Where Greenhorns Go to Become Cowboys & Cowgirls

Think 800 head of cattle grazing thousands of acres of Colorado grasslands. Add 70 working quarter horses. Mix in greenhorns and cowboy wannabes nudged along by professional wranglers. The result? Colorado Cattle Company & Guest Ranch (http://coloradocattlecompany.com/) promises “any rider will be roping a live steer from horseback in just one week.”

The ranch is now accepting reservations for Cowboy Adventure Weeks in the 2016 season that runs May through October. The all-inclusive rates (held at 2015 levels) start at $2,199 per person for a six-night package (Sunday to Saturday). Five- and four-night programs are also available (with Sunday check-in required). Rates vary by accommodation. Not included are gift shop, alcoholic beverages, voluntary gratuities and shuttle transportation ($175 per person) to and from Denver International Airport and surrounding airport hotels.

Colorado Cattle Company & Guest Ranch accommodates up to 26 guests who enjoy a ratio of five wranglers per guest. This adult-only working cattle ranch accepts ages 18 and up with certain exceptions made for family reunions, whole-ranch group bookings and mature teens of advanced riding ability.

Orientation is the first step in cowboy-cowgirl training, followed by matching guests to well-trained horses. The cattle and their needs then establish the daily routine. Guests can count on an average of 50 hours of horseback riding each week. The season, spring, summer or fall, dictates the daily activities that range from mending fence to branding, feeding and driving cattle. Guests can participate in the working activities of the ranch as the spirit moves them.

Creature comforts for cowgirls and cowboys in training include hearty meals and Happy Hour on the porch. Accommodations include private quarters in the renovated 1897 bunkhouse and newly constructed log cabins. All have private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and flat screen televisions. There’s a newly enlarged and stocked fishing pond for anglers and for those wanting some true western-style romance, be sure to ask about the overnight campouts.

“While at night we like to pamper our guests a bit, this is the real deal when it comes to a western working ranch experience,” said host owner Tom Carr. “Each guest has the opportunity to share what their personal horseback dream is and we will do our best to make sure the wish comes true.”

Carr has witnessed more than a few life-changing moments.A guest from Wales celebrating his 50th birthday dreamt of roping a cow from horseback. It was his one wish coming to the States. He had never been on a horse before, but by week’s end he successfully roped a steer!”

Carr tells another story about a female guest who arrived devastated by personal issues and a recent divorce. One of his wranglers called him over to report the woman was in tears. As it turns out, that cowboy had told her that she was really needed to keep an eye on wandering strays during a cattle drive. The simple act of being needed and appreciated made her break down with good tears.”

“The fact that we can actually make a living at this, helping to fulfill people’s dreams from the back of a good horse makes all the sweat and hard work worth it!” reflects Carr.

For information and reservations please call 970.437.5345 or visit the website at: http://coloradocattlecompany.com/.

Old McMicky’s Farm’s ‘1000 Kids Program’ Hosted 1036 Tampa Bay ​ A​rea ​K​ids ​F​acing C​hallenges in 2015

Old McMicky’s Farm is commonly known as a beautiful, functional, family friendly farm located in Odessa that hosts tours, birthday parties, events and weddings. But in recent years it has grown its reputation as a major charitable community partner. With the addition of programs like “Mission I Do’, the free military dream wedding giveaway, Child Adoption Education Day and match events, and the ‘1000 Kids Program’, the farm is working hard to make an impact on local kids and military.

The Farm’s “1000 Kids” Program’s goal is to host 1,000 kids a year in the Tampa Bay area who are facing serious challenges for an awesome, educational and fun day at the Farm, at No Charge.  The Farm was honored to host 1276 kids in 2014 under the “1000 Kids” program in its introductory year. 2015 marked another great year for the farm’s “1000 Kids” Program, hosting 1036 kids.

