Photo Of The Day: The Milky Way In Arches National Park

Utah is one of my favorite escapes. There’s something about sitting on a slab of redrock and watching a black sky dotted with stars. You’re in the middle of nowhere, alone, surrounded by silence, overpowered by the feeling of grandiose canyons.

Flickr user djurma captures exactly that in this nighttime photo of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. You can feel that stillness just by looking at it.

Want your own photo featured on Photo of the Day? Submit it to the Gadling Flickr Pool or on Instagram by mentioning @gadlingtravel and tagging #gadling.

[Photo credit: djurma]

YouTube Video Of Owl-Kicking Paraglider Prompts Investigation

You’d think someone whose sport of choice is flying through the air would have respect for birds, but one paramotorist is catching heat after a video of him chasing and kicking an owl mid-air was uploaded to YouTube.

The man in the video doggedly pursued a Barn Owl in flight for more than seven minutes, kicking it several times as it flew over the landscape near Utah Lake. He then proceeded to brag about it, yelling, “I kicked an owl butt” in a taunting voice and asking, “Who’s the predator now?”

But federal and state wildlife officials aren’t smiling: since migratory birds are protected under federal law, officials are currently determining if the video warrants prosecution. They have a hunch the man in the video is Dell “Superdell” Schanze, a paramotorist who was arrested in 2011 after posting a video that showed him taking off from a historic monument in Oregon. I guess some people just never learn.

“I’ve gotten to know many pilots in the paragliding and powered paragliding community and I’ve found them to be some of the most considerate and conscientious fliers in aviation,” says our resident commercial and paragliding pilot, as well as “Cockpit Chronicles” columnist, Kent Wien. “But there’s always one, and I suppose every community has their own Dell ‘Superdell’ Shanze.”

The YouTube video has since been removed, but more than 50,000 people caught it during the four days it was online. Segments of it can be found in news reports online and on Facebook.

5 Spring Break Trips That Don’t Require Boozing In Mexico

Neon colored fruity cocktails consumed poolside with college students and bad house music in the background not really your thing? Spring break can be a lot of things, and it doesn’t have to fit the classic stereotype of sunburned jocks taking tequila shots in Cabo.

Spring is that perfect time of year when it’s not quite summer but the weather’s nicer so you can take full advantage of the great outdoors while still avoiding the larger crowds of tourists. If you’re willing to invest a little time in adventure planning, you can get some serious payoff. This is the time of camping and road trips after all.

So start packing your tent and down sleeping bag and get ready to explore. And although you might not be boozing at Senor Frogs, feel free to bring a flask of high-quality whiskey. It’s perfect around a campfire.

Explore Red Rock Country, Southwestern Utah

Some of my best spring break trips have been spent in southwestern Utah. This is the hotspot of mountain biking, canyoneering and just good old-fashioned exploring. If your mountain biking legs are itching to get out, you can’t do any better than the White Rim Trail. Arches National Park is always busy no matter what time of year, so either be sure to reserve your campsite in advance or opt for the less frequented Canyonlands; Squaw Flat Campground in the Needles District is easy to access from Moab, but is far enough out that you’ll definitely feel off the grid. You’ll freeze at night, but during the day you’ll get dessert spring heat and low crowds. Be sure to bring ample down and wool for when the sun sets.

Hike in Yosemite National Park, California

One of the most iconic and most visited National Parks in the US, you should do whatever you can to avoid Yosemite National Park in the peak of summer. Springtime, however? Have at it. Because you are at elevation, you will need to pack layers, and you’ll need to be ok with the potential of waking up to snow on the ground, but you’ll have a beautiful park with a touch more peace and quiet than most people see it in. Take a day hike to explore a small part of the John Muir Trail.

Highway 101 Road Trip, Oregon and California

It might not be warm enough to do the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible, but a drive down the coast of Oregon and California in springtime is a beautiful thing. There are plenty of state parks along the way, which are much less crowded this time of year, and you’ll pass through enough cities that you can log in some urban adventures.

Bike in Yellowstone National Park, Montana

In the summer you can barely see a buffalo without a tourist and a camera right next to it, and cycling within the National Park would be near suicide, but in the early spring when the roads are plowed and the crowds have yet to arrive en masse, cycling is an excellent way to explore Yellowstone. It’s still a time of year when you are subject to the desires of the weather gods, so you will want to check with the local park service which roads are open.

