Category Archives: Outdoor

LET THE SKIS DO THE TURNING !

By Marty Heckleman, Mr. SkiTips

From SkiTips.com

All the new shaped skis are designed to turn when you put them on their edges and apply some pressure to the skis. Thus to turn these skis, all you need to do is roll your feet and ankles in the direction that you want to turn. By varying the amount of edging and the amount of pressure that you apply to the skis, you can determine how sharp a turn you make. The more the skis are edged and the harder you press on the skis, the tighter will be the radius of the turn (that is, a sharper turn). Conversely, the less the skis are edged, i.e., the flatter the skis, and the less hard that you press, the turn will have a larger radius (a bigger turn).

These two variables, ‘edging’ and ‘pressure’ are essentially what put you in control of your skis, so it would be useful to consciously play around with different combinations while practicing turns and noting what happens each time.

Skiing Exercise:

Turning the skis uphill to a stop

Here is a good exercise to start with to get the feeling of how easily your skis will turn when you roll your feet and ankles.

32C

On an easy intermediate slope, stand with your skis on a shallow traverse track. Be in a good traverse position with your skis spaced apart and very slightly edged (Picture 32C).

'

Start to traverse across the slope and gather some speed (pictures 32D).

32E

When you are ready to turn, simply roll your feet and ankles up the hill and hold the ski edges gripping in the snow (picture 32E).

The skis will turn up the hill to a stop (picture 32F).

32F

Repeat the same exercise and this time, when you roll your feet and ankles, hold them for a count of three and then roll them back to their original traverse position and glide again. Then roll them up the hill again. Try to notice how the skis turn when you roll your feet and ankles.

Special Tip: Don’t try to turn the skis by turning your feet in the direction of the turn! Be patient and try to feel yourself ‘riding’ on the edges of the skis as they turn. (The skis turn when you put them on their edges because of their shape and design).

ABOUT Martin Heckelman
Martin Heckelman is the author of the books “The New Guide to Skiing,” “The Hamlyn Guide to Skiing,” and “Step by Step Skiing Skills,” as well as the “SkiTips” video and DVD series, available on his site SkiTips.com, and the “SkiTips” Apps series.  Martin is based in Val d’Isere, France, one of the world’s finest ski resorts.

Meet Skiiers on Zenergo

Zenergo is a free activities-focused social manager for active adults networking through their real-life interests. On Zenergo you can create activities, groups and events around Skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports, as well as other sports and fitness activities, and health, social, group, family, civic, and hobbyist activities. Please visit the site at http://www.zenergo.com to learn how more about how Zenergo can Activate Your Life.

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Getting Started as a Youth Soccer Coach

By Kory Barrett

From Soccer For Coaches 

Congratulations on volunteering as a youth soccer coach! Though you may be a bit nervous at first and unsure of what you’ve gotten yourself into, you’ll soon find it to be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience.

The first thing to do is relax, take a deep breath, and tell yourself you can become a great soccer coach. This site is here to help, and this section is where to start. The links to the left will guide you through the following:

I. Coaching Philosophy – Keep the critical goals in mind: for your kids to have fun, develop their soccer skills, and want to come back next season! Everything else will fall in place if you keep your focus on these three goals.

II. Suggested Equipment – As a coach there are a few things you’ll need to run effective practices. Here is a list of items I recommend, along with links of where you can purchase them. Note – I am not trying to sell you anything, and am proud to offer all the information on this site completely for free. However, if you purchase these items by clicking on the links you’ll find, I do get a “commission” from the vendor. This is an easy way for you to help support this website, which I greatly appreciate!

III. Organizing the Season – By planning ahead and taking a little time to organize yourself and your team before that first practice, you’ll give yourself a huge boost towards a successful season. This page helps identify what you need to do first.

IV. Running Practices – Practice can be the toughest part of your job, but with a bit of forethought, they are a lot of fun for everyone. Here you’ll find the issues to consider, as well as a “structure” or “itinerary” for your practices that works really well.

V. Game Day – The culmination of your and your players’ hard work. Game Day is a ton of fun, but there are some things for you to consider. Find these explained here.

Already you may be feeling a bit more at ease by breaking down your task at hand into these five easy sections. Coaching does take a little time to get used to, but after reading the pages listed above, you’ll soon find yourself feeling really confident.

ABOUT
Kory Barrett, licensed coach (NSCAA and U.S. Soccer), currently coaching U11, U9, and U4 teams.

