The Quintessential Road Trip Guide

first_imgRiders splash through the Bear Creek Trail in northern GeorgiaDAY 1—2  | 52 MILESBlue Ridge, Ga. / Ellijay, Ga.Where better to begin your Blue Ridge journey than the base of those cobalt majesties. Part southern charm, part urbanite sophistication, the town of Blue Ridge, Ga., is quaint and lively, traditional yet contemporary. Tucked in between the Cohutta Wilderness Area (the largest contiguous tract of wilderness in the East) and the Chattahoochee National Forest, Blue Ridge is just a short drive away from some of the state’s most rugged terrain.Start your day on a sweet note with a trip to Mercier Orchards (mercier-orchards.com), Georgia’s largest apple orchard. Consider stocking up on fried pies and fresh apple cider for your afternoon picnic on Lake Blue Ridge. Surf Blue Ridge can get you hooked up with a stand up paddleboard for the day ($40; four hours) and even offers free delivery to the Lake Blue Ridge parking lot to ease your logistical worries. For the avid angler, this lake offers more than stunning scenery—it’s one of the few bodies of water south of the Great Lakes where walleyes swim aplenty.As the sun sets over the mountains, wind down with a pint from Blue Ridge Brewery (blueridgebrewery.com). You won’t have to go far to check into your room at The Fernbrook Inn (rooms from $149), so stay out, catch some tunes at the pub, order another pint (or two), and let that Georgia magic do its work.The sweet and savory smells of French toast and sausage wafting under your door will be sure to have you up and at it early the next morning (assuming you didn’t close the brewery down). Eat a hearty breakfast at the inn. You’ll need all the calories you can get. And bike tubes. If you don’t have a spare, swing in at Cartecay Bike Shop as you pass through Ellijay, the “Mountain Bike Capital of Georgia.” If nothing else, Cartecay’s owner Mike Palmeri is a local legend and is sure to offer some entertaining conversation and a tip or two on where to ride.Don’t dawdle long, for the Pinhoti Trail awaits. Stretching for over 300 miles from Alabama to northern Georgia, the Pinhoti is quickly gaining a reputation among mountain bikers for technical terrain with an unparalleled wilderness feel. Roughly 140 miles of the trail wind through the northwestern corner of Georgia, and the fine folks at Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way are more than happy to help you find the perfect ride.Be forewarned—you can ride, or run, from your cabin door (starting at $83 per night) or tent flap (sites from $10 per night) at Mulberry Gap, but don’t bank on a warm-up. Straight from the gate, you’ll be climbing up those steep mountain ridges that looked so idyllic and tranquil from the lake. If you’re trying to squeeze in more than one section of the Pinhoti (or simply want to spare your legs), the crew at Mulberry Gap will shuttle you to the top (rates from $15) so you can rip it downhill and be back in time for the family-style dinner that’s served every night in the barn. Ginni, the resident guest-mother and mastermind chef, will leave you so full on beef brisket and fresh salad, you’ll have to loosen the belt before you hop on a mini-bike for a round of mini-bike-Jenga. No, I’m not kidding. And yes, mini-bike-Jenga is real. As in, real hard.Like a LocalAndrew Gates, co-owner, Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-WayGO-TO RIDE: Mountaintown Creek Trail > Bear Creek Trail > Pinhoti 1 > Pinhoti 2PLACE TO CURE A SWEET TOOTH: Cantaberry Café (cantaberry.com) for pie or The Martyn House (themartynhouse.com) for cookiesFAVORITE ACTIVITY OFF THE BIKE: Kayaking down the Cartecay RiverYOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED NORTH GEORGIA LIKE A LOCAL IF: You can drift around the corners on a Forest Service road.DAY 3—4  | 114 MILESChattanooga, Tenn.After inhaling a plateful of Ginni’s pancakes, you’re ready to head north. Next stop, Chattanooga. The hour-and-a-half drive to Tennessee begins on GA-52, which snakes through the Chattahoochee National Forest and offers plenty of overlooks to break up the trip. So stop, smell the pine trees, soak in the views, snap a selfie. Then it’s onward to Nooga, a metropolis compared to that sweet southern pace you’ve been living in Georgia.Squeeze the last juice from your legs at Raccoon Mountain , a short 15-minute drive from downtown Chattown. Ride, run, or simply stroll along the 22-mile trail system. Mountain bikers should be prepared to work for their ride, as only four miles of the trails are considered beginner friendly. The remaining 18 miles of singletrack are speckled with four- to six-foot drops, tight switchbacks, and overall steep terrain. But when you see the sweeping views of the Tennessee River Valley below, you’ll know those gallons of Southeast sweat dripping down your back were worth it.And if the views didn’t drop your jaw, the southern fried goodness afterwards at Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken surely will. Baked beans and slaw, hush puppies and sweet tea, piles of chicken and Mississippi mud pie. Styrofoam plates and checkered tablecloths never looked so good.But for the health-conscious road rambler, Flying Squirrel might be more on par with your dinner cravings. This state-of-the-art watering hole and restaurant located in the heart of the Southside offers locally sourced food at an affordable price. Should you catch yourself in town on a Sunday morning, you’ll definitely want to stop in. Where else can you enjoy live music over a plate of sweet potato hash and a beermosa? (Okay, forget the “health-conscious” thing.)Your lodging for the next two nights is just around the corner at The Crash Pad: An Uncommon Hostel. Founded by the same team as Flying Squirrel, The Crash Pad is an upscale, LEED Platinum hostel (the only one of its kind) that offers guests everything from super bunks ($30 per night) to private rooms ($79 per night). The best part? The owners of the hostel are avid climbers and can point all you rock hounds in the right direction.014_FIXSweltering summers in the South make it downright necessary to be an early riser—you can sleep when you’re dead. Grab a bag of handmade croissants or oven-fresh cinnamon rolls from Niedlov’s Breadworks and put the pedal to the metal. Rock climbers can head to any one of the area’s crags like Foster Falls, a sport climbers’ haven, or Tennessee Wall, which provides trad lovers with everything from clean, 100-foot arêtes to bold face climbs. The Stone Fort, formerly known as Little Rock City, is the closest major bouldering area close to downtown Chattanooga and is the site for one of the now four Triple Crown Bouldering Series events in the fall.But if climbing’s not your thing, take a hike and cool down at Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls in Cloudland Canyon State Park. Though technically still in Georgia, this state park is just a half hour’s drive from Chattanooga and the sights are worth it. The out-and-back Waterfalls Trail packs a punch in just two miles, dropping over 400 feet to the waterfalls via a steep stairway system. