox Playa, Cochise lake and the Apache Station Wildlife Area (the main habitats of the famous cranes). Other excursions take visitors to see raptors, sparrows and waterfowl wintering in the mild Southern Arizona climate. Inquire about tour dates and prices. Seminars and presentations on local wildlife are free. Due to limited seating, registration is required for all tours.
If you go:
Adventure journalist Peter Potterfield, author of Classic Hikes of the World, spends more time outdoors than in. He has hiked on seven continents, traveling from Mount Everest to Antarctica, New Zealand to Arctic Sweden, the Grand Canyon to the Scottish Highlands, Alaska to Africa.
Planning a family trip can be overwhelming. So many options, so little time!
Here are a handful of tips from travel industry experts with children of their own. They’ve spent their careers helping other families enjoy the wonder of the world.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone.
That’s the advice of Kurt Kutay, owner of Wildland Adventures. Include activities that allow all family members to participate together and learn more about themselves, he advises. Do things you never imagined. Discover your inner source of strength. On a Wildland Family Adventure, you can walk with elephants in Botswana, learn the secrets of survival with Maasai warriors near the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, or deliver school supplies to children in the mountains of Panama.
Contact: www.wildland.com; (800) 345-4453.
Have Fun. Be Happy.
In their all inclusive, family-focused resorts around the world, children are encouraged to explore, play and…..well, be happy. Henri Giscard d'Estaing, CEO of Club Med, brightens with enthusiasm when he talks about the mini-clubs and the wide range of activities available to children of all ages. Swing from a trapeze, try new water sports, become a Petit Chef, and learn about the local communities. Parents are equally enthused to hear about the multitude of kid’s stay free, free nights and discounted packages currently available.
Contact: www.ClubMed.us; (800) CLUBMED.
Restore in nature.
Peter Grubb and his wife Betsy have raised two kids in the adventure travel business and believe there is no better place to spend meaningful time with your kids than on a river. Fresh air, active days and peaceful nights make for great family memories. Kayak, float and splash through rapids in Idaho, Oregon and Montana.
Contact: www.ROWAdventures.com; (800) 451-6034
Redefine Your Family Values –
On this fourth generation family-owned ranch you’ll get a chance to see how hard work and commitment pay off for one Montana clan. Ride, wrangle and mend fences amid breathtaking scenery on the Lazy E-L Ranch. Join in the thrill of a 2300-head cattle drive. Why? Being on horseback allows time to listen to your soul and remember what really matters, says owner Jael Kampfe.
Contact: www.LazyEL.com; (406)328-6858.
Praveen Moman has been at the forefront of ecotourism development in Uganda. He urges parents to educate their children about global issues and sees travel as an essential element in that process. His company specializes in mountain gorilla safaris and puts the spotlight on the importance of protecting their natural habitat. Contact: www.volcanoessafaris.com ; (866) 599-APES (2737)
Accompanied by a tall, handsome young man (OK, he was carrying my luggage) I wandered down the cedar plank, eager to see the digs I had heard so much about. As he unzipped the white canvas door, a slice of heaven was revealed.
I’ve spent my share of nights inside a tent, but none like this. Forget the unrolled sleeping bags on uneven ground. Think exotic bed, laden with thick, silky linens, elegant antiques and carpets warming the wood floor. The entire room was aglow with more than a dozen candles flickering in the early evening breeze.
And then there was the view. From my private deck overlooking the mouth of the pristine Bedwell River, I could see smoke billowing from the lodge fireplace across the water. A bevy of resident canines frolicked on the deep green lawn. Beyond, tree-covered mountains rose, with still higher peaks looming in the distance.
I had arrived at the remote Clayoquot Wilderness Resort near Tofino on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, via seaplane. Away from the watchful eyes of the male members of my family sons, I was looking forward to a little rest and relaxation, and to the camaraderie and nonjudgment of my fellow students—four other “reel women”—for a stress-free, four-day tutorial to hone our fly-fishing skills.
This wilderness lodge and others dotting the planet have combined luxurious, yet eco-friendly amenities with a wilderness setting to create a fresh air-filled getaway some have labeled “glamping” (short for glamorous camping). Somehow, the distinction does not do justice to this elegant outdoor trend. For me, the term thuds to the ground, but the experience is other-worldly.
At Clayoquot, the day begins with coffee or tea service delivered outside your tent door at the time of your choosing. Later, you’ll linger over a delectable breakfast. Consider wild blueberry and cornmeal griddle cakes or homemade muesli along with fresh-squeezed juices, served in the cozy, timbered ranch style lodge, while gathering your strength for an event-filled day.
Guests can choose from guided hiking or horseback riding through old growth forests, deep sea fishing, kayaking, rock wall climbing or relaxing in the wood-fired cedar hot tub overlooking the estuary.
