One of the positive aspects of the current crisis is that more people are going outside more often. Even folks who are not naturally inclined to get moving are doing so. Walking is something nearly everyone can do, but people are also rediscovering the joys of riding a bicycle.
Cycling is an excellent way to be outside while keeping a safe distance. A short spin around the neighborhood is always rejuvenating and can be done quickly. Longer rides close to home are excellent for maintaining healthy habits in this time of social distancing.
Elizabeth Skinner, co-author of Bicycling the Blue Ridge, has noticed that more people have turned to their bicycles for exercise and fresh air. “In the past few weeks, I’ve seen bikes all over my neighborhood: kids on bikes, adults on bikes, bikes strewn all over yards and in driveways. It has reminded me of the freedom and empowerment that I discovered on my bike as a kid.”
As with all outdoor activities, it is important to ride a bicycle safely. Elizabeth shares some simple and practical tips for hopping on your bike and enjoying the great outdoors:
- Check your local guidelines: Visiting parks and trails has been discouraged, and many are not currently open. So choose a place that’s close to home, and verify that it is available for biking. Most importantly, make sure that you comply with local guidelines for social distancing.
- Pick a quiet time to go: Whether you’re zipping around your neighborhood or pedaling along a country road, skip the busiest places at the busiest times. Instead, go whenever and wherever the fewest people are out and about during daylight hours.
- Bring your family: A bicycle ride is more fun when shared with others, but group rides have been highly discouraged. Instead, go alone or share a ride with your immediate family members. Now more than ever, it feels good to get out of the house, out of the yard, and into some open space. Remember to implement bicycling safety practices, such as wearing a helmet, obeying traffic laws, and riding single file.
- Carry what you need: Try to avoid stopping to buy water or snacks. If you think you might need either—or anything else, for that matter—bring it along. A small backpack works nicely.
- Be safe: This isn’t the time for dangerous terrain or daredevil stunts. A serious injury means a trip to the hospital, which could put you at greater risk for exposure to viruses and which could further tax a hospital staff that might already be overwhelmed with patients.
- Keep it clean: Follow guidelines from the CDC to protect yourself. This includes washing hands often; avoiding contact with your mouth, nose, and eyes; and wearing a mask over your mouth and nose while in public.
Elizabeth also encourages cyclists to look ahead to the coming months, when we return to our normal routines. Planning a future trip and imagining where to take your next long ride might be a fun mental exercise for you and your family.
For Elizabeth, that place is the Blue Ridge Parkway. “The beauty and solace of the Blue Ridge mountains is the perfect balm for these stressful, uncertain times.”
Bicycling the Blue Ridge, 6th Edition by Elizabeth and Charlie Skinner is the definitive guide to Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It features detailed, mile-by-mile descriptions that provide information on lodging, restaurants, stores, and bike shops. Professionally designed maps and elevation profiles are also included, so you always know where you are, where you’re going, and what to expect along the way. The guidebook is available wherever books are sold, including bookstores, gift shops, and online retailers.
About the Authors
Elizabeth Skinner and Charlie Skinner have spent the last two decades bicycling, hiking, and exploring the Piedmont, foothills, and mountains of North Carolina. They share their love of outdoor adventuring with two daughters and continue to pass along their years of experience to grateful readers. They live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
If your children are anything like mine, their at-home dream routine is to wake up, play video games, and continue playing video games until they pass out. There is a remedy for this: a daily schedule. The kids might revolt without at least some time for video games, but a good day of structure also includes opportunities for learning and physical activity. My boys’ days at home look like this:
9:00 a.m. — Breakfast:
The boys get free time before 9 a.m., mostly because the 13-year-old likes to sleep in. That gives the 10-year-old a chance to play video games, so he’s happy. At 9 a.m., they are in charge of making their own breakfast, typically some combination of cereal, microwave bacon, and toaster waffles.
9:30 a.m. — Morning Walk:
It’s time for some fresh air, so we go for a neighborhood walk. Of course, we bring our dog too.
10:00 a.m. — Study Time:
If there is homework to be done, this is the time. If not, the boys can choose an alternative, such as sudoku, journaling, or crossword puzzles. If you’re at home, For the Birds Crosswords is a nice way to join in.
Noon — Lunch:
We all eat lunch together and then go for another short walk.
1:00 p.m. — Quiet Time:
The boys are expected to read for 30 minutes. The 10-year-old is into sports books like Phillip Lindsay. The 13-year-old prefers fantasy and is making his way through The Lord of the Rings.
1:30 p.m. — Learn Something New:
The boys choose an educational video to watch on YouTube (e.g., how to use Microsoft Excel); a how-to book to read, like Essential Knots; or we show them how to do something around the house, such as laundry.
