Archive for June, 2009

Oooh! Sparkly!

June 26, 2009

fireworksCast against the backdrop of all the extraordinary experiences I’ve had over the years, your average hometown Fourth of July fireworks show might seem to pale in comparison.  But, honestly, that doesn’t mean I’m any less interested in being out there oohing-and-aahing right along with everyone else next weekend.  You see, I figure even a bad pyrotechnics display is usually a pretty good thing!

Which is why I thought I’d share this guide to the nation’s best fireworks shows put together by the folks at Travel & Leisure.  I doubt I’ll make it to any of the fireworks spectaculars listed here this year, but you can bet I’m filing them away for future reference. 

Hardcore fireworks fans will also want to mark their calendars for the World Fireworks Championships in Blackpool England this September/October.  You’ll also find dozens of other international pyrotechnics competitions listed here (Hint: Searching the page for the word “competition” brings up a lifetime’s-worth of events worldwide). Ka-BOOM!

The Great Explorers

June 19, 2009

Ancient_MapI know traditional cruises aboard humongous ocean liners are wildly popular but, honestly, their formal dress code, glitzy stage shows, and endless buffets really aren’t my thing.  I much prefer smaller ships that are able to go all sorts of places those floating cities can’t, while offering a much friendlier atmosphere and a more adventurous feel.

Which explains why this new around-the-world cruise aboard the 120-passenger Spirit of Oceanus caught my eye.  The folks at CruiseWest have come up with a 335-day itinerary they’re calling The Voyages of the Great Explorers that will follow the travels of Marco Polo, Odysseus, Leif Eriksson, Christopher Columbus, James Cook, and Magellan.  A fleet of inflatable Zodiacs and a long list of guest lecturers ups the adventure quotient.

The cruise departs from Singapore on March 6, 2010 and sails westward on its way to 242 ports of call in 59 countries.  If setting off on an 11-month cruise doesn’t quite mesh with your work schedule, don’t write the idea off as CruiseWest is also booking passengers on shorter segments of 10 to 20 days.  Either way, it sounds like a truly extraordinary experience.

It’s All About YOU

June 12, 2009

Take a few minutes to read about some of the extraordinary experiences featured on XTRORD.com and you might get the impression that these stories are all about me.  Well, honestly, you couldn’t be more wrong.

The whole point of XTRORD.com (and this blog) is to encourage you to get up off the couch and live out your dreams.  To go out and have yourself the kind of truly remarkable once-in-a-lifetime adventures that make you think “Man, I’ve always wanted to do that!”

With that in mind, I’ve got a couple of hot tips on ways you can have yourself an experience that I’m pretty sure will blow away any previous trip you’ve ever taken.

images-1First up is a contest being put on by the nice folks at the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Grand prize is VIP treatment at this year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 3-11), including hotel, spending cash, a Flip video camera and—here’s the best part—a balloon flight in one of the festival’s mind-boggling mass ascensions.  Even if you’ve been in a hot air balloon before, the experience of lifting off in the middle of 700 brightly-colored balloons will blow your little mind.  Trust me on this.

imagesJust as intriguing is an opportunity to snag what has to be the ultimate dream for cycling fans, a trip to see the Tour de France (July 4-26) up-close-and-personal.  The package—which includes a chance to watch several stages, meet competitors, and more—will be auctioned off by Auction Cause on eBay, with the proceeds going to Right To Play, an organization that creates sports programs for disadvantaged kids in more than 20 countries.  Bidding runs from June 19-26.

I Spy, You Spy

June 4, 2009

"I eat danger for breakfast!" -- Rhino, the hamster from Bolt

"I eat danger for breakfast!" -- Rhino, Bolt's #1 Fan

While I like a good Hollywood thriller full of international intrigue as much as the next guy, this isn’t about catching the latest summer blockbuster at your local cineplex.  That’s because, as a general rule, I think it’s usually more fun to have your own extraordinary experiences than it is to sit back and watch someone else having them.

Which is why I was psyched to find these three different ways we can all leave our everyday lives behind and live out our own secret-agent fantasies this summer:

For Kids

I was crazy about both The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart when I was growing up, especially all the way-cool gadgets (some of which are apparently not so secret anymore).  Now kids ages 5-12 can have their own clandestine adventures at the week-long Discovery Camp: Spy Week program (July 27-31) put on by the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas, TX.  Psssst! Hey grown-ups!  While you’re there, be sure to check out the museum’s cool Science of Spying exhibit.

For Adults

If you’re the type who eats danger for breakfast like our friend Rhino from the movie Bolt (pictured above), you’re gonna love the program put together by the folks at Covert Ops. After being transported to a secret training base outside Tucson, AZ, you’ll suit up in your desert camo fatigues and meet your Special Forces-trained instructors who will give you your chance to try your hand at everything from evasive driving techniques to hostage rescue as part of an urgent hush-hush paramilitary mission. 

For Everybody

For the truly secret agent-smitten, the International Spy Museum in Washington DC gives you the chance to go beyond the Hollywood hype as you explore exhibits and artifacts that trace the history of spy-craft from its earliest beginnings through modern times. Be sure to check the website for info on some of their really interesting  special programs, including the new Operation Spy that gives you the chance to step into the role of an intelligence officer on an international mission to locate a missing nuclear device before it falls into the wrong hands.