Snowmobile Fun for the Family

Whether it’s a prolonged adventure or a quick getaway, a family vacation in the snow can be a marvelous thing. However, sitting by a fire roasting marshmallows just won’t cut it. In snowy areas, there’s fun to be had all around: Hiking, skiing, snowman building and many other activities that everyone loves are available to the public. However, few things are as exciting and family-bonding as snowmobiling. All about discovering and conquering new terrains as a team, snowmobiling is an activity that creates a true sense of partnership between family members. At the same time, it’s an action-packed sport that will get everyone pumped up, eliminating the possibility of anyone being bored altogether.

Image Courtesy of SnoWest Snowmobile Magazine

What is Snowmobiling?

Snowmobiling started out not as a fun sport, but as a means of transportation in places with heavy snowfall. However, people quickly realized how fun and exciting snowmobiles were. This, in combination to the natural softness and ease of snow, made for an adrenaline-pumping activity that could be enjoyed by people of all ages. Soon, snowmobiling became popular.

Confirming the popularity of the sport, today there are over 3,000 snowmobile clubs thriving in North America. Amazingly versatile, snowmobiling can be done at various levels of skill that range from simple trail touring to high-performance extreme motor sports. Because each member can decide what approach to take depending on their skill and confidence levels, snowmobiling is a perfect activity for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Types of Snowmobiles for the Family

There are many different types of snowmobiles that are suited for different needs. While some of them have been built for heavy riding, competition and extreme sports, there are others that can appeal to different members of a family.

Entry-level Snowmobiles: For amateurs and beginners, there are entry-level snowmobiles, often referred to as trail models. Easy to ride, light and relatively inexpensive, these models range from 60-70 horsepower, making them perfect for casual snowmobiling, sight-seeing and calm rides around smooth trailed areas.

Performance Snowmobiles: These feature slightly higher horsepower engines, which allows them to go off-trail – to a certain extent. They have a bigger engine and more powerful suspension and shock absorbing systems, making them heavier but more powerful and resistant.

Touring Snowmobiles: With its main feature being their capability to be ridden by two individuals, touring snowmobiles are an attractive option for families, particularly if they have small children. Because of their larger size and superior power, they are heavier than both entry-level and performance snowmobiles. However, they are not recommended for difficult off-trail riding.

Image Courtesy of SnoWest Snowmobile Magazine

The Do’s and Don’ts of Snowmobiling

Do

  • Contact state and provincial snowmobile associations and clubs to obtain information regarding the best locations to practice the sport. This should depend somewhat on the season, but there are places in the entire North-American Snowbelt area, making it easy to find a spot no matter the time of the year.
  • Get the right type of snowmobile gear. This includes bibs, jackets, gloves, boots and helmets.
  • Before riding, make sure the snowmobiles you and your family are using have been thoroughly checked by a professional.

Don’t

  • If you are a beginner, do not stray from the path. Not knowing how to ride the snowmobile in difficult terrain can cause malfunctions and accidents.
  • Don’t go riding before having checked climate and terrain conditions with local experts. As you may have imagined, snowfall needs to have a certain level in order for snowmobiles to work properly on it.
  • Finally, don’t forget to have fun with your family!

Bio –

This guest post was written by SnoWest Snowmobile Magazine, dedicated to the hobby and sport of snowmobiling in its various forms and providing the most up to date information and reviews for enthusiasts. Digital and print forms available.

 

RoadTripping With JT: Bald Eagle Watching Along The Great River Road

Hello My Road Tripping Friend!
Happy 2017!

Sometimes the best road trip is the one that is actually a day trip close to home. Living in the Gateway City, we have the awesome privilege of having Bald Eagles migrate into our region from the north during the winter months. Bald Eagles have been spotted in the area from November to March and lay their eggs in late February. With the land near the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois Rivers being their residence of choice, there are many opportunities to see these majestic birds, whether sitting in a nest, high in a tree or flying high above looking for something for dinner.