“Old McMicky’s Farm is dedicated to serving kids and families in our community. It’s our special privilege, our duty,  to be able to use the farm to create a great day of fun and memories for local children facing challenges. Contributing to other people’s lives is one of the main missions of the farm.” said Ralph Zuckerman, owner of Old McMicky’s Farm.

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Just some of the organizations and kids served by the Old McMicky’s Farm “1000 Kids” Program:
Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco County – Big Brothers Big Sisters, Foster and Adoptive Parent Assoc’s., Eckerd Community Alternatives, Lighthouse of Pinellas, Hillsborough Child Care, HOPE Camp, Pepin Academies, UPARC, The Children’s Home, Florida Autism Center of Excellence, Homeless Emergency Project Learning Center, Children’ Cancer Center, The Greater Florida Chapter of Families of SMA, The Spinabifida Support Group with Shrinner’s Hospital, Joshua House, March of Dimes, McMullen Booth Autistic Program, Jackson in Action 83 Foundation, Metropolitan Ministries, Family Center on Deafness, and many more.

More information about the farms community giving programs can be found at
http://www.oldmcmickys.com/community-giving/. To learn more about Old McMicky’s Farm please visit http://www.OldMcMickys.com or call 813-920-1948. Follow us on FB at: www.facebook.com/OldMcMickysFarm.

West Virginia’s ACE Adventure Resort Ideal for Groups, Meetings, Reunions

Located on 1,500 wooded acres in West Virginia’s southern hills, ACE Adventure Resort (http://aceraft.com/) is a magnet for groups and family reunions seeking fun, bonding, business and recreation at the same time.

Activities ranging from river rafting and zip lining to rock climbing combine with the rustic comforts of camping (tents and sleeping kits can be provided), bunkhouse or lodge accommodations.  A minimum of eight persons qualifies as a group. Meals may include breakfast and dinner buffets, deli lunches and cookout dinners. Special dietary needs can be accommodated. One conference room seats up to 75 and another more intimate one is ideal for small groups of up to 15. Both are A/V capable with HDMI capabilities for the monitors. An optional pole tent for up to 50 participants can also be erected.

Popular activities with family reunion, church, school, YMCA and 4-H groups include full day rafting trips, zip lining, a mud obstacle course, a ropes team challenge, paintball and the fun of ACE’s five-acre Adventure Lake and Waterpark. Groups such as the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, Trail Life and American Heritage have added mountain bike tours, horseback riding, standup paddle boarding and lake kayak tours to their fun. Two Merit Badge Programs, each a one-day clinic, include Whitewater Merit and Rock Climb Merit.

The Summit Bechtel Reserve, host to the next Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree in 2017, is just 20 minutes from ACE. For the second consecutive year ACE hosts Trail Life USA’s Summer Adventure Camp for East Coast troops. Three STEM programs – hydrology, geology and ecology – are also options for Scout and middle and high school groups.

Corporate groups that traditionally secure the property’s upscale lodges for their stay enjoy many of the same activities as their youthful counterparts. Requests for catered meals in cabins can be accommodated as can team-building programs often incorporating the ropes course and on-ground challenges.

The resort also reports that motor coach tours are an emerging group market for ACE Adventure Resort.

Rated the #1 Adventure Outfitter in West Virginia, ACE Adventure Resort offers whitewater rafting along with a variety of supported adventures such as zip lining, mountain biking, disc golf, stand up paddle boarding and rock climbing. The adjacent 70,000-acre New River Gorge National River is an option for miles of wilderness exploring afoot and on horseback or fat tire bike.

For more information and to speak to a group coordinator, please telephone (800) 787-3982 or email groups@aceraft.com. Visit the website at www.aceraft.com.

Fascinating Facts About Two of the West’s Grandest Rivers

Veteran outfitter Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) has in its 50-plus years of operating whitewater expeditions racked up more guest user days on two iconic rivers in the West than any other business or individual out there.

