Tag Archives: Leisure

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Trails for two-wheelers: A look at the United States Bicycle Route System

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Missouri’s Katy Trail State Park is a cyclist’s dream. Created by repurposing a 237-mile-long stretch of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, the bicycle trail cuts across Missouri’s midriff with over half its length following Lewis & Clark’s path up the Missouri River as they launched their epic expedition of discovery.

The mostly flat throughway weaves through some of the Show Me State’s finest scenery — rolling farmland, forests, tallgrass prairies and towering limestone bluffs where eagles circle overhead. Many riders camp along the way while others choose to stay at one of a number of quaint B&Bs where owners are well-acquainted with the needs of touring cyclists.

Katy Trail is typical of a fast-growing number of long-distance cycling routes crisscrossing America that have inspired development of a national cycling route network known as the United States Bicycle Route System (USBRS).

The USBRS was established in 1978 by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the same body that coordinates the numbering of interstate highways and U.S. routes. The stated purpose of the system is to facilitate travel over routes deemed most suitable for cycling — including multiple types of bicycling infrastructure, such as low-traffic roads, bike lanes and off-road trails.

In order for a route to qualify as a USBRS route, it must either connect two or more states, connect multiple USBRS routes, or connect a U.S. Bike Route with a national border.

The first routes were defined in 1982: USBR 1 from North Carolina to Virginia, and USBR 76 from Illinois through Kentucky to Virginia. Development of the system lagged as administration shifted from AASHTO to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 2009 — leaving these two as the only routes in the system until 2011.

Under new direction and with significant support from the Adventure Cycling Association and various state highway departments, major expansion of the system began in 2011 with the addition of eight more routes.

Meanwhile, America’s interest in cycling has skyrocketed — shifting from an insider club of Lycra-clad enthusiasts to a far more diverse demographic. The number of cyclists in the U.S. has increased over the past three years from around 43 million to nearly 50 million, and bikes have outsold cars in most years since 2003. The USBRS has benefitted from the boom and the system presently boasts routes totaling more than 14,000 miles across 27 states and Washington DC.

Once fully connected, the USBRS is projected to encompass more than 50,000 miles of bike routes. Here are a few other popular USBRS routes:

South Lake Tahoe to Baker, Nevada (Bike Route 50). Nevada’s first U.S. Bike Route is a monster ride, traversing 410 miles of the Great Basin on a stretch of Highway 50 known as the Loneliest Road in America. The route offers just about every environment imaginable, ranging from desert salt flats and sagebrush fields to a dozen summits that top 6,000 feet. There’s some history here as well — Bike Route 50 parallels the 19th century route of the Pony Express.

Mitchellville, Tennessee to Hodgenville, Kentucky (Bike Route 23). Riders share backcountry two-lane roads with Amish buggies on this new 109-mile route that connects with an existing USBRS segment in Tennessee. Gentle hills, fertile farmland and friendly towns greet riders who can take a break to visit a Civil War battlefield in Munfordville, Kentucky, and Mammoth Cave National Park, home to the world’s largest cave system.

Baxter Springs, Kansas to St. Louis, Missouri (Bike Route 66). An historic pilgrimage for motorized road-trippers, fabled Route 66 now draws cyclists who can absorb the nostalgia at a slower pace. The 358-mile route through southeast Kansas and Missouri is the first section of the “Mother Road” to be designated for bikes. The route is packed with quirky attractions including 1950s gas stations, souvenir shops and tourist courts. When 66 gets busy, the route smartly deviates onto quiet back roads.

To explore all USBRS routes and download free digital maps, go to www.adventurecycling.org.

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Museum educators a fill critical need for students

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To say museums have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic would be an understatement. The American Alliance of Museums estimates that museums in the United States are collectively losing at least $33 million a day.

The education departments are where the blow is really being felt at many institutions. In a recent Art Museum Teaching article, Brian Hogarth, director for museum education programs at Bank Street College in New York City, notes that educators and other front-line positions have been the most heavily affected by the thousands of layoffs, salary reductions and furloughs that have happened just in “phase one.”

Yet even now while they’re hurting most, many museums have offered entertainment and solace to families sheltering in place at home with free virtual tours. Teachers have been able to take advantage of these resources to create engaging lessons for students on virtual field trips to interesting and far-away museums during these challenging times of distance learning.

Although we’re heartened see museums across the country slowly begin to reopen to the public with new safety measures in place, it’s a good time to think deeply and explore ways to support the work of museum educators so critical to students.

Educators put the works into a greater context, invite valuable dialogue and help young people explore deeper meaning behind the exhibits they view, whether virtually or on site.