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were waterfalls at the top of those stairs, too?And if the weather simply is not cooperating with your stay, Chattanooga’s got you covered, literally. But instead of catching a movie, surfing the web, or doing laps at the Tennessee Bouldering Authority, might I suggest a total change of pace? Embrace your inner child and head to The Jump Park for a day. You can toss yourself into foam pits, test your balance on slacklines, and jump yourself silly on over 50 connected trampolines. Just don’t eat too many cinnamon rolls before you go.Like a LocalJohn Ying, General Manager at The Crash Pad: An Uncommon HostelGO-TO CLIMB: Bouldering? Rocktown. Sport Climbing? Castle Rock. Trad? T-WallPLACE TO PARTY ON A TUESDAY: Flying Squirrel. Half priced wine night. Full disclosure: Crash Pad and Flying Squirrel are owned by the same guys.FAVORITE ACTIVITY OFF THE ROCK: First Free Sundays at the Hunter MuseumYOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED CHATTANOOGA LIKE A LOCAL IF: You march into the stadium with the Chattahooligans at a CFC game.DAY 5—6  | 426 MILESLinville Gorge / Boone, N.C.Hit the road before dawn as you make the long, five-hour haul from Chattanooga to the heart of western North Carolina. You can take a slightly shorter route up through Knoxville to your next destination, the Linville Gorge Wilderness, but if you prefer to avoid the mayhem and stress of interstate driving, head east on US-74 through scenic stretches of quiet Appalachian towns. As you curl through the Smokies, you’ll pass kayakers and rafters navigating the waters of the Ocoee and Nantahala Rivers, which run roadside for the first leg of your trip.IMG_6143_FIXWhen you pop out on I-40, you’re just a half hour from Asheville, a city famed for its exploding craft beer scene. You could stop and get tanked at any one of Beer City USA’s 40-plus breweries, but alas, the mountains are calling and you must go. Of course, there’s no harm in grabbing a half pour over lunch at Wicked Weed Brewing.Once safely sober, continue your voyage northeast to one of the most iconic destinations in North Carolina—Linville Falls. Park at the Linville Falls Visitor Center and follow the Linville Gorge Trail down to the river. This out-and-back hike is just shy of two miles round-trip, but the going is steep, so proceed with caution. Swimming is not permitted at the base of the falls, so no dips in the pool, no matter how tempting it may be.Should the beauty of the Linville Gorge enrapture you, there’s a campground just up the road to satisfy your wild hair. The Linville Falls Trailer Lodge & Campground  has a number of options for bunking up, from primitive tent sites ($20 per night) to log cabins (from $60 per night). This leaves the Linville Gorge within quick driving access so you can spend a full day exploring caves, off-trail bushwhacking, or trad climbing to your heart’s content.In the event that you decide to continue on down the road after your Linville Falls hike, the town of Boone, N.C., is roughly an hour away. Thanks in part to the local university, there’s a youthful, energetic vibe about Boone that makes for an active outdoors scene and an eclectic art community in the heart of Appalachia. Check in at the Lovill House Inn (rooms from $139) for a homey stay conveniently located off the Blue Ridge Parkway and less than a mile from Old Town. Fuel up at Proper for homemade southern food done right. There’s a different special every day, like meatloaf or pulled pork, but even vegetarians will find a bowlful of Proper’s mac n’ cheese filling and delicious.Grab your walking stick as you head out the door the next morning—Grandfather Mountain and Elk Knob are two of North Carolina’s newest state parks and both provide impeccably well-maintained trails leading to spectacular views of the North Carolina High Country. The Profile Trail on Grandfather Mountain traces the “profile” of the old man for whom the state park is named. Hikers can expect to see lush hardwood forests and unique rock features along the three miles to the summit. The hike to Elk Knob is not quite as steep and slightly shorter at 3.8 miles round-trip, so be sure to make time to soak in its panoramic views.Mountain bikers and trail runners seeking an adrenaline fix can head over to Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park to peruse the park’s eight miles of technical trails. Rocky Knob also has four skills areas and a pump track so you can fine-tune your technique before your next ride.At the end of the day, Appalachian Mountain Brewery is certain to have a beverage to quench your thirst — IPAs, stouts, ales, even its very own cider. You can feel good about what you drink, too. For every pint you purchase, the brewery donates to a non-profit organization through the Pints for Non-Profits Program.Like a LocalChelsea Zacher and Thea Young, Footsloggers staffGO-TO HIKE: Gragg Prong FallsPLACE TO SPEND A RAINY DAY: Bald Guy BrewFAVORITE ACTIVITY OFF THE TRAIL: First Fridays Art Crawl YOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED BOONE LIKE A LOCAL IF: You’ve been caught unprepared by the weather.DAY 7—8  | 768 MILESStaunton, Va. / Harrisonburg, Va.You’ll have to say “adieu” to that high country paradise in between forkfuls of your locally sourced breakfast from Melanie’s Food Fantasy (melaniesfoodfantasy.com). There’s about a four-hour drive ahead of you through most of the state of Virginia, but don’t worry—you’ll have a chance to stretch those legs upon arriving at Saint Mary’s Wilderness. The roughly 10-mile hike through fern forests and alongside the Saint Mary’s River make this wilderness trek a cool way to spend a summer day. The cherry on top is the waterfall located about five miles from the car. It’s a popular place to take a dip and the base is deep enough for a jump from the rocks above, if you dare.After the hike, continue north toward Staunton, a town where art and agriculture are seamlessly intertwined. Share an exquisitely cooked southern meal at The Shack, an unassuming brick building where visitors can indulge in warm butter lettuce salad and maple quail. The cozy, one-room atmosphere immediately turns strangers to family, as the 26 non-matching chairs available are seated around seven communal-style tables.Shack up for the night at The Storefront, a private two-floor space that’s part B&B, part townhouse. Located in the heart of Staunton’s historic district, you’ll be within walking distance to a number of stores and restaurants, but with all the amenities of your own home, including a full kitchen, you may never want to leave.At this point in your travels, if you haven’t let the road be your guide, it’s time to do so. And not just any road, mind you. The Blue Ridge Parkway. This 469-mile ribbon of pavement traverses the Blue Ridge from just outside of Cherokee, N.C., all the way up to the parkway’s northern terminus at Rockfish Gap, just 20 minutes outside of Staunton. It is arguably one of the best Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday) drives you can take, but if your eyes are growing weary, you can park at any number of trailheads and just start hiking.The Appalachian Trail crosses the parkway a number of times, making it easy to hop on the white blaze and walk until your legs scream. But for a hike with a view, try Humpback Rocks at milepost 5.8. The hike is only one mile one way, but don’t be fooled—that’s one mile straight uphill. There are benches along the way and the trail is wide and mostly gravel, so take your time and savor the burn. Once you see the 360-degree views of the surrounding Shenandoah Valley, you’ll be glad you persevered.Spend the remainder of your afternoon exploring Harrisonburg, Va., just 45 minutes up Interstate-81. If pastimes like window shopping and people watching are not your cup of tea, grab your rod and head to the pristine waters of Mossy Creek, just a few minutes from where you’ll be staying at the Old Massanutten Lodge (rooms from $140). You’ll need a license to fish at this classic limestone creek, in addition to a signed landowner permission card, so unless you happen to frequent the area regularly, consider going with Mossy Creek Fly Fishing under the guidance of the outfitter’s Orvis endorsed instructors. Even experienced anglers stand to learn  something from these local experts.IMG_3725_FIXSize up your Virginian experience with a farm-to-table pizza made from scratch at Bella Luna Woodfired Pizza  and a pint of The Great Outdoors Virginia Pale Ale from Brothers Craft Brewing located right in Harrisonburg.Like a LocalKyle Lawrence, A little bit of everything, Shenandoah Bicycle CompanyGO-TO RIDE: the Burg > Kaylor’s Ridge > Fridley GapPLACE TO DANCE YOUR ASS OFF:  The Golden Pony (goldenponyva.com)FAVORITE ACTIVITY OFF THE MOUNTAIN: Eating delicious local veggie foods from the downtown farmers market and Friendly City Food Co-Op.YOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED HARRISONBURG LIKE A LOCAL IF: You end up at the Little Grill for breakfast then return for Mexi Nite dinner all in the same dayDAY 9—10  | 852 MILESCharles Town, W.Va / Harpers Ferry, W.Va.Road trips can no doubt induce exhaustive efforts to see and do as much as possible in the short spell of vacation time you’re granted. It’s called a “Fear of Missing Out,” or FOMO. Though FOMO can be harnessed for motivation, it can also contribute to what I call the “burn out phase,” where the idea of sitting in your hotel room and watching cable all day sounds