On road trips, magnificent vastness, and incipient serendipity

Welcome to Twitsville!Unless we’ve walked the trail together or sipped a glass or two and had a chance to let our hair down, you’ve been getting only bits and pieces of me. It’s true: I have devolved into an unabashed microblogger. Like many around us, I’ve adopted a 140-character mentality, having steadily assumed the social attention span of a mosquito, copping the latest buzz. Couple that with the regular rigors of following my hiking muse, keeping my garden green and wearing 3 hats at work, and there’s simply been little left of me for developing creative, long-tail journalism.

Certainly my responsibilities have grown these past few seasons, ever since I closed up shop at California Wine Hikes and returned to my old job. Programs I had steered a half decade earlier had degraded in that time; I’d inherited a dismally broken website and a documentation program that had fallen into disarray. Having spent these past four years treading the grindstone to nearly single-handedly resurrect both, I felt I was overdue for an extended road trip. It had been 10 years since the last one. Ten years!

All work and no road trip makes Russ an indolent grouch.Skyping across the globe in January with my friend Niki had had us both dreaming of her flying from Zurich to California toward a summer road tour of Portland, Calgary, Kalispell and Estes Park; we were going to make one big circuit of things and take 4 weeks to do it. By April, however, commitments to the road had grown less solid; a potential new hire in my department had fallen through and things had changed with Niki’s employment scenario; I was faced with the prospect of picking her up at the airport in Missoula if she could swing it. But if I could manage to escape the office at all, it was beginning to look like a solo road trip.

When May rolled around, I hadn’t yet thought too hard about my road itinerary – I was cranking out the work while attempting to prospect another round of candidates. But when Adam Nutting reached out to me about joining him and 12 other outdoor social media enthusiasts for a sponsored backpacking and rafting expedition in Idaho’s Hells Canyon, I could barely prevent myself from jumping up and down at my desk like a hyperactive schoolboy on a sugar high. I instinctively responded “Yes!”idaho

I was going to Idaho!

Despite my travels thus far, I’ve not yet set foot in The Gem State. Though my company has always had a presence in the Boise area, my particular job role had never dictated that I be sent there on business. My infatuations with the southwest had confined the range of my more recent road junkets to such exotic locales as Ouray, Kanab, Springdale, Shiprock. But truth be told, I am smitten by the entire enormity of the Great American West, and the prospect of exploring northern Idaho excites me. It doesn’t hurt to know that I’ll be exploring it with folks with whom I’ve enjoyed inspiring and provocative dialog these past 3 or so years on social media.

Learn more about the #HellHikeAndRaft adventure!

Not so strange, perhaps, is that it is my social media backtrail that has established why I’ve been selected to participate on the Hell Hike and Raft Expedition. It’s an exquisite honor to be recognized for the efforts I’ve made at sharing my story and engaging in dialogs with you, and I find myself both humbled and grateful for the new level of experience that it brings.

And as to that experience, all of us participating in this expedition – we who call ourselves the #HellHikeAndRaft crew – have Parker and Becky of America’s Rafting Company to thank for their willingness to outfit us as we backpack northern Idaho’s Seven Devils Range and brave the rapids of the Snake River through the Hells Canyon gorge. A number of outstanding sponsors have stepped up to amply facilitate our effort, and we’re excited to test and evaluate their products on the trail, in camp, and on the water.

The #HellHikeAndRaft crew is proud to be sponsored by these fine establishments.

So buckle up, ladies and gents: over the next days and weeks, as the Internets allow, I plan to take you along on this serendipitous journey. After I clear my desk this week, we’ll embark on a 3-week road trip that’ll take us not only to the rugged beauty of northern Idaho, but to the magnificent soul-cleansing American vastness that is northern Nevada, southern Idaho and eastern Washington and Oregon. It’s a pretty safe bet that plenty of hiking and wine will be involved.

~winehiker

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Trek, eat , and enjoy

Chudi Planea, author of the Irietreks blog, shares a post titled “Trek, eat, and enjoy.” No matter where we come from, it’s no trick to understand the reasons why we travel, aspire to achieve, and content ourselves with our discoveries…that is, until we discover that next peak waiting to be summited.

Says Chudi, “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”

Kalaag nimo!

After the climb that we had in Mt Sembrano last February, I kept on thinking of which Mountains to climb next here in Philippines.

Mt Sembrano

So i came up with 2 mountains which is i’m pretty sure that it’s not gonna be an easy one.