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ZENERGO FOR YOUTH COACHES

Zenergo is a free activities-focused social manager for active adults networking through their real-life interests. On Zenergo you can create activities, groups and events around Soccer and other sports and fitness activities — as well as health, social, group, family, civic, and hobbyist activities.

Zenergo’s Group and Event features, with full privacy levels and the ability to create subgroups, make it a good place to organize teams and leagues, have coach discussions, and manage relations with team parents.  Please visit the site at http://www.zenergo.com to learn more. Zenergo is free to use.

Amazing Camping Tips & Tricks

 

From Famly Tent Camping.com

Want to make the next camping trip really enjoyable and impress your camp mates with your incredible knowledge of outdoor tricks? Here are some amazing snippets of useful tips that will make them wonder how you acquired such information. Everything from starting a fire easily to cleaning a sooty pot. A warning though;.you have to swear to keep these things secret. Like a magician, you never reveal your sources.

  • Get a campfire started easily by preparing at home. An old egg carton and dryer lint is all you need. Stuff the egg carton full of dryer lint and carry it with you to your campsite. Place it under some dry boughs,light it and presto.
  • Rub liquid soap on the outside of pots and pans. The black soot will come right off after cooking over an open fire.
  • Keep the bottom of your pots that you use over the open fire clean by wrapping them in tinfoil.
  • Spray flies, wasps or bees with hairspray and watch them head for cover
  • Spray your garbage and trash with ammonia to keep animals away.
  • Sleep naked in your sleeping bag. It will reflect your body heat back to you.
  • Use baking soda to rid your clothes and hands of cooking odors so the bears won’t smell food on you.
  •  Take some warmth from the campfire or stove to bed. Keep a pot of hot water simmering on the campfire and when you turn in fill up water bottles and place them in your sleeping bag.
  • Buy orange juice in plastic bags and freeze it so it can be used instead of ice in the cooler. Then,when it thaws out you have refreshing cold juice for later.
  • Take a headlamp, instead of a flashlight,so your hands are free.
  •  When finished eating an orange, wipe exposed skin with the inside of the peel. Insects will stay far away from you.
  • To cut down on cooking time of baked potatoes, start the potatoes in your microwave and bake till half done before you leave. Wrap them in aluminum foil and toss in the cooler until you need them.
  • Old shower curtains make great ground tarps to pitch your tent on.
  • Waterproof matches by dipping them in nail polish.
  • Waterproof matches by dipping in melted paraffin.
  • Keep your waterproof matches in old prescription bottles.
  • To Dry wet socks, sleep with them around your middle. Your body heat during the night and your warm sleeping bag will dry them by morning.
  • Whenever you go hiking always have a watch, a whistle, a cell phone, a flashlight and a knife with you in case of emergency.
  • Bottles with sticky contents (corn syrup, honey, maple syrup) can get harder to open so before using the bottle for the first time, wipe the threads with a light coating of cooking oil. The lid will never stick and won’t be difficult to open or you can wrap a small bit of plastic over the bottle opening after you open it.
  • To keep warmer at night wear a hat to sleep in. You lose 80% of your heat heat through your head.
  • Use glow sticks for a bit of soft light at night.
  • To hang a lantern, get those lightweight metal rods that are used for hanging plants and stick them in the ground.
  • Boil water in a plastic drink bottle-yes plastic Make sure its completely filled and the stopper is off and place it on the grill over the fire. It won’t melt.
  • Make toast with a stick. Find a branch with a Y-fork in it,cut it to a length that is safe to use from the fire, and place your slice of bread on it. Hold it over the fire but not directly in the fire and make golden brown toast.

By now you have really impressed everyone and they’ll surely invite you next time.

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Camping with ZENERGO

Zenergo is a free activities-focused social manager for active adults networking through their real-life interests. On Zenergo you can create activities, groups and events around such outdoor activities as Camping, Hiking, Backpacking, and Skiing — as well as health, social, group, family, civic, and hobbyist activities. Please visit the site at http://www.zenergo.com to learn how more about how Zenergo can Activate Your Life.

How to Start Bird Watching So That You Keep Bird Watching

By Mike Bergin

From “10,000 Birds — Birding, nature, conservaton, and the wide, wide world.

Northern Gannet - Photo by Mike Bergin

Bird watching sounds simple, but for the beginner it’s anything but. Even the most barren habitat shelters enough stealthy, confusing, downright frustrating species to scare off newbies. Birding is exciting and fulfilling enough to sustain a lifetime of interest; but like anything else in life, first impressions are everything. Here are three simple steps to starting bird watching the right way

1. Consult the Calendar

Timing is everything. Unlike most outdoor activities, birding can be a year-round pursuit, but you’ve got to be attuned to the various seasons. If you look for ducks in summer or warblers in winter, you’re very likely to be disappointed. Figure out your quarry before you step out and you’ll have a better chance of finding what you seek.

