Polar Express Weekend - Dec 6 - 8, 2008

The Elves at The Polar Express

A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa Claus. Kids and parents get on the train in Lincoln, New Hampshire and take a train ride to visit Santa and the Elves on The Polar Express! They get served hot chocolate that tastes like a chocolate candy bar on the train. When they arrive in the North Pole train station, the Elves meet them at the station and walk them to Santa's house to meet Santa!

There may be more.  Check Rail Events, Inc.

North Pole Express - Colera, Alabama
Polar Express - Grand Canyon, Arizona
Polar Express Train Ride - Sacramento, California
Polar Express - Durango, Colorado
Polar Express - South Elgin, Illinois
Polar Bear Express - French Lick, Indiana
Polar Express Connersville's Grand Central Station, Whitewater, Indiana
Polar Express Experience - Sea World, Florida
North Pole Express - Owosso, Michigan
Polar Express - Lewiston, Montana
Polar Express - Saratoga, New York
Polar Express - Ely, Nevada
Polar Express - Conway, New Hampshire
Polar Express - Lincoln, New Hampshire
Polar Express Catskill Railroad - Kingston, New York
Polar Express - Bryson City, North Carolina
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Blue Ridge, Georgia

Polar Express - Rusk/Palestine, Texas
Polar Express Vermont Children's Trust Foundation - Burlington, Vermont
Polar Express - Hartford, Vermont
Polar Express - Chehalis, Washington
Polar Express - Spokane, Washington
Polar Express - Elkins, West Virginia



RECOMMENDED MOVIES depending on your venue type


Hiking Chocurua and Skiing for Thanksgiving - Nov. 27 - 30, 2008

Hiking Glen Boulder Trail
Join us once again for another Thanksgiving at the Conway Hostel. Hike Mt. Chocorua or other nearby mountains. Possibly ski, depending on conditions. Come for Thanksgiving dinner and bring a passing dish or show up after your obligations. 3 nights, 2 dinners and 3 breakfasts.

This trip has been annually for almost 10 years. The Thanksgiving dinner that we have is better than any restaurant can serve or even better than a family can have for Thanksgiving. There are always over 20 people on this trip, so that means, we have 20 different hors d'oeuvres, side dishes, breads, vegetables, deserts and deserts. Of course, we have a fabulous turkey with dressing and gravy. That is if I can find someone to help make the gravy. Although, mine is getting much better with the years of practice.

This trip takes place at the Conway Youth Hostel, which is a great location for a group event like this. We can take up the entire hostel and have room to socialize during meal time.

Half way up Mount Chororua
I would love it to snow over Thanksgiving so we can visit Bretton Woods, but chances are slim we get snow. So, we usually end up hiking trails on Mount Chocorua or Mount Kearsarge. Remember, there are two Mount Kearsarge's in New Hampshire. This is the one in the town of Kearsarge New Hampshire.

Summitting Mount Chocorua
For Mount Chocorua, we start on a day hike at the Piper Trail and go up as far as we can. Sometimes, the weather is too bad that we can't summit, but we still give it a try. The trail is a moderate level of difficulty, but bad weather makes it more of a challenge. Make sure you bring your hiking boots, fleece and a trail map! Crampons and hiking poles for the possible ice.

There is an EMS there, if you forget any outdoor equipment.

The trailhead for Mount Kearsarge begins at a small parking area located 1.5 miles east of NH Route 16/302 on the north side of Hurricane Mountain Road in Kearsarge. The trail is considered moderate and you definitely can do it in under four hours.

Books about the area you may be interested in

Mount Chocorua

Utah - Bryce and Zion, Sep. 28 0 Oct. 5, 2008

Pinon Jay from Utah

We'll stay four days in a motel right in the heart of Zion with swim pool, since summer temperatures could prevail in Zion. Then we'll spend three days in a lodge right near Bryce Canyon. Comfortable lodge and motel.
Exploration with include canyons, buttes, hoodoos, rivers and so much more.

