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August 19, 2015 / kevinbrandes

Staying Safe While Riding Snowmobiles

An avid backcountry explorer, Kevin Brandes enjoys spending his free time snowmobiling and exploring new terrains that many people have not reached. Kevin Brandes is particularly fond of riding through the woods in Winter Park, Colorado, and he describes riding through open tundra as a breathtaking experience.

Riding at high speeds across frozen terrain is what makes snowmobiling such a popular activity for many individuals. However, it can also be dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not taken. Before setting out on a ride, make sure you are familiar with how your snowmobile works. Completing a snowmobile safety course may be especially helpful if you are a beginner, as you can learn about the rules of the trail, state laws, and important hand signals. While riding, alertness is critical, so do not consume any alcohol immediately before riding.

There are several common snowmobile hazards you may come across during your ride. If you are riding at night or at a time of poor visibility, driving slowly increases your chances of spotting hazards with plenty of time to react. Keep an eye out for hidden obstacles like rocks and tree stumps, and ride with a friend whenever possible.

Further, it is best to avoid riding on ice, as drowning is one of the main causes of fatalities for snowmobile riders. If you have to ride over a frozen river or lake, cross carefully over an area of packed snow. If you reach a slushy area, do not release the throttle. If the ice breaks and you fall in, swim to the nearest edge and kick hard to boost yourself up onto the ice. Instead of standing up, roll to a thicker area of ice.

August 11, 2015 / kevinbrandes

Daytona Bike Week Welcomes Motorcycle Enthusiasts Annually

Kevin Brandes is an avid motorcyclist. He drives a Harley-Davidson and is fond of going on motorcycle excursions around the country, particularly through Kentucky and South Dakota. Kevin Brandes also frequently attends various motorcycle events, especially Daytona Bike Week in Florida.

Daytona Beach, Florida, hosts a number of motorcycle events during the year, but one of its largest events is Daytona Bike Week. This event is one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world, and it features a number of races and rides, including the Daytona 200 and the Daytona Motorcycle Rally and Event. Daytona Bike Week also hosts several reputable biker venues and a variety of bike shows that feature custom choppers and imported motorcycles. Visitors have the opportunity to test drive some of the newest motorcycles from major manufacturers such as Honda and Harley Davidson and to meet various motorcycle celebrities.

Drawing thousands of enthusiasts each year, the event publishes a detailed calendar of events for the entire week to ensure that visitors stay up to date on activities and provides a host of tips and information on its website, The 75th annual Daytona Bike Week will take place March 4-13, 2016.

August 3, 2015 / kevinbrandes

Top Golf Courses in Northern California

Golfer Kevin Brandes has played at a wide range of golf courses across the United States, and he enjoys traveling to new destinations when he has the chance. However, Kevin Brandes is particularly fond of the golf courses in northern California and returns there often.

Although northern California is not often considered a top golfing destination, the area is home to a large number of high-quality golf courses. Following are just a few of the most highly rated ones.

CordeValle Golf Resort: Located near the Santa Cruz Mountains, CordeValle has hosted a number of PGA Tour events and is listed on Golf magazine’s Best Public Courses in California at number 8. The course is only open to guests of the resort, and it offers great views of the area’s unique landscape.

Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course: Offering a challenging golfing experience, Bayonet & Black Horse is a 36-hole course near Pebble Beach. The fees are much cheaper than the nearby links at Pebble Beach, and the course treats guests like members of a private club.

Saddle Creek Resort: More than 6,800 yards in size, Saddle Creek in the Sierra foothills is one of the top-20 best public courses in the state, according to Golf magazine. More than half of the course’s holes incorporate water, and players can stay either at the resort’s lodge or individual cabins.

Cinnabar Hills Golf Club: A local favorite, Cinnabar Hills Golf Club in the San Jose area features bent-grass greens with a fantastic mountain backdrop. The 27-hole course has been around since the late 1990s and is considered one of the best values in the area.

July 24, 2015 / kevinbrandes

Key Tips for Getting the Most from an Alaska Cruise

Kevin Brandes enjoys traveling in his free time. One of Kevin Brandes’ favorite types of trips is the cruise, especially in Alaska and Canada.

