Biking and Wine Tasting with Outdoor Connections

I recently went on my first event with Outdoor Connections for a day of biking and wine tasting.  I had such a wonderful experience and couldn’t wait to write about it.  Anytime you try a new company, you know anything is possible.  Luckily, Outdoor Connections is well organized and ready to get city dwellers out of the concrete jungle to enjoy some fun adventures.

Once everyone had gathered near Port Authority, our group was divided into two vans.  A benefit of going with Outdoor Connections is that they provide a wide assortment of breakfast goodies for everyone.  The options included chilled juices and an assortment of fresh muffins and pastries.  What a great way to start the day.  Approximately 2 hours later, when we got to our starting point on the Delaware Canal Bike Path, all our bike rentals and helmets were ready for us.  It was time to start biking! Our organizer, Jim, made the trip both informational and fun.  He shared some history of the canal at a few of the stops and made sure everyone was comfortable with the pace and that no one was left behind.  Lunch is also provided with this trip which was another nice touch. 

Biking down the Delaware Canal is something I would definitely do again.  The canal path was flat and well groomed so I never felt overwhelmed and there is so much to see along the way.  We biked a total of 15 miles and then some of us did an additional 3 mile loop before it was time to drive to our next stop – Sand Castle Winery.  A well organized and thorough tasting (which included chocolate pairing for some of the wines) followed by some cheese to snack on and our day was almost done.  It was time to head back to NYC.

Outdoor Connections does a variety of trips and would be a great way to get out and enjoy the lovely fall weather.   You can also find out what they are up to at meetup.com by clicking here.  I look forward to joining them on another trip sometime soon.

Ski Season is Here!

I lived in New York for a while before finally hitting the slopes and we have some great local mountains to ski on!   You can even sign yourself up for a day trip or weekend trip from NYC to Vermont.  There are many ways to get yourself to a mountain to enjoy a snowy ski day even if you don’t have a way to drive yourself.  Below is a list of companies that can help get you to where you want to go during this ski season:

Urban Sherpa:  www.urbansherpatravel.com

Zogsports: http://www.zogsports.org/nyc/Trip/Ski.aspx

Catskills Ski and Bus Packages: http://www.catskillhighpeaks.com/trailways-ski-new-york-bus.php?PHPSESSID=5e5734473f74831ecc0c7b0d3248202f

Emilio’s Ski Shop:  http://www.emiliosskishop.com/pipedreams_schedule.html

Catch the Homage Bus: http://nybustrips.com/

A friend just told me about another bus option – Blades Bus:  http://www.bladesny.com

Meetup.com: www.meetup.com Find local ski groups or start your own!

These were just a few options and hopefully one of them will get you on your way to the slopes.  Happy Skiing and Boarding!

Paintball Is a Blast!

Up until last weekend, the only gun I have ever fired was a water gun.  That all changed when I joined Urban Escapes on one of their Paintball and Beer Tasting day trips.  We met at 9am close to Port Authority and arrived at the NJ paintball park at around 11am.

We had been told to wear lots of layers for padding and the only items we were given were a face mask, a paint gun and 500 paintballs each.  Once our group was divided up into two teams, it was time for the first game (where the rules were set that if you got shot once then you were out).

In all, we played on three different terrains: a junk yard, a castle, and the forest (my favorite area was the junk yard).  During these games, each team would get a chance to start at different sides of the terrain and we discovered there were definite advantages to certain areas.  After the official games were over, it was time to finish off all of our paintballs by playing a wilder game.  In this last round, you were out when you called yourself out, so you could get shot as many times as you were able to stand it.  This is where I got a little frustrated because some trigger happy players shot me after I had already called myself out (and that’s when I got my worst battle wounds).

All in all though, paintball was intense at times but lots of fun.  Urban Escapes does a great job at planning the perfect day trip.  After we changed out of our paint covered clothes and into something more presentable, it was time for lunch.  Included in the cost of the trip, we enjoyed a salad bar, pizza, pasta and beverages.  To make things even better, as our welts made themselves more visible, we were able to help numb our pain at our next stop – beer tasting at Cricket Hill Brewery (also in NJ).

