It’s always a good time for college gift ideas, right? Chances are pretty good that you know someone who’s heading off to further their education—perhaps even your own child. Whether they are staying close to home or have chosen far-off places to travel, two things are certain: They love to know that you’re thinking of them, and they love to get mail. Give them a little first-semester boost; send them a gift. You don’t have to spend a fortune to impress them, either. A guidebook to their area is both thoughtful and functional, and it’s something they’re sure to appreciate.
Especially for students who are new to a given location, a guidebook ranks among the best college gift ideas. It introduces them to their surroundings and gives them some ideas for things to do that are fun and inexpensive. For example, a student who chose places to travel and/or attend like the University of Minnesota might appreciate getting a copy of Walking Twin Cities by Holly Day and Sherman Wick.
The handy book introduces 35 self-guided tours through parks, historic neighborhoods, and other popular locales in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Each selected tour includes a detailed walk description, full-color photographs, a map, and tips on popular cafes, restaurants, and hot spots. With literally hundreds of points of interest to be seen in the Twin Cities, students will quickly become acquainted with what the area has to offer.
Along with the Walking series, other great college gift ideas include 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles and Five-Star Trails. For students with more specialized interests, you might try something like Best Tent Camping or even the Ghosthunting series of books.
College students who have lived in their area for more than a couple of years might be looking to expand their explorations. In that case, a book from the Day Trips series might be a perfect choice. A student at the University of North Carolina might find North Carolina Day Trips by Theme by Marla Hardee Milling to be extremely useful.
The guidebook presents hundreds of the state’s most entertaining places to travel—not a bad feature in this best of college gift ideas. Destinations in the book are organized by themes, such as Lighthouses, Festivals, Outdoor Adventures, and Natural Wonders, so readers can decide what to do and then figure out where to do it. It’s a great way to uncover the many state parks, museums, beaches, foodie delights, and more that can be found throughout the Tar Heel State.
Other regional series that veteran college students might enjoy are the Adventure Journey Guides, Adventure Weekends, Backpacking by State, and Rail-Trails.
Whether your college kid is an avid camper, cyclist, or kayaker, whether they love ghosthunting or hunting for new places to travel, AdventureKEEN has college gift ideas for them. Send a guidebook today, and let them know that out of sight is definitely not out of mind.
Highway 34 roughly follows the Big Thompson River from Fort Collins to Estes Park. We enjoyed this beautiful drive and finally found a nice spot to pull off next to the river. I wanted to go wading but remembered the power of rivers whose source is snowmelt from surrounding mountains. I reconsidered and decided it would be embarrassing to be washed away by a river I didn’t even need to cross.
Estes Park is always a busy place in the summer. We wanted to explore downtown, but finding a parking spot would be challenging. We decided to pick up a few snacks at a grocery store and didn’t feel guilty walking to town when we left the store.
We’re naturally attracted to independent stores, so Macdonald Bookshop was a treat. It opened in the Macdonald’s living room in 1928 and was operated by Jessica Macdonald until 1957. Paula Steige, a third-generation Macdonald, is the current owner.
I wanted to revisit a restaurant from a backpacking trip, so we stopped into Poppy’s Pizza & Grill for a light lunch. So good, we returned to the same place for dinner.
One of our favorite stores carried custom games and puzzles. The owner was very entertaining, and his wife was a teacher like us, so we had some interesting conversations.
We made two drives with some day hiking into Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge Road is a drive best done in the morning before the threat of thunderstorms becomes an issue. Both trips through were beautiful. On the second morning out, we were surprised that temperatures dipped down to 24 degrees.
We noticed this Steller’s Jay on a stop early in the drive while still at lower elevations. We kept scanning the scenes for wildlife, but the only elk we saw were in downtown Estes Park.
Amazing what a few hundred feet can mean! We enjoyed driving up through changing habitats and then above the tree line where snow was slowly melting.
The Alpine Visitor Center (elevation 11,796 feet) was still closed when we were there in early July. Becca was a good sport and posed in front of the snowdrift showing part of the roof, reinforced with large timbers to withstand the high elevation conditions.
This was a favorite photo taken close to Trail Ridge Road as we returned from an overlook and short visit with marmots. These little guys are built for the winter conditions. Don’t leave you pack sitting around unattended though. I’ve seen them make off with trail snacks. They’re bold.
After a stop at the Continental divide, we descended into the Grand Lake area. It’s usually less crowded than Estes Park. The Visitor Center with its hiking trail is a great stop. I was pleased to see a Menasha Ridge Press guidebook and added a copy to my collection for future planning. Kim Lipker is a prolific author, and this is a great little book. I now have a new contact for information about trail conditions in the Rocky Mountain region.
One of the great benefits from authoring Five Star Trails: The Ozarks has been making contact with other authors. Great resources for future travels!
