2017 Destination Races: Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

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It’s the second most wonderful time of the year…. Registration for the 14th annual Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon and GunBunFunRun 5K opens December 1st. The race sold out in a record 17 minutes in 2016, so be sure to pay attention to the registration instructions below as the process has changed from previous years. Next year’s race date is Sunday July 16th.

 

Here’s the skinny:
INDIVIDUAL + VIP and TEAM registration open on the SAME DAY!

Individual + VIP registration is on a first come, first serve basis and will sell out in minutes. Read registration rules and tips below.

All legitimate teams of 6 or more people that register within this time frame will be allowed to register (see Rules and Tips below). Team registrations are $5 less than individual registrations.

Registration RULES and TIPS:

Individual + VIP
Do NOT open multiple browsers or attempt to register early! This will only slow the process down and potentially freeze you out.
Once you have entered all your information on the registration page, only push the submit button once. If you push it more than once, you will get charged more than once!
Once the race is sold out, you may sign up for our 2nd Chance Drawing free of charge. The sooner you register to be on the list, the better your chances for getting into the race via the 2nd Chance Drawing which will be held on March 1, 2017. At least 100 spots will be released on that date via a drawing. Winners will be notified on the same day.

Team registration

To sign up a team, first have a TEAM CAPTAIN register the team. They will need to pay for one registration and establish a team name and a required passcode for additional team members.

Team registration is open for two weeks – until November 25th. You MUST have a minimum of 6 members on a team by the time of closing on the 25th at 11:59pm PST.  Additional members will be charged when they register for the team.

If your team does not have a minimum of 6 members at the time of closing each team member will be refunded their entry fee less a $10 processing fee.  You will not be signed up as an individual in the race!

Teams may have a maximum of 20 people. If you are going to exceed 20 members you must set up an additional team with at least 6 members. You may transfer members from a team with over 20 to a 2nd team in order to attain 6 members.

Team registration is scheduled to stay open until November 25th. However, we suggest registering your team as soon as possible.  In the unlikely event that we far exceed our team registrations spots, we may be forced to close team registration before November 25th. This is not likely to happen but we reserve the right to close it in order to not exceed our total registration limit.

Thank you for your understanding as we try to make this process as stress-free and fair as possible for our valued customers. Please note that Race Extras events will be available for purchase at a later date. For more information, please visit our website. For any questions not answered on our website, email raceinfo@destinationraces.com. GOOD LUCK!

[Read more…]

Third Annual Nomadic Journey: Mountain Biking Cambodia’s Ancient Temples of Angkor

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Greetings from Cambodia for Fit Fathers’ third annual nomadic expedition, a rediscovery of life, newfangled cultures, freedom from attachment and enlightenment. I’ve been traveling for over 20 years now but just recently began traversing the globe to indigenous countries on solo missions. From Phuket to Nepal, the appeal of simple life, thankfulness, ancient spices and herbs and nurturing foods entices my pallet. So I continue digging deeper for truth, perspective and the freedom of life while doing so on a mountain bikes utilizing the best local tour guides in the field. Welcome to my world.

After a 25-hour commute starting on United Airlines from Washington Dulles to San Francisco to Korea and then on to Phnom Penh, Cambodia I landed rather restless. As usual it was confounding circumstances at the airport when I arrived at 11:30 pm so I feverishly picked out my $9 Tuk Tuk driver and headed to the Grand Boutique II in Phnom Penh for two nights. The streets from the airport into town were pretty dusty and awaiting trash truck pickups. The open ride let me get a feel for the city before the next day’s explorations. Food cart vendors were open for business and those that weren’t were preparing for the next day’s busy day. Keep in mind mopeds and Tuk Tuks rule this town like most cities in Southeast Asia. The 3-star, boutique hotel was a small, quaint spot situated in the middle of the hustle off of 5th street. For about $50 a night it surprisingly included complimentary breakfast (exotic fruit platter, fresh mango juice and vegetable stir fry rice), free WiFi and instantaneous customer service. Mental note, trust is an important trait for travelers and jetsetters so your senses must be keen and instincts impeccable to avoid ominous scenarios. You will never see me rocking headphones to drown out the environment while I’m away.