I have to say so myself, this was a great trip! The trip started by all the participants meeting in Las Vegas. We stayed in that gala city just so that we could all be ready to leave at 9:30 the next morning. We started out the next morning loading the two 12-person vans, which was appropriate for 16 people. There were 14 participants and two leaders. We were off to Zion. If you have never been to Zion, you just have no idea what to expect in that beautiful land.

All we had to do is take I-15 north to exit 16 and travel through the town of Hurricane. Make a right on U-9 at the second traffic light in LaVerkin and continue on U-9 to the south entrance of the park. It took us 3.5 hours to get to Zion National Park from Las Vegas. With the time change, it was 4.5 hours, because we had to add on an additional hour. We visited the Zion Visitor Center our first day, just to get pamphlets, see films and get a lay of the land.

View of Zion Valley from Observation Point

We started the next morning on an 8 mile hike to Observation Point. It was unbelievably warm in Zion, in September. We were not expecting the "hot" sun and high temperature. We still hiked! The hike climbed over 2000' to an altitude of 6,507' above sea level. With temperatures in the mid 90's, we got a full days work. On the way to Observation Point, we took in views of Weeping Rock and Echo Canyon.

The next day, we hiked the Zion Narrows. That is a water hike up the Virgin River. We rented some boots and poles. The poles are very important. The boots were very useful because sneakers can slip on the rocks. The Narrows in almost entirely lined with rocks. Occasionally, we would get the pleasure to walk on sand, but rocks and boulders were very plentiful. We made it to Wall Street before we turned back. The day for us was about 6.4 miles. We had time to go farther, but we were a bit tired and happy to go back into town.
The Zion Narrows

We stayed one more day in Zion where we hiked Angels Landing. The whole hike was going up switchbacks, including what is called "Walters Wiggles". The hike was steep, altitude was high, and sun was baking our backs. Out of 16 of us,
only five ventured to the top of Angles Landing. We were told the trail is about 3 feet wide with drop-offs on each side. Most of us, including me, decided not to hike the last mile. The five that did go to the top of Angels Landing said they met people from all over the world. They also commented on how they saw a California Condor from the top. Well, that didn't surprise us any because we all saw the same Condor from a lower elevation and we even saw the Condor flying around eyeing those busy chipmunks who were eying our lunches. On the way down, we visited Emerald Pools. I don't know if Emerald Pools is better in the spring or better five years ago, but the sights didn't impress me. I was much more impressed by the water dripping from the hanging flowers onto my head. Remember, it was 95 degrees there.
Checkerboard Mesa at Zion

The next day, we left for Bryce. Some of those roads out of Zion are a bit scarey. I would have loved to have said, "I'm glad I'm not driving". The only problem is I couldn't say that! After leaving Zion, the driving was flat and there was nothing to fear. At this point, we had the opportunity to see Checkerboard Mesa. The horizontal and vertical grooves give this formation its name, is caused by cracking caused by the slow change of pressure on the rock. Rain and freeze-and-thaw cycles force these grooves to appear. It's only 86 miles to Bryce National Park from Zion National Park, so we had some time to stop in between the journey. .Red Canyon is very near Bryce, we actually had to pass Red Canyon to get to Bryce, so we decided to stop there. The canyon was small, so I'm sure many people just pass right by it. But, boy is it beautiful. We walked the Pink Ledges Trail, which began next to the Red Canyon visitor center and winds around hoodoos and pine trees. Hoodoos are tall thin spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of the canyon. The dead Juniper trees were very twisted and reminded me of cloud formations, how they appeared as animals or figures.
Viewing the hoodoos from Sunrise Point at Bryce National Park

We started hiking Bryce in the morning, starting with the Fairyland Loop. Oh, so beautiful. Lots of Oohs and Ahhs all day with the colorful Hoodoos. We included the Rim Walk, so this was an 8 mile loop, which took us all day. The Rim Walk was not that exciting, a little boring matter-of-fact, but we had to get back to the vans somehow. We saw many animal figures in the rock. Bryce names some of them, like "Sinking Ship" and "Tower Bridge", but we also named our own, like "Ferocious Feline from Figi" and "Mother Teresa".