The Bald Eagle sitting in a tree along the Illinois River

Last week, my wife an I had an opportunity to be paparazzi with these local celebrities, trying to get that exclusive photo for our blog. We drove about an hour north of Saint Louis to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois. The State Park has offered eagle watching tours for many years and is popular with locals and tourists. The tour includes informational videos about the life of the Bald Eagle and how they were brought back from near extinction. We did the same tour last year, so we didn’t need to watch the videos a second time, so we arrived in time for the actual tour. The group left from the visitor center in a convey, under the direction of the Park staff who have been tracking the Eagles where-abouts. Our convoy started with about fifteen cars, but by the end of the day, we were one of only three vehicles remaining. The tour begins at 8:30am and lasts until about 3:30pm, and includes a stop for lunch. The tour may have been too much for some people to do all day.

Depending on where the Bald Eagles have been spotted, the tour can include a ferry ride across the Illinois River (we took the Brussels Ferry), a stop off at the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge and through the towns of Brussels, Hardin and Kampsville before returning back to the visitor center. Last year, we saw several Bald Eagles but only from a far distance, so the binoculars didn’t do any good. We didn’t get any photos worth sharing. This year, we had a completely different experience. We saw fewer Bald Eagles, but they were sitting in trees near the river’s edge. We were able to drive right up to them in our vehicles and then under them, without flying off. I could get out of the Jeep and walk up to the tree and grab a photo of them, while JT would drive a little closer and then catch a view of there with the binoculars. The photo above is one my favorites from the day. Below are more.

A Bald Eagle from across the river bank

Sometimes you will see a Bald Eagle from across the river bank. Here we see one from the opposite side of the Illinois River. Even with a pair of binoculars and zoom on your camera, it is hard to get a good view of it.

Such a majestic bird

 

WOW!!

 

Our hope was to get at least one good photo of an Bald Eagle up close. Needless to say, these paparazzi were able to get several (hundred) good shots. Too many to share here. We went home happy.

ROAD TRIPPING TIPS FOR BALD EAGLE WATCHING

  • Go with a group!
    Unless you are an experienced bird watcher and are familiar with the area, I recommend that you look for an organized group or an event to enhance your experience.  From the Chain of Rocks Bridge up to Pere Marquette State Park and beyond, you can find groups and towns that offer bus tours, educational programs and informational videos. While you will see many Bald Eagles flying along the Great River Road, your best bet to see one up close is to get off the main highway and take the back roads between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. This area is very isolated and it is easy to get lost if you do not know how to get around. Plus, a guide can enhance the experience with eagle-watching stories and take you to out-of-the-way places that you would have overlooked if you were on your own.
  • Don’t forget the binoculars and the camera!
    The Bald Eagle is a majestic bird and is an amazing sight to see. A good pair of binoculars are a must because they are difficult to see up close. They tend to fly off when humans are in close range or if dinner is close at hand. A pair of binoculars will help you see them even then them are far away. If you are fortunate enough to get close enough to see, you will want to photograph them. A good quality DSLR camera with a high zoom feature is essential because you will want a clear image and not just a black and white blob that you have imagine as an eagle. And a clear image of a Bald Eagle will impress your friends.
  • Be prepared for nothing!
    Bald Eagle watching is a fun experience, but there is the unfortunate possibility that you will not see many (or any) eagles on your outing. One key factor is the weather. The warmer the winter is in general, the less you will see. When we went on the tour last year, the temperatures for the season had been above average. Our guide called it the worst season he had seen in over twenty years for seeing eagles. We only seen a handful, but none were close enough to capture a good photo. Also, if the day is windy, the eagles tend to stay in the trees and not move around much. Bald Eagles move around a lot. If you (or the guide) saw an eagle in a location on one day, it does not mean that they will be there the next day or the next hour.

If you get a chance to venture out and see the bald eagles, leave us a comment about your experience. Tell us about where you went and how many you saw. And if you capture a good image, please share it with us.

Happy Eagle Watching!!

Exploring Jungle Safaris in India – A Few Tips from the Expert to Novice Travelers

Once if planned and executed properly, going for a jungle safari is one of the most exhilarating experience one can have in life. Unlike the planned touring trips, you are not able to predict what you are going to experience next inside the deep jungle, which is the most exciting part of it.
However, in order to enjoy this experience of the true nature to its peak, travelers need to be extremely cautious and sensitive to the surroundings and also should practice a high level of patience and self-discipline.

