Your Very Next Step newsletter for December 2011

Your Very Next Step newsletter for December 2011

By Ned Lundquist

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

– Maria Robinson

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

– Lao Tzu

“Your Very Next Step” newsletter, published by Ned Lundquist, is a cooperative community, and everyone is invited, no…encouraged, no…urged to participate. Share your adventures with the network today! Send to

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*** In this issue:

*** Ned s upcoming travel schedule:

*** Glaciers in the Himalyas

*** Christmas goodies from Italy

*** The Lundquist’s Beach/Jungle/Mountain/Volcano adventure:

*** Ned talks with Lisa Cederberg, Travel Consultant with Costa Rican Luxury Vacations *** Can I touch your hair – Heather Murphy visits Iceland

Travel news

*** The moving walkway…is ending…

*** JetBlue, WestJet win airport slots at LaGuardia and Reagan National

***Top 10 Things Airlines Don't Tell You

*** 10 Survival Tips for Holiday Travel

*** Ten Ways to Do Theme Parks on a Budget

*** World's Best Cities for Bargain Shopping

Trail / Outdoor / Conservation volunteer opportunities:

1.) High Cascades Forest Volunteers, Willamette, Deschutes, Umpqua, Siuslaw and Ochoco National Forests,

2.) Third Saturday Work Parties, Forest Park Conservancy, Portland, OR

3.) VOLUNTEER Opportunities, Mayan Hope, Nebaj, Quiché, GUATEMALA

– Special Education Teacher’s Aides

– Eco-Tour Guides

– Agricultural Production and Marketing positions

– Maintenance Person

– Mayan Hope Restaurant and Hostel Workers

4.) Pemigewasset Wilderness, White Mountain National Forest, NH

6.) Billy Goat Trail Steward Volunteers, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

7.) Camp Host, Dungeness and Salt Creek County Parks, Clallam County Parks, Fair and Facilities Department, Port Angeles, WA

8.) Adopt-a-Trail, Santa Clara County Parks, San Jose, CA

9.) Volunteer Roles, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

10.) Adopt-A-Trail Volunteers, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

11.) Continental Divide Trail, Gila National Forest, NM

*** National Rail-Trail of the month:

Trail of the Month: December 2011

New Orleans Levee-Top Trail

*** Travel/Adventure/Outdoors/Conservation employment opportunities:

1.) SCUBA Instructor, Seacamp Association, Inc., Key West, Florida

2.) Outdoor Adventure Instructors, Absolute Adventure, Dibba, Musandam, Oman

3.) EVENT AND MEMBERSHIP MANAGER (Park/Recreation Specialist I), Park Authority, Fairfax County, Laurel Hill Golf Club, Lorton, Virginia

4.) California State Director, American Conservation Experience, Santa Cruz, CA

5.) Mountain Trail Outdoor School, Kanuga Conferences Inc., Hendersonville, NC

6.) Ice Rink Zamboni Driver, Vail Resorts, Keystone, CO

…and much more…and it’s all FREE!!!

*** Do you have a travel adventure to share?

Send me your stories and I’ll post in the “Your Very Next Step” and on the YVNS website (

*** Ned s upcoming travel schedule:

8-10 Dec 11 Beltramie County/Bemidji/Northome, Minn.

21-27 Jan 12 Paris, France

6-13 Feb 12 San Jose/Arenal/Tamarindo/San Jose, Costa Rica

(The low tomorrow for Northome is 0 degrees F.)

*** From Bill Ryerson:

From Population Matters.

The climb to Everest base camp is a journey into a monochrome world, a landscape reduced to rock, ice and grey sky. The only spots of colour are the bright, domed tents of the few climbing teams willing to attempt the summit in the off-season. There are no birds, no trees, just the occasional chunks of glacier splashing into pools of pale green meltwater like ice cubes in some giant exotic drink. The stillness suggests nothing has changed for decades, but Tshering Tenzing Sherpa, who has been in charge of rubbish collection at base camp for the past few years, remains uneasy. “Everything is changing with the glaciers. All these crevasses have appeared in the ice. Before, base camp was flat, and it was easy to walk,” he said.

Climbers had reported that they barely needed crampons for the climb, there was so much bare rock, Tenzing said. That's not how it was in Edmund Hillary's day. Tenzing pointed towards the Khumbu ice fall – the start of the climb, and part of a 16km stretch of ice that forms the largest glacier in Nepal. “Before, when you looked out, it was totally blue ice, and now it is black rock on top,” he said. He's convinced the changes have occurred in months – not years, or even decades, but during the brief interval of the summer monsoon. “This year it's totally changed,” he said.

This much is known: climate change exists, it is man-made, and it is causing many glaciers to melt across the Himalayas. Beyond that, however, much is unclear or downright confusing. For that, scientists blame a blunder in a United Nations report that was presented as the final word on climate change. The 2007 report – which included the false claim that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 – probably did more to set back science, and delay government action on climate change, than any other event. The scandal, known as Glaciergate or Himalayagate, was a gift to climate-change deniers when it came to light early last year, and a deep embarrassment to glaciologists. Now they are desperately trying to recover.