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I popped up bright and early and went for a run to view the bustle of Cambodia’s busy capital streets. By far, running and biking are the most strategic ways to enjoy new lands while simultaneously energizing the body. With 90-degree weather the entire 10-day stay I promised myself to spend the journey outdoors soaking up Vitamin D. First up was a trot to the National Museum which is actually a temple rich with Cambodian history and relics. Later that night I caught a traditional and magical dance performance put on by the Cambodian Living Arts which was the highlight of my day. The revelry is fixated on love, food and peace. For example, in flourishing countries the masses are devoted to earning their next million, obtaining elaborate jewelry, luxury cars, fancy shoes, expensive purses and the grandest houses, while the poor Cambodian farmers dance fervently in solidarity — Beh Krawine Dance — to bless their crops and well-being. It’s the unpretentious things in life that generate happiness.

Next up was a short flight on Bayon Airlines to Siem Reap for day 1 of mountain biking (MTBing) while visiting the ancient temples of Angkor. After extensive research I selected Cambodia Cycling as my tour guides of choice. The 3-day ride totaled about $600 and included 3-star accommodation, an experienced cycling guide, your bike (Trek or Giant) full board meals (breakfasts, lunch and dinner), boat trip on Tonlé Sap Lake to see the floating fishing village, a support van and a 3-day Angkor pass. In fact, Dara, Son and Greg ascertained that every need imaginable was handled under their care including the litany of vegan grub in the area which I have a penchant for. Directly from the airport we hit the ground pedaling to the temples. Combining the love for cycling with nomadic travel is the best and most modest act a spiritual outlier can ask for.

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The route took us to Prasat Kravan Temple, the Buddhist Temple Banteay Kdei (meaning a citadel of chambers) and the infamous Ta Prohm Temple which is adorned by the roots of enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers. It was built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII who is discernibly looked upon by historians as the most formidable Khmer monarch. Keep in mind roughly 80% of all Cambodians are Buddhists. We also admired the Bayon Temple and the temple complex of the breathtaking Angkor Wat. On the gentle ride back to the Angkor Boutique Villa I felt like a kite dancing in a hurricane, flowing freely with thoughts as pervasive as the Andaman Sea. For dinner Son reserved a table at Chamkar Vegetarian Restaurant where the open atmosphere was meditative since I was seated next to the garden. Trees grow inside the eco-friendly eatery and bamboo dividers can be rolled up or down depending on the weather. Chamkar serves fine and genuine foods using fresh, local veggies and as organic as possible. Yes, the meals were light, refreshing and pleasing.

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Each day we road out from my art deco suite to a uniquely, mystic pocket of the country ripe with fascination. For the next 48 hours in Siem Reap I embraced adoration of living in the countryside to explore the simple life and the floating village where the locals (mostly Vietnamese fishers) dwell and work. In the country a little girl eats her rice in what seems to be a private abode behind a bush while roosters scream in excitement and rustic bike shops tend to the villagers number one mean of transportation. Both the Cambodians and I were equally curious with each other. Humbled is an understatement, especially since the people here survive off the crops they grow. After MTBing I went back to the hotel to relax, find more veggie grub and attend another dance and arts show later that night. Certainly I will return again to this part of the world, possibly Vietnam.

The nomadic escape on two wheels was another unforgettable experience that I will cherish dearly. No man or woman should ever fear the unknown. Self-discovery is a powerful awareness tool.

Couples in Costa Rica: Pura Vida at The Westin Golf Resort & Spa Playa Conchal

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Experienced by Kimatni and Misa Rawlins

It’s always a perfect occasion to visit Costa Rica. After our first stay five years ago my wife Misa and I knew it was only a matter of time before we returned to the majestic lands of Central America. With so many work obligations and parenting responsibilities to tend to back home in Silver Spring, MD, it is a refreshing delight escaping without our children. This year for our anniversary we chose the Guanacaste region and invited friends who share similar passions in life such as traversing the world.

Since we are platinum members with Starwood the goal was to secure one of their all-inclusive resorts that catered to our needs for this specific journey to paradise. Located in the northeast quadrant of Costa Rica, The Westin Golf Resort & Spa Playa Conchal would become our home away from home for the next six days. In North Guanacaste explorers will enjoy idyllic panoramas of the clear blue Pacific Ocean, natural landscapes, semi-active volcanoes, savannahs, tropical dry forests and national parks where much of the Costa Rican wildlife can be sought by venturing off on a day trip.

