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!

Learn to Paddle Board!

Yes, you can learn to paddle board right here in NYC!  The New York Kayak Company is located on Pier 40 (West Houston and West Street) and this is their first summer of Stand Up Paddle Boarding instruction and tours.  I have really enjoyed learning to surf so I had to give this other popular sport a try.

I signed up for Intro to Paddle Boarding through Urban Escapes.  We had a 2 hour lesson followed by a pizza dinner on the end of the pier.  The ratio was 2 people for each paddle board, which meant lots of opportunities to get out and work on improving your skills.  NY Kayak and Co. also offers Intro to Paddle Boarding classes for $25 on Wednesdays.  More people are in those classes so the ratio is usually closer to 3 or 4 people sharing time for each board.  For an introduction to the sport though, it is definitely a great deal to get yourself out on the water.  Because paddle boarding is such a workout, it is better to take breaks when you are starting out and you will not mind handing the board to someone else in between tries. 

The scenery was beautiful and the sun was in the process of setting during our lesson.  Getting on the board from the dock was the easiest part.  Then once you row yourself far enough away from the dock, the goal is to stand up in a fluid motion so that you can then continue to balance and row yourself along.  As a beginner, it was an amazing experience.  There were more waves than I expected due to passing boats on the Hudson, thus balance was quite a challenge.  I could feel every muscle working to maintain my stance.  It is better to keep your board moving through the water to prevent yourself from falling.  Between trying to stay standing up, steering and rowing over waves I was very focused on my efforts.  With more practice, I am sure I would be a bit more relaxed than I was this first time.

Once you are more comfortable and experienced with stand up paddle boarding, NY Kayak and Co. has paddle boarding trips where you can venture out further than Pier 40.  It was mentioned that going out towards the Statue of Liberty would be one of the tours they offer.  I am not at the skill level for that yet but perhaps with more practice I will be.

Urban Escapes will be offering another intro course in September (for those interested click here).  You can view the current schedule of Stand Up Paddle Boarding offerings from NY Kayak and Co. by clicking here.

Learn to Surf!

One of the best ways to cool off in the hot summer months is to go to the beach.  As I discovered with my first attempts last summer,  it is even better if I can grab a surf board and get in the water to catch some waves.  I had a really successful surf lesson on Long Beach, Long Island this past Saturday and wanted to share the company info with those who might be interested.

Skudin Surf, Inc. has local surfing lessons at Long Beach and the Rockaways. The instructors were really helpful and I improved a lot during my 90 minute session. Here is a link to their website where you can sign yourself up for surf lessons and camps www.skudinsurf.com .  Even if you have never surfed before, they will help you get up on the board in no time!  I look forward to putting the skills I learned to good use on future surfing outings.

Club Getaway

I have heard about Club Getaway for a while now.  But this past Memorial Day Weekend was my first visit to the adventure/activities/party camp for adults.  With all of the activities I have been doing for the past few years, I thought it would be the perfect weekend trip for me.  Here was my experience this past weekend:

Club Getaway definitely has many devout followers.  One of the questions that my friend and I were asked the most during our trip was if this was our first time there (which it was).    People come from all over to enjoy a weekend away from their everyday lives and they often keep coming back frequently.  There are already plans from some people I met there to return for the July 4th weekend.  As for me, I had a great time, but am not sure I will be one of those people.  Time will tell.

Buses from NY and Boston, along with people arranging their own transportation, all came together on Friday evening to start off the weekend.  There were around 300 people there to celebrate the Memorial Day summer kick off.  I signed up with a meetup group, which I will write more about in another entry, but they were a highlight to the Club Getaway experience.

Once checked into our cozy cabins, we arrived to an amazing assortment of appetizers – everything from sushi to a mashed potato bar.  After indulging in far too much food, it was time for even more food at dinner.  Everyone is served a few courses and many bottles of wine during dinner.  Since this was the first night, there was not as much partying.  People needed to rest up for a busy day of fun the next day!