In the United States, the best bird action pretty much follows this pattern, although your mileage may vary:

  • WINTER – waterfowl, owls, species from colder climes.
  • SPRING – migrants, particularly songbirds.
  • EARLY SUMMER – local breeders.
  • LATE SUMMER – shorebirds.
  • FALL – migrants, particularly raptors and songbirds.

Of course, your calendar may look a bit or a bunch different based on your latitude or longitude. The concept of observing the right birds in season, however, should hold true wherever you find yourself. Every season presents its specialty species in the full flower of their availability, diversity, and beauty.

BONUS TIP: The worst season in which to embark on your career in birding is probably early summer, that hot and humid period between spring and fall migration. Unless you’re a big fan of your local breeding birds, you’ll find that this is the most boring time of the birding year.

Caribbean Dove - Photo by Mike Bergin

2. Go Where the Birders Are

Notice how I didn’t say to go where the birds are. Get serious… birds are everywhere. No, if you want to see the right birds, go where the birders are.

The season should offer enough clues to figure out where avian enthusiasts are gathering. For example, in September on the northeast coast of the United States, you’ll find birders congregating at the shore for the last vestiges of shorebird season, hanging around migrant traps to pick up southbound songbirds, or situated atop mountains to partake in some quality hawkwatch action. Other times of year, you might comb old-growth forests or wetlands or landfills. Look for the folks decked out in earth-toned clothes and high-end optics and once you find them, don’t let go.

The ideal way to connect with bird watchers is to contact your local Audubon chapter or birding club. You may not realize it, but there is an excellent chance that some group in your area has a full slate of organized birding excursions open to non-members. Do yourself a favor and sign up for one of these trips. Not only will you get on the good birds and locate the right habitat, you’ll undoubtedly meet some very kind, very smart individuals. And, as a bonus, the trip leader will probably have an extra pair of binoculars on hand.

White Crowned Sparrow - Photo by Mike Bergin

3. Pay Attention

This final step may be the toughest for those of you who have a hard time coping with inexperience. Only the ignorant expect to hit a hole in one first time out on the links or to throw all strikes as a beginner bowler. Bird watching has a surprisingly steep learning curve. You’ll enjoy your earliest experiences of birding best if you allow the pros to do the heavy lifting for you:

  • Let them find the birds and, more important, identify the birds for you.
  • Be open to their descriptions of field marks, behavior, and habitat.
  • Marvel at how an experienced birder seems to conjure amazing new birds from the very air.
  • Look, listen, and learn.
  • Don’t pretend you know more than you do, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Getting started in bird watching is really as simple as this. If you have even the slightest predilection for nature or outdoor activities, but haven’t yet given birding a go, I challenge you to actually try these three steps for yourself. Once you experience a truly great avian display under the right conditions, be it a stream of raptors winging towards their wintering grounds, a thunderous flock of thousands of cranes, or a fall-out of jewel-toned songbirds where the warblers seem, for a brief time, to absolutely drip from the trees, you’ll be hooked!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Bergin may be a leading authority in the field of college preparation, but he spends an awful lot of time focused on nature! Mike is the founder of the birding blog site 10,000 Birds and of the Nature Blog Network.

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BIRDING ACTIVITIES ON ZENERGO

Zenergo is a free activities-focused social manager for active adults networking through their real-life interests. On Zenergo you can create activities, groups and events around Bird Watching. Please visit the site at http://www.zenergo.com to learn how more about how Zenergo can Activate Your Life.

An Easier Way to Manage Your Running Group

By Mac McCarthy, Zenergo 

Runners in Marathon

Photo by Margan Zajdowicz

Coordinating your running group and keeping track of schedules and members  can get complicated. Emails, phone calls, text messages – and perhaps multiple bookmarks to group sites, picture sites, and each member’s calendar to update.

And things still get lost in the shuffle!

Try this, for a one-stop shop: a new site, Zenergo (pronounced ZEN-ergo) , a “Social Manager” that helps you keep your social and activity life organized, and all in one place.

Zenergo focuses on activities, not chatter — they’ve got 300 of them, including every kind of sport, hobby, craft, and social activity — and of course they have there’s a  Running/Jogging Activity.

