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Published: Thursday, May 11, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
— Whether it’s a peaceful, relaxing journey or an adrenaline-inducing adventure, the Dayton area offers paddlers a variety of experiences.
The recently-completed RiverScape River Run offers both with the addition of two passageways – one a smooth-water channel for novice paddlers and, the other, a whitewater play feature for more experienced paddlers. All of this in the middle of downtown Dayton.
“The lowdam area, near the Dayton Art Institute, has now been made safer and people can paddle much longer distances,” said Erik Dahlstrom, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator. “And some people want to step up and go through bigger waves and get some whitewater practice and they can do that here, too.”
While the project enhances the dynamic downtown scene, the benefits of the River Run project extend beyond the metro Dayton area and include improving water quality and aquatic habitat and strengthening the area’s reputation as the Outdoor Adventure Capitol of the Midwest. The area was already home to Mad River Run at Eastwood MetroPark and the ECO Sports Corridor in Springfield.
“I run into people at our whitewater features who come here from all around the state,” Dahlstrom said.
So, what is the impact of recreation amenities like River Run and what does it offer paddlers? Local experts weigh in.
Erik Dahlstrom, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator
First, the river is safer because of removing the hazardous hydraulic from the low head dam in downtown Dayton and creating passage through the low dam.
I have already seen an anecdotal impact on Facebook and meetup sites with lots of chatter about the whitewater features, including private paddlers coming here from outside the region to play in the features, local paddlers getting out regularly, as well as an increase from colleges and universities, clubs, etc. coming here to do classes in the whitewater features on river running and river rescue. This means more people coming to the region to paddle and these are people who are going to look for places to eat, places to buy paddling equipment, places to camp, etc. I believe strongly that these features will bring more people downtown and bring even more people back to the river that has been hidden for so long. It’s really amazing to see how many people come to Eastwood MetroPark just to watch the water at the Mad River whitewater feature, and I believe we will see the same at RiverScape MetroPark.
As a paddler, these whitewater features create an opportunity to hone my skills and learn new skills locally without having to drive three or more hours to get my whitewater fix. I also really enjoy paddling outside of the region on a variety of rivers, so having these amenities in my hometown allow me to be in better shape.
Ken Tudor, Ohio Paddlers
I do not claim to be an expert paddler, but I’m definitely an avid paddler. From my observations, the replacement of dams that no longer serve a purpose with recreational river features that encourage the use of our valuable waterways is a great success.
Nowadays, most outdoor enthusiasts get their information about recreation opportunities from social media. The Ohio Paddlers Facebook page and website (www.ohiopaddlers.com) have been inundated with posts and videos about these features for several months.
People are driving from all over the tri-state to have an opportunity to enjoy these features. There are very few locations in the region where paddlers can find this class of wave to practice this sport. I just recently scheduled an all-day outing with our group, traveling through all three features, and everyone had a great time. It’s wonderful that they replaced dangerous low head dams with safe and fun river opportunities.
>> MORE RECREATION: The 5 best Dayton bike trails and how to make the most of them
Jeryl Yantis and Bernie Farley, Whitewater Warehouse
Whitewater playparks generate excitement and growth within their communities. Rivers naturally attract people to them and the Eastwood Park and River Run water features are no different. These new features make the river that much more exciting. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be on the river on a hot summer day?
Whitewater boaters are thrilled to have features that they can play in and practice their tricks. Recreational boaters can step up their game and paddle on more exciting waters while those who enjoy calmer water can still paddle and use the easier pass-thru feature where you can avoid the rapids. Other people will come to the features simply to enjoy nature, watch the boaters, sit and read a book, or hang out with friends. It’s the perfect place to just be.
As a business, we are fortunate to have both the Mad River and Great Miami River directly in our backyard. For us, the Eastwood Park and River Run water features offer tremendous opportunities to further grow our business as well as give us a great platform for teaching and growing the sports of kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. The new features will be good for business and good for the community. We look forward to seeing kayaking grow to its full potential, right here in Dayton, Ohio.
>> MORE RECREATION: The 12 best places to hike near Dayton
RiverScape River Run at a Glance
Feature 1 access: River Left
Feature 2 access: Provides access to both sides of the river
Visitors using RiverScape River Run can park in one of the available public parking spaces downtown. Metered parking is free on weekdays after 6 p.m. and all day on weekends, including under the I-75 bridge on river left, which provides access.
