Adventure Camps that Honor Veterans

Memorial Day, now observed each year on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Many cities honor fallen veterans with parades, which are often followed by family gatherings and picnics also marking the beginning of summer.

Enter Operation 300, a non-profit that hosts adventure camps for children who have lost their fathers as a result of military service. The camps provide an opportunity to participate in activities that embody the spirit of adventure that characterized the lives of their absent fathers. Operation 300 “provides children who have lost their fathers in military combat opportunities to camp, hike, play sports, and do the fun things they would have done with their own dads with other supportive role models,” reports HooplaHa. Visit the Operation 300 website to find out more about the camps or support their mission.

Buried Treasure

There’s a modern-day treasure chest buried in the Rocky Mountains.

Howard Pyle, “The Ruby of Kishmoor,” 1899

No, really, there is.

Well, okay, I haven’t actually seen said treasure with my own eyes,

(so I guess it’s more gossip than gospel),

but it sounds true enough.

The story goes …

Vietnam veteran and art gallery proprietor (and, oh, did I mention millionaire?) Forrest Fenn closed his gallery in 1988 and began writing books about exploration and adventure.

Shortly thereafter, however, he was diagnosed with cancer. With a less-than-optimistic prognosis, he decided to create a real-life adventure tale that would serve to, someday, share his wealth in a rather unusual manner.

“While receiving cancer treatment, Forrest Fenn purchased an antique chest and began filling it with an estimated $2 million worth of treasure” explains “The items inside the chest include jewelry, figurines, gems, gold nuggets, and 265 gold coins.”

Photo by Theodore Scott via Wikimedia Commons

Yup. A veritable pirate’s booty hidden high and dry in the Rockies (somewhere, Fenn says, in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, or Montana).

Photo by Milan Suvajac via Wikimedia Commons

Nine more clues to finding the treasure are purportedly provided in a poem contained within Fenn’s 2010 book, The Thrill of the Chase (which is currently selling for about 100 smackeroos on Amazon, if you’re wondering).


The first question that comes to mind is … why?

Why, Mr. Fenn, would you bury a fortune that has fueled fevered fantasies and fervid searches over the past decade?

“I wanted the monetary value to be a consideration for those who are looking for it, but mostly my motive was to get kids off the couch and away from their texting machines and out in the mountains,” Fenn, who has thankfully recovered from cancer, told KOAT in Albuquerque.

Huh—(shaking my head here)—that’s a surprisingly refreshing response.

My next question …

Are YOU even the littlest bit tempted to try and find it?

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If you’re already yearning for an ocean vacation, complete with snorkeling, I have just the vicarious voyage for you … The Google Oceans mapping tool is one more way in which Google packs up the imagination and sends it sailing around … Continue reading

Posted on by MaryJane | 2 Comments





Belgium bluebell forest

Drop everything, and come with me …

Photo by bs70 via Wikimedia Commons

Today, we’re blazing a trail to Belgium, where an entire forest is abloom with bluebells.

Bluebells, photo by MichaelMaggs via Wikimedia Commons

Like a setting from a fairy tale, the Hallerbos (Halle’s Wood) was once part of the Sonian Forest, Europe’s largest beech forest, which spanned the southern part of Brussels. The forest was ravaged by occupying forces during World War I, but a few ancient oak and beech trees survived, and reforestation projects helped heal the scars of war. The wild bluebell hyacinths, an ancient facet of the woodland, reclaimed the forest floor and continue to muster their magic each year in mid-April.

Photo by David Edgar via Wikipedia

“Possibly one of Belgium’s best kept secrets, the flower fields offer one of the most amazing natural spectacles you will encounter,” says Eupedia. “The millions of purple-blue, bell-shaped liliaceae spreading in all directions, as far as the eye can see, make the scenery simply breathtaking. These sumptuous flowerbeds in the outskirt of Brussels are all natural (it’s not a man-made garden) and access is free of charge.”

What a perfect place to celebrate springtime …



If you’ve had daydreams of glamping already this year, raise your hand.

Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes via Wikimedia Commons

I knew it.

What was your cue?

Flowers blooming? Froggies singing?

Photo by Cary Bass via Wikimedia Commons

There’s just something in the springtime air that tells us to take out the tent or tidy up the trailer.

It’s time to get back OUT THERE.

Photo by Emilian Robert Vicol via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, locating the perfect place to pitch camp can be a challenge. While the Internet has endless info on where to go, it’s not always easy to pin down a campground that has exactly what you’re looking for in an outdoor getaway. Does it allow dogs? Are grills provided? How far is the nearest shower? Hopping from website to website in search of answers can take hours.

Not anymore.

All hail Hipcamp.

While it may sound like a resource reserved for intrepid young hipsters, Hipcamp is shaping up to be an excellent go-to guide for anyone seeking a campsite that’s just right.

“Hipcamp is the only place you can go that lists campgrounds across all government platforms (national parks, state parks, national forests, etc.),” says co-founder Eric Bach. “We make it easy for users to filter through campgrounds based on what matters most. So, you can easily answer questions like, ‘Where can I go camping by a lake with my dog next weekend?’ We’re bringing the world’s public campgrounds online, unlocking private lands for camping, and working overall to increase access to the outdoors.”

Hipcamp currently covers 367 parks, 2,170 campgrounds, and 56,375 campsites in California, Texas, Florida, and Oregon. The team’s goal is to add more states this summer and offer national coverage by the early fall. In the meantime, you can help beef up the site by adding your own information and impressions to the cache.

“Our users (or tribe) play a key role in helping us paint a more complete picture of a state’s camping experience,” Bach explains. “They can upload photos and tips directly to the site. We could use any and all content around past camping trips. It’s what helps us get more people outside!”