Their seasoned guides are keepers of fact and lore about the Colorado and Green rivers where seasonally they secure adventure vacations by raft for thousands of thrill-seeking guests annually. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits…
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Colorado River Facts

  • Famous for whitewater rapids and world-class landscapes, the Colorado is the 46th longest river in the world running 1,450 miles from a meadow just north of Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park to Baja Mexico’s Gulf of California.
  • The upper section of the Colorado River was once “Grand River.” In 1921 Congress renamed the entire length “Colorado River.”
  • Along its course the Colorado River drops 10,184 feet.
  • Annually the river carries away an estimated 45 million tons of sediment. Think 4 million commercial dump trucks doing this work.
  • Two canyons through which the Colorado flows, Cataract Canyon and Grand Canyon, are home to the some of the largest whitewater rapids in North America; with some forceful enough to stand a 37-foot raft on end.
  • No other river touches more (five) National Parks and combined (six) National Monuments, Conservation & Recreation Areas and State Parks.

Rafting vacations range from half-day to week-long options on the Colorado River. National Geographic calls a Westwater Canyon trip on the Colorado-Utah border “The West’s Best Short Whitewater Trip. This day program for ages 12 and up is priced at $180 per person on a choice of spirited oar-powered or paddle boats. Guides expertly row through exciting waves and swirling pools dwarfed by stunningly beautiful and unique black, gold and red canyon walls of Westwater Canyon in southern Utah. Available April-October. http://www.westernriver.com/trips/westwater1day/

Another short adventure is on a choice of paddle rafts or inflatable kayaks on the Upper Colorado out of Moab. Ages 5 and up can participate, with prices at $89 per adult and $69 per child. Available March-October. http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/trips/rafting/full.php

A three-hour jet boat option explores the calm water sections down river from Moab. Guests witness remote canyons of exquisite beauty, a petrified forest, fossil beds, spectacular rock cliffs, Indian ruins, arches, petroglyphs, Thelma and Louise Point and Dead Horse Point. Ages 4 and up are welcomed. Prices are $89 adults and $79 youth. Available March-October.
http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/trips/jetboat/jetboat.php

A four-day program offers Class III-V rapids in Cataract Canyon in Canyonlands National Park, south of Moab. Included is a majestic setting called “The Confluence” where the Colorado and Green Rives meet. At trip’s end, a flight over Canyonlands National Park returns guests to Moab. Prices are $1,425 adults; $1065 youth. Available May-August. http://www.westernriver.com/trips/cataract/

Over six or seven days guests can raft 187 miles through Grand Canyon National Park on motorized J-Rig rafts. This canyon ride, spliced with daily hikes through Anasazi territory, showcases dark and narrow passages followed by thundering waterfalls in luminous free fall. Rates vary by season but begin at $2,699. Available April-September. http://www.westernriver.com/trips/grand6day/

Green River Facts

  • Seventeen rivers are named “Green” but only one features a Desolation Canyon.
  • Utah’s Green River is the birthplace of the modern day rafting vacation.
  • Desolation Canyon through which it courses was one of several escape routes for Butch Cassidy’s “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang.” This canyon, over 5,000 feet deep, is deeper than the Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Trail.
  • The river runs for 730 miles and is the Colorado River’s major tributary.
  • In 1869 John Wesley Powell explored the Green River from Wyoming to the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers in 53 days.
  • While the Green River is Utah’s major waterway, it births from the slopes of the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming and while enroute, loops 40 miles through northwestern Colorado.

Green River rafting adventures include four days in Lodore Canyon, a sanctuary for bighorn sheep, deer and birds of prey. Guests explore Dinosaur National Monument along with the whitewater. Rates are from $935. Available May-September.
http://www.bikeraft.com/colorado-river-rafting/lodore-canyon/

A five-day adventure in Desolation Canyon begins with a scenic flight from Moab, UT. This rafting trip utilizes two-person inflatable kayaks and guided oar boats to explore 60 fun-filled rapids, outlaw hideouts, dinosaur habitats and Fremont Native American petroglyphs. The rate is from $1,555 adult; $995 minimum age 5. Available May-August.
http://www.westernriver.com/trips/green/

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2015-2016 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit: http://www.westernriver.com/.