>> PHOTOS: RiverScape River Run aerial view
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 12:34 PM
— You hop in the car with a few friends or the family and a mere 1,000 miles later you're down $400 when you only intended to spend $150. What happened?
Probably just a few overruns on the road trip budget.
With a little effort, you'll find it's just as simple and sometimes even more pleasant to take a road trip that will save you hundreds.
Credit Donkey shared the secret to saving money on road trips. "A big dose of planning," the consumer website said. "Okay, that might not be much of a secret, but everything from those junk food indulgences to the stomach-churning cash spent at the pump can be managed, and often minimized, with a little advance planning."
Add a few apps and some tried-and-true strategies for coping with unexpected hitches in the plan and you've got yourself a less expensive road trip. Here are some tips from Credit Donkey and other frugal travel experts:
Pick the right car: Sure, an SUV is going to offer more leg room. But it's also going to cost.
"On a 1,000-mile road trip, taking the car that gets 25 mpg instead of the one with 30 mpg will result in 20 percent savings on fuel," noted Credit Donkey. The Department of Energy provides a calculator to compare the fuel economy of any car you're considering taking.
Prep the vehicle: Be sure to look for cracks or looseness in engine belts, since broken belts are a major cause of roadside breakdowns, according to AAA. Also check the owner's manual and make sure all tires are at the recommended tire pressure. Low pressure reduces fuel economy and can damage tires, which is particularly nasty on longer trips.
Plan your route: Don't leave all the trip planning to the GPS along the way. If you map out your route in advance, you can settle on where you'll buy gas, eat a reasonably priced lunch, possibly using a Groupo, and when you'll stop to stretch your legs. Travel and Leisure recommends the customizable AAA TripTik road-trip routers, that come with gas station locations and date-stamped fuel prices along the route.
Plan your gas buys: When you're taking a trip that runs through more than one state, you can save as much as $1 per gallon just by filling up at the right time. If you buy while you're still in Ohio instead of driving into Pennsylvania, for example, you'll save about 30 cents per gallon. Track average national gas prices and state-by-state estimations at the AAA website.
Conserve fuel: There are numerous ways to save money on gas. First up, if it's the season, use the air conditioning, recommended AAA. Today's air conditioners create less drag on the engine than driving with the windows open. Tips from Travel & Leisure include using cruise control, driving when it's cooler outside and watching when you fill your tank. "If you overfill the tank, gas can slosh around and escape." You can also save money by buying discounted gift cards for gas stations at sites such as Cardpool, CardCash and Gift Card Granny, according to Kiplinger.
Drive slower: Driving near the speed limit will always help with your fuel economy. It can also help you avoid speeding tickets, which are a major drag on a road trip budget. Although the cost varies by state, the average speeding ticket is $150, according to Esurance, and violations might end up increasing your insurance rates.
Use two GPS devices: This tip from Travel & Leisure is based on the idea of avoiding the traffic that can drive up fuel costs (and test tempers). Two GPS devices can vary wildly on the routes they suggest. Having two can help you avoid any snags that arise.
Stop stopping all the time: Every time you stop, you risk expensive treat and souvenir buying. You also end up wrecking your plans for gas buying, inexpensive meals and even making it to an affordable hotel. Instead, buy all your snacks and drinks ahead of time and keep them in a cooler. Stick to your planned restaurant and gas purchase stops. And since you can't plan when someone will need to use the bathroom, use a clean bathroom finder app like Charmin's Sit or Squat.
Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 11:46 AM
— Age is just a number, and the three featured presenters at the 2018 Adventure Summit are proof.
From the youngest person to scale the Seven Summits, to the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail to a woman who decided that a 1,200-mile solo kayak trip was a priority, their stories are both inspirational and motivational.
With presentations, demonstrations and competitions, the Adventure Summit will supply information and inspiration to outdoor adventure seekers of all ages and ability levels. The biennial event – sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University – is free and open to public Feb. 9-10 at the Wright State University Student Union.
It started with a walk down his elementary school hallway and led to a record-breaking adventure of a lifetime.
“I saw a mural of the Seven Summits in my school and I thought it was really cool,” Romero said. “I did my research, planned, wrote out a list and, one day when my dad picked me up from school, I told him what I wanted to do.”
The then 9-year-old wanted to reach the summits of the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents — Everest, Kilimanjaro and Denali, just to name a few. Dad — an ultra runner and adventure seeker in his own right — was onboard with the idea and soon became his young son’s climbing companion.
