From The West Coast To The Deep, Deep South

This morning, I saw my first armadillo since my sister picked me up at the Houston airport and drove us 3 hours deeper into Texas. The prehistoric looking critter was ambling around out by the burn pile this morning. He finally waddled off into the woods.

Shifting from the West Coast to Deep East Texas has been quite a transition.
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Mom can’t stay alone so I’m here as long as necessary. I forgot how different my home state of Texas is from every other place in the world.

A bobcat crossed the road on my way to town Friday. Before that, I saw an animal that I didn’t even know existed. It was like seeing a unicorn. I almost couldn’t believe it. It was a solid white deer. Others in town said they were rare but real.

I take that deer sighting as a good omen.
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It’s been quite a ride since I arrived in the deep, deep South. One man was trying to tell me he wanted to sell a ‘fakir’ so many times I finally had to ask him to spell it. Turns out, he was trying to say ‘half acre’ but had condensed it to five letters.

It is nothing short of code talking here at times. “The devil’s whipping his wife,” one man announced. After a moments thought, I remembered that to mean that it is raining while the sun is shining. We dress funny. We talk funny. I love us.

It’s not enough to wear a belt buckle.
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It doesn’t even count if it doesn’t look like the door off a car. Hats are de riguer and it’s going to need to be hand creased. Straws in the summer; felts in the winter. Just like it always has been.

There is one horse on our property that is a former champion.Lynx still stands proud and tall. He lives where I am staying and I was told he brought home many of those shiny buckles that cowpeople wear as trophies of rodeo wins. He’s over 20 years old but that doesn’t stop him from bucking around in the pasture before a storm.

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There is funny little horse called Pedro that keeps getting my attention. I’ve told him everything. He wanders around and follows me whenever he can. Last night, he patted me down for carrots and we saw a shooting star together.

The sporks (spoon/forks) are cross breeds between miniature horses and donkeys. There are a pair of them and they are the first hoofed animals that I have ever seen wrestle. They love to bray-night and day.

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Horse and cows are everywhere as well as donkeys of all shapes and sizes. Turns out they are more than lawn ornaments that eat, the smaller equines keep coyotes and poisonous snakes away.

I tried to get Pedro to chase away a chicken snake but he just stepped over it. They only get excited when their lives are in danger but the long, black creature was easily five feet long and I didn’t like him in the yard.

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Temperatures are just above freezing and Spring is start to show in the new growth on the trees. So goes life here in the Piney Woods of Deep East Texas. Stay tuned for updates and additions to our little slice of paradise called Misfit Island.

There Are No Limits When it Comes to Selecting Great Barrier Reef Tours

The Great Barrier Reef has long been a dream destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. This is with good reason since this natural wonder of the world is arguably the richest marine area in the world. From hump back whales to dreamlike coral palaces, there is much to see under the water. This is only half the story though since this Queensland treasure has just as much to do above the water as it does below. The timeless coastline is breathtaking to see and even those who are repeat QLD visitors complain that they just can not see enough.
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Because the Great Barrier Reef is so much more than simply a habitat, but a living thing on its own, each and every day is different. When you take advantage of the knowledge and experience of a trained tour guide, you are certain to spot wonders that you never expected. If you want to ensure that you have the opportunity to enjoy all that Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef have to offer then you owe it to yourself to take advantage of a Great Barrier Reef tour. This is really the only way to visit the many small islands that populate the waters.
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You will find a wide variety of Great Barrier Reef tours ranging from day trips to white water rafting. Your Great Barrier Reef island tours will give you a chance to swim with the sea turtles or to sail on schooner. Regardless of your taste for adventure, you’ll be able to find a tour that is both entertaining and challenging.
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It is not difficult to find a tour. What may be a little tricky though, is deciding on which tour is right for you and your party. There is such a wide variety that you may find that you have too many choices. Of course, this is really a good problem to have. You can make the task of selecting the perfect outing a little easier if you think about the types of activities you enjoy most and how much you want to spend.
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Do you want a tour that is slow and peaceful or would you prefer something that will get your heart pumping? Would you like to incorporated under water activities or do you prefer to stay above the water? There are many specialized Great Barrier Reef and Island tours available as well. Perhaps you’d like to spend your holiday hoisting sails. If so, then a sailing adventure may be for you. There are many charter tours available as well. You can even create your own island tour by renting and piloting your own boat. The only limit is your imagination. Once you know the type of tour you want you can easily select the perfect plan.
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Most Great Barrier Reef day tours begin early in order to take advantage of the full day. If you are staying in the north part of the region then you’ll have a short distance to travel to get the more popular reef areas. You will generally have lunch on board your water craft and take in several of the islands. Island tours that focus on specific areas are also available. Either way, you will see the Queensland coast in all its beauty through a Great Barrier Reef tour.

Source by Peter Joness

Top 7 Wet and Wild Water Sports in Sri Lanka

If you are looking for a thrill filled vacation in Sri Lanka then you must try the water sports in Sri Lanka. From the surf haven of Arugam Bay to scuba diving around the reefs of Hikkaduwa coast, you can rediscover the fun and excitement that you will cherish forever.

Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for water sports with its stunning beaches and waters.
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Some of the bays and reefs naturally provide the rips required for surfing and diving whilst others are renowned for their sailing.

Unlike most of the other places in the world, you can enjoy water sports in Sri Lanka for almost all the year.
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It is because Sri Lanka has two climate zone, North-East and South-West. For the South-West coast good time is from October to April while on the North-East coast the ideal time is from March to November.

If you are a water sports lover, there are number of water sports in Sri Lanka which you can try. These includes windsurfing, surfing, waterskiing, tube ride, jet-ski, river fishing, snorkeling, wake boarding, body boarding, banana ride, diving, river cruises, deep sea fishing etc.

Although there are number of famous places for water sports in Sri Lanka, some have edge over others.
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Kalpitiya, Arugam Bay, Bentota, Weligama and Hikkaduwa are the most popular spots for water sports. You can feel delight by Surfing in Arugam Bay, Scuba Diving in Hikkaduwa, Jet-Ski riding in Bentota, Kite-Surfing in Kalpitiya.

It’s easy to find good quality accommodation at each of above places. Also traveling to these places is not that difficult and can reach by any means of travel.

The price level also makes Sri Lanka a good place for water sports or I should say for tourism. lt’s cheap and delivers best simultaneously.
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For 10-20 USD you can enjoy a full hour of most of the water sports.

Full or partial water sports training courses and camps are available for both beginners and experienced people. Most of the hotels do arrange water sports upon your request. You can check with your hotel or ask from locals to get to know about the water sport centers nearby you.

Here are the Top 7 Wet and Wild Water Sports in Sri Lanka

1.
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Diving and Snorkeling

This is a wonderful and exciting sport which involves swimming on or in water equip with diving masks, swim fins and carrying a snorkel, which is a breathing tube which enables the snorkeler to breath with ease face down in water. Snorkeling appeals to all ages because it affords one an opportunity to observe the interesting and exciting water life easily without complicated water equipment and complex training required in other sports like scuba diving. Hikkaduwa, Weligama and Kirinda are the famous places for Diving and Snorkeling.

2. Surfing

Surfing is one of the most popular water sports in Sri Lanka among both locals and foreign tourists. High quality waves, warm water and friendly locals will ensure a trip of a lifetime. With a wide range of excellent Surfing locations on both the east and southwest coast, Sri Lanka has consistent surf year-round and Arugam Bay, Weligama and Hikkaduwa are the famous places for Surfing.

3. Water Skiing

Unlike snorkeling, water skiing is a surface water sport which involves a sports person being pulled behind a boat as he moves on skies on the water surface.
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This sport requires strength of both upper and lower body, stamina and balance. Water skiing is fun and open to all ages. Negombo, Hikkaduwa, Aluthgama are the famous places for Water Skiing.

4. Jet Skiing

The sport involves riding on water by using a motor boat which can make to incredible speed and turns. Amazing! Isn’t it? Just imagine yourself speeding up on water! The other aspect of this sport is that it can accommodate two or more people.
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This is satisfying for couples on honeymoon or holiday who enjoys cruising on water as they savor the feeling of speed and breeze. Bentota and Passikudah are the famous places for Jet Skiing.

5. Kayaking

Also referred to as whitewater kayaking. Kayaking involves paddling a kayak, which is a small boat powered by occupant(s) using a double-blade paddle in a sitting position, on a moving body of water. The moving water can be slow, demanding or extreme, which renders the sport lots of fun. Bentota and Weligama are the famous places for Kayaking.

6. Banana and Tube Ride

Definitely, this is a sport you cannot afford to miss. Banana boat and tube riding involves getting on to a tube or banana like boat usually in six and soaring off on water with speed. Since there is little space to hang on to, the fun comes along in trying not to fall off the boat.
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The beauty of this sport is that participants wear life jackets and even if one falls off one will be picked up and the sport continues. Bentota is the best place for Banana and Tube Ride.

7. White Water Rafting

One of the most engaging water sports activities in the world, white water rafting is very popular in Sri Lanka. It requires no specific skill and fitness level. However this is a very challenging activity and good for individuals with an adventurous spirit and ‘can-do’ attitude! Kitulgala is the best place for White Water Rafting in Sri Lanka.



Source by Tharindu M

California's Premier Coastal Housing Community

Renowned for its gorgeous beaches, nice weather, and affordable housing Oceanside, California has made its mark on the map. With the community's steadily increasing attraction, homes for sale in Oceanside are in demand. Potential real estate buyers searching for a beautiful ocean front location with bargain housing should this popular community.

An Ideal Location

Situated just 35 miles north of San Diego and 90 miles south of Los Angeles, this area offers the best of both worlds; small town charm with close access to the big city. The northern most coastal city in San Diego County, Oceanside has more than three miles of beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline, perfect for almost any outdoor activity. Swimming, fishing, body boarding, or jogging, this city caters to any age and any activity. Surfing is the premier sport here, with the city hosting numerous surfing competitions annual.

Known for its ideal weather, rated the second most desirable climate in the United States, and the fifth most desirable in the world, those investing in homes for sale in Oceanside can bask in the beauty of nature. The summer months brings temperatures in the mid to upper 70s, while temperatures in the winter months drop to a pleasant 60 degrees.