A Hut-to-Hut Trip at Mount Rainier, Washington

Cross country skiing and snowshoe in the Mount Tahoma Trails Association‘s hut and yurt system. The trail system lies just outside of Mount Rainier National Park, and includes two cabins and a yurt for overnights. You’ll want to be sure to check availability online, and weather can quickly change your winter adventure into more of a muddy hike, but the views of Mount Rainier from High Hut are stunning and certainly worth it.

[Photo Credits: Anna Brones]

Can You Afford To Stay At A Celebrity-Owned Hotel?

Tennis star Andy Murray, one of the U.K.’s most famous athletes and the reigning Olympic gold medalist, recently purchased the Cromlix House Hotel near his hometown of Dunblane, Scotland. Now closed for renovations, the country manor is expected to reopen in the spring, in time for the 2014 Ryder Cup golf tournament.

Perhaps more than any other sport, tennis requires its stars to become globetrotters. The biggest tournaments take place in the world’s most cosmopolitan locales – Dubai, Paris, Madrid, Miami, Shanghai, Monte Carlo – and as much, a multimillionaire star like Murray should know what constitutes a fine hotel.

Still, he’s the rare athlete that has made a foray into hospitality, a hobby (or investment) favored by Hollywood celebs. There’s no shortage of A-listers in the hotel game. And – surprise – staying under their roofs isn’t always a big-budget proposition.

Actor John Malkovich offers the cheapest access to star style. He’s a (reportedly hands-on) investor in The Big Sleep, a chain of budget hotels in England. Basic but contemporary, they advertise rates starting at £29, and reviews commonly cite rates around £50. In Dublin, U2′s Bono and The Edge revamped The Clarence, and rates at the historic property starts at a modest £109.

Director Francis Ford Coppola owns five hotels in Belize, Guatemala, Argentina, and Italy. Both of his top-rated resorts in Belize, Turtle Inn (pictured, top) and Blancaneaux Lodge, ring in under $300 in the offseason (and start upwards of $350 in high season). But La Lancha, his Guatemalan lakefront rainforest lodge, offers rooms in the low season for $125.Stateside, there aren’t many deals to be had. Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort in Utah is hard to book for less than $250 per night. Doris Day’s longtime pet-haven coastal hotel, Cypress Inn in Carmel, California, has online rates starting at $185 (plus $30 per pet – a small price for getting to frolic on the beach off-leash and accompany owners to all 12 restaurants). Cooking-show royalty Paula Deen rents her two-bedroom beach house on Georgia’s Tybee Island, named Y’all Come Inn, for around $295 per night.

Yet those rates don’t come close to the prices that Richard Gere and Robert DeNiro command at their New York properties. Gere co-owns Westchester County’s luxurious Bedford Post Inn, where getaways start at $400 per night. DeNiro’s posh pad in downtown Manhattan, The Greenwich Hotel, runs $525 and up – topping even Donatella Versace’s resort on Australia’s Gold Coast, the grand Palazzo Versace (pictured), which starts in the $300 to $400 range per night.

[Photo credits: top, Turtle Inn by Coppola Resorts; bottom, Palazzo Versace]

Skiing Through Alaska’s Abandoned Buckner Building (VIDEO)

Here at Gadling, our inboxes are full of pitches on the fabulous skiing conditions in Colorado and Utah, but news about the latest lifts and bases rarely sparks our interest. You know what does? Setting up an obstacle course in an abandoned building. That does.

To create the video above, Logan Imlach and Matt Wild spent six days constructing and skiing a line through the infamous Buckner Building in Whittier, Alaska. Once Alaska’s largest building, during its heyday in the 1950s the Buckner Building was called a “city under one roof.” It housed 1,000 apartments, plus a movie theater, bowling alley, pool, gym and shops. The building was seriously damaged in the 1964 Alaska earthquake, which rang a 9.2 on the Richter magnitude scale. Today, it’s just a large, abandoned government building, ripe for some creative folks like Imlach and Wild to make their snowy playground.

Although there is a potentially dangerous amount of asbestos in the five-story building – not to mention its questionable structural integrity – the Buckner Building has become somewhat of a landmark for local kids and tourists in Whittier. We’re not saying we recommend building an obstacle course of your own inside the building, but we sure are glad someone did.