Everyone is provided with a jam packed schedule of varied events for each day of the weekend.  Some events require signing up in advance which should be done ASAP the morning of the event because things fill up quickly.  For my first day, I started with the camp zipline followed by the trapeze and bungee trampoline.  Then after lunch, my friend and I had signed up for a local vineyard tour which was a great way to see the surrounding area.  It was beautiful!  Once back at Club Getaway, happy hour was in full swing with a burger competition and people hanging out at the boathouse.  There were early evening rides around the lake in the pontoon boat which featured delicious rum punch and sometimes even guitar music – I loved the pontoon boat!  This was followed by dinner, comedians and a themed neon glow party which went on into the night.  For me, Sunday consisted of a morning stretch, a walk to the town of Kent, and swimming and relaxing by the waterfront.  After Sunday’s dinner there was a band, another theme party and a campfire complete with s’more making.  By Monday, I could feel that I was running out of time.  There was so much more to do!  I decided on a yoga class followed by a hike around a local waterfall before that final lunch snuck up on me and it was time to pack and return home on the bus.

There is so much I wanted to do, but those were the activities I was able to fit in for the weekend.  In addition to my preferences, there are numerous sports, classes, hikes, biking, and many other options to choose from to fill your day.  Many people opted to just relax and lounge by the water during most of the three days.  The weekend is entirely up to you and you can be as adventurous as you want to be.

Throughout the summer and even during early fall, Club Getaway has different weekend adventures planned.  Check out their schedule and pricing on their website at www.clubgetaway.com.  There are often specials if you sign up early so be sure to plan ahead!

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!

Join the Circus!

Ever think about running away from city life to join the circus? Well, NYC has its very own circus school to learn how to do just that! This Saturday, a friend and I took an Intro to Circus Arts class at the New York Circus Arts Academy. The academy is located in Long Island City and is just  a short walk from the 7 train Vernon-Jackson subway stop.

Since this was an intro class, we were able to try our hand at a variety of circus arts.  For two hours we were exposed to gymnastics, the trampoline, acrobalance, juggling, the trapeze and ribbons. The exercises were challenging but they were also a lot of fun!  Our teacher was very understanding of our varied levels of experience. With his encouragement and teaching, he really helped us achieve success while we attempted to work on the skills such as hanging upside down from the ribbons (as pictured above).

The Intro to Circus Arts class is the perfect way to find out what area you would like to study further.  The New York Circus Arts Academy provides more in-depth courses on everything we tried during our intro class, as well as, offering some fitness courses.  I can definitely say that my muscles are feeling it after those 2 hours, so I can only imagine the benefits of continuous work on these skills.  Once you try it, you will most likely be hooked!

UPDATE (on 8/31/10): I was just informed that the New York Circus Arts Academy has closed. However, in the same location you will find Circus Warehouse which looks like it offers similar classes and training.  You can read about Circus Warehouse on their website at http://circuswarehouse.com/.

Weekend Ski Getaway in Vermont

If you are looking for more than just a day trip to the slopes, how about a weekend getaway to Vermont?  There are still weekend trips scheduled for this winter season through a variety of companies.  I recently went on a weekend trip to Stowe, Vermont with Zogsports.

For this trip to Stowe, there were enough people going that we had two buses for the group.  We departed on Friday at 4:30pm from the upper west side to try to avoid traffic (although we still ended up barely moving for about an hour trying to get out of the city).  After we were out of the NYC rush hour traffic, it was pretty smooth sailing and there was a scheduled stop in CT for a quick dinner break.  The arrival time at our lodge was close to 11:45pm and once checked in, you could choose to go to the bar for some more socializing or get rest for the next day of skiing.

Included with the trip cost were 2 day lift tickets, a delicious breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as a group dinner Saturday evening.  We were told when to be ready if we wanted to take the group buses to and from the mountain and there was also a shuttle if you wanted to go at different times.

Zogsports provided an itinerary so that you could choose to go with the group and meet up throughout the day for lunch and other apres ski activities but it was entirely optional.  On Saturday night those who chose to went to a local bar for some live music and drinks after dinner.  The next day I packed up, loaded the bus and went for another full day of skiing.  Our buses left directly from the ski resort at 4:30pm to head back to NY.

