Canobie Lake Park adds new roller coaster: Untamed in 2011

Next year, New Englanders will be thrilled, or terrified, by an ultra-steep new roller coaster opening at New Hampshire’s Canobie Lake Park. In 2011, the historic park will be home to a modern thrill machine in Untamed. Untamed was designed by German roller coaster designers Gerstlauer. It will be one of the designer’s Euro-Fighter 320+ models that have currently only been built in Europe. For more information, you can view diagrams of the ride’s complete layout and also visit Gerstlauer’s website.

At only 1,184 feet long, Untamed will be a compact coaster, but guests will be treated to an onslaught of thrills. The ride will begin with a rare vertical lift to 72 feet. Then, the small 8-person cars will roll over the crest and plunge riders into a beyond vertical 97-degree drop. It will be one of the steepest roller coasters in the United States. After the drop, the cars will navigate three loops including a vertical loop, an immelmann, and a zero-g roll. While brief, Untamed will be quite an action-packed little coaster.

Here’s a POV video of Rage at Adventure Island. Like Untamed, Rage is a Euro-Fighter 320+. So, they should have identical layouts. This video was filmed with permission from the park.

I imagine that Untamed will be great for Canobie Lake Park and the region in terms of tourism. Modern thrill rides, even roller coasters this small, can provide a substantial amount of media attention for amusement parks. Canobie Lake is now officially on my radar as I’ve never ridden a Gerstlauer Eurofighter or really any roller coaster this steep.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Ian’s Shutter Habit]

Five hotel holiday deals in New England

Are you looking for a winter wonderland for the Christmas season? New England is a natural destination. There are plenty of deals to be found, with packages that won’t force you to choose between your trip and the number of presents under the tree. Check out the inns below from New England Inns and Resorts to see for yourself what await!

1. The Stepping Stone Spa, Lyndonville, VT
The Kingdom Trails Winter Adventure package at The Stepping Stone includes two nights at this bed and breakfast, daily breakfast, two adult tickets for snowshoeing or cross country skiing at Kingdom Trails and a $50 voucher for dinner at Jupiter’s Restaurant. Rates start at $157 per person, based on double occupancy, and the deal runs from December 17, 2010 to March 20, 2011.

2. The Wentworth, Jackson, NH
Take a look at this property for the Jingle Bells Chocolate Tour. For a rate that starts at $208, you’ll pick up a night at the Wentworth, an hour-long sleigh ride through Jackson Village (with actual jingle bells and chocolate snacks), a four-course candlelit dinner for two and a full breakfast the next morning. The deal runs from November 27, 2010 to December 18, 2010.3. Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club, Lexington, MA Feeling the urge to hit the slopes before the end of the year? Check out the Berkshire Ski package at this property. For $140 per person midweek or $185 on the weekends, you can score a night at Cranwell Resort, unlimited cross country skiing, a $20 credit at any Cranwell restaurant and full use of the spa. The deal runs from December 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011.

4. The Beachmere Inn, Ogunquit, ME
Ring in the new year at the Beachmere. The New Year’s Eve by the Sea package is pulled together to make the last night of 2010 memorable. The last dinner you’ll have this year includes appetizers, buffet and dessert, not to mention dancing and party favors. Start fresh with a lavish breakfast the next morning. Two-night packages range from $530 to $595, with three nights ranging from $625 to $675.

5. Inn at Ormsby Hill, Manchester, VT
Visit the Inn at Ormsby Hill on the first two Saturdays in December for open tours of the inns in the Manchester area. Stay either the night of December 3, 2010 or December 10, 2010, and receive dinner in the evening, followed by a performance of “A Christmas Carol” at The Dorset Theatre. Open house tours run from noon to 4 PM the next day, with the $15 ticket price going to Habitat for Humanity. On your way home, you’ll have the chance to stop by a local nursery and pick up a Vermont Christmas tree to bring home!

Five states where you’re most likely to hit a deer this fall

Leaf-peepers are about to hit the road in force – as they always do this time of year. While soaking in the burning foliage colors with your eyes, it’s only too easy to forget you’re behind the wheel, a situation that can lead to disastrous consequences. There are some states where beautiful foliage and deer prancing on the streets just seem to go together, according to a study by insurance company State Farm. So, if your autumn plans include scoping out the trees, make sure you look out for deer, too.