2:00 p.m. — Ask Mom or Dad:
There are at-home projects that need doing. The boys can spare 30 minutes to help out.
2:30 p.m. — Free Time:
For a job well done, the kids get to do whatever they’d like, including video games.
3:30 p.m. — Exercise:
The children are expected to spend some time each day getting sweaty. This can include anything from running to playing basketball. In case of bad weather, we turn on an exercise video.
4:00 p.m. — Connect with a Friend:
Call a friend, write a letter to Grandma, send texts to a bunch of buddies—we want our boys to stay connected with the people in their lives.
4:30 p.m. — Study Time:
Here, the boys find something quiet, calming, and educational: Finish homework, read, or work on a puzzle. If they are feeling rambunctious, we’ll send them outside with a bird identification guide or Backyard Bugs to catalog what they see.
5:00 p.m. — Free Time:
If homework is finished, video games are allowed again.
5:30 p.m. — Dinner:
We always eat together at the dinner table.
6:00 p.m. — Family Fun:
We might go on a hike or a bicycle ride, play a board game, or have a Nerf war. Once a week, we even play video games together. This is our time to do something fun as a family.
7:00 p.m. — Movie:
We wind down together with a movie or a television show.
8:30 – 9:00 p.m. — Bedtime:
The boys get one more chance to read (because we love books), or they can go right to bed.
This is currently our Monday–Friday schedule. On the weekends, we let the children enjoy more time with their video games, and we do more activities together. I encourage you to find a routine that works for your family and stick to it. It helps everyone feel a greater sense of “normal” when we know what to expect each day.
Everyone could use a little extra comedy in their lives. Give yourself a rest from the daily stresses, and exercise your sense of humor. Find out what Ole and Lena are up to in two timeless joke books: Ole & Lena: Live Via Satellite and Ole & Lena: A Stud and a Hot Dish.
As we learn in Ole & Lena: A Stud and a Hot Dish, poor Ole had some health concerns after he fell down the stairs. The pain was so severe that Lena rushed him to the emergency room to see a doctor.
Ole said, “It hurts ven I touch my head, my legs, my stomach, and my chest.”
The doctor coolly replied, “Of course it does. You’ve broken your finger.”
The comedy in these books focuses on the dim wits of this infamous Norwegian duo and their continual misunderstandings. If that fits your sense of humor, you’ll love these hilarious joke books. Ole and Lena get everything wrong—from exercise to school to work and, of course, family.
Ole: Lena, you are da only woman I know dat takes an hour to cook minute rice. Who else do you know who has to ask somevun how to boil vater? And vhile ve’re at it, how many people need to look up da recipe for ice cubes?
Lena: Ole! After all da sacrifices I make to put dinner on da table…
Ole: I don’t call ’em sacrifices. I call ’em burnt offerings.
The books are based on the stage performances of Bruce Danielson and Ann Berg. The Minnesota teachers originally took on their roles to fill in between acts at a local school and community variety show. Before long, Bruce and Ann began doing their own shows at venues across the country—and they did so for more than 20 years.
Bruce and Ann adapted their ever-evolving comedy routines into books that capture the spirit of the characters and the sense of humor of the two teachers. Each book includes 96 pages of stories, jokes, visual gags (in the form of photography and Norwegian games), and more. Anyone in need of a good laugh will appreciate the content in these joke books.
Ole & Lena: Live Via Satellite and Ole & Lena: A Stud and a Hot Dish are priced at $6.95 each. They are available wherever books are sold, including bookstores, gift shops, and online retailers.
Libraries are a cornerstone of healthy and vibrant communities. They serve so many roles and meet the needs of so many people. Using data from all over California, the Panorama Project identified the state’s most requested book–that they didn’t have available–with the idea of “what are libraries and bookstores missing? What titles are their patrons really after?”
It should come as no surprise to anyone in the local library space that the title with the most unmet demand in libraries in California over the summer was a regionally focused travel guide: Tom Courtney’s Walkabout Northern California. Library patrons are looking for local travel books. They want to get out and explore their unique communities and skip the tourist traps. These are just a couple of reasons that people seek out books like Walkabout Northern California at their local library.
Published by Wilderness Press, Walkabout Northern California describes 14 walks in the wilds of Northern California, and each entry includes “a map, mile-by-mile details of the route, logistical tips on places to stay and eat, and inspirational ideas to simplify your travel and reconnect with nature’s rhythm.”
Wilderness Press books are available through AdventureKEEN’s full catalog, as well as through all the standard library distribution channels such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Wilderness Press is attending ALA and PLA this year. We are happy to help support libraries and want to make sure that our local nature and travel titles are available to everyone.
