Category Archives: Adventure Travlin’

Dude ranches: Renting a home on the range

I had the best time visiting White Stallion Ranch and Tombstone Monument Ranch in Arizona with my aunt last month. We totally cowgirl up’d! Take a look at the story on USAToday.com!

Ice climbing: For when rocks are too warm

Ice, ice, baby! Ice climbing, that is! Check out my piece on USAToday.com all about ice climbing and where you can give it a go this winter!

Go Baby, GO!

The miracle of sea turtle nesting and hatching has begun, and I have first-hand experience. Years ago, I was part of the volunteer turtle team at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Starting about now, staff and volunteers patrol the beaches in the early-morning, looking for tracks of females who had made their way to shore to lay hundreds of eggs at a time.

The Time I Became a Bobblehead

With the Olympics beginning this week, I can’t help but think of a visit I made to Park City, Utah for a few days last March. What a beautiful place to be, even for this warm-weather-lovin’ girl! When we were out there, I heard murmurs that there may be the opportunity to go for a bobsled ride at Utah Olympic Park.

get up, stand up (paddle)!

 

Ready!

Ready!

Our first foray into stand up paddling was a number of years ago. Dawn and Robin are my adventure girlfriends, and our friend Nikki came into town for her annual week at the beach. We thought stand up paddling could be an adventure, and so we gave it a shot. Our guide/instructor was patient and fun, and passed along her enthusiasm for the sport to us.

Now, whenever the opportunity presents itself, the three of us are ready to jump on board and paddle our ways across the water. And if Nikki’s in town, she’s a good sport and joins the fun.

When our friend Kim came into town not long ago, we wanted to introduce her to SUP, too. Kim grew up on a sailboat in Michigan and kayaks around the DC area, so we thought SUP would be right up her alley. We made reservations with East Coast Paddle in New Smyrna Beach (on the east coast of Florida, just south of Daytona Beach) and anticipated our fun in the sun.

The day came and it was a bit breezy beachside. “It’ll be fine,” we reassured Kim as we soaked up some rays. “It’ll be calmer out on the water.” Sure…

When the time came to meet Tim and Cheryl from East Coast Paddle, the wind was gusting a decent amount and the Intercoastal waters were a bit choppy.

But we persevered.

Tim navigated the boat to a cove where Cheryl could reintroduce Dawn, Robin and me to SUP, and teach Kim the basics. We all caught on quickly and were ready to paddle, with Cheryl leading the way.

Or, we thought we were.

The current was mighty strong, and we constantly had to paddle to the one side to keep our boards going in the right direction.

It was hard.

It was challenging.

It was not the relaxing day on the water we’d anticipated.

After an hour or so of rough going, Cheryl corralled us to an atoll in the Intercoastal where we waited for Tim to pick us up.

“Oh no,” I thought. “Kim is going to hate this, and hate me for it.”

But she didn’t. As we hung out on our boards waiting for Tim, we were all smiles and laughs. Just like longtime girlfriends should be.

Back onboard the boat, Tim and Cheryl toured us around the area, looking at the gorgeous homes and taking us to a spot popular with manatees. It turned out to be a great day after all, not in small part to how much fun Tim and Cheryl are. They really made the day.

Will we go stand up paddling again? Absolutely – just not in strong winds!

Photos courtesy of Cheryl and Tim @ East Coast Paddle – thanks for the amazing photos!

What I would do in five days in Queensland

queensland

If I’m selected to visit Queensland, the first thing I’ll do even before my arrival is realize a long-time dream of visiting the Land Down Under. Years ago, a friend and I vowed that we’d go to Australia to celebrate our 30th birthdays. That magical number has come and is well gone, yet my desire to travel south of the equator is just as strong and has yet to come to fruition. Until now.

After settling into the realization that I am indeed in Australia, it’ll quickly be time to get moving and enjoy all that I can of what Queensland has to offer under its 300 days of sun – in five days.

(c) Tourism Queensland Image Library

(c) Tourism Queensland Image Library

Day 1

An avid ocean lover, my first must-do is snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. Who knows, maybe I’ll freshen up my SCUBA certification and dive down under. I can’t wait to see for myself all of the colorful undersea creatures that call the reef home. I’m especially hopeful to catch glimpse of sea turtles and manta rays, and if I happen to hear whale songs off in the distance, I’ll be the happiest girl alive!

courtesy of Queensland Blog

courtesy of Queensland Blog

Day 2

Above the water’s surface, surf lessons are certainly in order. I’ve taken lessons a couple of times in the past – in California and Hawaii – and with some of the world’s best surfing right here on Queensland’s  Gold Coast, I’m sure to hang 10…with a little help from a pro, anyway. Afterwards, soaking in some rays on the beach will definitely be in order.

(c) UNESCO

(c) UNESCO

Day 3

Back on land, a hike through the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves (now known as the Gondwana Rainforests), a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, will be amazing. I can almost hear the powerful waterfalls plunging into the emerald pools below. And if jungle surfing is available, I’ll be more than ready to zip amidst the trees!

I can’t imagine anything cuter than snuggling up with a koala bear at the Australia Zoo in the Sunshine Coast area. I’ll certainly be missing my pup at home and will have plenty of love and cuddles to share with the furry little boy or girl.

(c) Decanter.com

(c) Decanter.com

Day 4

All this adventure is sure to make a girl thirsty! Fortunately, Australian wines are my favorites, and there are plenty of wineries to choose from throughout the area. I’ll certainly want to visit those found along the Gold Coast Hinterland wine trail, as well as the blossoming Sunshine Coast region. Of course, I’ll need to sample the gourmet local fare along the way, too!

(c) Spa qualia

(c) Spa qualia

Day 5

The perfect way to finish my Australian stay will be to retreat to a luxurious spa that blends ancient Aboriginal traditions, indigenous plants and oils, and unique therapeutic services, leaving me time to reflect upon the incredible five days I’ve spent in the magical place of Queensland.

Many thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland, Delta Vacations and Johnny Jet for the opportunity to create my dream itinerary in Queensland – what fun!