Here are the five states where you’re most likely to wind up with Bambi on the hood of your car if you aren’t careful (with the likelihood of doing so):

1. West Virginia: 1 in 42 (I didn’t see this one coming!)

2. Iowa: 1 in 67

3. Michigan: 1 in 70

4. South Dakota: 1 in 76

5. Montana: 1 in 82What’s particularly surprising is that none of the states usually considered to be leaf-peeping destinations made the top five, let alone showed high risk of deer collisions. Massachusetts and New Hampshire are low-risk, with New York, Vermont and Maine only showing medium risk. You’re more likely to wash venison off your hood in Arkansas than you are in New Jersey, a state where deer corpses are not uncommon on the side of the road.

Interestingly, the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists, according to State Farm, has grown only 2 percent in the past five years … while the number of deer/car smacks has surged 20 percent. From July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2010, there were approximately 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles. The average cost for an incident was $3,013.

[Chart via Terms + Conditions: Insurance Industry Blog]

America’s best drive: the Beartooth All-American Road
Ten most badass animals native to the US
7 of the craziest, most dangerous, most dizzying hikes in the world (VIDEOS)
The 10 countries with the world’s worst drivers

Escape the heat at Wentworth by the Sea

On an oppressive day like today (which for me is any day over 80 degrees), New Hampshire starts to sound incredibly attractive. It’s a bit cooler than New York – to the point where you can actually feel it. Throw in an upscale dining experience, and that’s all the reason you need for a weekend getaway!

Head up to the Wentworth by the Sea in New Hampshire to escape the baking heat of the city, and while you’re at it, munch on the creations of Daniel Dumont, the Wentworth Dining Room’s Executive Chef. With the hotel’s “Coastal Dining Package,” you’ll pick up dinner for two in Dumont’s domain, complimentary turndown service and late checkout. If there’s an upgrade available, it’s yours. The rate’s $349 a night, and you’ll need online promo code D18 to book it.

Live free or die? Well, live free or melt, perhaps. Get up to New Hampshire to give those sweat glands a break.

Road trip: The best roadside attractions on the east and west coasts

Road trips are meant to be fun, meaningful, and inspire some reflection as you set out for the great open roads. When the driving gets a little dull, though, there’s plenty to see on the side of the road.

The eastern portion of the United States is home to many world-recognized sites, but many of these grandiose tourist destinations overshadow the lesser-known, roadside attractions that are just as worthy of your time. Here’s a round up of some of the best off-the-beaten path attractions along the east and west coasts that are worthy of a break on your next road trip:

East Coast

Museum of Bad Art – Dedham, Massachusetts

The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Massachusetts boasts a collection of art so bad, it’s good. Visitors to this museum can peruse the various galleries, which contains an impressive (or is it non-impressive?) 400 pieces as part of its permanent collection. Popular pieces include their “Mana Lisa” — a painting that looks like the he-version of da Vinci’s famous smiling woman, among others.

Lucy the Elephant – Margate, New Jersey
At over 120 years old, New Jersey’s Lucy the Elephant boasts the title of America’s oldest roadside attraction. She’s constructed of entirely wood and tin, stands 65 feet tall and weighs in at a whopping 90 tons. For $4 a person ($2 kids), visitors can walk inside Lucy’s belly.

The Shoe House – York, Pennsylvania
Ever heard of the old lady who lived in a shoe? Turns out, that old tale may have actually been true. Located off the Hellam exit on U.S. 30 stands an actual, livable house in the shape of a shoe. It was constructed in 1948 by Colonel Mahlon N. Haines as part of an advertising gimmick.

Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard – South Burlington, Vermont
Every time a flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream gets the boot, it makes a final resting place in their Waterbury cemetery. Each flavor gets a proper headstone so that visitors can walk by and pay their respects (free of cost). May Hunka Burnin’ Fudge and Economic Crunch rest in piece.

