5 Things to do in the South-West of Ireland During the Summer

(Yes, there is much more to Ireland than just Dublin)

#1 – Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co Kerry.

Whether you’re looking for a bargain on a few things for the household or you’re just out for the sesh after a normal day at the office, Puck Fair is an event to be attended if you’re down the South-West in August. When explaining our rationale to anyone who doesn’t live in Kerry we may seem crazy in hailing to a goat otherwise known to us as King Puck. Of course the story provides a reason for us to practice such a ritual annually but today we know and have come to love it as being a 3-day drinking session and no one can tell you you’re wrong. Whether you’re down in the O’Shea’s beer garden or you’re up with the live band in Kingston’s there’s quality banter to be had. Of course such an event can’t finish without a wrap up. On the final night at midnight in celebrating your “glorious” time, fireworks are set off to mark the occasion of yet another year gone in celebrating together the King of Puck Fair.

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#2 – Taking a stroll around Muckross on a grand day in the summer (with chance of rain).

As much as we enjoy heading out to the pub with the lads on a Saturday night we do offer some activities for tourists in the area. If you’re looking for a family picnic, if you’re in the mood for a dip down in our Dundag “beach” or if you’re just looking to stroll around and absorb some sunshine (assuming we’re blessed with some) you should make tracks down to Muckross House and Gardens. For any Irish cultural lovers, Muckross House still has its own Traditional Farms in operations and if you’re still intrigued, give a walk around to see the old cottages and dwellings that still stand to this day. Most definitely a good way to spend some time with the family even in the gardens for the kids to play a quick game of catch while the parents can relax with a cup of tea or coffee at the Garden’s Restaurant.

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#3 – The Ring of Kerry

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Probably one of the most widely known tourist attractions for County Kerry. If you’re in a bit of a rush for time just hop in the car and give a quick tour around and absorb the beauty the coastline can offer. If you’re looking to make a memory of it check yourself in to one of the many hotels along to way to make sure you see everything it has to offer. If you’re looking for more of a communal participation by about a 12 thousand people you can always participate in the Ring of Kerry Cycle that occurs every year on the first weekend of July. Probably the most rewarding challenge you can set yourself, not that I’m speaking from a personal experience but what I can speak personally about is the Post-Cycle session that happens all the way up through the town where you’re bound to have a good time. And also, for all you Star Wars enthusiasts, make sure you drop down to the Skellig Islands for a real-life view of where the climactic ending to Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot.

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P.S. Word is, they’ll be returning for the next 2 movies!

 #4 – Live Entertainment

Summertime in Killarney provides probably the best and most vibrant atmosphere you’ll ever experience in your life. Almost every bar throughout the town provides a live band performance to get the crowd on their feet and absorb in the energy coming from the speakers to have one hell of a night. Whether you’re at the top of the town in Scott’s Bar and Beer garden or you’re listening to the local musicians down in Charlie Foley’s, there’s live music to be heard from a variety of different musicians. If you’re for traditional, rock possibly even some chart toppers there’s something for everyone.

#5 – What’s summertime in Killarney without a day at the Races

killarney-racecourseHands down this is an event that should be attended at least once in your life time. This annual experience allows for people of all ages, guys and girls, to get suited and booted and head to the race track with the lads for a couple of hours to make a couple of bets while also enjoying an “occasional” drink or two. The feeling of going out in the town looking dapper is a feeling that is encouraged. And for the ladies, if you’re the competitive type, you could be up for Best Dressed / Ladies Day Competition. Assuming we’re in the clear of rain, it’s guaranteed to be a mighty time.

(And if you’re looking for proposal ideas it’s not a bad spot for it. Just ask any of the previous couples who got engaged on their day out here)

 

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Tackling Montana’s Toughest Backcountry with Speed and Style

There’s something to be said about feeling limitless.  That mountain peak over there?  Sure, I can climb that.  But what if it was covered in six feet of fresh powder?  That feeling of being limitless might dwindle a little.  Lucky for you, there is a solution.  This, my friends, is a snowbike.