The main advantage is that everything is in one spot — the Running/Jogging Activity; you can set up your running Group — it’s free — and running Events (also free). There’s  a calendar for each activity, shared among those you’ve friended on that activity — and a calendar shared among group members.

Zenergo has photo sharing, and also document sharing, like for signup sheets. And of course a chat ‘wall’ — but only for discussions among your activity friends or your activity group — about that group  or activity — not a general chat steam of everything and everybody!

You can bring your whole group on board — sign-up is free and simple. You can also recruit more members if you like — Use Zenergo to find other Zenergo members in your neighborhood who are interested in finding running partners or groups.

Here is an example of what you see when you’re looking for a running partner — they can check off details of their interests, so you know you’re both on the same  page, interests-wise.

An Example of a Zenergo Member's Running/Jogging Activity Page

It’s worth a try! — Free, easy to sign up, no spam, as private as you want to make it (each activity, group, and event has privacy levels right there when you set them up, not hidden somewhere). Take a look!

See you on Zenergo!

Tips for Boating With Rover (or Kitty)

From CaptainWiki.com  Doggie

Two-legged sailors are definitely in the majority, but the four-legged (or more) variety shouldn’t be forgotten.

I’m talking about boating with pets of course. For those that share a passion for both boating and being a pet owner, it would be unthinkable to try to separate the two. So here are a few thoughts on how to make both Rover and Rover’s owner happy boaters.

* Pets aren’t totally different from owners, in that we both like being surrounded by familiar and favorite items. So, bring a few of your pet’s favorite toys, sleeping gear, and food to the boat. Be sure to establish a special place on the boat that belongs to your pet, to help them feel as if they belong.

* Set up a safe area outside of the boat where your pet can go when they don’t need to be on the boat, or if the water is a bit rough and they would feel more comfortable being off the boat.

* A small shelf for your pet’s food dish is a good idea. Elevate it a little off the cabin floor to avoid stubbed toes, and place a lid around the edge to keep the food where it belongs.

* If your cat’s a little clumsy, and there’s a chance she could go overboard, she’ll need a way to help her get back into the boat. Hanging a piece of carpet over the side should give them something to claw into and climb back on board.

* If your puppy is getting a little odorous on that extended cruise, there are a couple of ways to clean him up. A dingy full of rain water makes a great impromptu bathing tub. Waterless shampoo, grooming powder, or even baking soda sprinkled over their fur and brushed in, will make do when the rainy season has passed you by.

* Pet toileting while boating provides some interesting challenges. Cats with a litter box have a definite advantage over dogs in this category. Just make sure the litter box gets a very frequent cleaning. Apparently some smaller dogs can be trained to use a litter box. That’s got to be kinda funny to see. One rather creative boater suggested using a doormat sized piece of that fake plastic grass for your dog. Simply rinse overboard after use. If all this fails, of course there’s always the “pee dingy express” for a quick ride to shore.

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Bring Your Boat and Your Pets On Board Zenergo!

One great thing about Zenergo.com, the Web site that acts as your social activities manager, is that you can do so many things with it, all in one place.

Boat lovers and pet partners alike can track their activities on the Zenergo Calendar, post pictures and documents, and chat with fellow enthusiasts. You can find others who share your passion for the water — and find those specifically who want to bring their pets on board. Find groups for sailors, or for pet owners, or for the combination — or start your own group — it’s easy. Use the Events feature to invite people over, or to join others. Everything is in one spot on Zenergo — and everything can be specified in as much detail as you need. Here’s an example of the Boating interests checklist on Zenergo:

You can be really specific, or keep it wide open, it’s your choice.

Likewise, here is the interests checklist for the Pets Activity:

Zgo Blog-Pets Interest page

We have 300+ such activities covering everything from hobbies to crafts, sports of every kind to social activities from poker to winetasting and beer appreciation — from travel to community service, parenting and painting. Find activity partners, groups, and events, or just keep your own social activity life under control, with Zenergo.

Go to Zenergo and give it a try! It’s free and easy to sign up — look around, try a few activities, enjoy!

Have you taken your pet on board? How has it worked out? share in ‘comments’.

Diving: 5 Things More Likely Than a Shark Attack

By Dave Harmon
From The Diving Blog

Humans have an irrational fear of sharks. Most of this, I believe, is simply fear of the unknown. We don’t understand sharks nor most of the ocean and this frightens us. Combined with their poor treatment by the media and entertainment world, sharks overall get a bad rap.