Alaska cruises provide individuals with incomparable views of towering glaciers, whales, orcas, and miles of untouched mountain ranges. To get the best price on a cruise, travelers should consider booking up to a year in advance and looking for deals through companies such as Costco.

Individuals should also generally avoid booking excursions directly through the cruise line since they can typically find better deals with private companies operating in port towns. Some of the most popular excursions include kayaks, helicopters, floatplanes, and zip lines.

Alaska cruise ships generally give people direct views of sea lions, whales, and orcas, and some people are lucky enough to spot a bear along the shore. People can often catch glimpses of bears and bald eagles by taking excursions outside of port cities. If travelers really want to see wildlife, they should consider a small boat excursion or a wildlife-focused inland excursion.

Even though most cruises happen in the summer, the ship can get quite chilly so travelers should pack for fall and winter for the most part. Hats, gloves, and raincoats are essential.

July 15, 2015 / kevinbrandes

A Look at Some of the Best Golf Courses in Georgia

A fan of golf, Kevin Brandes enjoys traveling around the country to new golf destinations. Many of Kevin Brandes’ favorite courses are in Georgia, which is home to one of the most celebrated American courses, Augusta National. Outside of this course, however, the state has many other clubs worth playing.

1. One of the most unique courses is Sea Island on St. Simons Island. The course wraps around the sea using sand dunes as natural signposts. H.S. Colt and C.H. Alison designed the course, which underwent a remodel led by Tom Fazio.

2. Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta offers challenging bent grass greens, many of which are multitiered. In addition, 14 of the holes feature water hazards fed by a natural creek. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the course stretches over more than 7,000 yards.

3. Arrowhead Pointe in Elberton is part of the Georgia state park system. While the course is not incredibly challenging, it offers some of the most breathtaking views of Lake Russell. The entire course plays along a peninsula jutting out into the lake.

4. Kinderlou Forest in Valdosta features an old borrow pit. The ravine is a man-made feature that has gorgeous red clay, giving the course the feel of a canyon in the Southwest.

April 12, 2013 / kevinbrandes

Kevin Brandes: Recreational Fishing for Mahi-Mahi

An experienced fisherman, Kevin Brandes has fished off the coast of Florida, the Baja Peninsula, Costa Rica, and elsewhere. He counts mahi-mahi among his favorite fish to eat.

Mahi-Mahi: Courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons

Mahi-Mahi: Courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons

Mahi-mahi is a ray-finned fish also known as common dolphinfish or dorado. It is characterized by a slim, compressed body and dorsal fins that span nearly the full length of its body. In appearance, mahi-mahi display brilliant colors such as gold, green, and blue. They spawn almost year-round in warm ocean currents. Although they grow quickly and live up to five years, they rarely weigh more than 40 pounds. On average, catches weigh 15 to 29 pounds.

Mahi-mahi provide excellent sport for fishing because of their large population, size, and beauty. They also make an exceptional meal and are regularly featured at top restaurants. Found in numerous locales around the globe, mahi-mahi are regularly fished in the Caribbean Sea, Southeast Asia, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Florida, and Hawaii. Recreational fishing for mahi-mahi requires at least 30-pound gear, bait, and teasers. Once caught, the fish provide a thrilling display of fast, acrobatic movements and are distinctly beautiful when they are pulled out of the water.

March 21, 2013 / kevinbrandes

Kevin Brandes: Downhill Skiing in Taos, New Mexico

One of lifelong skier Kevin Brandes’ favorite places to downhill ski is New Mexico, which boasts several excellent ski areas. The Taos Ski Valley, near the city of Taos, is one of the country’s most beautiful places to ski.

The Taos Ski Valley is located at 9,200 feet above sea level in northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Known for its abundance of sunshine, steep terrain, and deep, fluffy snow, the Valley is a premier destination for winter sports enthusiasts.

Founded in 1955, Taos Ski Valley Resort is a family-owned business. With over 50% of its trails classified as “expert level,” the valley is known for its steeps, glades, and narrows. The highest point is Kachina Peak at 12,481 feet. For less experienced skiers, Taos offers renowned skiing instruction each year during Ski Weeks.

The Taos Ski Valley season runs from November to April, with an average annual snowfall of 305 inches. The valley contains 110 ski trails and 13 lifts.