Mention melting and Himalayas to almost any glacier expert working in the region, and they will instantly plead for caution: please do not repeat the mistake of thinking all the ice will be gone in the next few decades. “It was just nonsense,” said Alton Byers, the scientific director of the Mountain Institute. “It's absolutely staggering when you look at some of those high mountains. They are frozen solid, at minus 15 or 20 degrees, and they are going to remain that way.”

At lower elevations, it's a different scenario, Byers acknowledged. Low-lying glaciers are melting, and far more rapidly in the past 10 or 15 years than in previous decades, scouring out new landscapes and creating a whole new realm of natural disasters for countries that are some of the poorest on Earth.


More on climate change:

*** Buon Natale!

Christmas for the Lundquist’s this year is all wrapped up in some airline tickets and hotel reservations to Central America. Read below. But we will not forgo our annual tradition of buying several panetone from Italy. We came to know these bready cakes when we lived in Sicily. Our favorites are the crème filled versions covered with dark chocolate, or the tiramisu, with coffee cream inside and dusted with a mocha covering. We actually bought four different ones this year, because we know we’ll have some relaxing holiday mornings together.

We buy them from.Gran Caffé Vuotto here in the U.S.

We also have found they carry Condorelli torroncini. This is Sicilian nougat candy with pistachios and other goodies—called torrone– covered with chocolate or other delights.

I first tasted them during my first week living in Italy high up the mountain in the town of Belpasso. I used to go up there often when we lived in Contrada Cuba in Misterbianco, not far from the big city of Catania. The official company name is Industria Dolciaria Belpasso S.p.Ae. We would buy torroncini at the factory outlet store. It was years since I could find them until Café Vuotto came through for us.

*** The Lundquist’s Beach/Jungle/Mountain/Volcano adventure:

It's hard to put together a family vacation that everyone wants. My daughter Barbara wants an all-inclusive resort where she can lie on the beach and drink lava flows all day. I'd kind of like to see some ancient culture, like Mayan ruins, or some natural wonders and exotic wildlife. Laura wants a great room and good food. Tom was pretty amenable, as long as he didn’t have to get on a horse.

We've been to Europe, and there is desire to go back. But we can't agree on where. And you might not find beaches with lava flows during February.

We've been to Hawaii, and want to go back. Maui appeals to us, but there just aren't good vacancies in February.

Mexico has beaches, quality hotels and all-inclusive resorts. And ruins. But, well, Mexico has had some bad press with a certain criminal element there..

We have looked at Costa Rica before, and gave it a fresh look once agin. No ruins, but lots of culture, history, diversity, nature. You've got mountains, volcanoes, jungles, beaches. We looked at packages that offer both the mountains and rain forests as well as the beaches. Some all-include resorts are by the person per night, instead of by the room or suite. Your one daily fee covers just about every activity, even if you never avail yourself of it. Bottom line, we're talking a minimum of $1,000 per night for the resort (although some tours and activities that we would like would be included). With the four of us–technically all adults–we need two rooms or a suite, so maybe it was more to the point to find a place that charges by the room. Barbara says wants the beach option, but doesn't want to pack up and move to another hotel. We see one package with two hotels in very different locations, and I think we could see a lot of the country and what it has to offer in a week. She could get her beach. I could get my nature.

So we hit the “inquire” button on the “Costa Rican Luxury Vacations” website to see what good deal we can get, and what kind of availability when we want to go (in February).. Within a few hours–on a Sunday night–we get a call from Lisa Cedarburg with Costa Rican Luxury Vacations, who is excited to be working with us. We have a long chat about our ideal vacation, which is to say our four different ideal vacations, and want to see how much we can do to satisfy everyone and still have a relaxing time as our hotel hosts pamper us.

By the next day she has a sample itinerary for us, including two very nice hotels, as well as a selection of tours and activities that sounds really fun and interesting without running us ragged–remember, this is supposed to be relaxing. We will fly into San Jose, the capitol. We then are driven several hours into the mountains to our first hotel, located near Lake Arenal, which reflects the simmering plume of the Arenal volcano. We will have two rooms at the Arenal Manoa Hotel (

Here we'll have two rooms. We have some fun tours (see below), and great food. Then we relocate to Tamurindo on the Guanacaste region on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, for four nights at the ( Yes they have a beach, and yes they serve lava flows. Here we have a villa to ourselves, with a Jacuzzi on the balcony. Again we have some fun activities, like snorkeling, but not so much as we would push ourselves to exhaustion. On the last day we fly on “Nature Air” in a small plane from Tamarindo to San Jose. The total cost is less than $6,000 for seven nights, with round trip air to and from San Jose as a separate cost. Lisa said that rooms were going fast so we would need to confirm. February is a busy time there, and these boutique hotels are not huge. I told Julie we would book the trip as long as we could get the air reservations.

I thought the package was a good deal, but was concerned the air fare (which we needed to book separately) would be high. Surprise! The air fare on Continental from Reagan National to San Jose via Houston was $393 per person plus taxes and other fees. The total cost to me for the four of us was $1,700 for an eight hour (each way) international journey. We booked the air, and then told Julie to book the package. Our flight from Tamarindo to San Jose on Nature Air (which claims to be the world’s first carbon neutral airline) (, is included in the package, and would normally cost $100 per person for the one way trip), got us into San Jose with a couple of hours to spare. But, as a United Premier Executive/Star Alliance Gold traveler, I'm entitled to use the Red Carpet Club or equivalent Star Alliance lounge on international travel, and this includes my family when travelling with me. Sweet!

