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Why moonlight hiking? The trails are empty, there are eyes in the bushes and stars in the sky. Then there are the more practical reasons.

Moonlight Hiking

Moonlight HikingI started moonlight hiking when I was a teenager prowling the streets and fields of Michigan. I later found that if I timed my backpacking trips to coincide with a full moon, I could hike every night. The two primary motivations for doing this are the adventure and mystery of night hiking, as well as the practical advantages that it has.Moonlight Hiking - A Unique ExperienceIt's a great experience to hike away the hours of the night under a full moon. My first time doing this on a longer backpacking trip was on a five-day hike in the Sierra Nevadas. Every night I slept next to a lake, waking up when the cold bothered me. Then I easily hiked through the rest of the night by moonlight.This meant getting up between two and four in the morning and hiking the rest of the night. I was moving during the coldest part of the night, so I was able to get away with a lighter sleeping bag on this trip. In fact, since there wasn't a cloud in the sky during those five days, I just slept in the open, without a tent or tarp every night. Most afternoons I took a leisurely nap in the sun to catch up on sleep.Hiking at night meant no other people on the trail. Crowded trails were not actually a problem where I was, but I would like to go moonlight hiking to avoid the crowds the next time I am in Yosemite National Park, or in the Smoky Mountains. Sometimes it is nice to have the trails and whole mountain valleys to yourself.You can hike a lot of miles at night, without any problems of over-heating. When the sky is clear and the moon is full, or within three days of its fullest, the moonlight is more than bright enough for hiking in fairly open terrain. In thicker woods you may need a flashlight for assistance. If you do try this, plan your trip with the full moon coming right in the middle of the time span (if you can). This is how you get the maximum use of the moonlight before, during and after the full moon. Also note the time that the moon rises. About an hour after moonrise you'll have enough light to hike, unless it is overly cloudy (something else to check on).When moonlight hiking on isolated beaches in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan I could clearly see animal tracks in the wet sand along the water's edge. They included fresh bear tracks. Though black bears in this area are not usually dangerous, it keeps your senses tuned in when you know there are eyes in the woods watching you and none of them are human.The lakes reflect the moon, owls swoop by almost without sound, and animals move in the bushes as you pass. The many shadows hide things, but you walk on by them, leaving these little mysteries unsolved. The trees and rocks take on a different, starker appearance than during the day. Moonlight hiking is a beautiful and unique experience.

Arrowhead Hunting and Rock Collecting

Arrowhead Hunting and Rock Collecting

We weren't planning to go rock and arrowhead hunting in Arizona. My wife and I just liked that hotspring in the desert. It was agood place to escape the Michigan winter for a while. Then we met Felix, an old Mayan Indian living in an old RV. After sharing meals and campfires for a week, he took us into the desert to show us ancient metates (grain-grinding stones) and arrowheads. We also found hundreds of beautiful rocks of every type, including Apache Tears, Fire Agate, and various quartzes.Irina, a nineteen-year-old "rainbow kid," who had been living in her van for months, rode with Felix in his old pickup. We took our van. We spent two hours at the first stop. The recent rain had made the rocks and artifacts stand out, washing them clean. We were mostly just rock collecting. Irina and my wife Ana found odd pieces that may have been arrowheads. We found old pottery pieces too, and Felix came back with half of a pot painted with an intricate design. It was probably hundreds of years old. Felix had been in the desert for years, and kept seeing things we missed.Pony Express RuinsAt our second stop, Felix showed us ruins of an old Pony Express station. Unmarked and forgotten, the grass-and-mud-block walls were still partially standing. I realized we still hadn't seen a single other car. There are some isolated areas in Arizona, and this is one of them. We started "arrowhead hunting" around the ruins, because Felix insisted the building would have been fired upon by arrows.Up the hill behind the ruins, Felix showed us rocks with six-inch wide holes a foot deep or more, and perfectly round. They were filled with water - their purpose, according to Felix. We like water with fewer bugs, but he and Irina drank the water collected in them. It was a peaceful spot, overlooking the valley below.Arrowhead Hunting SuccessOver the hill, we had some luck searching for rocks and arrowheads, but not like Felix. We saw hundreds of pieces of pottery, but all very plain looking. He found pottery that had beautiful designs on it, and metates. He found a tiny clear quartz arrowhead, perfectly made, that had probably been used to hunt small birds two hundred years earlier.Each of us wandered a bit. Ana and I made it back to the van first, and when Irina and Felix returned, we cooked beans with instant rice on our camp stove. After the meal, we said goodbyes, and traded addresses. They went back to the hotsprings, while we headed the other way with bags of rocks, an antelope antler, and two broken arrowheads.Notes:For interesting rocks, go out after a rain and you can see Fire-agate and Apache Teardrops laying on the sand. For the best "rock collecting" , visit the designated rockhound areas in southeastern Arizona. As for arrowhead hunting, and ancient pottery, enjoy yourself, but it may be illegal to keep any artifacts now. The BLM office in Safford can give you directions and more information.

