01/14/14

Best Places for Camping in the USA

camping2The US is the world’s leader in infrastructure development; as such, the highly-developed cities all over the country are all sights to behold. However, if you are looking for natural beauty, if you prefer to enjoy some solitary union with nature, there are a lot of places in the US for you to do so.

Camping is one of the most preferred spring and summer activities. It offers families and friends a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the cities and it allows them to savor and to enjoy the majesty of the natural wonders of North America.

So, where are the best camping sites in our country? Well, this is a very difficult question to answer. In fact, to say that it is difficult to answer might be an understatement for people can have different opinions about which is truly the best. You see, there are different criteria with which to base your judgment, and there are some sites which are better in some aspects than the others, while there are a few sites which are superior in certain things. In other words, from a bird’s eye view, the best places for camping in this country might be equal in so many respects.

In this article, we are going to mention the top 5 places in the US for camping. Of course, while this is the personal judgment of the author, my judgments are based on the ideas of dozens of bloggers who have shared their own ideas about the top places in the country for this outdoor activity.

The first place in our list is Bayou Segnette State Park. This camping park in New Orleans is most popular to families and children mainly because of its many amenities which truly tickle the senses. Here, kids can enjoy slides, pools, fountains, canoeing and kayaking, and many other activities. This is one park which will never go out of style and it will never fall out of favor with the American families. But, perhaps what sets this aside from other parks is that Bayou Segnette is very affordable. At $16/ head a night (or $26/ head during peak seasons), the Bayou Segnette offers the best camping experience to the middle-income families.

Second, we have Ludington State Park Campground. As with the Bayou Segnette Park, Ludington is a state-owned park, which explains its affordability. Avid campers mostly say that Ludington is a notch higher than the Bayou primarily because the former offers a genuinely natural camping experience. In other words, Ludington gives you the opportunity to truly commune with nature. Of course, there are existing infrastructures for you and your kids to enjoy, but this 5,000-acre campsite has so much more to offer. Basically, you can explore other places where you can set up your very own camp free from the disturbance from other campers.

Third, we have Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. The price range for this campsite is between $20 to around $500 a night. The price range might be huge, but you will see that every penny that you spend here is worth it. First of all, for middle-income families, you can visit this place without the fear that your pockets would be emptied after a few days. You can avail of the many activities and amenities at a price which is most comfortable to you. However, if you have the funds, then you can truly enjoy this park to the max. There are rides, pools, slides, and other wonderful activities for you and your family to enjoy. While other parks close during winter, this state park remains teeming with adventurists during the colder periods of the year. Skiing, skating, and ice fishing are winter activities which are available for the adventure-loving individuals.

Now, we are down to our top two spots. The silver trophy is awarded to the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resorts. First of all, this park carries the namesake of the world’s most popular bear, Yogi. Kids love Yogi, kids love to do the things that Yogi did; thus, your kids would definitely enjoy being in this park camp resort. Yogi and Boo-boo are just two of the reasons why you should visit this camp. This camp offers you a package that your senses won’t be able to refuse. Basically, as the name of the park suggests, you can enjoy the beauty of the mountains, yet you can also savor the sweetness of water activities. If you love boating, diving, and sliding on one of the three giant water slides, then Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp is the place for you.

And, the best camping site in the US is awarded to – hold it – Haena Beach Park in Hawaii! There are several things which put this place at the number one spot. First, it is a beach – everybody loves to camp along the white sand coach with the tantalizing aromatic smell of the Pacific breeze. Second, it is very affordable. One can enjoy this experience at $3 a night. If you like jungle trekking, you can do it here, too. Of course, you have to bring a native guide with you.

Either of the aforementioned camping locations will provide a memorable experience so what are you waiting for?!

09/27/13

Traveling in India

indiaEarlier this month we traveled to India and had an outstanding time!   India is the biggest nation-state in the Indian Subcontinent and imparts boundaries to Pakistan to the west, Bhutan to the north-east, China and Nepal to the north, and Myanmarand Bangladeshto the east. You’ll find Maldives to the south-west, Sri Lanka lies in the south and Indonesia to the south-east of India in the Indian Ocean.

By area India is the seventh biggest nation on the planet and, with in excess of a billion individuals, is second only to China in population. It is a greatly different nation, with boundless distinctions in geology, atmosphere, dialect,society and ethnicity crosswise over its breadth, and prides itself on being the biggest vote based democratic system on Earth.

