Archive for the ‘News’Category

Geocaching Fever

Are you still a Muggle? Or have you caught the Geocaching bug yet?

Geocaching seems to be everywhere. Literally everywhere. Currently there are over 1.8 million locations worldwide and that number is growing daily. I kept hearing about geocaching but wasn’t sure what it was so I decided it was time to do some investigating into this new pastime.

In a nutshell, geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game for adventure seekers of all ages around the world. Players have hidden millions of “caches” for you to find literally in every corner of the world. A cache is a small container (not always small – they do vary in size) which contains a log sheet for you to record your team’s arrival and the date that you found the cache.  If the cache is big enough it may contain a small treasure. You may take the treasure as long as you trade it for something that you have brought with you of equal or greater value.

Players find the hidden caches by using GPS coordinates and often additional clues to narrow the search further at the location. With a GPS unit or GPS enabled smart phone players navigate their “team” to the hidden spots and try to locate the cache. A team can be one or more people – it’s totally up to you.

Once you locate the cache in its secret hiding spot, you put it back exactly where you found it for the next team to discover and leave a note online for the cache owner detailing your visit for them and future visitors to read about. You can also leave notes indicating if you could not find it, if the cache needs maintenance or anything else that might help future players.

And the best part? It’s free. You can sign up for a free account on geocaching.com,  create a user name and start locating treasure near your current coordinates (there is also a premium service available for a fee).

Keep in mind that you definitely need a GPS enabled device. I also decided to download the Geocaching App for my phone and that made things super easy on the go but it’s not mandatory. As a novice player, I would also recommend tennis or hiking shoes (no flip flops!), bug spray, a pencil and maybe even a hat as you are definitely outside and some of the terrain may require you to tromp off trail. We have also learned to read the description of the cache you are seeking carefully as some are out in the open and easy to find making them great for younger seekers and others may require that you hike off trail or though difficult terrain which make them a better fit for those without small children.

You can also plan a trip using geocaching to break it up along the way. So far my family has found caches along a roadtrip we have taken though the middle of America to great success and new experiences. Kids and adults have both enjoyed the “game” as we have played it. It’s a nice way to see your own destination in a new way or experience a destination in a way you may not have expected. You may also meet other players along the way which is a great additional benefit we have discovered.

Have you tried Geocaching yet? What’s the most unique cache you have found so far? Share your experiences in the comments below or on the Gray Line Facebook page. (Click here if you can’t see comments: Geocaching Fever)

 

The World Will Be Watching…

Watching what? The 2012 Summer Olympics, of course! As someone who is borderline obsessive about the Olympics, these fun facts absolutely made my day. Hopefully they make yours, and (bonus) you can impress your friends during those pesky commercial breaks!

1) 205 countries will take part in the summer games, and there will be over 140 countries representing at the Paralympics!

2) During the construction of Olympic Park in London, roughly 4,000 newts were relocated to a nature reserve–way to be eco-conscious, Londoners!

3) The city expects about 350,000 foreign visitors – busy busy busy!

4) After the games are finished, the Olympic committee donates all the equipment used to charities – love the philanthropy.

Happy Gold, Silver and Bronze, competitors!

09

07 2012

“Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires!”

Oh Smokey the Bear, how I mocked you as a child. You made it so easy for me and my friends to twist your words into something inappropriate.

This, however, is no joking matter.

Having grown up in New Mexico, I know what it’s like to live in a dry climate. Colorado can be much the same. And unfortunately, this year is one for the books.

Our gorgeous state is in a state of emergency. There are currently fires in Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Boulder.

  • 32,00 People were evacuated in El Paso County near Colorado Springs as the fire came down Waldo Canyon.
  • Flagstaff fire is about 1.5 miles from the Boulder city limits.
  • 90,000 acres have been swallowed up by the The High Park fire in the Fort Collins area. With containment not expected for TILL JULY 30TH!

We haven’t had any rain, we have extreme temperatures (reaching 106 in the Denver metro area), and high winds. All of these things equal disaster.

So what can we do?

  • The Denver Post has provided resources and information on how we can all help in all 3 areas.
  • Here is a full list of county bans and restrictions.
  • There is a ban on all private fireworks.
  • You can only have a campfire if it is in a developed campsite with a metal fire ring.
  • DO NOT, I repeat, do not smoke outside!!!!

Fires can happen anywhere. Caution should be exercised everywhere you go. If you are unsure of what preventative measures to take our old friend Smokey the Bear is here to lend a helping hand.

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.

Do you have any updates on the situation? Can you provide any tips on how to prevent fires? Let us know in the comments below.

There is a Festival in our Midst

Enjoying The Denver Chalk Art Festival

I love festivals. My kids love festivals. I admit it – we are the festival kind of people. We love themes and all that people do to embrace and celebrate them.  I’m also not embarrassed to say that kitschy equals better in the rating of festivals. The joke in our family is if there is a crowd, my husband deliberately goes the opposite way. I, on the other hand, run towards it to see what all the excitement is about. That many people can’t be wrong!

