Kayaking at the Gateway to Recreation

Whether it’s the heart-stopping thrill of whitewater rapids or the peacefulness of paddling on a quiet lake in the early hours of the morning, you’ll find your ideal kayaking adventure lies not far from the small town of Entiat, Washington. This town, long known as the “gateway to recreation”, is in the very center of many ideal kayaking lakes and rivers.

Let’s start with one of the most wild and adventuresome — the Chelan River. For decades this four-mile long river bed has been dry, but has now suddenly been thrust into the national kayaking spotlight as the Chelan PUD has agreed to allow kayakers to run it on two separate weekends in July, 2009 and July and September, 2010. Although short, it has more thrills than most of us our willing to endure. Given that the treacherous three-tenths long section through the Chelan Gorge is rated Class VI, this opportunity is only for experts. Me? I hope to be on the banks with my camera as those willing to accept the risks dare to run it.

At the other end of the spectrum — where I’m at — are the more peaceful waters of Lake Entiat and Lake Chelan, although it should be noted that even these lakes can be quite a challenge when the wind kicks up. The northern 30 miles of Lake Chelan are particularly ideal for an extended kayaking adventure. Bring your gear and plan on staying overnight along the way at one of several camping spots accessible only by water. One of my favorites is the Domke Falls Campground, located about 10 miles south of Stehekin. If you have extra time, be sure to take the hike up past the falls to Domke Lake. There are many great photo ops along the way.

Lake Entiat also lends itself to extended overnight adventures. The Chelan PUD maintains numerous campgrounds along its shores. With a little advance planning, one could spend a night at each of these parks over a several day period. Alternatively, put-in at the Entiat City Park and take a few hours to explore the local shores of Entiat and the mouth of the Entiat River.

The Entiat River has several excellent runs for different levels of ability and without the crowds of other rivers emptying into the Columbia River. The lower 12-mile stretch from Stelico to the confluence with the Columbia offers a pleasant paddle with fairly consistent Class II rapids and the occasional Class III drop. Scenery along the way includes many small farms and orchards and you can watch how the vegetation changes dramatically from forest to desert as you get closer to the Columbia.

An upper 3-mile section of the Entiat River runs from Lake Creek Campground to the National Forest Boundary. The rapids through the canyon are Class IV+, but it calms down for the final couple of miles to Class II or III. You will likely have the river to yourself as many kayakers opt instead to run the nearby Wenatchee River.

By far the most popular river for both kayaking and rafting in this part of Central Washington is the Wenatchee River. The Wenatchee River Festival is held each year in mid-June and includes a down river race, beer garden, silent auction and kayaking film presentation. Along some 60 miles of the Wenatchee you’ll find a range of adventures. Choose the 19-mile run from Lake Wenatchee to Tumwater Canyon for an enjoyable Class II route. Run Tumwater Canyon to Leavenworth for 7 miles for a thrilling Class IV-V outing that won’t soon be forgotten. From Leavenworth to Monitor enjoy 18-miles of Class III rapids and from Peshastin Creek to Cashmere is the Class II-III 10-mile run.

Whichever route you choose, be sure to go prepared and research current conditions before you put-in. If you’re inexperienced, contact one of the many guiding services in the area. They’ll be able to help you get the experience to learn this exciting sport and provide all the equipment you’ll need for a safe and thoroughly fun adventure!

The Gateway to the West

A Midwestern city on the Missouri River, Omaha, Nebraska is the largest city in the state and the seat of Douglas County. With a population of over 430,000, Omaha is the 42nd largest city in the US.

Due to its distance from large bodies of water and lack of significant mountain ranges, Omaha’s climate features hot summers and cold winters.

Omaha’s diverse economy includes Fortune 500 companies as well as many banking, insurance, telecommunications, construction, transportation and technology businesses. Warren Buffett, world famous investor and billionaire businessman known as the “Oracle of Omaha”, calls Omaha home. Other well-known corporations in Omaha include insurance giant Mutual of Omaha, the Gallup Organization, Union Pacific Railroad and ConAgra Foods.

Tourism attracts visitors to Omaha from surrounding areas. There is the world-class Henry Doorly Zoo, which is the state’s top paid attendance attraction. It houses the largest nocturnal exhibit as well as the biggest indoor desert and rainforest.