Saturday, February 22, is National California Day. The tradition of celebrating each state with its own day began in 2017. Starting on the week of Independence Day, each state was given a day by National Day Calendar®, based on the order in which it entered the union. As the 31st state (admitted September 9, 1850), California’s day falls in the 31st week after July 4. How does one celebrate? National Day Calendar suggests that you “take a tour of California and find something new to discover.” At AdventureKEEN, we think a fantastic way to do that is by tackling a few hiking trails!
Your National California Day can include a breathtaking hike to North America’s tallest waterfall, Yosemite Falls. Or traverse the McWay Waterfall Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to see the unparalleled beauty of mountains meeting coastline. Explore the awe-inspiring forests and giant trees at the Redwood National and State Parks. Experienced hikers and backpackers might want to explore the challenging Lost Coast Trail.
Regardless of where you find yourself—or at what skill level of hiking—chances are good that there are beautiful hiking trails nearby, perfect for you. If you aren’t sure how to begin your National California Day outing, you’re in luck. AdventureKEEN has been helping people like you get outdoors and into nature for more than 50 years. The popular guidebooks 101 Hikes in Northern California and 101 Hikes in Southern California are great places to start.
Written by hiking expert Matt Heid, 101 Hikes in Northern California benefits readers by narrowing down the multitude of options for hiking in Northern California to the very best of the best adventures. It covers hiking trails in the northern two-thirds of the state, including nearly the entirety of the Sierra Nevada, south to Kings Canyon National Park, and the entire Big Sur region along the coast, south to Silver Peak Wilderness.
The southern portion of the state is covered in 101 Hikes in Southern California by Jerry Schad and David Money Harris. For National California Day, you can trek the diverse terrain—from desert to beach to mountaintop—on an easy stroll or overnight excursion. The guidebook covers the Santa Monica, San Gabriel, San Jacinto, and San Bernardino mountains; the Mojave and Colorado deserts; and many more iconic locales.
These guides are unique in the amount of natural history information they provide, and they include essential directions for completing a trip. Best of all, you can find hiking trails within a short drive of you; recommended outings are spread out across the entire state.
Now is a great time to get outdoors and celebrate National California Day. Countless opportunities await. And if you aren’t in California, no problem. Find a hike near you, and enjoy the Great Outdoors!
You want to choose the perfect present for your special Valentine. Flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, jewelry—maybe you’ve done that before, or maybe it seems too cliché. You need a gift that feels more personal, that suggests you took some time to pick it. For this reason and more, I love giving books—and I suggest you do the same. Following are 5 reasons why books are among the best gift ideas for Valentine’s Day or any day.
1. They Are Thoughtful
You can find books about almost anything. This makes it pretty easy to get the best books for your Valentine, if you’re paying attention. Does she have a favorite author or a unique hobby? Is there something he’s always wanted to try but isn’t sure how to get started? Think about how your special someone spends her leisurely time, and get a book that supplements that. Or maybe the right gift is a guidebook to a place that he dreams of visiting. The possibilities are endless, and the right book is always a very personal gift. It says, “I know you, and I know what you love.”
2. They Are Fun
The best gift ideas are a delight to receive. We can always use more socks, but who loves receiving a package of those? Books, on the other hand, are fun for your Valentine to get. What’s waiting beneath that cover? Will it be countless hours of entertainment? The instructions needed to begin a new adventure? Beautiful photographs that spark an imagination? It’s a thrill to flip the book open and find out.
3. They Are Inexpensive
A safe ballpark estimate for your bookish gift is $20. Of course, you can find many of the best books for less. Or you might spend more if you’re looking at larger formats, hardcover, full-color, and the like. But compared to jewelry or a dozen roses, you’re getting a great deal on one of the best gift ideas you can give.
4. They Are Practical
Every book serves a purpose. It might be to entertain or inspire. Maybe it’s to help readers find and enjoy new places. It could be to teach new skills or to educate on a given topic. By giving a book, you are giving something that your Valentine can and probably will use.
5. They Are Memorable
Introduce your special someone to a new author or series. Get him started on a hobby or her planning the next vacation. You will forever become associated with those memories. Better yet, make it a tradition. Another beautiful thing about giving books is that it’s easily repeatable: more from the same author, series, or genre locks in your association with the topic, making one of the best gift ideas even better. Bonus Tip: Write a lovely note to your recipient on the book’s title page, along with the date given, to make it a personalized keepsake.
Skip the candy shop and the jewelry store. Hopefully, you can see why the quickest path to the heart of your Valentine goes through your local bookstore.