To fly to New York and back from Reagan costs more than it does to fly to Costa Rica. Go figure. In fact, round-trip from Houston to SJO costs more than double what it costs to do the much longer trip from DCA on those very same flights. Go figure.

Then I called United to see if I could upgrade. I never have success doing this. Never. But guess what? I was able to upgrade my entire family on all for segments to first and international business class. I always felt that all those miles I’ve accumulated should be able to do something nice for my family, and here I hit the jackpot. It cost me 200,000 miles. And I'm okay with that (I've used miles for domestic flights which cost me 60,000 miles for a lousy round trip to Spokane, a flight which would have cost me $900). There's a co-pay, but as a Premier Executive the fee is waived.

Sold separately, the trip costs much more than the full itinerary. The Washington to Houston (round trip)by itself is $497. Houston to San Jose, Costa Rica (round trip) is $706. But when I booked, my flights were $336 plus taxes and fees, for a total of $429.65 per person.

Arenal Manoa Hotel (

Arenal Volcano Hike & The Springs Resort Hot Springs (Aventuras Arenal), (

Canopy Ecoglide Tour (Aventuras Arenal), (

Cala Luna Hotel Boutique & Villas (

Snorkel Tour (Pacific Coast Divers),

Tamarindo – San Jose (Nature Air),

*** Ned talks with Lisa Cederberg, Travel Consultant with Costa Rican Luxury Vacations (

Ned: How is Costa Rica different from other vacation destinations in the region?

Lisa: I think the fact that there is no military is a big difference. It's a more diplomatic country than other Central American countries with less corruption than other neighboring countries.

The energy/vibe is very different. Costa Ricans are very peaceful, gentle people for the most part. They believe in working, but don't let work or their jobs run their lives. They take time for their families, friends, and to just sit around and do nothing. Because the people are rushing around everywhere all the time to get here and there, the energy of the entire country is just much calmer. You feel really relaxed and not pressured to do anything you don't really want to do.

Most of the country is middle class. There is not a huge abundance of poverty stricken inhabitants, nor over-the-top wealthy inhabitants. They do exist, but for the most part everyone is about equal.

Education is key–literacy rate is above 90%. People live longer than in other countries because of the non-processed foods, lots of walking, fresh air, and less stress than other countries.

Ned: How far does your money go in Costa Rica?

Lisa: It's all relative, just like anywhere else. Here, you can live a much simpler life, however, the average wage here is much lower (around $600-800 per month).

Your basic bills are much cheaper here. In Los Angeles, my total monthly expenses were outrageous–around $5,500. Here, my monthly bills (rent and utilities) are about $70 My electr0–and that's for a 2 bedroom 1,100 sq ft home with a piece of land. My household expenses are far lower in comparison. My electric bill each month is about $20. My water bill is basically nothing. My cell phone bill is $8, my cable bill is $25, my internet and home phone line together is $30. Car insurance $60 per month.

Gasoline, electronics (TVs, phones, appliances, etc) and cars are more expensive.

If you want to spend more money on things, you can go to the most expensive grocery stores where they sell all the import items. We also have Pricesmart (Costco) and Walmart. However, if you just shop at your local grocery stores, everything is pretty inexpensive.

Labor is much cheaper here–if you need a window fixed, a car repaired, a house painted, etc., it's a mere fraction of the cost in the States. Produce is very cheap. Rent is cheap compared to the States.

Ned: What’s the national food of Costa Rica? What’s your favorite dish?

Lisa: I guess it would be Gallo Pinto (rice and beans, but not just ANY rice and beans). They also have a traditional dish called a “casado” that's a little of everything on one big plate (rice, beans, salad, plantains, vegetables, and either chicken, fish, or other meat.

They also have a salsa that is used everywhere, Salsa Lizano. It's a vegetable-based salsa that can be used on just about everything.

Since I'm a vegetarian, I don't have as many options, but I guess my favorite dish is a vegetarian casado–instead of the meat portion, they'll substitute it with cheese or eggs for me (no, I'm not vegan–just vegetarian).

Ned: Do you put Salsa Lizano on everything, too? Like vegetarian casada?

Lisa: Yes, I put it on a lot of my food! Especially my vege casada. It's really good!! It's especially on gallo pinto with natilla (sour cream, pretty much). It's delicious!

Ned: What’s your favorite place to visit in Costa Rica?

Lisa: Honestly, everywhere. I've lived here for 3-1/2 years, and I find new and amazing places here all the time. Exploring just never gets old. I do love the Arenal area and Manuel Antonio areas. I also love Tortugero. There are so many small little gems that are off the beaten track that I couldn't even name them all (Rio Celeste, Savegre/San Gerardo de dota, Villa Blanca Cloud Forest, etc., etc.). I also love the secluded beach areas in Nicoya like Santa Teresa and Mal Pais. The beach towns of Tamarindo and Montezuma are always fun for a couple of nights.