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Simply put, you take a conventional motocross bike, swap the rear wheel for a track, the front wheel for a ski, and you’re left with what appears to be someone’s home built frankenstein motorcycle pipe dream.  You think to yourself, “this was clearly built by a devoted member of the Church of the Less Than Immaculate Garage Floor.”  Rest assured though, these machines are tough and are more than capable of handling extreme snow conditions.

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So what’s the catch?  Why not just buy a snowmobile?  Same thing, right?  Not exactly.  First and foremost, what do you do with your snowmobile when the snow melts?  Snowbikes easily swap back to a motorcycle, ready for you to enjoy during the warm summer months.  Second, snowmobiles can easily cost upwards of $15,000.  A motocross bike generally comes in around $8,000.  After purchasing a snowbike kit, you’ve spent about $13,000.  When you factor in that you can enjoy this vehicle 12 months out of the year, a snowbike purchase starts to make sense.  When it comes to the actual ride, snowbikes are vastly different from snowmobiles.  Snowmobiles make almost three times the power of a snowbike, and generally weigh about 100 pounds more than one.  As a result, snowmobiles can easily get stuck.  They also do not lean like a snowbike does, So they are unable to wind their way through tight trees like a snowbike can.

You might argue, “yeah but now I need a trailer to get this thing to the mountain!”  Well, take it from me, these snowbikes will fit in the back of a truck, no problem.  With that said, don’t go it alone.  With the help of two ramps, a dolley, a piece of carpet, a beer, and a very eclectic use of my vocabulary, I was able to load one in a truck without the help of another human.  There’s a learning curve for everything, c’mon guys.  You shouldn’t be riding these machines alone anyway, in case your bike breaks down or you injure yourself in the backcountry.  Don’t load one alone either.  Once out on the snow however, turning that throttle for the first time, it’s guaranteed to make you smile.  As long as there is snow on the ground, there isn’t a single place you can’t reach.

Limitless.

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Montana’s Top 5 Ski Resorts

Montana’s Top 5 Ski Resorts

Fall is here, whether we like it or not, the changing colors of the leaves are proof that the coming snow is inevitable. To some this is a sad time of year, saying goodbye to late summer nights and drunkenly floating the Clark Fork River, but for others it means something more, it’s finally ski season! The chance to get back on the mountains and enjoy the fresh snow under your feet is something many would consider one of the best feeling on earth.

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I happen to be one of those people! I wait all year for the chance to get back on the slopes and will spend every free moment, until the first day of spring, looking for one more run or to find one more untouched line in the snow to leave my own print on. With this fresh snowy season right around the corner I felt there was no better time than now to pass along some knowledge, in my opinion, of the top places in Montana to fulfill your love of snow!

#1 Big Sky Resort

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Big Sky resort is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the top ski resorts in Montana. If you have ever had the pleasure of experiencing this resort you know why there was no hesitation to put it at the top of my list. With a resort that covers 4 connected mountains with runs as long as 6 miles, and with a summit of over 11,000 feet, it’s an adventure for everyone! If you love to ski or snowboard at any level, you need to make this trip! Even if you only ride one of their over 300 named runs, or stay a day or two and hit all of them, there is little chance that you won’t catch the snow bug experiencing this place.
One of the best things about Big Sky is that it is full of everything that any rider at any skill set can conquer; from the ever-challenging Bunny hills to their extreme technical backcountry, this resort is nothing to be underestimated.
You don’t ski or snowboard? That’s fine! Big Sky Resort offers everything from Zip lines and Snowshoeing, to dog sledding and sleigh rides. Then after a long day of hitting the slopes or dog sledding just sit back and relax at their Solace Spa and allow yourself be pampered. There is something for everyone!
For me it is all about the snowy mountains and the long runs, so from sunrise to sunset I find myself doing nothing but trying to hit every run across the over 4,000 vertical feet and miles of terrain. You’d be crazy not to hit this mountain that offers something for every winter enthusiast.

