Skiing Stoke from Lake Tahoe

Month: August 2011

Things to do this summer: Burning Man

The annual Burning Man Festival begins Monday in the Black Rock Desert north of Reno. Tickets for this year’s event sold out for the first time in history. An ironic scenario unfolded in which tickets are being scalped for an event founded on self reliance and a gift economy. It’s no surprise that the exponential growth of this event would eventually be restricted by the Bureau of Land Management. Nothing like a little controversy to heighten the anticipation of the 50,000 people who will attend this brilliant temporary community.

The author’s of this blog spent much of last summer supporting a music and art project called Electric Ladyland. Here is a look back at Burning Man 2010 as seen through the eyes of the Electric Ladyland Collective.

Things to do this summer: Model Rocket Launches

Jason Mack and Ethan McCormick blast off!

Remember building model rockets as a kid? Well it’s just as fun now as it was then for kids and adults. Building rockets is a good educational wintertime hobby when it gets dark and cold early. Summer is a great season to launch. The Tahoe region has many huge valleys which virtually eliminate the chance of getting a rocket caught in a tree. Serious rocket enthusiasts can head for the Black Rock Desert which provides the ultimate canvas for thrilling launches. First timers should note that morning is typically a more consistent time of day to launch when wind is minimal.

Kids + rockets = stoked! Ethan McCormick and Declan Mack at Launch Station Hulu

Review: Icebreaker Clothing

Nature Shop recently gave us the chance to test out some quality wool clothing from Icebreaker. The New Zealand based company carries everything from underwear to coats for kids and adults. Our whole family got outfitted and we were all thoroughly impressed.

I tried the Bliss Hood (Blizzard Stripe) and it quickly became my go-to shirt for everything from a camping/skiing trip to Mt Lassen to a weekend in San Francisco. Warm, soft and lightweight, the buttoned v-neck and casual stripes disguise this highly technical garment, making it suitable for everyday use.

Our son also scored a hoody. It’s not often that two-year-olds get excited about clothing, but this was one of those rare times. As soon as we got his LS Hoody out of the box and he spotted the skateboard print, he couldn’t wait to get it on. I have to admit that I was a little nervous to put it on him for fear of the dreaded “Itchy!” scream, but I didn’t need to worry, the hoody was as soft as a baby blanket and he loved having it on. His second favorite part of his new shirt was the booklet that came with it, including pictures of the Merino sheep that were sheared to make the shirt. He walked into school that morning and proudly announced, “My shirt was made from the fleece of a sheep!”

Rob switched from ski touring and bike riding in cotton boxers to Icebreaker’s Relaxed Boxer w/Fly and there is no turning back. The excellent moisture wicking and soft, relaxed fit make a huge difference on long rides and tours.

Aside from the comfort and style of the products that we tried, we were impressed by the ethos of the companies who provide them. Every Icebreaker product that Nature Shop ships is accompanied by a green tag that says “trace me.” By entering the “BAACODE” from the tag on your garment at, you can find out info on the sheep station(s) from which its fibers originated.

Things to do this summer: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo

Need your summertime roller coaster fix? Maybe it’s time drop into some good old fashion theme park action at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

Located just off I-80 in Vallejo, Discovery Kingdom has no less than a half dozen coasters among it’s thirty rides. Everything is located within a fairly small proximity making it easy to get a bunch of rides in a short amount of time if it’s not crowded. We rolled in around 2pm on a Monday and stepped right on first car of Medusa, the parks largest roller coaster. We did the same thing five minutes later on Kong. DK has a nice mix of coasters ranging from the traditional wooden Coney Island style to the modern era foot dangling, hanger type. The kind that make you feel like your feet may get chopped off. Our favorite was Vertical Velocity which is a suspended, spiraling impulse coaster that goes from zero to seventy in a matter of seconds. It’s really cool because you get the combination of speed and weightlessness without excessive force or jarring of your head and body.

If you’ve got kids, Discovery Kingdom is great because it’s got more than just rides and cotton candy. DK has several interactive animal exhibits including penguins, dolphins, killer whales and sting rays. It also has two specific kids zones, one called Tava’s Jungleland with kid sized rides and another called Looney Tunes Seaport which is all water related fun.

Discovery Kingdom is not cheap. Admission for adults is $50 and parking is $15. However, a season pass is only $60. Apparently there are plenty of deals on admission if you do some research ahead of time. A couple of twenty somethings asked if we wanted a free admission voucher when we arrived and it worked so we got in two for one. Standard theme park tactics apply such as going midweek and arriving early to avoid lines. Riding six coasters in an hour rocks! Riding one coaster in an hour sucks! If you live in Tahoe it’s probably not worth going to DK just to visit a theme park. However, if you are driving to or from the city and have a couple of hours to kill it may be just what you need to breakup a three hour drive.