more appealing than getting sunburnt and asking for directions.Fortunately, the relaxed vibe of Harpers Ferry can rejuvenate your traveler’s spirit. Just a stone’s throw over the Virginia line at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Harpers Ferry is as charismatic as it is historic. Stroll along the picturesque cobblestone streets and tour the museums in town, or head to the hills immediately upon arrival.The Chesapeake & Ohio (or C&O as it is mostly referred to) Canal Towpath connects Washington, D.C., to Pennsylvania via an old trail nearly 185 miles in length. The 10-plus miles heading upstream out of Harpers Ferry are like riding back in time. Bring your bike and see how far you can go or rent a ride from River & Trail Outfitters (from $21). The folks at the outfitter also offer guided services as well as shuttles along the C&O.Of course, should you prefer to travel by two feet instead of two wheels, Harpers Ferry also serves as the headquarters for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the not-quite, unofficial halfway point on the Appalachian Trail. You can head north on the A.T. right out of town and reach a short side trail in about a mile that leads to striking views of Weverton Cliffs. Keep on walking to Maine if the blaze speaks to you, but otherwise it’s probably time to find a place to hole up for the night.Lodging options range from any one of the historic bed and breakfasts like the Laurel Lodge (laurellodge.com; rooms from $135) to dirt-cheap (as in free) camping along the A.T. If you’re not wanting to work for your campsite, the Harpers Ferry Campground (sites from $29) is tucked right into the folds of the Potomac and offers front door access to tomorrow’s adventure: rafting.That’s right. Get ready to go big. Cool off on your last day in the wild and wonderful state with a little dose of West Virginia whitewater. River Riders offers a number of options for getting on the river, whether it’s in a guided raft or your very own inflatable kayak. The Potomac’s mild class I-III rapids are the perfect place to play and learn the basics of paddling.Should you get frustrated because your duckie doesn’t want to stay in a straight line, or because you fell out of the raft five times, there’s nothing a little West Virginia hooch can’t fix. Stop in at the Bloomery SweetShine, the only distillery around, for a little post-paddle “artisanal blend of vice and virtue” in nearby Charles Town, W.Va. You probably worked up quite an appetite on the water, too. Cure that with a trip to Dish and scarf down a locally sourced, grass-fed burger or black bean burger, maybe a scoop or three of ice cream back in Harpers Ferry at Scoops, and call it a day. Your last adventures start in the morning.Like a LocalAlexis Knott, Sales and Service Director at River RidersGO-TO HIKE: The Stone Fort Trail in Maryland HeightsPLACE TO STARGAZE: The Maryland Heights overlookFAVORITE ACTIVITY OUT OF THE WOODS: Skipper’s for ice cream and The Anvil Restaurant for dinnerYOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED HARPERS FERRY LIKE A LOCAL IF: You can say you’ve stood in three states and two rivers at the same time.DAY 11—12  | 910 MILESGettysburg, Penn. / Michaux State ForestMichaux offers more than 90,000 acres of big trees and vast views, frigid waters teeming with trout, and over 60 miles of technical, rocky trails just begging to be explored. Whether by horseback, by foot, or by wheel, Michaux State Forest could quite literally be heaven on Earth. Of the 60 miles available to hikers, 37 of those are designated multi-purpose trails that allow mountain bikes, and for even the most experienced of riders, Michaux is sure to provide a challenge. In conjunction with the 130 miles of maintained gravel roads that weave throughout the forest, the possibilities for loops and levels of difficulty are endless.As you make your way to the northernmost stretches of the Blue Ridge Mountain range, cruise over to Gettysburg Bicycle to get all of your gear and beta needs. Michaux State Forest has a core group of riders who maintain a blog, Mountain Bikers of Michaux, and regularly hold group rides that are open to novice and experienced riders alike. Due to the occasional unmarked trail and wilderness feel of the forest, first-timers should consider trying to arrange a guided ride, either through the community or by tagging along on a shop ride Thursday nights at 6 p.m.But perhaps you’re not a singletrack ripper. Roll up your pant legs and go creek walkin’ down the East Branch of the Conococheague Creek or either branch of Antietam Creek. Both of these streams are well stocked with trout and the gettin’s good, even if you’re not an angler.For your last night on the road, take the rainfly off the tent, heck maybe even do away with the tent altogether, and lie out cowboy-style under the twinkling night sky—you have plenty of memories to keep you pondering and stargazing well into the wee hours of the morning. Though Michaux State Forest requires a permit for camping, it’s free and easy to acquire from the visitor’s center. Primitive campsites are sprinkled throughout the forest but a few established ones with bathrooms are located with easy access to your car.Rise in plenty of time to catch the sunrise an hour and a half away atop Blue Mountain at Waggoner’s Gap. Located at the edge of the Tuscarora State Forest, this 125-acre parcel of land is owned by the Audubon Society. Expert bird watchers frequent the summit here for its spectacular hawk sightings. Make sure to bring a thermos of French press and some nutrition bars for the dawn patrol, but don’t worry about needing too much energy for the hike—the parking lot is just a 500-yard stroll from the overlook. So. No excuses.After satisfying your sunrise-hawk-watching fix, hit the state forest’s namesake, the Tuscarora Trail. Pennsylvania is revered for its rocky terrain, and this trail certainly keeps in jive with the reputation. Running for over 250 miles from Virginia through Maryland and up into Pennsylvania, the Tuscarora Trail was created as an alternative route for the Appalachian Trail yet has always remained an independent footpath. This six-mile section is known as one of the rockiest chunks of the Tuscarora, so wear sturdy shoes.You’ll head south for six miles from the Waggoner’s Gap parking lot to Flat Rock at the southern end of the state forest. A blanket of Pennsylvania countryside wraps around the Flat Rock overlook, giving visitors a 180-degree view of the Cumberland Valley and all of its charm. Hike on for a longer day, or head back for a roughly 13-mile out-and-back trip. This section also makes for a moderately intense trail run if your legs still have any life left in them.Let your taste buds wander beyond the Blue Ridge at any one of Carlisle’s worldly restaurants. You can of course get your traditional plate of mac n’ cheese and barbecue at Redd’s Smokehouse BBQ but why not explore Belgian cuisine at Café Bruges or drink your weight in sangria at the Spanish and Moroccan tapas restaurant Andalusia? There’s a lot to celebrate, and who knows—maybe your culinary instincts inspire your next road trip. So kick back and order another round. You’ll need some liquid courage for your last adventure: the half-gallon challenge.The challenge, if you can call it that, is seemingly simple. It’s just you and a half-gallon of Hershey’s ice cream from the Pine Grove Furnace General Store. As you suffer through bite after bite of chocolate Moose Tracks on an already full stomach, think about that sweet moment of success when you down the entire container and join the elite “Half Gallon Club.”Sure, about 99% of the club is made up of past or present A.T. thru-hikers, but it’s okay. You worked hard for it.Like a LocalJes Stith, Owner of Gettysburg BicycleGO-TO RIDE: Teaberry > Three Stooges > Rattlesnake Run Road > Old Forge > Trucker > Rothrock Road > Tumbling RunBEST WAY TO MAKE HISTORY COOL: Take your bike and ride around the Gettysburg BattlefieldFAVORITE ACTIVITY WHEN IT’S TOO HOT TO RIDE:  Catch some tunes at The Garryowen Irish Pub (garryowenirishpub.net)YOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED GETTYSBURG  LIKE A LOCAL IF: You eat tacos at TaniasEXPERIENCE HARRISONBURG in this month’s BRO-TV episode at BlueRidgeOutdoors.com/bro-tvlast_img read more