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• 11,166 Foot Summit
• 5,800 Acres of Skiable Terrain
• 4,350 Vertical Feet
• 400”+ Avg. Annual Snowfall

#2 Bridger Bowl

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Bridger Bowl could easily be one of the only reasons I would ever step into Bobcat country, but it’s well worth it. Bridger has a landscape all its own with a high peak that allows you to see for miles on a good blue bird day. Even though Bridger offers quite a few beginner runs, it was full of more exposed rocky terrain than any other resort I have been to. This terrain gave it a more aggressive look but gives a new and exciting challenge for backcountry adventurers and for more advanced or even intermediate riders.

• 8,700 Foot Summit
• 2,000 Acres of Skiable Terrain
• 2,600 Vertical Feet
• 350” Avg. Annual Snowfall

 

#3 Discovery Ski Area

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If you are a hardcore skier THIS IS THE HILL FOR YOU! Discovery has some of the steepest skiable terrain Montana has to offer and with several runs with great mogul riding you really cant go wrong. However, snowboarders, don’t let that early statement make you run away screaming! This mountain also offers some seriously steep groomed runs, awesome powder and tree filled runs to really keep a boarder on their toes.
Discovery is located WAY off the beaten path out by Philipsburg and is a bit of a drive on some rural back roads, but it does not disappoint. This mountain may be on the smaller side in comparison to Big Sky, but still offers 2,200 acres of serviced terrain. Discovery has everything from groomed cruising trails, powder bowls, tree skiing and mogul runs. Discovery even has some runs as long as 2 miles and a summit of 8,150 feet. So if you want something a little further off the beaten path that offers some technical terrain then you need to make the trip to Discovery Ski Area!

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• 8,150 Foot Summit
• 2,200 Acres of Skiable Terrain
• 2,380 Vertical Feet
• 200” Avg. Annual Snowfall

#4 Lost Trail Powder Mountain

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I know a lot of people that will be wondering why I put Lost Trail on this list with so many other great options in Montana, but to be honest it is a good sized resort with a small resort feel and I love it. Every time I have stepped on that mountain I always feel like I am in a small town where you know everyone and everyone knows you. It is a great environment and incredibly relaxing to drive deep into the woods by Darby, Montana and just feel like you are tucked away from everything.
Lost Trail has been around since its opening year of 1938, so it has some serious history. Although Lost Trail only has about 1,800 acres of marked trails and only 5 chair lifts, I have always had the feeling that I am secluded from all the hectic crazy crowds you would experience at larger resorts. The feeling of truly being out in nature away from the city and noise is reason enough to go to this little slice of heaven.
Lost Trail, like all the others we have looked at, offers a wide variety of challenges for riders from exposed rock to tree runs. Lost Trail also offers great beginner runs and a handful of open groomed trails for those who love to launch themselves down a mountain at top speed.
So if you are looking to get on a good-sized hill that gives the feeling of being away from the crazy crowds, then I highly suggest you make the trip.

• 8,200 Foot Summit
• 1,800 Acres of Skiable Terrain
• 1,800 Vertical Feet
• 325” Avg. Annual Snowfall

#5 Lookout Pass Ski Area

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This is hands down the smallest resort I have gone to in Montana and I could care less about its size. Lookout Pass is located on the Idaho/Montana boarder at one of the highest points of the pass, this allows you to ride in 2 states in the same day. Being located within 100 yards of the interstate it is one of the easiest ski resorts to get to and with an annual average snowfall of over 400 inches, this little resort packs a serious punch. With this resort having only 34 named runs, between each run is some killer tree skiing and some amazing light and very plentiful powder. The biggest selling point that got me to this mountain was how affordable and easy to access it is. Being a current college student I don’t have a lot to spend on the expensive lift ticket price that comes with big resorts, so having a max price of 44 bucks for a day pass was well worth the trip.
Lookout pass might not have the highest summit but being at the peak of the pass between Montana and Idaho you get some breath taking views of the surrounding area. Once again this mountain, like all the others, offer a wide range of great runs. From highly technical tree trails to your basic bunny hill with a magic carpet, you really can’t go wrong here. This small resort even has 2 different and very well maintained board parks that have high technical jumps, boxes and rails to a easier beginners park with much smaller gaps and boxes to refine your skills before hitting the big ones.
So if you are a poor college student or just don’t want to deal with the hassle of driving those nasty back roads to the larger resorts, you need to make a good day trip up to Lookout Pass. While you’re there, you will probably find me enjoying some of the best powder I have seen on such a small resort, and enjoying every second of it!