We enjoyed the trail that begins at the Grand Lake Visitors Center parking lot. I’m pretty sure this is where Becca made the unauthorized collection of wildlife. I teased her about the importance of leaving things in the woods, especially when visiting a national park. She was pleased when I removed the Rocky Mountain Tick, her souvenir from our hike. It’s important to remove ticks as early as possible in case they’re carrying any tickborne diseases. Reading the list of possibilities will give you the heebie-jeebies.
On this trip out west, we repeatedly felt the desire to explore more deeply and spend more time in every location. One of the best indicators of a trip is that it leaves you wanting more. This trip definitely did that for us. We’ll be back!
The post In The Mountains: Chasing That Rocky Mountain High appeared first on Menasha Ridge Press Blog.
The second part of our travels took us to Bozeman, Montana. We loved the low humidity and morning temperatures were glorious.
Based on a recommendation, we stay at the Lewis & Clark Motel right on Main Street in Bozeman. It was being remodeled, but the rooms were comfortable, and we liked the location.
We wished for more time to explore downtown but enjoyed visiting a couple of indie bookstores. The Country Bookshelf was awesome. It was established in 1957 and was the type of store you could easily get lost in for hours. Vargo’s Jazz City and Books was also a fun store to visit.
I found a collection of short stories by Edward Abbey titled One Life at a Time, Please. The title alone is worth the book’s purchase price!
Becca and I had a nice meal and made a souvenir of the glass coaster that included good advice for cowboys or anyone drinking from a creek.
We then enjoyed some Sweet Peaks Handcrafted Ice Cream before returning to the motel.
I learned of the Drinking Horse Trail on the edge of Bozeman close to a fish hatchery. It climbed part of Drinking Horse Mountain and rewarded me with a view of downtown Bozeman and the surrounding countryside.
Arrowleaf Balsamroot were blooming, and temperatures rose quickly with the sun, but low humidity was a welcome feeling for this Arkansas hiker. I liked this trail so much I did it two mornings in a row rather than spending time driving to trails farther away.
Part of the motivation for our out-west trip was to pick up a truck pop-up camper I’d ordered. By picking it up, we saved the delivery and installation charges. I also had the chance to see several other models of campers while waiting for the installation.
I was sure I’d like the Four Wheel Pop-Up Camper shell, but it exceeded my expectations and is getting frequent use. It’s easy to haul, lightweight, and perfectly functional without a lot of bells and whistles. Of course, you can fill it up with lots of extras, adding weight and cost, but I like the simple design of their shell model.
We hated to leave Bozeman, but it was time to head toward the Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ll share that part of our trip in another post.
Arkansas gets hot in June! Even the most enthusiastic consider June through August the offseason of backpacking. Hiker-dog and I attempt to stay in shape with early morning walks at Lake Alma. I struggled to find the word that describes how I feel about camping out this time of year in Arkansas. Abhorrent wins out, meaning “inspiring disgust and loathing.”
I approached my wife, Becca, with the idea of an out west road trip that wouldn’t involve camping but would give us the chance to get higher, dryer, and cooler.
Two backpacking locations from the past that I’ve wanted her to see were the Mount Rushmore and the Rocky Mountain National Park regions. Becca has always wanted to see Mount Rushmore, so that was an easy decision. Several years ago I visited Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park and vowed to return so Becca could experience 11,000 feet elevation, but we’ll include that in a second post later.
I’ll not include every stop we made but taking a break to tour this Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska was a treat. Found myself wishing we had more time to explore. We also stopped for a view of the North Platte River.
After experiencing a South Dakota afternoon thunderstorm and light hail, we drove through a portion of Custer State Park with plentiful views of bison.
Beautiful lakes dot Custer State Park. As we neared Mount Rushmore, we were surprised to find President Washington silhouetted against the sky in the distance.
Eventually, we made it around to see the front of Mr. Washington and an impressive sight he was from the trail below.
We enjoyed hearing a ranger talk in the studio where much of the preliminary work took place. Gutzon Borglum, a controversial figure, was the sculptor who directed the Mount Rushmore project from 1927 to 1941. His son, Lincoln, was assistant sculptor and took over the project when Gutzon died in 1941. Mount Rushmore was the brainchild of South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson, who hoped the sculpture would increase tourism into South Dakota.
I’d say Mr. Robinson got his wish for more tourists! We visited the monument early in the day and were glad we did as the congestion increased by the time we left.
Driving the mountains nearby is special because of the unique road switchbacks and tunnels. One tunnel famously frames Mount Rushmore presidents in the distance. All drivers were careful when approaching these one-lane passages.
There was more to explore than we could begin to enjoy with our limited time. We did make it to Custer State Park Visitors Center and did some walking around the beautiful surrounding areas, but Montana was calling so we hit the road.
As we passed a trailhead outside of Custer, I just had to get a short leg-stretcher in. This 5-mile loop and many other trails in the area will have to remain on my to-do list for when I return!