I really enjoyed my first trip to Stowe.  There was plenty of terrain to explore so it didn’t get boring.  During this weekend, the ski conditions were great and we even had some snow flurries on Sunday.  It was fun riding in the Stowe gondolas that transported you to different areas of the mountain.  When you needed a break from skiing,  there was a wide variety of food available ranging from a fine dining restaurant at the top of the mountain to the fancy yet more casual offerings at Spruce Lodge.   You could also find cafes that served the usual choices of soup, sandwiches and pizza by the slice if you just wanted a quick snack.

It is always different every trip, but I found that a lot of the people in this particular trip stuck to their own groups.  My friend and I had lots of fun regardless, but I thought there would be more mingling when off the slopes.   Some of the trip leaders would check in with us, but I do wonder how much fun it would have been if I had been there on my own.  I would be happy to go on this trip again next season, but would probably make sure I had a friend to go with me.

Zogsports has some upcoming weekend trips to Mount Snow which is another great Vermont mountain to ski on.  Dynamic Outdoors has a weekend trip to Killington, Vermont planned this February too.  So there are definitely plenty of other opportunities to plan a weekend escape before the ski season ends.

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.

Experience Fall with a Biking Adventure

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Get away from the city and immerse yourself in fallOutdoor Bound has a new event that will have you exploring mountain trails both on a bike and by foot.  I went on this event during the first weekend in October.  The fall colors were just beginning to peek through.  There is another outing scheduled in late October when there will be even more colorful views, so sign up now if you are interested!

The event was described as a day of leisurely biking, including a hike to a scenic view.  This was all to be followed by a visit to a local pub before returning to NYC.  After meeting in the city at 10am, our van ride lasted for an hour and a half before we arrived at Cromwell on the Hudson.  Our bike and helmet rentals were arranged through Storm King Adventures whose staff was very helpful.  

Once the group and the bikes were driven to the start of the trail, it was time to get our equipment and begin the ride.  A lot of us had not been on a bike in a while, but once we reminded ourselves how to shift the gears, etc., we were ready to go.   Now, since some of us had not been bike riding for a long time and were under the impression based on the trip description that this would be a leisurely event, we quickly learned that there was more hard work getting through the trail than expected.  There were a lot of uphill portions on the trail which took their toll after a while, even though we were all in pretty good shape.  So there were times when those of us who were tired would just walk our bikes until the ground was more even.  

The hiking portion was rather steep but not too lengthy of a walk.  Once we reached Eagles Cliff though, the view was spectacular and it was a perfect spot to rest and enjoy our lunches.  After we returned to the bike trail, the last portion of the ride was a lot more downhill which was an exhilarating way to end the day.  After our biking workout, we went to a local restaurant for some delicious treats.  They served beer and wine, but most of us were more eager to enjoy their menu.

While the trip was a lot more demanding physically than expected (Outdoor Bound has since revised the event description), it was still a lot of fun.  The scenery was gorgeous and I took a lot of great pictures along the way.  I can only imagine how glorious it will be during peak fall colors.  If you are looking for an active way to view the fall foliage, then this is a great way to do it.

Surfing Day Trip with ZogSports

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After last weekend’s day of surfing at Rockaway Beach which was organized through one of my meetup groups, I was really looking forward to getting an actual surf lesson and seeing if I could improve during my day trip with Zogsports.  For this outing, we met in the city at 7am to begin our bus ride to Long Branch, NJ.  I was surprised at how quick the bus ride was and we arrived before the beach was officially open.  This worked out well because we had our pick of were to set up our blankets on the beach.  The weather was absolutely perfect and our surf instructors said these were great conditions for learning to surf.

The surfing lessons were organized through Billabong Surf Camps.  They had a tent set up on the beach where all the boards, rash guards, and wet suits were kept throughout the day.  They were also kind enough to provide super strength waterproof sunblock (which was greatly appreciated!), as well as some cold water and snacks for our group.