The Peek-A-Boo Loop, including Wall Street, was what we hiked on our last day at Bryce. Funny how both Zion and Bryce had a Wall Street. I guess it's just an appropriate name. Very high walls on both sides of the canyon. I actually really liked Wall Street at Bryce. I would have liked that hike to continue for the rest of the day. It really was only a short portion of the day and by lunch we were on the Peek-A-Boo Loop. I think the whole day was about 5 miles. If our breath wasn't being taken away by the high altitude, I think we could have done a bit more. The heat was not present in Bryce. It was probably 65 degrees Fahrenheit there, much cooler than Zion.

Petrified Sand Dunes at Snow Canyon

That night we ate at Bryce Canyon Lodge and had a fabulous meal. They really have a nice restaurant there. We left the next morning around 9:30 am, which was our last day of the trip. Well, our last day was a drive back to Vegas. This was going to be a five hour drive, so we were hoping to find something in between to break the day up.
We found something very cool, Snow Canyon State Park in St. George. It's not marked in many places. If it wasn't for some major investigating on the web, we never would have gotten the opportunity to visit this wonderful place. Snow Canyon is off UT-18 and Sunset Boulevard. It is petrified sand, hills and hills of petrified sand. Kind of fun to climb. Somewhat like a maize in that you can't get to the top of a sand hill by just climbing up, you have to follow the sand through sand paths to get to the top. We spent a couple of hours just running around and climbing to the top. A great way to break up the drive back to Vegas. I got many comments after the trip on how great it was. It really was a wonderful 9-day adventure!


Yoga & Hiking White Mountains - Sept. 19-21, 2008

Enjoy Hatha yoga and hiking daily surrounded by the mountains of Crawford Notch. Hikes will be 5-7 miles a day. Two night lodging at Shapleigh bunkhouse at Highland Center, two breakfasts, happy hour, and Saturday dinner at a local restaurant.

This trip is a combination of Hatha yoga and hiking nearby mountains. Both days, we start at 7 am with an hour of yoga, eat breakfast at the Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch. By 9 am, we head to the trails.

The first day, we start across the street from the Highland Center and hike up Mount Pierce ( elev. 4310'), over to the Mitzpah Spring Hut (elev. 3800'), down a bit and over to Mount Jackson (elev. 4052'). A pretty heavy duty day, doing two 4000 footers, but at the end of the day we feel good.

The second day, we hike Mt. Willard, with an elevation gain of 900', starting at 9 am and back to the lodge by noon.

The hikes were between 5-7 miles. 2 nights lodging at Shapleigh bunk house (at Highland Center), 2 breakfasts, happy hour and Saturday dinner at Fabyan's, a local restaurant. The servings are huge, you won't leave hungry. Fabyan's is very good and the waitress was very accommodating.

Hiking boots are a necessity, as well as, non-cotton socks and waterproof pants and jacket, hat and gloves or mittens for the chance of colder weather.



Car Camping at Nickerson - Aug. 30 - Sep. 1, 2008

Sunset in Orleans on Cape Cod
Here we are again car camping again at Nickerson State Park. Bike the Cape Cod Bike Trail to north to Marconi Beach or east to the town of Chatham or bike and beach at Nauset Beach or maybe bike to Provincetown. Two nights, two breakfasts, two dinners, one being the infamous lobster dinner.


Places of Interest

Nickerson State Park
Cape Cod Rail Trail Map
Marconi Beach
Province Lands

One of my best trips is camping at Nickerson State Park. I set this trip up for the end of the summer, hopefully when few people are on Cape Cod. Of course, few people on Cape Cod is actually an oxymoron.

This is somewhat of a relaxing weekend, but some people choose to eliminate the relaxing and ride their bikes 40 miles each way to Provincetown. The rest of us bike to nearby beaches like Nauset on the ocean side or Skaket Beach on the bay. Both of them are easily accessed by road biking and it allows us to bike the Rail Trail and enjoy the beach on the same day. As we ride the Rail Trail, we can also visit Marconi Beach and enjoy some ice cream stops right on the bike path.

We have even gone in the opposite direction of the Rail Trail and head over to Harwich Center and Chatham Center. This direction visits a number of lakes which are an enjoyable place to have lunch or a coffee break in Chatham.