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We begin the getaway from Washington, Dulles on a United Airlines flight which connected in Houston before leaving for Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport. A rental car from Avis was reserved and caused complications due to undisclosed fees and a higher rental price than first negotiated, but once we handled that scenario it took us about an hour to drive to the resort where heaven on Earth patiently awaited our arrival.

The entire property was similar to a California beach neighborhood where each resident relished his/her condo, suite or small villa. Even the cobblestoned paths were named like streets and avenues. I was in awe of the fresh vegetation including mango and banyan trees, a small pond outside our building, the majestic adult pool replete with a swim-up bar, a multitude of restaurants, Westin Workout Center, Westin Kids Club, the Wellness Spa and of course Playa Conchal’s very own Conchal Beach which seduces with its pristine white sand curated from little crushed shells. Moreover, the sounds of various birds and insects was delightful and kept in tune with the naturalistic environs of Costa Rica. Also, I aesthetically appreciated the omnipresent teepee theme of the main lobby and some of the eateries.

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Our superior abode on the Royal Beach Club side of the resort teased us during the entire stay. Before you enter the quarters a miniature rainforest and waterfall grabs your attention to notify you that Costa Rica is omnipresent. The deluxe suite was as opulent as it gets featuring two full baths — one of which is the size of the bedroom with dual showers and dual sinks — a Bose Sound Link Mini and sliding doors in both the living room and master bedroom that leads to the extensive patio which in turn hosts a bathing tub. Westin Hotels are infamous for their Heavenly Beds so best believe we rested like newborns each night. Furthermore, the cuisine was impeccable. Each morning our butler made sure fresh fruit smoothies were prepared and delivered before we hit the gym or the trails. Remember, vacation is to relax the mind not the body. Bamboo turned out to be our favorite dinner place since it offered the most veggie options.

With so many exciting things to do on property it was difficult venturing offsite to see the rest of the eco-friendly area. But that’s exactly what we did. Out first destination was a visit to the beach town of Tamarindo. The Westin offers round trip service for $20 during the day and $25 by night, but of course we had our own vehicle. Here is where you experience musical vibrations, extended nightlife, surfing activities and endless places to wine and dine. We chose Sprout for the afternoon meal and were all graciously satisfied. There is something about Costa Rican bean and veggie tacos that I couldn’t get enough of. Additionally we dined Papaya for fresh greens, beans, brown rice and veggie tofu scramble. Then you have the all vegan La Cuchara Verde which sends messages of love, health and peace. No matter where we land the goal is to secure foods that energize, enliven and strengthen. As Misa poignantly stated, “Another day, another adventure in Costa Rica. The vegan food here is ridiculously delicious….oh man oh man, yummy in my tummy!”

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Costa Rica is about the size of West Virginia and consists of more than 970 species of birds like the hummingbird that can fly backwards. Pineapple is their number one export, not coffee. Farmers also produce and grow cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon and sugarcane. A partnership with the Westin allowed us to see more sights by way of Swiss Travel. From white water rafting, to zip lining to various nomadic adventures there are a plethora of activities to fulfill your heart’s desires. While the ladies sunbathed at the pool Eric and I scheduled the ATV tour with our guide Bernal Jaen Santana who escorted us to Playa Brasilito, the Pedregosa area, a host of beaches and around the jungle to integrate with the congo monkeys.

Next up was the half-day Palo Verde National Park and river boat tour where we learned all about the mighty crocodile, some of the migrating birds species and a few of the 144 classes of snakes (no anacondas or pythons here). Palo Verde become a National Park in 1972 and protects 23,000 acres of land. It was fascinating witnessing the commingling of life in this natural habitat.

I’m Happy. The amazing perspective received when vacationing with your spouse is the rekindled awareness of love, deep conversations and silent moments of eye contact which collectively strengthen you as a couple. Costa Rica showed me how much I have and how important Misa Rawlins is to me as a wife, mother and best friend. Every moment together adds to the constellation of our shared history and ultimately makes us stronger as a team. Pura Vida!