Since we had so many people who had signed up for surfing lessons, the day was divided as follows: there were three different groups of surfing lessons and then after those were over there would be time for people to get back out on the water with the instructors there to assist as needed.  I was disappointed that I would not be able to go out on the water as much as I wanted to during the day, but that was how this trip was organized.  I was in the first surfing lesson group where we had three instructors for each group of six students.  The lesson consisted of half an hour on land and then an hour on the water.  For this official lesson, everyone was instructed to try to stand instead of use some of the less difficult positioning that I had started learning the other day. 

Once on the water with our instructors, we were dependant upon the ocean to provide us with some great waves.  There were some frustrating lulls (since time was so limited) but there were also some nice opportunities to try our hand at standing up on our boards.  I caught some waves and got really close to standing up although I usually wiped out immediately after getting on my feet.  I only wished that I had more time on the water to keep working at it. 

After the lesson was finished, I stayed in the water for a bit before resting and relaxing with my friends on the beach.  Due to the wave conditions and the lesson schedule running over, I never did get back in the water with a board.  Instead, I joined other people from the group for the planned happy hour. We ended up at a place called Tiki Bar which was located nearby. Surrounded by palm trees with a nice view of the ocean, they served some excellent frozen drinks while a band played some reggae tunes.  It was the perfect way to cool off after lying in hot the sun most of the afternoon.  At 6pm it was time to head back to NYC.  This time there was some traffic but that is to be expected on a Sunday evening in the summer.

All in all, I had a great time on this trip.  I loved hanging out on the beach and not having to worry about getting myself there.  I would prefer to have access to a rental board for the entire day in the future, so I am not sure I would sign up for actual surfing lessons again if that is not something that can be arranged.  With Zogsports, there is the option to sign up without the lesson and just pay for transportation and a day at the beach.  This is something I hope they offer again this season as I would definitely sign up.

Long Branch, NJ was quite beautiful and very clean.   There were some amazing houses that we passed by on the drive in.  The main area where we spent most of the day had a variety of nice shops and places to eat, although some leaned towards a higher price range.  If you are looking for a beautiful, well-kept beach that is not too far from the city, this is a fantastic place to go.

Surfing at Rockaway Beach

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I had never been surfing before, but I am a member of a meetup group that has scheduled outings during the summer for people of all skill levels to hang out and work on their surfing skills.  In this particular group, those who have been surfing awhile generously offer to help the beginners get started with some basic instructions.  As you can guess, it is extremely difficult to surf so just getting the basics down is a challenge.  But I must admit it is a fun challenge, as I discovered this past Saturday! 

Depending on where you live, it is only takes a short drive or a subway ride on the A train to get to the Rockaways where there are at least 2 designated surfing beaches (between 67-69 Streets and between 87-92 Streets).  This past weekend, my group went to the less populated 67th Street area.  When we arrived it felt like it was our own private beach!  There was plenty of space to lie out on the sand and no real crowding when in the water.  The waves were pretty great this particular day too so we were very lucky!  I have not yet been to the 92nd street surfing area other than to rent a board at Boarders Surf Shop, but I would guess it is very similar.  You can check out the surfing conditions before you go at: http://www.surfline.com/surf-report/rockaway-beach-90th-northeast_4270/

As a kid, I would spend most of my beach time in the water and I used to love boogie boarding.  In the more recent years though, I have usually just waded near the shore and tried not to get too covered in salt water.  For this visit to the beach, I had signed up to try surfing so avoiding the water was not an option.  As I was led into the water lugging my rental surf board, it was an abrupt reminder of how powerful the ocean is as the waves crashed against me.  There is nothing more humbling then getting knocked over and tossed about by a strong wave.  After listening to some basic pointers, it was then time to see what I could do on my own.  As the day went on, I kept trying to catch waves and work on developing my surfing skills.  It was the most invigorating feeling when I was able to stay on the board during those times when I didn’t wipe out.    I wasn’t able to officially stand up on the board this time but I did have some successful attempts at the more beginner level surfing positions.  Later in the afternoon, the waves got a little too rough for me so I finally ended my surfing efforts.

