Coolest Things to do in 2015

Coolest Things to do in 2015
GORUCK events are an up-and-comer that will be very cool in 2015. (Photo courtesy of GORUCK)

I won’t drink until I soil myself. I’ll cut back on snorting rat poison. I’ll quit inhaling high-fructose corn syrup by the troughful.

These are the spirit of New Year’s resolutions: things we won’t do anymore. Me? I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I certainly don’t do "bucket lists." But I identify opportunities to do things that will make my life better. I scour the world looking for activities and destinations I’d like to do, get to as many as possible and then annoy everyone around me by not shutting up about them, ever.

So what would make my list for 2015? I’ve got a few for you that I’d do. I wish I could get to them all, but you know how that goes. Maybe a few of you can help out by standing in for me! And I’d also like to hear what would make your list.

One of These Crazy GoRuck Events

You’ve heard of all the mud runs, the color runs and all that hoopla. Now GORUCK, whose ads I’ve noticed on Facebook, is getting the word out about its series of events all over the country. They have something for everybody this calendar year, from 48-plus hours of mayhem that require you to move 80 miles all the way to scavenger hunts that are more about beer drinkin’ than bravery. The events started Jan. 9, with many more throughout the calendar year. GORUCK says these events offer a "slice of Special Operations training." I have a feeling these events will draw a lot of CrossFit sort of folks and more than a few ex-military types. So yeah, my long hair will likely stand out!

I have my eye on starting with a GORUCK Light event in Flagstaff, Ariz. this May (registration is now $50) and following up with a Challenge event near Tucson in September. Check the events list for descriptions, and to find one near you. If you’ve ever done one of these events, drop me a line – I’d like to hear about it and share the info with readers.

coolest things to do in 2015
Weightlessness inside a Reduced gravity aircraft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lose Nearly All Your Weight With Zero G

We all know I’m a sucker for anything that flies. So the Zero G Corporation flights that simulate weightlessness would OF COURSE make my list. The flights start Feb. 14 in San Francisco for $4,950 plus tax. Eep. That’s a pretty hefty hit to the bank account.

Still, we’re just talking about floating around in the air like a freakin’ astronaut. No big deal. It was one of the coolest things to do in 1959 aboard the original Vomit Comet, and it is still one of the coolest things to do in 2015.

LaplandX Extreme Lapland Tour Still one of the Coolest Things to do in 2015

Northern Lights tour
Meet sled dogs and the occasional wall of ice during the LaplandX Northern Lights tour.

I’ve already yapped about this 7-day Northern Lights tour at length. But it bears repeating that you still have time to sign up before the fun starts on Feb. 16 in Finland. If you have about $4,000, I don’t think you’ll find a much better way to spend it.

I’m not going to be able to get to this one, so I’ll have to miss out on the icebreaker cruise, the sled dogs and the snow machine hijinks -- and the aurora borealis light show up there near the Arctic Circle. If you are LaplandX-bound, please get a hold of me afterward for a guest blog post. I want to hear all about this.

coolest things to do in 2015
This is not the Flanders you’ll see on the beer bicycle tour!

D’oh, Flanders!

I’ve been reading an awful lot about beer lately: Someone at work got me a book called "The Brewer’s Tale: A History of the World According to Beer" as a Secret Santa gift. The chapter about Belgian beers makes me want to get over to Belgium. And as you probably know, I’m a bicycle guy.

So that makes me think these 10-day Flanders Adventure Tours have to be one of the coolest things to do in 2015. Riders will cover 40-80 days on flat terrain every day, and they’ll hit eight towns and 10 breweries. You’ll see some of the big breweries, and some of those below-the-radar locals. The first tour starts April 10; check out the itinerary for dates and more details. Tour cost is $2,600 at the moment, which includes: nine nights hotel; breakfast and lunch each day; bike and bag rental; two tour guides (one Dutch-speaking); all brewery tours plus beer; sampling at breweries; and luggage storage before and after the tour. Not bad at all!

Drop Into the Mouth of a Volcano

OK, I’ve also mentioned this one before. But how can descending into the magma chamber of an extinct volcano – the only one known to exist intact! – not be one of the coolest things to do in 2015?

The fun starts on May 15 when Inside the Volcano starts running tours to the Thrihnukagigur volcano. It’ll cost you about $300, and will remain one of the most stupid-awesome things you ever do. Ever. Just get yourself to Reykjavik and be ready to do a short hike before you plunge into the volcano!


2014 Holiday Gifts for Adventurers

Holiday gifts for adventurers
Not the MiG-21 for sale, but still incredible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a rule – I won’t even start talking about holiday gifts until after Thanksgiving. Well, we’ve passed that milestones, and now I present one of my very few gift lists. This one is my Holiday Gifts for Adventurers list. I’m going to break it out by price, from the high-budget items to the stocking stuffers. And I’m avoiding the obvious, like helmet cams. Come on, we all know about that stuff already!

Let’s start by going big -- no, actually huge!