With mountains, desert wildernesses and shores, India has everything. It is limited to the north and northeast by the snow-topped Himalayas, the tallest mountain run on the planet.  India’s rich and multi-layered societies are ruled by religious and otherworldly topics.  Here are a few of the special times in the year we learned about:

-Durga Puja / Navarathri / Dussehara, Sep-Oct — a nine-day celebration building up and finally finishing in the sacred day of Dasara, when locals pray before the divinity Durga.

-Diwali (Deepavali), Oct-Nov — The celebration of lights, commends the reappearance of Lord Rama to the capital of his kingdom, Ayodhya after an outcast of 14 years.

-Holi, in February or March — the celebration of colour is a major celebration commended primarily in North, East and Western India.

In terms of interesting places we had the pleasure of seeing the following:

-Himalayan North (Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh)

Hilly and excellent! A visitor terminus for the brave. This district holds some of India’s most gone by knoll stations and religious places. A must see!

-The Plains (Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh)

The nation’s capital Delhi is here. The waterways Ganga and Yamuna move through this plain. A hefty portion of the occasions that formed India’s history occurred in this locale.

-Western India (Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Goa, Daman and Diu, Maharashtra, Gujarat,Rajasthan)

Miles and miles of the Thar Desert. Home to the brilliant royal residences, posts and urban communities of Rajasthan, the nation’s most vibrant and grandest city Mumbai (once in the past reputed to be Bombay), glorious vacation spots and flawless timberlands of Goa and Bollywood.

-Southern India (Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry)

South India’s characteristics are really popular and verifiable sanctuaries, tropical backwoods, backwaters, vacation spots rise stations, and the vibrant urban communities of Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai and Hyderabad. The island gatherings of Andaman & Nicobar (on the east) and Lakshadweep on the west are incorporated in this district for comfort; however they are a long way from the terrain and have their own novel aspects.

-Eastern India (Sikkim, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal)

Monetarily less improved, however socially rich and maybe the most inviting of the outcasts

North-Eastern India (Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram, Tripura)

Isolated and moderately virgin, the nation’s tribal corner, with lavish, excellent scenes, endemic vegetation of the Indo-Malayan bunch and renowned worldwide for Tea Gardens. Comprises of seven small states (by Indian guidelines, some of them are bigger than Switzerland or Austria) ubiquitously nicknamed as the Seven Sisters.

Aside from these tranquil locations we also explored a good deal of urban areas.  I listed below what I believe to be ten of India’s most remarkable urban areas.  Within these you will likely further stumble upon other hidden gems.

-Delhi — the capital of India and the heart of Northern India

-Bangalore — The enclosure city, once the lethargic home of retired people now changed into Silicon city with a lot of programming organizations making their work places in the city.

-Hyderabad — the City of Pearls.

-Chennai (previously Madras) — principle port in Southern India, support of Carnatic Music and Bharatanatyam, home of the well-known Marina sunny shore, Automobile Capital of India and a quick rising IT center.

-Jaipur — the Pink City is a major display of the Hindu Rajput society of medieval Northern India.

-Kochi (previously Cochin) — the Queen of Arabian Sea, generally, a core of worldwide exchange, now the portal to the sandy beaches and backwaters.

-Kolkata (previously Calcutta) — the social capital of India, Kolkata is home to various provincial edifices. It is reputed to be The City of Joy.

-Mumbai (previously ‘Bombay) — the fiscal capital of India, “Bollywood” (The Indian Hindi Cinema Film Industry) center point.

-Shimla — the previous summer capital of British India found in the Himalayan foothills with a huge legacy of Victorian construction modeling.

-Varanasi — acknowledged the most sacrosanct Hindu city, spotted on the banks of the Ganges, one of the most senior consistently possessed urban areas of the planet.

One of the things I found amazing was the sheer extent of history and culture.  India has numerous exceptional historic points and regions of extraordinary delightfulness. Below is a rundown of nine of the most outstanding in my opinion:

-Bodh Gaya — the spot where the Buddha Sakyamuni achieved edification.

-Taj Mahal — the unique marble tomb in Agra

-Ellora/ajanta — tremendous rock-cut hole cloisters and sanctuaries, sacred place for the Jains,Buddhists and Hindus.

-Hampi — the stunning ruins of the domain of Vijayanagara

-Goa — an east-west blend, shores and syncretic society.

-Brilliant Temple — Sikh heavenly site spotted in Amritsar

-Khajuraho — celebrated internationally for its suggestive models

-Konark — Sun Temple, one of a kind illustration of Kalingan Architecture, a World Heritage siteof UNESCO.

-Lake Palace — the Lake Palace of Octopussy acclaim, found in Udaipur

-Meenakshi Temple — a tremendous Hindu sanctuary in Madurai

Overall we loved our trek around India and urge you to do the same!  It can be a tough country to get around on motorcycles so we recommend using public transportation such as the excellent railroads or even buses.

