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Cruise and Travel: Stay on time and organized with these apps

Travel seems to get more complicated every year. With all the new TSA requirements,  confusing flight options and fares, crowded airports and seasonal weather cancellations, it can be hard to keep up and stay on track.

Fortunately, the list of iPhone and Android applications is constantly expanding. In addition to my preferred air carrier options (Delta, Alaska Airlines, etc.) I depend on certain apps to keep me on time and on the go.

Here is a short list of popular travel apps including a few of my favorites: 

Tripit: (iPhone and Android) This is my personal favorite. Tripit automatically creates an itinerary with flight confirmation numbers, airport terminal gates and hotel addresses. It also syncs to your calendar and you can share your itinerary with friends and family. Basic service is free. I opted to upgrade to the premium service and it's been worth it.

GateGuru: (iPhone and Android) This handy worldwide app provides airport guides and listings for restaurants, shops, shoe shine kiosks, spas, lounges, A.T.M. service and free Wi-Fi.. www.gateguru.com 

FlightStats (iPhone and Android.) FlightStats’ live flight tracking app lets you access realtime status of worldwide flights by flight number, airport or route. The app also updates weather conditions.

Uber: With service available in more than 100 cities, including Spokane, Uber lets you order a car, gives you an arrival estimate and then notifies you by text when you’re car is on its way.  Uber is a no-cash service, using credit cards only.

Kayak: Listing most major airlines, Kayak is my go-to app for searching for flights and fares and allows me to search for cheaper days to travel.

CheckMate for Travel  (iPhone)  CheckMate is a relative new app that allows you to check in to your hotel from your smartphone. You’ll get a call when the room is ready so all you need to do is stop by the desk and pick up your key. 

 

MyRadar (iPhone and Android )  MyRadar provides realtime weather and radar displays enabling  you to see weather that is coming your way that might impact flights and airline schedules. 

 

Video: Whitewater kayaking carnage compiled

WATERSPORTS — For every awesome video we've seen of kayakers skillfully negotiating whitewater rapids and waterfalls there are countless calamities, injuries and near-death experiences.

Here's  a sampling.

P.S. Think twice about trying to replicate this stuff.

Paddling law would be bad news for national parks

PUBLIC LANDS — I've made a few classic canoe and kayak trips in Yellowstone National Park over the years, including the Lewis River to Shoshone Lake (see photo) and on Yellowstone Lake.

But even though I'm a long-time paddler and co-author of the guidebook, Paddling Washington, I can still clearly see a reason to restrict paddling in national parks, where the priority is on preserving natural ecosystems. 

It's shocking to see that a Wyoming Congreswoman has introduced a bill that would REQUIRE Yellowstone and Grand Teton national park officials to allow more paddling in the parks. 

Here's the scoop from High Country News and a person who knows and write's eloquently on the potential ramifications of the legislation.  Check it out.

Called the “River Paddling Protection Act,” the bill has already passed the House of Representatives. It gives the National Park Service three years to change its regulations barring non-motorized boating on rivers and streams. If the agency fails to act in that time, then boating in the two parks will be considered unregulated.

Kayak Accident Claims Local Doctor

Item: Area grieves loss of popular doctor: Maj StormoGipson dies in tragic kayaking accident/Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: Family and friends are grieving the loss of Maj StormoGipson, 57, who died Friday in a tragic kayaking accident while with her family on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. According to an email message circulated by family members and friends, StormoGipson, a pediatrician at the Valley Young People's Clinic in Spokane Valley, was in the fifth day of a six-day wilderness whitewater rafting vacation when the tragedy struck. Because the rapids on that stretch of the river were expected to be relatively mild, StormoGipson decided to join other family members in riding them out in inflatable kayaks.

Feel free to extend your sympathy to the family …

Boundary Dam relicensing approved; Millpond removal OKed

RIVERS — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a new 42-year license for Boundary Dam on the Pend Oreille River downstream from Metaline Falls. Boundary, built in 1967, is the largest hydroelectric dam owned by Seattle City Light and produces 25 percent of the city's electric power.

Recreationists will benefit from several conditions of the relicensing process and negotiations, underway since 2004. Kayakers in particular are applauding the concurrent federal approval for removing Millpond Dam on Sullivan Creek, a tributary to the Pend Oreille River.

Millpond Dam is a 134-foot-long, 55-foot-high concrete dam with an 850-foot-long, 10-foot-high earthen dike that creates a 63-acre reservoir just downstream from Sullivan Lake. Millpond Dam has blocked Sullivan Creek since 1909.

