The Parks Apparel Blog

5 Camping Hacks We Learned the Hard Way

By Genieva Davidson

5 Camping Hacks We Learned the Hard Way

Packing up the car and puling away from the driveway to go camping is always a favorite thing. The cooler in the middle of the living room floor being aired out from the last trip, the sleeping bags and tent in a pile by the door waiting to be loaded up, and the last minute trip to the store down the street to pick up a barrel of firewood that’s ready to fuel the making of numerous peanut butter cup S'mores. As a kid, I counted the “sleeps” until I knew my family would head out for a weekend under the stars. (Let’s be honest, even now at 26, I still count my “sleeps” until then.)

Although camping always leads to incredible sights and endless laughter, even camping has its inconveniences that we learn the hard way. We thought we would share a few we’ve learned the hard way and save you these troubles.

 

You’re welcome.

 

1. Soggy Food Troubles: How to store your food in coolers properly

 Photo: @jeremy_ryan_photo

After buying all your weekend groceries, you head out for a weekend of fun. You wake up, spread the cream cheese for your freshly toasted cinnamon raisin bagel and prepare the turkey and hummus before you head out on your afternoon hike. All is well... so far.

You come back to camp and reopen that cream cheese to add to your dinner meal. Instead of that amazingly creamy cheese that you love, you find a mixture of soggy cheese and that melted ice water creeped up inside.

You think you learn your lesson and you even try Ziploc bags and Tupperware instead, but that cooler water always finds a way to ruin your food. Who wants to eat lunchmeat soaked in this cloudy cooler water?

 So what is the solution?

 Trusty Mason Jars.

 Before leaving, unpack your food, place it in individual mason jars as the jars come in many different sizes. (We like to use the extra small and small ones as much as possible to save space and weight.) Place the jars inside your cooler and they stack nicely with ice intertwined throughout. As mason jars were built for jarring jams and jellies, they are very air tight, thus not allowing the water to come in and spoil all your food.

Take it from experience. You don’t want to be stuck hours away from the closest grocery store and all your food spoiled with ice melt water.

 

 2. Coffee Lovers: How to start the morning off right while still packing lite.

 Photo: @jeremy_ryan_photo

Personally, I married a coffee addict and let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy slow mornings with that cup in your hand sipping on that smooth brew. Coffee while camping is not hard to do. Bring your ground beans, a boiled pot of water, and pour yourself a cup of coffee. You see the problem is, we are kind of what you may call coffee snobs.

To combat our problems, here is what we’ve found:

 Cold Coffee Drinkers: You need a mason jar, grinds of your choice (our favorite is a Colombian Dark roast we go get freshly ground on our way out.), and a quinoa strainer bag or homemade tea brew bag. (They make the bags for coffee too, but these are way cheaper then the ones made for the cold brew coffee.)

Right before you fall asleep, fill the mason jar three quarters of the way with water - the bag needs about 3 tablespoons of grounds. Place it in the cooler, or if the nights get cold enough, we like to let the cold air do the brewing. 

Wake up the next morning and immediately enjoy a smooth, biting cup of coffee without having to wait for the water to boil.

Hot Coffee drinkers: A small, easy to pack percolator for $6. These are simple to use and take a little more time then the cold brew, but we have found the results from this brew taste better than regularly boiled water. The flavors come out slowly and you won’t be disappointed.

Don’t cut yourself short with powder packs of coffee. Try these methods and your cup of Joe won’t disappoint.

3. Winter Woes - the simple way to keep warm that doesn’t require sleeping in more layers.

 Photo: @jeremy_ryan_photo

I myself grew up in San Diego, CA. I am the biggest wimp at the cold. If it drops below 70, you may even hear me say, “It feels like the arctic”. Ask my friends. They think I am ridiculous. Growing up in San Diego also means very few months of warm clothing and pants in general. Shorts, dresses, and anything that keeps you feeling free and comfortable is the key.

 This means while camping, I am always looking out for ways to keep myself warm, without piling on those restraining layers of clothing.

While camping at the rim of the Grand Canyon at the end of an off road trail with no one else around for miles, it began to snow. We were cozied up in our wool clothes, mummy bag sleeping bags for cold temperatures, beanies, and even wool socks. We were covered head to toe - but for some reason, the icy air bit at our toes and we just could not keep warm!