Our community seems to have an abundance of festivals. I’m positive yours does too – you just need to uncover them.  A quick Google search for our state + festivals led me to multiple sites with calendars full of festive celebrations.  We have paid tribute to dragon boats, peaches, chalk art, apples, summer, fall and multiple nationalities and cultures just to name a few.

If you are new to the festival scene, this summer is the perfect time to get acquainted. The lazy days of summer combined with long daylight filled hours make them super easy to enjoy.

When I travel, I like to see if the trip coincides with any celebrations big (or small) in our destination.  If you are like me and love a crowd celebrating, then a festival might be just what the doctor ordered to enhance your connection with the community you are visiting.

I’ve rarely met a festival that I didn’t love. There’s a certain sense of camaraderie that develops when strangers get together to celebrate a common (or random) interest.  But then again, that sums up travel and why many of us love to explore our world.  Common experiences and settings often breed alliances and friendships that make this a small world after all.

Do you love festivals? What unusual festivals have you experienced? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

You Went Where With Your Kids?

Yes, I’m crazy. Well, maybe not certifiably; but unhinged enough to think I can and should take my kids lots of places. Whether by plane, minivan, train or rental vehicle, I think it’s my duty to show my kids our world. From the get go I take them anywhere and everywhere I can to show them places that will give them a greater understanding of our world. I take them to places close to home, places dear to my heart and places that spark that spirit of adventure and wonder that lives deep in my soul.

People often ask me, “You took your kids WHERE?” and more often than not the answer is, “Yes!” The follow up question is almost always “How do you travel with small kids?” Well, dear friends, I’m going to share with you a couple of my tips. My top 5 to be almost exact. It actually takes more than just 5 tips to travel with small children. I would love to share with you all of my travel tips that I’ve accumulated through the years but here are 5 (or so) as an appetizer.

1. SNACKS – LOTS AND LOTS OF SNACKS – I’m talking enough to sustain a small village for a while. I’m also taking about the “good stuff.” Now is not the time to scrimp on the snacks. Bring the stuff they love, the stuff you don’t buy on a regular basis, the stuff they beg for in the market. We had a flight delay and a subsequent rerouting once that left us in an airport after all the retail shops had closed. I’ve never been so grateful for a stash of goldfish, skittles and bottled water in all my life.

2. ENTERTAINMENT – KEEP ‘EM BUSY. Get them something they’ve never seen before and it can be as simple as post it notes. An airline tray table and a package of post it notes can provide loads of entertainment. Kids can stick and unstuck those crazy fluorescent squares for quite a while. They can make patterns if you have multiple colors and when all of that fun is done – draw on them, make a picture that spans multiple post-its and BAM you have a puzzle for a toddler.

3. BE PREPARED – have extra everything – especially diapers. I repeat, always have extra diapers if you have a child that small. Once they became a bartering item, a currency if you will, on a trip when a flight of ours got cancelled leaving us stranded in Washington DC with 2 kids past bedtime. I traded diapers and wipes with a woman for jarred baby food. Her baby smelled and mine was hungry – problem solved.

4. KNOW YOUR GAME PLAN WHEN YOU ARRIVE – give the kids something to anticipate. My kiddos have always been thrilled at the prospect of scoping out their destination. We dream of what we will see and how we will see it. One easy way to get them excited is a ride in a motorcoach, train, trolley car, gondola or something that they normally don’t see in your own garage. One of my girls still talks about the trolley tour she took in Zurich. We loved feeling the fresh air in our faces in the open-aired trolley and learned a little about the city and its people. Ok, my husband and I learned about the city and its people – she tried to figure out how many pets she could spot.

5. PREPARE FOR THE WORST….HOPE FOR THE BEST – I always bring along current shot records and medical info from their last check up along with a small first aid kit with Tylenol, Motrin, a thermometer, band aids, Neosporin, etc. and a correct dosing chart for any and all medication per kid. Luckily, I have rarely had to use the kit. I think that’s because I have it with me at all times. The token trip I didn’t take it on, we ended up in a doctor’s office nearly 1,000 miles from home.

Ok so I promised 5 tips but I couldn’t stop at 5 so here’s a bonus one and arguably the most important:

6. HUMOR – if you don’t take along a large and healthy dose of humor you might as well stay home. Some of the best laughs of my marriage and my family have happened when we travel. How else could I have a photo like this one….

Author’s Child Entering The Great State of Nebraska

What are your great travel tips with kids? Share your tips and tricks in comments below.

Read This: 2012 Gray Line Explorer Magazine

Here at Gray Line, we’re thrilled to announce our most recent addition (or…edition) – a bouncing baby MAGAZINE! The latest edition of the Gray Line Explorer is in your neighborhood now. 48 pages of glossy, daydream-inducing photos and articles to inspire your next vacation can be found in hard copy at your local Gray Line office or online at the link below – if you’d like your own copy, let us know by sending an email to info@grayline.com. Happy reading!

CLICK HERE and enjoy!