Reasonably Priced Real Estate

This is considered to be a medium-sized community, and has a population of 200,000.
The community was forced to build additional housing units to keep up with its expanding population. There are currently 3,500 housing units currently under construction. These properties will be added to the existing 55,000 Oceanside housing units.

Homebuyers will find a variety of housing possibilities, including both traditional and contemporary single-family homes, apartments, townhouses, and condominiums. Real estate in this coastal area is known for being some of the most affordable in the entire state of California. The average price for these homes range from $ 450,000 to $ 600,000. For a resort town located in Southern California, this price tag is definitely a bargain.

Recreational Activities Abound

There are large variety of recreational activities and entertainment spots encircling this California community. One of Oceanside's best kept secrets, the Guajome Regional Park is located in the historic San Luis Rey valley. This beautiful ecological reserve is an ideal place for all members of the family. Several trails provide access for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. There is also a lake- perfect for a leisurely fishing trip. The accused Oceanside Harbor is another "must visit" when touring the area. Featuring many small shops and restaurants, the Harbor is almost like a tiny coastal village. The Harbor also offers deep sea fishing, wave runner and boat rentals, and romantic dinner cruises.

How to Save Money on Home Removals

Moving home can be expensive and many of us will be looking for ways in which we can reduce the costs a little.

You may have certain options to do so when considering your furniture mover.

Here are a few ideas in that domain that might prove to be useful.

1. Do not move 'old tat'.

If we are honest with ourselves, we probably have an awful lot of old rubbish hanging around our homes in places like garages and attics.

Much of it may never be used or even looked at again, apart from when you are moving home! Remember, on the whole, the less you move the lower your costs may be. So, get it cleared out and sold off.

2. Shop around for moving company quotations.

Do not necessarily assume that the cheapest is going to be the best because you will want to make sure that your precious personal possessions are being handled by experts not amateurs. Even so, prices can vary and shopping around is a good idea.

3. Where possible, plan and book your move well in advance.

If you are trying to arrange things at the last moment, the chances are your choice of moving company will be restricted as will your ability to shop around for the most attractive deals.

4. Do your own packing – but be careful here!

If you do own packing, then it's pretty much a no-brainer that it will prove to be cheaper than asking professionals to do it for you.

However, caution is highly advisable! Poorly-packed items are likely to arrive damaged although carefully and specifically your removals specialist has been in their handling of the items concerned. So, know your limitations and if you have any doubts, spend money on professional packing!

5. Check out any special deals.

Some parts of the year and sometimes even parts of an individual week, are known to be reliably quiet in professional removals circles.

If you can be very flexible on your removal date and discuss your requirements with a local expert removal company, you may find that they'll be able to offer you a particularly attractive deal if you are able to move at a time and date that's convenient to them.

It's worth asking and you have nothing to lose.

6. Ask your removals company for help with packing materials.

If you are doing your own packing, going out and purchasing lots of new boxes and related materials may prove to be very expensive.

You may find that your selected moving company may be able to supply you with certain materials that may have been used but which are still in excellent condition. Some may provide them entirely free whilst others may make only a notional charge.

It's only going to be a lot more cost-effective than going out and buying your own new ones from scratch!

As a final thought, do not forget to ask your moving company for their advice on any other options you might have for reducing your costs. Most will only only too well aware how much financial pressure is placed upon families and individuals these days and will do whatever they can to try and identify other opportunities for you to save money.

A Luxury Train Journey Through South Africa

A luxury train may not be everyone's idea of ​​the perfect way to compliment a South African safari, but for those who know for that romantic and by-gone elegance, a luxury train journey could offer the ultimate in resplendent and regal travel. South Africa's most famous rail journeys are aboard the iconic blue train and along the rovos rail network which transport guests across a wide range of country and offering multiple itineraries.

Conveyed in style and comfort through some of the country's most enamoring and striking landscapes safely and securely and away from the clamor of hectic road travel. A train promises you peace of mind and decidedly more glamorous way to travel. The beauty of a luxury rail journey is that instead of interrupting a more archetypal safari experience, 4x4ing through the undergrowth, it acts as the ideal supplement. What you might not expect from a rail journey, typically rigid and regulatory circumstances, is the incredible flexibility that a luxury train offers.

Both the Blue Train and Rovos Rail offer guests a great deal of choice not only in regards of service but also in relation to timings and routes including tours along the renamed Cape Town to Pretoria route, up to Zambia Falls and along the stunning garden route. Journeys can consist of a shorter one way 27 hour Cape Town to Pretoria (or Pretoria to Cape Town) tour or a more extensive trip which can include a return journey.

Rovos Rail itself consists of two beautifully restored trains which boasts some of the most spacious suites in the world; five star luxury cruising through the South African countryside without interference. Capable of accommodating 72 passengers the trains feature 20 coaches including two luxurious dining carriages, a lounge and observation carriage. Such is Rovos' pursuit of refined and luxurious travel the private company has even built and restored a private central train station and locomotive yard solely for the service.