By the time he was 13, Romero had become the youngest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. And, at 15 — before he even had a driver’s license – he was the youngest person to have reached all Seven Summits.
“It seemed overwhelming — I mean climbing Kilimanjaro as a 10-year-old,” Romero. “But I had such great support and everyone was so encouraging.”
The now 21-year author of “No Summit out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits” will share his experience on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.
Research and risk assessment are among the things that Romero — now a student at Westminster College in Utah — advises other adventure seekers to prioritize.
“You definitely want to know what you’re getting yourself into,” he said. “Start small, it takes the right mindset to accomplish something like this. You will be overwhelmed — I know I was — but remind yourself that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
Whether it’s climbing or cycling or paddling, Romero encourages young people to find their passion.
“I tell kids to ‘find their Everest’ and know what their mountain is to climb.”
SUSAN MARIE CONRAD
The avid paddler now jokingly admits that it sounds a bit like a country music ballad but, at the time, Susan Marie Conrad was finding few reasons to smile.
“My dad had died, my cat died and a long-term relationship had just ended,” she said. “My life had spun off kilter and I was looking for a way to get it back on track.”
Conrad was also “pushing the big 50,” another reason to pursue a bucket-list type adventure. So she embarked on a 1,200-mile journey through the Inside Passage in an 18-foot sea kayak in the spring of 2010.
From Anacortes, Washington to Juneau, Alaska, Conrad ventured for 66 days – a full 56 days longer than her previous longest trip. It was a journey that was both physically and emotionally taxing.
“I did get into some pretty nasty weather – miserable gale force winds that were a bit more than I bargained for – and there were some moments I wanted to pack it in and go home,” Conrad said. “But, in the end, I was surprised by my own strength and courage.”
That wasn’t the only surprise.
“I knew it was going to be beautiful, but I truly didn’t expect the grandeur and magic that I encountered,” she said.
“And, setting out on the trip, I knew it was going to change me somehow but I had no idea how much. It’s just so profound how the trip helped me become a stronger, more courageous person and how incredible the healing power of nature is.”
The author of “Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage” encourages others to find opportunities for growth. And for those you decide to take on a monumental challenge – like a 1,200-mile solo kayak trip – she has some simple advice.
“Set a date, give yourself a deadline and, every day, do something toward that goal,” she said. “And start blabbing to people about it and then there’s no turning back. That’s what I did and my pride wouldn’t let me back out.”
Conrad will be the featured presenter on Saturday, Feb. 10 at noon.
DALE “GREY BEARD” SANDERS
There were doubters, but Dale Sanders paid no attention to them.
“There were some so-called experts, people who told me, at my age that I didn’t have a chance,” Sanders said. “I proved them wrong.”
The 82-year-old – nicknamed “Grey Beard” – became the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail on Oct. 26, 2017. He set out on Jan. 1 and 2,190 miles later, completed his record-breaking feat. Along the way, he logged 4,625,250 steps.
Too old? Don’t even try that excuse on Sanders.
“That’s an extremely lame excuse,” he said. “If anything, the more you do, the more good it does for the body and the better you feel.”
That’s not to say, the AT hike was a picnic. Sanders endured weight loss and dealt with health issues along the way.
“I know exactly what surprised me the most, that it was as hard as it was,” Sanders said. “But I was determined to finish.”
The longtime hiker was also pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie he encountered along the way.
“The way I was accepted by the other hikers, the way they took me in as one of their own and treated me with respect and kindness was just incredible.”
Sanders – who will talk about his adventures on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. – is not one to rest on his laurels and is already pondering ideas for his next outdoor adventure. Those who want to follow him can do so at www.greybeardadventurer.com/.
CHECK OUT THE ADVENTURE SUMMIT
What: The area’s premier outdoor adventure exposition
When: Friday, Feb. 9, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Wright State University Student Union
Events: Featured presenters, educational sessions, competitions, fitness classes, club information, used gear sale beer tasting and more
More: For a complete list of events and daily schedule, visit http://theadventuresummit.com/
Attendees have the opportunity to listen to the three featured presenters, in addition to over 40 other adventure presentations from local and regional speakers. Local presentations will be hosted throughout the Summit and cover the gamut of outdoor adventures, from hiking in Scotland to bicycling across the United States. The presentations will take place in the Wright State Student Union.