The beer selection at Cricket Hill was great and the brewmasters were really fun while being informative.  We were able to sample quite a bit of their selection, relax and mingle, and then make our purchases before it was time to get on the bus and head back to NYC.  If you ever wanted to try paintball, this is a great way to do it.  Urban Escapes has other dates scheduled for this popular trip, so definitely sign up before they sell out!

Day Trip to Atlantic City

Recently MMA hosted their first annual day trip to Atlantic City.  If you are interested in discovering what Atlantic City has to offer than this is the trip for you.  Departing from NYC at 12 noon, our private bus arrived at Resorts Casino by 2:30pm.  Everyone was given $22 to spend at the Resorts Casino to get the day started.  Hopefully it was a lucky day for everyone!

The group was provided with an email and a printout of the detailed itinerary, as well as, contact information for all three hosts so that no one would be lost if they got separated for any reason.  Since there is so much to do and we only had a day to do it in, the itinerary was very flexible for this trip.  Everyone had the option to go their own way or to pick and choose from the schedule provided.  

Throughout the day, I chose to go to different casinos and walk along the Boardwalk while others in the group spent the day at the outlets or spent more time at certain casinos before meeting up at the bus.  After starting the day at the Resorts Casino, I was able to vist the Trump Taj Majal, Caesars Casino, and the new Pier Shops to see the water show.  My last stop along the Boardwalk was the Tropicana Casino where they have a newly renovated section to explore called the Quarter.   We finished the day as a group at the Borgata Casino before heading back to NYC at around 9:30pm.  Our bus got back close to midnight and we were dropped off near Penn Station.

This trip was a fun introduction to Atlantic City and I now know where I would like to spend more time when I make a return visit.  MMA has been scheduling new trips such as this one into their list of events, so visit their website at www.meetmarketadventures.com to see what you might be interested in.

Extreme Snow Tubing Day Trip

This day trip is not your average snow tubing event.  I went with Urban Escapes this past weekend on their extreme snow tubing and beer tasting day trip.  Having been to snow tubing areas that went straight down on narrow tracks and got a bit tiring after an hour, I can honestly say that this extreme snow tubing track was never anything but an adventure! 

After meeting in the city at 9am, our bus arrived at the Woodbury, CT  snow tubing area at around 11:30am.  Our group was given colored bandanas to wear so that we could identify who was in the group and mingle with each other throughout the day.  There were many tracks to choose from.  Most of the tracks were on one side of the street, which had all different track levels from beginner to black diamond.  Since this was the main area, the line got long rather quickly.  Luckily, Urban Escapes had reserved a track  that only our group could access.  After waiting through the long line for the other tracks, I decided to head to the other side of the street to try out the area reserved for the group. 

The track reserved for our group was longer than the others and was labeled both green for beginner and black diamond depending on where you launched yourself.  Even at the beginner launching section, I still found myself flying down the hill through the twists and turns.  From the black diamond launch, the momentum down the hill was intense.  There were turns where you would fly and catch air as you made your way down.  At this particular snow tubing park, they recommended that you go face first and so that you could drag your legs on the ground if you wanted to slow your speed.  I found that even when I dragged my legs, I was still going quite fast down the track.  We had a few people in our group that really embraced the speed of the track and kept their legs up, tried running starts and really flew in the air on the way down.  Helmet rentals are offered for $10 and I highly recommend them.  There is a lot of speed involved in extreme snow tubing and you want to be as safe as possible. 

We stopped for lunch as a group at 1pm.  Everyone had been given a choice of two different sandwiches that were provided by Urban Escapes while there was also a grill serving fries and grilled cheeses at the lodge if you were craving something warmer. After lunch we went back out to snow tube until it was time to depart for our next destination at 3pm.  Our day was only half over because now it was time to go beer tasting! 

