The Outside Blog

Skiing and Snowboarding : Jun 2012

The Art of the Day Trip

201206_untitled0131Cramming a whole lotta adventure into one day doesn't have to be a sufferfest. Photo: Katie Arnold

We recently took the kids to see a Brazilian jazz band perform outside at our local college on a hill above town. You can probably picture the scene:  Everyone brings a picnic and sprawls out on the grass and parents try not to lose their children in the sea of blankets as toddlers trip over open containers of hummus and no one actually listens to the music. In other words, it’s like any summer outdoor concert anywhere in the country. It’s perfect.

But getting there, with food and daughters and bike trailers in tow, felt harder than mounting a three-day expedition to Marfa, Texas, in our rattletrap Airstream with random parts flying off. Call it the picnic paradox: Shorter outings close to home are not always simpler, or easier.

That’s why, when plotting adventures with kids, it’s tempting to get ambitious and think you need to do a weekend trip to make it worth it. There’s all the gear to organize, little bodies to outfit, food to pack, routes to plan—you might as well stay in the backcountry as long as possible to suck as much enjoyment out of the experience. No wonder day trips get a bad rap: So much hassle, so little time. Wouldn’t you be better off saving your sanity for truly epic family objectives like rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon or hiking Mount Whitney?

But the truth is, if done right, an adventure day trip can be just as satisfying as a bigger mission. If not, it can be way more stressful. To make the most of your summer, you’ll want to plan a few ambitious day trips (lest you spend every Saturday watching your kid ride his bike around the same 1/16th-mile lap in the park). But you gotta be smart—and organized. It's a little bit art, a little bit luck, and a lot of science. Here are a few simple tricks of the trade.

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Surfing Walk of Fame Announces 2012 Inductees

Photo: Shutterstock

The Surfing Walk of Fame has announced its 2012 class. The seven inductees will have their names placed in the pavement at the corner of PCH and Main Street in Huntington Beach, California, during a ceremony on August 2.

Below I've included quick summaries of each person, with their achievements lifted from the Surfing Walk of Fame press release. I've also included links to stories and bios where you can read more about each individual.

The late Michael Peterson, regarded by many as the best high-performance surfer during the mid-1970s and winner of the first-ever pro tour contest, shares the Surf Pioneer award with groundbreaking shaper Dick Brewer. Brewer was instrumental in designing boards to fit inside the tube at Pipeline while working alongside Gerry Lopez and Reno Abellira.

RIP Michael Peterson, Surfer, by Sean Doherty
Michael Peterson still sports the very same pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses he wore during the ’70s. They’re a bit beat up these days, the frame held together by sticky tape, but they still work just fine. For MP, the leather jackets, jeans, and panama hats may have been all about fashion, but the sunglasses were pure function. They formed a reflective barrier against the outside world. Behind them he couldn’t be read. Behind them he could plot the downfall of the guys he was surfing against, size up the chick across the room, scope out a dealer for a bag of exotic candy. Behind Michael Peterson’s glasses spun several worlds, some real, some imagined, one occasionally bleeding into the other.
Read more.

Dick Brewer, Surfline
In the evolutionary scale of surfboard design, think of Dick Brewer as the missing link. In a few critical years in the late '60s, Brewer was responsible for making us want to trade in our go-karts for race cars when his followers streaked deep through the hollows of Honolua Bay, Sunset Beach and Rincon, Puerto Rico, on pocket-rocket space sticks that defined the new lines of performance surfing for years to come. Read more.

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Feedback, July 2012

We weren't surprised that May's story about U.S. Marine Noah Pippin, who vanished in Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness ("Why Noah Went to the Woods," by Mark Sundeen), was a reader favorite. But we were stunned by how many of you sent email or commented online about how Pippin's struggles with military life and his disappearance touched you personally.

This was a beautifully written piece. Many stories don't suck me in, but once I started this one I had to finish. As for the Pippin family, hopefully they'll find the kind of peace Noah seemed to be searching for.

There is no mystery here: military personnel kill themselves every day, and they all exhibit strange behavior before their unfortunate end. With more than 6,000 military suicides every year, we need to ask ourselves: What are we doing wrong?

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Playing Politics With Our Parks: Editor's Letter, July 2012

KeyesA couple of weeks ago, senior editor Abe Streep stopped by my office with a quick question. He'd been editing two stories for this issue—a Dispatches piece on the shuttering of state parks in California ("Access Denied") and a Natural Intelligence column on the decade-long battle to create a new national park in Maine ("Hornet's Nest")—and he had started to wonder: too many park stories for one issue? We have a ceiling of about 70 editorial pages each month, so we like to keep the topics diverse.

Given the era we're in, however, I don't think it's possible to say too much on the subject of public parks. The first piece, by Anna McCarthy, focuses on the potential closing of nearly 25 percent of California's 279 state parks this summer. It also provides a glimpse of a frightening national trend. In an era when nearly every state is facing budget shortfalls, parks have become a reliable target for cuts. McCarthy lays out a strong case that what we're witnessing now could be the first step toward privatizing huge swaths of state-owned public lands that are vital to recreation but simply don't enjoy the same brand-name cachet as national parks.

A few pages later, writer Brian Kevin outlines Burt's Bees cofounder Roxanne Quimby's 12-year campaign to donate a huge swath of land in northern Maine for a new national park. Her initial efforts were shot down, in large part because the move was viewed as a job killer for the local paper industry. Quimby persisted, and a decade later she has courted some of her fiercest critics with compelling evidence that a new park would be a significant job creator.

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