The Blue train is a symbol of endearing opulence in South Africa, its unmistakable royal blue paintwork gleaming in the sunshine as it coasts through the valleys, savannahs and plains. Kings and presidents have journeyed through South Africa aboard the Blue Train and that air of prestige still clings to it today. Such are the standards attained on board this moving five star hotel that all guest rooms are suites with a selection of luxury and deluxe options available. The glorious wood paneled carriages have been beautifully designed to reflect the glamor of a forgotten age and through the train including the dining and club cart this sense of grandeur is maintained. Each passenger coach enjoys its own private butler who will endeavor to attend to all of the needs and wants of the exclusive clientele you will be part of.

A luxury train journey is a wonderful way to encounter the glory of South Africa and what more befitting way to explore this nation than by traveling with all the pomp and grandeur of a refined rail trip.

Moving Companies – For Better or Worse

Moving can be very wearisome, particularly if you have a lot of things to move. Packing up all of your things, properly, hiring a truck, loading the truck, driving the truck to your new home, and then unloading the truck again. It's very time-consuming and it probably makes you tired just thinking about it. Consequently, many people elect to hire professional moving companies to take on all or most of these tasks.

The fact is that, while hiring a moving company can help you save time and hassle, picking the wrong movers can add up to more grief than you want to think about. To guard yourself and your valuables, you might want to consider a few things before going a company to transport your things.

Some points to consider before you decide on a moving company.

1) Exactly which parts of the move do you want delegate to the moving company.

Needless to say, anything you require the mover to do will be reflected in their bill. Probably the most common scenario is that people will pack their own goods and then hire a moving company to load transport and unload all the boxes. Sometimes people, particularly if they may be moving cross-country, will rent a large truck and employ a crew to pack their goods and load the truck. Then they will drive the truck cross-country themselves and even higher a crew at the other end to unload the truck again. Of course others will employ a moving company to do absolutely everything, packing their goods, loading, transporting and even unpacking and removing boxes and packing materials at the new location.

2) Your budget, replacing money for convenience.

The fact is you can hire someone to do pretty much anything, for a price and when it comes to movers and moving nothing could be closer to the truth. If your funds are limited, you'll need balance to your funds with a certain amount of sweat equity. Consequently you may have to perform much of the work yourself and then simply pay the movers to perform those tasks that are the most difficult. Compare estimates from several moving companies and look for the most reasonable rate for the work you need performed. Note: Always check a moving companies references, as with many things, the lowest price is not always the best deal.

4) Is your mover adequately insured to protect your belongings from loss and damage?

You probably have a lot of money invested in things and there is always a degree of risk when you move them. The cost of an incidental mishap during transport could be awful. A moving company, even a top rated one, will usually be assured to meet basic requirements however, if you wish to be fully covered for every eventuality, it would be wise to purchase additional moving insurance for your total peace of mind.

3) Going the distance.

Long-distance moves are a very different animal from local moves. Moving long distances usually usually leads greater expense and requires a more experienced and properly licensed moving company. Moving from state to state or province to province is usually not performed by local movers. Long-distance moves typically require specialized paperwork as well as a number of other considerations unique to this kind of move. One very important aspect of booking a long-distance moving company is the matter of the lead time. Most long distance movers require advance scheduling and will need as much advance notice as possible.

5) Reputation is everything especially when it comes to a moving company

You've probably heard stories about people's bad experiences with moving companies. You may have even seen bad moving experiences depicted in comedy movies for laughs, but in the real world there is nothing funny about finding broken or missing goods after the movers have finished up and left. sometimes all the insurance in the world can not replace an item that has special sentimental value. You want to know that the moving company you choose will treat all your beloveds with the same care that you would. It can not be stressed enough that the moving company you choose should have the best references available and it's important for you to do your very best to find out everything you can about the moving company you choose.

Your mover should be a member of the Better Business Bureau and ideally the longer they have been in business the better. As it is difficult for a moving company to stay in business for long if they do bad work, generally movers who have been in business a long time will be more reliable. These days, checking a moving companies' reputation and history of handling problems is easy to look up by doing a search on the Internet as well as checking directly with Better Business Bureau complaints records.

Some final thoughts on selecting the right moving company.

Depending on the value of your possessions and the distance will be moving them, you may want to consider enlisting the services of moving agent. For reasonable commission a moving agent will make an experienced estimate of the volume and weight of your contents and act as a go between matching your requirements and budget with a reputable mover, storage if necessary, insurance, etc.

You can, of course do this process yourself however, you will need to prepare yourself before hand with a list of questions for the various moving companies you will be contacting and an appropriate amount of time to conduct thorough interviews with each company.

When estimating your insurance needs it's important to bear in mind that most often we will underestimate the value of our possessions because they have been acquitted over a period of time however, if you should experience the misfortune of having to replace all of your things you may be in for a shock when you realize the cost of replacing everything at today's prices.

5 British Columbia Mountain Biking Parks

British Columbia, the land of plenty of downhill mountain biking opportunities! BC is the destination of choice, with North America's highest concentration of lift-access riding. There is a good diversity of riding available too! Whether you prefer extreme gravity or a more gentle single-track, there are paths sure to make you comfortable or push your limits!