Wildlife in India

India in an amazing country when it comes to opportunities for exploring the wild. Huge diversity of wildlife, variations in climate, and the complex topography of the sub-continent make India an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts from across the globe.
There are 10 primary bio-geographical zones in India, which is further divided into 23 biotic provinces. Not all of these destinations are open for public, but there are many interesting jungle safari options at various parts of India.
There are more than 400 species of mammals and about 1300 bird species of birds found in India. This is the only country where Asiatic Lions are seen and it is also home to about 65% of total global population of tigers. India is also home to 5 distinct species of wild cattle, 11 wild goats, and 15 other primates.

Jungle safari in India

A jungle safari is considered as a sojourn to the amazing wild life and there are many packages offered by different wild life sanctuaries in India for this.

Jeep Safari
Majority of the packages like Tadoba Resort jungle safari offer customized jeep rides through the jungle tracks inside the park. The major advantage of jeep rides is that one can cover a large area in shortest possible time, which maximizes the chances of confronting with wildlife.

Elephant Safari
This is another best option to consider which ensures a much closer and personal experience with nature, but limited to certain habitats only. The advantage of traveling on elephants is that that the other wildlife accepts elephants as animals itself and come closer. There is also no noise or air pollution in case of elephant safaris as like a jeep safari.

Trekking
Trekking at wild is highly discouraged to public and it is rightly so. An average tourist will not be able to survive wild trekking. However, there are specific trekking packages for wildlife experts who got special training to escape danger as to climbing trees, self defense, hiding techniques etc.

Water based safaris
These are offered at certain parks with large water bodies inside the jungle region. This can be quite an enjoyable experience if booked at the right time of the year. It is also the most relaxing and comfortable way of doing a safari. For bird watchers and animal scientists, this is one of the best ways to get closer to certain habitats.

One must be well prepared to enjoy maximum excitement and thrill of a safari. A pair of good binoculars and a professional camera are essentials to carry. A good field guide is also a must, and one should also follow the instructions given by the trip administrators strictly to have an enjoyable and safe jungle safari.

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5 Best Indian Cities to Be Explored by a Solo Traveler

Traveling alone has a lot of practical advantages- planning the trip is a breeze, it’s easier to stick to a budget and you get the required break from all the hustle bustle of your daily life. But apart from these obvious pros of traveling solo, it is also good for your soul. It’s a great way to shut out the noise around you and gives you quality time with yourself. Getting away from your monotonous days at work and taking a time to unwind by yourself makes any holiday special. Whether it’s a beautiful trek or a nice cozy spa treatment you crave, these five cities in India have a lot to offer.

  1. Manali, Himachal Pradesh
    manali

Photo by David Bacon, CC BY 2.0

A resort town at the foot of the Himalayas, Manali is a premier destination for hippies and trekkers alike. With countless places to hike and trek, you can spend hours in the wilderness all by yourself. With the Beas river nearby, you can spend some time at the banks, surrounded by the rush of the clear mountain water. Manali is an ideal place for a solo traveler who is looking to unwind. Make sure you charge up your camera, as the captivating views of the Himalayas are sure to put a spell on you.

  1. Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
    jaisalmer

Photo by Ana Raquel S. Hernandes, CC BY-SA 2.0

Soak up some culture in this vibrant city with a huge variety of things to keep you busy. Right in the middle of Thar Desert, this city is scattered with picturesque monuments such as Jaisalmer Fort, Tazia Tower and a host of gorgeous Havelis. Apart from these, Jaisalmer is known for great Rajasthani food and the beautiful sand dunes in and around the city. Head to the Jeep Safari and the Camel Safari to get a closer look at the amazing wildlife in this city.

  1. Allepey, Kerala
    allepey

Photo by Deepthi Tanikella, CC BY 2.0

If you’re tired of the hustle bustle of your everyday life and need a moment to catch up with yourself, then this is the perfect place for you. Rejuvenate your senses at any of the relaxing Ayurvedic spas on Marari Beach which is located very close to Allepey. You could also take an enchanting boat ride in the backwater of Kerala for some much needed ‘me’ time. There are a number of temples in Allepey that should make every tourist to do list.

