Ski for free at Stowe when you stay at Topnotch Resort

Ski season is in full swing at resorts throughout the US, and now through April 10, you can “ski for free” at Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont. The resort sits at the base of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, which reaches nearly 5,000 feet. It offers luxury accommodations on 120 acres, 40 minutes from Burlington Airport. .

This season, included in accommodations rates, you’ll also receive two adult lifts tickets to Stowe Mountain delivered by the resort’s “Ski Concierge”, shuttle service to and from the mountain, and overnight ski storage. Rentals are available from the resort’s Nordic Barn. In addition to skiing, the resort offers tennis, a spa, and horseback trail rides.

Rates start at $250 (plus tax) for weekdays and $350 for weekends. Blackout dates include January 28-30, February 7-20, February 25-27, and March 21-23. Rate outside of the promotion start at $300 per night, and lift tickets at Stowe can cost $84 per day per person, so this deal would save you around $200 per day for two skiers….which means more money for apres ski fun and hot toddies by the fire.

The most accurate world map available as a free download

Finally, our tax dollars going to something cool.

The folks at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, along with NASA and the Japanese government, have come together to make the world’s most accurate topo map. And it’s available for free!

The ASTER project, which stands for Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (say that ten times fast) is a minutely detailed look at the Earth using an instrument aboard Terra, a satellite that’s part of the Earth Observing System, EOS for short. It examines the differences in elevation, heat, and reflectivity on the Earth’s surface in order to study everything from forest cover to ice floes. This helps scientists understand and predict changes in the hugely complex system that is our little ball of clay.

One byproduct is the topo map, along with an amazing gallery of images of our world from above. These can be seen on their website.

You can download the maps for free from NASA’s EOS Digital Archive, where you’ll see a list of several ASTER products. Some cost, but some are free, such as the elevation model shown here.

Make your flight (and mine) easier this holiday season

The holidays are coming, and people will be flying. If you’re one of them, instead of feeling angry and entitled in every line in which you late, make a concerted effort to improve your surroundings. No, I’m not talking about picking up garbage or holding the door for some old lady who will punish you with tales of her grandchildren’s accomplishments. Take small steps to become more efficient. You-and everyone around you-will spend less time in line, and you might just be almost happy with your trip.

Rule #1

If you see someone who looks like he travels regularly, do what he does. If he takes his license out of his wallet before reaching the security line, you should too. Did he just remove his laptop from his bag? Guess what … you’ll probably want to take yours from your bag. You can’t go wrong by copying someone who’s obviously smarter than you are.

Rule #2
Don’t prepare for the security stop when you’ve already bellied up to the X-ray machine. While you’re in line, do the following:

1. Pull your laptop out of your bag (if you have one)
2. Take your ID (license or passport) out of your pocket, bag, etc.; hold it with your boarding pass
3. Empty your pockets into your carry-on; do the same with your watch, cell phone and any heavy jewelry
4. Remove your shoes, and carry them on top of your laptop
5. Repeat #4 with your coat and hatNow, you have a stack of personal belongings on top of your laptop. Carry them like you did your books back in grade school. You can drop the laptop into one bin for the X-ray machine, pick up the clothing and drop them in the next bin. It’s fast. It’s easy. It doesn’t leave you screwing around while people are waiting.

Rule #3
Unless you’re moving, don’t pack like you’re moving. If you can’t carry it, don’t bring it. This is just common sense. Bringing gifts to family members you see rarely? Mail the packages. Hell, with the cost of extra baggage right now, it’s probably cheaper to engage UPS for this anyway.

Rule #4
Eating at the food court instead of home? This makes sense. After all, the long lines force us all to go to the airport earlier … just in case. There are more of us than usual, and we’re all friggin’ hungry. So, why the hell does someone who’s in line for an hour wait, ponder and stutter when placing an order? Next time you’re jammed up at Wendy’s, use those 30 minutes in line to think about what you want. By the time someone asks if you want fries with your burger, you should already know the answer.

Rule #5
Forget every rule of good parenting. Sometimes, you need to let your kid cry to learn a lesson. Here’s the problem: we don’t need to learn that lesson, too. Do what it takes to keep your kid under control. If that means coloring books, candy or … dare I say it … active parenting, do it. Do what it takes. Your round trip involves two days of your kid’s childhood. Whatever you do for the sake of expediency will not make a lasting impression.

Rule #6
Know when to quit. We all love to scream at airline employees, and we know they are lying to us. When they say that weather caused the problem on a sunny day, when they say that there are no more exit row seats, when they say the flight is overbooked … we just know it’s bullshit. So, we fight. Sometimes, it works. Appeasement in the form of flight vouchers, hotel stays and free meals sometimes flow. But, at a certain point, you need to know when to stop. If you’re on a full flight of people with super-triple-platinum status (and you’re not), don’t expect to get a damned thing. Accept that you will lose.

Fighting the good fight is okay, but at a certain point, you lose the crowd’s sympathy. Be aware that people who look like serial killers don’t often get what they want (or need).

You’re more likely to have a safe and happy holiday season if you follow my advice. So, I wish you all the best in the coming weeks, and I encourage you not to be a moron once you pass through those automatic sliding doors. It happens to all of us, but maybe if we all make that genuine attempt not to make airport life worse, we’ll all have a better time.

Museum Day: Get cultured and learn something for free

If the ticket price of the admission to museums makes you hesitate before pulling out your wallet, on Museum Day, September 27th, the price is right. It’s free–not all museums, but many.

Several museums and cultural sites across the U.S. have been enticed by Smithsonian Magazine to not charge on the 27th to promote Museum Day.

You do need an admission card for free admission, but one pass will get you and a friend in the museum of your choice’s door.

If you use the drop down menu on the Museum Day Web site, you can find out which museums are free in any state. I checked out New York state and found dozens. Reading the list is one way to find out the variety of museums there are.

One museum that fits the historical site category caught my attention in particular. Huguenot Street is in New Paltz and is where I dressed up like a Huguenot when I was in high school and gave tours on what was called Huguenot Day. The house in the picture is one of the houses that is part of the tour.

I found out about Museum Day from Tom Barlow, my friend at Wallet Pop. He swears that I told him about it last week. Where was I? I have no recollection. Here’s the link to the Museum Day admission card.

Enter to win an autographed Anthony Bourdain No Reservations poster!

In celebration of the new season of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on the travel channel, Gadling is giving away a free, autographed poster of Mr. Bourdain to one lucky winner.

Have you been following along this year? We’re now three episodes deep into the season and blogger Jeremy has been following the unfolding debauchery closely. Take a look at his recaps if you’d like to catch up.

Think that poster would go great above your headboard? Just leave an entry telling us where you would like to see Tony travel next in the comments below and we’ll draw a lucky winner by this Friday, July 25th.

Good luck!

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us where you think Anthony Bourdain should travel next.
  • The comment must be left before Friday, July 25th, 2008 at 5PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • One Grand Prize Winner will receive a free, original autographed poster of Anthony Bourdain
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • Poster is valued at $20.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.