08/24/13

Motorcycle Safety Tips

motorcycle touringIn order to be safe on the road when riding your motorcycle you’ll definitely need a good helmet. Here we’ll focus on the most important points you need to keep in mind before you buy a motorcycle helmet. What should be the right type of helmet for you? What are the factors you need to consider to make sure that it’s the right one? How does it ensure your safety? How to be sure that it’s the perfect fit for you? Let’s check out some smart tips and tricks on how to choose the best helmet and travel safely on our motorcycles.

Many people as well as most of the salesmen in any helmet store will suggest that the most expensive helmet will be the best choice for you. In most cases, this is nothing but a myth. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the expensive ones are of inferior quality than the inexpensive ones. It’s just that while buying a helmet, you should focus more on whether it fits you perfectly or not. You’ll probably end up trying with a number of helmets to fit the shape of your head and finally discover that it wasn’t the most expensive one. It’s safer to aim at a higher budget though, considering that whatever you buy is going to be your life saver!

Besides the information below we found a decent resource on motorcycle helmets at bestmotorcyclehelmet.net.

 

Different Types of Helmets and Their Features:

Helmets have gone through an evolution along with the evolution of motorcycles throughout the years. On the basis of their use and functions they have been specified into different classes. Let’s have a look at a few basic types of motorcycle helmets available in the market today.

Half Helmet:

Also knows as Skullcap, these helmets are worn by cruiser bikers, solely to follow the law of wearing a helmet on the road. These helmets provide minimum protection and covers just the top of your head. If you are a serious rider, trust me, this is not for you.

Open Face Helmet or “Three Quarter” Helmet:

This type of helmet covers the top, sides and the back of your head, meaning a higher safety. It usually does not have any face shield or chin bar and you’ll need to wear goggles to keep your eyes safe from wind, dust or bugs. Bikers and police officers prefer this type of helmet.

Full-Face Helmet:

This type of helmet is called the king of helmets ensuring the maximum protection of your head covering from all sides. The race drivers love this model. They are provided with ventilation holes and is even more attractive and smart than most other models irrespective of its high price.

Modular or “Flip-up” Helmet:

This is a good model blending a full-face helmet and an open helmet. The safety factor is fine and is very comfortable allowing the rider to eat, drink or chat wearing the helmet. The price is usually higher than that of full-face due to its complex design.

Motocross & Dirt bike Helmet:

Among all the helmets, the most stylish and fancy helmet is the Motocross. The chin area is very long and there’s a sun-visor which provides protection from sun, sand or wind. The ventilation is good enough. The rider has to get some goggles too along with this helmet to achieve the safety level of a full-face helmet.

How Does A Motorcycle Helmet Work?

A motorcycle helmet consists of four basic components each performing characteristic functions. The hard outer shell of the helmet is designed delicately to absorb and spread out any impact force. The EPS inside the helmet is usually formed of Styrofoam and reduces the impact of the head lessening any possible brain shock. The function of the chin strap is to hold the helmet firmly on the head. And the soft fabric lining inside the helmet helps to fit the head properly and provide sufficient comfort while driving.

What To Look For In A Good Motorcycle Helmet?

Certified Safety Standards: The first and foremost function of a helmet is to provide perfect protection to your skull and brain. Function dominates over fashion here. The safety helmet that you’re going to buy, must be officially certified by some testing agency (BSI, DOT, ECE, Snell etc.)

The Style Factor: There are different models of helmets in the market – Half, Quarter, Full Face, Flip up etc. Since safety is your main concern, it’s better to go with the Full Face or Flip Up models since the first two offer the least protection.

Proper Fit: When worn, the helmet must be in firm contact with your head and face. If you can’t get more than the tip of your pinky when inserted between the helmet and your forehead – you have the perfectly fit helmet. Best fit and comfort along with safety, are a lot more important than showing off a fancy helmet with graphic tattoos all over it.

Clarity of Vision & Proper Ventilation: The peripheral vision through the face-shield must be flawless. There are different types of face-shields including ones having anti-fog coatings. There are even helmets with internal sun visor which can be a great choice for serious riders. Besides proper ventilation is very important as it dilutes toxic gases within the helmet. Helmets with good ventilation have holed liners connected with the vents on the shell.

Liner Removability: The helmet liner should be washable to ensure absolute comfort during use over a long period of time. Washing the helmet will increase its durability.

The Communication Factor: There are many riders who prefer to listen to music while riding and also communicate with other riders. Today there are many helmets offering GPS features with integrated earphones, mouthpiece, allowing wireless communications via Bluetooth. If you are a techie guy with deep pockets, this is something to think about.