Some opt for a Walk on the Wild Side, a guided outing that combines hiking, strolling deserted beaches, and whale and bear watching.
Heading out for the day? The gourmet dining staff will create a delectable picnic lunch—perhaps free-range roasted chicken, grilled vegetables and aioli on homemade bread—fit for an eco-queen.
And at day’s end, sore muscles are soothed at Healing Grounds where seaside spa tents envelop the weary for a deep tissue massage set to the muffled sounds of water lapping and birds chirping outside canvas walls.
Meanwhile back in the Hemingway-esque fishing tent, the reel women are learning the difference between roll casting and back casting, rainbow and cutthroat trout, and how differently men and women adapt to the sport.
“Women seem to have an easier time learning to cast,” observed Dino, one of two charming and patient instructors. “So many men try to strong arm it and that just isn’t how it is done.”
Our feminine group did express some concern about the well being of the fish. But once we cleared that hurdle it was on to tying our own flies, practicing our casts and preparing for the big catch.
Part of the experience involved testing our skills in the local waters. We rode horseback past massive, moss-covered cedars, climbing through the lush rainforest to cast into deep, clear pools. The following morning we climbed aboard a seaplane and landed on a high mountain lake where Alice, our most determined student, would joyfully land her first big fish.
My only regret: Four days leaves too little time to enjoy this expansive and exquisite wilderness setting. My fly fishing skills had improved, but I hadn’t lounged near the imposing stone fireplace in the outside living room, lingered on my scenic deck, had a second massage, gone Coho salmon fishing or kayaked across the sound.
Remedy: a swift return.
While intimate and romantic, families are also welcome. Reunions and weddings are common. Rates include all activities, three gourmet meals and seaplane transport from Vancouver; mid-May to mid-July and end of August to the beginning of October.
The Resort at Paws Up. Greenough, Montana. Stay at one of several glamping sites, including River Camp on the Blackfoot River and enjoy horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking spa services and a healthy dose of Big Sky. Tel. 800-473-0601, www.PawsUp.com
Steamboat Springs has a very strong western tradition, which even the youngest residents celebrate.
There was a time when my middle son, Alex, would don his small cowboy hat, grab an unsuspecting stuffed animal and practice calf roping in the living room. Swinging his imaginary rope, he would nab the stuffed toy, drop on one knee and throw his hands in the air.
The Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series is the most successful weekly rodeo in the country, and an important part of a summer visit to this northern Rockies cowboy town. Every Friday and Saturday evening from mid-June to mid-August, the locals mix with tourists for an evening of plumb western fun.
The town’s rodeo roots reach deep into the region’s vibrant ranching history and can be traced back more than 100 years. No one is quite sure when the first rodeo took place, but mentions of bronco riding can be found in old copies of the Steamboat Pilot newspaper from as early as 1898.
The same paper referred to what may have been the precursor to the modern rodeo: Game Day. The paper reports that the multi-day event drew about 3,000 people to Steamboat to watch ”rough riding, steer roping, pony racing, shooting contests, running races and dances.”
Today, the rodeo tradition is alive and well. The sport’s legends, hall-of-famers, world champions, circuit champions, season champions, as well as raw rookies support the rodeo. Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), the weekend event takes place in a modern rodeo arena named after local rodeo rider Brent Romick. With a nod to history, it stands on the same ground the original cowboys chose for their competitions a century ago.
Rodeo and western fans will also enjoy a Steamboat Fourth of July. Cowboy Roundup days include all the rodeo favorites: a parade down Lincoln Avenue, a community pancake breakfast, live music and fireworks.
When in Steamboat Springs
Your whole crew will enjoy witnessing this American tradition where the rough and tough iconic cowboy meets good, old-fashioned family fun.
Get there early.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. The seating is general admission, so if you want a front and center seat for the action, get there by 6:30 for a 7:30 start. There is parking at the rodeo grounds. However, you can avoid the crowds after the rodeo by parking in town and walking the few blocks to the arena.
Don’t miss the barbecue.
Each Friday and Saturday, a family-style barbecue starts at 6:00 p.m. and runs until approximately 9:30 p.m. If front row seats aren’t your priority, get riled up for the rodeo with special entertainment from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m.
Get the kids involved.
Talk with first-timers about what to expect. For some small children, the events can be overwhelming. For arena-ready young wranglers, the just-for-fun calf and ram scramble may be just right for them. There are separate events for kids 5 and under as well as a scramble for kids 6-12. No need to register in advance.
Dress for the cool mountain air. The rodeo goes on, rain or shine. Kids 6 and under are free.
For more information: www.steamboatprorodeo.com.