Strictly for Supersonic Bank Accounts

A decently equipped Chevrolet Corvette runs about $70,000. Color me unimpressed. With the same amount, you can get your loved one a surplus MiG-21 supersonic fighter with only about 2,000 hours of flight time on it -- like this one I found on Global Air. That’s far more impressive than any Corvette in history – and so are the skills needed to fly it, and the bank account to fuel that bad boy. But still, if you have the means and the person you’re shopping for has the skills, you will not do any better than this. Ever. And imagine the Corvette driver’s face when he’s going on about his 0 to 60 acceleration and the lucky recipient of your MiG gift is like "aw, that’s sooooo cute." And I’ll straight-up admit that Chevy has never produced a less-than-stellar looking ‘Vette (unlike some of the awful Mustangs that litter Ford’s history) … but none possess the Cold War, shiver-down-the-spine menace of a MiG-21.

Holiday gifts for adventurers
What you’ll see on the LaplandX Extreme Lapland Northern Lights tour.

A Cool Big Budget Holiday Gift for Adventurers

On Feb. 16, the LaplandX Extreme Lapland tour heads out in search of the best views of the Northern Lights. The 7-day journey starts gets underway aboard an icebreaker. From there, you’ll ride sleighs and snowmobiles on a Northern Lights tour that takes you to the ultimate storybook landscape. When you’re not zipping through the awesome Lapland scenery, you’ll be digging into gourmet Nordic dishes and lounging in saunas (let me tell you, sauna is a great thing any season of the year). You can get this for your favorite adventurer for $3,990. Space is limited, so sign ‘em up now!

Awesome Adventure Stuff for Less-Awesome Budgets

If you know someone who loves camping and hiking, look into a course at the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Arizona. From overnight survival classes to 12-day aboriginal living skills courses, you’ll find something to suit your favorite adventurer. My wife signed me up for The Provident Primitive course, and it was by far the best birthday gift ever. With Cody Lundin and Mark Dorsten as your instructors, you are sure to learn a ton. If you pick up what they’re putting down, your future hiking and camping will never be the same. Prices vary, but the lower end of the spectrum is around $700 for a course.

Holiday Gifts for Adventurers
A misty day at the Gaia Riverlodge.

There’s a lot of adventure to be had in Belize – especially if you like SCUBA diving and caving. If there are cavers in your life who are headed to Belize, chances are their plans will include the Cayo District and its epic limestone caverns. Your perfect gift to them – a few nights at the GAÏA Riverlodge, a hydroelectric-powered eco resort. It was just named one of the Top 10 eco resorts by the Smith Hotel Awards.

holiday gifts for adventurers
Make a log flight better with wireless Tracks Air headphones. (Photo courtesy of Sol Republic)

We stayed there in 2007 and used it as a base to visit the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave and the Caracol ruins. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some nighttime drizzle that bounces off your cabana’s thatched roof and lulls you to sleep … and you’ll wake up to a misty morning like the one in the photo. Current rates are around $165 a night, but that will vary by season. A few nights there will be a memorable holiday gift.

And chances are, your adventures start with a long flight. For me, that means it’s time to listen to some tunes. The Sol Republic Tracks Air headphones deliver high-quality sound … and they’re wireless, so that puts an end to getting tangled up with every escape to the lavatory. They also have a 100-day money-back guarantee. If you have $199.99 to spend on your favorite adventure seeker, the Tracks Air is worth a close look.

Holiday gifts for adventurers
Good knives make great holiday gifts for adventurers in your life.

Stuffing the Stocking with Holiday Gifts for Adventurers

Anyone who loves some adventure needs a good knife. And not a Swiss Army knife or any other folding knife – a fixed-blade, full-tang knife that can hold up to all the abuse of a routine camping trip or a life-or-death survival situation. There are a ton of great knives out there, but my favorites right now are ESEE knives; I have an Izula and an ESEE-4 that hold their edge and fit my hand very well. Both are super-useful, but a bit more tactically-oriented than I’d prefer (the blades on both are on the thick side, which is makes them less effective at tasks like batoning). But once ESEE releases its CAMP-LORE series, look out! My Izula with a sheath was about $70 online. ESEE knives go up from there – not bad at all for U.S. made knife.

Holiday gifts for adventurers
Just like mine – a bunch of Metolius locking carabiners make great gifts.

OK, this won’t fit in a Christmas stocking. But it’s definitely a lower-budget holiday gift for adventurers – a food dehydrator. I picked up a low-end NESCO four-tray model for about $65; I’ve been working overtime for last few months. I’ve been making my own jerky, trail snacks and pemmican. It’s weaned me from store-bought food bars, and I’m lovin’ it.

I know this will make me sound like Ron Swanson, but everyone – adventurous or not – should have on their person at all times at least one locking carabiner. You won’t believe how often they’ll be handy. At $10 each for this excellent Metolius carabiner, you can grab a bunch of these to drop into the stockings of everyone you know who doesn’t think "If the outdoors are so great, why did we invent the indoors?".

A good daypack is also a helpful but affordable gift. And it’s hard to beat the REI Flash 18. It has room for a hydration bladder, plus all the gear you need for a medium-length hike or a day strolling around Seoul or Reykjavik. Easy to find for about $30.

I know there are all sorts of other great holiday gifts for adventurers out there. What would you like to receive as a gift for your next big trip?