As this was my first time to try surfing, I was not sure how it would go.  Now I can say that I am a definite surfing fan and eager to go again.  Luckily, I am already signed up for an official lesson next weekend during a day trip to the Jersey Shore.  This weekend’s informal meetup was an amazing time with a fun group of people.  I look forward to seeing how it goes with ZogSports on their surfing day trip next Sunday.

Everybody Jump!

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Looking for an exhilarating and fun workout?  Then definitely try a trampoline class!  This past weekend, I went to Hollywood Stunts (located in the Bronx) to take a class and see what I could learn on the trampoline.  Since I cannot even remember the last time I was on a trampoline, I was not sure what to expect.  When I showed up, I must admit that I felt a bit intimidated by the large trampolines that were in front of me.  There were three rounded ones and a rectangular one that had a harness above it for more advanced lessons.

Our host and instructor, Brian, started by introducing himself to the class and we learned that he has had extensive experience performing stunts for movies, TV and outdoor shows.  After all the introductions were made, it was time to see what we were in for.  The school’s trampoline expert, Alex, got on the apparatus and started to teach us beginner techniques.  There is a lot of effort that must be made in order to maintain control while you are jumping.  While the rest of the class surrounded the trampoline, we each had a turn to jump and to attempt to mirror the techniques Alex had demonstrated for us.  I must say, he made everything look so effortless with his perfect form!  Some classmates were a little unsure of their balance and some took to it right away.

After everyone had a turn, it was time to divide our group of 15 among the rest of the trampolines (four people maximum for each one).  What you realize when you start jumping and working on improving your form, is how much work it really is.  Between the four people assigned to my trampoline, we each had plenty of time to jump and started to get pretty tired as the lesson went on.  However, it is so invigorating that you keep getting back on to work on your skills again and again. 

Once we mastered jumping straight with control it was time to try sitting down and returning to a standing bounce.  If you find success with that move then the next step is to work on twisting to sit in different directions while returning to a standing bounce in between.  Each person was able to learn at their own pace with the guidance of the instructors so it was a pressure free environment.  Many of us enjoyed our class so much that we decided to come back for future weekend sessions.  It really was tons of fun! 

In addition to offering trampoline classes, Hollywood Stunts is the place to go if you are interested in learning the art of performing stunts.  There was a high falling stunt class that started after ours which involved learning to jump from a really high platform that was set up on the premises.  When I first showed up to learn trampoline, I could not imagine myself wanting to learn to do that but after my trampoline experience I was definitely enthusiastic to try. 

Visit www.hollywoodstunts.com to find all the information about the stunt school and what they offer.  It is definitely worth the trip to the Bronx!  MMA is organizing groups to attend a trampoline class as one of their singles events so you can also sign up through them.

A Great Place to Skate!

I recently had the pleasure of trying out a relatively new ice rink in the NYC area. City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City is a great location to enjoy a public skating session or to work on your skating skills whether they involve figure skating or ice hockey. This rink is NHL sized and it is actually the only roof top skating rink in the five boroughs. An air dome helps to keep the temperatures skate ready and protects skaters from any bad weather.

A couple blocks away from the 7 train (the 33rd St.-Rawson St. stop), City Ice Pavilion is just a short subway ride outside of Manhattan. During the public skating session that I went to, I really enjoyed the fact that it was not overwhelmingly crowded. There was room to actually move! Most of the ice rinks that I have been to in the area have been a more crowded and expensive ordeal so this was a refreshing experience. My friends and I had a lot of fun during our skating session.

Rental skates are available for $6 and because it is such a new rink they are still in great condition. The public sessions are reasonably priced at $5 on weekdays and $8 on weekends. If you are so inclined, City Ice Pavilion also offers a full range of ice hockey and figure skating lessons/sessions. You can visit their website for all the details at http://www.cityicepavilion.com/. If you are interested in ice skating, I definitely recommend giving this new rink at try!

