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7 Fall Activities for Fitness and Fun

With gorgeous foliage and cooler temperatures, fall is the perfect season for outdoor activities. There’s something invigorating about a breezy fall afternoon that quite simply revives the soul. If you’re looking for ideas on making the most of this season, below are a few suggestions for fall activities for fitness and fun.

* Hiking. Whether hiking along a rugged mountain trail or in a wooded area, the time of year is just right for this endeavor. With a sense of adventure in the air, you may find yourself tackling trails that before seemed too challenging. If you own a mobile GPS device, use it to create some new hiking paths.

* Flag football. Reminiscent of a movie scene on a college campus, get together with a few friends for a game of flag football. With high school, college and professional football in full swing, your competitive spirit should be up for the challenge. Flag football is a great way to spend a fall afternoon.

* Jogging or walking. For those who enjoy jogging or walking, fall makes this exercise just a bit more pleasant. Enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of the season on an extra long route on weekend mornings.

* Raking the yard. Who says raking the yard is just hard work? You can actually have some fun with it. Share the task with family members and think of creative ways to make raking a game. No matter who wins, all can enjoy the sense of accomplishment with a cleanly raked yard.

* Bike riding. Another way to get in a solid and enjoyable workout during the fall is to ride your bike. Whether competing in a local race or going for a more leisurely ride, your spirits will soar will when biking on a cool fall day. If you have children, bike riding makes for a nice family activity.

* Yoga. For those who are passionate about yoga, try an outdoor session as the sun sets on a glorious autumn day. The serenity of nature will map to the inner serenity you’ve found. Yoga is such a relaxing form of exercise and meditation, and the fall weather truly compliments this discipline.

* Camping. Finally, if you’d like a weekend filled with both fun and exercise, go camping. Whether setting up camp or scouting for wood for a bonfire, you’ll truly enjoy the camping experience during autumn.

Clearly, fall is a great time of year to pursue countless activities. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy autumn to the fullest. After all, winter is right around the corner.


Snowmobile History and Fun Is a Family Affair

I became part of the sport of snowmobiling when I married into it in 1976.

My husband was the son of a man involved in snowmobiles deeply. Even before we were married I was invited to go snowmobiling at “the farm”. I had no experience riding a snowmobile at that time.

After being married, the first event I was invited to was the Hetteen Cup oval race in Alexandria, Mn. in 1977. His parents invited us, the newly weds, to the weekend event. We stayed at a hotel in Alexandria and met a few of their friends at the evening meal that night. I remember how exciting it was to watch the racers compete on snowmobiles of many different companies. I also remember that Scorpion won the race and Brad Hulings was the race driver of that winning sled. The owner of Arctic Cat went down to shake hands, present the trophy and a boat to the winner. It was a wonderful event.

It was fun to be a part of a family that went snowmobiling together at “the farm” in Wanaska, Mn. I learned how to ride my own sled that first year instead of riding double behind my husband. He was riding a 1976 Pantera with a mid-mounted gas tank, black and orange trim, a cross between a panther and an El Tigre. I remember it well. I got the 1975 Panther to use, which was also a fine sled. The snowmobile trails were part of Hayes Park and then traveled along the ditches going into Roseau, Mn. Going there and back to catch a bite to eat, just a round trip, ending back to “the farm” to play cards and share stories of the trip.

The children of the family learned at a young age to ride a snowmobile by using Grandpa’s airplane runway covered with powder snow to practise, before they could take to the trails on their own. We would take shorter trips for the day when the children were along. Grandma was famous for her potato/carrot aluminum packs that she would put in a open fire, to cook for us to eat along the trail. The hot chocolate in a thermos bottle was very inviting to drink when we would take a break along the trail. Many times there was a larger crew of us, and we would stop at Bemis Hill for sledding and a fire in the fireplace in the building. In the 1980’s and 1990’s we would experience riding the Polaris snowmobiles like the 1990 Polaris Indy Sport GT and 1994 XLT.

In 1998 his parents moved to Grand Rapids, MN. We still continued to snowmobile the trails and our son got married to his wife. And then our daughter got married to her husband. That added more members to the family, including more children. We extended our trail riding to other areas like Ironwood, MI and Superior, WI making a weekend out of it each time.

We continued to have lots of experiences with trail riding around Grand Rapids, Mn. when we moved there also in 2006. Our married children and grandchildren continue to come up for weekends of winter to enjoy the beautiful trails in Grand Rapids, Mn. The resource of plenty of snow comes and goes and riding snowmobiles stays in our blood. The old folks pass on to new horizons and babies continue to be born into the family. The stories of young experiences and yesteryear are told to the grandchildren and the history of snowmobiling lives on.

The sport of snowmobiling continues to grow every year when new sleds come out for people to ride. The ASCOA and the VSCA also encourage snowmobile history to never be forgotten by having events to show original sleds and restored sleds at their events all over the USA. There are museums thoughout the United States that house these early models from the 50’s to the 80’s and people go to look at them as part of their vacation ventures.


A Magical Experience!