Can you guess who these lovely ladies are?

Sometimes we have even driven up to Truro, parked in the Province Lands Visitor Center, for no fee, and ridden our bikes up and around the hills of the Province Land bike trails.



Cape Cod Beach Weekend - Aug. 1 - 3, 2008

Stay with us at a former U.S. Coast Guard station in Eastham, right on the Outer Beach. Adirondack Chairs line the porch. Participate in environmental program after biking and beaching.  We bring our bikes and walking shoes for this trip.

Photo taken by Rachel Neuwirth

The Great Beach, so named by Henry David Thoreau, starts here. This sandy strand offers opportunities to study coastal beach processes, including longshore transport of sand and coastal erosion.

Nauset Marsh is located behind the former Coast Guard Station. It is accessible by a pathway that leads to the bicycle trail bridge. Here, one can see shorebirds working the tidal flats in the warmer months and observe salt marsh grass systems close up.

Nauset Spit offers the opportunity to walk directly onto a barrier beach system and observe shorebirds and, during the winter months, seals. The inlet into Nauset Marsh is at the southern end of Nauset Spit. World-renowned nature writer, Henry Beston, wrote The Outermost House from his beach cottage located here.

Nesting plovers and terns frequent this area in the early spring to early summer. Plovers are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Seals can often be sighted at the end of Nauset Spit during the winter months. Generally these are harbor seals. At low tide, they can sometimes be seen "hauling out" onto the marsh.



Rangeley Maine July 4th Car Camping Weekend - July 2-6, 2008

Join us again for the annual Rangeley Maine car camping weekend. We'll hike Saddleback Mountain.  The Appalachian Trail runs on the rim of Saddleback.  We will bike around Rangeley Lake, kayak Rangeley Lake and/or Mooselookmeguntic Lake, hang out at the beach at the campsite or tell stories around the campfire. Four nights, four breakfasts, three dinners, one being the infamous lobster cookout. 

Books about Rangeley and Area



I went on a six day bike ride through Maine a number of years ago. We actually biked five of the days and had one day of rest. Our day of rest was in a location I never heard of before, Rangeley Maine. The view coming into town on our bikes was so beautiful, I decided I would have to run a trip here. Hence, the four night camping trip to Rangeley Maine was developed, where we bring our tents, and has run for nine years.

We stay at the group camp site at Rangeley Lake State Park where we can leave our kayaks and canoes right near our campsite.

Outdoor gear to bring has included a bike, kayak, canoe, tent, sleeping bag, mattress, swim suit and beach chair.

Outdoor clothing to bring includes hiking shoes, non-wool socks, waterproof pants and jacket and possibly hiking poles.

Rangeley Lake Trip Activities

Wilhelm Reich Museum
Rangely Lake State Park
Hang out a Rangeley Lake Beach
Play football at Rangley Lake
Hike Small's Falls
Hike Bald Mountain
Hike to Angel Falls
Hike the Bigelows
Events in Rangeley, like fireworks
Bike around Rangeley Lake
Hang out at the campfire
Kayak Rangeley Lake
Kayak Mooselookmeguntic Lake
Hike Saddleback Mountain

The above are not in any particular order




Camden and Vinalhaven Maine - May 17 - 21, 2008

Camden Harbor
Camden Maine is one of the top 10 places to visit in Maine. We will hike Mount Battie, bike around Camden area, take a ferry to nearby island, Vinalhaven, and bike around the island.  Four nights, four breakfasts, four dinners, and ferry to Vinalhaven.

Rockland-Port Clyde Bike Tour
Camden-Lincolnville-Rockport Bike Tour
Monhegan Island
Cedar Crest Inn
Merryspring Nature Center
Camden Hills State Park Trail Map

I went camping years ago near Camden Maine, but I had little time to tour Camden. I thought all Camden had was shopping. It sure is a cute town and has some nice shops, but there is so much more.

