Spring Break opportunities at home and good beer abroad

What are you doing for Spring Break?

If you haven’t bought plane tickets yet, then you’re probably going to have to drive. But don’t worry-I know a place where there’s great weather and millions of things to do. It’s the San Rafael Reef in southern Utah, less than four hours away.

This area is a mecca for outdoor activities, technical or otherwise. Last weekend I had 65-degree days of canyoneering, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing and camping at the reef.

This area is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management and since it’s not an official park, there are no fees of any type. The reef is made of many canyons that are narrow, fun and picturesque. The greatest part about hiking in these “slot canyons,” as they are called, is that you have to climb and shimmy your body through and around obstacles.

The rock climbing in this area is also really good, although most of it isn’t bolted. If you have the necessary equipment, there are lots of cracks just waiting for a first ascent.

The reef is a great place for the break because it is also within an hour from Moab, Canyonlands and Arches national parks. All of these places offer more to do than could possibly be done in a year, so I suggest going down to southern Utah at least once to explore what this state really has to offer. A helpful Web site to check out is www.climb-utah.com.

Checking in with the ranger station is by far the best way to find cool places to visit in any area. Rangers usually know more than a guide book and can tell you what activities best fit your ability level and equipment.

If you do fly somewhere for Spring Break, you should check out Park City Mountain Resort as soon as you get back. You can exchange your airplane ticket for a ski ticket if you fill out the “Fast Tracks” form on the resort’s Web site.

Quickly, while we’re near the subject, the avalanche danger is considerable right now-last week, some of my friends saw avalanches on 25-degree slopes. Avalanches rarely ever happen on slopes of less than 30 degrees, so be extra careful if you’re headed out to the backcountry.

There is a free avalanche transceiver clinic at Snowbird on March 13 at 5 p.m. in the Alpine Room and they provide transceivers if you don’t have one. If you’re around, this is a great opportunity to learn how to use a transceiver properly from professionals who use them every day.

Outdoor gear is expensive, but REI is having a garage-type sale that might make the financial burden of fun considerably less taxing. All the gear that was returned to the store in the last six months or so is being marked down. The sale only goes from 9 a.m. until noon on March 21.

For students who can’t make it to the 3300 South REI sale, a similar sale is happening at the Sandy REI location one week later. I hear the crowd can get violent, so show up early.

Something I found out the other day that might be fun to do is see how much your teacher makes, and then rate them online. There is a book chained to the front desk of Marriott Library where you can find all the professors’ salaries on campus.

Good fun, don’t you think?

After you look them up, you can rate professors on www.ratemyprofessors.com and see what other students have said about them.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weather and the time off. If you go out of this litigious country, make sure to enjoy a good beer.

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