World’s Largest Ax – (Nackawic) New Brunswick, New Jersey
If there’s one thing Nackawic, New Brunswick in New Jersey is known for, it’s the gigantic ax that rests along the banks of the Saint John River. The ax represents the small town’s major impact in the world of forestry.

Miles the Monster – Dover, Delaware

Towering above the Dover International Speedway in Delaware you can find Miles the Monster, the mascot with menacing red eyes who watches over the NASCAR track. With a race car clutched in one had and a giant, muscular figure made of stone, Miles can be quite intimidating.

Yankee Siege Trebuchet – Greenfield, New Hampshire
You don’t have to know a lot about medieval warfare to appreciate the Yankee Siege Trebuchet in Greenfield, New Hampshire. This giant, 25,000 pound trebuchet (a chucking device) is most famous for its ability to hurl pumpkins incredibly long distances. In fact, in 2009 it set a world record by throwing a pumpkin 2,034 feet.

Secret Caverns – Cobleskill, New York
The secret caverns just outside Albany, New York were discovered in the late 1920s when a few cows had an unfortunate fall into an 85 foot deep hole. Explorers decided to check out what was down the hole and happened upon a magnificent 100 foot waterfall. To check out this natural phenomenon yourself, Take I-88 to exit 22 and follow the hand-painted road signs.

West Coast

The Thing – Tuscon, Arizona
Located off exit 322 on Interstate 10 exists something that travelers refer to as, “The Thing.” So what is this thing, exactly? Supposedly, it’s a mummified mother with her dear child. If that weren’t enough, the museum also features a car rumored to be owned by Hitler himself and a stuffed Armadillo clutching a beer.

Trinity Site – Whites Sands Missile Range, New Mexico
On July 16, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico, an area now referred to as the Trinity Site. Tourists are able to visit the site twice a year — the first Saturday in April and October, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. There, you can view the 12-foot obelisk that marks the explosions hypocenter and walk around the huge crater, which is still littered with green, glassy pieces formed by the explosion.

Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas
This free roadside attraction is one of Texas’ most famous. It’s located in Amarillo along old Route 66 (Interstate 40) and was created in 1974 by artists who referred to themselves as Ant Farm. The art consists of 10 Cadillac cars halfway buried into the ground and covered in paint. Visitors can add to the artwork by painting their names or a picture.

World’s Tallest Thermometer – Death Valley, California
This 134-foot working thermometer is easily the world’s largest. It’s home is in Death Valley, California at 72155 Baker Blvd. Passers by can stop for pictures or simply determine what the current outside temperature is.

Giant Cabazan DinosaursCabazon, California
Nestled between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, California, tourists and locals alike can walk –or drive– amongst the world’s largest dinosaur statues. These life-sized dinos are part of a museum that’s open year round (excluding holidays) to adults and children. Visit this Western roadside attraction and you may feel like you’re living in prehistoric times.

Metaphor: Tree of Utah – Wendover, Utah

If you’re already in Utah to visit the state’s famous salt flats, you may as well take a gander at this quirky tourist attraction. It’s nicknamed the “Tree of Utah,” and is a tree-like statue created in the early ’80s by Karl Momen, a Swedish artist. It’s located on the north side of I-80 approximately 95 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Antler Arches – Jackson, Wyoming

The Antler Arches of Jackson, Wyoming are precisely what they sound like: arches that is constructed out of dozens of antlers. The arches themselves are pretty massive and rest at each of the four corners of Jackon’s town square.

Shoe Tree – Shaniko, Oregon
If you have an old pair of shoes to spare, you may as well chuck them onto the famous shoe tree in Alfafa, Oregon. After all, the tree houses hundreds of random shoes, tied together and swung over branches. You can find this quirky tree on Highway 26, east of Mitchell, Oregon near mile marker 89.

TV Simpsons’ House Replica – Las Vegas, Nevada

Even if you’re not an avid fan of television’s The Simpson family, chances are you’re at least familiar with the long-running series. In 1997, a house was constructed to look exactly like the Simpsons’ humble abode in Las Vegas, Nevada right off exit 64 on Interstate 515. The house is 2,200 square feet and part of a new subdivision appropriately titled, “Springfield.”