Getting the flavor of...
Sand sledding in southern Colorado
For many thrill seekers, sand is the new snow, said Karen Schwartz in The New York Times. Sand sledding and sandboarding are rocketing in popularity, and there are now at least 90 locations in 25 states where visitors can ride the dunes. I recently rented a sled from a shop just outside Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park, where the tallest sand hill rises 750 feet. I stuck to the smaller dunes, but the going was still tough, with sand blowing in my face and cascading beneath my feet as I slowly climbed the slope. My novice attempts at speeding down the dune ended up being “more R2-D2 on Tatooine than Shaun White at the X Games.” But it was easy to see why these sports are booming: There are no lines, no lift tickets, and no trees to get in the way of your adrenaline rush. And since the other riders were spread far and wide across the 30-square-mile dune field, I had “the contented feeling of ruling the sandbox.”
Michigan’s supersize Christmas store
It’s impossible not to get into the holiday spirit at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, said Claudia Capos in The Boston Globe. Founded in 1945, the family-run Frankenmuth, Mich., store now covers more than 2 acres—about 1.7 football fields— and bills itself as the world’s largest Christmas emporium. Two million people visit Bronner’s each year to be dazzled by floor-to-ceiling displays of “Christmas lights, gaily festooned trees, winsome storybook characters, and endless racks of rainbow- colored ornaments.” With 50,000 gifts and decorations in stock, “it’s hard to know just where to start.” Fortunately, there are friendly red-vested elves around to give directions. During a recent visit, I ate lunch on site, picked up a few ornaments— including a Santa dressed in a University of Michigan sweatshirt— then headed home “relieved that my home electric bill is nowhere near the $1,250 a day that Bronner’s pays to keep all those Christmas lights twinkling.”