A Ski Day at Windham Mountain

I finally went on my long awaited ski day last weekend and it was most likely my last one of the season. Once again, I had signed up to go with Zogsports and this time the group was headed to Windham Mountain for the day. Our bus was scheduled to depart from the city at 6:30am and after some interesting subway detours to get there, I was in my seat and ready to go!

It just so happens that this particular day in March ended up being unseasonably warm. Windham, NY was supposed to go up to 45-50 degrees which is not your usual ski weather. Since I was so cold last time I went, I still brought all my cold weather gear just in case but when I stepped out into the sunny, warm weather on the mountain it became immediately evident that I would not need any of it.

This trip was really well organized – something I have come to expect from my past experiences with Zogsports. However, this time I felt like our group leader took some extra steps to encourage everyone to mingle and come together as a group. We all had the option to put some colored tape on our ski jackets or pants to help us recognize other group members throughout our day on the mountain which was helpful. Since I had come alone on this trip, I was not sure if I would have anyone to ski with this time and I had made my peace with that going into it. But before we left the bus to get into our gear our trip leader helped people to pair off this time so that no one had to go it alone. Because of that, I got to spend the day skiing with a great group of girls. I had way more fun than I had expected!

The challenge on this day was the ski conditions. Because it was so warm, there was less snow, melting slushy areas, and sections that were a lot more difficult to maneuver through than they ordinarily would be in colder weather. Later in the afternoon some of the slush had turned into ice. I had some fantastic wipe outs (luckily I didn’t get hurt) and my muscles were definitely feeling all the extra work I was doing to try to stay upright down the slopes. I was going to be sore the next day for sure!!! I certainly missed the powdery snow I had enjoyed on my last skiing adventure!

Like my last ski trip with this company, everyone was welcome to meet up for lunch at 1pm. It was great to take a break and hear how other people had been enjoying their day. We then hit the slopes for a while longer before finishing the day off with an Apres Ski at the lodge bar. Our ski day ended at just the right time since it actually started to rain heavily once I had already returned my skis and was back inside. After some drinks and snacks with the group, it was then time to get back on the bus and return to the city.

For this day trip, rentals were not included in the price but I was really pleased that a group rental rate had been arranged for us. There is one weekend trip remaining with Zogsports for this ski season. Next year, I am hoping I will be able to sign up for one of these longer trips and I would also like go on more of the day outings. It really is a great way to actively enjoy the winter season. You can head to www.zogsports.com for all the details on their upcoming trips and their numerous sports leagues. For all the information on skiing at Windham, please go to their website at www.windhammountain.com.

The end of the ski season does not mean the fun is over, however. It only means it is time for a different variety of activities! There are still plenty of things to look forward to in 2009 and I can’t wait!

Don’t Let Winter Pass You By!


As I eagerly await my next ski trip, I am still on the look out for other fun winter activities to sign up for. There are so many options out there that I thought I would share some links for anyone who would also like to get out and enjoy the snow before the season ends.

Check out ZogSports for ski trips. They have both day trips and weekend trips offered. I enjoyed my ski day with them so much that I signed up for another one. All the details are at http://www.zogsports.com/.

Outdoor Bound is a great company for anyone who wants to really get out there and be active. Some of the activities they offer include snow shoeing, cross country skiing, even ice climbing! I have enjoyed my hiking experiences with them and look forward to trying more of their events in the future. Check out their event calendar at http://www.outdoorbound.com/.

For those singles out there who want to enjoy an activity with the prospect of meeting someone new, head to Meet Market Adventures. They host a variety of indoor and outdoor activities so there is something for everyone. Some of their activities are even co-hosted with Outdoor Bound. I recently went Snow Tubing with them and it was a lot of fun! Their website is http://www.meetmarketadventures.com/.

I hope these links will help you find something fun to sign up for! You can read about my experiences with all of these companies in some of my past entries which will help you know what to expect.