Mangalore is a magical place. The beach is lonely, and I am alone. No gossips of football, movies, and politics are loitering about my ears. It’s just the sizzling sound of waves that I can hear.

Wait… someone’s talking aloud! It’s my mind. It’s am talking to myself loudly, asking the same question again and again: Is it okay to travel alone? Why are people so reluctant about travelling alone?

I have heard people say things like: I didn’t go anywhere this vacation because I didn’t have anyone to go with.

Really? Is that an excuse for not going out, and staying in your home all the times? Do you also feel traveling alone is boring and weird? If you tend to feel that way, it’s time for you to rework on this notion.

I love to travel with family and friends, but in the recent years I have found myself being addicted to travelling alone! There had been a couple of questions, however, that muddled me before I took ‘solo travel’ as one of my passion.

‘What if I fall sick and nobody is there to take care of me?’

‘What if I am robbed of all my money?’

‘What if I meet an accident, get kidnapped, or get murdered?”

The concerns are genuine. But even when you travel with someone, what’s the guarantee that you’re 100 percent safe? Accidents can befall anytime, and not doing something just because you feel something bad will happen is cowardly. It is just like saying that I don’t drive because vehicles can cause accidents.

With a strong determination, and a strong backup plan, you can really come over all these inhibitions, and take control of your journey. That’s what I did, and I find it very rewarding.

Having travelled a lot, I have had all kinds of experiences. I have realized that all these experiences differ. But there is one thing common: When you travel with someone, you are outside of your head and much in-tuned with people around you. When you travel alone, you tend to be inside your head. You tend to talk a lot to yourself.

I have been to Mysore thrice-once with my friends, once as a part of camera crew to shoot a documentary, and once alone. Though the destination was the same, the experience differed.

My first journey was clandestine getaway-a trip planned by my friends out of the blue.

“Let’s go to Mysore”, my friend and mastermind proposed one day. “Bunking a day of college won’t hurt”.

And we packed for the trip the same day, and left for Mysore early in the morning next day. Not much money we had to expend, so we decided to come back the same day via the jam-packed local passenger train. It was a six hour of tiring return journey without having a place to sit. But the journey was fun: squatting by the door of a moving train, debating all the way about the best beer in the world, about the fastest bullet train, about cannibal tribes of Africa. That was a trip I would seldom forget, a trip that made me experience the true joys being a bohemian.

My second journey was an official one. There were directors, producers, faculties, and students. It was a crowded journey, and we seldom got chance to enjoy the place. For most part of the journey, we were roaming in a claustrophobic vehicle, and much of what we saw was through the camera lens. We were in a rush. The only thing I enjoyed during this journey was the lunch with the producer in Royal club. Few people around us were having shots of Vodka, but we were not allowed to have it. We returned in the same van-our butts glued to seats, backs frozen, and mind bored to death.

Recently, I went to Mysore once again, to attend a club meeting. I was alone this time! It endowed me a different kind of experience-a wonderful one!

I had the complete freedom to choose exactly what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. My time and budget was my own. I had far more flexibility and was open to lots of new, exciting opportunities. I met a large number of solo travelers, one of them turned out to be a blogger, just like me!


Access Upgrades Abound in America’s National Parks

Although not all areas of America’s national parks are wheelchair-accessible, there are many accessible options for wheelchair-users and slow walkers. And the good news is, more and more access upgrades and improvements are added every year. With that in mind, here’s a sampling of wheelchair-accessible trails and attractions in select national parks across the country.

Yosemite National Park

Even though the trail to Lower Yosemite Falls was originally rated as “accessible with assistance”, in reality a steep slippery section prevented most wheelchair-users and slow walkers from completing the hike. All that changed on April 18, 2005, when a new accessible trail was unveiled. The result of the 10-year $13.5 million Lower Yosemite Falls restoration project, the 3/4-mile paved level trail leads from the shuttle bus stop to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. The gentle grade allows for wheelchair access; and numerous benches along the trail provide places to rest for slow walkers. Additionally, there’s good access in the viewing area at the base of the falls, where wheelchair-users can roll out to the edge, hear the roar of the water and even feel the mist of the falls.

Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon Rim Trail, which is the most accessible trail in the park, has been undergoing sectional access upgrades over the span of many years. The newest accessible section is the 1.3-mile Trail of Time, which runs from the Yavapai Geology Museum to Verkamp’s Visitor Center. The paved level trail winds along the rim of the canyon and helps visitors understand the magnitude of geologic time. The geologic timeline is marked by brass medallions embedded in the pavement; and interpretive exhibits and displays along the way encourage visitors to connect the visible rocks in the canyon to the geologic timeline. Wheelchair-height viewing scopes are available, and accessible pictograms clearly point out the wheelchair-accessible route.