Mount Washington Alpine Resort
Mount Washington Alpine Resort is located on Vancouver Island. Riding in the thick forest of hemlocks and yellow cedars is a real outdoor adventure. And the vistas, are to die for with views of the Island's rugged mountains and blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Be sure to keep your eyes on the track!

Mount Washington is located 50km south of Campbell River and 100km north of Nanaimo.

# of Gondola / chair lifts: 2 High Speed ​​Chairlifts, The Hawk Six Pack, & The Eagle Quad

# of Trails / runs: 17 trails

Operating Season: typically from July 1st Canada Day to beginning of September, Labor Day.

Degree of Difficulty: 18% Easiest, 35% More Difficult, 47% Most Difficult

Longest Run: Monster Mile, 1657 Vertical Feet, 1 Mile (1.6 km) long

Total Length of Runs: 37km

Whistler
Whistler dominates the downhill mountain biking parks. Chairlifts service over 4,800 vertical feet of gravity-fed, adrenaline-fueled downhill trails – from gentle greens to expert-only double blacks – there is a massive variety of terrain to choose from.

Whistler is located in the Coastal Mountains of BC and is approximately 115 kilometers from Vancouver.

# of Gondola / chair lifts: 1 Gondola, 2 Highspeed Quads, 1 Fixed grip chair

# of Trails / runs: 50 marked trails, 3 Skills Centers, 4 Jump Parks

Operating Season: typically from mid-May to Canadian Thanksgiving in October

Degree of Difficulty: 17% Easy, 19% Intermediate, 64% Advanced

Longest Run: Freight Train, Length: 4.3km / 1.66 mile, Vertical: 660m / 2165 '

Sun Peaks Resort
Sun Peaks claim to fame are their freeride camps with professional mountain bikers such as: Matt Hunter, Specialized Bicycles, and Graham Agassiz, Kona Bicycles as coaches. And 50% of the trails are advanced, giving you plenty of opportunity to test out your new found skills.

Sun Peaks Resort is located 50km north of Kamloops, BC.

# of Gondola / Chairlifts: 1 chairlift, the Sunburst Express, high speed quad equipped with roll on style racks

# of Trails / Runs: 29 trails with 1954 feet of vertical per run + dirt jumping zone

Operating Season: end of June to end of September

Degree of Difficulty: 23% Easy, 23% Intermediate, 54% Advanced

Longest Run : Smooth Smoothie 5km

Total Length of Runs: 70km of trail

Silver Star
Silver Star Mountain Resort has a great mix of machine made and natural terrain entertaining all downhill bike enthusiasts. Jump trails, like Pipe Dream and Rock Star, have quickly developed reputations as some of the most progressive and fun bike trails around.

Silver Star Mountain Resort is located just 22 kilometers from Vernon at the north end of BC's beautiful Okanagan Valley.

# of Gondola / chair lifts: 1 High Speed ​​Six Person Chair (holds four bikes in roll on racks per chair), 7.5 min ride time

# of Trails / runs: 16 hand-crafted trails of gravity-fed mayhem

Operating Season: end of June to mid-September

Degree of Difficulty: 15% beginner, 40% intermediate, 45% Advanced

Longest Run: Paradise Trail – 10 km's, 1600 vertical feet

Fernie
Fernie BC is legendary offering wide machine-made flowing trails for beginner / intermediate riders, challenging steep and technical single track trails for advanced / expert riders.

Fernie is located in the south-east corner of the BC Rockies on Highway No.3 approximately 60 km from the Alberta and US borders. Fernie Alpine Resort is 5 km from the City of Fernie.

# of Lifts for Summer Operation: 1 High speed Quad – Timber Express providing over 2100 'of vertical (operates on weekends only), 1 Quad – Elk Chair

# of Trails: 37 trails & Skills progress park

Operating Season: end of June to Labor Day weekend

Longest Run: Megasauras (trail takes you through 3 Alpine bowls!)

Total Vertical 2162 feet / 657 meters

Surf's Up At Baskin-Robbins!

Sweeeeet! Baskin-Robbins , the world's largest chain of ice cream specialty stores, is blasting into summer with a selection of new and refreshing frozen tricks in celebration of Sony Pictures Animation's animated action-comedy Surf's Up, in the theaters June 8, 2007. Baskin-Robbins is introducing seven gnarly surfing-themed frozen treats to get ice cream lovers geared up for summer. Baskin-Robbins is also making a splash from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean with a mobile tour and the Big Wave Instant Win Game.

Baskin-Robbins is creating a frenzy of excitement this summer with its new tubular Surf's Up inspired flavors, Penguin Swirl and Splish Splash (TM). Ice cream lovers will go wild for the flavors' unique colors, as the black ice cream and blue sherbet turns tongues penguin black and ocean blue within the first lick. In addition, consumers can cool-off with one of Baskin-Robbins refreshing new Fruit Blast Smoothies, a combination of real fruit and non-fat frozen yogurt, available in a variety of new and exotic fruit flavors like Berry Pomegranate Banana.