Rent A Van When In Southern California

Rent A Van When In Southern California

Traveling to Southern California and dont have any resource to go around your city of destination? The best solution is to rent a van for a more comfortable and worry-free trip with your friends, business associates or your family. A van is spacious both for people and their cargo and this makes your trip a memorable and enjoyable one. In San Diego, for instance, visitors have a lot of places to go to for leisure such as the Seaworld, San Diego Zoo and Universal Studios. Los Angeles as well has so many exciting areas that should not be missed by vacationers. And it is only by renting a van that you can most conveniently travel to these interesting tourist spots. Van rentals are aplenty in San Diego, Orange County and L.A. you just need to look for the company that has long established a good reputation and is trusted by many travelers. And 5 Star Rent-A-Van is a firm to beat when it comes to rental vehicles. This company is known for its high quality vehicles with popular brands like Ford, Dodge and GMC that are top of the line models as well as for its personalized customer service. San Diego Van Rental caters to all kinds of travelers whether corporate, government and military, sports groups, religious groups, students, families and bands. Its more than 50 rental vehicles including 15 passenger vans, 12 "passenger van" s, full size vans are in tip-top condition to make sure that clients travel without a hitch to wherever they want to go. Shuttle service, tow packages and GPS navigation systems are also available if desired by clients. The firms customer service is also unbeatable because of the friendly sales representatives and knowledgeable vehicular team who truly know what theyre doing and can assist clients in all their traveling needs. Since it opened to the public in 1996, San Diego-based 5 Star Rent-A-Van has gained a good reputation being a reliable rental agency. It is a family-owned business and is one of the biggest rental firms in Southern California today. Whether clients are locals or come from abroad, this company makes sure that they provide personalized and quality service for the total satisfaction of customers. Another reason why this rental firm is mostly preferred by travelers is because of its competitive rates that even students can well afford to rent a vehicle from them. Also, renters have various payment options from credit cards, debit cards, cash to travelers check, cashiers check or money order. The latest service provided by 5 Star Rent-A-Van to give more convenience to prospective customers is its online booking system. With this system in place, clients no longer need to call to reserve a vehicle. All they have to do is visit the companys site to find out the availability of their desired van and book it in just a matter of minutes. This online booking gives this preferred van rental company the edge among competitors in San Diego, according to its manager Ray Marashi.