Museums play a key role in critical out-of-class learning

Enriching field trips to science academies, art museums and other culturally rich institutions are something that many school teachers see as vital for students. These excursions, the only time some children will visit these places of grandeur, are not only memorable but have been shown to promote life-long learning.

A national research effort to advance understanding of the contributions science and technology centers make to public science literacy studied more than 4,500 youth and adults living in three U.S. metropolitan areas.

Of the five different types of science learning experiences studied, visiting science centers was the only one that consistently promoted both science interest in both the past and present among youth and adults. Additionally, non-white visitors were found to constitute between 55% and 72% of visitors to these institutions. Per the study, science centers are the premier resource for quality science education by minority and low-income visitors.

“Bottom line, museums make a difference. They play a role any bit as important as schools in science learning, and I’ve no reason to believe reality is any different in other subjects,” says John Falk, director of the Institute for Learning Innovation and the study’s lead researcher.

Not all museums are shuttering up education programs

The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle is one institution where leaders rethought layoffs in the area of education. That’s because, as director of education and programs, Jason Porter explains the museum will need all that talent and expertise to reimagine programs as virtual experiences plus adapt to the new environment during and after COVID-19.

“Few cultural organizations have the capacity to keep connected to their communities and audiences solely through posting collections online,” says Porter. “The museum of the future will need interpretation, accessible programs, and creative approaches to sharing ideas, extensive outreach via social media as well as our more traditional in-person platforms if people are going to continue to see museums as trusted, essential resources.”

Along the same lines, Hogarth says, “Museum education would seem to be even more critical at times like these.”

An institution that is successfully acting as a vital resource for its community at this critical time is San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.

When doors at the Asian Art Museum closed, leadership ramped up digital content with pretty amazing results, reports Amy Wilson in Hyperallergic. As viewers perused cooking demos, art activities and behind the scenes glimpses of the museum, Instagram activity soared 744% while engagement on other social media platforms increased by more than 50%

At time of reporting, no staff members had been laid off and the education department was busy sending packets out for May’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month to the 5,000 teachers on their email list. Not only is it a way to give teachers materials on artists often overlooked when it comes to art history, the packets include biographies of four Japanese American artists who were interned during World War II, explains Margert Yee, manager of school and teacher programs.

“They still created art despite the racism they faced, and given all the anti-Asian racism now with the health crisis, we can use this to help Asian American students feel pride as well as educate all students,” said Yee.

Redreaming partnerships between schools and museums

It’s time to think forward and to support museums by imagining how we can continue partnerships in new ways or forge new collaborations.

“Ultimately, learning is a continuous, cumulative process that knows no boundaries,” says Falk. “The more we can support learning through field trips and other real-life experiences that support and extend what happens in classrooms, the more meaningful and durable will be children’s learning.”

Hogarth urges museums to rethink the role of education beyond the constant production of events on-site. He recommends getting out into the community; offering more distance learning and online courses in partnership with colleges and universities; and forming new partnerships with libraries and other disciplines like the performing arts to provide real benefits to the health and welfare of our communities

Again, the Asian Art Museum is leading the way in this regard.

In late April, the education department teamed up with the San Francisco Unified School District to host a webinar “Hip Hop to Hamilton: Making Art Work.” The conversation with Khafre Jay, founder of Hip Hop for Change, and Lily Ling, music director for “Hamilton,” touched upon what students pursuing careers in the arts can do now with live performances and art shows shut down.

“It was a really powerful way to show solidarity between African Americans and Asian Americans when people of color have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic,” said Yee. “The speakers talked about how we can all support each other, and it’s a great message for students to hear.”

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Museum educators fill a critical need for students

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{summary}

To say museums have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic would be an understatement. The American Alliance of Museums estimates that museums in the United States are collectively losing at least $33 million a day.

The education departments are where the blow is really being felt at many institutions. In a recent Art Museum Teaching article, Brian Hogarth, director for museum education programs at Bank Street College in New York City, notes that educators and other front-line positions have been the most heavily affected by the thousands of layoffs, salary reductions and furloughs that have happened just in “phase one.”

Yet even now while they’re hurting most, many museums have offered entertainment and solace to families sheltering in place at home with free virtual tours. Teachers have been able to take advantage of these resources to create engaging lessons for students on virtual field trips to interesting and far-away museums during these challenging times of distance learning.

Although we’re heartened see museums across the country slowly begin to reopen to the public with new safety measures in place, it’s a good time to think deeply and explore ways to support the work of museum educators so critical to students.

Educators put the works into a greater context, invite valuable dialogue and help young people explore deeper meaning behind the exhibits they view, whether virtually or on site.

