Take a Vacation from the Winter Blues

 
Winter is almost here. That means staying in and waiting for spring — right? Not at all! There are plenty of activities you can do in the winter, no matter where you live. You can even plan a getaway to one of the many winter sports resorts in the United States.
 
From coast to coast, you can find a resort for yourself or your family to satisfy all your winter sports desires. Those traveling to the West Coast, Midwest and northeastern parts of the country will find an abundance of resorts close by, but others will not have to travel far. There are winter sports resorts all over the country to satisfy any of your cold-weather interests.
 
“States as far south as North Carolina and Tennessee feature ski resorts that also offer other winter sports, such as ice skating and tubing,” said TripAdvisor Public Relations Specialist Julie Cassetina.
 
You don’t even need to find mountains to find great winter sports, Cassetina said. There are Winter Wonderlands all across the U.S.!
 
“While the mountainous regions of the East and West Coasts are the most popular destinations for winter sports, travelers in the comparatively flat Midwest can find resorts that offer plenty of snow-filled fun across the Great Plains,” Cassetina said.
 
Popular resort destinations in the western half of the United States include Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev.; Park City, Utah; Big Bear Region, Calif.; and Sun Valley, Idaho. Eastern destinations include Lake Placid, N.Y.; North Conway, N.H.; and Stowe, Vt.
 
Those living in the Midwest can find a variety of Winter sports resorts as well, including Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs, Mich.; Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior in Lutsen, Minn.; Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, Mich.; and Granite Peak in Wausau, Wisc.
 
Ski-lovers will find a plethora of trails to suit their needs at nearly any winter sports resort. For example, Boyne Highlands has 55 trails on 435 skiable acres, which makes it the largest ski area in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. You even find a resort —like Boyne — with a variety of room styles, from hotel rooms to condos and cottages.
 
Erin Ernst, director of communications for Boyne, suggests that resort-goers consider their skill level when choosing a resort. If you are new to skiing, for example, you should see if the resort offers lessons or free hills to beginners.
 
“There are many factors to explore when considering a winter resort for vacationing,” Ernst said. “Lodging options, resort offerings and variety of winter sports should all be taken into consideration.”
 
Looking to branch out for your winter sports vacation? You aren’t limited to skiing! You can find resorts that offer almost any winter activity you desire. Cassetina said resorts are branching out in their offering to accommodate sports such as horseback riding, dogsledding, snowshoe hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
 
Heading out into the snow is fun—but it can be dangerous and downright unpleasant if you aren’t prepared with the correct gear. The National Ski Patrol says that having the proper clothing is a key to safety and enjoyment when participating in outdoor winter activities.
 
The right equipment means not only having the right skis, skates or sled. It also means having the proper clothing to stay both warm and dry. The National Ski Patrol says that the key to dressing for the cold is in the layering. The organization suggests lightweight layers. You should have an inner moisture-wicking layer, a middle insulating later and an outer shell layer.
 
Check the weather forecast to be sure you are dressing appropriately. Also consider your exertion level. Are you going on a horse ride, which requires very little exertion, or cross-country skiing, where you will be exerting a high amount of effort? Layering allows you to shed and add clothing as it is necessary, but you should always be prepared for the worst.
 
If you are searching for a resort, the best way to find the one you want is to use a service such as TripAdvisor to look at reviews and photos from real travelers, Cassetina said.
 
“When searching for a resort, travelers can use the filters on TripAdvisor to sort by price, traveler rating, distance and more,” Cassetina said. “They can also select from additional categories such as ‘family,’ ‘romance,’ ‘ski-in/ski-out’ and more to identify resorts that will fit their travel type.”
 
Don’t take the chilly season off from being active. Get all the cold-weather gear you need at your local Dunham’s, and head out into the snow!
 
-Ski Bum
 
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Dr. Dunham’s Cabin Fever Cure

 
“I’ve got cabin fever, it’s burning in my brain. I’ve got cabin fever, it’s driving me insane,” sang the Muppets in their 1996 blockbuster, “Muppet Treasure Island.”
 
Well, in truth the movie may not have achieved blockbuster status, but most of us won’t soon forget the “Cabin Fever” song. Perhaps because it hits close to home.
 
Cabin fever has been recognized as a very real affliction for almost 100 years. It results from being confined to one place for an extended period of time. It’s exacerbated by inactivity. The usual result is extreme irritability and feelings of anxiety. It often strikes in winter when many of us shun the cold and curl up on the couch for the duration.
 
The most obvious cure is getting outside and interacting with the rest of the world. For those of us whose favorite activities include things like gardening, swimming or hanging out at the beach, the winter world may seem foreign and forbidding. But winter sports can be invigorating and entertaining. And there’s no better cure for the ills of cabin fever than the crisp air of a January day.
 
Did we hear someone say it’s too cold to play outside? Well, that’s only true if you’re not dressed for outdoors. Today’s winter clothing is light yet warm, so there’s no need to fear the frigid air, and bundling up need not cramp your style.
 
Winter Games, Out and In
 
Once you’re dressed for the occasion, the possibilities for winter entertainment are almost unlimited. Those who appreciate a good workout might try cross-country skiing or snowshoe hiking. Snowboarding and downhill skiing can provide a good amount of exercise as well, and few thrills compare to that of racing down the side of a ski slope at speed.
 
Ice-skating and sledding are a bit less taxing than skiing but can be just as much fun, particularly for the younger set. Most towns have a good sledding hill or two, and winter afternoons will likely find a happy group of kids enjoying the ride downhill. Ditto ice skating rinks or frozen ponds. You can find them everywhere, and there’s always something special about tracing lines on the ice as gentle flakes fall from a moonlit sky.
 