30 years in Themed Entertainment : Blooloop talks to Nick Farmer

30 years in Themed Entertainment : Blooloop talks to Nick Farmer

In November 2007, Nick Farmer will become the first European President of the TEA (formerly the Themed Entertainment Association), a post to which he was unanimously elected. Farmer has 30 years experience of working for theme parks, amusement parks, aquariums, zoos, science centres and other leisure destinations. He advises clients on park, story and brand development and new attraction planning in Europe and Scandinavia. Blooloop talked to him about his 30 year career in the themed entertainment industry and ambitions for his presidency.Early CareerFarmer started his career in marketing with Palitoy, makers of Action Man, Tiny Tears dolls and Star Wars toys. He then formed his own production display company, Farmer Studios, in 1976 which rapidly expanded to offer full design, production and installation services. 4 years ago, having become increasingly frustrated that the growth of the company meant that his time was spent on management, administration and cash flow rather than design and creativity, Farmer disbanded the production company and established Farmer Attraction Development. By reorganising and developing a team of freelancers which can be gathered together as needed for projects, Farmer has created a more efficient business model with a lower fixed cost base. This flexibility allows the company to weather the seasonality of the industry, as well as reducing project costs. He is now free to concentrate on attraction concept development, production and consultancy.Farmers core business involves drawing on his experience in the industry to create and develop attractions. Most of his business is in Europe and Scandinavia and reflects the current state of the European market, with few new parks opening and most work revolving around existing parks by either reworking existing rides or enhancing new standard rides. He particularly enjoys the challenge of working with established venues to develop attractions which will change the direction and the publics perception of the park. Recent ProjectsFarmer worked on seven new rides and several other attractions for the 2007 season.Recent projects include: Grona Lund in Stockholm. Farmer developed the name, graphic identity and station design for Kvasten, their new suspended coaster. Kvasten is playing a major park in repositioning Grona Lund within the Swedish leisure market. Bewilderwood in Norfolk. Farmer provided consultancy to the 50 acre family curious treehouse adventure which opened to such acclaim in May 2007. His contribution was to enhance the original concept and to provide a layer of storytelling engagement on top of the basic attraction to deliver a much richer experience and a highly marketable attraction Earth Explorer in Ostend. Farmer developed a concept using a standard drop ride to create an educational experience which takes children on a flight around the solar system. In this case Farmer produced a custom video show to integrate with the basic ride, so children have fun at the same time as leaning about space.In addition to his consultancy business, Farmer is a non-executive director of Wicksteed Park Ltd, Kettering, one of the UKs oldest leisure parks. This gives him the additional benefit of an operators perspective. He finds this useful for an appreciation that operators battle with budgets just as much as suppliers. Industry TrendsIn terms of demographics, the market has now finally realised the long heralded aging population is finally here and Farmer is working with parks to help ensure new attractions are designed to cater for grand parents and grand children. In his own business for attractions aimed primarily at small children he will usually try to add a layer of entertainment, often humour, that will appeal to adults too.Geographically, he believes that there is still growth available in Europe, although this is largely through updating of existing parks and attractions rather than new projects. In his own business, of the fourteen projects he has worked on this year only one has been a completely new enterprise. As far as industry expansion into India and China is concerned, while these markets are growing at an incredible pace, those entering will need nerves of steel. Farmer recommends the fellowship to be gained by membership of the TEA, as many members are already operating in these regions. Discussion amongst fellow members can often be very helpful when dealing with such critical issues as contracts, terms of payment and business ethics in these regions. The TEAFarmer was effusive about his experience of TEA membership saying that it had been an incredible thing and had expanded his network within the industry enormously. The TEA (formerly the Themed Entertainment Association) is an international non-profit organization, founded in 1991, dedicated to connecting around 6,500 creative specialists in nearly 500 firms in 39 different countries. Farmer has been a TEA member in Europe since the association established its European Division in 1998, and has served three years as European President. He is currently in his second term on the International Board and has been a Vice-President for the past five years.Around 80% of TEA members are based in the US. However Farmer, despite not working in the States, feels that he has learned a great deal from US operators and creative suppliers. Our members in the US have been the driving force behind so many key developments in our industry, he says. Our own European industry has benefited enormously from the work of these pioneers The TEA exposes you to the worlds brightest people and most exciting ideas, helping to develop your own creative thinking and good business practice.Farmer hopes to develop two key aspects of TEA membership. The first is to expand membership within architectural and digital production disciplines to better reflect the wide range of skills and creativity now found in project teams. The second is to expand the TEAs horizons by bringing in members from around the world; there are positive benefits of membership where-ever creatives are based. He sees his tenure as the TEAs first European president as a great opportunity to confirm to the world that the TEA is a truly international association.