Ned: Does that mean that after a couple of nights they wear thin?

Lisa: No, not at all. I'm just the kind of person who likes to move around a lot, so I never usually spend more than a few nights in any one place. However, many people love to spend a week or more just relaxing in one location without moving around. There's plenty to see and do in both Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo for more than a few days! That's part of why I moved here–so I can go back for a few days whenever I feel like it!

Ned: Do your dogs speak Spanish?

Lisa: Funny…. I have 2 dogs that I rescued from the street here that were in bad shape. I brought the other 4 with me from the States. When I first rescued the street dogs from here, they wouldn't listen when I'd tell them to come inside, etc. I realized that it was because they didn't speak English!! I said the commands in Spanish instead and they listened right away! Now all 6 of them are bilingual–they'll come, sit, stay whether I say it in English or Spanish.

Ned: What prompted you to move to Costa Rica?

I wanted to experience another way of life. I wanted to live in a Latin American country and absorb myself in the culture. I wanted to get away from the pretentious people in LA who only cared about what car they drove, what brand purse they carried, who their plastic surgeon was, what screenplay they were writing, etc., etc. I wanted to live a simpler life. From my very first trip here, I felt different. I felt calm, peaceful, alive. I didn't feel hurried or stressed or worried about anything. I fell in love with the people here. They are some of the kindest, most generous, warm people you will ever meet. They're all very smart with great senses of humor and quick wit. I wanted to take a leap of faith and change my life while I had the chance, and I knew Costa Rica was where I was meant to be. It is definitely home now. I actually feel weird when I go back to the States–almost like I don't really belong any more. The things that used to seem so important before (money, stuff, etc.) just aren't as relevant any more. My happiness, peace of mind, ability to get a good night's sleep every night, and waking up to beautiful, unpolluted skies is what drives me now. I just feel like I understand life better now.

But I do miss Target!!! lol

Contact Lisa (book a trip with her, and tell her you read about it in YVNS, and I get a bottle of Salsa Lizano.)

Lisa Cederberg

Travel Consultant

Costa Rican Luxury Vacations

“Local Knowledge – Global Service”

U.S. Toll Free 800-606-1860 x 1243 – I'm available with very flexible hours. Please call at your convenience!

In Costa Rica: 506-2296-7715 * Email:


*** Can I touch your hair – Heather Murphy visits Iceland

Ned asked Heather Murphy to share some travel adventures. Like Heather, Ned’s wife Laura is a redhead. In some parts of the world that can be pretty exotic. Hence the “Can I touch your hair.” Here’s one of Heather’s adventures:

YVNS was in its infancy when I wrote about a journey that Ned titled “Adventures to Newfoundland or How to Land on the TSA Watch List for Life” ( I am happy to report that recent travel has been hassle free so maybe I’m off the TSA Watch List.

The trip that landed me on the TSA list was planned as a more affordable alternative to Iceland. At the time, travel to Iceland was cost-prohibitive. The unfortunate crumbling of Iceland’s economy has made travel more affordable. Early in 2011, a popular travel website promoted air and hotel packages in celebration of IcelandAir’s plans to fly out of Washington/Dulles.

The specials were especially great for off-prime travel. My photographer friend and I took advantage of a package trip in September, complete with airfare, hotel and a glacier hike.

Iceland is otherworldly. Dinosaurs never roamed Iceland. The island did not exist when dinosaurs roamed Earth. It is entirely volcanic and glacial. Trees are sparse outside of Reykjavik. If you think it must be bleak, you would be mistaken. Colorful mossy plants grow atop the lava rock. There are areas that look like peat bogs…moist pastures with rolling clumps of green grassy, mossy ground cover. Sheep and Icelandic Horses, a breed unique to the nation, dot the pastures.

The “Over-Sharing, Detail-Driven Rental Guy”

When you arrive at the airport, rental car reps bring the car to you…it took a few minutes of guessing to figure that out. The contact with one of our names on his placard had keys to the Toyota Yaris we would use. He proceeded to detail everything from how to drive in Iceland and road conditions to driving on gravel, road signs and so forth. Too much detail.

And if you drive the countryside, you should be “afraid of the sheep.”

“They’ll just ‘yooomp’ right out at you!’”

With his exuberant hand gestures, our rental car guy made us very afraid that aggressive jumping (yooomping!) sheep were everywhere!

Forced march or moderate hike? The Glacier Walk.

A Glacier Hike was included in our air-hotel-tour package. Before departure, we were advised to bring: a) sturdy hiking boots to which crampons could be attached. b) ski pants or properly insulated and weatherproof clothing.

I’ll do my best not to disparage the majority who disregarded or ignored the orientation message. The lady in mary-jane style shoes, well, she took the prize for most ill-prepared. The guides must be used to this because they had an Emergency Stupid Tourist Kit with loaner boots and gear. The glacier walk was a fantastic experience to march up the side of a glacier, get close miles-deep crevasses and come back down alive.

Waterfalls, Rainbows, Lagoons and Shepherds

Glaciers cover more than 11 percent of Iceland’s land mass so waterfalls are not uncommon and the ones we saw were breathtaking. The fall rains and mists also bring lots of rainbows. By far, the falls I enjoyed most were Gullfoss with its thundering water and multiple tiers and Skógarfoss, a tall and wide fall that plunges to black sand.