  1. Pondicherry

pondicherryPhoto by Raj, CC BY 2.0

Take your pick of serene beaches such as the Serenity Beach and Promenade Beach in this French Colonial town. Admire the beautiful architecture of the Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus or immerse yourself in nature in the Botanical Garden. Auroville, an experimental township should be on every travellers checklist. The meditation and yoga sessions offered here are sure to give you some peace of mind which is necessary in today’s world.

  1. Darjeeling, West Bengaldarjeeling

Photo by Jamey Cassell, CC BY-SA 2.0

Known as The Queen of Hills, this is a great place to travel alone to. Filled with many heritage structures, you can explore the town for a long time. With many options of going around to visit the Senchal or Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuaries, you might also catch a glimpse of a few elephants or, if you are lucky, a leopard. Another plus point of visiting Darjeeling is the tea. The numerous tea plantations are a great place to relax and forget about your urban troubles.

India has a place for every solo tourist, be it religious, scenic or filled with animals. Solo travelling is a joy that everyone must experience at least once in their life time. Just grab a few clothes and your camera, and you are set. With such a wide range of places, you are sure to enjoy the holiday alone.

Author:
Rohit is a seasoned traveler with a passion for writing and sharing his experiences with the world. Be sure to catch up with him on his blog TransIndiaTravels.com for many tips on traveling.

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RoadTripping with JT: Capturing the Beauty of Moab

Looking for a outdoor adventure for you next road trip?
Maybe taking an adventurous hike through the mountains? Maybe getting an adrenalin rush from an off-roading adventure in a 4×4 vehicle is more your speed? Or maybe a peaceful drive, looking at the panoramic vistas of the rock formations is the way you want to spend an afternoon. But if all three adventures sound great to you, than I suggest that you discover the greatness of Moab, Utah.

Each year, millions of people ascend to this small town of just over 5,000 people in eastern Utah to experience nature at its finest. Moab is jumping off point for two national parks, a state park, and the Colorado River. If you want a vacation where you stay inside all the time, then Moab is not the place for you. But if being outside and experiencing the beauty of God’s amazing creation, then it time set packing and head to Moab and find out what it has to offer you.

My wife and I experienced Moab for four days in early September. We celebrated our 17th anniversary with several hikes, an off-road adventure in Jeep, a jet-boat cruise on the Colorado River and a trip to an outdoor dinosaur museum. I will write in more detail about our experiences in future posts. But today, I want to show you the beauty of Moab and that you must capture in photographs and through videos.

Capturing great the beauty of Moab is essential for any roadtripper. We carried our DSLR camera to capture the panoramic shots. Moab is home to countless majestic mountains, overpowering rock formations and intricate stone arches, with the most famous one being Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. A trip to Moab would not be complete without the three mile hike to see it. A DSLR camera is a must if you need to zoom in and to take a photograph of a landmark that is far off in the distance. A DSLR camera will provide you with greater detail in the photograph that a cell phone or point-and-shoot camera cannot give you.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Stone arches can be found throughout the Moab region with the highest concentration being in Arches National Park. Some arches are close to the roadway and it it easy to get to them. Other ones, like Eye of the Whale Arch, are more secluded in the backcountry and requires an off-road 4×4 vehicle to get you close to them. Where the road ends, you must hike the rest of the way. For our hike to the Eye of the Whale Arch, I used a GoPro Hero 4 video recorder strapped to my chest with the GoPro Chesty. I wanted to use the GoPro camera and accessories, courtesy of Verizon Wireless, to capture the hike because sometimes taking a photograph does not always show the full scope of your adventure.

The video shows my wife and I with our guide Chip and our tour buddies Peter and JY. With the GoPro attached to my chest, it allowed to keep my hands free to get to my water bottle and to keep the camera close by if I wanted a photograph. The GoPro captures stunning high-quality continuous videos at 780p up to 4K and time-lapse videos. The GoPro can also we used as a standard camera, with 12MP photographs captured in single-frame mode or burst mode (multiple images at one time). With other accessories (which I did not use during this demo), the GoPro can be attached to the handlebars on your bicycle; to your the forehead or your vehicle’s dashboard. It is amazing that a device so small and so compact can deliver so much at a great price. Other devices on the market will cost more and will do only one thing well. The GoPro does it all well and exceeded my expectations. I recommend the GoPro to anyone who wants save that memory but needs it to be done in a non-traditional method. Don’t forget the extra memory cards and batteries if you are out and about for a full day adventure.

