Every day is Buy a Bear a Beer Day in Norway!
Being beer travelers (aka those who plan destinations based on microbreweries to visit), we HAD to stop into the Mack Brewery in Tromsø when we visited in December 2007 (apparently right before the moved operations to Balsfjord). Because it never really got light in this city, nestled in between the mountains and the sea above the Arctic Circle, people started drinking early, as in noon. When we got there at 3 pm, not only was the bar packed to the gills, but we were the only Yanks in sight. Though everyone did get a kick out of our crazy American bear antics. If you go, be prepared for a $16 beer. No joke. And that isn’t the tourist price.
Winter is a great time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park: you can drive the roads, normally closed to all traffic except shuttle buses, and have the scenery all to yourself. Camping might be a little chilly, but the campground is open for those brave enough for snow camping (or lucky enough to have an RV). Roads can be icy and will close during storms, but you can still meander around. Trails can also be icy, but the year-round visitor center sells studded grips for your shoes, recommended for safety. A lot of the restaurants and hotels in the very tiny gateway town of Tropic will be closed for the season, but the planned resort community of Bryce (just outside the park entrance) is cozy and convenient.
Despite the extra effort visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter might entail, it’s well worth it to have the whole park, the red rock and the dramatic vistas, all to yourself. Visit the park’s website for more information, and definitely pop into the visitor center; the rangers are often bored this time of year and will happily chat you up about current hiking conditions and snowshoeing opportunities!
Below are my stark, dramatic, contrasting vision of this brilliant gem in Utah’s Canyon County:
The die hard strap their gear to office-weary backs and hike up crevices in the foot-high slop to slip slide down, just to say they were the season’s first.
But it melted quickly, creeping back up the mountains, and remains in hiding for weeks.
Hunters, blindly blaming their poor harvest on the wolves that don’t exist here, come back empty handed, heads shaking. Without the snows, the elk are content to find safety and sustenance in their summer pastures high up in the Winds; they haven’t been frequenting their normal fall rutting grounds. The dry, warm air is taking its toll on all kinds of winter enthusiasts who had high hopes for La Nina again this year…
This race is the longest sled dog race in the Lower 48, goes from Jackson, Wyoming to Park City, Utah and kid of zig-zags its way there to maximize influence.
Below is Lance Mackey, who won the Iditarod four times in a row!
I bet you didn’t know that Jamaica has its own dog sled team! Cool mushings! Below is Jamaica musher Newton Marshall!
Getting ready to start the race!
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