Solution: Simple - boiling water. Well, not on you. I think that might make you too warm. Anyhow, put this warm water inside of a nalgene bottle (do not attempt this with a plastic water bottle. It will be much too hot, and if it leaks, you may end up burning yourself). Also, make sure to not put this into a thermo container such as a Hydro Flask as the bottle will keep all the warmth inside. The key here is for the heat to permeate to the outer layer of the bottle. Now here's the best part: jump in your sleeping bag and cozy up with that now toasty nalgene. Absolute gratification. This will warm you right up, as well as the entire sleeping bag. Bring multiple nalgenes and for friend and family, or just hog all of them and put them between your legs, armpits, thighs, etc. Believe me when I say this will work wonders.

The other solution is to lay down a sheet on the ground where you'll put your sleeping bag as warmth escapes through the ground. 

You can rest easy dreaming of tomorrows hikes, sights, and exploring the forest.

4. Cooking after Long Adventurous Days

 Photo: @jeremy_ryan_photo

After long days of work, how many times do you come home and just have nothing left in you to cook that meal? When we are home, our solution is Crockpot meals, leftovers, or maybe even just walking down to the corner burrito shop.

Being out in the wilderness can be just as exhausting as you swim in rivers, jump off cliff edges, find waterfalls, and take afternoon naps on the edge of lakes. Sometimes, you get back to camp and you just don’t want to cook. Instead of having mediocre food or not eating, here is the remedy.

With a little researching, you can find thousands of recipes of food you can easily prep before hand and these resources will even give you tips on how to pack them so they stay at a safe temperature and don’t take up too much space in your cooler.

One of my favorites is chicken tacos. Cook the deliciously marinated meat before, freeze the meat in freezer bags, bring the frozen meat that will defrost safely in your cooler, precut the toppings for the tacos, and reheat in a pot when you’re ready to eat on your trip in 5 minutes flat.

You can prep breakfast lunch or dinner, and not have to spend time washing dishes and prepping, but more time playing in this beautiful world.

 

Here are two places I have gotten a lot of my ideas. (But let’s be honest, Pinterest is our friend.)

 

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2015/08/make-ahead-camping-ideas.html- These girls had an amazing breakfast burrito prep meal that I have been dying to try on our next trip.

http://ohlardy.com/real-food-camping-planning-ahead-play/

 

 5. Busy Beach Camping Blues - Beat the system

 Photo: @jeremy_ryan_photo

I love to go beach camping. Waking up hearing the waves, ending the day with front row seats to sunsets, and falling asleep with sandy toes and dreams of morning walks on the shore with your fresh coffee in hand.

The problem is, beach camping is something EVERYONE loves. It is harder to find those free camping spots on beach shores that I have posted about before. Most beach areas are state owned and operated and they typically book up about a year in advance! Who thinks of trips that far out? At least we don’t. We’re more the few weeks before kind of folk.

But I have found a way to beat these sold out spots!

In the reserveamerica.org site, if you search any of your dates, most likely all beach spots will be sold out. (I have never found a spot on my first try.) If you create a free account with them, there is an option for Availability alerts. These are your golden ticket.

Even though I am not someone who plans a year out, many other people do. A lot of times, a year out means you do not know what will actually be happening in life on those dates. This leads to a high cancellation rates for those sold out sites.

So, here is what I do. I choose the beaches and dates that I am interested in. I set alerts individually to each beach to send me an email if there are any cancellations for my trip. Then, I receive an email immediately when those sites open up last minute from cancellations. I hop on and snatch those sites up as quickly as possible because even those can go fast if you leave them open too long. (Yes, even when I get those emails at 1:30 AM, I hop out of bed and lock those sites down!) And of course, this will work for any campsite you are attempting to reserve. 

 Moral of the story: Don’t let that red message “No Availabilty for these dates” deter you from getting out. Try it out and enjoy those morning walks in the sand.

 

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What camping hacks have you found? Let us know what you can save all of us adventurers from having to learn the hard way!

 

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Ode to the Weekend Warrior

By Genieva Davidson

Ode to the Weekend Warrior

I am just like you…

Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo

I don’t live out of a picture worthy van with my feet hanging out the hatch in the foreground of radiant sunsets. I don’t spend months on end on the road after selling all my belongings and quitting my job for the open road. (Although lets be honest, we would all volunteer for that in an instant!) I live in a small apartment in the middle of San Diego, CA. I have student loans to pay off and bills to attend to. Monday through Friday I drive to my rewarding job teaching 22 third graders from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. We call it the beautiful grind.

But then the weekend comes, and around here we don’t take weekends lightly…

We are the weekend warriors.