Have you roadtripped to Moab to experience its beauty? Let me know about your visit? What was your favorite hiking trail? What was your favorite arch? What would you recommend to others planning a visit? Let me know in the comments section down below.

FTC Disclaimer:
Bubbling with Elegance and Grace received the GoPro Hero 4, the GoPro Chesty and the SD Memory Card from Verizon Wireless in order to write this review. We received no monetary compensation and all opinions are strictly our own. After the demo period, we returned the products to Verizon Wireless.

RoadTripping with JT: 4 Must Haves For Your Vehicle

Hello Wonderful People,

Are you in the ready for a road trip?
It may be a weekend getaway to see the fall colors in the mountains. It may traveling to watch your favorite football team play one of its away games. Or it may be your anniversary and this is the time of year that you get away with your spouse. Whatever the reason, a road trip is more enjoyable if you take a little time to plan for it. When packing your suitcases into your vehicle, be sure to keep a few items close at hand.

A Smart Phone
When road tripping, whether for business or pleasure, having a smart phone is the most essential item to take with you. For our recent road trip to Utah, we had the opportunity to take use the Motorola Droid Maxx 2, courtesy of Verizon Wireless. We loaded up the phone with several travel apps that proved to be quite helpful. We used one app to track our hotel reservations; and another app to check on gas prices and the distances to the station. The Google-powered GPS kept us moving in the right direction. All of this was done with a high-powered battery that lasted throughout the day. The phone provided great reception even when we were traveling through the Colorado mountains and the remote regions of Utah. I recommend the Droid Maxx 2 for anyone who needs a powerful travel-friendly phone; but also will work for them in their everyday life.

img_1864a

The Droid Maxx 2 leading the way to Oakley, KS

A Lightweight Jacket
One thing that I know about the weather is that it can be very unpredictable. This is especially true if you are traveling during a transition period between the seasons or if you covering a long distance in one day. In these instances, a lightweight jacket is a must for any traveler. During our recent road trip to Utah, Colorado and Kansas; we had found out very quickly that having our jacket proved to be very much needed. Let me give you an example. We traveled in early September; as summer was coming to an end; and we covered many miles in one day. On the morning we left Moab (Utah); it was a balmy 80 degrees. We arrived in Breckenridge (Colorado) for lunch and it was a cool and breezy 60 degrees. After leaving Breckenridge and making our way through Hoosier Pass and the high elevation of the mountains, we experienced a sleet-snow mix with temps in the 30s. We continued on our way through Colorado Springs (Colorado) before ending our day in Oakley (Kansas), late at night with rain and temps now in the 50s. If you are in and out of your vehicle often during the day and are experiencing temperature changes like this, you want to have that jacket close at hand so that you are ready for that next stop.

A Snack Bag
Whether you are traveling with your family or by yourself, having a snack bag filled with goodies is a good idea. If you are traveling during normal eating times, but you cannot stop for a full meal because you are trying to keep to a schedule; having the snack bag will keep you on track. Fill a bag with granola bars, peanut butter crackers or maybe some fresh fruit. Whatever your choice, they will make a good substitute for a full meal. You can also eat the goodies whenever you get a little hungry. If you are traveling in a part of the country that has a limited services, you cannot always stop when you normal have your meals.

A snack bag is a must have for your vehicle.

A snack bag is a must have for your vehicle.

A Pillow
A pillow is a must have for any road trip, especially when travel times interrupt normal sleep times. Typically on the first day of our road trips, we leave out early in the morning and spend most of the day in the Jeep. For our last trip, my wife and I woke up at 3am and left home just before 5am; and then we spent thirteen and a half hours on the way to Denver. Having a good pillow was essential for my wife to be comfortable and get some rest throughout the day.

Keeping these items within arms reach in your vehicle will make your trip more enjoyable for everyone. What’s on your must have list? Let me know.

FTC Disclaimer:
Bubbling With Elegance And Grace received the Motorola Droid Maxx 2 for one month in order to write this review. We received no monetary compensation and all opinions are strictly our one. At the end of the month, the phone was returned to Verizon.

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