"Baskin-Robbins is going back to its California roots to bring summer fun to its customers," said Scott Colwell, Baskin-Robbins' vice president of marketing. "We are excited to kick-off our mobile tour and help ice cream enthusiasts sweeten their day with our refreshing new trees."

Surf's Up Ice Cream Treats
This summer Baskin-Robbins invites dudes and dudettes to dive into summer with some irresistible ice cold trees. Baskin-Robbins Surf's Up ice cream and frozen treats are available at participating stores nationwide now through August 19, 2007, while supplies last.

o Penguin Swirl : A swirl of black Mixed Berry ice cream and white Tutti Fruiti ice.

o Splish Splash (TM) : A refreshing blend of Blue Raspberry sherbet swirled with Blueberry ice.

o Fruit Blast Smoothie : Real fruit blended with non-fat frozen yogurt blasts a smooth and satisfying flavor. Available in new Berry Pomegranate Banana, Strawberry-Banana and Mango.

o Fruit Blast : Real fruit blended with ice, blasts a refreshing bold and intense flavor. Available in new Berry Pomegranate, new Blue Raspberry, Strawberry-Citrus, and Wild Mango.

o Penguin Cone : A frosted penguin leaning up against a palm tree is a refreshing change to Baskin-Robbins single scoop of ice cream in a sugar cone.

o Surf's Up Sundae : Beat the heat with a tropical treat! Very Berry Strawberry, World Class® Chocolate and Nutty Coconut ice creams layered with pineapple topping and crushed graham cracker, topped with whipped cream, half a banana and a Surf's Up chocolate bar.

o Surf's Up Ice Cream Cake : A full sheet cake transformed into a beach scene, complete with Cody and Tank riding the waves. Available in Baskin-Robbins new Fudge Crunch Cake, a layer of fudge and chocolate crunchies in between two layers of ice cream.

Cruising Coast to Coast
Baskin-Robbins is cruising to cities across the country this summer with the Surf's Up mobile tour. The mobile vehicle, fashionable with colorful pictures of Surf's Up characters Cody, Lani and Chicken Joe, will provide consumers with the opportunity to sample Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavors, play the new Surf's Up video game by Ubisoft, and get sweet treats and deals . The mobile tour will hit the road on June 1, 2007 beginning in Los Angeles and New York and making stops in 31 cities including San Diego, Sacramento, Calif., San Francisco, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas. The east coast tour will conclude in Dallas on July 16, 2007 and the west coast tour will conclude in Fresno, Calif. on July 31, 2007.

Catch a Wave and Win
To create an even bigger splash this summer, Baskin-Robbins has created the Big Wave Instant Win Game online. Contestants can visit http://www.bigwaveblast.com or http://www.baskinrobbins.com/bigwave to view scenes from Surf's Up and see if Cody Maverick successfully rides the wave. When Cody hangs ten, the contantant wins! If Cody wipes out, consumers receive a coupon offer for Fruit Blast Smoothies and can come back again the next day for a chance to win. Consumers can play each day through July 31, 2007 for a chance to win Baskin-Robbins coupons and many exciting prizes including:

Two all-inclusive trips for four to Jamaica

A trip for four to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

Baskin-Robbins Treats for a year

Surf's Up video games, DVDs and more!

In addition to the Big Wave Instant Win Game, the web site offers even more Surf's Up inspired fun including the Gnarly Name Generator, downloadable Surf's Up wallpaper, screen savers, buddy icons, a mini-version of the Surf's Up video game by Ubisoft and more.

Flavor History and Innovation
Baskin-Robbins has created more than 1,000 ice cream flavors over the past 61 years, many inspired by fashions, people, events in time and pop culture trends. Baskin-Robbins continues to be the leader in ice cream flavor innovation by consistently introducing new ice cream flavors to its extensive flavor library. The iconic brand is committed to delighting taste buds of all ages with exciting new and traditional menu options.

About Baskin-Robbins
Baskin-Robbins, the world's largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, creates and markets innovative, high-quality ice cream, specialy frozen desserts and beverages in more than 5,600 retail shops around the globe. Baskin-Robbins was founded by two ice cream enthusiasts whose passion led to the creation of more than 1,000 ice cream flavors and a wide variety of delicious treats. Headquartered in Canton, Mass., Baskin-Robbins is part of the Dunkin 'Brands, Inc. family of companies. For further information, visit http://www.baskinrobbins.com .

About Surf's Up
Surf's Up is an animated action-comedy that delves behind the scenes of the high-octane world of competitive surfing. The film profiles teenage Rockhopper penguin Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf), an up-and-coming surfer, as he enters his first pro competition. Followed by a camera crew to document his experiences, Cody leaves his family and home in Shiverpool, Antarctica to travel to Pen Gu Island for the Big Z Memorial Surf Off. Along the way, Cody meets Sheboygan surfer Chicken Joe (Jon Heder), famous surf promoter Reggie Belafonte (James Woods), surf talent scout Mikey Abromowitz (Mario Cantone), and spirited lifeguard Lani Aliikai (Zooey Deschanel), all of whom recognize Cody's passion for surfing, even if it's a bit misguided at times. Cody believes that winning will bring him the admiration and respect he desires, but when he unexpectedly comes face-to-face with a washed-up old surfer (Jeff Bridges), Cody begs to find his own way, and discovers that a true winner is not always the one who comes in first.