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Weekend warriors are the ones who wake up Saturday mornings; pack up the Jeep, and head out to the blooming desert flowers in the spring for two days because our hearts become full again when we do.
Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo
Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo
We sit down in the middle of the fields and watch the flowers dance in the warm breeze and we don’t even care that the red desert dirt is getting our pants dirty. We lie on our backs and watch the swarms of birds dive into the fields because swarms of flowers bring many other swarms like grubby caterpillars and hungry birds.
Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo
Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo
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As weekend warriors, we take notice of the coming meteor showers and you can bet that Friday at 4:30, we’re heading to the highest peak away from the city lights. We pack our tarp and sleeping bags, because who wants to sleep in a tent when the sky is putting on a show for you? No matter how many meteor showers you’ve seen, you still gasp just the same when you finally slow down long enough to see how many meteors you were missing this whole time.
Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo
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 As weekend warriors, we hop on ferries that take us to empty public islands and spend weekends playing hide and seek with seals through forests of kelp and watching sunrays peer through giant kelp beds like you have never seen.
Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo
At sunset, you watch the sun fall over the ocean as it wakes up the other half of the world and you suddenly feel small, but this kind of small is good. It makes us breathe a little deeper and soak up every detail of that moment, and when we do, we feel alive again. We fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean slapping against the eroding islands shores and the old lighthouse letting everyone know this empty island is still here.


Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo

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Weekend warriors head to far mountain ranges for two days because those two days can lead to having a family of deer learn to trust you and hang close to camp.

Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo

Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo

It leads to early mornings sipping coffee, sharing stories with others around a glassy lake that is so still you can hear the gusts of wind coming.

Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo

Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo
Photo credit: @Jeremy_ryan_photo

We do this because if we didn’t we’d miss out on stumbling upon open land that families own and leave open because they want people to have a place to enjoy this world. We’d miss out on hearing stories from fly fishers who enjoy their lunch beside streams.

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People often tell me, “You are so lucky that you get to adventure so much. I wish I could but…” You fill in the reason: jobs, money, kids, school, time, and so much more.

You see the thing is anyone can get out there because I am just like you.

The Families.

The singles or married.

Anyone.

We are in charge of where our Saturday mornings go. Whether that’s exploring our own city, venturing a few hours to a nearby gem, or being brave enough to head a little further for those two days. We just get up and do it, because we know it always ends up worth it.

Growing up, I was told we were the generation known for our trending love of fast food, our addiction to electronics, our indoor seclusion, and Myspace friendships turned into Facebook feeds.

I look around at our generation and I see a group of people who want to go against the beat of the drum. Against the beat of that drum that pounded against the stereotypes I was told of. The drum that tried to trick us into telling us what to believe and what to do.

 

 

I see a generation of people remembering that we need something different.

You see, this goes out to us. This goes out to those of us who understand the feeling of stumbling upon a massive waterfall and climbing underneath just so you can close your eyes and feel the mist spray against your face. 

This goes out to those who can’t live without the stories of jumping in the vast blue ocean and getting caught in pods of spinner dolphins who screech so loud you can’t hear yourself giggling underwater as the baby dolphins try to play with you.

 

Yes, this goes out to you.

 As you head into another week, dream of where you’ll head this weekend. What stories will you find? What views will take your breath away? What is going to make you feel small and alive again? Our weekends may only be two days, but a lot can happen in those two days.

 

Go out and find it, my weekend warriors.

 

This is my Ode to you.

 

-Genieva (Instagram: @gbliss)

 

 

 

        

        

        

 

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Million Dollar Views on a $0 Budget

By Genieva Davidson

Million Dollar Views on a $0 Budget

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California's 5 Best Places to View the Milky Way

By Wayne Borromeo

California's 5 Best Places to View the Milky Way

With the first day of summer drawing near, we're stoked for those long summer nights filled with good vibes and killer views. To kick off the sunny season, here's a list of our top 5 places in California to view the Milky Way. Trust us--there's no better way to do it. 

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3 Coastal Drives You've Gotta Add to Your Bucket List

By Wayne Borromeo

3 Coastal Drives You've Gotta Add to Your Bucket List
Written by Whitney Strong Popa (@whitpopa), www.thebrandnextdoor.com
Summer is the best time of year to test out that throwback jams playlist you’ve been working on, put on your latest loot from our new online store, and hop in the car to get away from it all. Windows down, breeze in your hair, and plenty of SPF on whatever arm is hanging out the window can’t be beat when you’ve got nothing but time. Take these coastal drives and share your adventures with us by adding #MadeWild to your posts.

Highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco

Miles: 320
Duration: 6 hours or more
How Long We’d Spend Driving It: 3 days
If you’ve never driven this iconic path of highway, you won’t want to rush. It is sprinkled with vista points and Instagrammable moments. We’d spend a night in Santa Barbara (try the tacos at Lily’s), make sure we stopped at McWay Falls and Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, and head north through San Luis Obisbo—don’t miss the wine tasting here!—to spend the night in Carmel-by-the-Sea before taking a detour onto 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach and eventually arriving in the City by the Bay. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, continue north to where Highway 1 becomes Highway 101 and drive the Avenue of the Giants in the Redwood National Forest.
Views along the coast of California’s Highway 1
Source: The Brand Next Door
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Steps to the beach in Santa Barbara, CA
Source: The Brand Next Door
Vista point along Highway 1
Source: The Brand Next Door
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McWay Falls
Source: The Brand Next Door
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Bixby Bridge
Source: The Brand Next Door
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Hairpin turns along Highway 1
Source: The Brand Next Door

Highway 101 from Bandon, OR to Portland, OR

Miles: 240
Duration: 4 hours or more
How Long We’d Spend Driving It: 2 days
Bandon is one of the more underrated coastal towns in Oregon. It’s pretty windy most of the time, but its views and lack of crowds add to its appeal. For the golfers in the family, Bandon is home to one of the most famous courses in Oregon, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Beach-lovers will want to snap photos of the famous Face Rock and won’t have much interference from other tourists. As you head north, be sure to take a small detour to watch your favorite cheese come off the conveyor belt at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, pose in front of Haystack Rock in Canon Beach, and grab a coffee before strolling the shore in Cape Kiwanda.
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Redwoods in the Avenue of the Giants
Source: Cody’s Travel Photography on Facebook
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One of many lighthouses along the Oregon Coast
Source: The Brand Next Door
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Bandon, OR Face Rock
Source: Bandon, Oregon Facebook Page
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Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Source: Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Facebook Page
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Cape Kiwanda
Source: Michael Shainblum Photography Facebook Page
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Tillamook Cheese Factory
Source: Tillamook Cheese Factory Facebook Page

Overseas Freeway from Miami to the Key West

Miles: 160
Duration: 3 hours or more
How Long We’d Spend Driving It: 1 day
If you’re feeling more East Coast vibes (or want to stalk the locations in our new favorite Netflix show, Bloodline), take your time cruising from Miami to Key West on this legendary piece of highway. Start with an acai bowl at Pura Vida in South Beach and fuel up before hitting the road. The most famous stretch of the Overseas Freeway is 7 Mile Bridge, which connects Knight’s Key to Little Duck’s Key. You’ll be completely awed by that turquoise water and charmed by the friendly people—just make sure you pack plenty of h2o for this adventure—it can get pretty humid.
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Overseas Freeway
Source: USA Today
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Overseas Freeway
Source: Wonders of the World Facebook Page
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Overseas Freeway
Source: Travel Channel Facebook Page
Anything we missed, or any coastal adventures you’ve taken you want to tell us about? Add them in the comments, and adventure on!

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8 Unique Summertime Adventures Spanning Across the Globe (with pictures!)

By Wayne Borromeo

8 Unique Summertime Adventures Spanning Across the Globe (with pictures!)

If you’re like us, you’ll agree that summer is made for adventure. It’s the time for pushing your limits, exploring new alternatives, and experiencing life as you never have before. Here are 8 unique, summertime adventures the span across the globe.

1) Mountain Tubing Kauai, HawaiiThe Parks Apparel

Photo by backcountryadventures via Facebook

This was an old irrigation system built for the Lihue sugar plantation in Kauai, Hawaii.

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Photo by backcountryadventures via Facebook

The sugar plantation was abandoned, and now it serves as an incredible tubing destination!

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Photo by backcountryadventures via Facebook

There's luscious green flora along your journey, with small rapids and dark tunnels you'll need a helmet and headlamp for. This is a must try if you're every in Kauai!

 

2) Swim Devil's Swimming Pool, Zambia, Africa

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Photo from adventuresinafrica.com

This amazing beauty is Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Africa. 

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Photo from nationalgeographic.com

As you get closer to the edge of the waterfalls, you'll start to notice a few figures...

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Photo from nationalgeographic.com

That's right - you can swim at the top of Victoria Falls. This is the Devil's Swimming Pool, and it is only accessible from the Zambia side of Victoria Falls. It is a 360 foot drop to the bottom.