I’m here today to balance the score a little. Statistics put the risk of a shark attack worldwide at about 1 in almost 30

0 million. That’s a 3 with 8 zeros behind it! And this is only taking into account those who actually go in the water, not your Aunt Mildred who thinks the ocean is “dirty.”

That’s a big number, and big numbers don’t usually mean much to people. Let

me put in in more relatable terms. Here are five things more likely to happen to you than getting attacked by a shark:

  1. Win an Academy Award. Over 50 Oscars are given out each year (including scientific and technical award winners), meaning you are more likely to win the coveted gold statuette this year than get bitten by a shark. Better get crackin’ on that script!
  2. Die while scuba diving. While it sucks to think about, over 100 people die a year while scuba diving, often from unknown causes. You’re more likely to die while scuba diving from something like an equipment malfunction than to get attacked by a shark. There, don’t you feel better?
  3. Dealt a full house—three times in a row. The odds of getting dealt a full house (three of a kind and two of another kind, one of the highest hands in poker) is 1 in 693.Let’s say you spend all night playing poker with the guys. You are more likely to get dealt a full house three times in a row than get bitten by a shark. Just how much money did you win last time you played poker?
  4. Killed by a falling aircraft. In murky waters everyone’s on the lookout for killer sharks. How often are you on the lookout for falling aircraft? Instead of the Great White Shark you should be looking out for the Great White Airbus.
  5. Win a Nobel Prize. Six prizes are awarded. This actually makes your odds of winning any one year lower than getting bit by a shark. However, factor in how often they are awarded, and your odds quickly zoom past shark territory.In fact, in any one year you are more likely to become a nobel laureate (nominee) than get attacked by a shark. Isn’t it nice to know that the Nobel prize committee cares more about you than Jaws?

Now don’t you feel ridiculous? These numbers are only for getting attacked by a shark. Let’s say lightning strikes and you do get bitten (actually, the chance of you getting struck by lightning is orders of magnitude greater than getting attacked by a shark). Even then, the chance of you dying is still very small (about 1 in 30).

The problem, of course, is that no one lives by statistics. Rather, we live by our emotions. Next time you feel yourself getting a little irrational, start running the numbers in your head. If worse comes to worse, who knows, maybe the sharks will decide to leave Rain Man alone. ;)

About Dave Harmon

David, PADI Divemaster and all-around scuba enthusiast. started The Diving Blog to share what he learns as he gains experience, sees the world, and becomes a certified instructor.

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join the scuba diving activities on Zenergo.com

Zenergo.com is the activities Web site — especially for those of you who like to get out and do something.

Join Zenergo (it’s free and it’s easy), select Scuba Diving as one of your favorite activities,  fill in a few details on your interests — taking classes, finding diving partners, joining a diving club, youth activities, and select your level of expertise — then find other diving enthusiasts, diving groups, and diving-related events.

Have a diving group? Bring them on board, to use Zenergo’s social tools to manage, communicate, post pictures, videos, and documents, and run your group all from just one place. Diving instructor? Manage your classes, post your schedules, and let others find you, on Zenergo!

Zenergo — Our slogan is: Activate Your Life!

Football (By Any Name) Is Still What We Make It

 From Dave’s Football Blog
Slogan: “It’s Always Football Season Somewhere!”

The best thing about football is that we can play it any way we want it. This is also the worst thing about football.

That’s because fans have this nasty tendency to prattle on about the superiority of their chosen football code like it’s their team. “Our football is the real football!”, they shout as loudly as possible, as if extra decibels can win them the argument.
Of course, they’re all ignoramuses. All those people spouting off about “real football” are completely oblivious to the fact that all football codes share a common ancestry, and that all our modern football games are merely products of their environment. Soccer and rugby both exist because some English schools had wide open fields and others didn’t. Rugby union and rugby league both exist largely because of a dispute between northern and southern Englishmen. The forward pass exists in the gridiron game in part because of one terrified Tar Heel punter. Walter Camp, the father of the gridiron game, thought the forward pass was stupid, but the Yale man’s plan to widen the field instead of adopting the forward pass was trumped by the already-built Harvard Stadium.
We fallible humans made the rules to all these games, and we can adjust those rules to suit their needs — something we do quite frequently. Is the offside rule stifling goal scoring? Let’s loosen it up a bit. Are teams clobbering wide receivers to gain an advantage? Write in an illegal contact rule. The Aussie Rules are rarely ever the same from one year to the next. This all but invalidates the notion that any particular type of football code is “real football.” It’s all just different ways of playing the game.

And people come up with new ways to play football all the time.