In May of 2008, to be exact May 17-21, we led a 4-day trip to Camden. May can be an iffy time to go to Camden because of the weather, but we were bringing the appropriate outdoor gear and outdoor equipment. What that means is bikes, hiking boots, warm coat, hats, gloves, long sleeved shirt, short sleeve shirt and something other than jeans to hike and bike in. Yes, we even brought long underwear and bathing suits. There is a pool at the Inn and I was advised that the pool would not be open this early in the season. I always bring my bathing suit. We just didn't know if it was going to be 35 degrees F or 80 degrees F, so we were prepared for both.

We stayed at the Cedar Crest Inn, which was an absolutely fabulous place to stay. The Inn has worked with groups before and we had no problems with the reservations throughout the entire trip. The Elm Street Grille is right there at the hotel. Even though, I like going to different restaurants for variety reasons, we were given a great selection of dishes, as well as, a Pizza Select Dinner with over five pizzas for the group to choose from at a very reasonable price. We had four breakfasts and three dinners at the Elm Street Grille.

Belted Galloway Cows
We started the trip on a Saturday, which gave us time to tour the town and get situated in our rooms. Some of us visited a couple of shops like the Maine Gathering and Camden Pottery. Then, we stopped for a drink at the Quarterdeck Bar and Grill.
While touring the town and neighboring areas, we were lucky enough to see some Belted Galloway cows, a rare beef breed of cattle originating from Galloway in South West Scotland.

Sunday, we started our mini-vacation by hiking to Camden Hills State Park. There is 30 miles of hiking trails there, so we weren't worried that we wouldn't have enough to see. We hiked from the main entrance on Youngtown Road the long way around to Bald Rock Mountain, elevation 1200', Frohock Mountain, 454' and back to the entrance. It was really a good day of hiking. It's a good idea we brought our hiking boots, since there are some tree roots and rocks on the trail.

Purple Trillium

Merryspring Nature Center is less than a mile walk from the Cedar Crest Inn and the gardens and trails located there are a great way to spend a couple of hours. Beautiful plants and gardens, including the endangered Purple Trillium.

We did that before dinner and decided to go there each morning at 7 am, before breakfast, just for a nice morning walk. 

Port at Vinalhaven

There are few islands near Camden. Since, we had not been to the island of Vinalhaven, most of us drove to Rockland, with our bikes, to get on the ferry. Some of us rode our bikes from Camden to Rockland, less than an hour bike ride. A little windy this time of year, but not enough to dump us off our bikes. Vinalhaven is a quaint island, but it was very windy and cold when we went there. We stayed all day riding around and having coffee at shops. I must admit if I do this trip again, we will most likely drive to Port Clyde and take the ferry to Monhegan. I've heard the cliffs of Monhegan are breathtaking.
Directions to Mt Battie from Mount Mount Megunticook

The next day we split into two groups. Half of us went hiking to Mount Battie-780' and Maiden Cliff- 800'. the other half of us went on a 24 mile bike ride from the Cedar Crest Inn past the Camden Public Library visting Lincolnville and Rockport and ending back at the Inn. We anticipated the ride riding past Maiden's Cliff, so we also brought appropriate shoes to hike starting at the Maiden's Cliff trailhead. Believe it or not, we tried, but we never ran into the other group. We did leave a sign that we were there by raising the windshield wipers on their car.

The last day was a tourist day. We drove to Rockland and spent the day there, which was on our way home. Rockland is a real artsy town. A really wonderful town. We walked the waterfront boardwalk along with locals walking their dog. The the large natural harbor is gated by a mile-long breakwater with a distinctive lighthouse at the end, the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. Numerous shops to go to. A real treat was visiting the Camden Deli which has a rooftop deck overlooking the harbor.

That was it! We said our goodbyes and got numerous emails after the trip, thanking us for the wonderful vaca!


Planned Vacations, What a Concept !

Sure, there are maps and tour guides and the Chamber of Commerce, but wouldn't it be nice if we had trips already planned and we knew what we wanted to do at those locations by others recommendations. I have been leading vacation trips with OutsideNE and the Appalachian Mountain Club for over ten years.
Hiking the E4 Trail in Crete

Rockland Maine

Hope you are able to go on one of these trips and add some information! Happy Vacations and Weekends!

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