Summer travel: how not to sizzle your skin

The good folks at CNN have released a helpful guide and accompanying photo gallery horror show of solar ray-blasted epidermis. In “5 ways to avoid getting deep-fried,” you’ll find dermatologist’s tips to protect your sun from UVA/UVB damage, skin cancer detection links, and entertaining anecdotes of CNN reporters’ worst sunburns/precursors to melanoma.

I love the sun as much as most holiday-makers, but years of basting myself in baby oil, combined with the onset of crow’s feet in my early twenties and my mother’s own ongoing struggle with basal and squamous cell carcinomas have turned me into the Queen of Sunscreen. While my friends still mock me, and a former farmers market employer once remarked, “I can always tell when you’ve been hugging my dog, because he smells like sunscreen!” I feel vindicated because at 41, I look a good ten years younger, and have yet to develop my first pre-cancerous lesion. I get an annual screening at my dermatologist, and religiously apply a minimum of SPF 30 UVA/UVB sunblock over all exposed body parts (please remember the back of your neck, hands, ears, and knees, and tops of your feet).

Gadling has a more detailed explanation of what the heck all this SPF stuff means, and a guide to choosing sunglasses that do more than just look hip. I also wear, and heartily endorse (unpaid, of course) the sun protective clothing by ExOfficio, and sun protective hats by Outdoor Research. Sounds wacky, but these items are constructed with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) textiles that, while not a substitute for sunblock, provide a great dual-defense system. They’re also attractive, and incredibly versatile and travel-friendly. Don’t hide from the sun this holiday weekend; just take precautions, have fun, and think of all the money you’ll save by not requiring reconstructive surgery and Botox.

(Image credit: Flickr/Saspotato)

Adventure Sports Week begins in Idaho

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho plays host to Adventure Sports Week 2009 , which got underway this past weekend in beautiful Farragut State Park, located just outside the mountain community. Hundreds of endurance athletes descended on the region to take part in the first time event, which is already becoming one of the premiere outdoor sporting competitions of the year.

Billed as “10 days, 24 races, 1 big party”, Adventure Sports Weekly has something to offer just about anyone who enjoys an outdoor athletic challenge. For instance, things kicked off this weekend with a triathlon clinic, and ramped up from there with two orienteering competitions, a pair of duathalons, and three triathalons, including an official XTERRA series event, which was won by Dan Hugo and Melanie McQuaid in the men’s and women’s categories respectively.

Things don’t slow down any next weekend either, when the adventure racers take center stage for the Crux and the Crucible races, both of which combine mountain biking, trekking/trail running, and kayaking, amongst other discplines. There will aslo be marathon and half-marathon length trail runs, a paddling race, and more.

With the summer heating up, it is definitely time to head back outside and have a little fun in the wilderness. It’s also not too late to sign up for one of the remaining ASW events. So, head on over to the website, pick something that looks like fun, and break out the running shoes. Why not join the party in Idaho?

Snow tubing: winter time action that packs a thrill

According to an article in today’s New York Times, Punxsutawney Phil and Charles G. Hogg of the Staten Island Zoo have predicted an early spring. With that said, here’s a winter time action option while there’s snow to enjoy.

For anyone who wants the thrill of whizzing and spinning down a hill without the hike back up, tubing is it. Instead of strapping on a pair of downhill skis and forking over the price of a lift ticket, pay to tube instead. It’s cheaper, and you can do it as a group activity. Last weekend, when my five year old and I headed to Snow Trails near Mansfield, Ohio for a tubing outing, I was delighted to see the conveyor belt contraption that transported people back to the top. I had no idea. I also didn’t expect the various lanes with built up edges to keep tubers from crashing to each other. I expected a free-for-all.

First, we started out with him in one lane in his child-size inner tube and me in my adult version in another. Next thing I knew, there he was hanging on to one of the tubes of a group of older boys. They good-naturedly let him join their pack. Group tubing is allowed in certain lanes. I saw groups of four people barreling towards the bottom.

While Ohio’s hills are–well–hills, there are other places where the terrain might be steeper. Steep or not, if there’s a way you can get up the hill without walking, go for it. Also, because tubing hills are connected to ski resorts, you can enjoy the comfort of their lodges. Here are 10 of the tubing places I found. There are more.