The Road to Cali Roots 2016: It’s a Movement

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins, Photos by Gary  Joseph & Josué Rivas

The constellation of musical memories and positive vibes from the 2016 California Roots music festival in Monterey is as palpable and energizing now as the very day I first stepped onto the scene to welcome its reggae radiance into my world. The atmospheric euphoria from thousands of showgoers, electrifying performers and ubiquitous “one love” is incomparable to any festival I have witnessed in the past. The experience over the three days during the festive Memorial Day Weekend extravaganza will always be unforgettable.

Our journey began from Washington, DC with an early morning Thursday flight to San Francisco where we would pick up a 2016 Optima SX from our media friends at Kia. Of course music is one of the brand’s pillars so it made sense to add them to our entertaining formula. To get acclimated with some of the previously unfamiliar artists such as reggae, soulful singer/writer Kimie Miner and Lifted MASTERS, we played their latest tunes from the Kia’s Harman Kardon QLS premium sound system. Expressive tunes like Serious Business, Stop Now and New Age kept Gary and I animated during the 2-hour drive. Not to be outdone by the music scene, healthy eating is a key for us as well, especially on the road. So we stopped at LYFE Kitchen in Palo Alto and chowed down on the Ancient Grain Stir Fry. In addition, the culinary theme was replicated throughout Cali Roots from food vendors who cooked up fresh goodness and purity to nourish the crowds.

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Lodging choices will be one of your main topics of consideration if you are driving from afar or flying in. Many people camp, some choose the motels and lodges near the Monterey Fairgrounds and others go with a host hotel like the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa where Gary and I stayed. It was perfect and provided the amenities active individuals need when traveling. Our 3-night stay included parking, breakfast and workout facilities. After settling in we took a quick nap and then popped up and proceeded to Planet Gemini for the opening Late Night Session to jam with a few bands such as Soul Majestic who prepared us for Friday’s all day set.

For each of the three festival days performances where held inside the fairgrounds on either the OG Stage, The Cali Roots Stage or in The Bowl which is where most of the electrification takes place. With a pretty impeccable schedule, thirteen acts and four DJs rocked the crowds on each day so your itinerary can be busy or you can take it easy with a few groups here and there. On Friday, day one, we made sure to catch J Boog, Barrington Levy and of course Slightly Stoopid, the Ocean Beach, California band led by co-founders and instrumentalists Kyle McDonald and Miles Doughty. They had The Bowl on fire Friday evening!

Cali Roots is special for more than just the music. The organizers are conscious, earth friendly thinkers and influenced us with healthy habits such as the water refill station, the Sip and Pose morning yoga segments and the Green Pedal Couriers’ bike valet service to encourage exercise, minimize traffic congestion and reduce the carbon footprint of attendees. As well, thoughtful vendors were omnipresent and ranged from visual artists selling paintings and artwork to reggae apparel and designers to healthy food stations with my favorite being Strictly Vegan Jamaican Cuisine.

As usual, and before we headed over to the Monterey Fairgrounds on Friday the team worked out with top effort. First was a 30-minute strength training session in the Hyatt Regency Monterey’s “Stay Fit” gym, then a 3-mile run around the 22-acre property and lastly finished up with sprints in the courtyard. Plus, we walked a mile to the concerts and back and traversed the grounds for hours. On Saturday morning I needed more Slightly Stoopid so I ran 8 coastal miles to the vibes of “2Am” on repeat. That left me feeling refreshed, energized and recharged for the roots rock performances by Tarrus Riley, Nattali Rize, Stephen Marley and Damian Marley. Nattali is rising and has toured alongside the likes of SOJA, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Katchafire, Third World, J Boog, Julian Marley and Chronixx. Her repatriating activism and mental slavery breaking significances by way of “Generations Will Rize” featuring my man Kabaka Pyramid are trending and perfect for any rebel soul raging against the system. “It’s about being part of a movement, shifting perception and helping to amplify pathways to higher consciousness. It’s also about chanting down outdated systems that keep us stuck in a paradigm of mental slavery and spiritual oppression, because they’re not going to chant down themselves,” stated Rize.

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Tarrus Riley, who I had the pleasure of meeting during his debut at Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest, performed on The Cali Roots Stage in the prime of the afternoon to a very eclectic crowd of reggae lovers. Riley’s energy — especially on the track “Powerful” — was customarily upbeat as he bounced around from the stage to the crowd holding hands with fans. He also brought out J Boog briefly erupting the crowd.