Omaha’s historic district in the Downtown area features the Old Market which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. A popular destination for residents and visitors alike, it houses many shops, bars, eateries and galleries. Other historic districts, including the Omaha Rail And Commerce District are also home to galleries and restaurants.

Parks and public gardens abound in Omaha, including the beautiful, 100 acre Omaha Botanical Gardens. There are six regional public parks in Omaha, and the riverfront area is now a park that includes a marina.

A network of paths offer over 80 miles of trails for bicyclists, pedestrians and hikers. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail passes through Omaha, as does the American Discovery Trail.

Omaha has a long musical history. Rhythm and blues and jazz greats can trace their roots to Omaha. There are many clubs, bars and cafes that feature nightly music for every possible interest. The Omaha Symphony Orchestra performs at the Holland Performing Arts Center and the Orpheum theater is home to the Opera Omaha. An annual Blues, Jazz and Gospel Festival draws thousands of attendees every year, and Omaha is home to the Black Music Hall Of Fame.

Museums, including the Joslyn Art Museum and Omaha Children’s Museum are considered to be some of the finest of their kind.

Throughout the city, there are elegant antique stores, unique mom-and-pop shops, sophisticated galleries, large chains stores and small boutiques. Omaha can keep any shopper busy with its eclectic mix of retail establishments.

For sports enthusiasts, Omaha has a lot to offer. Professional baseball, arena football, the NCAA Championships and PGA golf attract fans from all over. If you would rather play than watch, there are skating rinks, tennis courts, golf courses and hiking trails. Fishing, boating and other outdoor recreation make Omaha a sports lover’s paradise.

Omaha’s history as a meatpacking center and home of the famous Omaha Steak company give it a reputation as the place for steaks. But there are many unique local restaurants that feature a wide variety of cuisine. Popular chain restaurants, fine dining, pizza…Omaha has it all.

Omaha offers all the advantages of big city living combined with the livability of a small town.

5 Jersey Shore Attractions For an Unforgettable Summer Getaway

If Summer Break has you wanting to get away with the kids and you are considering the Jersey Shore, attractions are sure to be on your itinerary. The trouble is, with so many great attractions, which ones will you include in your travel plans? Here are five spots to be sure to include to make this Summer unforgettable:

1. Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Waterparks

Filled with amusement park rides and water fun, this is one of those Jersey Shore attractions that has something for everyone regardless of your age, or what you like to do. Games, treats, hotels, and even fine dining are all easily accessible from the pier. You can always find what you need without having to go great distances. Situated right on the beach, you can enjoy the views and all the fun in the sun that comes with it.

2. Take a Lighthouse Tour

Mostly found in and around the Gateway National Recreation Park, Jersey Shore attractions like lighthouses make history fun. These stately characters of old have stood out against the craggy shoreline and into the horizon, guiding sailors home for years. While they may or may not be as vital to those who travel the seas, these amazing landmarks are still standing and telling their stories to all who will listen. Some landmarks to include on your tour include the Cape May, Barnegat, Sea Girt, and Sandy Hook Lighthouses.

3. Wildwood Boardwalk

While this boardwalk gives you access to Jersey Shore attractions such as five of the area’s amusement parks, there is much more here to see and do. This five-mile stretch is filled with some of the best beaches in the area for swimming, beachcombing, or just enjoying the area sunshine. The two miles of actual boardwalk are home to some of the best shops and small eateries in the area. If you want to grab a quick bite to eat, would like to spend an afternoon along the beach, or want some great souvenirs, this is a great place to stop.

4. Island Beach State Park

Like to spend the afternoon outdoors? You should really check out the Island Beach State Park. Here, you can enjoy guided nature tours, a picnic lunch, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, shell collecting, and much more. Besides, nothing beats a sunrise or sunset walk in the warming summer breeze.

5. Bay Village

The Bay Village is designed with the shopaholic in mind. Families and shoppers alike love the area for its vast shopping opportunities and delicious spots to eat that will have you returning time and again.

If a vacation is what you make it, then Jersey Shore attractions are sure to make a vacation you won’t forget anytime soon. Just by choosing the activities and spots you like the most, you will quickly fill your vacation schedule, and you will be wishing you could stay forever.