About Columbia Pictures:
Columbia Pictures, part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company. Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America (SCA), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; digital content creation and distribution; worldwide channel investments; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of filmed entertainment in 67 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.sonypictures.com .

About Sony Pictures Animation:
Sony Pictures Animation was established in May 2002 to enable Sony Pictures Entertainment to tap into the vast imagination of the creative community, develop characters and stories that are best realized through digital production and bring entertainment for audiences of all ages to the screen. The division's first film, Open Season, was released in September, 2006. Sony Pictures Animation is currently in production on Surf's Up (due in theaters June 8, 2007) and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (spring 2009).

(TM) & © 2007 Sony Pictures Animation, Inc. All Rights Reserved

James Bond's Secret Lair – The World's Coolest Data Center

Data centers have never been exciting places. That is, until now. Its official, the coolest data center in the world is the Pionen, located in 100 feet below the bedrock in Stockholm, Sweden. Originally built as a nuclear bunker used during wartimes, it's now the home of a space-age, Bond-worthy data center.

Instead of focusing on hardware and servers, the designers of this ultra high-tech data center decided to focus on humans, making it a hip and fun place to work. The center features greenhouses, waterfalls, German submarine engines, simulated daylight and it can withstand a direct hit from a hydrogen bomb.

Design Straight Out of the Movies

The location of the facility was the inspiration for the unique design. Building a data center in an old nuclear bunker claims something out of the ordinary and a boring design would not do. To find inspiration for the center, the designers turned to science fiction movies like Logan's Run, Silent Running and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Additionally, the James Bond movies were a huge inspiration for the design. The designer even wanted to get a white cat, but realized that would be going a bit too far.

Word of Mouth Marketing

One of the hidden benefits for such an intriguing and interesting design is the word of mouth marketing it automatically produces. The space-age design, waterfalls, greenhouses, artificial sunlight and smoke machines make the data center stand out. Since collocation is one of the services they offer, customers frequently visit the facility. When something is this unique customers are sure to share what they saw with their friends and business associates. Something like that can not be ignored. Other companies will want to check it out and see what's so special about the center and voila, they have another customer.

Space-Age Features

But it's not just design and no substance. In fact the data center is just as high-tech as it is aesthetically pleasing.

o Located in a nuclear bunker- the data center is located at the site of an original nuclear bunker from the Cold War. It has also provided the original name: Pionen White Mountains

o Bomb Proof- located 100ft underground and in an original bomb shelter, no hydrogen bomb is going to destroy these servers. It was built to be secure and protect soldiers in case of an attack. No longer needed for these purposes, it now protects servers … even from a nuclear attack.

o Triple Redundancy Internet- Losing internet connection is not a concern in this facility. Even though it's located deep within the mountains, there are both fiber and copper wires running into the facility through the mountains from three different directions.

o Cooling- The facility uses Baltimore Aircoil fans to cool the facility to the effect of 1.5 megawatts. This is enough cooling to cool several hundred servers.

o Houses Sweden's largest ISP- this center is home to the NOC for all of Bahnhof's operations. This is the largest ISP in Sweden, with five locations- of which, Pionen is the largest. Additionally the data center is a colocation facility so you can put your servers there if you want.

This data center is by far the world's coolest data center and describes its title. It's tough competition for anyone to outdo Pionen, but if anyone is up to the challenge, the world could use more cool data centers.

Exploring Options in VOIP Service Providers

Voice over internet protocol involves phone service provided over an internet connection. People with an adequate connection can typically receive this service instead of contracting through a local phone company. As you prepare to make a final choice, consider your options in VOIP service providers to find one that fits your needs and budget.

Consider Your Necessary Options

Review your current account to determine what options you need and which ones you may be able to omit from your monthly bill. Typical features include call waiting, caller ID, three-way calling, and call forwarding. Note your current bill amount to enable you to compare this cost with the costs you will have after changing your account. It is likely that you will save money by making this change. It is common for VOIP service providers to offer bundling options, but you also must compare each price carefully to ensure that you do not pay more than you would pay for each separate option. Ask for a demonstration if you do not understand any features offered. If you determine that you do not need features, keep looking until you find a plan that fits your needs precisely.

Research Companies and Terms

Explore different VOIP service providers to learn about these companies. Take notes as you gather information, so you can remember the different features that each company offers. Examine money-back guarantees, details about contract terms, equipment provided, and policies about returning the equipment. Never consider a firm that does not offer at least a 30-day satisfaction guarantee to ensure that you will have a recourse if you are not happy with the service. Some companies will use offers of free service to get customers to sign lengthy contracts. It's optimal if you do not have to sign any contract at all because this gives you the most protection and flexibility.

Number Portability

Find out whether a company offers number portability, which will enable you to maintain your current number instead of changing to a new number. Most firms provide this feature. Unless you're willing to update all your contacts about your new number, keep looking until you find a company that will enable you to keep your current number.