Austin Adventures Joins Virtuoso® Preferred Tour Operator Portfolio

Dan Austin, president of Austin Adventures (http://www.austinadventures.com/), a leader in luxury multisport and active family vacations worldwide, announces that his company has been invited to join the prestigious supplier portfolio at Virtuoso®, the leading international travel agency network specializing in luxury and experiential travel.

In this new partnership, Virtuoso, one of the best-known and respected travel groups in the world, gains new market-proven product from Austin Adventures for its more than 11,400 elite travel advisors in over 30 countries. Austin Adventures gains new market access to millions of travel-savvy consumers.

This comes at the heels of a partnership Austin Adventures forged in 2013 with Xanterra Parks & Resorts® which has opened doors to countless new opportunities, allowing Austin Adventures unparalleled behind-the-scenes access, support and security on its tours (especially those that visit U.S. National Parks).

“Through hard work and dedication to excellence, both Virtuoso and Austin Adventures have become recognized leaders in luxury and experiential travel. This new partnership will bring our special style of adventure and high-end travel to an expanded market of individuals and families seeking quality, authenticity and intimacy in a vacation experience,” Austin said.

This new partnership marks the first time that Montana-based Austin Adventures has entered into an agreement with Virtuoso, one of the globe’s premier luxury travel organizations. The by-invitation-only organization is comprised of over 380 agency members and more than 11,400 elite travel advisors in over 30 countries throughout North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.

This strategic partnership comes at a time when Austin Adventures is experiencing its most significant expansion of trips and destinations to date, added Austin. With the addition of Asia (Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Bali and Vietnam), Austin Adventures now offers programs on all seven continents.

In addition to expanding geographically, AA is adding multisport programs in Europe (France, Macedonia and Croatia) and in South America (Chile, Peru and Argentina).

Back by popular demand, in 2016 it is reintroducing classic cycle tours in Europe. Austin said the demand for pure bike-only tours is strong. The new twist will be the inclusion of celebrity host and guide Ron van Dijk of Austin Adventures who in 2016 celebrates his 42nd anniversary of guiding bike tours. Austin Adventure’s new cycle tours for 2016 are: Denmark Danish Isles; Holland/Belgium | Brussels to Bruges & Gent; France – Burgundy; and Austria/Czech Republic-Vienna To Prague.

Stateside Austin Adventures is introducing exclusive five-star lodging and gourmet dining that combine biking, hiking, rafting and horseback riding in iconic destinations. For example, the new-for-1016 Colorado | 5-Star Wilderness Adventure is a six-day/five-night immersion in what this company does best – making sure the wows are stirred into the vacation mix that includes The Broadmoor, Cloud Camp and Ranch at Emerald Valley.

Austin Adventures has also created the distinction as experts in planning and delivering family vacations. Seeking out family travel and adventure experiences are high on Virtuoso advisors’ lists, as multigenerational travel is a top trend predicted for 2016, followed in second by adventure travel and in third place travel with one’s immediate family.

“Adventure travel is a growing area of interest for Virtuoso travel advisors and their clients,” said Cece Drummond, managing director of Destinations & Experiences for Virtuoso. “In fact, the 2016 Virtuoso Luxe Report named it one of the top trends for this year.”

“Travel agent and agency bookings are an increasing percentage of our overall business,” said Austin.  “With the help of Virtuoso we project that agency business will represent one of every three reservations by 2018.” Being a Preferred Supplier offers Austin Adventures new travel agency distribution channels in the United States, as well as in other mutually important regions where Virtuoso operates, including Europe, Australia and Canada.
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For more information on all of the destinations, trips and itineraries offered by Austin Adventures visit http://www.austinadventures.com, call (800) 575-1540 or email info@austinadventures.com.