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Ultimate Summer Gear Giveaway

first_imgRules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 Midnight EST on July  31, 2016 – date subject to change. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and their promotional partners reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before July 31, 6:00 PM EST 2016 – date and time subject to change. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received. Sign up for your chance to win this complete summer gear package from our friends at ELIE, Mountain Khakis, Native Eyewear, Tenkara USA, and Chaco! The winner will be drawn on Monday, August 1st. Good luck!This contest is complete.last_img read more

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Let’s Get Hazy

first_imgIf you’ve been paying attention to IPAs recently, you’ve probably noticed that they’re getting a bit cloudy. The hazy IPA craze is taking over the craft beer world. It started in the Northeast, up in Vermont and Massachusetts where upstart breweries started making high ABV IPAs that were unfiltered and cloudy to the point of being milky. These beers are so fruity, they’re downright juicy and have almost no bitterness associated with IPAs. If West Coast IPAs are a blend of citrus and pine with a bitter backend, then New England IPAs are a tropical fruit cup. And it’s a trend that’s no longer contained to the northeast. Breweries all over the US are making New England style IPAs and the world is basically better off because of it. As I said, these beers are juicy, high ABV and not that bitter. Win/win/win.New Belgium is now officially in the hazy IPA game. The brewery revamped their entire IPA lineup recently and has just released Juicy Mandarina IPA as part of the Voodoo Ranger Special Release Series. It’s an unfiltered wheat IPA that uses Mandarina Bavaria and Galaxy hops, for a super cloudy beer that lives up to its “Juicy” moniker. The beer has a soft, round body thanks to the wheat and hits you with a helping of pineapple juice right out of the gate. It’s smooth, ridiculously fruity and damn easy to drink. In other words, it’s exactly what you want out of a hazy IPA. The fact that New Belgium, which acts as a sort of standard-bearer for the craft beer industry, is jumping into the haze game shows that there’s some legitimacy and longevity to the trend. There was a time when part of the quality assessment of a beer was how clear it poured in the glass. It was like judging diamonds; you looked for clarity. Thanks to this wave of hazy IPAs taking over, we no longer live in those times. Cloudy is the new clear.last_img read more

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Adult Adventure Camp

first_imgSummer Camp isn’t Just for Kids AnymoreIncreasingly, grownups are looking for weekend retreats focused on nature, physical activity, and community. So in 2017, a collection of adult adventure camps called The Pursuit Series was born. In 2019, the Series will head east to Brevard, N.C. for the first time.During the three-day weekend outdoor adventure festivals, which will take place in three locations this year, including Asheville, Pursuit encourages those with a curiosity or affinity for the outdoors to try a new, different challenge, surrounded by 500 fellow outdoor adventure seekers. The base price starts around $499, which includes all activities, courses, meals, alcohol, and coffee.Whether learning how to change a flat tire on a mountain bike, read a compass, or rock climb, the outdoors is transformed from an unknown or intimidating endeavor to a fun, conquerable experience. And the best part, according to many past attendees, along with choosing your own adventure each day, is meeting a new community of young, old, male and female.Last year, Allison Desir, founder of Harlem Run and Run 4 All Women, attended a Pursuit Series weekend with her husband and two friends from Harlem Run. But initially, it took a lot of convincing.“I was intrigued, but I wasn’t a very outdoors person and I didn’t see myself in that environment,” Desir says. “Despite being a runner, I’m a New Yorker. I almost didn’t go.”However, once she and her group arrived, Desir immersed herself in trail running, a class on packing a hiking backpack, stand-up paddleboarding, and more. The variety and depth of courses helped her feel more empowered, Desir says, while also educating her. “After that experience, I was like, ‘I love this. I want to do everything outdoors,’” Desir says.Once she returned home, Desir kept in contact with one of the yoga instructors from her Pursuit weekend. In December, Desir completed her certification to become a yoga instructor. “I wasn’t a yoga regular, and I’m still not particularly flexible,” Desir says. “But it’s that mental shift that Pursuit taught me–as I challenge myself more, my mind shifts to ‘what else can I do that I thought I couldn’t?’”Last year, all three Pursuit Series weekends sold out. In 2019, in addition to the two western locations (Snow Basin Resort in Utah, Bear Valley in Northern California), the Pursuit Series will head to the Green River Preserve near Brevard, N.C.“When you have these barriers that people overcome, that sense of community and connection creates this bond,” says Julia Stamps Mallon, one of the series’ founders. “You see an amazing group of incredibly diverse backgrounds coming together around the campfire each night and talking about what they did that day. And there’s something magical in that.”last_img read more

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Scenic Fall Foliage in Washington County, MD