About an hour away from Woodbury, CT, you will find the Captain Lawrence Brewing Company located in Pleasantville, NY.  The tasting room was full of people but we were ushered straight to the back area of the brewery where the beer is actually brewed.  Prior to the actual tasting, we heard an overview of microbrewing and how beer comes to be.  Our tasting included 5 different beers and we were given the opportunity to order growlers of our favorites.  As a beer lover, I thought Captain Lawrence Brewery had some fantastic offerings.  This explains why the tasting room was so full of other happy beer tasters.  Once the growler orders were complete, it was time to head home.  For our group, the bus ride back to the city was very festive as many chose to enjoy their growlers on the trip back.  We arrived back in NYC at approximately 7pm.

This was my first trip with Urban Escapes and it was a lot of fun.  Our guides were very friendly and fun to hang out with during all of the activities.  This is a relatively new company and I will plan to go on more adventures with them in the future.  There are other future snow tubing and beer tasting events that you can sign up for but I recommend doing so quickly as they usually sell out.

Getting to Belleayre Mountain for A Ski Day

After having a great time on last year’s day trip to Belleayre, I was eager to return for a visit during this ski season.  Since it appears that Zogsports is not offering a day trip to this location, I was happy to find out that there is a bus you can take from NYC Port Authority to and from Belleayre for a day or weekend of skiing.  Adirondak/NY/Pine Hill Trailways has a ski package for a round trip bus ride and 1 day lift ticket for $81.  If you would rather stay for more than one night you can also look into their weekend packages combining lift tickets, bus transport and lodging.  I did not see an option to buy my ticket online and was informed that I just needed to go to the Adirondak Trailways sales terminal at Port Authority.  They recommended arriving early and I had no problem buying my ticket that morning. 

Departing at 7am, the bus arrived close to 10:30am.  The scheduled departure time directly from Belleayre to head back to NYC is 4:15pm.   One thing to know is that there are some local stops along the way and we switched buses at Kingston, NY.  However, we were on schedule with the timing estimates we were given.  This mode of transport is perfect if you are someone like me who does not have a way to drive but would still like to get out of the city for some local skiing. 

I love the trails and view at Belleayre and now that I know how to get there on the weekend, I look forward to a few more visits before the winter ends.

Day Trip to Hunter Mountain

This weekend, I celebrated the arrival of 2010 with my first ski outing of the season.  On January 2nd, the weather was perfect for a ski day!  Snow was lightly falling in the city and continued throughout the day.  There was a dusting already on the ground when I headed to the Times Square pick up location.  

I signed up for this day trip through Outdoor Bound and prior to the day of the trip they sent an email noting the two pick up locations available, what to bring and who our guide would be.  While waiting for the bus to arrive, I received a message from the trip leader that he was on a different bus at the alternate pick up location near Union Square.  So I was on my own heading to Hunter Mountain but since it was mostly a sleepy ride that was fine with me.  The bus company we went with was Urban Sherpa and it turns out you can also sign up directly through them for numerous ski day trips.  Even though my Outdoor Bound guide was on the other bus, everything was still handled properly and I left the bus with my lift ticket and rental pass in hand ready to get on the mountain.

The main mountain (Hunter West) had many extremely difficult slopes, so I spent most of my time on the intermediate slopes at Hunter One.  Since we left the city at 6:15am, we arrived at the mountain early enough to enjoy some of the freshly fallen powder before the slopes got more crowded.  As the afternoon went on, conditions got a bit colder and icy, so I headed inside to warm up before the bus ride back.  Our Outdoor Bound guide sent us a message that he was doing the same, so we were all able to meet up and hang out for a bit before the return to NYC.

Since I went alone on this day trip, I would have to recommend that anyone going alone should prepare to spend the day that way.  Most people on the Urban Sherpa bus were with their own friends and there was no real mingling that I was aware of.  Even alone though, I still had a lot of fun and enjoyed some great time on the slopes.  And because I had signed up for this trip with Outdoor Bound it worked out well as I had people to hang out with for a bit towards the end of the day which I would not have had otherwise.  Outdoor Bound and Urban Sherpa have many upcoming dates available if you would like to plan a day to get out of the city and onto the slopes.

I am very excited for more skiing and other winter adventures in 2010.  Happy New Year everyone!