5 Lesser-Known Vacation Spots in California

California vacations generally consist of Disneyland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the beaches, surf, and sand – and, typically large crowds. Here are five incredible places in California most people never see.

  1. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Hiking on an active volcano? Lassen Peak is a wonderful spot for cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking at other times. The most interesting section of the park is Bumpass Hell. Wooden walks take you past bubbling mud pots and colorful hot springs. Fishing, boating, and most water sports are available at Lake Almanor a few miles away.

  1. Mono Lake

Close to Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake is straight out of a sci-fi movie. This weirdly beautiful lake is one of the oldest in the world, a salt-water lake with no outlets, where almost nothing lives in the lake except algae and brine shrimp. Boating and swimming are allowed. The alien landscape is delightfully photogenic. Tufa towers, formed from limestone, stand near the south bank where springs enter the lake. During the spring and autumn migration periods, flocks of birds descend on the lake to feed on brine shrimp.

  1. Point Arena Lighthouse

A scenic drive up the coast from San Francisco, Point Arena offers incredible views of the ocean and coastline. Great for hiking, exploring, and photography. In the nearby town you can arrange for whale sighting tours. Check out the food and fun at Point Arena pier. Don’t miss Bowling Ball Beach and Glass Beach.

  1. Bodie State Historic Park

Between the Nevada border and Yosemite lies the ghost town of Bodie, thirteen miles down a dusty road The town is worth the trip. Over 100 buildings still stand. The state has maintained the buildings in the same dilapidated state they were in when the town was turned into a park in 1962. Gold was discovered there in 1959. In 1880 it had a population of 10,000 with 65 saloons in town.

  1. Sacramento

California’s capital has lots to offer. The state history museum, a railroad museum, and an aerospace museum are all both fascinating and fun. Check out the animals at the Sacramento zoo and tours of the capitol building. The city is noted for its home grown food and excellent restaurants.

This post was originally published on AndrewElsoffer.net

The Best Lodges in U.S. National Parks

Taking a trip to any one of the U.S. National Parks is always a memorable experience. The grandeur of the landscape, variety of trees, mountains, and lakes, and the expanse of the night sky will leave visitors in awe. One of the best ways to vacation in a National Park is to stay in a lodge.

Ahwahnee Lodge

For views of Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls at Yosemite National Park, Ahwahnee Lodge is the place to be. Designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, this multi-story lodge has been visited by many famous leaders over the years. Yosemite is a beautiful park with numerous waterfalls and hiking trails as well as a large backcountry area. At the lodge visitors can enjoy dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a heated swimming pool, lounge and bar, WiFi, and views of the waterfalls along with comfortable rooms.

Ross Lake Resort

Ross Lake Resort in North Cascades National Park is a bit unique as there is no direct road access to the resort. Twelve cabins on the water offer peace and quiet away from the busyness of life. Visitors hike 3.5 miles to get to the cabins, or they hike 1 mile and then ride the ferry when it is operating. Solitude can be found here as campers view the beauty of the Northwest.

The Cabin at Coney Island

Those who want an island and a cabin to themselves can book a place at New River Gorge National Park. It only takes two minutes to paddle a canoe or kayak over to the seven-acre island. Located near Glen Jean, West Virginia, it is the newest National Park.

The Oasis

One of the larger National Parks is Death Valley, and staying at the Oasis at Death Valley will certainly be a pleasure. This National Park has a desert beauty all its own with views at Zabriskie Point, the vast salt flats at Badwater Basin, and Dante’s View. This National Park is hot in summer, so the best time to visit is Winter and early Spring, especially during a wildflower superbloom.

Many Glacier Hotel

Finally, Glacier National Park boasts the Many Glacier Hotel. The grand lobby is four stories tall with 200 rooms for guests. Visitors enjoy views of Swiftcurrent Lake and what is called “the American Alps” during their remote stay in the Rockies.

This post was originally published on AndrewElsoffer.net

Men’s Hiking Pants for All Outdoorsmen

Just like a great pair of hiking boots, every hiker needs a great set of pants that are up for the task and durable enough to stand up and perform under any conditions. The best hiking pants are not only durable, but comfortable. Most outdoor brands make some pretty epic pants, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to reap the benefits. Below are some of the best men’s hiking pants every outdoorsman will love under $250. 

Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pants

If ultra-soft, ultra-lightweight pants are must haves for your adventures, these pants need to be on your radar. The Gamma LT pants are stretchy but durable and even come with an adjustable webbing belt to ensure a perfect fit. Don’t let the soft, comfortable fabric fool you. These pants come with built-in abrasion resistance that will withstand most obstacles that come your way. 

Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated Pants

It’s rare to find cotton pants that can stand up to the rigors of outdoor life, especially from a premium brand. The Vidda Pro Ventilated Pants are 35% cotton which makes them more durable than most of its competitors, allowing you to traipse through tougher environments without having to worry. Need an extra layer of protection? Coat these pants with Fjallraven’s beeswax to make them even more waterproof. 

Prana Stretch Zion Pants

Most outdoor pants tend to scream that they are, in fact, meant to be used outdoors. If you have a busy day ahead of you before you can make it to the trails, you don’t have to worry about changing. The Prana Stretch Zion Pants embody a simple design aesthetic that makes them perfect for work, hiking, dinner, and everything in between without looking like you just walked out of the forest. Don’t worry, they are also wrinkle-resistant, abrasion-resistant, quick-drying, and even come with sun protection. 

Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants

The Kuhl brand is no stranger to making popular and long-lasting hiking apparel. The Renegade Convertible Pants are one among many in their line that will provide years of use. The soft, cotton-like fabric makes hiking comfortable and the fabric provides just enough stretch to give you all-day comfort, even on the longest hikes. Besides, wouldn’t you want pants that can also turn into shorts? Long hikes usually have drastic changes in temperature depending on the time of day, so you’ll need pants that can cope. 

REI Co-Op Activator 3.0 Pants

Last, but certainly not least are the Co-Op Activator Pants. This is the third generation of these popular pants, and each new iteration just seems to get even better. These pants have maximum moisture-wicking abilities, are water-repellent, and have lots of stretch. Co-Op Activator Pants are designed to be more flexible, especially around the knees to give you more mobility on trails. When the trails start getting rougher and dirtier you can always use the convenient drawcords at the cuffs to keep debris out of your shoes. 

This post was originally published on AndrewElsoffer.net

Top Three National Parks in the United States

National parks have earned a place in our hearts. They are not only a history lesson but also a geographical one. They give us a timeline of the earth through erosion, glacier formation, and volcanic activity. They are also reminders of the natural beauty of the United States. They give us the opportunity to connect with nature and unplug from the world. It’s amazing the serenity one feels when hiking or camping in one of these parks. There are 419 national parks (units) that are managed by the National Park Service. These national parks include historic monuments, battlefields, burial sites and more. Visiting one of these parks should be on your bucket list. Here are the top three national parks in the United States. 

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) – This park is 277 river miles long and 18 miles wide. Established in 1919, the Grand Canyon has won over crowds with its history, colors, and geology. There are several areas to visit during your trip, such as Lipan Point, Mather Point and Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower. What is amazing is that the Grand Canyon was carved from the Colorado River. We can see the erosion and volcanism that made up the almost-rigid sedimentary rocks and their gorgeous colors. There are nearly 40 layers of rock in the Grand Canyon wall. Don’t forget to visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk! Not for the faint of heart, this horseshoe-shaped glass bridge expends 70 feet over the rim of the Grand Canyon, providing a view of 4,000 feet down to the canyon floor. 

Yosemite National Park (California) – Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite spans nearly 1,200 miles and offers unparalleled beauty with its ancient sequoias, granite cliffs, and breath-taking vistas to name a few. The park was first protected in 1864 but became an official park in 1890 by an act of congress. Yosemite has a number of places to explore, including the Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Grove, and Hetch Hetchy. Each one features unique geographical features (e.g. rock formations and waterfalls) that enhance your outdoor activity, whether it’s hiking or rock climbing. If you are not into camping, there are several types of lodging in the park from bed and breakfasts to cabins. 

Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana & Idaho) — This massive park spans over 3,400 miles with the majority in the wilderness. Home to Old Faithful geyser, the park is an amazing display of colors. The Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin features blues, yellows, greens, oranges, and browns and is a large as a football field and deeper than a 10-story building. The boardwalk gives you the best views of the many thermal features in the park. Hiking is also big at Yellowstone. When hiking the Mount Washburn Trail, you’ll see a variety of greens from the valleys below. You’ll get an even more spectacular view at the 10,243-foot summit. Also, Yellowstone was the first national park in the United States, established in 1872 and commemorated by Ansel Adams photographs. 

Originally published at andrewelsoffer.net on January 9, 2020.