Museums play a key role in critical out-of-class learning

Enriching field trips to science academies, art museums and other culturally rich institutions are something that many school teachers see as vital for students. These excursions, the only time some children will visit these places of grandeur, are not only memorable but have been shown to promote life-long learning.

A national research effort to advance understanding of the contributions science and technology centers make to public science literacy studied more than 4,500 youth and adults living in three U.S. metropolitan areas.

Of the five different types of science learning experiences studied, visiting science centers was the only one that consistently promoted both science interest in both the past and present among youth and adults. Additionally, non-white visitors were found to constitute between 55% and 72% of visitors to these institutions. Per the study, science centers are the premier resource for quality science education by minority and low-income visitors.

“Bottom line, museums make a difference. They play a role any bit as important as schools in science learning, and I’ve no reason to believe reality is any different in other subjects,” says John Falk, director of the Institute for Learning Innovation and the study’s lead researcher.

Not all museums are shuttering up education programs

The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle is one institution where leaders rethought layoffs in the area of education. That’s because, as director of education and programs, Jason Porter explains the museum will need all that talent and expertise to reimagine programs as virtual experiences plus adapt to the new environment during and after COVID-19.

“Few cultural organizations have the capacity to keep connected to their communities and audiences solely through posting collections online,” says Porter. “The museum of the future will need interpretation, accessible programs, and creative approaches to sharing ideas, extensive outreach via social media as well as our more traditional in-person platforms if people are going to continue to see museums as trusted, essential resources.”

Along the same lines, Hogarth says, “Museum education would seem to be even more critical at times like these.”

An institution that is successfully acting as a vital resource for its community at this troublesome time is San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.

When doors at the Asian Art Museum closed, leadership ramped up digital content with pretty amazing results, reports Amy Wilson in Hyperallergic. As viewers perused cooking demos, art activities and behind the scenes glimpses of the museum, Instagram activity soared 744% while engagement on other social media platforms increased by more than 50%

At time of reporting, no staff members had been laid off and the education department was busy sending packets out for May’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month to the 5,000 teachers on their email list. Not only is it a way to give teachers materials on artists often overlooked when it comes to art history, the packets include biographies of four Japanese American artists who were interned during World War II, explains Margert Yee, manager of school and teacher programs.

“They still created art despite the racism they faced, and given all the anti-Asian racism now with the health crisis, we can use this to help Asian American students feel pride as well as educate all students,” said Yee.

Redreaming partnerships between schools and museums

It’s time to think forward and to support museums by imagining how we can continue partnerships in new ways or forge new collaborations.

“Ultimately, learning is a continuous, cumulative process that knows no boundaries,” says Falk. “The more we can support learning through field trips and other real-life experiences that support and extend what happens in classrooms, the more meaningful and durable will be children’s learning.”

Hogarth urges museums to rethink the role of education beyond the constant production of events on-site. He recommends getting out into the community; offering more distance learning and online courses in partnership with colleges and universities; and forming new partnerships with libraries and other disciplines like the performing arts to provide real benefits to the health and welfare of our communities.

Again, the Asian Art Museum is leading the way in this regard.

In late April, the education department teamed up with the San Francisco Unified School District to host a webinar “Hip Hop to Hamilton: Making Art Work.” The conversation with Khafre Jay, founder of Hip Hop for Change, and Lily Ling, music director for “Hamilton,” touched upon what students pursuing careers in the arts can do now with live performances and art shows shut down.

“It was a really powerful way to show solidarity between African Americans and Asian Americans when people of color have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic,” said Yee. “The speakers talked about how we can all support each other, and it’s a great message for students to hear.”

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Will home-sharing and luxury hotels recover before other lodging products?

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As more places ease coronavirus restrictions, travel companies are getting ready to reopen their businesses. But do people want to travel again soon? If so, who are the travelers?

Smith Travel Research (STR), a leading data analytics provider for the lodging industry, conducted an opinion survey about travelers’ attitudes towards different types of accommodation facilities based on their preferences from past experiences. One assumption for such an analysis is that travelers tend to stick to the same kind of accommodation facility for their trips.

STR surveyed 2,391 respondents who showed interest in travel for leisure purposes from four English-speaking markets, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia. They were asked if they would take fewer, the same, or more trips over the next 12 months.

Using March 11 as the point when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic, STR reported changes in the propensity to travel by hotel segments, with some intriguing results:

Luxury/superior class hotels

Before (March 11): 24% would travel less; 49% would make about the same number of trips; 27% would travel more.

After (March 11): The above numbers changed to 36%, 45%, and 19%, respectively.

Mid-range hotels

Before: 24% would travel less; 61% would not change; 16% would travel more.