Of course you can invent your own winter games. When I was a kid, a zillion years ago, we would play football in the snow – on our knees. That required only a small parcel of land, which was all that was available in the urban area where I was raised. But while the playing field was small, the games were big.
 
For those who hanker to get out and do something but would prefer to minimize the strenuous part, there’s always ice fishing.If you’d prefer to fish on open water, some fast-moving streams in Colorado, like the South Platte River, offer winter fly-fishing.
 
On days when it’s just too cold to go out, try changing your indoor routine to relieve symptoms of cabin fever. Table tennis, a popular indoor sport, is a great way to stay active. There’s also billiards, air-hockey and Wii games that are played in front of the television. Some games, like Wii Grand Slam Tennis, mimic outdoor summer sports and can provide a pretty good workout. Or for a top-notch workout do some cardio and resistance training to get ready for swimsuit season.
 
Getting Away From It All
 
If you really have to get out of town to cure that cabin fever, then get out of town. There’s a winter resort in the U.S.A. for any winter sport you can think of, and accommodations range in price from very affordable to lavish and expensive.
 
Looking for something novel? Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado offers ski biking. Another Colorado attraction, Ouray Ice Park, offers ice climbing in the Uncompahgre Gorge. In Alaska you can try dogsledding. Skijoring, which is popular in Minnesota, is a melding of dog sledding and skiing.
 
What’s that you say? You want to get away from the cold? Then head south or west to Florida, Arizona or California. Caribbean and Mexican vacations can be very affordable. There’s always somewhere where one can find a bit of summer in the throes of winter.
 
A Cure That’s Sure To Work
 
But you don’t have to leave home to defeat the winter doldrums. Why not organize a winter Olympics for the neighborhood? And your event doesn’t have to focus on winter sports. Playing softball in the snow is a hoot, as is Frisbee golf. Picnic games like a three-legged race are even more fun in the snow.
 
Plan a post-Olympics tailgate with plenty of hot chocolate, some hot dogs or pizza, a blazing fire pit and some marshmallows to roast.
 
That’s a sure cure for even the worst case of cabin fever.
 
-Fun For All Ages
 
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Pond Hockey’s Simplicity Appeals to Growing Fan Base

Think back to your pick-up softball games. They didn’t require much in the way of equipment: a mitt, a bat and a ball. There were no umpires, no foul lines, no groomed infields. You played for the love of the game; you learned to be creative and to compromise when there was a dispute. In northern climates, including many areas of the Midwest, baseball gave way to hockey in the winter. The same simplicity, however, applied: minimal equipment, makeshift rinks and ever-changing teams and conditions. After decades of organized hockey, it’s good to see many are now embracing a return to the game’s roots.
 
“All you need for outdoor hockey is your gear and a shovel to clear the snow and turn the surface into a hockey rink,” said Corry Kelahear, Reebok-CCM. “It’s less formal and offers more opportunity for more creativity. It’s great for individual skill development and it’s a nice way to reconnect with the simplicity of the game.”
 
“Pond hockey (also known as shinney) is how a lot of NHL players got their start. Those who participate in pond hockey are doing it for the love of the game. They love being outdoors, playing hockey in its original elements,” added Peter Bartlett of Bauer.
 
Unlike indoor hockey, outdoor hockey doesn’t require a great investment in equipment.
 
“The equipment is essentially the same as indoor hockey: skates, a stick, we always recommend wearing a helmet and it’s even more important to do so for outdoor hockey. A pair of gloves adds protection while making it easier to grab the stick and keep warm,” Bartlett added.
 
Kelahear explained that since outdoor hockey, or pond hockey, ice surfaces tends to be rougher, participants will need to have their skates sharpened more frequently. He actually recommends not using the high-end equipment of indoor hockey and getting pond hockey-specific equipment.
 
“With the Reebok-CCM products that Dunham’s carries, you can get the basic outdoor hockey equipment for about $150. That’s a reasonable investment for something that can deliver years of pleasure,” Kelahear said.
 
Bartlett echoed Kelahear’s sentiment. “A lot of kids get their first taste of the game playing shinney. Bauer makes everything needed for the game – from the first pair of skates for 4- to 5-year-olds to the skates being worn by 65 percent of NHL players and everything in between.”
 
If you’re thinking about giving pond hockey a try, here’s what our two experts recommend:
 
• Make sure the skates are comfortable. You don’t need a pro-level skate. Rather, look for something that is comfortable to wear and with plenty of padding. In addition to keeping your feet warm, the padding will absorb some of the blow, should you get hit with the puck.
 
• Skates don’t come sharpened, so the first experience won’t be a pleasant one without the proper edges. Your local Dunham’s store is a great resource for this service.
 
• Get a basic stick and tape it. Bartlett recommends an entry-level composite stick, as they are more durable and lighter weight.
 
• A helmet is especially important because the ice is not perfect as it is in indoor hockey.
 
“Beyond the basics, we always recommend a mouth guard, a jock strap for boys, elbow pads, probably shin guards and a very thin layer of gloves under the hockey glove. The latter help keep the hands a little warmer,” Kelahear added.
 
With any new product, be sure to consult with the sales staff to ensure you have the right product and the right fit. Bear in mind that skate sizes don’t correlate directly to shoe sizes. (Most people choose ice skates one size smaller than they wear for their everyday shoes.)
 
-Fun For All Ages
 
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