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Mexico, now that’s the ticket

Thu., Jan. 22, 2009

I felt the sunshine on my bare shoulders, beach sand between my toes, a sea-kayak paddle in my hands and the spray of warm saltwater in my face when I opened the Sunday paper and saw the Alaska Airlines ad for air fares as low as $159 to Mexico.

Even with so much doom and gloom on the economy, it’s prime time to plan an outdoor adventure.

There’s no sense saving those uncertain paychecks when you can guarantee a return on your dollar by spending it before you lose it.

The deals are hard to ignore.

For example, the Alaska Airlines sale (which runs through Saturday) coincides with a great offer for guided paddling in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

Sea Kayak Adventures, based in Coeur d’Alene, is marketing two excellent trips geared to a week of travel for sea-kayaking with gray whales, snorkeling in aquamarine waters and camping on sunny Baja beaches for less than $1,000. The price includes guides, gear and hotel accommodations at the front- and tail-end of the trip.

At those prices, you can also afford two wedges of lime in your Corona, or maybe a cheap-airfare side trip to hike in the warm canyon lands of the Southwest.

Info: (800) 616-1943; .

Closer to home, winter resorts already are announcing deals.

Schweitzer Mountain is targeting college students for College Daze, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, with $35 daily tickets (normally $44-$48) and cheap rooms. Yes, the $20-$40 per person room rates are based on quad occupancy, but who ever heard of a college-age skier sleeping alone?

Info: (208) 265-0257; .

Good taste in food: Barack Obama didn’t even wait a day before sharing an intimate experience with North American hunters. At his inaugural luncheon Tuesday, the newly sworn-in president and his guests dined on pheasant and duck.

Not so good food: Outdoors fun-seekers who fuel their adventures with energy bars are affected by the nationwide salmonella alert involving peanut products.

The makers of Clif Bars and Luna Bars are among the many companies issuing voluntary recalls of peanut-based products for certain “sell-by” dates.

The alarm has sounded as more than 470 people in 43 states have been sickened in recent months.

PetSmart has even recalled one brand of dog biscuits.

See a complete list of salmonella-related recall items on the Federal Drug Administration Web site, .

Distasteful: Gray wolves are to certain animal rights and conservation groups what Obama has been to the firearms industry – a windfall.

Now that the wolves have been removed again from the endangered species list, sound wildlife management decisions will be necessary to assure their permanent place in the landscape while minimizing their impact on ranchers and struggling big-game herds.

But beware of scare tactics coming from groups that have more interest in tapping your checkbook than doing what’s right for wolves.

Hunt recommendations released: The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department released its recommendations for fall hunting seasons Wednesday afternoon, too late to get answers to all the pertinent regional details for this week’s column.

But here are a few East Side highlights:

•Sound a bugle on this proposal – one modern-rifle bull elk tag is being recommended in each of seven Blue Mountains units for a four-day September season during the peak of the rut.

•A late Thanksgiving- week permit buck hunt is proposed in the Aladdin Unit of northern Stevens County.

•Antlerless deer permit numbers are set to be slashed because of last year’s winter kill, and these initial reduction recommendations aren’t even taking account of the impacts this winter will have.

•The number of days seniors, youth and disabled hunters will have to hunt antlerless deer is being reduced dramatically.

•A Turnbull Wildlife Refuge elk hunt is being recommended for the first time, with only one bull permit offered among the larger number of antlerless permits. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not yet formally authorized the hunt.

State Fish and Wildlife officials are accepting comments on the recommendations through Feb. 20.

Stay tuned.

Contact Rich Landers by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 5508, or e-mail to

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