first_imgFall is a beautiful time of year to enjoy the natural beauty of Western Maryland. According to weather.com, this year’s fall foliage is expected to peak around mid- to late October. Here are some of the best places throughout Washington County for leaf peepers to experience magnificent fall colors.Photo: Scott CantnerScenic OverlooksWashington County has no shortage of scenic overlooks and those are often the best places for wide-angle views of spectacular fall foliage. Some overlooks require a short walk, while others must be hiked to, but the view is certainly worth the effort it takes to get there. Typical fall weather in Washington County is moderate, making it a great time to enjoy the outdoors.The 34-foot-tall Washington Monument atop South Mountain is a great location to view colorful foliage. Not only are you surrounded by trees on the short hike to the monument, which includes part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, but once you reach the top you’ll enjoy a stunning view of the region. On a clear day, you can easily see three states from the top of the historic monument.There are other scenic overlooks along the Appalachian Trail that offer beautiful views of the fall foliage. The hike to Annapolis Rock is a minimum of 2.8 miles but the stunning view from the rock formation vista is nearly 180 degrees. A bit further north along the Appalachian Trail is Black Rock, also offering amazing views. High Rock is located just off the Appalachian Trail and has much easier access unless you plan to get there from the trail, which has steep sections in this vicinity. The mountain cliff is situated on the western side of South Mountain just below its highest peak. One of the most impressive scenic overlooks in Washington County is Maryland Heights. It is the highest mountain overlooking Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.Photo: Scott CantnerScenic ParklandsWashington County’s local, state and national parks are great locations to view fall foliage. These places are scenic year round but the fall foliage adds to their allure. You can enjoy places like Antietam National Battlefield from your automobile or on foot. Nearby, the towpath at the C&O Canal National Historical Park is lined with trees, making it a beautiful location for a fall walk, hike or bicycle ride. A fall stroll on the Canal is a rich sensory experience with colorful leaves falling around you and a carpet of leaves crunching beneath you. Ferry Hill Plantation, on the bluffs of the Maryland side of the Potomac River, is part of the park and especially scenic in fall.An easy paved portion that parallels the Canal is the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which begins in Hancock, MD and goes 18 miles to Fort Frederik State Park. This recreational, paved, linear trail opened to the public for walking, running, biking, and inline skating. The trail is suited to anyone seeking a pleasant, leisurely outdoor experience. The easy grade and paved surface make this trail ideal for families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. The WMRT is wheelchair accessible. Pets are permitted on the trail.Photo: KirkHagerstown’s City Park offers wooded walking trails as well as the new Hagerstown Cultural Trail. A stroll through the park, around the lake, or near the Jonathan Hager House is beautiful during fall. Washington County Park Devil’s Backbone offers a kaleidoscope of color along the Antietam Creek as the leaves change. The dam and stone bridge are especially scenic spots and a footbridge provides for a lovely stroll.Gathland State Park, also along the Appalachian Trail, was once the elaborate mountain estate of Civil War journalist George Alfred Townsend. Though it doesn’t offer broad scenic overlooks like several of the other well-known points along the trail in Washington County, it’s definitely a place where you can enjoy the beauty of the colorful leaves that surround you. Like Devil’s Backbone, it’s the perfect spot for a fall stroll and a picnic lunch!Washington County, Maryland is the ideal destination to enjoy fall foliage. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. There are also a number of fall festivals and events throughout the season. Check out our Calendar of Events to see what’s coming up, or download the Mobile App, Visit Hagerstown, in your mobile app store.last_img read more

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Where Do We Go from Here?