The Washington Department of Ecology approved a permit for dam removal last year.

Removal should be completed within the next five years.

Dam removal settlement talks began in 2008 when American Whitewater, the US Forest Service, and the State of Washington successfully challenged a federal decision to give up jurisdiction over the dam, which had not generated power since 1956, according to Kevin Colburn, writing on the American Whitewater website.

Seattle City and Light eventually agreed to a settlement in March of 2010 to fund the removal of Millpond Dam as a condition for relicensing Boundary Dam.

While maintaining Boundary Dam as an important economic engine, providing 50 well-paying jobs, generating tax revenue for Pend Oreille County, Seattle City Light has agreed to fund recreational opportunities, such as:
  • New recreational trails on the east side of the reservoir.
  • New non-motorized boat access with parking and facilities at the Metaline Falls Portage.
  • Upgrades to six dispersed recreation sites along the Boundary reservoir, including sanitation systems, picnic tables, fire rings and watercraft land and tie-up areas.
  • Improvements to Metaline Park in the town of Metaline.
  • New interpretation and education sites throughout the Boundary project area. 

The removal of Millpond Dam also is expected to benefit native redband and cutthroat trout, as well as mountain whitefish, by improving stream temperatures, restoring sediment to the areas downstream of the dam, and likely restoring fish passage.

In addition, the dam removal will expose whitewater rapids not seen for over a century. American Whitewater produced images predicting what the restored area might look like.

“Our re-licensing process was unique,” said Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. “We undertook a process of close collaboration with all stakeholders to reach an agreement for the protection and enhancement of native fish and wildlife; the expansion of recreational and cultural amenities; and to ensure the water quality of the Pend Oreille River and its tributaries.”

 “It’s also unique because there is a second settlement agreement that includes the removal of Mill Pond Dam as part of the decommissioning of the Pend Oreille PUD’s Sullivan Project, providing valuable new habitat for threatened native fish species, as well as new recreation opportunities,” Carrasco said.
 
The decision becomes final after all settling parties have had a chance to review the documents and raise any concerns with FERC over the order that was issued Wednesday.
 
Facts about Boundary Dam:
  • Began generating power in 1967
  • Cost to build: $94 million
  • 740’ long and 340’ tall
  • A thin-arch structure, it is 32’ thick at the base and just 8’ thick at the crest
  • Produces up to 1,040 megawatts of power
 FERC's order also will require the construction of a cold-water release pipe and a new release schedule for Sullivan Dam, which will remain in place at the outlet of Sullivan Lake. These measures will improve downstream fish habitat, and will provide significant paddling opportunities in September and October in the Class IV/V canyon section of Sullivan Creek, American Whitewater says.
The settlement calls for adding wood and rock habitat structures to sections of Sullivan Creek up and downstream of the canyon and the structures will be installed with recreational boating considerations in mind.

Upside down kayak reported in river

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are responding to a report of an upside down kayak in the Spokane River just west of Harvard Road. I'll report more details as I hear them.

10:46 a.m. update: Emergency responders are in place at Harvard, Barker and Flora by the river, others are searching the shores.

10:58 a.m. update: An orange kayak has been spotted just over a mile east of Harvard Road. Firefighters will check the river all the way to Stateline to check for a person.

11:07 update: Members of the swift water rescue team are entering the river at Murray Road to do a search on the water.

11:12 update: A Sheriff's Deputy has told firefighters that he talked to the kayak's owner yesterday, so it doesn't appear that anyone is in the river. It sounds like firefighters will try to recover the kayak so no one else calls it in to 911 as a boater in trouble.

Kayaker Describes Waterfall Plunge

Without warning, at about 2:30 p.m., Bradt’s red kayak appeared on the top left side of the falls from Schloss’ perspective at the park’s overlook. With a few quick paddle strokes, he steered the boat down a green tongue of water and quickly disappeared in the plummeting, billowing stream of white. “I got pictures, but he’s hidden in the whitewater,” Schloss said. “It happened so fast, but then it seemed like eternity before he popped up clear over on the right side. “He was OK, and everybody started cheering.” The 22-year-old professional paddler had set a record in the unofficial realm of waterfall bagging: He’d survived the highest known waterfall descent in a kayak/Rich Landers, SR. More here.

Question: What is the most daring thing that you’ve done?