After Tarrus’ exit I had an interview with Kumar from Raging Fyah who just released their third studio album dubbed “Everlasting.” Still captivated by the enlightening lyrics of “Judgment Day,” the band members, who write the songs in unison based on equality, love, Jah and political positions, maintained equivalent and emotionally, similar lyrics as “Judgment Day.” They were excited to play on Sunday alongside a star-studded lineup including Stick Figure, Tribal Seeds, Rebelution, Gondwana, Protoje and many more. I immediately took to the music from the title track “Everlasting,” to “Ready For Love,” and “Live Your Life” featuring J Boog and Busy Signal.

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Stephen “Ragga” Marley and Damian Marley kick started Saturday evening with orgasmic performances that of course featured some of their father’s music. Jr. Gong surprised us by letting Black-Am-I set the mood with his hit “In The Ghetto” before blessing us with his presence. Damian is paramount to the Marley Movement and its profound, global influence on the people because he knows how to bridge generational gaps with culture reggae, dancehall, Hip Hop and even a little pop. More importantly, he is the closest Marley to his dad who also releases vitality and verve through dancing, jumping and waving. Damian is simply magnetic.

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Cali Roots is one for the ages and has left an everlasting impression on me. I’ve been looking for a reggae festival this special and now know what I will be doing annually on Memorial Day Weekend. Enjoy the photo gallery. One Love!

Sip & Pose: Vita Coco Morning Yoga at Cali Roots Fest

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For reggae showgoers in Monterey this weekend to attend the California Roots Festival please join Ben “Good Vibes” Spellman for morning yoga sessions to put your mind, body and soul in a roots, rock and meditative mood. Yoga is the perfect way to start your morning so bring a Yogamat and relax!

All attendees will receive a complimentary Vita Coco!

Come Saturday June 28th and Sunday June 29th at 10:15 AM for the Cali Roots Yoga Sessions

Location: Front of The Original Stage

2004 Fairground Rd, Monterey, CA 93940

Ben “Good Vibes” Spellman is a central Iowa-based RYT 200. Driven by connecting people, Good Vibes guides you on a journey of energy and peace through yoga. His genuine personality and radiant positive energy has generated a loyal tribe of yogis in the Des Moines community where he is leading a movement of human re-connection!

Please visit the movements section of the California Roots Festival for more details on their energizing activities.

Southwest Airlines To Offer International Service Between Los Angeles (LAX) And Liberia, Costa Rica

Finaco_Bellavista_Costa_Rica..02Southwest Airlines Co. announced plans to complement its growing portfolio of international routes by offering nonstop service between Los Angeles International Airport and Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia/Guanacaste, Costa Rica beginning in April 2016.  Southwest expects to operate the service daily from LAX Terminal 2, adjacent the carrier’s domestic operation in LAX Terminal 1.  Flights will be available for purchase early next year at Southwest.com and are subject to foreign government approval. [Read more…]

7th Annual Cali Roots Festival

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The 7th annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival will take place at the historic Monterey County Fair and Event Center from May 27-29, 2016. The top tier national festival is the premier gathering for the progressive U.S. Reggae and roots music movement, bringing the scene together over Memorial Day weekend in beautiful Monterey, CA.

2016’s California Roots Music and Arts Festival announces another round of progressive roots artists join previously announced acts Rebelution, Tribal Seeds, Protoje, Katchafire, The Green, and more. Cali reggae rockers Slightly Stoopid return after a triumphant closing night set at last year’s festival, and introspective hip-hop duo Atmosphere also join. Grammy award winning roots reggae artist Stephen “Ragga” Marley, internationally-known Jamaican reggae star Tarrus Riley and Australia’s Sticky Fingers all make their debut at the Monterey, CA festival this year. In addition, the last round of artists announced include the return of Damian “Jr Gong” Marley, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Pepper, Barrington Levy, J Boog, Mike Love, The Wheeland Brothers, and Katastro. Making their debut at the festival are Jamaican rising stars Raging Fyah, U.K.’s Will and The People, Maui’s soulful Jordan T., Bay Area’s South Bay Dub All Stars and Santa Barbara up-and-comers The Ole’s.

The remainder of the line-up announcement, including returning fan favorite Stick Figure, is listed below.