After: The above numbers changed to 42%, 45%, and 16%, respectively.

Standard/budget hotels

Before: 27% would travel less; 48% would not change; 25% would travel more.

After: The above numbers changed to 46%, 40%, and 15%, respectively.

Short-term rental/vacation rental/self-catering

Before: 29% would travel less; 46% would not change; 25% would travel more.

After: The above numbers changed to 37%, 45%, and 19%, respectively.

Which segments will recover sooner than others?

The short-term rental/vacation rental/self-catering segment appears to be least affected for post-pandemic travel. There was only an 8% change (29% vs. 37%) for the group who would travel less. In fact, Airbnb booking data has already shown a strong recovery in the U.S., Spain, and some other European markets.

The above STR survey also reveals that there was only a 12% change (24% vs. 36%) for those who would travel less in the luxury/superior class segment. In the case of China, where travel restrictions were lifted in April, data from Trip.com have already shown signs of recovery in short-haul trips and high-end hotels.

The reasons why some segments will recover sooner than others

Luxury and superior-class hotels tend to have higher hygiene and cleanliness standards than lower-tier hotels. Additionally, hotels across different segments are running record-low occupancies and average daily rates due to the coronavirus outbreak. It becomes more affordable to stay in luxury and superior-class hotels now.

Meanwhile, it is important to note that STR only surveyed travelers about their attitudes towards leisure trips and that leisure travelers usually stay over the weekend nights (Fridays and Saturdays). The recent STR data have also shown a surge of occupancy over the weekends for certain submarkets.

The speedy recovery of short-term or vacation rentals, however, might seem contradictory to my earlier assessment. I expected that Airbnb guests might want to stay in chain hotels for standardized cleaning procedures/standards.

It is plausible that the demand is driven by the leisure travelers, who usually travel with family members and may hence want to stay in well-equipped homes. Alternatively, it is also possible that a large number of new Airbnb bookings are for high-end facilities. Some doctors also believe certain measures, such as having a more extended vacancy period between stays, can substantially lower the risk of getting infected by COVID-19.

Do you see the reasons why short-term or vacation rentals, as well as luxury/superior hotels, will recover sooner than the other segments? Will dynamic pricing strategies become even more essential in today’s lodging business when the demand is mostly driven by leisure travelers?

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A look at 4 of the most interesting state parks in Ohio

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Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, amenities at many Ohio parks may still be limited or closed entirely. Please check with your park of choosing before visiting.

Did you know Ohio has 75 state parks? Join me as I touch on a few of my favorites. I would love to visit every one of the 75 parks, but for now, I will share some interesting things about four specific parks.

Dillon State Park

I am starting with Dillon State Park because it is the closest to my home and is the one I have grown up near. It holds some wonderful childhood memories and features the first lake I learned to fish at. My grandmother, Evie Spires, took me to the back waters of Dillon and taught me how to catch bluegill at a young age. While the back waters still exist, it is hard to navigate, and the waters I fished are no longer accessible by shore.

Grandma instructed me to toss my line as close to a pole as I could because that is where the bluegill hung out. She was right! To this day, I use her strategy. The fishing is still good at Dillon; if you are ever there, try fishing at the marina or toss your line just below the spillway. The stripers and catfish are plentiful.

If fishing is not your thing, Dillon offers so much more. A horse camp and horse trails are available; for a link to the Dillon Bridle Trails, click here. The park also offers cabin rentals, frisbee golf, tennis and basketball courts, and several playgrounds.

Another interesting fact is that one of the nature trails has “knee trees,” better known as Cypress Knee. Dillon also has a walking trail around what we call “the mountain.” It is nicknamed so because you literally walk a paved and somewhat gravelly path all the way around a mountainous terrain. While the drinking fountain is long gone you can still see the remanence of where it sat.

As you begin down the path on the right sits a rock as old as time. It is used by the locals for picture taking. I have pictures of myself, and my children and their children on that rock as a child.

Salt Fork State Park

Next on my list is Salt Fork. While I listed it second, it is the largest state park in Ohio. It has 17,229 acres that offering everything from camping and bird watching to archery.

This park is one of six Ohio State Parks that offers a golf course. Built in 1972, the course is rated extremely challenging with an excellent layout. But I love Salt Fork for the same reason I love most of Ohio parks: the fishing. Many catfish tournaments have been held here over the last few years. The largest one I personally saw weighed approximately 45 pounds and was four feet in length.

So, if it is a shovelhead you are after — float your boat, drop your line and prepare for the fight of your life to reel in one of these monster cats. But monster cats are not the only thing lurking in or near this lake! It is rumored that Bigfoot has been sighted here, with more than 26 Salt Fork sightings reported to Don Keating.

