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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

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Outdoor travel

In Part I of Two Boomers, One Bike, Ken and Francie Gass — married 43 years and both celebrating 70-something birthdays in 2021 — detailed the training, equipment, and teamwork required to complete a six-week cross-country trip on a tandem bicycle.

The trip tested their fitness, stamina, and trust in each other.

While their bike (which they dubbed the Momentous Green Goddess) was well equipped to survive an arduous road trip across the Southern Tier of the U.S., the intrepid couple still faced an obstacle course of steep hills, bumpy roads, strong crosswinds and headwinds, and saddle sores as they pedaled from San Diego, California, to St. Augustine, Florida.

Here’s Part II of their epic journey:

By Ken and Francie Gass

While we had trained exhaustively for a year before setting out and enjoyed a fully supported six-week trip organized by Cycle of Life Adventures — which provided food and… Continue reading

When my wife and I completed a 40-mile bike ride down the Jersey Shore from Ocean City to Cape May, NJ, one morning some years ago, we were quite pleased with our accomplishment.

Then we met up with my old boyhood chum, Ken Gass, and his wife, Francie, who stopped in Tucson earlier this year while biking their way across the United States, and found that 40-mile morning workouts were easy days for them — they would average almost twice that, day after day for six weeks, pedaling from San Diego to St. Augustine.

And they were doing it on one bike, which presented its own share of challenges and rewards. Here is Part I of their entertaining and instructive tale of adventure, grit, and how to keep a marriage together on a bicycle built for two:

By Ken and Francie Gass

For 44 days — from the end of… Continue reading

Canada’s Jasper National Park is a scenic treasure. Photo by Robert Waite

Today we feature the latest guest post from contributing writer Robert Waite, who, thanks to his travelogues from around the world over the course of the past year and a half or so, has helped balloon my own voluminous bucket list to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade proportions.

You can now add Canada’s Jasper National Park to that list. Bob explains why:

By Robert Waite

Jasper, Alberta – I had wanted to visit Jasper National Park pretty much from the time I immigrated to Canada in 1986.

Jasper is the largest and most northerly of seven national and provincial parks in the Canadian Rockies that together form UNESCO’s Canada Rocky Mountain Park World Heritage Site.

Known for its magnificent vistas and abundant wildlife, Jasper had been featured endlessly in the travelogues and magazines of my youth, kindling my imagination.… Continue reading

Winnemucca Lake, Alpine County, California. Photo by Catharine Norton

What, a place in California where there are hardly any people — and yet is so strikingly beautiful that it’s been called the Switzerland of California?

OK, I’ll ‘fess up — I’m the one who called it the Switzerland of California, as I hiked recently along a mountain trail bordering meadows blanketed with wildflowers and sporting gorgeous views of 11,000-foot peaks that still displayed pockets of snow in early August.

And its very name — Alpine County — certainly evokes Switzerland as well, as does its semi-official nickname, the “California Alps.”

The area was first explored by non-native Americans when John C. Fremont and his scout, Kit Carson, passed through in  1844. Soon after came contingents of Mormon settlers and gold prospectors, and much later still vacationers and second-home owners.

Alpine County isn’t very large — it’s the eighth smallest… Continue reading

A boomer goes backpacking in Arizona's Superstition Mountains. Photo from southwestdiscoveries.com

A boomer goes backpacking in Aria’s Superstition Mountains. Photo from southwestdiscoveries.com

As frequent guest-poster and financial expert Jim McKinley points out in this piece, boomers on a budget can help realize their dreams of outdoor adventure — or any kind of travel, for that matter — by taking a number of relatively easy steps.

Tracking flight deals, accruing mileage points racked up by responsible use of credit cards, planning ahead, and saving on gear by finding coupons and promo codes online are all very doable.

And that list doesn’t even include camping or RVing to save on lodging (though maybe not your back). Or the great options now available on vacation rentals (airbnb, VRBO) that can make staying in a house more affordable than hotels, especially if you have other family or friends in tow.

Jim also provides a number of helpful links — so enjoy browsing through them, but… Continue reading

The Grand Canyon taught Mitch a hard-earned lesson in trail guiding.

The Grand Canyon taught Mitch a hard-earned lesson in trail guiding.

One of our frequent contributors to clarknorton.com, my friend Mitch Stevens, is kicking off our occasional series of first-person pieces on how various baby boomers got started traveling for a living.

Mitch’s odyssey led him from summer camp in Pennsylvania to the depths of the Grand Canyon to college field trips in Wyoming and eventually to Tucson in the (mostly) sunny deserts of southern Arizona, where’s he’s been leading Sierra Club hikes for years and more recently founded his adventure travel company Southwest Discoveries.

Like the intrepid cyclists who compete in the 100-mile El Tour de Tucson race each fall, Mitch’s long-distance hikes through the canyons and across the mountains of the Southwest provide inspiration to me as I sit here at my computer giving my typing fingers a thorough workout.

So lace up your hiking boots, grab… Continue reading

Gorgeous Milford Sound on New Zealand's South Island. Photo by Clark Norton

Gorgeous Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island. Photo by Clark Norton

New Zealand is one of my favorite destinations.

I’ve hiked along the Milford Track and through Abel Tasman National Park, marveled at gorgeous valleys and mountains that served as dramatic backdrops for the “Lord of the Rings” saga, made my way through an eerie glowworm cave, cruised through ice blue narrow passages of Milford Sound, enjoyed the urban amenities of Auckland and Wellington, and dined on lamb, lamb, and more lamb (though there’s much more to the diverse Kiwi cuisine — I just like lamb).

The country consists of three main islands: North, South, and Stewart (the latter is much smaller), and climate can range from warm and tropical in the north to cold and wintry in the south. Don’t forget that the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, so beautiful Fjordland in the far south can… Continue reading

Dinosaur National Monument offers scenery, adventure. Photo from Mitch Stevens.

Dinosaur National Monument offers scenery, adventure. Photo from Mitch Stevens.

Today we have a guest post from my friend Mitch Stevens, who leads hikes and adventure trips throughout the Southwest for the Sierra Club and as founder of Southwest Discoveries.

Mitch recounts a recent rafting trip along Utah’s Green River through spectacular Dinosaur National Monument. This family-oriented trip is perfect for multi-generational travel with grandkids. (And what kid doesn’t like dinosaurs?).

By Mitch Stevens

We hiked through a narrow defile carved through red sandstone. The foliage in the canyon was lush: Boxelder, grapevines, Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees all thrived in the moist environment. A clear stream murmured near the trail, contributing to the serenity.

We rounded a bend in the canyon and heard falling water in the distance. Soon our group came upon the source of the sound, a breathtaking waterfall tumbling 200 feet down a sheer… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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