 

28

06 2012

Tips for a Fun Last Minute Memorial Day Weekend

Raise your hand if you’re a procrastinator! If you’ve read any of my other postings, you know that my hand is definitely in the air. This horrible habit can make it rather difficult to plan a vacation. Surprise, surprise, this Memorial Day weekend is no exception. Why didn’t anyone tell me that the end of May was already here?! Wasn’t it just Easter? That being said, I refuse to allow a three-day weekend to slip through my fingers, and neither should you! I have spent the majority of my morning, when I should have been working, piecing together my last minute vacation. To my delight, all is not lost! Thanks to the magic of the World Wide Web (does anyone still say that?) I never have to learn my lesson and neither do you. Check it…

To celebrate the true spirit of the holiday, here’s a list of Memorial Day events including parades, fireworks, musical performances, wreath-laying ceremonies, picnics and more.

Of course the 3 day weekend is also a great opportunity for some R&R so here’s a great article with 5 last minute vacations to do on a budget; yes I said the B word. They have some really great tips to save you money. You can go to Chicago, NYC, Las Vegas, Orlando, or Miami! I don’t know about you, but since I live in a land locked state, the beach sounds like the perfect way to spend this long weekend.

If flying is not an option this year and you’re driving to your destination, I found the best article on foxnews.com. It gives you a list of all the rest stops you should avoid around the country, mostly on the east coast. Yes, rest stops can be creepy, but the main reason you would want to avoid these are because of the crowds. Who knew?

So now that you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there, where are you going to stay? If crashing on someone’s couch, floor, or lawn is not an option, don’t worry I’ve got you covered. Besides the usual last minute websites like Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, here’s a list of hotels around the country that are offering deals for this holiday weekend! Here’s a little secret about using this Frommer’s award winning website – you get better deals if you call them. I know how archaic that sounds, who calls anyone anymore? Just ask yourself if talking to someone for a few minutes is worth saving some money. Your answer may be yes, it may be no, either way it’s a win-win.

Regardless of your political stance, please take some time to remember why we have this holiday. Thank you to the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives.

Did I miss anything? What are you doing this Memorial Day weekend? Let me know in the comments below! (If you can’t see Facebook comments, click here: Tips for a Fun Last Minute Memorial Day Weekend)

25

05 2012

Do You Know the Way to… Sante Fe?

If you happen to know the way to Sante Fe, New Mexico, you may want to head there. And I’m talking ASAP. An 80 year old Vietnam veteran and former art gallery owner named Forest Fenn has buried a hidden treasure chest near Sante Fe that is estimated to be worth between $1-2 Million USD.

Here’s the catch. You have to find the treasure. That’s the complicated part and it has proved elusive for many. There are entire blogs, facebook pages and social media groups dedicated to finding this treasure and so far no one has found it. The treasure,  rumored to contain gold, jewelry and artifacts, is buried in the mountains near Sante Fe and Mr. Fenn is not talking. Actually he IS talking, but the talking he is doing is more code filled clues. The clues are found in the form of a book he authored and poetry he has written. So, if you are a super detective, clever and an adventurer, this rich treasure trove could be yours. So what are you waiting for?

Would you go in search of buried treasure? Have you ever gone on an adventure of unknown outcome? Do tell! (If you can’t see the Facebook comments section, click here: Do You Know the Way to… Santa Fe?)

Funicular Friday!

Every good traveler needs to expand their vocabulary every once and a while. Whether it’s learning a few phrases of a foreign language or mastering a local dialect in your own language, expanding your vocabulary is generally a very good thing.

I recently expanded my vocabulary to include the word funicular. A cable railway where a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope; the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalance each other. Plus it offers great bragging rights to those who ride one.

Implemented throughout the world where steep inclines make transportation difficult, the funicular comes to the rescue.

Have you ridden a funicular? Have you encountered any other interesting modes of transportation with names as fun as funicular? (Click here if you can’t see Facebook comments: Funicular Friday Blog Post)

Luggage: Form, Function or Affordability?

As the summer travel season approaches, I find myself on the hunt for a few new pieces to add to my luggage collection. As a traveler at the point in my life somewhere between that starter set of luggage purchased fresh out of college and the investment pieces of a high-end set, I’m looking for a few quality pieces to get me where I’m going without clearing my bank account. Some of my considerations: not hideous, not going to fall apart when I jam it into the overhead bin, and not going to send me to the chiropractor upon my return home. Here are a few of my finds — just in case any of you are randomly moved to send this travel blogger a gift:

Leather Weekender: Perfect for a quick weekend trip (hence the name, I guess…) and smushy enough to get tucked into nooks and crannies. It looks lovely, and who doesn’t adore the smell of old leather–but does its vintage classification mean it may soon wear out?

Rolling Backpack: Probably the most lumbar-friendly of the options, this roomy backpack with handy rolling wheels (and an ambidextrous handle making it great for you southpaws) doesn’t quite have the presence of the other selections, but all in all, not a bad option.

Rolling Carry On: Personally, I find this adorable – who doesn’t need a little houndstooth in their life? Apparently roomier than it looks, this little lovely could accompany you pretty much anywhere you want to go.

What’s your favorite travel bag? Let us know in the comments below! (Click here if you can’t see Facebook comments)

11

05 2012