New A&E series “The Glades” looking for an extra – flights included!

On July 11, A&E will premiere their newest show – The Glades. As the name implies, the show takes place in the Everglades, and features everything that makes a crime show a great crime show – a moody Chicago cop exiled to Florida, mysterious murders and plenty of good looking people.

But unlike most crime shows, you can enter to become a walk on extra on the show.

The prize includes airfare for two to Fort Lauderdale, three nights at the Fort Lauderdale Marina Hilton, a meet and greet with the cast, a swamp buggy tour, an airboat ride, meals, transportation and more.

To enter, all you need to do is watch a video clip, and enter some personal information. Once you enter, all that remains is programming your DVR to record the show.

10 summer trips to America’s greatest natural treasures

A visit to a national park conjures up views of lush landscapes, dramatic skylines and lines of honking cars. While the National Park Service estimates that nearly 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year, you don’t need to join the throng to experience a national wonder. Consider visiting one of the following American treasures instead:

1. Arches National Park/Canyonlands National Park
A trip to Arches National Park and the nearby Canyonlands National Park in Southwest Utah can feel like visiting another world. This high desert is home to odd red-rock formations, vast canyons and some of the most delicate flora and fauna. Take a guided tour and learn about cryptobiotic soil, a black crust that covers much of the desert floor but contains live organisms that are vital to keeping the desert healthy.

2. White River National Forest
Home to the Colorado ski resorts of Vail, Aspen and Breckenridge, eight wilderness areas and Gold Medal trout waters, the White River National Forest is an outdoor sports enthusiast’s playground. Backpackers can explore the national forest by reserving a hut trip through the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association.

3. Ozark National Scenic Riverways
Located in Southeastern Missouri, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways are known for their clear, clean water, elaborate cave system and eight spring water systems. The national park is nestled near the Mark Twain National Forest and the Ozark mountains.

4. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Since its dramatic eruption on May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens in southwestern Washington has become one of the most studied volcanoes in the world. Visitors can hike and climb the mountain. Take a guided tour and learn more about how volcanoes work.5. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is located in a remote area near the Minnesota-Canada border. It is a beautiful, tranquil area meant to be navigated by canoe, so those looking to visit a park by car will need go elsewhere. But if you are looking for adventure, some prime fishing and a cool refuge from the summer heat, the Boundary Waters has much to offer.

6. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian Trail is more than 2,100-miles long and wanders through many of the states on the Eastern seaboard. One of the best ways to access the trail is by going to Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in West Virginia, which also is home to several Civil War battlefields.

7. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Located in western Texas, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to a stark, dramatic desert landscape, an interesting array of plant life and fossilized reef. There’s plenty to do here for hikers and campers. It’s also within driving distance for many Americans living in the Midwest.

8. Everglades National Park
Best known as a home for alligators and snakes, the Everglades in southern Florida also are unlike any other national park. The swampy, grassy wetland is easy to tour by foot or canoe. It’s also home to several endangered species, including the manatee. A guided tour can help ease any jitters about alligators, while also help to guarantee that you’ll see one.

9. Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park offers a great escape from the hectic pace of Southern California’s cities. Located off the shore from Santa Barbara, the boat ride to the islands alone makes the trips worth it. Expect to see dolphins chasing your charter boat and if the timing is right, you may even see a few whales. The Channel Islands are home to bald eagles and sea lions. The best way to tour the islands is by sea kayak.

10. Acadia National Park
Located on Maine’s southern rugged coast, Acadia National Park is a haven for outdoor recreation enthusiasts looking to beat the heat and the crowds in many of the country’s national parks to the West. You can canoe fresh water or take a kayak along the Atlantic shoreline, or hike along the coastline bluffs.

Tamara Miller is a writer based in Portland, Ore.

Everglades to be put back on U.N. endangered list?

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is meeting with a task force charged with overseeing the restoration of the Florida Everglades this week. He intends to tell them that the Obama administration will ask the United Nations World Heritage Committee to put the national park back on its endangered list when the committee meet in Spain this week.

Two years ago, in what has been viewed as a controversial decision, the Bush administration requested that the U.N. remove the Everglades from the list. At the time, the Department of the Interior defended the decision by citing progress being made in protecting the region and the species that lived there, despite the fact that the restoration program had failed to meet milestones, and was billions over budget.

The current administration believes restoring the Everglades National Park to the list of endangered places will send a strong signal to environmentalists that they are committed to the protecting the environment. If restored to the list, the park will join the Galapagos Islands, the Old City of Jerusalem and Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley as the other World Heritage Sites considered to be in danger. The Everglades were originally added to the list back in 1993 when the area was damaged by Hurricane Andrew and the effects of prolonged exposure to water pollution became known.

Despite the issues effecting the park, the Everglades remains a popular tourist destination. There are more than 156 miles of canoe/kayak and hiking trails, with 47 designated campsites, inside the 2500 square miles of subtropical forest that define the parks boundaries. The Park Service reports that over one million visitors experience the Everglades each year.


Photo of the Day (6.28.09)

Most photos you’ll see of sailboats are full of visual cliches. Typically the background is all puffy white clouds, set against a brilliant blue sky and brightly colored ship’s sail, stretched taut in the forceful winds. This shot, by Flickr user Ben Grogan, doesn’t fall victim to the typical sailing photo traps. I love the darkly ominous sky menacing its way across the photo’s left, slowly melting into a brilliant cheery spot of sun on the far right. Meanwhile the sailboat seems frozen in the midst, caught between dark and light.

Have you taken any great sailing photos recently? Or maybe just while you were floating in the pool? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one your as our Photo of the Day.

Zip through Orlando at Grand Lakes

Climb, zip and traverse: Grand Lakes Orlando‘s newest attraction can be summarized succinctly, but what really happens is far more interesting. Based at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades, this destination has created a unique experience that leaves guests hanging – and flying and swinging. Put on a harness, and you can experience 25 climbing and traversing structures that are suspended 15 feet to 55 feet from the ground. The 40-foot swing and 600-foot zip lines are among the standouts on the course.

Grand Lakes Orlando offers several packages designed to scratch your particular itch while appealing to both individuals and families. The Open Session Adventure gives you 2 ½ hours on the course (at a bargain price of $60 for adults and $45 for children). If you prefer a bit of exclusivity, schedule a private event. Up to eight people can be accommodated for a two-hour experience, where you can enjoy the suspension apparatus in a high-touch service environment. Climbing and rappelling classes are also offered.

This is a side of Orlando that many miss. Skip the Mouse for an afternoon, and put your body to work in a setting that blends the natural and synthetic seamlessly.