Mountain Climbing Preserve Your Experiences

Mountain climbing is a great way to escape the rat race and be one with nature. Alas, your mountain climbing experiences can fade with time. The best way to prevent this is to keep a "mountain climbing" journal for your adventures.Mountain Climbing JournalsTake a minute to give some consideration to your most recent mountain climbing experience. What sticks out in your mind? Now think about the first time you ever went mountain climbing. Undoubtedly, you remember few things about the geography, people you went with, particular mountain climbing routes and spectacular views. The experiences youve forgotten are lost to time. If you keep a mountain climbing journal, this wont be the case.There are famous instances of people keeping journals throughout time. Of course, Anne Franks Diary is the best example. In her diary, Anne kept a running commentary of the two years her family spent hiding from the Nazis. While your mountain climbing experiences better be more lighthearted, keeping a journal will let you remember them as the years pass.A good mountain climbing journal combines a number of characteristics. First, it should be compact so you dont have to take up unnecessary space for other things. Second, it should have a case to protect it from rain, spills and so on. Third, the journal should contain blank areas to write your notes. Fourth, the journal should contain cue spaces to remind you to keep notes on specific things. Cues should include:1. Who you went mountain climbing with,2. Where you camped and if you enjoyed it,3. Who you met and contact information for them,4. The geographic and weather conditions, and5. Any unique things that occurred while mountain climbing trip.6. The routes you took up the mountain and alternatives.7. Any inside information provided by experienced locals. At the end of the "mountain climbing trip" trip, you should be able to get the following from your journal:1. Contact information for other climbers you met,2. Enough detail to provide you or a friend with a guide if you climb the location a second time.3. Memories to reflect upon years later, and4. Something to pass on to your friends, children and grandchildren.To get the most out of your mountain climbing trip journal, you should write in it just before you climb, as you summit and when you return. Doing so will give you an accurate picture of your thoughts throughout the climb. Mountain climbing is a great way to commune with nature. Make sure to preserve the experience.

Camping Makes the Weekend Perfect.

Do you have a weekend without anything to do or a weekend when you dont want to do anything? I know what Id do. I would pack up the truck and head for the woods. Sitting by a camp fire with your favorite people solves many problems, so you shouldnt wait too long between fires. My favorite thing to do on a weekend is to camp. Are you looking for an easy way to camp? How about car camping? I love it! First of all, lets define car camping? When you can drive your vehicle right up to the camp site, thats called car camping. Even if youre driving a truck its still called car camping. The advantage of car camping versus primitive or base camping is that you can take anything you want with you. If you want to take a hammock or huge grill or a stack of magazines, you can. Load your car or truck with food, clothing, shelter, bedding, games and anything else you want to take along and get going. Its really that simple.So where can you car camp? Just about anywhere. National and state parks dont allow car camping except in designated campgrounds, other than that, you can car camp virtually anywhere on public lands. The internet is loaded with websites that can help. Start looking at www.backcountrytoys.com/education.htm. Our Education Center is loaded with up to date camping information.Here are some things I take along when I car camp: hiking gear, bird watching binoculars and field guide, a radio for music and weather updates, tent, cot, sleeping bag, grill, shovel, fire starting gear, lots of food and drink, first aid kit, a stack of reading material this can also be used for building a fire such as newspapers and magazines, rain gear, hammock, dogs and dog food, folding chairs and table, stove, table service and utensils.you get the idea. I take all that I need to be comfortable. If you dont have these things, dont fret, all you really need are food, shelter and common sense.Camping is a great way to renew and strengthen relationships. Take your spouse, your children, your siblings, your friends. Without the distractions of television, telephone, internet and alarm clocks, you will have a wonderful time. Ill always remember something a dear friend of mine told me years ago, Time spent in our great outdoors is time added to your life. That sounds like a good reason to go. Use this information and youll Get It Right The First Time. Get Outdoors!

Summary

Why moonlight hiking? The trails are empty, there are eyes in the bushes and stars in the sky. Then there are the more practical reasons.