• 5,650 Foot Summit
• 540 Acres of Skiable Terrain
• 1,150 Vertical Feet
• 400”+ Avg. Annual Snowfall

This list is by no means the list of the very best in Montana, because there are just too many amazing places to go! But it is the list of my top favorites.

So whether you agree with me or not, or have some suggestions on where I should go on my next trip, LET ME KNOW!!

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I would love to hear from you on your favorite resort in Montana or your best experiences hitting the slopes this far north.

But for now, my name is Michael Larson and these are my

TOP 5 FAVORITE MONTANA SKI RESORTS

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5 Life Lessons from Growing Up on a Ranch

I wouldn’t trade growing up dirty and wild on a ranch in the middle of nowhere for anything in the world. Every day was an adventure. I figured it’s time I share a few lessons I learned along the way.

#1: Always close the gate behind you.

This may seem like a little thing, or it may seem unimportant to the regular city-raised person, but this is one of the most important things I’ve learned to date. You never know when the cows will get turned out, and most of the time you won’t have time to check the gates across the pasture—you’ll just trust that they were closed. In life, closing the gate behind you has a little bit of a different meaning. Don’t let the past sneak up on you. Your past may contain hurt, sadness, anger, or words that sting like a snake bite. It’s important to close the gate. Don’t let the negative aspects of your past effect the endless possibilities of your future. Always close the gate.

#2: Never trust the roosters.

To some, roosters look interesting and some of them can even appear attractive the average city-raised person. To a ranch kid, roosters look like the devil himself trotting around with crooked feathers and a razor-sharp beak with rough talons to match. Never turn your back or trust for one second that the rooster(s) won’t launch a sneak attack. The same can be applied to life. Some people may look inviting and maybe even interesting, but it’s important to keep your distance. Trusting everyone you meet can lead to broken hearts and tear-stained pillows. Although people don’t have crooked feathers, razor-sharp beaks and nasty talons, they can have crooked intentions, razor-sharp tongues, and rough eyes—used only to judge those around them. Never trust the roosters.

#3: Moving sprinkler pipe sucks.

If you grew up with a dad like mine, you were up at 5:00am; before the sun broke over the purple mountains. The air would be crisp…too crisp. The water would be cold…actually, make that one degree away from freezing. The pipe would be heavy…full of the almost frozen water and the occasional mouse, snake, or gopher. The field would be big…and seem to get bigger as you make your way across with the air stinging at your nose, the cold water dripping down your arm and making its way into your jacket, and the pipe slowly getting heavier. OKAY, so maybe it wasn’t this bad. But, getting drug out of your warm bed at 5:00am everyday sucked. However, watching the sun peak over the mountains, hearing nothing but your footsteps through the crop and the occasional coyote yelping and yipping was pure heaven. Watching the crop grow each day always made me crack a smile. Watching the swather cut down your hours of hard work was bittersweet, but being able to feed your horses a couple flakes of hay off of your field—knowing you worked through the cold, wet, heavy, adventurous mornings was a feeling like no other. Always remember to move through the unpleasant to be rewarded in the end. Moving sprinkler pipe sucks.

#4: Dying is a part of living.

Although most are afraid of death, growing up on a ranch teaches you at an early age to view death as a part of living. Losing crops, animals, or loved ones never gets easier, but it does start to become less shocking. Moxy, Friday, Kitty, Maggie, Daisy, Mario, Luigi, Oreo, Theodore, Stereo, Wilson, Bob, Blake, Wyatt, Star, Julie, and Steiner is just a partial list of the animals and people I’ve watched get to wherever they’re going over the years. Nothing about losing them was easy, and nothing about losing them made sense. You’ll become familiar with death, and maybe even start to accept it. When I was little my uncle told me, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather skid in sideways, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-‘Holy shit! What a ride!'” Dying is a part of living.

#5: Keep yourself company.