Keating has been hosting the “Annual Bigfoot Conference” since 2005. The park hosts many events related to the beast, including monthly Bigfoot night hikes and adventure weekends. If you plan to camp here, I suggest sleeping with one eye open because you never know when the Ohio Grassman might come knocking on your RV door.

East Harbor State Park

East Harbor is at the top of my list of state parks. I have been going here for most of my adult life. Every May, my family and I attend the white bass run in celebration of my daughter’s birthday and my anniversary.

If you go up in April, you will hit the walleye run, but my favorite is the white bass run. I do enjoy camping here in July when it is warmer so I can swim in the lake. The water is not deep, and you can walk out as far as the jetties unless a wave or two takes you down on the way out.

While there are no lifeguards on duty, it is safe. Just use common sense. An interesting fact about this park is that it contains the largest campground out of all 75 parks. It has 365 electric sites and 205 non-electric sites. While the skunks here are tame, that did not stop them from trapping my mother, Betty Norton, in the women’s bath house. This campground is abundant with wildlife, including fish-stealing raccoons.

West Branch State Park

This is a very memorable Ohio State Park for me because when my daughter, Hannah, had Stage 4 cancer at the age of three, we made a connection with a soldier by the name of Jacob Hostetler.

Jake was serving in Iraq at that time with my cousin, Robbie Harper. Long story short, we had received a postcard from Jake in 2003 while Hannah was in the hospital. His postcard, along with hundreds of others kept me going.

Fast-forward to Aug. 5, 2014, and we arranged to meet for the first time in person so we could thank this soldier and his wife, Mary, and their children for their support. We chose to camp at West Branch State Park to celebrate this joyous occasion.

Again, this is just one more reason state parks are so special. Another friend of mine, Tammy Goodrich, is familiar with West Branch as well. She mentions how nice the amenities and Holiday events are. The Halloween campout is one of the spookiest events and is enjoyed by all.

Conclusion

While each park has some interesting facts, my brother, Shane Norton, shared with me that the most memorable fact for him is that of the memories he made with his loved ones. I hope you get the chance to visit one of the 75 state parks in Ohio and make some memories of your own.

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Taking the good with the bad in travel

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Recently, I was looking at some of my favorite travel pictures that decorate the walls of our house. I realized that many of them bring memories of great times along with a story about a struggle.

We travel to experience new things and hopefully have some great times. However, our experiences may also be quite challenging. It is the thought of the challenge that we overcame that makes for the best story and sometimes the best pictures.

Sometimes the picture reminds me of a tough hike. The hike to the top of canyon in Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas is definitely worthwhile. Picacho Peak State Park in Arizona has an excellent but challenging hike with some spectacular views.

The Flatiron in Arizona

Also in Arizona, the trail to the top of the Flatiron at the Lost Dutchman State Park is the toughest hike (and climb!) I’ve done. We didn’t bring enough water for our first attempt but we made it to the top on the second attempt several years later. The pictures from the top bring a sense of accomplishment.

Waterfalls can mean a tough up-and-down hike. The hike up the 604 steps at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia is just plain difficult. We stopped on the stairs several times to “take pictures” while taking deep breathes.

A shorter hike is to the bottom (and back up!) at Burgess Falls State Park in Tennessee. The view and mist at the bottom make the hike worthwhile. I am glad we made this hike several years ago since this part of the trail is now closed.

A couple of times I’ve twisted my ankle on a hike. I was able to hike my way back both times, but it was quite a challenge. In one case, I found the nearest trailhead and called my husband to pick me up. In another, we were able to take it slow with plenty of rests to make it back. It took a few days of rest before I could hike again, but the views were wonderful and the pictures bring back memories.

Even getting lost can make a memory. At one park, I searched for the cave on the map from a couple of trails. It was after I made a wrong turn on a third trail when I found the cave coming out the mist that morning.

Another wrong turn in Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park in Tennessee took me on a scramble along the water. The picture from that hike looks peaceful but it reminds me of when I had to take my shoes and socks off to climb the rocks in this stream to get back to the path. It would have been impossible to view the falls from this angle without getting a bit lost.

High winds can be quite a challenge with camping. Unfortunately, having high winds rock the RV back and forth all night isn’t as conducive to sleep as a baby’s rocker. We bring in the awning and even the sides during the windiest nights to reduce the “sail” of our RV and just ride it out. But the pictures we take the next day remind us how we made it through the night.

Monument Valley after 40 mph winds while sleeping in a tent.

Cold weather can also make a trip memorable. An expected snow of several inches at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico definitely stayed in our memories. Even with the cold and snow, we were able to hike some fascinating trails.