• Jordan Romero: Friday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m.
• Susan Marie Conrad: Saturday, Feb. 10, at noon
• Dale “Grey Beard” Sanders brought to you by Tomfoolery Outdoors: Feb. 10 at 5 p.m.
The public is invited to the Summit Soiree, presented by Great Lakes Brewing Co., on Friday from 6:30 to 8 p.m., when guests will be able to enjoy drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres with fellow event-goers and featured speakers. Admission is $10/person and available online.
After Romero’s presentation, attendees are welcome to enjoy beverages and appetizers at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. Party with the Pros, held at the Wandering Griffin in Beavercreek.
To stay up-to-date on event activities, speakers and exhibitors visit www.theadventuresummit.com/.
Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 12:00 AM
— An afternoon of family fun, a romantic evening under the stars or a night of friendly competition — check, check and check at the MetroParks Ice Rink at RiverScape.
A full slate of activities are on tap at the region’s largest outdoor ice skating rink, located on the banks of the Great Miami River in the heart of downtown Dayton.
“Open skating attracts a lot of people, but we offer much more than that,” said RiverScape manager Meredith Adamisin.
From skating lessons for the entire family to a competitive co-ed curling league, there are a variety of on-ice activities for winter sports enthusiasts of all ages and ability levels.
“I see couples, kids, people of all ages here,” Adamisin said. “That’s the magical part of being on the ice. It’s a beautiful place where you can see families and friends come together.”
Open skating hours are available throughout the week and the rink also hosts several holiday events and theme nights like a Christmas Eve Skate and Michael Jackson Skate.
For $5 – an additional $2 for skate rental – skaters can glide across the rink all night. Family passes are available for $90, which covers season-long admission, skate rental and a 25-percent discount at the café for up to five people. Individual passes are available for $30.
Parker the Penguin even makes an occasional appearance to liven the spirits of skaters young and old.
Don’t know how to skate? Not a problem. Lessons are available at the MetroParks Ice Rink for children 3 and older and adults of all ages.
“It’s a skill progression program so it’s not just a single lesson, each week builds on the last,” Adamisin said. “And you receive free passes so you can come back and practice on your own.”
Want to try your hand at an Olympic sport, then you might want to give curling a try. Curl Troy hosts a co-ed league at the downtown ice rink. Curling is accessible to all physical skill levels and no experience or, even, skates, are required.
Visit www.curltroy.org to learn more about local curling events.
A team sport played in ice arenas and community parks, broomball is similar to hockey in its play and rules, although there isn’t a puck or skates in sight. Serious players wear spongy-soled broomball shoes, but athletic shoes and, even, boots can also be worn.
Sound intriguing? The Dayton Broomball Association runs a co-ed league at RiverScape. Check out the Dayton Broomball Association Facebook page for more information.
UPCOMING METROPARKS ICE SKATING EVENTS
(Unless otherwise indicated, events are for all ages and weather dependent)
Christmas Eve Skate: Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
What: Start a holiday tradition by skating with your friends and family at MetroParks Ice Rink and warm up by the outdoor fireplaces with some steamy hot chocolate.
Christmas Day Skate: Dec. 25, 1-8 p.m.
What: Have an old-fashioned family holiday and skate on Christmas Day. Enjoy the festive atmosphere as you sip hot chocolate by the outdoor fireplaces.
New Year’s Eve Skate: Dec. 31, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
What: Looking for something fun to do before the ball drops? Start your New Year’s Eve party at the MetroParks Ice Rink.
New Year’s Day Skate: Jan. 1, 1-8 p.m.
What: Start the New Year right and be the first to skate in 2018.
Top 40 Hits Skate: Jan. 12, 7-10 p.m.
What: Come to MetroParks Ice Rink and skate as an onsite DJ plays Top 40 hits.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Skate: Jan. 15, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
What: Celebrate the holiday at the MetroParks Ice Rink.
Michael Jackson Skate: Jan. 19, 7-10 p.m.
What: Moonwalk across the ice as a DJ plays Michael Jackson’s biggest hits.
Frozen on Ice: Jan. 26, 7-10 p.m.
What: Bring the family out for a magical evening of ice skating. Glide the night away as the DJ plays your favorite Disney songs.
Skating Lessons: January 7, 14, and 21, 11-11:30 a.m. (arrive 15 minutes early)
* Learn to Skate Children’s Course (Ages 3- 5)
What: This three-week session will cover how to get on and off the ice, how to fall safely and get up on your own.