We took two long drives from Reykjavik and my favorite was our journey to Jökulsárlón. Imagine a deflated balloon. The lagoon itself is the round part of the balloon. At the top is a glacier that calves giant chunks of ice into the lagoon. They become trapped in the lagoon because there is just a small, shallow path out to sea – the neck of the balloon. It was well worth the all day, round-trip drive. Had we more time, there are several worthwhile stops along the way for puffin colonies, black sand beaches and dramatic seascapes.

It was on the return from this day trip that we happened upon a group of shepherds herding their charges down from the mountains to lowland pastures. Traffic ground to a halt as men on horseback and 4-wheelers kept the sheep moving.

Questions, feedback or your ideas for future trips are welcome!


Questions or feedback for Heather can be addressed here in YVNS by sending an email to Ned at Heather through

Next month: “The Polar Bear Question” and “These People will Eat ANYTHING.”

*** Here’s the YVNS Travel News for December:

*** The moving walkway…is ending…

*** JetBlue, WestJet win airport slots at LaGuardia and Reagan National

***Top 10 Things Airlines Don't Tell You

*** 10 Survival Tips for Holiday Travel

Whether you're jetting off on a beach vacation or heading home for the holidays, use these 10 foolproof strategies to battle the crowds and make your flight more bearable.

By Tracy Stewart

Read more:

*** Ten Ways to Do Theme Parks on a Budget

A theme-park vacation can be pricey. It can cost hundreds of dollars a day just to get in the gate! Though the coasters are thrilling, the racing heart and sweaty palms shouldn't continue once you're homebound and cash-counting. Here are ten ways we've found to do theme parks on the cheap

*** World's Best Cities for Bargain Shopping

*** Trail/Outdoor/Conservation volunteer opportunities:

1.) High Cascades Forest Volunteers, Willamette, Deschutes, Umpqua, Siuslaw and Ochoco National Forests,

Volunteers are needed for a wide range of activities and there are plenty of opportunities to match everyone’s interest and skill. Tools and equipment will be provided. Horses or llamas will help carry equipment for some of the organized summer projects. Here’s a sampling of projects:

To be a forest volunteer we ask that you attend one of two training weekends. There is no charge for either weekend and free camping is available. The first weekend is scheduled for May 13th through 15th at the Westridge School near Oakridge, OR. The second weekend is scheduled for Friday June 3th through 5th at the Allingham Guard Station located west of Sisters, OR near Camp Sherman. We suggest you consider a donation of at least 16 hours of your time over the year volunteering on the many projects offered by the High Cascades Forest Volunteers and the Pacific Crest Trails Association. If you wish to be a volunteer click on Volunteer Application

Classes may include trail maintenance, trail crew leadership, First Aid/CPR certification, cross-cut and chain saw re-certification, wilderness stewardship, adopt a trail/lake programs, map/compass, identify/remove noxious weeds, monitoring historic sites, survival tips and more.

Who can volunteer:

Anyone over the age of 18 may apply to volunteer. If you are under the age of 18 you may still participate by working with your family, group, club, or responsible adult(s).

Benefits of volunteering:

Besides the great benefits of helping your National Forests, you will:

Gain a sense of self satisfaction and accomplishment in performing a much needed service.

Learn new skills, which you can share with others.

Make a positive contribution to the forest areas you have enjoyed using.

Meet new people and make new friends.

2.) Third Saturday Work Parties, Forest Park Conservancy, Portland, OR

3.) VOLUNTEER Opportunities, Mayan Hope, Nebaj, Quiché, GUATEMALA

– Special Education Teacher’s Aides

– Eco-Tour Guides

– Agricultural Production and Marketing positions

– Maintenance Person

– Mayan Hope Restaurant and Hostel Workers

4.) Pemigewasset Wilderness, White Mountain National Forest, NH

Jun 10th – Jun 16th 2012

One of the most extensive roadless areas in the eastern United States, the Pemigewasset is New Hampshire's largest Wilderness Area at 45,000 acres. A wild mixed forest of hardwood and conifer, the “Pemi” is centered on the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River and bordered by treeless granite peaks including the alpine tundra summits of Franconia Ridge. The area is known for its ecological recovery from extensive logging in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its inclusion in the White Mountain National Forest and later designation by congress as a Wilderness Area has resulted in a dramatic rebound in the forest ecosystem. This is New England backpacking at its very best!

2012 will be our fifth year in the White Mountains, following previous greatly successful projects. In late August 2011, Hurricane Irene hit the entire area with devastating rainfall and floods, wiping out many access roads and trails. Pending an ongoing assessment of the damage and recovery plan, participants must remain flexible as our tentative project may be adjusted to help the White Mountain NF managers with their highest priority needs in response to the damage. Be assured that our volunteerism will be greatly needed and appreciated.

Our tentative project piggybacks on past year's work. It involves a backpack of three relatively flat miles to set up a comfortable basecamp. From here, our service project will involve trail maintenance and improvement such as removing downed trees, repairing and building waterbars, building check dams, steps etc. On our day off, participants can climb one of the nearby peaks, tag a section of the Appalachian Trail, or relax and take a dip in the beautiful wilderness river.