The cold also didn’t stop us at another park in New Mexico called City of Rocks State Park. We just put on coats, gloves, and a hat and enjoyed wandering through the rocks. Another cold spot in New Mexico was the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site. It was cold and windy and spectacular! The trail, the thousands of petroglyphs, and the view of the mountains in the background were quite remarkable.

Traveling is full of good and bad times, but it is overcoming the bad times that makes it the most unforgettable. Besides, sometimes the bad times make for the best stories! Do you have a story like this?

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Video: Perfect stance vs. odd angles…which is faster?

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This article originally appeared on Dry Fire Training Cards.

There’s a lot of talk on what the best “combat” shooting stance is.

In my mind, that’s the wrong question.

If the situation gives you time to get a perfect stance, then take advantage of it. It’ll probably make you more accurate.

But what if you don’t have time to get a perfect stance … and all your training has been done with a perfect stance?

That’s bad.

If that’s the case, you’re going to have to figure out odd-angle shooting on the fly when success could make a difference on who lives and who dies.

So, how big of a difference does it make when you square up to the target vs shoot at odd angles? Take a look at the video above.

Most training doesn’t take this into account…not in classes, and not when individual shooters are practicing. But your training should.

Because when that day comes when your skills are tested, you’re not going to have time to think your way through the problem. Your reactions are going to need to be smooth, fast, and accurate.

So, next time you’re able to…try this with dry fire and a par timer. See how big of a difference there is with being squared up, turning to square up, and engaging at an off angle without moving your feet.

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Survey: Is summer vacation canceled?

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A new survey by personal finance site ValuePenguin.com shows that, as summer quickly approaches, the uncertainty around travel these days is taking a toll on potential travelers and their pockets.

The blowback damage from the coronavirus pandemic has caused nearly half (48%) of Americans to cancel their summer travel plans for this year, leading to more distress for the travel industry. In fact, 1 in 6 Americans say they would wait a full year before traveling again.

Unfortunately, canceled travel isn’t the only thing causing trouble for the travel industry. In a recent survey by the LendingTree subsidiary, 43% of Americans said they feel more negatively about the industry as a whole and will change their behavior as a result. Here’s what the survey found:

Forty-six percent of those who had upcoming travel plans lost money on nonrefundable deposits and cancellation fees, averaging $854.30 per person. Most of the lost costs came from airline tickets (59%) and hotel rooms (44%).

The coronavirus pandemic is changing consumers’ views about travel. Forty-three percent feel more negatively about the industry as a whole and many will change their behavior as a result. For example, 55% said they’re less likely to take a cruise once the pandemic is over, and 52% are more fearful of overseas travel.

One in four Americans are planning a celebratory trip once the threat of the coronavirus disappears, especially millennials, Gen Xers, parents of children under 18 and six-figure earners.

Forty percent of consumers said they’re more likely to purchase travel insurance for future trips due to the coronavirus. However, 18% said the health crisis made them less likely to consider insuring their future trips.

On a brighter note, a survey by data analysis firm Luth Research reveals that most consumers believe normal spending will resume in just a few months as the coronavirus outbreak begins to subside.

Optimism Springs Eternal

A quarter of respondents in the survey expressed a belief that the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States will start to subside in one to three months; another 24% maintain it will take three to six months. Some 16% of the survey participants voiced a conservative prediction of six to nine months.

Many believe spending will return to normal during that time frame as well, with the largest percentage of survey respondents at 25% saying it would take three to six months before consumer spending returns to normal. That number was followed by 21% who said it would be one to three months, 14% who said 12 months or longer, and 12% who said six to nine months.

An outlier margin of 11% believed that spending would get back to normal this month.

The survey revealed some interesting demographic breakdowns in its answers. Consumers who live in the South, and those with household incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 were shown to be more likely to believe that normal spending would return by July.

By contrast, those younger than 35 were more likely to think normal spending would resume in six months. Women and consumers with household incomes below $50,000 were more likely to be uncertain about when spending would normalize. Men showed themselves to be more optimistic than women for this timeline.

What We’re Buying

So, what are people spending money on now? The survey showed half of the respondents spend more on groceries and are spiking their budgets by 30% when it comes to digital entertainment purchases while clothing and accessories as well as automotive and beauty are falling away.

As for travel purchases, the Luth survey confirms ValuePenguin’s work showing those purchases are being delayed. Rather people are investing in new hobbies and habits. That survey showed two thirds of those questioned putting off leisure travel plans, while nearly a third (28%) are delaying business travel plans.

What will consumers do when things finally do get back to normal? Not surprisingly the answer is overwhelmingly “seeing family members in person.” The runner up: see friends in person. And right up there with friends and family was a hankering to see a beach and a barber.

