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king_skwirl has written 22 articles so far, you can find them below.

Black Rock night dive, Maui

The Black Rock night dive has become famous for all the activity that goes on after the sun has set. And during the day Is a beginner to intermediate Scuba Site with depths to 32 feet. Entrance to the dive is about a 5 minute easy walk from the parking lot to the north side entrance. And about the same walk to the South side entrance. There is a wall and diverse reef system and approximately 10 resident Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. This site has one of the most diverse fish populations on Maui, and was rated one of the top 4 beach dives in the USA. Located on the west most facing shore of west Maui, currents can be running along shore from north or south, making for a great drift dive.

Directions: Travel North on Highway 31 until mile marker 24, then turn left onto Ka’anapali Parkway. Follow the road around to the right until you end up at the Sheraton Maui. There you will find a garage for public parking.
MAP from Lahaina

French’s Reef, Florida Keys

Depth Range: Shallow to 100 feet
Experience Level: Novice to Advanced
Location: 25º02.06 80º21.00

An exceptionally beautiful site, the ever popular reef is crammed full of caves, canyons, ledges, tunnels and swim-throughs. French Reef is home to innumerable fish species.

Certified divers can choose from a number of gorgeous diving locations:
Location / MM
Experience Level
Lat/Long Coord
Looe Key Big Pine / 29 Novice – Advanced 24º32.70 81º24.50 HMS Looe
Molasses Reef Key Largo / 97 Novice 25º01.00 80º22.53 #1 Dive Site
Sombrero Reef Marathon / 45 Novice 24º37.50 81º06.50 Coral Bridge
Christ of the Deep Key Largo / 108 Novice 25º07.45 80º17.80 Submerged Statue
French Reef Key Largo / 103 Novice – Advanced 25º02.06 80º21.00 Caves & Fish
Thunderbolt Marathon / 57 Advanced 24º39.48 80º57.90 Ship 120 ft. deep
Alligator Reef Islamorada / 80 Intermediate 24º50.72 80º36.93 Wreck from 1825
The Elbow Key Largo Novice Three Wrecked Ships
Carysfort Key Largo / 116 Novice – Intermediate 25º13.80 80º12.74 HMS Winchester
Marquesas Key West / NA Intermediate 24°33’ 82°09 25 nmi offshore
Adolphus Busch Cudjoe/Big Pine/ 24 Advanced 25º02.06 80º21.00 Giant Grouper
Little Conch Reef Islamorada / 96 Intermediate 24º56.51 80º28.55 Fan Corals

Bahia Honda is great for camping, snorkeling, and diving

The 2.5-mile (4.0 km) natural, white sand beach was rated the #1 beach in 1992 in the United States by “Dr. Beach” Stephen Leatherman (the first Florida beach to be so honored), making it popular for swimming. A nature trail near the park’s oceanside beach skirts a tidal lagoon before passing through a coastal hardwood hammock. Bicycling and inline skating can be done on the park’s 3.5-mile (5.6 km) paved road, and there are several fishing and picnicking spots in the area.

Kayaks and snorkeling gear can be rented at the park, and boat trips for snorkeling on the reef are available. The park has a marina with boat slips available for overnight rental. Campsites (primitive and full hook-up) and vacation cabins are available, although reservations for the winter months can be very difficult to get.

The park is also a part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Hiking in the Rockies during Spring is glorious

We bring you the best adventure hikes on the planet.

The Southwest trails are near Grand Lake, and can be accessed via highway 34.

Bakerville Loveland Trail
Big Meadows
Blue Lake
Bowen Lake
A long, gradual climb through thick forest to the lake.
Bowen Pass
Bowen Pass is part of the Arapahoe National Forest, and is a steep, short hike from Bowen Lake.
Butler Gulch
Snowshoe, telemark and cross-country ski.
Cascade Falls
Coney Creek Road – Winter
Unplowed 4×4 road open to snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and snowmobiles.
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
On November 10,1978, the President signed the “National Parks and Recreation Act” amending the “National Trails Act of 1968.” The amended legislation addressed the proposed Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST). Congress directed the Forest Service to prepare and submit a comprehensive plan for the management and use of the… [more]
Coyote Valley
Kawuneeche, the Arapaho word for coyote, was the name given to this gentle valley of the Upper Colorado River. he trail follows the bank of the Colorado River with views of the Never Summer Mountains. Look for moose (especially during the early morning and early evening hours), songbirds and wildflowers…. [more]
Flattop Mountain (from Green Mountain)
Granite Falls
Haynach Lakes
Long, beautiful hike on a trail mostly used by backpackers.
Lake Nanita
Lake Nokoni
Lake Verna
Lone Pine Lake
Long Meadows
North Inlet Falls
Onahu Creek Loop
A quiet loop highlighted by Big Meadows.
Shadow Mountain Lookout
This trail ends at the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Tonahutu Creek Trail
Valley Trail
Easy loop through the Kawuneechee Valley.

Icebergs to Swamp, Trailhoncho covers it all

A nice day out paddling at Steven J Foster Swamp. Lots of gators!

Named after songwriter Stephen Foster, this remote park is a primary entrance to the famed Okefenokee Swamp and is one of the most intriguing areas in Georgia. Moss-laced cypress trees reflect off the black swamp waters, providing breathtaking scenery.

Visitors can look for alligators, turtles, raccoon, black bear, deer, birds and numerous other creatures while on the park’s elevated boardwalk trail or on a guided pontoon boat trip. More adventurous visitors may wish to rent motorized boats, canoes or kayaks for further exploration of the swamp, including a trip to historic Billy’s Island.  During low water levels, boating may not be available.

Perhaps the most famous inhabitant of the Okefenokee Swamp is the American Alligator.  Officials estimate that 12,000 of the country’s largest reptile live within the 402,000-acre refuge.  To safely view these creatures, visitors should admire them from a distance and keep hands and feet inside boats.  Pets are not allowed in boats, even privately owned vessels.  Children should not play near the water’s edge.  Feeding any wildlife is prohibited.  Following these guidelines will help visitors have a safe and entertaining experience in one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia.

At the park’s Suwannee River Visitor Center in Fargo, visitors learn not only about the Okefenokee Swamp’s ecosystem, but also how buildings can be made from recycled car parts and plastics. Located off Hwy. 441 at the Suwannee River bridge, the center mixes environmental education with engineering showmanship. Inside, visitors learn that tannic acid produced by decaying vegetation is what gives the river its tea color, and that unlike other reptiles, mother alligators actively care for their babies. A third of the building materials was made from recycled content, including a retaining wall made from old dashboards and electrical cables.

Because Stephen C. Foster State Park is located within a National Wildlife Refuge, gate lock at closing and a $5 refuge fee is charged.

Park Hours:
7AM–10PM (gate locks at closing; no late entry)
Office Hours:
Fall/Winter 8AM-5PM; Spring/Summer 7AM-6 PM
Suwannee River Center Hours
8AM-5PM; Wednesday-Sunday (Access may be restricted after heavy rain. Call ahead to confirm operating hours.)


  • 80 Acres
  • 64 Tent, Trailer, RV Campsites ($25-$28) – cable TV hookups, some areas closed for the season
  • 9 Cottages ($125) — #5 is dog friendly ($40 per dog, max 2)
  • 3 Picnic Shelters ($40-$50)
  • Pioneer Campground ($45)
  • Interpretive Center/Museum
  • 1.5-Mile Trembling Earth Nature Trail
  • 1.5-Mile Pine Upland Nature Trail
  • 25 Miles of Day-Use Waterways
  • Playground
  • Suwannee River Visitor Center


  • GeoCaching
  • Canoe, Kayak and Fishing Boat Rental (depending on water levels)
  • Guided Pontoon Boat Tours ($8-$12, depending on water levels)
  • Boating – ramp, 10 horsepower limit
  • Fishing
  • Birding


  • Boating activities may be restricted during low water levels.
  • The park is located 18 miles from Fargo and 50 miles from a major grocery store. Visitors should bring all supplies with them and have plenty of gasoline in their vehicle. The park office sells drinks, snacks, ice, books, gifts and t-shirts.
  • Cell phone service may be unreliable.
  • Late arrivals are not allowed due to NWR regulations. Gates lock at 10 p.m.

Mountain Biking Adventures of all shapes and sizes

Grand County provides some of the best mountain biking opportunities in Colorado. Winter Park, Colorado alone boasts over 600 miles of marked, mapped and user-friendly trails, contributing to its apropos nickname “Mountain Bike Capital, USA.” From high mountain peaks to beautiful river valleys, single tracks to back country roads, there are opportunities for all ages and skill levels.

For complete information on mountain biking and trails in each of the four main areas of Grand County, Colorado as well as the many local vendors providing bike sales, rentals and repair, please contact each chamber directly:

Kremmling Chamber of Commerce

Granby Chamber of Commerce
970-887-2311 or 800-325-1661

Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce

Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce
970-726-4118 or 800-903-7275

Hot Sulphur Springs Chamber

Click here for a free map for all skill levels.

Although public lands are yours to discover, it is also your responsibility to know the rules and regulations of the area you’ll be visiting, as well as the risks and liabilities that may be incurred.

Wilderness Areas are reserved for the most primitive forms of travel: by foot, which includes hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and by horseback. Mountain biking is not allowed in these areas.
• The Fraser Experimental Forest was established in 1937 for the primary purpose of forest research. Recreational use of the Fraser Experimental Forest is a privilege and must not interfere with current and potential research. Please stay on designated roads and trails and camp only in designated sites when visiting this area.

• Several access trails to public lands travel through private property. Please use only acknowledged routes and do not explore areas off these designated trails or you may jeopardize future access through private property.

• As the usage of the Fraser Valley trail system continues to increase, so does the wear and tear on our trails. The Adopt-a-Trail Program, comprised of volunteers and administered by Headwaters Trails Alliance, plays a key role in keeping our trails open and safe for all users.

10 Travel Web Sites Worth Visiting

Credit to: the New York Times Travel Section for an interesting addition to our already large list of Travel and Gear Links
Original article By SETH KUGEL

People managed to travel quite well before the Internet came along, although how they did it is now shrouded in mystery. There are so many Web sites to help you plan trips and book trips and fantasize about trips and (best of all) save money on trips that the difficulty is not finding a site that will help you but choosing from among the bounty.

It’s been a while since I updated the bookmarks you’ll find next to the articles on the Frugal Traveler blog page, so I’ve decided to add a bunch more, ranging from the indispensable to the just-for-fun. Here is a selection of 10 that you should consider bookmarking.


1. Dishtip.com
Though if I had to pick just one site to help with restaurant recommendations around the globe, it would be Chowhound, DishTip organizes the world of eating out in the United States a whole new way: By clam chowder. Or turkey sandwich. Or blueberry pie. In other words, by single dish, not by restaurant. The site sorts through reviews across the Web, figures out what has been raved about, aggregates its findings and spits out rankings of the best dishes in Denver or the pizzas in Portland or the fried food in Phoenix.

The result may not be perfect, but it sure is helpful if you’re obsessed with one dish or simply like the very rational idea of determining where you’ll eat by the meal you want rather than by the chef who will cook it or the neighborhood it’s cooked in. Go ahead, try it with a dish you like in a city you know. Sure, you may not specifically agree with its “choices” for, say, the best cookie in New York City — 1. Oatmeal raisin from Levain; 2. Chocolate chip from Jacques Torres; 3. Macaroon from the Meatball Shop — but you have to admit, not bad for a computer.

2. Skypicker.com
Skypicker basically helps you figure out where you can fly within your budget. It’s sort of like the “explore” page of Kayak.com, but focuses exclusively on Europe, and on very, very cheap flights.

Let’s say you’re somewhere in Europe (or planning to be), and you want to see where you can go from there for very low cost. You plug in your approximate date of departure, about how many days you want to stay, and voilà: there’s a list of the cheapest flights available. (Not all fees are included — you won’t find out the exact cost until you go to the airlines’ Web sites to book.)

