The Outside Blog


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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Long After the Storm: The Ongoing Struggle to Rebuild New Orleans

Brian_IMG_3077Planting bulrush in Bayou Sauvage. Photo: Joe Spring

It's been seven years since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800 people and leaving molding shambles in its wake. New Orleans is still recovering, in some places more than others. This past May, more than a dozen employees from the New York City Parks Department used a week of their vacation time to help the city rebuild. —Friday, May 11, 2012, Lower Ninth Ward

“THIS IS WHERE YOU are,” Tom Pepper said to a roomful of roughly 20 volunteers.

Pepper is the director of Common Ground Relief, a non-profit perched near the levee’s edge of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. He held up a book titled The Great Deluge, and pointed at a two-story white house on the cover. The yards around it were flooded with water. A deep olive sea reflected second-story windows and the crowns of trees. A burgundy barge floated amidst the ruins. A few hundred feet away, where the wall of the Industrial Canal should have been, whitewater rushed into the city.

The volunteers stood around Pepper in the living room of the house, which is now purple. Common Ground Relief gutted, rebuilt, and painted the house after the storm. The color helped it fit in, at least a little, with the surrounding 70-plus funky, pastel, acutely-angled homes built by Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation.

Pepper continued. On August 29, Hurricane Katrina’s eye hovered 25 to 30 miles east of here and sent a 25-foot high tidal surge up the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, whose fixed banks funneled the water toward the city and into the Industrial Canal. Tulane University geographer Richard Campanella described the incident. The water in the canal rose 14 feet above normal levels. Pressure built, and shortly after 7 a.m., two giant sections of the wall collapsed. All that saltwater, and then that barge, poured into a neighborhood that is four feet below sea level in some places.

Cameras focused on the barge, but the water knocked down walls, splintered homes, and drowned people. Some people climbed onto roofs. The water sat, turning into a toxic soup, held still in the bowl of a city. More than a week later, over 60 percent of the city was still flooded. Many of the people who climbed onto roofs were saved, albeit with memories of their neighbors dying.

Still, people wanted to come back. Even though the Lower Ninth Ward had a high crime rate, was below sea level, and was surrounded on three sides by water, it also had a much higher rate of home ownership than the city as a whole. An estimated 20,000 people lived in the neighborhood before the storm. The area has been slow to recover. Pepper said the deluge destroyed more than 4,000 homes. A New York Times Magazine story published this past spring described sections of the neighborhood as a jungle, returning to nature. Roughly 5,500 people live here now.

Common Ground Relief is trying to create a welcoming environment for the people who want to return. Pepper said they have gutted more than 3,000 homes in the city and rebuilt more than 130 in the Lower Ninth Ward. The organization also teaches families to build raised gardens so they can grow vegetables in toxin-free soil, runs a legal clinic that offers free advice to lower income residents, and replants marsh grasses to help build a natural buffer around the city. They've done all this by relying on a rag tag army of roughly 40,000 volunteers. Today’s volunteers include 14 people from the New York City Parks Department, who plan to wade through waist-deep water in a bayou filled with bugs, snakes, and, they’ve heard, alligators—all to plant a few blades of grass.

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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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Drink Your Vegetables: Healthy Juice Recipes for the Whole Family

MHMFarmers' market bounty. Photo: Elizabeth Sullivan

By Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan

Not so long ago, I went hiking with friends in Santa Fe. It was a Wednesday dawn patrol, and the night’s moon was still cloaked in darkness. On the way up, we walked at our own pace in silence, but when we crested the ridge, we regrouped for the descent, and started talking. It was early, we hadn’t had breakfast, and we were hungry. The conversation naturally went to food—specifically how eating fruits and veggies makes us feel more energized and vibrant.

“When my family takes the time to juice in the morning before we head out there is a conscious vibrational shift in the air,” I told my hiking companions. These women are longtime Santa Feans who have been known to lament astrological abnormalities and are comfortable using juice as a verb, so they perked up their ears. I explained that we feel calmer, happier, and more alert, almost like a buzz on days when we drink fresh-squeezed juice for breakfast. It’s the effect of good food in your body producing good effects outside of your body. We crave processed food less. We get sick less often. Our energy lasts longer. And it’s not just me. It’s all of us: my husband and my four young sons, including the baby, who’s 20 months old.

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Miir Bicycles: Changing the World One Ride at a Time


Bryan Papé believes that a bike is more than just a frame, two wheels, and a bunch of components. He sees the bicycle as an instrument of social change. “After clean water and sanitation, one of the biggest impediments to economic development in Africa is transportation,” Papé says. “Kids can’t get to school. People can’t get to market to sell their goods. And the simplest, most affordable solution is bicycles.”

For every bike sold through Papé's two-year-old company Miir, another bike is donated to someone in need. The program, called One4One, began with Miir’s first product, water bottles. One dollar from each bottle sold—which Papé says is enough to provide clean water for one person for a year—supports well projects in developing countries. “The starting point for the company was to make a great product and build a sustainable business,” Papé says. “Once we realized we could do that and we put in place a model that can support itself, then we turned our attention to taking some of what we were making and giving it back. Looking at the problems out there like clean water and lack of transportation, and seeing how easily they can be solved, I just feel it’s important to try and do a part.”

We chatted with Papé from Miir’s Seattle, Washington, headquarters about how the program works, the cost of clean water, and why he believes that everyone who wants a bike should get one.

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