A Ski Day at Belleayre Mountain

This past Saturday I went on my first visit to Belleayre Mountain for a day of skiing. I had signed up through Zogsports and this was listed as a beginner friendly trip. Since I have not gone skiing for many years, I thought it was the perfect way to get back onto the slopes!
The day started off quite early. The bus left the city at 6:30am (!) and I had to wake up super early in order to take the subway from Astoria to get myself there on time. The good news is that we had a drive of approximately 3 hours to rest up before we got to our ski destination.
Once at the mountain, it was time for everyone to go their separate ways depending on their skiing expertise. Many had brought their own equipment and went straight from the bus to the slopes. Then there were those who needed to rent equipment. I was in that category. I was so excited to get on the slopes that I could barely wait to get my ski equipment on!! The benefit of signing up for this trip was that lessons were offered for whatever ski level you were. The beginners and first time snow boarders had a place to go on the lower part of the mountain for their lesson. And for those of us who were intermediate or advanced, the place to find instructors was higher up on the mountain.
Once I got on the slopes, I started out cautiously to see if I could remember what I was doing. Luckily, I was still able to go down the intermediate level slopes to get reacquainted with the sport again. I loved it! Having only been to ski slopes in either MD or Pennsylvania before, it was refreshing to be in NY where there was more snow and less ice. This particular mountain was really nice since it was less crowded than the other places I had been to. I loved that I had the chance to move more freely without so many people speeding past and of course less crowds meant less lines at the lifts! There was a beautiful trail for intermediate skiers that started at the top of the mountain and the view from this slope was incredible the entire way down. It was definitely my favorite trail and I kept going back to it.
Even though our group had gone in many different directions, the day was organized so that we could still meet up during the day if we chose to. Members of the group had the option to meet for lunch at the Overlook Lounge and then after the lifts stopped at 4pm we also had time for happy hour and a bit of relaxing. Then at 5pm it was time to return our equipment and head for the bus.
Now, this particular Saturday had snow in the forecast. And snow it did. It began coming down at around 12:30pm and didn’t slow down before it was time for us to go. We had about 3-4 inches of snow on the ground when our bus started the trip back to NYC. I was nervous but luckily our group leader had a movie for us to watch during the drive back which helped to distract me. Due to the road conditions, we had a much longer trip home but we got back safely which is all that mattered to me. I made sure to tell the bus driver a very appreciative thank you for driving so well in such crazy weather – some of the roads on the mountain didn’t even have lights and it was snowing hard up there! Of course, when we got to the city there was barely any snow on the ground so it was a very different scene than where we had just been.
To summarize, Belleayre is a great day trip since it is a short drive from the city. It has a variety of beginner and intermediate slopes so if you are wanting to learn how to ski, it is a great spot to try. There are plenty of difficult slopes for those advanced skiers too! For all the info on Belleayre, you can go to their website at http://www.belleayre.com/.
Zogsports did a great job of organizing this day trip. I had so much fun that I signed up for another day trip to a different mountain in March with them. In addition to day trips, Zogsports also offers some weekend ski trips and a week long ski trip this season too. Spots fill up fast so if you are interested definitely head to http://www.zogsports.com/ and sign up sooner rather than later.

Go Horseback Riding – In Brooklyn!

On a city street just outside of Prospect Park in Brooklyn you might be surprised to find a Horseback Riding Stable. Kensington Stables is located at 51 Caton Place in Brooklyn and is one of the closer venues for NY city dwellers to learn to ride. They offer group trail rides and lessons, carraige rides, as well as private instruction.

When I went, I had signed up for a group trail ride so we were scheduled to depart at a certain time. I used to ride when I was younger but it has been many years so I was a little nervous. I was amazed at how the stable was just on the street corner amidst regular buildings! Because of my prior riding experience, they put me on one of the more eager horses. This horse was ready to go! The entire group had our horses brought out to us while we waited outside the stable on the street. Once everyone was ready, we were lined up and it was time for our guides to lead us to Prospect Park for our trail ride. Honestly, I was freaked out at the fact that we had to cross a busy traffic circle to get to the park. I was worried the horses would get jumpy and run off with us but the guides were experts at getting us safely across to the park.