General Admission and VIP tickets http://californiaroots16.eventbrite.com/?aff=buynow.

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Round One Artist Line-Up Announcement:

Rebelution, Tribal Seeds, The Expendables,The Green, Katchafire, Protoje, Gondwana, Fortunate Youth, The Skints, Nattali Rize, Hirie, Thrive and Eli Mac

Round Two Artist Line-Up Announcement:

Slightly Stoopid, Atmosphere, Stephen “Ragga” Marley, Stick Figure, Tarrus Riley, Ooklah The Moc, Sticky Fingers, The Expanders, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Josh Heinrichs, Peni Dean, Seedless and  Tunnel Vision

Round Three Artist Line-Up Announcement:

Damian “Jr Gong” Marley, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Pepper, Barrington Levy, J Boog, Mike Love, Raging Fyah, The Wheeland Brothers, Will and The People, Katastro, Jordan T, South Bay Dub All Stars and The Oles

DJ’s:

Amp Live, Expanders Sound System, Dub Architect and Westafa

“We are extremely proud of the California Roots brand, and core returning artists like Slightly Stoopid that helped us grow our festival. We also know that our fans appreciate our innovative and diversified approach to our artist selections, as we received a great response from the hip-hop artists on the bill last year, like Cypress Hill and Dilated Peoples. Atmosphere is a phenomenal festival act that we are confident our attendees will love,” says Festival CoProducer Dan Sheehan. “We are honored to have Stephen “Ragga” Marley this year, who is a vital part of the great reggae tradition paved by his father. In addition, we are announcing 10 more artists on the line-up, ranging from legendary status to up and comers to fan favorites, with one more round of announcements still to come.”

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FESTIVAL DETAILS

The 7th Annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival

Dates: Friday, May 27, 2016 – Sunday May 29, 2016

Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm PDT

Venue: Monterey County Fair and Event Center

Address: 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey, CA 93940

Admission: Varies (Purchase Link: https://californiaroots16.eventbrite.com)

Age restrictions: All Ages

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Nepal: A Physical & Sensory Mountain Biking Adventure

Alex Glasgow, Mandil Pradhan and Euan Wilson mountain biking around Kathmandu and the lower Mustang Valley in Nepal.

If you haven’t yet travelled to Nepal then you’re in for one of the most sensory-stimulating adventures of your life! Whilst you can train for the physical demands of the Himalayan adventure, it’s almost impossible to prepare yourself for the huge impact that the vibrant culture and welcoming people will have on your soul. You can only make sure that your heart is open and ready to accept every warm smile and ‘Namaste!’ you receive from locals as you bike through the breathtaking landscapes of Nepal.

Nepal has the power to touch different people in different ways, but here are some special moments from previous adventures, to give you some inspiration.

Mountain biking holiday in the Himalayas of Nepal

10 Mountain Bike Destinations for Your Next Trip

Grand Targhee Mountain Biking Family Bike Summer Resort Activity

Mountain biking doesn’t have the legion of wanderlusters like running marathons or competing in triathlons. People typically don’t travel long distances the same way to go mountain biking. The logistics of taking your own bike, as well as the local knowledge needed to find trailheads, can often get in the way.

But some towns in the U.S. deserve a visit from even the most casual of mountain bikers. Terrific trails combined with scenery and other outdoor activities make these must-visit destinations for anyone who enjoys riding through the woods on two wheels.

Here are 10 Amazing Mountain Bike Destinations that are well worth your time to plan your next mountain biking trip.

Welcome to Aruba: A Fit Fathers Active Getaway

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Private weekends or time alone with your wife, girlfriend or significant other is a requirement for a happy and successful relationship. Just as the kids deserve a Fit Father’s attention, so does the woman in your life. For this reason my wife Misa and I hit the road at least once a quarter, sometimes as local as Miami or as far away as Phuket or Tokyo. This is in addition to our quarterly family excursions with the kids. This go-around we chose the small Caribbean Dutch Island resting 15 miles off the Northern shoreline of Venezuela.

Aruba is unique, captivating and very touristy. Strong, customary trade winds, white, sandy beaches and Spanish, Dutch, English and Papiamento lingo commingle with 82-degree breezy weather, kind-hearted inhabitants and the southwesterly bending leaning fofoti trees. Keep in mind rainy days are rare on the 19.6-mile long and 6-mile wide dry island.