first_imgGerry Seavo James, founder of The Waterman Series and Explore Kentucky, puts on events throughout Kentucky, including paddling races, festivals and a triathlon, that draw thousands of people from across the country. And all of it—the funding, the participation, the permits—is up in the air. “For me it’s a big hit, but also for the local community it’s a hit because we come and camp and buy food and gasoline,” James said. “They stay at the campground or a hotel, we buy shirts, there’s snacks, we eat at the barbecue restaurant where it ends. It’s part of this ecosystem of events around the state.”  At Phidippides, a running store in Georgia, the staff tried to figure out how to keep the shop open when so much of their business is done face to face. When relying on online sales wasn’t working, they started offering virtual fittings through Zoom. Store employees walked customers through the normal process, asking about their running habits and watching them run around. The customer could then get the shoe shipped to them or pick it up curbside to see if it fit. “A big concern when we rolled this out was the feel of a shoe is so important and we were afraid we were going to be taking a lot of returns through this process,” said General Manager Sloan Ware. “But it actually hasn’t been the case. Most of the time, we’re able to get down to a shoe that is going to work really well for that person. It hasn’t been as difficult with returns as we initially expected.” “It all came crashing to a halt,” James said. “For this African American-oriented project that already has less attention than legacy organizations, can we bounce back after COVID? The economy’s going to be down. Can we get the donations we need?”   When funding increases, Leavitt said brands need to take a look at how they are sponsoring athletes and influencers in the industry and with what resources. “Recognizing that being paid in income is important,” she said. “Likes aren’t going to pay the rent. There’s multiple levels of who has rank in the industry, whether it’s in the nonprofit or for-profit world, and who comes out of this situation okay. If brands want to come out of this in a better light, they have to start thinking about the bigger picture. How are they actually creating space for BlPOC people in their business in higher-level positions? How are they going to look at their ambassador and athlete team? How are they actually taking the time to listen and wanting to fix the problems versus just throwing money to try and do a quick fix.”  “Developing our recreation infrastructure is an opportunity to invest in resources like trails and river access points that will benefit the quality of life and economy of the community down the road,” he said. “We’re anticipating seeing people leaving densely populated areas and moving to less densely populated areas. So, I think those communities that get out in front of this trend, make some serious investment, and build their outdoor brand are going to win.”  For seasonal businesses like River & Trail Outfitters, the pandemic hit at a particularly difficult time—the lowest cash point of the year coming into their main season. “For a seasonal business, you really have to think about the three or four months to make hay while the sun shines,” said owner Natasha Baihly. “You just really hope you’re going to get those couple of months in order to make your business go. You don’t get the opportunity to slide it into the winter or have things pick up in the middle of the fall.”  From online sales and curbside pickups to virtual events, retailers are reimagining the way they interact with customers. For Joey Riddle, owner of Joey’s Bike Shop in West Virginia, bike sales and bike repairs are through the roof. “We have no bikes on our floor and we can’t get any,” he said. “That’s the biggest problem right now. Bike companies are sold out of bikes. Typically, this time of year, we have over 100 bikes in stock. We have 15 with nothing on the horizon probably until July.” The Road to Recovery So how can the outdoor industry be a part of our economic recovery? The Outdoor Alliance, a national coalition of 10 outdoor recreation groups, including IMBA, Access Fund, and American Whitewater, is advocating for recreation infrastructure projects at the Congressional level. Communications Director Tania Lown-Hecht said the pandemic amplified inequalities that have existed in communities for a long time. “Where are the green spaces, parks, and forests and who can get there?” she said. “Our hope is that decision makers, especially members of Congress, see how important that kind of recreation and green infrastructure is for the country and see that as a priority investment.” Jenn Chew, director of The Assaults, on supporting events in the future: “The uncertainty of when it can open back up has affected not only the people who work in the industry, whether it be event directors or producers, but even people that are stagehands, AV companies, and anything that has to do with putting on events. Without participation, they’re going to die off, just as they are right now with not being able to have them. I think it’s really important for people to participate, support, and attend events, festivals, rides, races, and concerts.” River & Trail was also in the middle of an expansion when the pandemic hit, preparing to open another location for their whitewater rafting trips. The Baihly’s decided to take a leap of faith and go ahead with the new location in hopes that families would be looking for ways to get outside together this summer. “My dad always said that boats and beer were the things that would withstand anything,” Baihly said. “And I think he might be right. We have 48 years behind us, so that’s a wonderful thing.”  An event, whether it’s a race, festival, or fundraiser, is centered around the idea of community and bringing people together. Racers huddled at the start line, volunteers working aid stations, and crowds surging towards the stage—it’s difficult to imagine what these events will look like with social distancing measures put in place.  To address these inequalities and contribute to economic recovery, organizations including Outdoor Alliance are pushing for national solutions like a conservation corps dedicated to rebuilding outdoor infrastructure and providing jobs. Legislation like the Great American Outdoors Act would provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and money for backlogged park maintenance projects. “That would provide crucial funding that will help put people back to work, address urgent maintenance needs, and have more close to home recreation opportunities,” Lown-Hecht said.  Moving Forward — More Voices from the Outdoors Predict the Path Ahead Roan Mountain, Tenn., is one of those places that relies on outdoor recreation to bring in tourism dollars as an official Appalachian Trail Community. Mike Hill, a Carter County commissioner representing Roan Mountain, said businesses in town rely on the thru-hiker bubble that comes through each year. “When they come off trail in Roan Mountain, they’ve been in the woods since Erwin, Tenn.,” he said. “They’re hungry. They’d love to do some laundry. They need resupply items. A shower with hot water and a washcloth is a huge deal. They come off the trail with discretionary income and specific needs.” These events, no matter their size, take time and funding to succeed. Planning for Color the Crag, a climbing festival held at Horse Pens 40 to promote black, indigenous, and people of color climbers, takes organizers a full year to prepare for four days of climbing, clinics, and demos. Leaders from Brown Girls Climb and Brothers of Climbing, the partnership behind the festival, decided to cancel the festival in October to take care of themselves, their families, and their community during these difficult times. Brittany Leavitt, the festival’s director of operations, said even if the pandemic were over by the end of the summer, it wouldn’t be enough time to get everything together. “We’ve all seen the documentary of Fyre Fest,” she said. “That’s pretty much what they did. They did it in a few weeks to try and figure things out. That’s just impossible.”  With the Summer Outdoor Retailer show cancelled, opportunities to network with brands for sponsorships were cut short. “There’s been furloughs and layoffs,” Leavitt said. “A lot of brands have downsized their employees. Therefore, most of that money isn’t going to go towards events. It’s going to go towards supporting their employees. That takes a big toll on us because we aren’t able to redesign or reconfigure that support system for this event.”  James started canceling events scheduled in March, April, and May before Kentucky got its first confirmed case to keep people safe. But the uncertainty of how long the pandemic would last, and how widespread the effects would be, made it difficult when thinking about events farther down the line. For two years, James has been helping plan the Outdoor Adventure Weekend with the Friends of Cherokee State Historic Park for June 2020. The park was originally built during a time of segregation as one of the few parks in the South open to the Black community. Funds raised from a weekend of art, music, and cultural activities would go towards revitalization of the park, including new signage, a pollinator habitat, and programming. The three-day event has now been rescheduled for Summer 2021. A New Way of Doing Business While the virtual fittings have helped Phidippides stay open during this time, it hasn’t made up for people coming into the store and looking around. “Across the board, people are very concerned about where their money is going,” Ware said. “Right now, buying a $130 pair of shoes is a luxury good. With so much uncertainty in the world for people’s incomes, it’s a big ask for people to be spending a lot of their money on something outdoorsy.”  Where do we go from here? That’s the question on everyone’s mind. In a time when COVID-19 continues to affect day-to-day life and the future is filled with uncertainty, what will outdoor recreation look like when we are able to start gathering again?center_img Most bikes and bike parts are made overseas. Between factory closures, shipping delays, and restrictions, companies are struggling to keep up with high demand. Riddle is actually turning away customers, telling them he’ll call if he finds any bikes. “This is like the perfect storm,” he said. “We’re getting in whatever we can. It doesn’t seem to matter what it is. We’re selling it.”  At the same time, more bike manufacturers are shipping directly to customers—a growing trend in the last five years, with the pandemic fast tracking the way bike companies do things. But customers are still coming into the shop when something isn’t shipped right, or they can’t put something together. “The internet cannot fix your bike,” Riddle said.  Dr. Kim Walker, co-founder of Abundant Life Adventure Club, on taking a simpler approach to getting outside: “It doesn’t have to be very complicated, you don’t have to go very far, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. I feel like a lot more people are realizing or revisiting their appreciation for the health benefits of spending time outdoors.” When the Appalachian Trail Conservancy asked thru-hikers to step off the trail in March, Roan Mountain lost out on some of that revenue generated by hikers stopping in town. The town also canceled their annual trail festival, Hikerpalooza, originally scheduled for May. Although the class of 2020 thru-hikers will have to reschedule their thru-hikes, Hill and others in the community are pushing the message that Roan Mountain is the perfect place to get outside away from other people. “We are Roan Mountain and we are the Appalachian Trail,” Hill said. “Social distancing wise, it’s a really awesome opportunity to get out away from it all. I really think that message is going to resonate more and mean more to people now than it would have six months ago. The trail is still here, our characters are still here. There’s plenty of room, and we’ll see you when you get here.”  Altogether, Riddle sees the increased interest as a good thing for the bike industry. “Hopefully we can retain 10 to 15 percent of these new customers,” he said. “When people start going to sporting events again and living their lives as they did before, I’m hoping a lot of these folks don’t forget how much fun they had riding bikes with their family or going out in the woods and getting away from screens. I hope they continue to do that.”  Outdoor recreation advocates, event producers, and retailers discuss how the pandemic is affecting outdoor recreation in our region and where the industry is headed.  Rethinking Events Having been a part of the Atlanta running community since 1974, Ware said now the shop needs the running community’s support more than ever. “You’re seeing that across the board,” he said. “Shop local, drink local, eat local. I think that message is getting through to people and I hope they remember it after we get through the pandemic.” While in-person fittings will always be Phidippides’ bread and butter, Ware does think that the ways in which the pandemic forced them to get creative will help them serve customers unable to get into the store down the line.   When putting in a request for a permit, event producers have to demonstrate safety, security, and recycling plans. Marshall thinks they will have to demonstrate a plan for preventing the spread of diseases in the future. “I think it’s going to be very similar to how things changed after 9/11 with security and safety protocols,” she said. “I think it will change and eventually it will feel like the new normal. That’s my opinion. We were always conscious of health and cleanliness when it came to events, but I think there’s going to need to be a more outward show.” Pete Eshelman, director of the Roanoke Outside Foundation, said parks in the Roanoke, Va., area have seen anywhere from a 50-to-200-percent increase in visitation since March. At a time like this, with localities looking to cut their budgets due to a decrease in revenue, parks and rec budgets are typically the first thing on the chopping block, but Eshelman argues that now is really the time for cities and states to fund those opportunities more than ever.  This article includes the most up to date information since this issue went to press on June 18. Since that time, certain details affected by the pandemic may have changed. Please check with local regulations and organizations before making plans to get outside.  The outfitter offers a variety of activities and camping options near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., including whitewater rafting, kayak, tube, and bike rentals, and food tours. River & Trail opened up in May with new guidelines in place. For rafting trips, they’re keeping it to one group per boat. Shuttles are running at 30 percent capacity with the windows down and are sanitized after every trip. Common spaces at the campgrounds are closed and porta potties were added to each cabin. “There is just a whole lot of uncertainty,” Baihly said. “Everyone was not sure what to plan for, not sure if they should hire for all of their programs. With an outdoor business, you kind of recreate the wheel every year. You have at least a chunk of staff that’s new. So, there’s a whole lot of effort that goes into preparing for a short amount of time. The big question is what do we invest in and prepare for not knowing what kind of a season we’re going to have.” Throughout the ongoing pandemic, cities and states have experienced an increase in the number of people getting outside. With outdoor recreation considered appropriate and essential for maintaining health in almost every state, people are turning to the outdoors for physical exertion and mental wellbeing.  Amy Allison, director of North Carolina’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, on tourism post-pandemic: “When the restrictions start to loosen, we are going to see visitors flooding our public lands, making it more imperative than ever for us to do our part to mitigate that impact and take care of our gateway communities, our wild places, and those who work and volunteer in those areas.” Jenny Baker, host of The Georgia Jewel, on balancing work and parenthood: “As parents, we need to be present for our children. At the same time, our livelihoods are in jeopardy. How do you manage that, emotionally? Your mind is constantly on that hamster wheel of what bills can I put off, what things do I need. And then your children are home and they don’t understand things either.” When deciding to cancel or reschedule, Tes Sobomehin Marshall, race director and founder of runningnerds, looked at each of her events individually. “If it’s a fundraising event that was meant to raise money for a charity, and that’s one of their main sources of income, I think it’s important to try to figure out a way to keep people engaged,” Marshall said. “I’m not trying to force virtual events down the running community’s throat. I want to do stuff that people want.” While many of her races were canceled or turned into virtual events, Marshall is still considering what to do about her largest event. The Race, scheduled for the first weekend of October, brings in runners from across the country. Even if she can get a permit, Marshall wonders if people will show up. “We could be allowed to have an event, but are people going to sign up for it?” she said. “Are they going to feel comfortable coming out?” Andrea Hassler, executive director of Southeastern Climbers Coalition, on nonprofits: “We have seen a dip in nonprofit contributions as a result of a decrease in the economy and the instability and uncertainty of the future. Members are still willing to contribute, and they have. But without the ability to offer events in person, our fundraising is limited. I’ve also seen a decrease in the availability of grant funding for projects. A lot of corporations that typically sponsor or provide grants have diverted that funding elsewhere or do not have that funding available because of the current economy.” Cover illustration by Kevin Howdeshelllast_img read more