Cost: $50, includes use of skates and lessons and two free skating admissions
* Learn to Skate Youth/Teen Course (Ages 6-17)
What: Students will learn how to fall and get up as well as get safely across the ice, and skate forward and backward.
Cost: $50, includes use of skates and lessons and two free skating admissions
* Learn to Skate Adult Course (Ages 18 and up)
What: Skills include skating forward and backward edges on a circle, three-turns, backward stops, bunny hop, lunges, and front and back crossovers.
Cost: $50, includes use of skates and lessons and two free skating admissions
*Outdoor Broomball League: Begins Jan. 8, 6-8 p.m.
What: Sign up for the Dayton Broomball Association’s co-ed league. Visit https://www.metroparks.org/ice-rink/ to learn more. The Dayton Broomball Association will take the first 18 teams.
Ages: 18 and up
*Curling League: Begins Jan. 9, 6-9 p.m.
What: Play an Olympic sport this winter and sign up with friends for Curl Troy’s recreational co-ed league at the MetroParks Ice Rink. Visit www.curltroy.org/ to learn more. Curl Troy will accept the first 12 teams; four players per team.
Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
— Camaraderie, calorie burning and even creativity – the Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series can provide it all.
“Hiking is a great way to clear your head, reset, refocus and find inspiration,” avid hiker Michelle Coleman said.
It was, in fact, while Michelle and her husband Brian were on a hike a few years ago that the concept of the challenge series came to life.
“We went hiking on Thanksgiving Day and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great to hike every park,’ ” she said. “By the end of our three-mile hike, we had it all figured out.”
The first challenge got underway four years ago with Michelle and Brian leading the hikes. Another series was held the following year. Last year’s challenge was derailed a bit as Michelle was sidelined with a stress fracture. But she will be back on the trail for this year’s Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series, which gets underway on Sunday at Hills & Dales.
The goal of the series is to thru-hike every trail – color and non-color coded trails, except for mountain and bridle trails – in every Five Rivers MetroPark in one season. Those who complete the challenge will receive a thru-hiker patch. An occasional time conflict is not a problem as participants who miss a group hike can complete it on their own and still earn the patch.
“Year one far exceeded anyone’s expectations in terms of participation, so we upped the ante a bit and went at a little faster pace the second year,” Coleman said. “We will do the same this year.”
From a 3.5-mile excursion through Hills & Dales on Week 1 to an 18-mile trek through Germantown in early March, the distance will increase with each hike. That hasn’t been a deterrent, as close to 20 people signed up for the challenge the first day it was posted online.
“I think people need something to look forward to in the winter,” Coleman said.
Ben Kendrick – who completed the challenge two years ago – agrees.
“It’s great motivation, getting out and hiking with a group,” he said.
The Huber Heights hiker enjoyed the camaraderie and the variety.
“I signed up so I could check out all of the MetroParks,” Kendrick said. “I frequented quite a few of them, but others were new to me.”
Kendrick’s love of hiking has grown steadily over the years and he is now a hike leader with the Dayton Hikers.
Coleman is hopeful that this series will spark that enthusiasm in other novice or experienced hikers.
“We’re very excited to be able to help keep them motivated,” she said.
For more information or to register for the hikes, visit the Dayton Hikers Meetup page at www.meetup.com/DaytonHikers/.
EVERY TRAIL METROPARK CHALLENGE SERIES
Oct. 22 2 p.m.: Hills & Dales — 3.5 miles
Nov. 5 10 a.m.: Cox Arboretum — 4 miles
Nov. 12 2 p.m.: Aullwood/Englewood South — 4.8 miles
Nov. 26 2 p.m.: Carriage Hill — 6.5 miles
Dec. 10 2 p.m.: Sugarcreek — 6.6 miles
Dec. 16 10 a.m.: Island/Deeds/RiverScape — 7 miles
Jan. 14 1 p.m.: Possum Creek — 8 miles
Jan. 21 1 p.m.: Twin Creek — 9.7 miles
Feb. 4 1 p.m.: Englewood — 10.5 miles
Feb. 11 1 p.m.: Eastwood-Huffman & back — 9+ miles
Feb. 18 10 a.m.: Taylorsville — 16 miles
March 4 10 a.m.: Germantown —18 miles
To be determined, Wesleyan and Wegerzyn