Bask in Glory of Spring in the Desert on Luxurious Self-Guided Cycle Tours

Pioneers of self-guided cycling vacations, Pure Adventures (http://pure-adventures.com/), combines five days of moderate self-guided cycling and hiking with high-end accommodations accessing the coveted winter and spring destinations of Scottsdale and Sedona, AZ.

From now through April 30, 2016, dependable, abundant sunshine over southwest desert scenery and the promise of an El Niño-enhanced spring desert bloom embrace active vacationers on a tour designed to keep life uncomplicated and flexible on bike and on foot. This new itinerary is a simplified version of more challenging U.S. road tours traditionally featured by Pure Adventures and is designed to offer an active getaway while leaving time for luxury and relaxation at two of Arizona’s most enticing resort towns: North Scottsdale and Sedona. This self-guided biking and hiking trip is perfect for the casual road biker and outdoor enthusiast looking for a short five-day, warm-weather getaway this winter or spring.

US – Deluxe Arizona Cycling & Hiking Tour is from $1,595 per person, double, inclusive of transfers, luggage service, orientation with expert staff covering GPS (Garmin touring) and route book, two nights lodging each at Four Seasons Troon North Scottsdale, nestled into the foothills of Pinnacle Peak, and Enchantment Resort of Sedona, gloves, helmet and specific pedals when requested with optional bike rental (from $150), detailed route book with maps, cue sheets, suggestions for stops, water, visits, restaurants, attractions, telephone assistance throughout, pre-travel assistance, documentation and planning support.

This tour can be arranged for as few as two people with a slight price increase. On-your-own meals are available at a variety of venues; spa services at the hotels are add-ons. Guests cycle an average 20 to 30 moderate miles on Days 1 and 2, and enjoy hiking options on Days 3 & 4. For additional details please see: http://pure-adventures.com/show-tour/166/US+Deluxe+Arizona+Cycling+&+Hiking+Tour.

Other self-guided winter options in the southwest include the Tucson & Borderlands Bicycle Tour, a six-day program through one of the most biologically diverse desert ecosystems in North America, Saguaro National Park. The rate is from $1,055 per person, double. Cyclists cover between 200 and 280 miles over the course of the ride. For complete details please see: http://pure-adventures.com/show-tour/100/US+Tucson+&+Borderlands+Bicycle+Tour+Self+Guided.

Another deluxe self-guided option in this region, Sedona Arizona Desert Winter Mountain Biking Tour from $1,295 per person, double, is a seven-day program that utilizes two classic accommodations for three nights each: Carefree Resort and Arabella Hotel. Upgrades to luxury accommodations may be requested for an additional rate. This trip begins in the Sonoran Desert with a wide variety of trails to suit intermediate to advanced riders before transferring to Sedona’s red rock country to finish out the week. Guests are on bikes between two and four hours daily. For details please see http://pure-adventures.com/show-tour/68/Sedona+Arizona+Desert+Winter+Mountain+Biking+Tour.

Pure Adventures’ quick escape Scottsdale Sonoran Desert Mountain Biking Self Guided Deluxe engages cycling guests for two to four hours daily over three days on desert trails in and around McDowell Mountain Regional Park. This program is a hybrid self-guided experience where guests have a guide on Day 1 for set up and orientation and again on Day 3 to lead a ride. The per person double rate starts at $530. For more details and itinerary please see http://pure-adventures.com/show-tour/5/US+Scottsdale+Sonoran+Desert+Mountain+Biking+Self+Guided+Deluxe.

Death Valley Bicycling Discovery SSD Tour is a six-day “supported, self-directed” program covering up to 50 miles daily on bikes.  Personally paced, there is a guide along to provide sag wagon support and nightly restaurant shuttles. This trip that begins and ends in Las Vegas utilizes colorful, local accommodations enroute. Per person, double rate for a group of ten is $1375 each (surcharge for smaller groups). For more information see:
http://pure-adventures.com/show-tour/3/Death+Valley+Bicycling+Discovery+SSD+Tour.

Car rentals are not included in the above programs but can be arranged when booking these vacations. Lodging upgrades can also be secured.