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You Can Run Your Football Group
(By Any Name)
on Zenergo!

We’re an activities network — so of course we have Football as one of our Activities! As well as Rugby, and Soccer, and Gaelic Football.

Not to mention Flag/Touch Football, Fantasy Football, High School, College, and Professional Football — even Football Videogaming!

Zenergo is a great place to host your group — whatever kind of foot-oriented ball you prefer. Zenergo is free to join, and lets you quickly and easily set up a group for your team/club/association/casual bunch, then post pictures and documents and maintain a calendar — and set up Events and invite others to them. Recruit more players/fans/enthusiasts! It’s fast, it’s easy — give it a try at http://www.Zenergo.com .

(Yes, we also have Squash and Kickball — and Footbag and 4Square too!)

Roadtrip Planning: How Much Is Enough? Too Much?

Plan too much and you’ll miss out on the spontaneity that says Road Trip. Plan too little, and you could end up sleeping in your car. What’s the right amount?

By Mac McCarthy
Zenergo.com

Planning a road trip? Just how much planning are you doing? Should you book your hotels in advance, line up the restaurants and pit stops beforehand, book the sightseeing tickets before you leave, to make sure everything goes smoothly on your trip?

Yep, that’s how a lot of people do it. But there’s a down side to overplanning your road trip: If you have to be somewhere at a particular an hour (or lose your reservation), you won’t be exploring many side roads, heading off on the Blue Roads (smaller roads on the maps that are shown in blue), stopping at a quirky roadside attraction. And without being able to take advantage of those unexpected opportunities, well: It’s not a real Road Trip. It’s just a trip in a  car.

The Highway Thousand-Mile Stare

In my youth, I had a wonderful weird opportunity — An LA producer I knew offered to send me to New Orleans to pick up a Mercedes sports car belonging to his about-to-be in-laws and drive it back to LA. He’d fly me out, put me up overnight in the French Quarter, and I’d get to drive halfway across the country in a hot sports car I couldn’t dream of affording.

I was an unemployed wanna-be screenwriter, so I jumped at this chance. I learned several lessons from this trip, the relevant one in this case being the opportunities I wasted because I didn’t take my time driving back, but shot along the wide-open highways of the Southwest like a bolt, stopping to see nothing.

I remember there was a sign on the highway pointing to cliff dwellings I could visit if I headed off in this direction. But I was totally focused on my destination, so I sped on by. I had then what I recognize now as the Highway Thousand-Mile Stare — the inability to turn off the highway, to diverge even slightly from my obsession with reaching my goal.

I still haven’t seen those cliff dwellings. I regret that.

Don’t let this happen on your next road trip — by definition, a road trip should not be planned in every detail.

Yet some of us do. Anxious that we not be stranded or lost, we have every day’s distance, destination, pit stops, and side trips mapped out to the mile and quarter-hour.

But will you do if you see a sign pointing to something interesting — but it’s not on your itinerary? If you’ve planned in too much detail, you won’t be able to stop — it’s not on your schedule! You will feel compelled to drive on by!

The Right Balance

On the other hand, if you just drive off in the car with little more than some vague intention to end up somewhere — you might find yourself sleeping in your car some nights for lack of planning. Or at least, that’s what you fear.

So what’s the right balance? How planned-out must you be for your big road trip?

The good news is that you can do a certain amount of — not planning as such, but preparation and goalsetting – enough that you can relax and enjoy your trip while minimizing your worries of being stranded.

Let’s take an example: A road trip that might consist of an intent to drive from San Francisco to Chicago, via Denver, then back to San Francisco either by the northern route through Montana, or the southern route through the Southwest, depending on your mood when you turn around. How’s that for vague? You’ve got three weeks, let’s say, which is plenty of time to wander.

Worries About Road Trips With Too Little Planning (And How To Deal With Them)

–The biggest inconvenience/fear is that you might not be able to find a place to stay in your price range. Are you willing to sleep in your car? If so, have plenty of blankets and pillows, or a vehicle that’s more comfortable than a car.

But in this day of Web access to full information services, you don’t have to run that kind of risk the way you had in the past. You can open your smart phone, or fire up the laptop wireless at a fast-food restaurant in the middle of the afternoon, and see what’s available motel-wise in the area you happen to be. This gives you options even if you are far behind ‘schedule’ or far off your intended route.

–With unplanned travel, you run the risk of driving right past interesting sights without realizing it. Not everything you might want to see will be mentioned on a highway sign, after all. But here’s the thing: Not planning your route or your stopping points in detail does NOT mean not doing any research at all! You can, and should, check travel guides to find out what must-sees are along the way. At least bring some travel guides to the areas you’re likely to wander through, so you can look up the local interests over breakfast or lunch.