This project is suitable for well-conditioned beginners to backpacking and service work. It is rated as strenuous, including occasionally long hikes to worksites, bending, lifting, and work with hand tools such as Pulaskis, shovels, McLeods, rakes and loppers.

Contact Wilderness Volunteers, Flagstaff, AZ

(Ned notes: The Pemi is probably one of my most favorite places on Earth. I suggest you take a week or two and get lost in there. The Wilderness Trail follows an old logging railroad right of way. It’s wide and level as it follows the river. Be careful to avoid tripping on the old rail ties. Although the area was extensively logged and there have been some big fires in this area it is still thickly forested and the many trails that come off of the Wilderness trail lead to some steep peaks, rocky slides, alpine lakes and old growth trees. I’ve found old logging camps with barrel hoops placed around trees as saplings that are now fully grown. I’ve seen trees tied in knots by bored loggers. And firepits where I’ve dug out horseshoes that were once used for the draft animals that pulled trees out of the forest. This is still a vast and wild place, surrounded by really challenging mountains. If you don’t thing some of New Hampshire’s 4,000 and 5,000 footers are challenging, just try hiking them with a pack, and watch the weather closely because it’s the worst weather in the world. Trust me on that, too.)

6.) Billy Goat Trail Steward Volunteers, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

We're looking for volunteer trail stewards willing to hike parts of the trail, or educate visitors at the trailheads, to protect the incredible natural resources of Bear Island, which this rugged trail traverses.

Stewards have been active now for several years, educating hikers about Leave No Trace principles, helping to ensure they are prepared for the strenuous hike, sharing stories about the sensitive vegetation, and reducing trampling of the Bear Island's many rare plants. Active trail stewards can go out any day of the week, can hike the whole trail or just part of it, or can stay near the trailhead and connect with hikers before they begin. Trail stewards wear park volunteer identification, carry park radios for emergency communication, and can benefit from basic first aid training to help with minor injuries. They are the eyes and ears for the National Park Service, and The Nature Conservancy, who co-own this biologically diverse island, and help us protect the rare habitats from the estimated 50,000 hikers on the Billy Goat Trail on Bear Island, known as “section A”. Stewards have also been instrumental in reporting emergencies back to park staff for a more rapid response.

(Ned notes: There can be a lot of people scrambling over the rocks along the Maryland side of the Potmac near Great falls. As close as it is to Washington, DC, the river here is wild and untamed, and the trail is, too. Not for people with bad knees and bad shoes. Walking along the adjacent C&O Canal towpath is an equally pleasant walk, and much easier.)

7.) Camp Host, Dungeness and Salt Creek County Parks, Clallam County Parks, Fair and Facilities Department, Port Angeles, WA

8.) Adopt-a-Trail, Santa Clara County Parks, San Jose, CA

Do you have a trail you use that you would like to help maintain? Do you have a group that is looking for some good, physical service work in a beautiful outdoor setting? If so, we’d like you to adopt–a-trail. Adopt-a-Trail volunteers, after completing Department training, will take care of a trail, or section of trail, within a County Park. Adopt-a-Trail volunteers conduct trail brushing/pruning, litter/debris removal, routine trail tread/drainage clearing, and major trail problem reporting. Participants who agree to participate for one-year will receive in-park signage acknowledging their commitment.

Please email us at or call (408) 355-2254 if you are interested in volunteer opportunities.

9.) Volunteer Roles, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

Volunteers build and maintain our hiking trails, as well as provide off-trail support. Here are the types of work done by our volunteers:

On-Trail roles include trail building, trail maintenance and land monitoring.

Off-Trail roles in areas such as administration, publishing, conservation and fund-raising

10.) Adopt-A-Trail Volunteers, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Individuals or groups may adopt a trail or segment of a trail by volunteering their time to help keep the trail clean and safe. It may be a state trail or a trail within a state park, forest or recreation area. Adopt-A-Trail sponsors collect litter and perform minor trail maintenance, assist with the control of invasive species and the planting of native species, record and report to the property manager any major or hazardous trail obstructions, and gather and return any “lost and found” items to the property office. If you are interested in adopting a trail, complete the Adopt-A-Trail Application and Permit [PDF] or contact the park, forest or trail manager.

11.) Continental Divide Trail, Gila National Forest, NM

Jul 8th – Jul 14th 2012

Contact Wilderness Volunteers, Flagstaff, AZ

*** National Rail-Trail of the month:

Trail of the Month: December 2011

New Orleans Levee-Top Trail

The Mississippi River gave birth to New Orleans, depositing the silt on which the city was built, and carrying the ships that made it into a thriving port. But the Crescent City is now separated from its mother: Tall earthen levees, erected to protect residents from floods and improve river navigation, cut people off from the winding river.

Luckily, the New Orleans Levee-Top Trail (more commonly known as the Mississippi levee trail) helps bridge the divide between land and water. “There's this huge mile-wide river next to us, that over the decades we've protected ourselves from—so any opportunity to get to the river is very important,” says Jennifer Ruley, a pedestrian and bicycle engineer who works as an advisor to the city of New Orleans. “It really helps us to connect to the geography and history of the city.”