Three Trends in Philanthropy for 2020

Philanthropy has Greek and Latin roots: philanthrōpos from Greek and philanthropia from Latin. Both have the prefix phil- (philo- in Greek) meaning “loving” and anthro (anthropos in Greek) meaning “mankind.” Yet, this word has a deeper meaning. It means to be good to our fellow humans; to care for those who need help. We need this word and the good that it does more than ever. We live in a world that has such negativity and inequality, yet seeing a charitable act reminds us that there is good in the world. Philanthropy has been around for centuries, and there are numerous philanthropic foundations around the world. Each one is unique in its own right. And each year, just as there are new causes there are new trends. These trends affect organizations from their popularity to staff retention. As 2019 winds down, we look towards 2020 for better and bigger philanthropic achievements. Here are three philanthropy trends we can expect next year. 

  1. The Election Effect — 2020 is an election year. Thus, the election will have an effect on the number of donations. According to Classy, elections drive up support as seen in the 2016 election with President Trump. At the time of this election, some nonprofits opposed President Trump’s policies. The reaction created a surge in donations. This type of reaction can also be called “rage giving” or “rage donating.” It is interesting that those who donated were interested in long-term results, rather than those who donated at non-election times or sporadically. They were deemed recurring donors and had a positive impact on recurring giving programs. As the 2020 election fades away, the number of donations will likely produce record amounts. 
  2. Better Transparency — Now that social media (and the media) has been proven to make or break a charitable organization or reveal a charity scam, donors are expecting better transparency. Technology has made it very easy to set up GoFundMe pages and other types of donation sites, making it easy for anyone to solicit and receive donations. This brings up the issue of making donations more transparent. One way to achieve this is to utilize blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrency. Blockchain uses encryption to make transactions (donations) more secure. The transactions cannot be altered or deleted. Another way is through donor-advised funds. These funds ensure that a donor’s money is going to the causes he or she has designated since the account is managed by a sponsoring organization. Both methods will make the process of donating more transparent as well as how philanthropic organizations are managed. 
  3. Authentic Giving Experiences — People want authentic experiences; they want to be part of the process. It is not enough to receive a receipt and/or social media proof about their donation. As with transparency, they want to know where their money is going and to see the outcome. Volunteering provides an authentic experience, and it has reached new heights. Voluntourism has been around for a while, but it, too, has become very popular. They are the best ways donors can achieve person-to-person experiences. Thus, we count on more authentic giving experiences around the world, especially in poor countries.  

Originally published at andrewelsoffer.com on January 9, 2020.

A Brief Look at the Origin of Soccer

It’s no surprise that soccer has been around for centuries. A simple game of kicking a ball through a goal was played in deserts and fields long before we had stadiums. But how did soccer originate? Many have laid claim to it, including the Chinese, Greeks, and Romans. Yet, it was the English who took this game and turned into what we recognize as soccer (or football in the UK). In 1863, the Football Association was formed and created the first governing body for the sport. The English created the uniform rules (e.g. the penalty kick) which are still in play today. 

However, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the international governing body of association football as well as futsal, efootball and beach soccer. Founded in 1904, this non-profit group oversees international competitions among the national associations of Europe, including Switzerland, France, and Germany. What makes soccer such a unique sport is that players cannot use their hands (except the Goalie) to maneuver the soccer ball into the opposing team’s net. The direction and speed of the ball depends on a player’s feet, particularly the skills used to move the ball down the field while protecting it from opposing players. Soccer players can use other parts of their body to block and project the ball, such as the head and chest. 

As mentioned above, many countries have claimed to have taken part in creating modern soccer. We first see the beginnings of soccer in China (5000 – 300 B.C.), where soldiers would play a game called Tsu Chu (“kicking the ball”). The ball was made of hair and feathers and was kicked into a hole or net, which was minuscule compared to today’s nets. The players were not permitted to use their hands. We jump to 1000 B.C. with Japan’s Kemari. It looks like playing hacky-sack, but with a larger ball. The objective of the game is not to score goals but to pass the ball to other players without the use of their hands. From 600 to 1000 A.D., we see the game taking shape in Mexico and Central America. This form of soccer was a bit more challenging because players had to project a rubber ball through a wooden or stone ring mounted in the middle of the wall in an I-shaped court. However, it was not until the 20th century when soccer gained its current rules and standard equipment (e.g. round soccer balls and larger nets). 

Soccer has become a billion-dollar industry with millions of fans — and growing each year. What started as a game for soldiers has transformed into adult and youth soccer leagues. It is an international sport that continues to flourish. It will be interesting to see what changes will emerge in the 21st century. 

Originally published at andrewelsoffer.org on January 9, 2020.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started