Disagreements with travel mates about what your actual unplanned plans are. “But I thought we were going to see this place, or get to that place by this date!” Unstated expectations can mess up a road trip. But not having plans does not mean not having goals.  Decide how much time you’re spending on your road trip portion and how much at the destinations — Even if you’re retired and have all the time in the world, you should all agree on whether you’re leaning towards a two-week trip or a six-month trip. If you’re driving to Chicago and back, are you willing to change destinations partway through and head to Memphis or Minneapolis and skip Chicago? Or is does one of you have his heart set on spending a few days eating Chicago-style?

Oh No! It’s Sold Out! A low-itinerary road trip does make it hard to reserve tickets for popular venues that might be sold out if you don’t buy ahead. This is something you’ll just have to live with. Be flexible: If it’s sold out, have a Plan B. Or, if it’s really important to you, go ahead and buy those tickets in advance, and make arriving at this specific location on the required date one of the anchor points in your otherwise-underplanned trip. If there’s one specific big-deal thing you want to go to/see/participate in, you might plan to head directly there for the outbound part of your trip, and save the underplanned road-trip portion of your journey for the return.

The big win in a lightly planned road trip, versus a rigid preplanned tour, is the opportunity to stop on whim, take divergent paths as they appear, spend more time looking at something, following that interesting sign — or ending the day early and spending a leisurely afternoon, mid-road-trip, lying by the motel pool just because you’re suddenly feeling lazy. You’re not under that pressure to hit your marks and arrive at that hotel you booked. As long as you are all in synch about your major goals.

So agree on the must-see attractions along your route, maybe pick some themes (eating a cheesesteak in every town, visiting a music club in each city, seeing every art museum, every comic-book store, or every Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building). Don’t plan how long you’ll spend at each, or when you’ll arrive.

Have a rough schedule: Pick several key points along the way and plan to arrive at specific if  approximate times at each — with plenty of slack. If you know you’ve got three days to get to someplace 500 miles away, you know how much slack you have and that will encourage you to dawdle – but not too much.

On the other hand, you may be the kind of person who doesn’t like not knowing where you’ll be able to sleep tonight, who feels better having a reservation so you’ll be sure to see your favorite band or ballgame or artwork, who just doesn’t enjoy the notion of “winging it” — well, don’t torture yourself. Plan enough of your trip to make yourself comfortable — and enjoy the trip and the destination.

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Zenergo.com

A Great Place To Plan Your Road Trip — And Share Your Memories

On Zenergo — the social network for activities instead of chatter — you can plan your trip in as much (or little) detail as you need — together with your road trip friends, then share your experience and your pictures on the way or when you get back.  Even find road-trip partners for the journey. Find travel groups and events in your area. It’s free — it’s easy — it’s fun!

Sample Zenergo Activity Profile for Road Trip

A sample Road Trip Activity Profile

What do you think? What is your favorite piece of advice for those considering a road trip? What favorite (or awful!) memory do you have? Add your comment below!

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Why Fly? I Do It Because…

Explaining why he flies sport airplanes isn’t simple. Picture of a Mustang airplane with yellow-checkered nose.

By Budd Davisson

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.”

What a great line! That quote was in an e-mail that just popped up on my screen. A noble thought. So simple, so pure! Unfortunately, it got me thinking about why I fly, and I found that coming up with an answer was neither simple nor pure. And I suspect it’s the same for most folks.

When I started to reply to the e-mail, I expected to rip off a profoundly simple answer about why I flew. But I found I couldn’t. Waaaay too many thoughts came tumbling out of my mind at the same time, each straining to be the overarching reason why I’ve spent so much of my life in a cockpit, and why I’ve spent so much of that cockpit time doing things that have the outward appearance of being just a little insane. Why do I fly? Why do any of us fly?

I seem to wrestle with this concept periodically, and generally avoid getting into conversations about it. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because I feel left out when others start philosophizing about their own reasons. So many of my friends can flatly say, “I fly because of…” And I can’t. I only know that were I to uncork that bottle of explanation, I would wind up sounding as if I were standing on a pulpit sermonizing, because the “explanation” would come out as a long-winded rant that runs from one corner of my mind to the other, from one corner of my life to another.

These aren’t the reasons Picture of a yellow Piper Cub plane landing.

Now that I think about it, it’s actually easier to enumerate some of the factors that have nothing to do with why I fly.