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Preventing back injuries in children who participate in flexibility-related sports

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Instagram is full of kids and teens showing off their super flexibility — and my daughters seem to follow them all. One thing I’ve pointed out to them is we don’t see posts when they’re injured nor are we privy to how they’re faring 15 or 20 years from now.

The lesson was driven home when my 15-year-old daughter recently elected to drop out of the flexibility number she’d been selected to perform for her youth circus due to lower back pain. She admitted she felt she’d permanently damage her body were she to continue to rehearse in the specialty. When I learned that her teacher’s solution to the problem was abdominal crunches, I decided to do some research.

Fortunately, by taking the precautions that follow, conscientious parents and coaches can help reduce needless injury for young athletes and performers who strive to accomplish phenomenal feats of flexibility.

Mitigate risk with intelligent training

Young performers and those doing sports involving repetitive flexion, extension, and torsion, such as diving, gymnastics and figure skating are particularly susceptible to lower back injury.

“Teachers often trust children’s elasticity, as their bodies are developing and their tissues are softer,” explains Silvana Maroto, who is both a licensed physical therapist and certified yoga teacher. “But this also implies that the damage can be more definitive and permanent.”

Implicit in the concept of high performance is pushing the body beyond its limits, concludes Maroto. The Olympic gymnast or Cirque du Soleil performer has achieved a level beyond what most human bodies are capable through intense, arduous training. Most youth working towards this level are aware of the risks they’re taking both short and long term — or they should.

Yet even at the amateur level, Maroto believes that, at a minimum, a trainer should have a clear understanding of which movements potentially generate injury or postural dysfunction when done repetitively. Knowing this, they work to avoid or compensate for these movements, which for the lower spine may be certain core abdominal exercises.

For example, the lumbar spine has much more range of motion, so many young performers focus their flexibility in this area. Instead, each vertebrae needs to be articulated when arching the back.

The back is not a hinge joint, emphasizes David McAmmond in his teachers’ trainings. His guide, “Yoga Therapy for Backs,” shows how common this error is with photos he’s found published online and in yoga books with models using the lumbar spine nearly exclusively as they demonstrate arching postures.

Recognize and respect limits to elasticity

A big part of the problem, according to Maroto, is that kids aren’t always aware of their physical limits. Each body is unique with different strengths and limits that a good trainer should know how to work with while transmitting that expertise to the athlete.

Coaches can help them learn how to listen to their bodies and communicate what they’re experiencing with their instructor. It’s equally important for teachers to respect those limits. Properly trained coaches should also educate children to know their personal limits.

Unfortunately, Maroto has heard many cases of teachers continuing to push after the student has said they can go no further and an injury, sometimes permanent, has resulted.

Proper warm-ups and cool-downs can’t be overemphasized adds Maroto. Warm-up exercises should begin with shorter stretches to increase circulation in the joints, muscles and in all tissues so they are ready for exercise. After training, cool-down should incorporate longer stretches that allow the muscles to relax and release the lactic acid that has accumulated. This helps prevent cramps and stiffness.

Additionally, it’s critical that they properly balance training with significant time spent stretching while balancing the development of flexibility and strength.

Prevent back pain from snowballing into a major injury

Despite increased education for gymnastics coaches and trainers David Tiley, a doctor of physical therapy and gymnastics coach, reports that he still treats large numbers of gymnasts each week for lower back pain.

“I can tell you firsthand as a physical therapist, a coach, and a former gymnast who suffered from back pain that letting injuries go can progress quickly into bigger issues,” shares Tiley.

In his blog, he provides five screening measures to help coaches detect when back pain warrants referral to a medical professional. As a rule of thumb, when a younger athlete experiences ongoing back pain for three or more days, they should be evaluated by a medical doctor and possibly get imaging to rule out a serious issue.

“I feel by far one of the biggest contributors for things snowballing to big injuries fast is that pain is not screened for and dealt with early enough by coaches, parents, and gymnasts.”

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Vintage trailer park resorts deliver retro bliss

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Shortly after World War II and before the advent of modern motor homes, thousands of Americans hit the nation’s highways and byways towing compact travel trailers.

It was a better way to go camping — without having to pitch a tent and rolling out sleeping bags — and trailer park resorts popped up all across the country to accommodate these mobile vacationers.

Well, guess what? They’re back. Vintage trailer park resorts, brimming with brightly refurbished campers from makers such as Airstream, Alma, Boles, Kropf, Shasta, and Spartan are all the retro rage these days.

So, please join us as we take a step back in time for a look at seven retro-chic trailer park resorts ready to book your stay — once the coronavirus goes away.