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Photo by nandminafrica via Flickr

The water level needs to be low enough to not be swept away by the 500 million liters of water cascading over the edge every minute. Don't worry though - only a few people have fallen off the edge!

 3) Canyoneering Zion, Utah

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Photo via theoutbound.com

This is the gorgeous Zion Narrows. Ask anyone that's been there, and they'll tell you this is on the top of the to-do list. 

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Photo via diariesofwanderlust.com

Sadly, this is a much more accurate depiction of Zion's Narrows. It usually feels like Disneyland on a hot summer day - it's way too crowded. But if you know the right people or have the right skills...

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You can go here instead. 

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Photo from Wayne Borromeo by Tony Amicangelo

Or here (yes, that's the Narrows down below when you come up to the first waterfall).

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Photo via zioncanyoneeringuides.com

Or here.

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Photo via traveltoms.com

Or here. This is the growing sport of canyoneering: a combination of hiking, rappelling down waterfalls and cliffs, cliff jumping and swimming. You might be asking, "is it ever really that secluded as the lonely guy on that rope looks?" Yes, almost always. This is because some of the canyons are so beautiful and so pristine, Zion National Park requires you to enter a lottery to obtain a permit to even go in the first place.

4) Alpine Roller Coaster, Mieders, Austria

Just watch this - it explains itself. 



5) Getting to and Kayaking the Puerto Princesa Underground River

Photo via geoventurer.com

To get to this 7 Wonders of the World destination, you'll first have to take a 2 hour bus or jeepney to the Port of Sabang. Be prepared: you could be hanging off the top of the roof of a jeepney (we aren't kidding - if there is no room to sit in the jeepney, be prepared to hold on tight)

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Photo via geoventurer.com

After you get off the bus, you'll check in here and take a 30 minute boat ride to a nearby beach (don't worry, the scenery is about to change drastically)

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Photo via pinaynomad.com

The boat will dock at this beach. There are no actual physical docks here - this is the traditional sense of docking the boats directly onto that sand, so the nature here is pristine and untouched.

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Photo via donnaamisdavis.com

From there, it's a short hike through the jungle to get to your kayaks. Getting to the cave is straight out of a fairy tale: the water is emerald blue with tropical birds singing and flying all around you as well as many monitor lizards and monkeys about.

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 Photo via vigattintourism.com

As you enter the cave, the light begins to fade - luckily, you have an onboard spotlight that one person is able to control.

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Photo via itsmorefuninthephilippines.com

As you go deeper and deeper, the cave begins to open up with some amazing stalactite and stalagmite rock formations above.

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Photo via orighttour.com

One cathedral room within the cave is so massive, the spotlight from your kayak won't illuminate the ceiling 980 feet above you. Until recently, it was discovered the cave system has a second floor, meaning there are waterfalls within the cave but many of them are yet to be discovered.

 

6) Ride the Zip-Flyer in Teku, Kathmandu, Nepal

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Photo via abovethehimalaya.com

Exhilaration at its most extreme, this zipline is dubbed the longest zipline in the world with a length of 5,400 feet and a 2,000 foot vertical drop at 75 miles per hour.

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Photo via nepaladvisor.com

Terrifying? Yes. Fun? Absolutely.

 

7) Dive amongst Whale Sharks in Holbox, Mexico

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Photo via holboxtravel.com

This is the secluded Holbox, Mexico with a population of about 1,000. The island is separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon filled with flamingos and pelicans.

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Photo via lonelyplanet.com

For the ultimate marine adventure, divers swim with the 14-meter long Whale Sharks that migrate to Holbox each year.

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Photo via lonelyplanet.com

Hundreds of divers arms get bitten off each year by these dangerous creatures.

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Photo via discoverymundo.com

We're only joking - whale sharks are giant filter feeders - in other words, your arms don't look too tasty to them. These are protected species however, so be sure not to touch them - you may end up in whale jail!

 

8) Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon

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Photo via great-oregon-vacations.com

Want to ride elephants but Thailand is too far? This should do the trick!

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Photo via thethousandmarch.com

That's right Pacific Northwest - now you too can experience a rhino up close with your newborn child without ever having to leave your Subaru Outback.

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Photo via savvysassymoms.com

3 hours south of Portland, you'll drive in a 4.5 mile loop to check out all the exotic African creatures from the comfort of your American licensed vehicle, including zebras, elephants, giraffes, and of course, lions. 

Which of the eight summertime adventures is your favorite? Have you done any already or are in the midst of planning one? Share your adventures with us below! 

 
 

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