First one is Mt Banahaw which is 7,119 ft above sea level located in Region 4a which is CALABARZON.

banahawpic

Second is Mt. Pulag where you’ll witness sea of clouds.  It is the third highest Mountain here in our country. It is about 2,922 meters above sea level.

pulag-trek

But before i trek those two mountains, let me climb this one first.=)

This saturday March 9 2013 , our group will explore Mt Pico Deloro located in Ternate Cavite.  This will be an exciting one for sure, coz we will climb that same peek on the picture and hope for the best that no one falls. hahaha

I’ll keep you posted guys…

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Terrific Tuesday Links

From sexyhotbeauty: Ten Easy Steps To Getting Started In Hiking

Today’s guest post, albeit a “stylized” one, which you’ll readily notice if you click through. My conclusion? When all else has you in conniptions, hire an experienced guide. Like me, for instance.

Ever dreamed of hiking but do not exactly know where to start? Don’t worry. You are not alone. You are one of the many who have chosen to embark in the process of staying fit by means of hiking. But good hikers haven’t reached that level literally and figuratively overnight. They were also briefed on some basic things every hiker must know.

read more | digg story

Really cool websites I’ve stumbled upon

As if I actually have time for surfing websites, much less stumbling upon them…

And, because “timing is everything,” a graphical interactive time zone checker.

~winehiker

What is Wellness Tourism?

While surfing the other day, I came across the following article excerpt from traveltowellness.com. It does a pretty good job of explaining my own philosophy about active travel, so I feel it is worth sharing. Read on!

Wellness Tourism is about traveling for the primary purpose of achieving, promoting or maintaining maximum health and a sense of well-being. It’s about being proactive in discovering new ways to promote a healthier, less stressful lifestyle. It’s about finding balance in one’s life. Travel on the path to wellness can include spa treatments, healthy eating, activities that involve physical participation (hiking, golf, walking, yoga and many others), inspirational outings and adventures that clear or expand the mind, and educational programs that teach us how to incorporate healthy habits into our everyday lives. It can be as simple as taking off for a wellness weekend to relax, refresh, reenergize and rejuvenate. Think of it as pulling off the road of life to admire a sunset when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or tearing yourself away from your laptop to water the garden, when you’re up-to-your-eyebrows in deadlines. Wellness Tourism is the pause that reenergizes and rejuvenates.

~winehiker

Visiting A Winery – 5 Ways to Avoid Learning Anything

Next time you visit the wine country, hire yourself a big limousine and follow these simple guidelines:

1. Plan your day around visiting as many wineries as possible.

2. Go to the same wineries everybody else does. After all, those are the popular wineries to go to, and they’re more than ready to put a wine glass in your hand.

3. Don’t listen to the tasting room staff, and be especially sure not to ask them too many questions. They’re not paid enough to be knowledgeable professionals.

4. Have a strong desire to self-medicate. Start your wine tasting early in the day, and get sideways by noon.

5. Get your exercise! Walk back and forth from the limo to the tasting room, and repeat often.

Now THAT’S your kind of wine country vacation, right? Many others just like you think so, too. Aren’t you glad you’re not alone? Be sure to keep the above guidelines handy, and refer to them often.

A Word to the Wise

Dear reader, as you may have guessed, the 5 guidelines above only apply to April Fools. For the rest of us who might consider ourselves to belong to the greater majority of responsible wine-loving adults, tasting wine is an experience to be savored and discussed, appreciated and remembered.

To tour a series of wineries to get a buzz is not what the wine-tasting experience is all about. Wine is food! And like the pleasure that comes from eating your favorite cuisine, wine can provide a similar allure. Food and wine, as many know, complement each other well. As with food, if you choose to taste wine, do it because you truly enjoy tasting it. But unlike food, don’t go to a tasting room because you’d rather be drinking a lot of wine. Instead, stay home! But be responsible there, too.

If you would maximize your visit to the wine country, let us then provide contrast to the above guidelines and consider what will allow your wine country vacation to be a memorable experience – not just a sideways tour.

5 Ways to Maximize Your Wine-Country Experience

Call it wine country appreciation. Or, call it self-appreciation. In either case, if you would choose to truly benefit from a trip to the wine country, here now are five responsible guidelines signified by letters, instead of numbers, to differentiate from the list above.

A. Plan your day around visiting the wine country, not just its wineries.

There are a whole host of wonderful opportunities to be found in the wine regions of the world, whether you’re touring the famed Bordeaux region, Oregon’s Willamette Valley, or the up-and-coming Calaveras County area west of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. A visit to these wine regions can include a number of historical, cultural, educational, heritage, and active outdoor pursuits. Quite often, having a local guide can dramatically enhance the personal growth aspects of vacationers.

Gaining appeal with today’s travelers are tours ranging from culinary education classes that take place in spectacular settings to wellness retreats that offer exercise and nutrition counseling as well as superb pampering. Or, if you desire to be more active, you can find tours that offer a few days of exploring the flora, fauna, and scenic vistas of local open spaces, then a superb meal with wine tasting. Travelers are increasingly booking such tours, and they are trending heavily toward booking them online on a myriad of tour and travel websites.