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Huge Police Sweep in Rio Aims at Drug Traffickers

first_imgBy Dialogo April 22, 2011 Brazilian police swept through Rio de Janeiro’s largest slum in a crackdown on drug-related crime, arresting 11 people and seizing an estimated three tons of marijuana, officials said. With a helicopter hovering overhead, 200 members of the country’s Civil Police force swarmed into the slum, known as Rocinha. But the police apparently failed to find their main target, Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, 34, alias “Nem.” Since October, 2010, authorities have offered a reward of around $2,800 for information leading to Nem’s arrest. The raid was part of series of efforts which began in 2008 intended to clamp down on the deadly violence in Rio’s slums, known as favelas, ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, both of which will be held in Brazil. Around a third of Rio de Janerio’s population of six million live in slums in and around the city. So far, police operations have been organized in more than 20 favelas, with drug organizations expelled. Late last year, officials declared victory after 2,600 paratroopers, marines and elite police, backed up with helicopters and armored personnel carriers, led a pre-dawn assault on the Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemao favelas that ended with 37 suspected wrongdoers killed, a score of arrests and the seizure of more than 500 weapons. Police said that no shots had been fired when they entered Rocinha, a favela of 120,000 people in the south of Rio. They carried 30 warrants, most aimed at money laundering charges by members of the Nem family.last_img read more

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Brazil’s ‘Robocops’ Spot Bad Guys a Mile Away With Face Recognition Sunglasses

first_img “GOOOOOOOL!!” The crowd inside São Paulo’s Morumbi Stadium goes wild. Amid the revelry, a military police officer scans the crowd. His mirrored sunglasses aren’t just shading his eyes; they’re comparing the thousands of fans against a database of criminals and missing persons at a rate of 400 faces per second. One face in the crowd makes a match to the million-strong database. A blinking red light goes off in the officer’s field of vision, and the facts appear: This man is wanted for murder. Now the officer must decide what to do. Where to apprehend the suspect? Does he need backup? He weighs his options with the potential disruption to the crowd. It’s Robocop, Brazilian-style. With crime on the rise in major cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, some greeted the news that Brazil would play host to not only the 2014 World Cup but also the 2016 Summer Olympics with skepticism. To assuage those security concerns, the country is ramping up its technological crime-fighting capabilities. “The Military Police is on a constant search for new technology and equipment that can help and complement activities linked to the protection of citizens,” said Maj. Leandro Pavini Agostini, chief of Sao Paulo’s Military Police. Face recognition technology is used in a variety of applications around the world, including automated border crossings in Great Britain, Finland, Portugal, Germany and Israel, and at passport and visa issuance locations in the United States and Great Britain. By Dialogo May 20, 2011 How face recognition works The technology uses one of two methods: facial geometry comparison or eigenface comparison. Facial geometry takes the distance between the eyes and measures facial features and angles from that point of reference. Eigenface compares the scanned faces to a database of about 150 abstract “archetypal” faces. The rate of false positives is about one in 1,000, said Dr. James Wayman, director of the National Biometric Test Center at California’s San José State University. “The other side of the coin is that the false negative rate can exceed 10 percent, depending on how carefully imaging conditions can be controlled,” Wayman said. Optimal imaging conditions for face recognition are the same as for passport photos: No smiling or frowning, no raised eyebrows or squinting. Eyes must be looking directly at the camera. And it’s not just expressions that must be controlled. The background should contain no shadows, texture, lines, or curves, and should be one color. Any departure from these conditions causes the search algorithm to perform poorly, meaning the false negative rate increases. Maintaining these standards of accuracy in a stadium of inebriated, cheering soccer fans can be more than a little difficult. However, as Wayman points out, casinos have been using face-recognition technology since the late 1990s to spot banned players. Proponents of the technology say it has performed well even against aging, weight changes, or changes in hairstyle or facial hair. Application in the field Pavini said the glasses help identify people at a distance of 50 meters with normal lenses, and 20 kilometers with good lenses. “I know of no existing applications of automated facial recognition that operate beyond about five meters, and the five-meter application had stationary cameras with good lenses,” he said. In São Paulo the technology has passed tests with a simulated database with flying colors, said Pavini. Now it’s being used with the official police database. He said the technology should be implemented right away, prior to the World Cup. “If further tests are successful, we suggest acquiring the technology immediately for installation in the more than 270 cameras operated by the Military Police in São Paulo; in cars, and with glasses for police officers to wear at public events,” Pavini said. “This technology makes it possible to search with better agility and without initial contact with suspects, adding to the security of police officers and those around them,” he said. That should make about 500,000 tourists coming to Brazil for the upcoming sporting events feel a lot safer.last_img read more

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UN Under-Secretary-General Praises the Promotion of Alternative Crops in Colombia

first_imgBy Dialogo September 30, 2011 UN Under-Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov praised the development of alternative crops in Colombia, during an official visit to that country. “Colombia’s primary objective is drug control, and alternative development plays a very important role,” Fedotov told reporters in Bogota, after visiting rubber crops in Antioquia, in the nation’s northwest, that have replaced coca plantings. Fedotov maintained that those programs, coordinated by the Office of the Colombian President’s High Counselor for Social Action, could be applied “in other parts of the world, not only in neighboring countries like Peru, but also in Afghanistan.” Together with the Office of the Counselor for Social Action, UNODC is implementing a program to replace drug crops with plantings of coffee, cacao and chocolate, hearts of palm, and rubber. This program supports 153,000 rural workers who previously dedicated themselves to planting coca and has generated more than 28,000 direct and indirect jobs. Last year, Colombia achieved a significant decrease in areas planted with coca, which went from 68,000 to 57,000 hectares. Fedotov, who arrived in the South American country on September 24, also met with President Juan Manuel Santos, with whom he spoke about collaboration in the fight against drugs, organized crime, corruption, money laundering, and terrorism financing.last_img read more

