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.