One normal reason why people commit to aviation that has nothing to do with why I fly is its value as transportation. The concept of jumping in an airplane and flying the 400 miles to see my daughter in Los Angeles, for instance, doesn’t even cross my mind. This is because of a number of reasons, most of them having to do with the simple fact that it wouldn’t save significant time, and would greatly increase both the expense and the complexity of the trip (renting cars, battling air space, worrying about weather, going to the airport, time spent getting the airplane out, yada, yada). Plus, I really enjoy long-distance driving. I like what my imagination does as I look at crumbling buildings, the mysterious mountains on the horizon, the empty desert, etc.

Also, I’m not a $100 hamburger kind of guy. Nor do I cruise around the local area. However, I do like the concept of both, especially exploring the local area, even though I seldom do it. Since less than 16% of Arizona is eligible for private title (the balance being governmental or tribal lands), the vast amount of what is the sixth largest state is totally empty and untouched—and will stay that way. Much of it is minutes away by air and presents rugged, totally hostile, and therefore alluring, mountainous topography. With so few roads, only pilots and eagles (which have become commonplace on the ridges) see the backsides of our colorful backyard. Still, I rarely indulge in what amounts to high-risk sightseeing.

Photo of  heart-shaped contrails in sky made by stunt planes.

And, as for Saint Ex’s explanation that flying released him from petty thoughts? I’ll have to think about that for a second. I suppose I could agree with that a little, if only because the kind of flying I’ve chosen represents a very narrow niche of unusual aviating that demands 110% concentration, and tolerates absolutely zero extraneous thoughts. None. It pushes every other thought aside. But, I don’t consciously seek that. That’s just part of the package. It is, however, a place I know I can’t go unless I’m mentally prepared for it. For me, regardless of what Saint Ex says, it’s not a place that will heal distractions nor clear up mental murk. If I carry either into the cockpit, the airplane will kick my backside. Having said that, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it takes only one flight to brighten my mood.

Skin in the game?

As I look back at what I’ve written, I realize I’ve eliminated probably 85% of why most people fly. So, what’s left? Why do I strap myself into a sometimes cantankerous, always demanding little machine that asks me the same question every time I strap it on: “Are you up for me today? Is today the day I’m going to bite you in the butt?” As I’m sitting here thinking about that, a tiny bit of illogical logic has begun to form at the edges of my curiosity about why I fly. And I think it also might explain why others with similar mind-sets fly.

Picture of a Piper Cub airplane in flight.I think I’ve mentioned this before, but, if I were given the choice of doing the kind of flying/instructing that I do for another year but then having to hang up my spurs, or flying more normal airplanes in a more normal manner for the rest of my life but never again saddling up my little red airplane, I’d opt for the year without hesitation. In my eyes, the factor that separates the two groups of airplanes is the never-ending challenge that my kind of airplane represents. I think that attracts a lot of folks to similar flying machines.

Picture of a yellow-nosed Mustang airplaneTruth is, if we push ourselves to be as good as we can be in any airplane, the challenge that I see in my airplane can also exist in every other. Be it a Cessna 172 or P-51 Mustang, the same mental attitude can exist. The difference is a 172 doesn’t demand it. The Mustang, Pitts and similar airplanes do. And some part of my mental makeup enjoys demand. It literally, as the saying goes, completes me. I like having some skin in the game.

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Actually, as I again reread these paragraphs, I realize they don’t really answer the question as to why I fly. That’s probably because I don’t really need a reason to fly. Does anyone? We don’t look for reasons that we fall in love. Why look for reasons that we fly?

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Bud Davisson has been training pilots and writing and taking photos about flying for 39 years. His Web page, Bud Davisson’s AirBum.com, is dedicated to “Sport aviation as seen through pilot reports, kick-butt photographyflight training, aerobatics, how-to build and how-to fly articles

He is editor-in-chief of Flight Journal magazine [http://www.flightjournal.com/] and has written two novels involving airplanes. He contributes to flying magazines such as Planes & Pilot, from which this post is adapted.

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Fly with Friends on Zenergo!

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An example of a Zenergo member's Flying-Aviation Activity page with some information filled in.

An example of a Zenergo member's Flying-Aviation Activity home page.

Zenergo.com is a great place to get together with your flying buddies to talk amongst yourselves, plan trips and get-togethers using the Calendar, post pictures and documents, run your aviation club — and find new friends in your area who share your passion! Give it a try — Zenergo.com is free and signup is easy! Visit today!