Bryce Canyon National Park

After many years of planning and construction, the Bryce Canyon Shared Use Path was completed near the end of the 2015 season. Although the primary purpose of this trail is to provide a safer route for cyclists, walkers and joggers, it’s also an excellent option for wheelchair-users and slow walkers. The trail begins outside of the park at the shuttle staging area at Ruby’s in Bryce Canyon City, and travels 2.4 miles to the park entrance, then continues another 2.6 miles to Inspiration Point. And the good news is, the entire five-mile length is paved, level and wheelchair-accessible. It also connects with the shuttle system at the visitor center, general store, lodge, Sunset Point, Sunset Campground and Inspiration Point, so you can do as much of the trail as you like, then hop on the shuttle to return to your car.

Rocky Mountain National Park

The Rocky Mountain Conservancy has raised funds for accessible trail improvements in Rocky Mountain National Park since 1985. At the top of their list of completed projects is the accessible Lily Lake Trail. The level ¾-mile trail, which is covered in decomposed granite, circles the lake and passes through the adjacent wetlands. There’s also an accessible vault toilet, picnic tables and a fishing pier there. The area is especially scenic in late spring and early summer, when you’ll find it filled with wildflowers. The conservancy is also credited with raising funds to repair the accessible mile-long Coyote Valley Trail. Due to harsh winters and an abundance of visitors the trail began to show the stains of time, but thanks to some repairs in 2014 it’s now back in pristine condition. The hard-packed dirt trail, which is covered in crushed gravel, winds along the river and offers a great place to see elk and moose in the early morning or evening.

Yellowstone National Park

After a two-year renovation project and a bill in excess of $28.5 million, a renovated Lake Yellowstone Hotel was unveiled in 2014. Built in 1889, this colonial revival property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. And although the renovation wasn’t an easy task, the contractors managed to preserve the historic nature of the property, and add modern access features. Access upgrades include the installation of a wheelchair-accessible elevator, as well as the addition three accessible rooms — two with a tub/shower combination and one with a roll-in shower. Access to the public areas is equally good, with plenty of room to wheel around the magnificent first-floor sun room and the lobby bar. And for a real treat enjoy a meal at the Lake Hotel Dining Room, which features a magnificent view of Lake Yellowstone.

Everglades National Park

Last but not least, don’t miss the very accessible Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park. This half-mile boardwalk, which was constructed after Hurricane Andrew, winds through sawgrass pines and Taylor Slough and is home to a wealth of bird life. You’ll see Blue Herons, White Ibis and Snowy Egrets, along with the “namesake” Anhinga there. The Anhinga (also called water turkeys) can be seen in abundance drying their colorful wings in the sun, or perched peacefully in trees along the trail. The Anhinga Trail is also an excellent place to get a close look at alligators — sometimes closer that you would like — as they have been known to frequent the approach to the boardwalk.


A Seaplane Adventure to Dry Tortugas National Park

Accessible 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.


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.


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.


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.


Bike Trails Through The Alps Of The Sea

The bike trails through the alps of the sea are the objective of the cross-border project. Exceptional habitats, mild climate and a variety of landscapes make the numerous French and Italian valleys an ideal place to practice your favourite sport in total freedom. In response to the growing demand for well-appointed recrea-tional areas for leisure time and nature discovery, and with utmost respect for the rich and pristine environment in these lands, a network of 2000 km of bike trails have been created along the Italian and French slopes.

Intended for fans of long biking excursions and for leisurely family cycling as well, these itineraries have been carefully selected to offer trails that meet the needs and expectations of everyone. With the Alpi del Mare MTB cross-border trails, the Conseil general des Alpes-Marittimes and the Provinces of Cuneo and Imperia open the door for you to enter an exceptional world, where heritage treasures, legacies of a millenary history, extraordinary verdant green landscapes and sporting activities are harmoniously combined.

Ours is a unique territory, which takes you up to the highest peaks of the Ligurian Alps and down to the seaside in the space of just a few kilometers. Nature is varied here, and all year round you discover special colours and scents. A rainbow of flowers, eagles flying overhead, darting flickers in the bushes, vast stretches of bright green, majestic dry rock faces, shady olive groves, fragrant terraces… And constantly changing scenery day after day. All this is our way of welcoming you!

A journey through ancient trade routes filled with a thousand years of history: walls and terraces eroded by the waters, nestled villages overlooking the valleys, towns crossed by stone bridges, the passageway of ancient roads, sunny villas with parks facing the sea, small fishing villages that evoke traditions of the past. A traditional cuisine, genuine, simple but tasty, filled with Mediter-ranean flavours, the fruit of products from the land and sea: oil and wine, pasta and traditional focaccias, wild game, cheeses from alpine pastures, fresh fish cooked with such mastery that the very sight of it fills.you with desire.

The climate is always mild, the fresh air gives you vitality, and in all seasons of the year you can find the ideal conditions for cycling. On the mule tracks at high altitude in summer; up and down the valleys along the Riviera in winter. A network of trails 2000 km long to satisfy the needs of everyone: easy dirt roads for the family and challenging single-treks for the enjoyment of bikers in top form. All marked with international signs so you can go back and forth between Italy and France without losing your way.

If you love adventure and want to discover the most fascinating spots, put yourself in the hands of our expert guides. If you want to move freely without needing a car, then book the shuttle bus. And if you want the best accommodations, rely on our bike hotels.


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