Most of the time you’ll be building fence, fixing fence, riding horses, filling tanks, or feeding by yourself. This time is important. You’ll learn that being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. You’ll hear the birds calling, horses snorting, water flowing, and grasshoppers chirping. Cows are good listeners. They stare, and they’re dumber than a box of rocks, but they’ll listen to you practice public speaking or singing or even just talking about your day. When the sun starts to go down and you start to slowly make your way home, remember to keep yourself company.

Five Fun Activities To Do This Fall Around Missoula

 

img-61181Fall is by far my most anticipated season of the year. The weather is just starting to cool off. The trees start decorating the ground and scenery with their explosive color of leaves. Not to mention the fall scented candles that leave your house smelling like a fresh baked pie all day. Lets be honest, there’s a lot to love about fall and call me basic, but it’s my favorite season.

The 1st of October officially marks the first day of fall in my book. It’s the day where my fall decorations make their annual reappearance and I say “au revoir” to all my summer clothes. It is also the day that I start strategically planning all the things I want to do like going to the pumpkin patch and or getting lost in corn mazes. This year, as I was looking into different activities to do this fall, I came across some really awesome events going on in and around Missoula that I thought I would share with you all! These would be great activities to do with the family, a group of friends, or just a special date night.

So, without further ado, here are five fun activities to do this fall in and around Missoula:

  1. Going Apple Picking!
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    This is a great activity to do with the whole family or a group of friends during the fall. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and luckily for us Missoulian’s, Getman’s Orchard & Vineyard has group apple picking openings! Getman’s is located two hours north in Bigfork, MT and they are currently at the height of their apple season which typically ends around October 31st. They offer group reservations and only allow only one group in the orchards at once so you don’t have to fight with other groups and can spend quality time with your friends and family. Make sure you call ahead and make a reservation before going! They are filling up fast.
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  2. Roll your sleeves up: “Hands on” Autumn Pies
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    Every year the Good Food Store offers some really amazing cooking classes and this year is no exception. On October 23rd, they will be offering a class where the Bakery Manager, Scott Hevener, will teach everyone how to create the perfect fall pie. Each person will get the chance to make their own Apple & Cranberry Pie to take home with them (yum)!
    This is a perfect opportunity to fine tune your pie making skills just in time for Thanksgiving. Cost is $35 per person and starts at 6:30 PM.
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  3. Missoula Maze
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    I am sure most of you by now know about the Missoula Maze but I still wanted to add it as there is always fun times to be had here. This year, the Missoula Maze is going to have their biggest corn maze to date! (Which also means I’m going to be lost for the longest time to date.) They also offer a variety of other activities for younger kids including an obstacle course, treasure hunt and a petting zoo! My personal favorite is going at night and attempting to tackle the maze with no flashlights and no clues. Some years go great, other years not so much but it’s sure to be a fun time.
    Prices start at $5 for children (4-12) and go up to $8 for adults (13-65). The Missoula Maze is open until the end of October but be sure to check their website as their hours change!
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  4. Hocus Pocus at the Roxy Theater
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    If you were a 90s kid you would know how bomb this movie was (and still is) when it came out. Luckily for those Hocus Pocus fanatics out there, like myself, the Roxy Theater is playing this movie on October 23rd at 2:30 PM AND you get to watch it with movie theater popcorn – what more could we ask for? Tickets for the Roxy Theater are $8 for regular admission but bring your student ID card and you’ll get a dollar off. So mark it in your calendar folks, it’s a must watch fall movie.
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  5. Field of Screams
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    Last but certainly not least is the Field of Screams which I consider a staple during this time of the year. If you’re one of those adrenaline junkies, I highly recommend taking the quick drive to Victor, MT to experience the scariest Halloween attraction that Western Montana has to offer. This attraction is recommend for teens and adults as it truly is terrifying. They also offer children themed events during the day time if you’re looking for a fun place to bring the kids during daylight hours. The Field of Screams is open Wednesday 7:30-9 PM as well as Friday and Saturday 7:30-10 PM until October 31st. Price is $15 a person. If you’re looking for a good place to be scared this year, look no further.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my recommendations and maybe found something new to bring the friends or family to this year. Happy Fall!

By: Lauryn Wate – Univeristy of Montana student studying Business Marketing