With time, science presents itself with newer ideas and technologies which crawl up to secure their places in our daily life. The latest technologies in the motorcycle helmet industry includes wireless communication modules, face shields with light sensors, microdisplay, electronic mainboards, GPS units and many other hi-tech accessories. Apart from all these features offered by modern helmets, the basic function must always meet its standards – the safety function. If you are a comparatively new rider looking for a good helmet to start your day with, it’s definitely wise to look around within the conventional models.

Here’s a nice video I came across on the typical errors new riders make in terms of safety:

 

Drive safe and live long!

07/24/13

Essential Equipment for Camping Trips

campingOne of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors is to go camping.  If you’ve never camped before, the most important thing that you’ll have to do is to get familiar with all the basic equipment needed to go for camping.  In this case, it’s a good idea to go camping along with some experienced seasonal campers.  This way you’ll learn camping tips & tricks really fast.  To start with, you’ll need a shelter.  This shelter can be anything from tent to cabin or even an RV.  You’ll need a bed to sleep on and bedding accessories.  Finally, you’ll need a lot of food depending upon the length of your camping trip, which could be either packed ready to eat or to be cooked.

Essential camping equipment

The campers who go out on their first time are mostly tent campers or sometimes also termed as car-campers based on the fact that all their camping equipment are carried in their cars.  Now the first tent you’ll have to buy does not necessarily need to be the most expensive one.  If it can provide sufficient protection in case of a not-so-great weather, then it’s just fine.  The same principle goes for sleeping bags.  If it’s comfortable for a good sleep, take it. If you can choose a good set of camping gear it will last you for years. On the basis of your food habits, the amount of packed food you’re carrying will vary, often limiting your carriage to nothing but a set of cooler, spatula and charcoal.

Choosing a Tent

A good tent will protect you from sun, rain and wind.  It will keep you safe from unfriendly outdoor bugs.  You can keep your clothes and other water sensitive camping gear indoors if you have a tent.  A tent will provide you the privacy you need.  In good weather you can sleep happily under the stars, but you’ll be needing a tent at some point so don’t think you can go camping without one!

Pads and Sleeping Bags

For a good sleep, you’ll need to make a bed.  Get some pads for cushioning from the rough and hard ground surface.  Above the pad, lay out the sleeping bag.  If it’s not warm enough, get a blanket or sheet over it and of course, you must get a pillow.

Cooking Supplies

It’s fun to cook in the campground. If you’re not a backyard chef, a drinks cooler, some sandwiches and snacks will do the trick. If you are, then you’re in for some great fun.  The most popular camping food is chicken, beef or fish to barbecue.  Most of the public campgrounds offer grilling options for you to cook some steaks, hamburgers or grilled meat.  With a propane stove or a Dutch oven, you can do some really smart and delicious baking too.

Survival Kit

Every camping trip must not be without your essential survival equipment.  You’ll need a pocket knife, fire-starter, flashlight, first aid kit and plenty of water or at least water purifying tablets.  Here’s a good resource for building a survival kit.

To remember every single item you need to go for camping including your toothbrush or a mini flashlight, get yourself a camping checklist.  Revise it whenever required.  This is really helpful as you don’t have to think about all the things you need all over again every time you go out on camping.   Happy Camping!

06/24/13

How We Discovered Paintball

paintball vs airsoftOn one of our recent trips in Northern California we came across a team of people preparing for a Paintball game.  A few of my friends had played this a while back and I was intrigued.  For those who don’t know, here’s how it works.

Paintball is a competitive game and sport that has become recognized as one of the world’s most exciting outdoor participation sports in recent years. Like other competitive sports paintball relies on a set of actions that prompt a player towards the intention of eliminating the opposition.  What makes paintball different from other sports is the cool equipment required to play and the extra dose of adrenaline. All paintball players, whether homemakers or high-school students, professionals or retirees, have in common a love for adventure and a strong competitive spirit.  A similar sport is that of Airsoft which has become more popular over the years.

Equipment for playing paintball

Gun or Marker:  Paintball guns or markers propels paintballs in a somewhat straight line.

Mask: Paintball masks are used for the simple reason of protecting your face.

Hopper: A hopper is a small container that is fitted on your gun to feed paintballs into your gun.

Paintballs: Paintballs are spherical, thin-skinned gelatin capsules with colored liquid inside them that are loaded into your gun and then fired by the expansion of compressed gas.

Air Tank: Air tank contains the compressed gas that works as propellant to fire a paintball.