Network Test

You may not know if your internet connection is fast enough to enable VOIP. The problems that people experience with VOIP often specific to the speed of their connection and not with issues with the company. Therefore, before you proceed, request a network test to evaluate your network. The business should help you conduct this diagnostic test to evaluate your network. A business that does not offer this test may not have the knowledge and expertise to deliver quality assistance.

Technical Support

Issues and problems will invariably arise. As you consider various VOIP service providers, check into the technical support and maintenance provided by each firm. Optimally, the firm needs a system for resolving issues quickly with a team of experts standing by to assist customers.

With due diligence and careful research, you can find a business that will serve your connectivity needs to keep your phones connected at all times.

Laughing Matters – Exploring The Connection Between Humor And Health

In the 1960s, Norman Cousins ​​was diagnosed with a crippling and potentially fatal collagen disease. In response, Cousins ​​undertook a statute that included plenty of vitamin C and positive emotions – including daily belly laughs that resulted from watching TV shows like The Three Stooges . To the surprise of many doctors, he made a full recovery, published a book about the experience (the best-selling Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration, 1979 ) and in the process provided a wellspring of support for the idea that laugh makes for great medicine.

Now, several decades later, we're still debating the question of whether humor can be a boon to our health and even to our physical fitness. As basic as humor is, researchers still have much to learn about it – as do some comedians. Regarding health benefits, says Michael Miller an associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland Hospital (Baltimore), "The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be to exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day."

Miller was a researcher on a study reported at the American Heart Association's annual scientific sessions a few years back that linked laughter and an active sense of humor with heart health. Cardiologists at the medical center found that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh at certain situations than subjects the same age without heart disease.

The study compared both humor and anger and hostility levels of 300 subjects, half of which had either suffered a heart attack or undergone bypass surgery, with the other half free of heart disease. The former were less likely to recognize humour or use it to get out of uncomfortable situations, the researchers found. They were also angrier and more hostile. Of course, some of that may be a reaction to their illness; you would not expect sick people to be as jolly as healthy people. But 40% is a big difference, more than you might attribute to that factor.

MORE FUNNY EVIDENCE

Another study provided further support for the idea of ​​laughter as a beneficial mental and physical activity. UCLA researchers had 21 healthy kids put one hand in cold water while they watched funny videos. The result? The children who laughed were able to tolerate the pain of cold water longer than those who did not. Researchers also found that the laughing kids had lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that indicates stress.

While this study was small, and there was no control group, it still lends support to the healthiness of laughter. And given that we've seen no studies indicating any negative consequences of a snigger, chuckle or guffaw, it's hard to argue against the idea that a little bit of funny helps improve emotional and physical well-being.

Just as we incorporate other heart-healthy activities into our daily lives, we might do the same with laughter, suggest Miller. "The ability to laugh – either naturally or as a learned behavior – may have important implications in societies where heart disease remains the No.1 killer," he notes.

Humor will not replace exercise in the health equation, of course, but who would not sometimes prefer an episode of Friends to a grueling cardio session? And today, humor is taken more seriously as a health factor than it was taken in the past. Hundreds of academies belong to the International Society for Humor Studies.

Although the health benefits of laughter have yet to be proven scientifically, laughter may help us beat stress, which contributes to heart problems, among other maladies. We may, after all, need a daily dose of laughter along with our exercise and lean diets. So be sure to crack up at least a few times a day. It can not hurt, and it might very well help. No joke.

All About ISO Shipping Containers

ISO shipping containers are a major innovation in the movement of cargo both inland and overseas. The term ‘ISO’ means ‘International Standards Organization’ and sets the standard for the movement of freight worldwide.

It is essential that these units meet the exacting standards set by the ISO because of the large volume and different types of product they carry. And, not only do they need to be able to bear extremely heavy loads they also must be sound enough to be stacked when being shipped. And, of course, they need to stand up to extremely harsh conditions such as when being transported in rough seas as well as being rust resistant for when they are being transported on heavily salted roads during the winter months.

In order to be cargo worthy most shipping containers are CSC plated. They come in various sizes, usually between 20 and 45 feet in length, though some can be anything up to 100 foot long. There are also varying types of container, such as Steel Dry, Hi-Cube Steel Dry, Open Top and Flat Rack. The type of container to be used will depend on the cargo and the conditions under which it will be carried. The container service provider will also be able to give advice on the best type of unit to be used.

The design of shipping containers depends on how they are to be transported. The larger ones, which are usually constructed from lighter materials, are used mainly for inland – road and rail – transportation and are weather proofed – resistant to wind and rain.

As well as being useful for the mass transportation of cargo by road, rail and sea, shipping containers can also be transported by air, though the various air freight lines often produce their own containers, specifically designed for their aircraft.

The mass use of shipping containers has revolutionised the movement of goods worldwide.. A survey of American ports as early as 1998 showed that moving goods in bulk using shipping containers sped up the operation by up to 2,000 per cent. Not only does does this mean that the product will reach the customer much more quickly, it also saves heavily on transportation and labour costs, leading to the prospect of cheaper prices for the consumer, and bigger profits for the manufacturer.

The usage of ISO shipping containers is an economical, safe and efficient way to transport goods anywhere in the world, hence their ever increasing popularity in carrying products from the factory to the consumer.