Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.
Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.
Email us with tips and questions.
Zooming north on I-35 with a stand-up paddleboard atop your Subaru Outback, with the securing straps humming in the wind, is not the time to first search youtube.com for videos about how to secure a board to your car roof. I'm the travel editor; I should know better. I should have prepared. But, well, there were so many other details to attend to before departing on our long trip Up North that I overlooked that little -- okay, vital -- item. So in the morning, I strapped on the board the same way I do for the five-block trip to Lake Harriet and took off. Who knew that 65 miles per hour could prove so much more harrowing than 20 mph. The straps screamed in a high-pitched tune, occasionally slapping at the car roof. We pulled off, considered returning the board to our garage, then instead tightened it up and gingerly headed north. That's when I used my phone to log onto youtube, outwardly calm but inwardly frantic.
It seemed I had done a fairly good job of it, though the fin should have been at the front in case the board slipped backward (it would have been caught by the first strap in that case). By the time we stopped in Duluth for a break, I felt confident. And indeed, we made it to our destination and home again, though by the time we turned off the engine back in Minneapolis, that nice relaxed feeling you go on vacation to achieve had been stripped away as we nervously eyed the board through the sunroof all the way home.
True, the paddleboard was a boon to our vacation. We used it nearly every day. And we'll take it with us again. Next time, though, we'll be truly prepared. Last week I finally did what I should have done before the trip. I went to REI, asked the pros, and bought a cheap set of foam pads for our car rack and a Yakima SUP brah (I know, makes you think of a different support item, right?) that secures the bow and stern to the front and back of the car. We're geared up right, brah!
Among the highlights: "sunrise surfing in Malibu, falling into a 20-foot snowdrift at Crater Lake, getting robbed in Seattle, lost within the Redwoods at dusk and sword fighting with whale rib bones on the Oregon Coast."
Along with former college roommate Derek Karnatz, he says, "we aquired a lifetime’s worth of lessons in three months. These experiences have changed the way I view the world and my ideas for what is truly possible with a goal and a little imagination."
Nice things happen whem groups collaborate. Case in point: Groupon Getaways, the nifty groupon site that offers discounted vacations; Groupon Grassroots, Groupon's philanthropic arm; and buildOn, a non-profit that provides after-school service programs for American students and builds schools in impoverished communities overseas, have come together to offer a pretty cool groupon deal. For $2,583, you can travel to Nicaragua or Nepal on a 7-day all-inclusive trip to help build a school for a community in need. With that fee, you also sponsor an American inner-city student who is a part of buildOn's afterschool program to make the trip, too. For altruistic travelers, it's a win-win-win. The price of the trip includes meals, lodging with a host family and local travel. Fifteen slots available: there are 9 days and 7 hours left.
There are contests and then there are contests. This one sounds too good to be true. The San Francisco-based tour company Viator is looking for travelers with wanderlust and video acumen. Winners will get an all-expenses-paid junket to visit 20 cities in 60 days, shooting video in two-person teams. Official details are slated to be announced March 1, but Escape Artists got the scoop a little early and is happy to share the following press release. (We're also guessing Chicago will be among the cities on the list, so we've included a photo from the North Pond restaurant in Lincoln Park)
COALBANK PASS, COLO. -- The crunching tromp of my snowshoes features a sort of reggae backbeat. The loose back of the snowshoe scrunches an echo through the utterly quiet pines and snow. I parked my rental Jeep on the top of Coalbank Pass, just over 10,000 feet between Durango and Silverton.
Snowshoes are like tennis raquets. No longer big wooden contraptions. I strap the light aluminum snowshoes around my boots, throw on a packback with some food and water and tromp off. I soon confront a huge dropoff and, despite the snowshoe tracks that seems to scale this cliff, I double back and take a less steep route, tromping and crunching through snow-dusted pines, grabbing views of peaks and valleys balnketed with thick, fresh snow.
After about an hour, I throw down my jacket and just sit in a snowbank and take the photo on the right. The clouds dance and a few chickadees flit past. I tromp back to the rent-a-Jeep and drive north to Molas Pass, pull over again and head toward little Molas Lake. I run into my first human contact -- an old guy who hiked up Bear Mountain with his golden retreiver and his downhill skis. As I pet the dog, Boddie, I ask how far to the lake. He tells me I went the wrong way. I thank him and trudge on, a steady uphill climb that has me sweating and breathing hard. Heck, it's 11,000 feet. But jaw-dropping gorgeous.
In just over two hours, I see five people, including Karen and David Jensen of Grand Junction. They drove down through the San Juan Mountain Range, through Ouray and beneath lucious robin egg's blue skies, to visit their son at Fort Lewis College.It's his birthday and they'll take him downhill skiing tomorrow. But first, they will cross-country ski through this valley. Enjoy the day, Karen and David.
|Minnesota Parks (3)||Deals (66)|
|Adventure travel (16)||Airlines (48)|
|Airports (23)||Chicago (13)|
|Consumer travel (72)||Cruises (12)|
|Europe (7)||International travel (31)|
|Minnesota (25)||Passports (6)|
|Regional travel (18)||Road trips (12)|
|Travel deals (7)||Travel gadgets and gear (1)|
|U.S. travel (58)||Winter getaways (11)|