Once in the park, there were still plenty of people walking by and riding bikes since it was a lovely day outside. But the horses were used to this and were pretty much unfased. My group was a mix of beginners and other levels so we maintained a nice walking pace during most of the trail. It was beautiful walking through the park and exhilerating to do so on horseback! The group trail rides last for about an hour. I’ll admit it was hard to turn back since I was having so much fun. As someone who used to be an advanced rider, I felt ready to take it to the next level the next time I signed up to ride. But for those who have never been on a horse before and are looking to get started, this is a great way to get out there.

Kensington Stables has all their information on pricing and the services they offer on their website: http://www.kensingtonstables.com/. The people who work there are friendly and very helpful in making sure you enjoy your horseback riding experience.

Ready to Hit the Slopes this Winter?

I have been living in NYC for many years now. I have always wanted to go skiing at one of the nearby mountains but for many different reasons it has not happened yet. Well, this year I am determined to go skiing on at least one day trip. The company I went wine tasting with in October, Zogsports, also offers a few day and weekend ski trips during the winter season. On Wednesday I went to their Pre-Season Happy Hour to get more information about the trips they have available. I decided to sign up for the one in January that includes a one hour lesson (in the ski level of your choice) and rentals. Your transportation to the mountain and lift tickets are also included. Of course if you already have your own skis there is a way to sign up without renting. If all goes well with my first trip, I also hope to sign up for another one later in the winter too!

You can find out what trip might work for you on their website at www.zogsports.com. This is a great way to go skiing with other fun NYers without the hassle of arranging your own transportation, etc.! The wine tasting was so much fun that I am sure I will have a blast skiing with this company as well.

While learning about these great ski trips and meeting people, I was enjoying the setting at the Black Bear Lodge. This is a great Happy Hour spot! During Happy Hour you can get $3 Guinness(!!), drafts, and frozen margaritas in addition to $4 well drinks. What a great deal!

Black Bear Lodge is located at 274 3rd Ave (Btwn 21st and 22nd Streets). Check out their website for all the details at www.bblnyc.com.

Climb to New Heights!

This weekend I decided to try my hand at indoor rock climbing. In addition to their many other great facilities, Manhattan Plaza Health Center has a climbing gym for all skill levels from beginner to advanced. I signed up through MMA so there was a group of about 15 of us ready to learn on this particular outing. After putting on our climbing shoes and harnesses, we were split into groups of four so that our instructors could help us to learn in smaller groups.

I’ll admit that when I looked at how high the walls went, I was a bit frightened but I was here to climb and was determined to learn how. Our instructor went over in detail how we needed to tie the knots to the climbing safety rope and also how to belay (which is when you are responsible for making sure the ropes are properly handled to keep the person climbing safe). Once we had gone over the basics it was time to try our hands at the real thing. The first time I actually tried to climb the wall, I realized the challenge I was in for. These walls were high! Once you have more experience there are specific paths that you can navigate on up the wall. I tried to aim for the beginning paths but at times would go for whatever hold I could get! The first time felt a bit petrifying but I did make it to the top successfully. As we took turns, each time got a little less scary as I felt more secure in what I was doing. When it was my turn to belay, I was worried about being responsible for the weight of the climber but discovered how secure and safe the equipment really was. As you go along with your climbing efforts, you realize that you are working your muscles both while climbing and also while belaying. After our group had all had enough training with the instructor, it was time to climb on our own.

The climbing gym has many varied surface walls to climb, in addition to the area where you try to climb on your own without ropes – which is for the more advanced climbers. It was really fun to explore the different wall sections and see how much high we could reach on the different levels of difficulty. I ended up staying till 5pm and was one of the last pairs to leave from our group. It was a challenging day but a fun one!

Upon returning my rental equipment, I asked about how one could come back without a group. If you already know the basics you can buy a day pass for $20 and pay extra for renting shoes and a harness if you need them. They also offer orientation and learn to climb packages for those interested in learning everything from scratch like I did. More details about Manhattan Plaza Health Center and the Climbing Gym can be found at http://www.mphc.com/.

Indoor rock climbing is definitely a great way to challenge yourself, get a great workout, and try a new activity. I hope to be able to go again sometime soon.