Fresh Tracks

Oct 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Just when you think you know Kampgrounds of America—coin-op washing machines and mini-golf just off the next exit—they go and get wired. Or should we say wireless? KOA has teamed up with Hotspotzz, one of the nation's largest providers of Wi-Fi (or "wireless fidelity") access points, to offer Web service to campers. The new high-speed dial-up ISP locations are currently available at 26 of the 500 KOA campgrounds in the United States; 100 remote-access sites should be ready by the end of the year. Contact: 406-248-7444,

The Appalachian Mountain Club's new Highland Center, in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, formally opens on October 10. The lodge, which sports everything from allergy-sensitive rooms to a 98 percent recycled-steel frame, is sited on 26 acres in the White Mountains. Sign up for one of the club's many naturalist-taught skill sessions and activities—like climbing walls of sheer ice. Shared and private rooms range from $51 to $143. Contact: 603-466-2727,

Vanuatu is the only place on the planet where mailing a postcard may require a wetsuit. The South Pacific island nation has established the world's first underwater post office, off Hideaway Island, on the outskirts of Port-Vila. Snorkelers and divers can purchase waterproof postcards for $2.50 before diving ten feet down to a six-by-ten-foot fiberglass barrel, where a postal worker embosses the card with a waterproof stamp. If you prefer to stay dry, order and send submarine postcards online for $9.95. Contact:

A global community of tourists dedicated to putting its economic power and ethical clout to work: Sound too good to be true? Not according to Jeff Greenwald, author of Shopping for Buddhas and founder of the seven-month-old grassroots alliance Ethical Traveler. With a staff of seven volunteers and approximately 1,000 members from 15 countries, the Berkeley-based organization has already had an impact. In June, Ethical Traveler and the Tibet Justice Center threatened to organize a boycott of Nepal after the government allegedly returned 18 Tibetan refugees to the Chinese government in return for $1,713. News of a possible boycott was enough for Nepal to release future refugees into UN custody rather than return them to China. Visit ET's Web site to discuss issues of concern about other countries. Contact: