Apr 03 2020
Does the Corona Virus Affect Travel?
Is Covid-19 affecting travel?
The answer is yes. Covid-19 is affecting just about everyone and everything in some way, shape, or form.
At this point, I’m sure you noticed this already. Up to date, (04/02/2020) there are a total of 1,014,673 cases world wide and counting. The good news though, about 4x the people recovered compared to the number who had unfortunately passed. Over 210,000 people recovered from the Covid-19 virus, and just under 53,000 people have passed away. Corona is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through objects that the infected person has touched.
If you’re like me and can’t sit still, especially inside, try to get back to the basics and go for a hike. (if you can) When I get stressed out from being cooped up I go for a hike or mountain bike ride with my dog “Adventure Buddy”. After our ride or hike, no matter how bad or good things really may be, it always seem to lean more towards the good side of things. Most of us have a mandated “stay at home” order, and others may be volunteering to stay at home. While a lot of businesses are forced to close their doors and tempirarily lay off employees, this makes for a good time to get back to your roots.
Spend time to build yourself and self reflect. What are you doing in your life that makes you happy? What are you doing that could use more practice? Are you eating well and exercising enough? Although this isn’t the best time for everyone, maybe it can be. With every negative comes a positive, and the positives can easily outweigh the negatives. It all depends on the view you choose to look at what is presented to you.
Have you had time to step back from work or life in general and audit yourself? Maybe you have been working too much and this virus is giving you the opportunity to spend more time getting closer to your loved ones or even yourself. Sometimes life gives you opportunities that at first glance look like a negative. You have to look closely and put the pieces of the puzzle together to understand the positives that life is presenting to you. This is simply the way of the universe.
- Obviously, washing your hands is always a good idea to prevent bad germs. During this time it’s an even better idea. If you can find hand sanitizer in a whole in the wall shop that hasn’t been scavenged, grab a bottle. Just please remember to be courteous and only take what you need. Don’t be that guy or gal to empty the shelf.
- Wipe down any surfaces that are being touched often in your workplace or home with disinfectant.
- Social distancing and self-isolation is important. This doesn’t mean lock yourself in a closet and hide, it just means to be mindful of keeping a safe distance. The new target is to stay at least 6′ away from another person to prevent the spread.
- Some people may consider this an extremem measure, but better safe than sorry. Wear a face mask and gloves. I’m sure you have seen this popping up more and more. It almost feels like we are in an apocalypse movie, but the more precautions
we take, the faster we can get back to living our normal lives.
- You should be doing this anyway, but cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Some germs can travel up to 10′ on a single cough or sneeze.
Will airlines refund tickets due to Corona-virus?
What many airlines are doing is allowing travelers to cancel their flights and basically set aside that money to be used on a flight at a later date—and thankfully, you don’t have to book that flight now (wh
ich is good because it’s hard to know exactly h
ow this pandemic is going to play out at this point). The main U.S. carriers (United, American, and Delta) are currently offering that flexibility for flights that were scheduled to depart through the end May.
When it comes to actual refunds, the policies vary by airline.
American Airlines: Flights booked on American prior to March 1, 2020, for travel through May 31, 2020, can be rebooked without change fees; flights booked during the month of March for travel through January 30, 2021, can also be canceled and changed without a change fee.
The airline is encouraging those who don’t plan to travel anytime soon to simply cancel their flight online, and then rebook at a later date as it is currently swamped with requests. When you’re ready to rebook, call the reservations department and be prepared to give them your 13-digit ticket number and 6-character confirmation number.
If a flight was canceled by American Airlines (either due to new travel restrictions or capacity reductions), American said it will send affected passengers an email and they can either rebook the trip or request a refund for the remaining ticket value and any optional fees.
United Airlines: If you booked a flight with United between March 3 and March 31, 2020, you can change it for free—one time—for travel that takes place within the next year. Any flights bo
oked prior to March 3 (regardless of whether they are domestic or international) with original travel dates through May 31, 2020, can be canceled and rebooked later with no change fees.
With regards to flight cancellations that have resulted from the numerous travel bans and restrictions that have been put in place due to Corona-virus, United said that any customers (including residents from other countries), whose international travel has been disrupted by more than six hours, or if the flight was canceled due to government restrictions, will get a travel credit equal to the value of their ticket that is good for up to 12 months from the time of purchase (not from the time the flight was canceled). If the customer chooses not to use the credit, they will receive a cash refund at the end of that 12-month period.
Delta Air Lines: Any De
lta ticket for domestic or international travel in March,
April or May can be canceled and rebooked without a fee for travel that takes place up until December 31, 2020. For flights canceled by Delta, the airline has said it will contact passengers with additional information. We haven’t been able to find out much beyond that.
JetBlue: Customers who were due to travel with JetBlue through April 30, 2020, can cancel and bank the funds for a future flight up to one year from the date the future flight credit was issued.
Southwest Airlines: Southwest hasn’t changed its policy and that’s because its policy was already pretty lenient. The carrier has tier fares that include refunds (Business Select and Anytime) and a tier fare (Wanna Get Away) that doesn’t include refunds. Those remain the same. But regardless of the type of ticket purchased, it can be canceled sans fee for a future travel credit for up to a year from the original date of purchase.
Alaska Airlines: Similar to other U.S. carriers, Alaska flights purchased on or before February 26, 2020, for travel that was originally scheduled to take place through the end of May can be canceled, the money set aside in an Alaska account and the flight rescheduled for anytime until February 28, 2021. Any tickets purchased between February 27 and March 30, 2020, for travel anytime through February 28, 2020, can also be changed with no fee.
British Airways: The U.K. carrier is allowing customers who have booked or who book new flights between March 3 and May 31, 2020, to change those flights for free—and any existing bookings for departures through May 31, 2020, can be changed without a fee as well.
Air France: The French airline is offering a travel voucher for flights that were scheduled to depart through May 31, 2020, which will be valid for one year on any Air France, KLM, Delta Air Lines, and Vir
gin Atlantic flights.
How are Inclusive Excursions, Expedia, Priceline, and other online agencies handling Corona-virus refunds?
Online travel agencies such as Inclusive Excursions, Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Priceline serve as “middlemen” between travelers and travel suppliers. They have different working relationships with all the suppliers on their sites, which can complicate things a bit.
For instance, Inclusive Excursions, Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity can help change or cancel reservations for some of the air carriers they sell tickets for, but not all of them. For the ones with which they lack that ability, customers will have to work directly with the airline. But the bottom line is: The airline’s policy will be the policy that customers of Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity will have to work with.
Priceline advises its customers that “if your airline does not allow you to cancel or change your flight, we are not able to help you at this time.” The travel booking site offers a very comprehensive contact list, including websites and phone numbers, for all its partner airlines.
On the hotels front, Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz have stated that for hotels booked in the following destinations by people who are not a resident of these countries, they are eligible for a full refund: China, Hong Kong, Macau; South Korea; Israel; Marshall Islands; El Salvador; Denmark and Slovakia; Czech Republic, Oman and India; Poland; Cyprus; Ukraine; and Italy. They advise customers to “check back often as destinations are continually [being] added based on changing restrictions.”
Corona-virus refunds for hotels and vacation rentals
Hotels have always been pretty flexible when it comes to cha
nging and canceling reservations, but in the wake of the Corona-virus pandemic, they are being even more so.
Marriott International: Marriott is allowing all guests at all of its more than 7,300 properties around the world with existing reservations, for any upcoming stay regardless of the date and regardless of whether the original rate had some restrictions, to change or cancel without a charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival—here’s the important thing to note—as long as the change or cancellation is made by April 30, 2020. For those who make new reservations now through April 30, 2020, they will be allowed to change or cancel at no charge up to 24 hours before arrival, regardless of the date of stay.
Hilton: For guests who have booked stays that were scheduled to begin prior to April 30 at any of Hilton’s more than 6,100 global properties, the change fee is being waived and the company is offering full refunds for all existin
g reservations (including those described as “non-cancellable”) for stays scheduled to begin prior to April 30, 2020, up to 24 hours before arrival. New reservations booked between now and April 30, 2020 for any future arrival date, can be changed or canceled at no charge up to 24 hours before arrival.
Accor: The 5,000-hotel Accor hasn’t offered too much detail on its Corona-virus-related change and cancellation policies other than to say that it has advised all of its hotels to adopt flexible change and cancellation conditions for travelers with new or existing bookings through April 30, 2020.
Intercontinental Hotel Group: IHG has waived cancellation fees for existing and new bookings at all of its hotels the world over for stays between March 9 and April 30, 2020. It is handling groups and meeting bookings on a case-by-case basis. For stays beyond April 30, the company reminds customers that there is flexibility already built into some of its rates—in other words, if ever there was a time to book the slightly higher rate with more options, now would be the time to do so.
Airbnb: Vacation rental powerhouse Airbnb recently issued an upda
ted global change and cancellation policy. Reservations for stays and experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020, can be canceled for a full refund by guests, and hosts can cancel without a charge or impact to their Superhost status (and Airbnb will refund all service fees). Reservations made on or before March 14 with a check-in date after April 14 as well as any reservations made after March 14, 2020, will not be covered unless the guest or host has contracted COVID-19. Otherwise, the host’s standard cancellation policy will apply.
Similar to the airlines, hotels are being gracious about bookings through the end of April. Beyond that it’s not clear how generous they will be.
What are tour operators’ policies for Corona-virus changes and refunds?
Given the global health crisis that the Corona-virus pandemic presents, most reputable tour operators have gone ahead and proactively canceled a good portion of their upcoming itineraries (similar to w
hat the cruise lines did—see below). Here are some examples.
Tauck: Long-time tour provider Tauck has canceled its scheduled tours and cruises from March 17, 2020, through April 14, 2020—and for those tours it will refund the affected guests. For tours that were scheduled to take place between April 14, 2020 and June 30, 2020, guests can cancel and received a future travel credit for any tour in 2020 or 2021 (but airline change fees will not be covered).
Abercrombie & Kent: Luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent has temporarily suspended ground operations globally from March 17 to April 30, 2020 (with the exception of May trips to China, which remain canceled). A&K is offering guests on those journeys a future tour credit (that will include a 10 percent discount) for any trip to be used within 12 months of the original departure date.
Intrepid Travel: Global tour company Intrepid Tr
avel has also suspended its tours from March 16 to April 30, 2020. For those tours, travelers will receive a 110 percent future tour credit that they can put towards any itinerary up until April 30, 2022. For tours departing May 1, 2020, and beyond, Intrepid said they are continuing as planned at this point, but that if customers choose to cancel they can do so and receive a credit for whatever they had paid to be used by April 30, 2022.
What about cruises?
On March 14, the majority of the world’s cruise lines agreed to suspend cruise ship operations from U.S. ports for 30 days in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Affected customers are being offered anywhere between a 100 percent and 200 percent future cruise credit.
How travel advisors can help
During a complicated and overwhelming global crisis such as the Corona-virus pandemic, a travel advisor can serve as a great ally. While travel advisors can’t force travel suppliers to refund their clients, they typically have stronger relationships with suppliers and thus more sway. They will be better able to help you navigate through the options for changing your trip plans. And as a travel professional (who likely has dealt with numerous crises in the past), they can offer their advice and the insights from their myriad of contacts in the industry and from their own personal experience.
Can travel insurance help you get a refund?
With regards to the current Corona-virus crisis, travel insurance providers consider it to be a known event as of January 21, 2020 (or thereabouts, the date can change slightly depending on the provider, but usually falls sometime between January 21 and January 27, 2020). Travel insurance purchased before that date will cover disruptions resulting from the outbreak, but any travel insurance purchased after that date will not.
An exception to that is Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) cove
rage, an optional upgrade to a travel insurance policy that covers cancellations for reasons not otherwise covered by a standard travel insurance “such as fear of traveling due to Corona-virus or simply not wanting to travel to a country that may be affected,” said Megan Moncrief, chief marketing officer for travel insurance search and review site Squaremouth.
There are some limitations, however. The CFAR upgrade has to be purchased within 14 to 21 days of making the initial trip deposit and it will reimburse travelers for up to 75 percent of their trip cost—for a price. Cancel For Any Reason coverage typically costs between 5 and 10 percent of the total trip cost.
-Info courtesy of AFAR. By Michelle Baran
What are the latest Cornoa-virus numbers?
04/02/2020 Location Confirmed Recovered DeathsWorldwide1,076,017225,33558,004United States265,00111,9836,766Italy119,82719,75814,681Spain117,71030,51311,009Germany89,12613,5971,198China81,62076,5713,322France58,41710,9355,377Iran53,18317,9353,294United Kingdom38,1681913,605Turkey20,921484425Switzerland19,7025,657604Belgium16,7702,8721,143Netherlands15,723–1,487Canada12,3602,177178Austria11,4642,022168South Korea10,0626,021174Portugal9,88668246Brazil8,066127327Israel7,42840339Sweden6,122106351Australia5,35863628Norway5,296–54Ireland4,27310120Russia4,14928134Czechia4,0917253Denmark3,7571,093139Chile3,73742722Ecuador3,36865145Malaysia3,33382753Poland3,2665665Romania3,183283133Philippines3,01852136Japan2,61747263Luxembourg2,6128031India2,54716362Pakistan2,45812635Saudi Arabia2,03935125Indonesia1,986134181Thailand1,97858119Greece1,6135359Finland1,608–19Mexico1,51063450South Africa1,505319Dominican Republic1,4881668Panama1,4751037Peru1,41453755Iceland1,3643364Argentina1,26524836Algeria1,17162105Serbia1,1715431Colombia1,1615519Singapore1,1142825Croatia1,079928Qatar1,075933United Arab Emirates1,024968Egypt98621666Estonia9614812Ukraine9421923Slovenia9341020Hong Kong8461724Iraq82022654New Zealand7721031Morocco7615647Armenia736437Lithuania69679Bahrain6723824Hungary6234326Moldova591268Bosnia and Herzegovina5752717Lebanon5085017Tunisia495518Latvia49311Bulgaria4853014Kazakhstan464293Slovakia45071Azerbaijan443325Andorra4391616North Macedonia4302012Kuwait417820Costa Rica39662Cyprus3911810Uruguay369684Belarus351464Taiwan348505Réunion321400Jordan310585Cameroon306108Albania3048916Burkina Faso3025016Afghanistan273106Cuba267136Oman252571San Marino2512632Vietnam237850Honduras222315Uzbekistan221252Senegal207661Ghana205315Malta20220Côte d’Ivoire19491Palestine193211Nigeria190202Mauritius18607Faroe Islands179910Montenegro16002Sri Lanka159244Georgia155270Venezuela146435Martinique138273Brunei134651Democratic Republic of the Congo134313Bolivia13219Guadeloupe130297Kyrgyzstan13051Mayotte128102Kosovo125101Kenya12244Jersey118–2Cambodia114350Guernsey114132Isle of Man114–1Trinidad and Tobago9616Paraguay9243Rwanda8900Gibraltar88460Northern Cyprus77292Niger7405Guinea7300Liechtenstein7200Madagascar7000Bangladesh61266Aruba6010Monaco5521French Guiana5100Jamaica4723Barbados4600Guatemala46121Uganda4500Macao42100El Salvador4102Djibouti4000Togo40173Mali3903Zambia3911French Polynesia3710Bermuda35110Ethiopia3530Cayman Islands28–1The Bahamas2401Sint Maarten2332Eritrea2200Republic of the Congo2202Saint Martin2222Myanmar (Burma)2001Tanzania2021Guyana1904Maldives19130Gabon1801New Caledonia1810Benin1620Equatorial Guinea1610Syria1602Haiti1500Mongolia1420Namibia1420Saint Lucia1300Dominica1200Curaçao1121Greenland1030Grenada1000Laos1000Libya1010Mozambique1000Seychelles1000Sudan1022Suriname1000Antigua and Barbuda900Eswatini900Guinea-Bissau900Zimbabwe901Angola812Central African Republic800Saint Kitts and Nevis800Åland Islands800Chad700Fiji700Liberia700Somalia710Vatican City7–0Cape Verde601Mauritania621Nepal610Saint Barthélemy610Bhutan500Montserrat500Turks and Caicos Islands500Botswana401Nicaragua401The Gambia401Anguilla300Belize300British Virgin Islands300Burundi300Malawi300Sierra Leone200Papua New Guinea100Timor-Leste110
Jul 12 2019
How Can I Be A Van Life Nomad?
Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to quit your job, leave your ordinary life behind, and travel? Well, like they say, “anything is possible.” You can travel the country or even a lot of the world and live out of a van! I know it seems like it’s impossible, but it’s really simple.
Some business ideas that allow you to do so could be to create a blog and market it, create a marketing agency, travel agency, and a great one that truly allows you to be free and enjoy your travels to the fullest would be photography or videography. Any of these can be scaled to a massive size with just one laptop, WiFi, and some determination. I know its easy to say, “I don’t or won’t have time to learn all of this, let alone make it happen.” If you are traveling in a van you won’t have as many distractions as you would in an ordinary day in the life. We all have the same 24 hours in a day 7x. That’s a lot of time to learn something new. Other people can do it and are doing it, Why can’t you?
Maybe you’re not into the whole idea of freelancing or entreprenuership. That’s fine too! There are tons of jobs that allow you to work from home. Why not make “home” your van or RV? There are lots of business owners that even pay bonuses to an employee with a “Home office.” Take advantage!
Life is too short to work more than half of your life away. You should strive for something bigger and better! Create a life where you are free! These work from home jobs are mostly choose your own hours, and if you choose to be a freelancer, you are the boss! Society is taught to go to school, get a job and work a 9-5 for the rest of your life, until one day you may be fortunate enough to retire and then if you are still in good health, and can afford it, then you can be free. At this point in life you will have a stack of excuses why you can’t do this. Family, funds, health, etc. Even though there is no excuse for living the life you desire, unfortunately, society says otherwise.
Make sure whatever you do is something you truly enjoy. Maybe you aren’t cut out for life on the road and that’s fine! Still though, if you are spending more than half of your life doing something you dread every day, odds are you aren’t living your best life.
There is no time like the present. If you have an idea, do it! Live your dreams. Live your best life, and don’t let anyone else influence your dreams. Remember this is your life, make it the best one. You never know what tomorrow brings, and you never know if you will even make it to tomorrow let alone retirement, so live every single day like your last. Follow your dreams!
Where can I camp when living on the road? – Van Life
- Rest Areas and Truck Stops. – Lots of truck stops have showers too which you do have to pay about $12/shower.
- Sealth Camping (Camping discretely in a parking lot or neighborhood) – look for other cars parked overnight to stay hidden in plain sight.
- BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and USFS (United States Forest Service) – allows boondocking which is the act of remotely camping outside developed campgrounds.
- Make friends along the way or if you know friends in different areas, crash with them for a night or two.
What to do if you get that dreaded midnight knock:
- Stay calm and be honest. For the most part the officer or security gaurd is not looking for any trouble. He or she is just doing their job.
- If they ask to search, remember as long as you are on U.S. soil, you have the right to decline.
- If you are sure you are parked legally, you may want to keep quiet and play it out. Just remember to keep your doors locked.
What happens if I break down far from a service area?
- It is always a good idea to have your tools ready and spare parts.
- Make sure you have your manual handy and try to troubleshoot.
- Stay calm. Don’t freak out, and you should be able to get through it.
- Always make sure your fluids are filled to the required amount by checking them regularly.
- Make sure you have good tires and a good spare that is filled to the proper PSI.
Where can I get Wifi?
- Panera Bread
- Public WiFi areas and Parks
- Phone hotspot or WiFi hotspot, which you can purchase from your phone provider. You’ll pay around $200 for the device itself (or cheaper with a two-year contract, but then you are locked into paying a monthly fee for that time period)
May 10 2019
Where in NC Can You Mountain Bike When It’s Raining?
We want to ride, but it’s going to rain all weekend!
Pisgah National forest doesn’t care if its rainy, sunny, or snowy. We’re still gonna send it, and you should too! Mountain biking is a fun sport that should be enjoyed in all types of weather.
Remember as a kid, playing in the mud? Well, now you can do it on a bike! Slipping and sliding through the chunk, splashing through the puddles just barely hangin’ on having a blast. What’s better than that? A sunny day? Nahh… its all on how you look at it. If you look at a rainy day thinking that you can’t ride or do anything outdoors, that’s exactly what the day will give you. If you look at it with a positive outlook though, can make it a day filled with fun and excitement!
To me, a rainy day is just as good if not better than a sunny day. Something about splashing through puddles, sliding through the mud, and getting filthy produces nothing but smiles and pure joy. When the adventure crew is out playing in the rain and mud, you can find us on our bikes in Pisgah giggling and smiling until our cheek muscles hurt.
Pisgah is located in the mountains of Western North Carolina and offers some of the gnarliest riding on the East Coast. Most of Pisgah is not a place for beginners but is a nice thrill if you know what you’re doing. With elevations over six thousand feet, you could say there is some elevation change. I will say if you like to shred a good downhill, this is the place. These runs seem to be never ending with nothing but smiles the whole way down.
It is becoming more and more of a struggle to find places to ride in the rain or even after it rains. Lots of open trails today seem to be so well manicured that they don’t allow you to ride them during or after the rain. This is great, but it is always a blast to ride some raw chunk, washouts, and natural terrain. Pisgah provides this for us and that is why it’s one of our favorites to ride. Our favorite thing actually is to ride all day, and then backpack the falls.
Every day has the potential to be a great day. It all depends on what you make of it! – Say Adventurous.
Apr 24 2019
Tuck Fest 2019
In March, we wrote to you about North Carolina’s US National Whitewater Center. Knowing how the Tuck Fest event turned out last year, we had to get this information out to you. It was an amazing time for everyone involved. If you are in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, plan ahead because this event is one that you don’t want to miss.
Located in Charlotte North Carolina, the creatively designed USNWC ignites a love for outdoor adventure for both family as well as competitive sport enthusiasts. This weekend, the USNWC will be hosting its annual Tuck Fest. From April 25-28, 2019, guests may observe or participate in competitions or clinics. Vendors will line the walkway surrounding the whitewater events while excitement fills the air. The Tuck Fest celebrates the joy of the outdoors in this four-day, fun-filled event.
Be sure to plan ahead as the schedule of events is complete. From marathon and mountain bike races to kayak and raft races, opportunities to challenge your skills are plenty. As many will be attending, all athletes are encouraged to register early online. If clinics are your interest, the list abounds for learning as well. Rock climbing, belaying, kayak polo and fishing, trail running, yoga and more are scheduled for clinics. There will even be a class on Wildlife Rescue! Each day packs a full schedule of events.
Visitors don’t need to participate in competitions or clinics to enjoy the experience. The atmosphere created at Tuck Fest alone with music, food, family and friends is a win-win for all.
Inclusive Excursions will be one of the many outdoor industry vendors featured at Tuck Fest. Keep your eye out for our tent and stop by. We are looking forward to meeting you all. We ar also raffling off a Strider Bike so the little ones can start riding early! All proceeds will be donated to the Altivas Canas Children’s Project in Peru. Mentionthis blog and get a 10% discount on apparel!Come out and enjoy the event.
Fantastic Negrito is the incarnation of a musician who is reborn. In fact, the name Fantastic Negrito represents his third rebirth, literally coming back from death this time. The narrative on this man is as important as the sound, because the narrative is the sound. Songs born from a long hard life channeled through black roots music. Slide guitar, drums, piano. Urgent, desperate, edgy. Fantastic Negrito is the story of a man who struggled to “make it”, who “got it”, who lost it all, and somehow managed to find his way back. These are singular songs by a true musician who writes and produces his own work. His songs are his fuel as he continues on the third comeback of his life, at a time when our world is in upheaval.
The Suitcase Junket
The latest album from The Suitcase Junket, Mean Dog, Trampoline is populated by characters in various states of reverie: leaning on jukeboxes, loitering on dance floors, lying on the bottoms of empty swimming pools in the sun. Despite being deeply attuned to the chaos of the world, singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist Matt Lorenz imbues those moments with joyful wonder, an endless infatuation with life’s most subtle mysteries. And as its songs alight on everything from Joan Jett to moonshine to runaway kites, Mean Dog, Trampoline makes an undeniable case for infinite curiosity as a potent antidote to jadedness and despair.
J. Roddy Walston and the Business
Heading into Destroyers of the Soft Life, the fourth LP by J. Roddy Walston and The Business, JRWATB pursued a brighter, more nuanced sound that teased out the band’s latent pop sensibilities without skimping on energy or attitude. As you press play on the opening track “You Know Me Better”, anthemic guitars scream out of buoyant, hooky lyrics as Walston’s chugging piano supplies a persistent heartbeat. The “bar band” sound of the past has been replaced by an aspirational, booming cacophony that could fill stadiums.
Instead of the raucous bombast JRWATB manifested on their breakout hit album Essential Tremors, the band’s leader had certain rules he was determined to follow on Destroyers of the Soft Life. One was:“Speak/sing clearly, no hiding behind mumbles.” Another was, “D.I.Y. but hi-fi —record ourselves as much as possible but have it sound amazing and full.” The final, most important, rule was, “Nostalgia is a cancer —acknowledge that you are in the present.”
The Marcus King Band
Marcus King has been writing songs, performing onstage for half his lifetime, and fronting his own groups for nearly a decade. Since he was a teenager, he’s been trading licks with famous fans and mentors, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, whenever their paths have crossed. Haynes was so blown away by the then-19-year-old’s artistic precocity that he signed King to his Evil Teen label, released the band’s debut album, Soul Insight, in 2015 and produced the band’s self-titled follow-up a year later.
“Forgive me for I have sinned,” Marcus King implores, on the gorgeous, contemplative “Confessions,” an essential track from The Marcus King Band’s third full-length album, Carolina Confessions. “The pain that I put you through is killing me inside/Thought if I could make you leave/Then you would see/I ain’t worth a damn anyway.” This highly revealing moment from the multi-talented, confident 22-year old artist gets to the heart of the album’s fundamental themes, guilt and the quest for absolution. Carolina Confessions is confirmation of a preternaturally mature artist coming into his own; it’s a sprawling, scintillating work that affirms King as one of today’s most engaging, singular songwriters. He may be young, but King’s eloquent songs, expressive guitar playing, and ecstatically soulful singing mark this gifted, thoughtful young prodigy as a force to be reckoned with.
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers have moved from getting people’s attention to commanding it. Years–with its sharpened songwriting, unique perspective, deepened sound and roll-up-your-sleeves attitude–will grab you by the collar and put a defiant finger to your chest. It is resolute, blunt, and unflinching. Inspired by artists such as the Sex Pistols, Elliott Smith and Hank Williams, Sarah sings with confidence, control, and, at times, a hint of menace. The Disarmers match her on every track, coloring the tales of resilience and empathy with as much urgency as ever as well as a broader sonic sweep.
Like many great Southern storytellers, singer-songwriter Tyler Childers has fallen in love with a place. The people, landmarks and legendary moments from his childhood home of Lawrence County, Kentucky, populate the 10 songs in his formidable debut, Purgatory, an album that’s simultaneously modern and as ancient as the Appalachian Mountains in which events unfold. “I was writing an album about being in the mountains,” Childers said. “I wanted it to have that gritty mountain sound. But at the same time, I wanted a more modern version of it that a younger generation can listen to — the people I grew up with, something I’d want to listen to.”
Caamp is a folk trio from Ohio, making beautiful noise. Started by boyhood friends Evan Westfall and Taylor Meier, Caamp came to life in Athens, Ohio. Taylor began penning and playing original songs at coffee shops around Athens in 2013. Evan moved down a couple of years later and together in a hazy attic, enjoying light beers, they would find the heartfelt sound that became Caamp. Since independently releasing their self-titled first record in 2016, they have climbed Spotify charts, headlined the US, purchased denim jackets and added a bass-playing buddy, Matt Vinson – who also enjoys light beers and denim. With their sophomore album Boys on the horizon, the Ohioan folk trio have high hopes and no reservations.
With gritty vocals over rock riffs and horns, The Commonheart delivers an emotion-packed, soulful sound that lights up any stage. Frontman Clinton Clegg is a powerhouse who commands full attention with his limitless onstage energy and vocal range. The new album Grown is a remarkable display of each member’s talent interlacing heavy blues, soul, and gospel influence across trumpet, saxophone, keys, guitar, and singers. The Commonheart’s sound is a true testament to the past while completely holding its own as one of today’s most promising acts.
Mo Lowda & The Humble
Known for their progressive song writing and energetic live performances, Mo Lowda & The Humble’s beginnings were in the beer-soaked basements of Philadelphia. Following the release of their first full length album in 2013, the trio, consisting of Jordan Caiola, Shane Woods, and Nate Matulis began playing venues throughout the city. After experiencing the high of multiple sold out hometown shows, Mo Lowda took their act on the road and began consistently touring the country. Their 2016 sophomore release, Act Accordingly, was a short and sweet embodiment of the band’s natural progression; refining their already formidable sound. Following that release, Jeff Lucci stepped in as the new bassist, bringing his unique songwriting and tasteful use of effects pedals into the mix.
A grassroots following, now hundreds of thousands deep, has turned to Sean for a kind of musical exploration for almost 20 years. Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Meat Loaf, Jake Owen, Brothers Osborne, Christina Aguilera, Buddy Miller and more have all recorded his songs––a dizzying list that spans not just styles, but generations. Success shows no sign of slowing: Sean earned his first no. 1 single on country charts in early 2018 with breakout artist Brett Young’s delivery of “Mercy,” which the two co-wrote. As a performer, Sean packs listening rooms and quiets unruly bar crowds. His sound––a warm tenor painting vivid stories over acoustic guitar often cushioned by keys or other strings––has prompted a diverse range of music scenes from the storied Boston folk community to Texas’s defiantly self-sovereign camp to warmly claim Sean as one of their own.
“My payoff is just making the music,” Sean says, then smiles. “Everything else is bonus.”
At 34 year-old, Sean has the catalog of artists twice his age. He released his first album at just 15, and until his acclaimed eponymous record in 2015, he did it all independently. “Bootstrapping your own career, you get to build at an organic pace that allows you to grow with your music,” he says. “It teaches you how most musicians do it. Overnight success is not the rule––it’s the exception. Most of us are doing it the other way.”
The Milk Carton Kids
The Milk Carton Kids’ All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do waltzes into disaster and its aftermath. Though they didn’t approach the new album conceptually, a theme of shattered realities began to emerge out of the songs that sparked to life. Recent events provided a bruising background for the record, yet the project is somehow bigger than any personal grief. Two-part harmonies ride acoustic guitars high above the haunting landscape created by the presence of the band, as if Americana went searching for a lost America.
Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
Souvenirs. Drew Holcomb has collected many of them. A road warrior for more than a decade, he’s spent his adulthood onstage and on the road, traveling from place to place with a catalog of vibrant, honest songs that explore the full range of American roots music. He turned a new corner with 2017’s Souvenir, a highly-collaborative album that finds Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors focusing on the things that truly stick with you — including family and friends, music and memories, people and places — in a fast-moving world.
Liz Cooper & The Stampede
“It started with golf clubs and country clubs, but now it’s all rock clubs”, Liz says, giggling. She spent the majority of her life developing her golf skills, only to drop her college scholarship to move to Nashville and pursue music. “Writing songs and playing the guitar came as naturally to me as golf did. But music tickled my brain in a way nothing else ever could.”
But, Liz didn’t know a soul in Nashville when she moved. So, she went and got a job at a familiar place: a country club. “Liz may not have known anyone when she moved here,” says the Stampede low-end provider Grant. “But now, I feel like she knows pretty much every person she walks past. She just doesn’t stop smiling, and people don’t stop smiling back.” Coincidentally — or not so coincidentally cuz, well, Nashville — some fellow co-workers at the country club also had a band. They called themselves Future Thieves, and they offered to record Liz’s first EP, Monsters. After that, Liz began writing songs as frequently as she smiles. She formed a band with Ky Baker on drums and Grant Prettyman on the weird long guitar, and they recorded the Live at the Silent Planet EP. And now, there’s enough new songs to record a full-length album. “The record we’re working on now is a combination of Liz’s darkly-lit, reclusive songwriting habits, and Grant and I’s Rolling Rock induced rock and roll” chimes Ky. “It’s about bringing our different styles together to create something that makes us all question what kind of music we even like anyways.”
For more information about daily schedules, race registration or to purchase tickets, go to www.tuckfest.usnwc.org.
Oct 24 2018
Travel via Railroad
If you look back in time, the railroad was once the main source of transportation, but time has brought much change. Replaced with planes, cars, and buses, the railroad has since become more associated with moving freight than people. Most may be unaware though, but traveling by railroad is still a great mode of transportation, and actually, it is one of the best ways to see the country.
There are many railroads that are specifically designed for explorers to experience scenery that is otherwise inaccessible. Traveling by train allows a totally new perspective, providing views that those who choose cars, buses, or planes will never get to experience. Keep your options of travel open, and consider taking your next adventure by train.
Fall is here, and what better way could there be to take in all the foliage. Any time of the year though, the railroad offers once in a lifetime experiences. From sea to shining sea, coast to coast, the options are many. Spectacular views will take your breath away whether in West Virginia, the Smoky Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, Banff, America’s Heartland, the Colorado River Valley, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore or Niagara Falls. There is even a Polar Express in Ontario.
Contact your adventure agent to help narrow down and personalize your railroad experience. Book early for the best dates. You will be able to experience pristine forests, untamed rivers, and snow-capped mountains. Having so many route options, it sure makes it a hard choice, but the railroad is considered to be one of the best ways to soak it all in. Make sure you get the chance to do so.
Oct 17 2018
Outdoor Market at the USNWC
This weekend the USNWC kicks off its Outdoor Market! With so much to do at this great facility, it can be overwhelming to choose where to start. When the USNWC puts on an event, you can be ready sure there will be tons of activities for you to join. Luckily for you, they have everything scheduled so you can participate in a bit of everything! If you like adventure, this is the place for you. You’ve gotta come hang out with us and check out all the festivities!
Friday October 19: 2:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Saturday October 20: 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday October 21: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Outdoor Market offers a unique setting for guests to get hands-on experience with gear from top brands in the outdoor industry. Over three days, this festival offers guests the opportunity to demo bikes, trail running shoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, climbing gear and more throughout the 1,300 acre facility at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. During the festival, guests can also participate in group rides, runs, and paddles, as well as yoga practices and educational, participatory, and tech clinics. Opportunities to unwind from the festival’s active nature include live music, craft beer, food, and outdoor films.
As with all USNWC Festivals, Outdoor Market is open to the public and does not require tickets. Majority of the clinics and workshops are free to participate in, however, a select few have spatial limitations or registration requirements. See each activity for specific details.
Outdoor Market provides you with a unique opportunity to demo the latest and greatest outdoor gear. Exhibitors will be set up throughout the facility ready for you to give a good taste of their newest products on the market. Whether you want to try out a new mountain bike, pair of climbing shoes, trail runners, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard… it can all be done at the Outdoor Market. These opportunities are available to entry level enthusiasts and experts alike. Exhibitors include industry leaders such as Specialized, Niner, Black Diamond, Liquidlogic, Salomon, Inov-8, Strider, Hala Gear, La Sportiva, and more.
Sep 20 2018
If today were your last day, would there be any regret?
If you had one last day on Earth, what would you do; where would you go? Tomorrow is not always a guarantee. Don’t wait until it’s too late to check off your list of travels and adventures. Start planning your bucket list today!
Remember the movie The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman? Great movie…definitely worth seeing. The story though is one we can all relate to…having a bucket list of our own.
Do you have a Bucket List? Have you thought about what should be included on that list? Ideas may range from laughing until you cry to pushing your limits beyond what you thought possible. Bucket Lists will be individualized to each person, but the bottom line is that your list will have challenges to conquer.
In the movie, the two stars brainstorm and write their lists. That’s the best way to start a list of your own…just brainstorm. Outside of careers, what life experiences have you dreamed of accomplishing? Were they to go on a cruise to the Bahamas or to ride the wild rapids in Colorado? Were they to go on an African Safari or climb the pyramids in Mexico? Were they to explore the Amazon or ride a hot air balloon? Maybe your list includes trekking Machu Picchu or simply hiking to some waterfalls in Western North Carolina.
Your bucket list should include all the places you’ve wanted to see and things you’d like to do. Inspire yourself. Be specific and hold yourself accountable, so that it’s not just a dream. Maybe get yourself an accountability partner as they did in the movie. This makes the possibility of you completing your list increase dramatically.
For those of us who don’t take the time to write a Bucket List, or shall we say a list of goals we want to accomplish, too often our days go by like leaves in the wind with no destination. The leaves land somewhere, but wouldn’t it be better to land with a plan. We can’t hit a target that we don’t have! Bucket Lists are goals for a better future. Having a Bucket List reminds us of what is important in our lives and helps us to maximize quality of life. Work to live, don’t live to work.
To get you started, answer these questions:
- What countries have you wanted to see?
- What accomplishments have you wanted to achieve?
- What physical challenges have you wanted to overcome?
- What experiences have you dreamed of pursuing?
- What activities have you wanted to try?
- What is it that intrigues you? …inspires you?
- What pushes your limits and puts you outside your comfort zone?
- Answer these questions on your own….just start writing ideas to your list.
Try not to pass this blog by, and continue on to scroll through social media. Grab a pen, and start jotting your list. You will thank us in the future.
A Bucket List is customized to you and shouldn’t be limited to a certain age. Begin your list now so that you can reach the goals you deserve. Be inspired. Make it happen today.
Sep 13 2018
What is the best camera for adventure travel?
Here are a few of the best cameras for adventure travel:
There are so many amazing cameras out there today, how do you choose the right one?
- And of course, settings
If you travel frequently, you probably want to invest in a nice camera. The cameras these days are unreal! They shoot amazing quality without the bulk you used to have to lug around. Adventure Travel usually requires a good bit of physical activity. The last thing you want on a vacation is to be limited because of your camera. Slide it in your pocket and go!
These cameras aren’t much bigger than the average point and shoot, except they offer huge 20x or 30x zoom lenses.
Here are the top 10 cameras to travel with for 2018….
#10: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
- In-body 5-axis image stabilization for blur-free stills and smooth 4K video
- 16 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor and TruePic VIII Image Processor
- 4K 30P video plus HD 120 frames per second high-speed video
- Timeless, easy to use body design. Compact & lightweight with 2 dials, arrow pad and a Shortcut button
- 3.0″ tilting LCD monitor with intuitive touch screen operation and touch AF one step shutter release
- Cost $699 with carrying bag
#9: Nikon D3400
- SnapBridge Bluetooth Connectivity
- 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor
- EXPEED 4 Image Processor
- No Optical Low-Pass Filter. Bluetooth Specification Version 4.1. Wi-Fi Functionality-Eye-Fi Compatible
- Native ISO 100-25600; 5 fps Shooting. Compatability information: C firmware v. 1.10 and later ( released August 31, 2016 )
- Average cost: $446.95
#8: Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV
- World’s Fastest AF acquisition speed of 0.03 sec. Optical image stabilisation technology developed by Sony is valuable for handheld still and movie shooting, especially in low light or at the ultra-telephoto end of the zoom range up to 600 mm
- 315 phase-detection AF points covering Approx. 65% of the frame. Light Metering Mode- Multi Pattern, Centre Weighted, Spot (Standard/Large), Entire Screen Avg, Highlight
- ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* 24-600mm3 f.2.4-F4 ultra-zoom Lens
- 20.1MP 1″ back Illuminated Exmor RS stacked CMOS sensor w/ DRAM. Dimensions (W x H x D) (CIPA)-5 1/4 x 3 3/4 x 5 3/4 inches, 5 1/4 x 3 3/4 x 5 1/8 inches (from front of lens to monitor). Weight-2 pounds 6.7 ounce(Battery and SDXC Card included)/ Approx. 2 pounds 5.1 ounce) (Body Only)
- 24 Fps4 continuous shooting up to 249 Frames5 with AF/AE tracking
- Average price – $1698
#7: Canon PowerShot SX730 HS
- 40x optical zoom with zoom framing assist
- 20.3 Megapixel^ CMOS sensor
- Digi 6 image processor
- Average cost $379
#6: Panasonic Lumix ZS70 / TZ90
- 20.3 Megapixel MOS sensor plus 30x Leica DC VARIO-ELMAR Lens (24-720mm), plus 5-axis Hybrid o.I.S. (Optical image stabilizer).
- 0.2-Inch 1, 166k-dot EVF (electronic view Finder) with eye-sensor for easier viewing under sunny outdoor conditions. Shutter Speed [Still Image]: Artistic Nightscape (Approx. 30 sec)
- 4K QFHD video recording (3840×2160), plus exclusive LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus with internal Focus Stacking feature.
- Lens barrel mounted control ring enables quick, intuitive operation of important functions.AC/USB travel charging port
- Wi-Fi plus a 180 degree front flip-up touch feature-enabled screen simplifies selfie photography, and framing for unusual perspectives.
- Average cost $397
#5: Sony Cyber-shot HX90V
- LCD Screen Protector 3 Pack, Ultra-Compact Digital Camera Deluxe Carrying Case
- 64GB SDXC Class 10 UHS-1 R40 Memory Card, Hi-Speed SD USB 2.0 Card Reader
- Flexible Mini Table-top Tripod, NP-BX1 1600MAH Battery Pack
- High Speed micro-HDMI to HDMI A/V Cable – 6 Feet, Micro Fiber Cloth
- Average cost $269.91
#4: Panasonic Lumix ZS50 / TZ70
- LUMIX 30X Travel Zoom Camera with Eye Viewfinder
- Enhanced low-light sensitivity for improved sharpness even without a flash
- Built-in eye viewfinder eliminates outdoor glare on sunny days
- Intelligent Zoom 60x
- Lens:12 elements in 9 groups
- Average cost $199
#3: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VI
- 24-200mm F2.8-F4.5 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens
- World’s fastest (0.03 sec) hybrid AF system (contrast + phase)
- Battery life:Up to 330 shots / 165 minutes
- In-the-box: Rechargeable Battery Pack NP-BX1, AC Adaptor, Micro USB cable, Wrist Strap, Strap Adapter
- Average cost $1,198
#2: Panasonic Lumix ZS100 / TZ100
- Large 1, 20 Megapixel sensor delivers brighter, more colorful photos with fewer image artifacts
- 10x (25-250mm) LEICA DC Lens optical zoom performance with a wide F/2.8-5.9 aperture for impressive background defocus effects
- 4K Ultra HD video recording plus exclusive LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus photo capture features
- Eye-level Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) and touch-enabled LCD for a wider viewing experience
- Lens-mounted control ring brings DSLR-like exposure control to a compact point-and-shoot camera body
- Average cost $547.99
#1: Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200
- [Larger 1 Inch Sensor] 20.1 Megapixels large sensor for brighter and more colorful photos (12800 Max ISO).
- [LEICA DC 15x Lens] Leading class optical zoom performance with a bright F3.3 – 6.4 aperture for soft defocus background effects. (24-360mm, 5 Axis Hybrid O.I.S.+)
- [Creative Control] Scene modes, filter modes, adds creativity while traditional aperture and shutter priority modes allow for background defocus or eliminate sports motion blur.
- [4K Features] 4K Video 30p, 4K PHOTO, and 4K Live Crop turn 4K frame capture into photography.
- [Electronic Viewfinder] plus a touch-enabled LCD for greater control and easier image viewing.
- Average cost $797.99
Sep 06 2018
Why is adventure travel the new trend?
Adventure travel has been booming these past few years!
According to Russell Walters, regional director for the ATTA, Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travel has been steadily growing. In 2009, it was an $89 billion industry, and in 2017, it was a $683 billion industry (Travel Weekly June 2018). People are only beginning to tap into all the unexplored destinations. What’s stopping you?
Adventure travel is a specialty and a niche market. With adventure taking over the market, many travel agents are hopping on the train. This is a red flag because the agent might not specialize in Adventure Travel, but still try to sell it. Not every travel agent can go out and say they are an Adventure Travel Expert. Sure, they might get you there, and they might send you on an adventure, but it most likely isn’t going to be the adventure that you would want. It’s like a plumber saying he can pave your driveway. Maybe he can do it, but will it be the best driveway you’ve ever seen? Probably not. This is why you want to use an adventure specialist or expert to send you on the adventure every enthusiast is chasing after.
A good adventure expert knows all the ins and outs all over the world. Rather than trying to find the guides yourself or using a basic travel site, it makes it easier for the consumer. When booking your trip, it’s important that your agent gets to know your hobbies, skill set, and destination. A good agent will customize and tailor your trip to suit your individual style.
What do you enjoy doing? Do you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, hiking, camping, climbing, whitewater rafting/kayaking, or a combination? Whatever your idea of adventure may be, you should consult with an Adventure Agent to see what destination is right for you. If you are a client looking to learn, or if you are an experienced client who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro or even Everest, odds are an adventure expert can still supply you with a new way to find that adrenaline pumping thrill that the adventure traveler seeks.
Adventure is limited only to the individual. The most important consideration is how YOU describe adventure. Adventure Travel may be a cultural exchange, interaction with nature, physical activity, risk or thrill. Whether it’s off-roading through the desert in Utah, splashing down rivers in Patagonia, Mountain biking in Peru, taking a cruise through Alaska, taking a safari ride through South Africa, or everything in between; Adventure Travel is in. People like to have fun, and this is the most exhilarating way to do so. Experience the new way of travel.
Aug 09 2018
One of the most popular ski and snowboard resorts in the east coast is Killington, located in central Vermont. Killington has 155 trails, 21 lifts, and 1,509 acres. With the highest vertical drop at 3,050 feet, it has become known as the “Beast of the East.”
Trails range from beginner to expert with its double black diamond mogul trail Outer Limits to Juggernaut–a 6.2 mile beginner run, the longest trail on the east coast. They haven’t overlooked the terrain parks either. With five separate parks throughout the mountain, you’ll be sure to get your money’s worth. Killington also has one of the east coast’s largest half pipes on Bear Mountain.
Killington welcomes all. Killington has good vibes all throughout the mountain. Vermont, in general, is known for its welcoming and friendly demographics. Killington – where skiers and snowboarders can be friends. With a mountain so big, you don’t have to worry about riding down the wrong trail and accidentally getting in the way at the terrain park. This is a mountain where everyone gets along. Ski together in the day, grab some drinks together at night. There is more than enough trails to go around. They don’t call Killington The Beast of the East for nothing!
Killington offers some of the best riding for all skill levels, but if you like the terrain park, make sure you hit up The Stash. The Stash is an all wood park with natural features through the glades. If you’re like me and thought skiing through the trees couldn’t get any more fun, think again! Now you can shred the terrain park and the glades at the same time!!! In my opinion, this is without a doubt one of the most fun parks in the nation.
Click HERE to view ski/stay packages.
This premier ski resort in Southern Vermont has much to offer skiers and snowboarders, but it also serves as a great location for some of the gnarliest downhill mountain biking. The Fox US Open is just one of the events to be held there this summer. Nearby hiking and running on the Appalachian and Long Trails through old-growth hardwoods also provide year-round adventures. Killington is also home to some of the best fly fishing, kayaking, and backpacking.
What are you waiting for? Get out there and play! With so many activities available, Killington is for sure one of our top pick destinations for east coast adventurers. Killington Vermont is ranked one of the top destinations to travel in the east for outdoor recreation.