The levee-top trail—running 25 miles along the east bank of the Mississippi—provides New Orleanians with a place to get back to their roots. Equally important, it offers residents and visitors a safe recreation and commuting venue removed from the city's busy streetscape. And it forms an important link in the 3,000-mile-long Mississippi River Trail—an ongoing venture to establish bike and pedestrian pathways along the entire length of America's most storied waterway.

As with many other pathways around the nation, the levee-top trail was made possible by seed money provided by the federal Transportation Enhancements program. The local parish (county) governments raised additional money and teamed up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (which built and maintains the levee system along the Mississippi) to turn existing gravel paths on top of the levees and a short section of former railroad track into a paved trail. The first trail segment opened in the mid-1990s, and the pathway has subsequently expanded in sections as additional funding has become available.

Today the trail stretches from Audubon Park—a former plantation in the city's Uptown neighborhood that is now home to the city's zoo—upriver to the community of Destrehan in St. Charles Parish. Along the way, it passes through residential areas; past busy commercial wharves; alongside hospitals, shopping centers, parks and golf courses; near chemical plants and oil depots; within a few blocks of the city's busy airport; through suburban neighborhoods; and past 224-year-old Destrehan Plantation, the oldest documented plantation home on the lower Mississippi and a portal to the region's antebellum era. “The diversity of places you can go on this trail is incredible,” says Ruley.

There's also the unique diversity created by the levee itself. On the protected side of the berm, much of the land has been built over or plowed under, and few signs of its natural beginnings are evident. On the other side, between the levee and the river, you'll see stands of cypress, willow and oak; swamps and marshes; and perhaps glimpse the herons, ibis, egrets and other wildlife that frequent these areas. “You can get a glimpse of what the area looked like before it was developed,” says Ruley.

All of these qualities, and the trail's strategic location near homes, businesses and two major universities (Tulane and Loyola) make it extremely popular with residents. The college crowd favors the trail as a scenic hangout and meeting place. Serious cyclists use it for early morning training rides, and bicycle commuters appreciate the car-free pathway to work. The trail is also a magnet for people who stroll, inline skate or walk dogs. And it is an important part of a network of bicycle lanes and paths in New Orleans that has quadrupled in the past six years to 44 miles, with another 15 miles in development—including the three-mile Lafitte Corridor, a planned linear park and greenway.

“The public has bought into the trail and really supports it, which is evident in the continual expansion of the trail over the years,” says Dan Jatres, director of pedestrian and bicycle programs for the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission. “Residents and elected officials view this as a major asset to the community from a quality-of-life perspective and transportation perspective.”

The levee-top trail is also a regionally important piece of the Mississippi River Trail. This ambitious project seeks to create a mix of on- and off-street pathways (including unused rail lines) paralleling the river from its source in Lake Itasca, Minn., to its mouth about 100 miles downriver from New Orleans. In Louisiana and other states, river trail advocates are hoping to turn hundreds of miles of levee tops into continuous sections of off-street paths, and the New Orleans trail segment provides a successful model for working with the local and federal agencies responsible for these flood-control structures.

“Some of the lessons learned here in New Orleans regarding working with levee districts and the Army Corps to build trails on levees can help other communities,” says Jatres, who also serves on the board of directors of Mississippi River Trail, Inc., the nonprofit group promoting and coordinating work on the multi-state trail. “They can point to the New Orleans area and say, 'It's been done there, it's working, it's not creating issues for the maintenance and operations of levees—in fact the trails have benefits for levee operations.'”

Current plans in Louisiana are to build out the levee-top trail between New Orleans and the state capital of Baton Rouge, about 130 miles upriver, and work is already under way on about a dozen miles of that stretch. “When the whole New Orleans-Baton Rouge section is done, you really have an opportunity for bicycle tourism,” says Jatres. “With an influx of people along the trail, it could be a huge boon for some of the small towns along the river.”

Downriver towns are also clamoring to extend the trail through their communities, Jatres says. “There's an appeal to riding your bike to the end of the Mississippi River and seeing what it's like, which is a pretty spectacular natural wonder.” Ruley notes that New Orleans is working to ensure that its expanding system of on-street bikeways will allow users to connect from the levee trail, through the city center, to downriver parishes.

So the New Orleans Levee-Top Trail is not only helping connect residents of the Crescent City to their history and geography, but it's beginning to link the colorful communities along the length of the great river. Could a two-wheeled version of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Life on the Mississippi be far behind?