When I tested the site, pretending to be driven insane by foggy, rainy London and wanting to go anywhere cheaply for a long weekend two weeks ahead, I ended up with a 38-euro (or $48) round trip on Ryanair to Nîmes in the south of France. When I actually went to Ryanair to book, the cost was £35 (or $55), including fees, and I assume the final cost (with a luggage charge, perhaps) might be a bit more. But still, a good deal.

3. Stay.com
I’m generally dubious of sites that claim they can plan your trip for you. But for a quick and dirty agenda with a few useful extras, stay.com is not bad at all.

Here’s what you do: Choose one of more than 100 destinations, from Aix-en-Provence to Marrakesh to Lake Tahoe. Then go through their listings of top attractions, museums, shopping, restaurants and the like, clicking on whatever appeals to you. Those choices magically turn into a personalized itinerary that you can either turn into a pdf file and print or, better yet, send to your smartphone, where with the Stay.com app you can use it — and the city map that comes with it — even when you’re offline (meaning no international roaming charges).

And you’re not limited to the places you’ve initially chosen: you can add from their lists (and, theoretically, from your friends’ suggestions) on the run as well. Sure, guidebook apps might be more in depth, but stay.com is free and easy.

4. Staydu.com
A neat site that matches hosts from around the world with travelers looking for unique local experiences. That can mean volunteering to teach English or doing farm work in exchange for lodging and meals, or simply paying a small fee to move in with a local resident. The site is not overly populated with opportunities yet, but shows a lot of potential.

5. Vayama.com

Vayama is a flight search engine that specializes in international routes — the Achilles’ heel of the sites you already use, whether you know it or not. Vayama simply seems to know about more airlines and often finds two one-way flights on different airlines that beat out a round-trip flight on a single one. It also occasionally offers you a lower price on a “secret carrier” whose identity you don’t learn until you’ve booked the flight.

6. Trivago.com
If you want to compare many hotel sites at once (including heavyweights like booking.com and hotels.com), try Trivago, an easy-to-use metasearch site. Trivago can be especially helpful in more unusual destinations. I was recently searching for a hotel stay in Fortaleza, Brazil, and Trivago included a few affordable rooms that were exclusively from volayo.com, a Brazil-based hotel booking site I had never heard of.

7. Matadornetwork.com
Matador is a free online travel community whose site contains treasure troves of articles written in a variety of styles, organized into topics like “art and design,” “culture and religion” and “language and study abroad.” You can get lost in here, coming in via a search for essential Russian phrases and ending up craving lavender and hibiscus Popsicles from an Edmonton farmers market.

8. Seat61.com
“It would be lovely if there was a single Web site that sold tickets for any European train journey at the cheapest price, but there isn’t,” writes Mark Smith, better known among the frugal train-riding set as “the Man in Seat 61.” You could just go to raileurope.com and book a ticket, but in many cases you’ll pay more than necessary. Mr. Smith’s site is friendly and informal in style but encyclopedic in content, and full of links to get you to the right booking sites.

9. Triptuner.com
No idea where you want to go? With Triptuner, just use a panel of six sliders (like the kind on graphic equalizers) to “tune” your trip. Do you want “relaxing” or “active” or somewhere in the middle? “Bikini” weather or “parka” weather? An “urban/lively” spot or a “remote/quiet” one?

When I maxed out the sliders toward relaxing-bikini-urban/lively trip, I got suggestions like Miami, Phuket and Salvador, Brazil — pretty good choices. When I went the opposite way — active-parka-remote/quiet, Triptuner came up with Jungfraujoch, Switzerland, or Torres del Paine, Chile. The site doesn’t go much farther than that (though you can book hotels), but it’s enough to get you thinking.

10. Expatsblog.com/blogs
The best travel guides are often expatriates who have lived in a destination long enough to know it intimately but still maintain an outsider’s perspective. This site lists over 300 expat blogs by destination, and in many you don’t have to delve very far to find travel tips disguised as personal narratives.

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