Sou’wester Vintage Trailer Resort, Seaview, Washington

This coastal park, not far from the Oregon border, boasts a fleet of more than 30 renovated travel trailers from the 1950s and 60s. These impossibly cute campers vary in size from 16 to 40 feet with amenities ranging from simple/rustic to slick and fully equipped.

Each reflects its own unique aesthetic and vintage appeal. All trailers come with bedding, towels and kitchen dishes and utensils. The resort also offers lodge suites, cabins, a spa and sauna, campsites and fully serviced RV sites.

www.souwesterlodge.com, 360-642-2542

AutoCamp, Guerneville, California

This is the place for those wishing to get back to nature — in high style. Except for the towering redwoods that surround it, there’s nothing at all rustic about this upscale park situated just steps from the Russian River.

AutoCamp is home to 23 iconic Airstream trailers outfitted with plush pillowtop mattresses, flat-screen TVs, microwaves, mini-fridges, Main+Goetz bath amenities, luxurious bathrobes and outdoor BBQs with tables and chairs. The park is handy to Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve and a number of top-rated wineries.

Dependent upon further mitigation of the coronavirus pandemic, the park is planning a “contactless” re-opening for May 3. AutoCamp operates a similar park in Santa Barbara, California.

www.autocamp.com, 888-405-7553

Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel, California

Located in the Mojave Desert, just a stone’s throw from Joshua Tree National Park, this collection of six vintage Airstream trailers is the creation of former B-52s lead singer Kate Pierson and her wife/co-owner Monica Coleman.

As you might expect, there’s a zany aspect to it all, with each trailer featuring a different interior design drawn from the worlds of music and nature by the artist team of Maberry-Walker. Lazy Desert is an adults-only destination with a two-night minimum stay.

www.lazymeadow.com, 845-688-7200

The Shady Dell, Bisbee, Arizona

The Shady Dell is the country’s oldest travel trailer resort. It was founded way back in 1927 to serve travelers along Highway 80, a popular transcontinental route linking Savannah, Georgia, and San Diego.

The Dell’s lineup of 11 vintage campers includes such classic examples as a 1950 Spartanette, a 1951 Royal Mansion, a 1955 Airstream and a 1959 Boles Aero — all decked out with period furnishings and accessories including vintage TVs and phonographs. For a different kind of retro experience, guests can book a bunk in a 1947 Chris Craft yacht or the resort’s 1947 Airporter that has been repurposed into a “tiki bus” complete with a hand-carved tiki bar out front.

www.theshadydell.com, 520-432-3567

Hotel Luna Mystica, Taos, New Mexico

“It’s hot, it’s hip, it’s cool, it’s you,” reads the promotional literature for this trendy vintage trailer resort spread over 12 acres of high desert mesa near Taos. In addition to its 20 meticulously restored trailers — each with luxury bedding and bath amenities, full kitchen facilities and outdoor patios — it offers “the sun, the moon and a gazillion stars.”

In fact, the setting couldn’t be more perfect for reveling in the stunning mountain views and fiery New Mexico sunsets. Each trailer has a name and personality of its own, ranging from “Spartacus,” a 1954 Spartan to “Sundance,” a silvery 1961 Airstream. And there’s a pair of ‘60s Avions named “Thelma” and “Louise.”

www.hotellunamystica.com, 575-613-1411

El Cosmico, Marfa, Texas

Here’s another delightfully offbeat campground sure to satisfy the sheltering needs of Bohemian spirits and intrepid travelers who find their way to the artsy West Texas town of Marfa. This 21-acre “nomadic hotel” and campground is dedicated to providing “temporary liberation from the built world.”

To that end, it features about a dozen pastel-colored vintage trailers, ranging from tiny (13 feet) to XL (42 feet) along with an assortment of Sioux-style tepees, safari tents and Mongolian yurts. The property also offers several communal spaces for guests — a hammock grove, outdoor kitchen and dining area, bathhouse, wood-fired hot tubs, community lounge and a store.

www.elcosmico.com, 432-729-1950

JuneBug Retro Resort, Weaverville, North Carolina

This five-star quality vintage trailer park, located 12 miles north of Asheville, sits on a lovely 50-acre wooded site on bubbling Flat Creek — with nary a modern structure in sight. It features 10 carefully restored campers from the 1950s. Each of the trailers is equipped with a/c and heat, a bathroom, refrigerator and hot/cold water.

One of the oldest organic farms in western North Carolina sits just across the creek from the campground, along with the JuneBug Event Center with space and facilities for weddings, family reunions and corporate retreats.

www.junebugretroresort.com, 828-208-1979

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