The Outside Blog

Media : Oct 2010

Good Reads This Week

Often the most difficult part of being on The News Team is selecting which stories to share on The Outside Blog. We comb through hundreds of headlines and links, videos and photos and try to pick the best.

Presenting some of today's top stories from the great outdoors:

Best Use of the Color Black in a Sports Video:
Imaginarium: O'Neill's "We Live Our Lives in Black"
(Transworld Surf)

Best Way to Spy Around the World:
Explore the world with Street View, now on all seven continents
(Google Lat Long Blog)

Best Use of Humor to Inspire Science:
Whale snot, bat sex win 2010 IgNobel spoof prizes

Best of the Rest in Science:
Charge your phone with a beach towel

Best Way to Cover Our Tracks:
Death Valley Round II: Todd Headed Home, Death Valley Wins Again
(The Adventure Blog)

Best Pictures of Animals You'll Probably Never See in Real Life:
Week in Animal Photos: A Wood-Eating Fish, an Ultra-Rare Zedonk, and More

--Michael Webster

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Afraid You Might Suck at Outdoor Sports? You're Not Alone.


We're always excited for the weekend to come because we can spend all day in the great outdoors. Each Friday we post our plans on Facebook and ask our friends to do the same.

But what happens if you want to tag along with a hardcore friend and you're afriad you're not up to par?

KayakSessions posted this video yesterday as a reminder that if you're outside having fun and being safe, it doesn't matter if you have Skills Deficit Syndrome. Just do it.

--Michael Webster

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7 Questions with Thomas Haden Church


Oscar-nominated actor Thomas Haden Church discusses moonshine, Disco-flavored Conway Twitty, and his new FearNet webseries Zombie Roadkill.
--Stayton Bonner

Any real-life ranger experience?
My ex was a park ranger in Massachusetts during college. I periodically asked her about the nuance and protocol of rangers when we got close to shooting. But given the fact that the guy is desperately fighting for his survival, I threw out the rules of decorum and decided that even though he happens to have on a uniform, his sole purpose is to kill as many zombies as possible.

Is fire the preferred method for killing zombies?
I think fire is widely regarded as a complete method for extermination. I know cutting their heads off is hands down the most circumspect but setting them on fire is pretty reliable.

Any roadkill from your 2000-acre Texas ranch looking for revenge?
You drive around enough on winding Hill Country roads and unfortunately you’ll clip more than your share. I don’t shed too many tears running over rattlesnakes. I grew up hunting but haven’t in 10 years. I mean, I’ve got pet deer. One named Sissy is 10 feet from the window right now, waiting to be fed some Fig Newtons. She’s been on the Tonight Show twice. Both Conan and Jay. 

Ghosts on the ranch?
Nanny, my cattle partner’s 101-year-old grandmother, said cowboys used to drink shine and take prostitutes to a draw just behind my house. She said I should take a metal detector there because ‘there’s no telling what those cowboys lost when their trousers were down around their ankles.’ That’s a verbatim quote.

One of the old ranchers I met at the Vanderpool store brought a mason jar full of moonshine. It was horrible. Corn liquor’s made from turpentine and instantaneously changes the nitrogen level in your blood chemistry. That’s where that saying “Strip the paint off” comes from.

You auditioned naked for Sideways. Anything scare you?
I got my start in radio and remember Conway Twitty’s disco phase. It would just melt your eardrums.

Your character fights a zombie bunny. Any undead critter you wouldn’t want to meet?
A zombie grizzly bear would probably ruin your day.

Download the podcast for the extended interview: 
7 Questions With Thomas Haden Church


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Gear Review: Best of the Nor'easter

In between covering rounds of the UBC Pro Tour at the Nor'easter last weekend, I managed to sneak out and have a look at some of the gear on display in the sponsor village. The exhibitors at the Nor'easter had loads of new equipment to show off, some of it not yet on the market. Below are my picks for the best of the best.

--Adam Roy

Best New Product: Gridlock and Hoodwire Carabiners

 I don't often get excited about new clips, but after checking out these new hot-forged designs at Black Diamond's Innovation Alley, I'll make an exception. The Gridlock and Hoodwire solve a couple of annoying and potentially dangerous problems with conventional carabiners

Gridlock2 The Gridlock is a locking model designed to prevent cross-loading during belays. Normal locking carabiners are prone to rotating sideways and loading their minor axis, which significantly decreases the breaking strength of the carabiner in the case of a fall. The Gridlock solves this problem with its figure-eight-shaped body and a unique gate that, when closed, traps the belay loop in one end of the carabiner. It's light too, weighing in at just 2.7 oz. Hoodwire  

I was even more impressed by the Hoodwire, Black Diamond's new clean-nosed wiregate carabiner. The Hoodwire's shrouded nose allows it to function like a keylock biner, eliminating the danger of snagging the rope during desperate clips. Unlike most notchless carabiners, the Hoodwire has a wire gate, so it's lighter (12 grams less than BD's Positron keylock) and less likely to open during a fall. The Hoodwire would also be a great model for racking wired stoppers, which have a tendency to get caught on normal carabiners' notches.

Both the Gridlock ($19.95) and Hoodwire ($8.95) will be available in Spring of 2011.

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Cay Party

Easy Does It
What a tough guy can learn from an island off Belize

EXACTLY 12 HOURS after walking out the front door of our Brooklyn apartment into a snowstorm, my wife and I stood on the dock at St. George's Caye Resort, in Belize. I was holding my fly rod while she sipped a fruity cocktail and teased me about my bombastic claim that commercial flights do not count as real travel. Any self-respecting adventure traveler, I often say, needs to follow his flight with a couple of days on a train or the top of a bus in order to feel as though he's actually gotten somewhere.

My perspective on the issue was not well supported by St. George's Caye. It's only a 20-minute boat ride from Belize City, yet it feels like a place that should take a couple of days to reach by outrigger canoe. The two-mile-long island is sandwiched between the Belize Barrier Reef and hundreds of square miles of mangrove swamps and bonefish flats that support raucous colonies of seafaring birds and a few local manatees. You could count the permanent human population on your fingers and toes. But my wife didn't need to mention any of this or cite the relevant statistics. Instead, she simply pointed to the school of tarpon lolling in the shallows 30 feet away.

For the rest of the trip I continued to eat my words—along with immense amounts of spectacular food, such as spiny lobster delivered directly to the kitchen by local fishermen. Between meals—served communal style, on the beach, by a smiling crew in flip-flops—we joined a few planned expeditions. There was snorkeling and diving on the reef; a night cruise in search of crocodiles; and fishing for bonefish and permit with a private guide. But, mostly, we took off on our own makeshift adventures. The resort provides plenty of kayaks and sailboats without the fees, rules, and boundaries that too often turn island getaways into chaperoned walks on the beach. We discovered secluded sand, secret swimming holes, hungry schools of fish, and a curious manatee. At night, we kicked back in one of a dozen thatch-roofed cabanas. We could hear the Caribbean roll in just beyond our front porch. Beyond that, nothing. This self-respecting adventure traveler slept well.

GET THERE: St. George's Caye Resort ( provides guest transport from Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. Cabanas for two from $218, including meals and local rum punch. One-tank dives, $60; half-day fishing trips, $325.

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