World of White Water

The Tao of Rafting

Forget Twilight and check out the best adventure-planning websites in the galaxy

Yesterday, I had never seen such a sight. An ocular orgasm, a three-dimensional hallucination, an indoors-challenged person’s wet dream. It was just as I had expected it to be multiplied by twenty. Sixty-two degrees and sunny? On the first official weekend of spring?

There are two tell-tale signs of spring in the Midwest, as far as I’m concerned. My yoga classes aren’t as crowded and I spend my evenings perusing the best web sites for ideas on what to do and where to go with my three weeks of vacation (which, in my opinion, though through no fault of my employer*, is just not enough).

Check out these web sites for summer vacation ideas:

Travel Planning covers about 250,000 destinations, mostly in Europe, and offers up-to-date best hotel deals around the globe. For example, today, the best deal is the K-Porte Inn in Dubai, only seven kilometers from Jumeirah beach. Content for the site comes from Wikipedia, YouTube, and Tripwolf travelers. They’re running a contest right now: Create your own blog about your travels and you could win a FlipMinoHP pocket-sized video camera. I love this one because it has a “Rants and Raves” feature (where you can read about the good, the bad, and the Michael Jackson ugly) and a “New Vacation Ideas” feature. When I entered my criteria in the little doo-hickey, I got a nice selection of biking through the rolling hills of Provence, France; mountain biking the Scottish Highlands; skiing Rhone-Alpes, France; kayaking Midi-Pyrenees, France; rafting and kayaking class III and IV water in Croatia; or skiing the Lygen Alps of Norway. is good because you enter your location and it gives you ideas on trips that are close to home. An ideal site, indeed, if all you want to do is get away for a weekend. has helpful lists and travel tips and is the most user-friendly site out there. Right on the front page you have a Beach Travel Guide, Family Travel Guide, Active & Adventure Travel Guide, Parks & Outdoors Travel Guide, LGBT Travel Guide, Ski & Snowboard Resort Guide. is the source for guided and self-guided hikes in the Swiss, Austrian, and French Alps, and the Italian Dolomites. In fact, Ryder Walker is the reason why I’m married today. It was on a self-guided hike in the Swiss Alps last summer that my husband proposed.

Paddling delivers all of the news, reviews, links to real-time river flows, etc. They usually have some great carnage video, too.

Hiking & Climbing lets you download free sample maps, purchase guidebooks, offers free tips, climbing route information, references, links, FAQs, and a webcam of El Capitan!

If you’ve been thinking about bagging fourteeners (or higher), check out and for information on peaks and mountains around the globe, statistics, and trip reports. is a mecca of information about how to shed pounds from your pack. Arguably, the hardest part about extended-day backpacking is coming to terms with the constant dispiriting discovery that there is always more hill. Each time you haul yourself up to what you think must surely be the crest, you find that there is in fact more hill beyond. Carrying a light pack helps temper this.

Biking provides everything from technology reviews to race reports for mountain bikers and roadies alike. If you’re a commuter cyclist, check out

San Juan Hut system is the epic mountain bike adventure. Spend a few days riding the backcountry singletrack of Telluride, CO, then ride four days across a mountain range to descend into Moab, UT and ride some more. Disclaimer: I’ve done this trip twice. The first time was great. The huts were stocked with food and water. The second time, the food deliveries were hit and miss and there were more bikers to a hut than bunks available.


Looking for folks to play with? Bode Miller’s social-networking site,, hasn’t reached the tipping point yet, but some of the videos are pretty funny. Whitewater junkies will find a bit more wholesome.

*Actually, it is the fault of my employer.



March 23, 2009 - Posted by | Outdoors

1 Comment »

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