In addition to self-guided programs, Pure Adventures offers other ways to organize domestic and international bicycling and hiking vacations: Guided vs Self-Guided vs Supported, Self-Directed, See: http://pure-adventures.com/blog/2014/06/23/how-to-choose-the-perfect-bicycle-vacation/#.VUk4UvlVhHw

For more information on all of Pure Adventures guided, self-guided and supported, self-directed tours, call: 800-960-2221 or 480-905-1235, Email: info@pure-adventures.com, or visit online: http://pure-adventures.com.

A New Way to Cruise Tahiti in Intimate Luxury

Small ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations (http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/) has added the truly unique, 24-guest luxury yacht Island Passage to its portfolio. From May through October it will conduct eight- and eleven-day roundtrip cruises on this yacht through one of the world’s most romantic stretches of water.

“Traditionally cruises on these waters are aboard much larger vessels accommodating from 120 guests and up,” said Todd Smith, AdventureSmith Explorations’ visionary founder and president. “In stark contrast, the new Tahitian Affair that begins and ends in Bora Bora offers unparalleled intimacy in a relaxing, lagoon-cruising style highly suited to this environment.”

The per person rate, from $4,540 for an 8-day cruise, includes on-board accommodation, meals, all non-alcoholic drinks during cruise, wine with dinner, shore-excursions as per the itinerary, use of kayaks, tenders, snorkel and fishing equipment carried onboard, and an airport ferry transfer. An alternate 11-day itinerary is also offered starting at $5,845 per person, double.

To celebrate the introduction of this new Tahitian cruise option, AdventureSmith Explorations is offering a special booking promotion; guests can reserve Tahitian Affair cruise by March 31, 2016 and receive a complimentary travel package that covers airport transfers, domestic flights and hotel accommodation in Papeete. The package includes arrival transfer to airport hotel, one night at Intercontinental Resort Papeete (or similar), transfer to airport (or pier for 11-day cruise), and return domestic flights to and from Bora Bora (or from Bora Bora to Papeete for 11-day) for cruise. This offer is valid on new bookings only and is subject to availability.

Island Passage cruises only three to four hours daily on average before laying anchor each evening. This translates to an unhurried pace and ample opportunity for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding at will from the motus or small reef islands that only a small vessel can access. Guests may also opt to swim with sting rays and sharks, or to embark on a fishing excursion. The Island Passage’s 7.2-meter aluminum fishing boat is equipped with rods, tackle and gear for line (rod/pole) or deep sea angling. The talented chef is always happy to prepare the fish that guests catch.

For additional fees, guests who are scuba-certified can arrange to dive off a dive boat that will pull up alongside Island Passage; and they can sightsee by helicopter as the vessel has a helipad for a six-seat helicopter.

When they can pull themselves out of the turquoise water, guests can tour village life on the islands of Tahaá, Raiatea and Huahine, visit a vanilla plantation, local markets and the Maeva Marae archaeological site. They may also enjoy being the audience for a local choir and learning how to crack coconuts.

While on board they mingle in the generously spaced dining and salon area and on the expansive aft deck. Oversize 175-square-foot staterooms and 195-square-foot and 235-square-foot suites all have ocean views and are appointed with fine linens, French soaps and toiletries, and fresh flowers.

Menus include local seafood and the best New Zealand organic lamb and Santo beef, fresh produce selected from local farmer’s markets and award-winning cheeses, all presented with a strong European flair. The onboard wine cellar brims with award-winning wines and is frequently updated with new releases plus the Island Passage’s revolving collection that is personally selected from the crew’s favorite boutique vineyards.

For a recent blog post about more new offerings in AdventureSmith’s upcoming 2016 season please go to: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/small-ship-cruises-new-2016-tahiti-cuba-new-zealand-costa-rica-amazon-croatia.

For information on all of AdventureSmith’s small ship cruises, itineraries, availability and 2016 reservations, Phone: 800-728-2875 toll-free or visit http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/.