How paintball is played

At first a game field needs to be established. It is best scattered with natural or artificial terrain, which players use for strategic play. There must be a dead zone that is out of the game field where players should go after elimination. The rules or objectives of the game should be known to all the players.

Then a time limit has to be fixed for the game considering the area of game field, the objective of the game and the number of players participating.

All the players are divided into fair teams.  The number of the players in each team should be kept roughly equal if possible. When the game is ON, players of a team shoot paintballs at the opponents while at the same time, move forward to fulfill their objective before their opponents. When the players are shot on their body or equipment, they become eliminated. They must then raise their guns over their head, shout to let other players know that they are hit and then quickly leave the field to the dead zone. When one team has completed the necessary objectives, all players still on the field should be notified.

The basic goal of paintball is to eliminate the opponents from the game and complete the objective before the opposition and return it to the home base.

Types of paintball games

Team Deathmatch:  Each team has to start from different sides of the field with the equal number of players on each team if possible. Players then move on in trying to eliminate every player on the opposing team.

Capture The Flag:  Two flag sites are established on opposite sides of the field. The players must then retrieve the other team’s flag and bring it back to their own base without being shot.

Neutral Capture The Flag:  One flag is set up directly at center of the playing field. Each team must try to capture the flag and bring it back to their own base while trying to force the other team from not capturing it at the same time.

President/VIP:  The team picks a player as their VIP. The main objective is to eliminate the opposing teams VIP while shooting at anybody who gets in the way. The game ends when either teams VIP is shot.

Predator vs. Prey: Teams are divided such that one team has more players than the other. The prey will consist of fewer people. The prey then goes out into the paintball playing area. The predators then go out into the field and try to hunt down the prey, while being hunted by the prey themselves. If a predator is shot, they are eliminated. If a prey is hit, they become member of predators’ team.

Paintball is one kind of character-building sport. Players learn about teamwork, earn self-confidence and develop leadership abilities while having additional fun and getting relief from regular stress.

It’s also an exciting sport and above all paintball is fun. It’s a chance to escape from your day-to-day responsibilities and evoke your spirit of adventure. There is nothing like it to really get the adrenaline pumping and offering so many thrills.  Try it for yourself!

04/24/13

Touring America’s Top National Parks

Yellowstone National Park sign at the North Entrance; Jim Peaco; October 1992National parks are always special.  No matter what your age is, entering the kiosk of a national park naturally causes the same adrenaline rush as it used to when you were just a kid.  Just a random whiff of the mountain air or the smell of fresh green leaves and you know that you’re in for something really big.  A beauty that cannot be described in words or held in pictures.  A two billion years aged canyon or giant trees the size of a skyscraper, visit to a national park is an incredible experience.  If you want an escape from the bustling busy city life and taste the offerings of nature, check out these fine examples of America’s top national parks.

 

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is situated at the meeting zone of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  This was one of the first national parks in US and is still the most famous one.  The Old Faithful is the best attraction for tourists but there are a lot of other attractions to experience as well.  The landscape of this park is extremely diverse ranging from forests to lakes and even flow of molten lava.

Grand Canyon National Park

This is located in the state of Arizona and represents some of the finest natural wonders you will ever see.   The Grand Canyon is an amazing site where people from around the world tour in millions.  The actual experience of this site can be observed only if you hike down deep into the canyon, not the aerial view.  Best time to go is in the spring or early fall to avoid the crowds.

Yosemite National Park

yosemiteLocated in California , Yosemite is mostly famous for the formation of granites along with featuring the tallest water fall in North America. Every year a lot of tourists travel to this park, which can also be marked as a negative role in conserving the integrity of the park.  Yet there are areas within the park where the crowd density is comparatively low and a great place to hang out and enjoy the blessings of Mother Nature.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is situated in Alaska and also renowned for housing North America’s tallest mountain.  The park of course has more to offer than just the mountain.  The great wildlife is actually the most attractive part of the park along with the hiking and climbing mountains.  Although it is situated in a very remote location, a huge number of tourists visit Denali every year.

Acadia National Park

acadiaThis is the only national park situated in Maine and also the only one that you can find in the eastern side of America.  This is because the eastern side of US houses very small parks.  Acadia is also a quite small one and yet offers the most spectacular scenery to the visitors.  There are mountains, beaches and in fact a great place for seeing whales in America.

What are you waiting for?!   If you decide on the camping route check out my guide to camping gear.

 

Life will go on and time will keep flowing.  It’s always good to take a short break from this mechanical life and embrace the divine nature unfolding right in front of your eyes in any of the America’s best national parks.  So get a backpack and break free!