To get there we flew into Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) on a 4-hour direct United Airlines flight from Newark, NJ. A car rental was a must so we could explore every nook and cranny the region had to offer including Arikok National Park which encompasses 18% of the island, the California Lighthouse named after a shipwrecked vessel coming from Liverpool, the Capital City of Oranjestad and of course as many vegan or vegetarian friendly restaurants as possible. The Lighthouse sits atop the Northern most part of the island and is the perfect locale for lunch or dinner at the well-known Faro Blanco Restaurant. With spectacular sunset views, the Italian and Aruban infused eatery serves a medley of salads, soups, risottos and pastas and hosts a daily happy hour from 5 pm to 7 pm and daily live music between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.

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I didn’t view Aruba as an enchanting retreat or meditational destination as I do Negril, Belize or Costa Rica so it wasn’t treated like one. For that reason an entertaining beach experience can be had from the Renaissance Ocean Suites in Oranjestad where the action takes place. For example, the Renaissance Marketplace consists of a mix of hip cafes such as Sidebar Bistro, live music and a movie theater for those who become restless quickly. A main stage stayed busy with various musical acts each evening of our visit. Guests can enjoy the private beach at Renaissance Island to relax and feed the Flamingos, visit the Okeanos Spa for the Sea of Tranquility or Chocolate Embrace treatment, play volleyball or tennis, strength train at the fascinating gym, hit the running trail, kayak, sail, scuba dive, snorkel or watch a wedding on the beach as day turns to night. As well, the Patamingo Kids Club is at your disposal if you do decide to bring the young ones.

The Fit Fathers mantras is simple, “vacations are to relax the mind, not the body.” So the first morning we chose to run free for 4 miles through the hustle and bustle of downtown along a path that leads to the airport. Furthermore, each ¼-mile we knocked out 25 push ups and 25 dips for a total of 400. Yes, it felt amazing as usual. Swiftly afterwards we were able to reward ourselves with a big fat vegan grub and poolside sunbathing. I enjoy cycling equally and stopped in Tri-Bike for $25 a day loaners (24 hours that is). They have swimming, biking and running gear in addition to Trek mountain bike rentals. However my timing was off for the Duo ExTreme Mountain Bike Challenge at Rancho Notorious with 60km, 40km and sprint distance races.

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Searching for health conscious foods is always a key adventure for our excursions. The Happy Cow app typically points us to the top and most popular veggie based eateries within range. One that I can’t forget is the authentic Indonesian vegan meal at Indo in the Palm Beach area. We had potato rotis, spirited veggie rice dishes and an assortment of spicy noodles. The small joint is popular to locals and focuses strictly on the culinary experience. No need to worry about Karaoke ruining your meal.

If you want to explore a bit more try an ATV Tour, the UTV Beach and Cave Adventure or a Jeep Safari outing to traverse over the wild beauty of Aruba’s outback and rugged coastline to witness either the Natural Bridge, the Natural Pool, the Andicuri Trail, Alto Vista Chapel, Gold Mill Ruins, Cero Crystal or the Caves just to name a few. Conversely, riches can be made or lost at a multitude of Casinos where high-end shopping such as Breitling, Ralph Lauren, Cartier or Bvlgari patiently await your earnings. I’m not a gambler whatsoever so this theme never entered my consciousness.

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For the last supper we were looking for a blend of health conscious culinary experiences alongside fine dining and found the precise place. Just two years old, the luxuriant Elements Restaurant is nestled within the Bucuti & Tara resort on Aruba’s Eagle Beach. A viscous Broccoli & Carrot Soup along with a refreshing Caesar Salad with avocados tickled our pallets. For entrees, Misa ordered the Quinoa Pineapple dish consisting of quinoa sautéed with a medley of vegetables creatively stuffed in the shell of a whole pineapple, and then flamed in front of us with Caribbean rum. I went with the Wheat Spaghetti featuring squash pasta, tomatillos, leeks and Quorn which was enhanced with garlic, Dijon mustard and Riesling wine. There was nothing more enchanting during our Aruban vacation than natural and organic dining by the sea.

Visit www.Aruba.com to start planning your romantic and active itinerary to show your lady just how special she is. It’s a Fit Fathers requisite!