You are hereNovember/December 2016

November/December 2016

As the year winds down, thoughts turn toward the holiday season and the fun wintertime adventures beyond. This issue has a full slate of both, from skiing near New York’s Finger Lakes to a Southern town all dressed up for Christmas. Out West, you can fly from balmy Los Angeles to two ski resorts in just minutes. And in the Rocky Mountains, winter winds down with one of the wackiest festivals you’ve probably never heard of.

Big Bear, California

Winter or summer, generations of SoCal kids grew up spending weekends up at Big Bear, Southern California’s closest alpine playground. For them, it was a long drive up the mountain, sitting in the back seat of their parents’ car. But we can fly to Big Bear Airport and be out of the city hustle in 30 minutes. Managing Editor Crista Videriksen Worthy, a veteran of many childhood and adult Big Bear trips, and Frank Beer, a local Big Bear resident, show you why this place really shines in winter. With plenty of outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and fat-tire cycling, Big Bear really packs in the fun. Lift tickets are good at the two ski resorts, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, which are each less than five miles from the airport. Kids who don’t know how to ski love the tube park, but you’ll also find an alpine slide (like a bobsled on wheels), miniature golf, go-karts, and an arcade. There’s even a zipline so you can zip through the forest like an eagle. Speaking of eagles, dozens of bald eagles hang out in the pines near the lake each winter, so bring your binoculars. For more animal action, head to the Big Bear Zoo to see mountain lions, snow leopards, and black and grizzly bears up close. You can take in a rock concert in the evening, or head to one of the favorite local restaurants for a romantic dinner by the lake. Stay at a quiet B&B on the lake’s north side, a resort near the ski areas, or rent a cabin in the woods. Then come back in summer when you need another break from big city life.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

People who hear this town’s name most often think of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, made famous in the 1941 hit song. The little train station is still there, and you can now sleep in a rail car, as the old station has been converted into a hotel and restaurants. During the holidays, you can even request an “elf tuck-in” for the kids. Explore the trains, play in the maze, and nosh on pizza, or relax with a drink in the Victorian Lounge. The Choo Choo is just the start; author Kristy MacKaben takes you on a whirlwind tour of this little city that delivers big-time attractions, many of them all dressed up for the holidays. You can go ice skating and then relax with a hot cocoa, or stroll the Riverwalk and take your pick of cafes, restaurants, sports bars, and shops. The Tennessee Aquarium and Children’s Museum are within easy walking distance, or take a guided double-decker bus tour. Chattanooga is a popular destination for Civil War history buffs with its battlefields, museums, and re-enactments. Lookout Mountain is home to the battlefields at Chickamauga and the Chattanooga National Military Park, but you can also admire the panoramic views, hike around Rock City, and explore the cave at Ruby Falls, an enormous underwater waterfall. For more cave action, you can tour other caverns on tame 45-minute walking tours up to all-day excursions where explorers crawl through tiny spaces deep below the surface. You can also treat yourself and your loved ones to a Southern riverboat dinner cruise; special Christmas carol cruises feature holiday music, live bands, and Santa himself. Or, take a real train ride to the “North Pole” where you’ll sip hot cocoa and meet Santa. Aside from the Chattanooga Choo Choo, accommodations range from a cozy Victorian B&B to a modern hotel with day spa, fitness center, indoor pool, and lounge with live music. And you won’t want to leave town without dipping into some authentic Southern barbeque. All together, Chattanooga makes a great holiday escape.

Canandaigua, New York

The Finger Lakes region, defined by 11 long, finger-shaped lakes stretching north to south across central New York State, provides year-round recreation to attract both nearby urbanites and travelers from afar. In winter, it’s the hills, mountains, and snow that attract tourists for romantic getaways and outdoor adventures with the family. In this issue, author MeLinda Schnyder takes you to Canandaigua Lake, the westernmost major Finger Lake. Fly to Canandaigua Airport, at the lake’s north end, and you can ski to your heart’s content, fly through the sky on a zipline, or just explore the nearby small towns and villages. You can also sip local wines from New York’s largest wine-producing region and check out the impressive collection of aircraft and artifacts at the National Warplane Museum. The museum’s flagship is Whiskey 7, a Douglas C-47 that dropped paratroopers during the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. You can also see the B-17 known as “The Movie Memphis Belle.” Dining choices include après-ski and crêpes cafés, or even an elegant steak dinner in an 1880s stone castle that overlooks Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes. When it’s time to turn in, you can stay at a romantic inn, rent a secluded cabin, or opt for a room with a balcony above the lake.

Nederland, Colorado

In the Rocky Mountains just above Boulder, the tiny community of Nederland nestles beside the Boulder River. As author Gillian Pierce explains, Nederland is home to Eldora Mountain Resort, one of the few Colorado ski areas on the east side of the Continental Divide. It’s no baby ski hill: Eldora boasts an average of 300 inches of snow per year, ten lifts, and four terrain parks on 680 acres with a 1,600-foot vertical drop. Its summit, Bryan Mountain, rises to 10,800 feet and offers a bowl that’s double black diamond-rated. The town has a historic merry-go-round and other charms, but what really sets it apart is its end-of-winter festival called Frozen Dead Guy Days. Yes, there really is a frozen dead guy in Nederland, and this zany festival is his celebration. Highlights include events like coffin races, a hearse parade, icy turkey bowling, frozen t-shirt contests, human foosball, and costumed polar plunges. Plus, more than 20 live bands perform in heated tents, one of which also serves Colorado craft beers along with offerings from local distilleries and a variety of bacon treats. The music and spectator events are free, so why not fly to Boulder and make the short drive? Aside from the festival snacks, Nederland offers a bakery and café, espresso and sandwich shop, pizzeria and taphouse, and a restaurant that serves Nepalese and Indian cuisine. Local lodges offer cozy rooms or cabins, and there’s even a lodge along the river that caters to the outdoorsy crowd and has a free ski shuttle. To top all this off, there’s a glider school at the airport. Take a scenic flight, a lesson, or even earn your glider rating while soaring above the Rockies.

FAA Updates to Winter Ops – Cold Temps and Contaminated Runways

Recently, the FAA made important changes to a pair of programs that provide crucial information to pilots during the winter months: The cold temperature restricted airport list and accompanying procedures, and the methods for reporting contaminated runways and braking reports. Managing Editor Crista Videriksen Worthy brings you up to date on these important changes, which may affect your flying this winter. As discussed in the November/December 2015 “Flying Tips” article, errors can be introduced into standard altimetry systems when temperatures are extremely cold. To mitigate this problem, the FAA determined which airports are at risk for errors beyond existing parameters during cold temperature operations and has now updated the list of cold temperature restricted airports and simplified the method for applying the corrections to the listed airports. There’s also a new system for airport operators to report contamination on runways. The new system is less-subjective and more useful, but to take advantage of it, you need to know the new terminology. Of course, pilot braking action reports will continue to be solicited and will be used in assessing braking performance, however some of the terminology for braking action has changed as well. Read this article and be prepared so you can take advantage of these new systems.