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Colombian military industry markets weapons and technology on international stage

first_img The CIAC performs the maintenance and repair of highly complex aircraft. The company is also modernizing the EMB 312 T27 Tucano aircraft used by the Colombian Air Force (FAC). As part of the modernization program, the Tucano aircraft will be fitted with new wings and landing gear, as well as a new Rockwell Collins navigation and communications system. In late 2013, Embraer Defense & Security, a Brazilian company, agreed to certify CIAC to become the only company able to modernize Tucano aircraft, except those belonging to the Brazilian Air Force. The weapons and technological innovations developed by the military industry are important to Colombia’s national defense, Sahid Garnica explained. “Colombia realized that to develop the power of the state in traditional terms, a sustained military industry is required,” Sahid Garnica said. “Defense industry technology is important in the fight against crime. Intelligence work is the most powerful weapon that the Armed Forces has to dismantle the structures of transnational organized crime.” The defense industry can make a difference in the field of operations by producing weapons and technology which provide security forces with a strategic advantage, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said in November 2013, at the inauguration of the First Meeting of the Defense Industry. In 2013, the Colombian military industry contributed to the success of part of the security initiative knowna as “Sword of Honor,” which involved Colombia’s four naval forces and the Joint Task Force against Drug Trafficking, ‘Poseidón’, according to El Tiempo. The Colombian Navy captured 417 alleged drug traffickers, including 154 suspected gang members, authorities said. Naval forces also seized 64 tons of cocaine, which were worth an estimated $16 billion (USD). International market As its military industry sells more goods and services on the international market, Colombia should forge “broad alliances” when it comes to marketing products overseas, Pérez Mejía said. Conducting research to develop new technology and other products is very expensive for military industry companies, Sahid Garnica said. Nonetheless, Colombia has the ability to export quality military technology at affordable prices, and can also provide insight and training from troops who have experience in “asymmetrical fighting” against a guerrilla organization, Sahid Garnica said. “Colombia has managed to mix doctrine and practice,” the security analyst said. Exponential growth Colombia’s security forces have grown dramatically during the last decade. In 2001, the country had 300,000 National Police agents and military troops. By 2012, the number of National Police agents and military troops had grown to 450,000, according to published reports. So too as the country’s military industry, which has developed and produced tactical and strategic weapons for the military’s use against the FARC and transnational criminal organizations, such as the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Urabenos, and the Rastrojos. These groups engage in drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, and other criminal enterprises. Colombian companies drive innovation The CIAC is also producing the T-90 Calima aircraft, which officials will use to strengthen the capabilities of the Flight Training Group (GRUEV) of the Colombian Air Force. The Colombian government is studying the possibility of building a plant to produce ammonium nitrate explosives because the infrastructure development programs in Colombia in the next few years will focus on the construction of roads, railways, and tunnels,” Gen. Pérez Mejía said. The Colombian defense industry collaborates with South Korea in the construction of oceanic patrol vessels and with Israel in the manufacture of parts for the Galil rifle. In addition to producing weapons and technology to improve security, some military industry companies also help countries cooperate in the battle against organized crime. For instance, COTECMAR in recent years developed, built and exported four LPR-40 MKII river patrol boats to Brazil. Brazil and Colombia worked together to develop and design the patrol boat for use in the Amazon River. Naval officials from both countries have been working on the initiative since 2011. Among the Colombian countries which are developing innovations in technology related to security are INDUMIL (Military Industry of Colombia), COTECMAR (Science and Technology Corporation for the Development of the Naval, Maritime, and Fluvial Industry), CODALTEC (High Technology Corporation), and CIAC (Colombian Aerospace Industry Corporation). Some of the companies are well-known worldwide. For example, military industry analysts consider INDUMIL to be a cutting edge technology company, with more than 57 years of experience in the production and sale of ammunition, explosives, and other weapons. The company is known for developing the assault rifles Galil SAR and Galil AR, the production of smart bombs for the Colombian Air Force, and the maintenance of the Army’s infantry vehicles. It also developed the Colombian Cordova handgun. Paraguay, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador are among the first countries to purchase the semi-automatic handgun. Naval cooperation By Dialogo January 25, 2014 Maintenance of Air Force aircraft In December 2013, COTECMAR delivered an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) to the Armed Forces of Colombia. The company has a contract to eventually deliver six OPVs to the Armed Forces. The OPV is also known as “7 de Agosto.” Is designed to operate in collaboration with helicopters and high-speed interceptor boats. In addition to security tasks, the OPV can also help officials provide humanitarian assistance during natural disasters, and can be used in search and rescue operations. Colombia’s military industry is steadily building its capacity to develop and produce vessels, Sahid Garnica said. “In ten years, Colombia will be able to build a strategic fleet, frigates,” said Sahid Garnica. Production and modernization Colombia’s military equipment industry, which generated sales of $450 million (USD) in 2013, is seeking to increase international sales by aggressively marketing products and services which can help governments and private business battle organized crime groups. Colombian military products and services are of high quality and are in demand throughout the world, said Gen. José Javier Pérez Mejía, vice minister of the Social and Business Defense Group (GSED), told the Colombian news agency Innova in an article published on Dec. 30, 2013. The GSED is part of the Defense Ministry. The Colombian firm is responsible for directing and guiding the corporate policy of 19 companies serving the defense industry. “The future of the Colombian military industry is promising. We believe that in the coming years we could be in the big leagues during times of peace, not war,” General José Javier Pérez Mejía, Vice Minister of the Social and Business Defense Group (GSED), on December 30 to the news agency, Colombia Innova. The government is engaged in peace talks in Havana with representatives from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The FARC has fought the government for 50 years. A peace agreement would create more opportunities for the defense industry to focus on research and innovation, rather than producing weapons and ammunition needed by the Armed Forces to fight the FARC, Pérez Mejía said. In addition to providing equipment needed to battle the FARC, the military industry in recent years has worked hard to develop new products and technology to fight not just the guerrilla group, but other transnational criminal organizations, according to Germán Sahid Garnica, a security analyst at El Rosario University in Bogota. “The military industry is diversifying its portfolio of services and equipment that generate a strategic advantage against various criminal threats,” Sahid Garnica said. The ‘7 de Agosto’ Excellent investigation on arms trafficking A big hug to all the soldiers of our glorious Colombian army that live on the battlefield. Excellent information; congratulations for this important data. Foreseeing that within 10 years Colombia will have the technological capacity to produce frigates is very realistic and down to earth. What products are expected in 10 years for the FARCs and the ARMY? When will we produce an apc with 50-caliber machine gun, a grenade thrower and posts for missiles, and that can carry 8 marines or soldiers, but one that is ours. Anyone can assemble it and buy a tandem chassis and a 450 caterpillar engine and a box with five gears and you provide the armor. We can do this very well in Colombia. This is extraordinary, late but it started. This should have been done years ago. The country or the government have missed the opportunity to manufacture their own fighter aircraft, I understand that South Korea was interested in producing them in Colombia, but the Colombian government said no. Well, that opportunity was wasted, nothing is being said about the btr 80 manufactured in Colombia. I think you refer to fac or fuerza aerea colombiana , not farc Long live our Republic’s defense forces Defense industry helps provide security last_img read more

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