*** Travel/Adventure/Outdoors/Conservation employment opportunities:

1.) SCUBA Instructor, Seacamp Association, Inc., Key West, Florida

2.) Outdoor Adventure Instructors, Absolute Adventure, Dibba, Musandam, Oman

Absolute Adventure is an adventure outfitter based in the Musandam Peninsula of Oman; about 2 hours drive from Dubai. We are in an area of outstanding natural beauty within a minutes walk of the beach and at the foot of 2000m high mountains. We are seeking qualified, motivated, and culturally adaptable outdoor adventure instructors to lead half and full day adventure activities for international schools and tourist groups. The successful candidates will be provided with the following benefits: * Direct round-trip flight from a major airport in your home country to Dubai, UAE. You must provide your own transportation to the airport. We will arrange to have you picked up at the airport in Dubai. * Furnished housing while in Oman (near the beach). * Paid utility bills. * Free wireless internet use. * Company cellular phone with monthly credit. * All meals while on school programs. * Monthly salary of US$ 1000 tax free (paid in local currency). * One month paid leave and two months unpaid leave per year (June-August). * Annual leave ticket. * Oman residence visa and work permit. Qualifications required: * REC, WFR or WFA * Recognized certificates in the following fields: Mountain Leadership, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Abseiling, Sea Kayaking, Low Ropes. * Clean driving license. * 2+ years experience instructing * High level of fitness. * D of E award assessor will be an advantage.

Application Info: Email: Managing Director or

3.) EVENT AND MEMBERSHIP MANAGER (Park/Recreation Specialist I), Park Authority, Fairfax County, Laurel Hill Golf Club, Lorton, Virginia

4.) California State Director, American Conservation Experience, Santa Cruz, CA

American Conservation Experience, a Non-Profit conservation corps with growing nationwide operations, is seeking a Director for our California state branch located in Santa Cruz.


ACE is a dynamic organization with the reputation for providing crews to safely and economically accomplish technically complex and physically demanding conservation and restoration projects for the National Park Service, US Forest Service, BLM, USFWS, and numerous state and local land management partners. Recognizing ever increasing agency need for skilled labor crews combined with growing federal and state mandates for youth engagement, ACE’s Board of Directors supports a policy of programmatic expansion in California. ACE’s leadership team is seeking a State Director with the ability to sustain our current excellence of operations while embracing a strategy of systematic growth, including the development of a second base of operations in CA.


The ideal candidate will possess a unique combination of attributes, including substantial management background in either the non-profit or for-profit sector, experience overseeing fiscal policy and budgeting for a large scale organization, a track record of developing successful partnerships, experience working with young adult staff and volunteers, proven ability to generate and sustain a culture of programmatic pride, confidence to bring new ideas to the table and to convincingly express them verbally and in writing, and a history of working cooperatively as a member of a broader management team.

In order to maintain ACE’s reputation for quality work, and to avoid diluting our skill base in favor of programmatic expansion, we wish to recruit a State Director who also possesses a strong foundation of field skills in some combination of trail work, habitat restoration, and/or fuels reduction. While the position is not field-based, ACE strongly believes that staff at all levels of management should be capable of guiding field activities, conducting site visits from a knowledgeable perspective, and imparting high standards to ACE’s field staff.

Specific job duties include:

1) Outreach to local, state, and federal land management agencies and other conservation-minded organizations. Confidence and ability to solicit project opportunities by introducing ACE’s offerings to numerous new prospective partners statewide.

2) Preparing and delivering powerpoint presentations.

3) Grant and proposal writing.

4) Overseeing the effecting implementation of ACE’s AmeriCorps grant through California Volunteers.

5) Supervising/or hiring managerial staff, including ACE California’s Director of Operations, Operations Manager, AmeriCorps Program Manager, Skills Trainers, Volunteer Coordinator, Recruitment Coordinator and future positions as they are generated through expansion.

6) Development of a marketing and outreach campaign for ACE CA, including writing a quarterly newsletter managing web content, and creating a strategy to enhance alumni relations.

7) Preparing accomplishment and data collection reports.

Drug users, including recreational smokers of marijuana, should not consider applying as ACE reserves the right to require drug testing and detests the presence of drug users or proponents of any unhealthy lifestyle in our youth development program. Applicants must have a clean driving record and be willing to submit to background checks.

Start Date: First quarter of 2012 with some flexibility for exact timing.

Length of Commitment: This is considered a career opportunity with a minimum anticipated commitment of 3 – 5 years.

Salary: $48,000 – $60,000 base salary DOE, with potential for performance-based end of year bonuses of up to 20 percent of annual salary. Full benefits start after six months, including health insurance, dental insurance, two weeks paid annual vacation, and sick leave.

Hours: Flexible. ACE Directors set their own schedules in accordance with their management objectives.

Application Deadline: December 1, 2011. Please note that ACE will schedule interviews and may make a selection prior to the application deadline, so please submit your materials as you prepare them.

Application Process: There is no official application form, but please submit the following by email:

1) a detailed resume including three professional references.

2) an introduction letter expressing how a career position as ACE’s California State Director would align with your perspectives and experiences in conservation and youth development.

3) a secondary writing sample such as a previous grant proposal, a position statement/white paper, a newsletter, an excerpt from an academic thesis, etc.

As expressions of interest are received, ACE’s Executive Director will review each packet and schedule an initial round of interviews in Santa Cruz. The leading candidates after the first round of interviews will be invited to Flagstaff, AZ to meet with ACE’s Board of Directors before a final selection is made.

To Apply: Please email your application materials to Chris Baker: with “California State Director” in the subject line.

5.) Mountain Trail Outdoor School, Kanuga Conferences Inc., Hendersonville, NC

*** From Mark Sofman:

6.) Ice Rink Zamboni Driver, Vail Resorts, Keystone, CO

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