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Dispatches : Travel

Holiday Skiing at Colorado's Friendliest Family Resorts

MHMBeaver Creek. Photo: Jack Affleck/Beaver Creek Resort

We’ve had a slow, dry start to winter here in the southern Rockies. So dry that doomsday scenarios began to creep in. Was winter dying? Would it ever snow again? Would our kids forget what skiing is? Would we burn through a whole winter without using a single day of our season passes? Then the storm track began to set up and dumped 16 inches in the Sangre de Cristos in a day. Things were looking hopeful, but when it comes to snow, you can’t be too superstitious. So we did the only natural thing to ensure it keeps snowing in New Mexico: Ten days before Christmas, we drove north to ski in Colorado.

Usually when we go north, we stay south: Telluride, Crested Butte, Wolf Creek. But this time we set our course for Vail and Beaver Creek, figuring that in iffy conditions, Colorado’s largest resorts would have more off-snow options to keep us and our daughters, ages two and four, entertained. As luck would have it, we wouldn’t need to hedge our bets. On the morning we left, a storm roared in from Arizona, coating northern New Mexico in thick, wet snow, while a second system made aim for the Vail Valley, where it would storm—and we would play—for three days straight. 

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Tilley Intrepid Bag: A Timeless Vintage Carry All

Tilley AD02 Tan

Inspired by a Canadian officer’s World War II utility bag, Tilley's Intrepid Bag has a timeless vintage look that's hard to peg down. It has a certain safari feel to it, a messenger bag aesthetic, albeit one made from leather and waxed canvas. It's pared down functionality and class make the Intrepid a bag you will use every day for years and that, with the passing of time, will just gain more character.

Equipped with four secured compartments, the waxed cotton Intrepid is wide and deep enough to hold a 13" laptop, your wallet, keys, glasses, and a cell phone in an easy-access outside pocket, as well as just about anything else you want to keep nearby as you go about your average day, work your way through a TSA line at the airport, or commute.

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The 10 Best Ethical Travel Destinations for 2013

Kayakers-palauKayaking in Palau. Photo: Mark Downey

Since 2006, Berkeley-based non-profit Ethical Traveler has compiled an annual list of the 10 best ethical vacation destinations for the coming year, and it just released its 2013 list this week.

"We try to encourage travelers to vote with their wings by going to places where travel and tourism benefits local people, where the government has an eye on the environment and supports human rights," Jeff Greenwald, Ethical Traveler's executive director, told a packed house at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club on Monday evening.

Greenwald's group focuses on developing nations, with an eye toward encouraging travelers to put economic power into these nascent tourism economies. In 2011, international tourism receipts exceeded $1 trillion for the first time, and this year the number of international tourists in the world is expected to hit one billion, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

The list is offered in alphabetical order, so they're all equally weighted within the top 10. Each nation is judged based on its social welfare programs, its efforts to protect its environment, and its human rights records. In the list below I've focused mostly on environmental protection and recreation.

BARBADOS
Chosen for its proactive environmental programs—including its 2012 Green Economy Scoping study—and its transparency, Barbados also offers some of the best surfing (and rum) in the Caribbean.

CAPE VERDE
This island nation on Africa's east coast boasts a program to achieve 100 percent renewable energy. "We're always wary about commodification of culture," said travel expert Malai Everette at the event on Monday, but she feels Cape Verde has maintained its rich culture without cheapening it.

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Airstream Thanksgiving, Part III: Deep Into Canyon de Chelly

Derelict_coal_plantSunset/moonrise over Canyon de Chelly. Photo: Katie Arnold

[This is the third in a series about roadtripping around the Southwest. Read parts I  and II here.]

On our first morning in Chinle, I woke full of hope for Canyon de Chelly. We’d slept deeply in the Thunderbird Lodge, and it was one of those glittery late fall days in the high desert, when the air is so clear and dry it makes everything look sharper, more angular. Out in the parking lot, the Airstream gleamed with frosty promise. We unlatched the door and looked inside: The fridge had slid out of its plywood cabinet, but the table was still bolted to the wall; the closet door was on the floor, but all windows were intact. A few stove knobs lay scattered at our feet, but at least the heater hadn't fallen off. This was cause for minor celebration, so we sizzled up eggs and bacon in our frigid little kitchen, and then carried our plates into our hotel room to eat next to the heater—one last little luxury before camping again.

Located entirely within the Navajo land, Canyon de Chelly National Monument is managed by the National Park Service but it’s under the jurisdiction of the Navajo tribal government. It’s a complicated arrangement, but for the typical visitor it boils down to this: You can’t enter the canyon without an authorized Navajo guide. Because it was low season and we hadn’t bothered to hire one in advance, so we unhitched the Airstream at Cottonwood Campground and drove the quarter mile to the visitor center, where a ranger gave me a list of outfitters. On my second call, I found Adam at Antelope House Tours, who agreed to take us into the canyon in our truck for $30 an hour.

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Airstream Thanksgiving, Part II: The Long Road to Canyon de Chelly

Derelict_coal_plantIn the rough: Road 7950 out of Chaco Canyon. Photo: Katie Arnold.

There’s no direct route from Chaco Canyon, in northern New Mexico, to Canyon de Chelly, across the border in Arizona. Rugged badlands, sandy washes, and vast tracts of arid, roadless country get in the way. Centuries ago, Native Americans traveled back and forth on foot or horseback, but today, in a truck towing a vintage 20-foot Airstream, there are only two ways out of Chaco Canyon: the northern road, or the southern road. And it’s a toss-up which is worse.

Both roads are notorious for roughly 20 miles of washboardy dirt moguls that look benign but are big enough to swallow an Airstream whole, then spit it out in pieces. In our Airstream road trip the day before, we'd lost an entire window coming in from the north, and were so scarred by the experience that for a second it seemed almost preferable to abandon the trailer forever in Chaco than to face that road with it hitched on behind us. The next best thing would be to try our luck on the southbound route. We actually thought, How could it be any rougher?

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