B. To properly enjoy your wine-touring experience, choose your winery destination carefully. Visitors are often drawn to the popular wineries that are located alongside the wine country’s main arterial routes; for instance, Highway 29 in the Napa Valley. And yet those are the areas in which you’ll find the greater share of vehicle traffic, especially during the summer tourist season. Of course, the traffic isn’t just cars, limousines, and tour buses. After you get off the bus or out of your car and into the winery, you’ll often wait in long lines of human traffic just to taste a wine or two. Ironically, this can defeat the purpose of Guideline A.

Many wineries and lodging operations offer better service and better vacation deals for your dollar during off-peak seasons. As a result, you’ll find that you get to linger longer at a restaurant or have a conversation with a winemaker that goes beyond the merely casual. Having the time to relax and not compete with other tourists on your vacation can dramatically augment not only your sense of well-being, but also your wine knowledge and your social network.

In addition, there are many family-owned wineries that are real treasures. It’s easy to overlook them, but once you make the effort to seek them out, you’ll often be rewarded with an experience that will have you telling your friends about them. You may even find the winegrower getting off his tractor to take you for an impromptu tour of his vineyard or winery operation. Of course, he might have you consider purchasing a case of his wines for his trouble. But then, you may also find that you’re not paying nearly the premium that you’ll pay at the more popular wineries along the main wine roads.

C. The tasting room staff earn their pay, and they do it out of passion. Let them guide you.

The wineries aren’t in business to attract more tourists. They’re in business because they have a clear understanding of the needs of their customers. If you’re not the world’s greatest wine expert, don’t worry! You’re among friends. Learning is why you traveled to the wine country in the first place, and winemakers and their staff love to talk about what they do. Listen, and ask questions. If you should visit more than one winery, ask the same questions.

You’ll enhance your understanding by the answers you’ll hear, and what’s more, you’ll be delighted that you asked.

D. Be fully aware of your experience. Participate in it, and find yourself enchanted by it. Don’t desensitize yourself to the magic of the wine country.

“The advantages of wine touring are beautiful scenery and a new learning experience. The disadvantages are that there’s not enough wine.”

This author has actually read the above statement in a review by a supposedly-serious wine expert. I’ve heard similar quips from the lips of the not-so-pleasantly plowed. While I might agree with the “advantage” half of that statement, the desired outcome of your wine tour should be a quality experience, not a quantity experience. Wine touring is not meant to be a dormitory-style competition.

Therefore, pace yourself. Pour the wine you no longer want into the proper receptacle, usually a spit bucket. Spit the wine into the bucket if necessary – it’s perfectly acceptable within the context of tasting wine. But nobody likes a drunken tourist – not the winery staff, not the patrons, and especially not the wine country police.

E. To properly enjoy the wine country, get out of the land yacht and explore your surroundings.

Bring your hiking shoes with you, and find a local trail. Or, if you prefer to connect to your new surroundings on a deeper level, hire a guide. The reasons that grapes do so well in the wine country are often the same reasons why most areas surrounding the wine regions of the world offer a number of marvelous outdoor experiences. You’ll find that a walk in the redwoods, an expansive mountaintop view, a remote meadow full of wildflowers, or a glimpse of a bobcat on the trail can heighten your wine country experience in sensational ways.

Plus, the exercise and the fresh air you’ll get from your outdoor excursion will build your anticipation of those fine meals and exquisite wines that you came to the wine country for. They are the reward for your physical efforts, they balance your intrinsic desire for deeper understanding, and they make your vacation complete.

Russ Beebe is an experienced wine taster and hiking guide who leads naturalist tours in the California wine country. Discover how you can enjoy the quintessential California experience at californiawinehikes.com.

The Demand For Adventure Travel, and How You Can Benefit

The tourism and travel industry is taking note of a trend toward a type of travel experience that augments people’s lives in meaningful ways. While people are always going to enjoy vacations at the beach, there is a recent momentum toward seeking deeper, more profound experiences such as whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and kayaking. At the heart of the trend, it’s anything that gets you outdoors, even if it’s birdwatching or canoeing on a local lake.Many people are working overtime and putting in long hours, and therefore the prospect of getting away for a quick vacation can often be easier than going abroad for an extended stay. As a result, many travelers are opting for day trips or week-long trips closer to home. But when they do, travelers want balance in their lives, and they want their vacations to be valuable experiences.

Hikers enjoying the cool spray of Alamere Falls.

Hikers enjoying the cool spray of Alamere Falls.

If an adventure tour stimulates their personal growth, such as a week-long series of day hikes into a wild area or an appreciation of a spectacular natural environment, travelers are booking such tours, and are mostly booking them online on a myriad of tour and travel websites.Adventure experiences are the new travel trend, because they are enriching in ways that destination resorts are not. While resorts are fabulous places to relax, it’s often more uplifting, even educational, to visit places in which you are a participant, and not just lounging about.

Russ Beebe is an experienced wine taster and trail guide who leads naturalist tours at californiawinehikes.com.