Now, now, NOW!
Our captain is yelling while gesturing to us to hurry overboard. Overcome by his sense of urgency, we jump flippers first off our boat into warm Caribbean waters. There’s a second of disorientation. Then the water bubbles created by our fall dissipate and the view out of our snorkel mask clears. And what a view it is: the wide open mouth of the world’s largest fish heading directly towards us.
We are swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Isla Holbox, Mexico. Our trip was all arranged using Pay With Points, available through American Express Travel. Our challenge from American Express: to turn 150,000 Membership Rewards Points into a trip for two with WOW factor.
Being underwater, staring directly into the enormous mouth of a whale shark an arm’s length away—that’s a memory-making travel experience with no shortage of WOW.
You may remember the Water Cube as the venue for the swimming events 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The exterior of “The Cube,” with its translucent walls that seemed as though they were made of giant living skin cells, became one of the iconic images of the games.
The Water Cube received a lot of press at the time of the Olympics. But what most reports (including Spot Cool Stuff’s own review) left out was that the building was not designed to permanently host of swimming competitions. From conception, its real intended purpose was to be a water park.
Recently the Water Cube’s original destiny was fulfilled with the opening of the Happy Magic Watercube. (Yes, somehow “water cube” got truncated to one word during the transition). In doing so, the place where Michael Phelps once set world records in swimming is today setting the record as the world’s largest indoor water park.
Back in 2009, we reviewed the Bergmönch—a scooter that transforms into a backpack.
In 2011, one of the stars of the Outdoor Retailer Summer Show was the Skyver Ortovox—a scooter that transforms into a backpack.
Yes, everything old being new again. But Spot Cool Stuff is thrilled to see the Ortovox get such attention. (And we’re happy to lend our voice to it.)
A year ago we previewed the Klymit Inertia X-Frame, a minimalist sleeping pad that weighs a mere 9.1 ounces (258g).
The Inertia X-Frame looks a bit like a balloon animal that’s gone horribly wrong, but is surprisingly comfortable to sleep on. It is surprisingly warm too—the pad’s “loft pockets” allow sleeping bag insulation to expand a bit, thus trapping extra hot air.
At the time it came out, the Inertia X-Frame was the world’s lightest sleeping pad. That title has since been usurped by a newly released Klymit product: the Inertia X-Lite. For those willing to carry a few extra ounces in exchange for a whole lot of extra sleeping luxury, check out the Klymit Inertia XL.
Our look at both of these Klymit offerings:
Shoes are luggage space hogs. When we pack shoes we usually stuff the insides with socks and underwear. But we like this idea better: Shoes that fold up. Like the colorful Timberland Radler Trail Camp line.
Radler Trail Camps don’t only fold closed. They zip closed too. That thanks to the zipper that rings the shoe’s 42% recycled rubber lug outsole. (The zipper, fortunately, is mostly hidden from view when the shoe is open). When zipped closed, a 225g (8 oz) Radler Trail Camp is compact enough to fit into a jacket pocket.
Can you make hot coffee in the middle of a wilderness with no stove, fire, electricity, solar heating or water? Yes you can. Literally, with a can—a 2GO self-heating can.
Each single-use 2GO can contains three internal compartments: one for water, one for drink flavoring (eg. tea leafs) and one for calcium hydroxide. The whole container is made of steel and is entirely sterile.
So, it works like this:
Ask longtime Michigan residents where in the state they live and chances are that they’ll hold up their right palm and point out their hometown upon it—the shape of a hand held up approximating that of Michigan’s lower peninsula.
Ask an outdoor enthusiast who’s in-the-know where Michigan’s best kayaking trip is and chances are said enthusiast will hold up a right palm and point to its thumb. It is at the thumb where paddlers find the wonderful cliffs and clear waters of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay.
Since June 2010, the hottest attraction in Orlando has been the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a part of Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park. If you are vacationing in Central Florida with young Muggles, odds are high that they’ve tugged on your arm begging you to take them there.
The good news for adults is that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, while far from mind blowingly amazing, does have cool elements to it. There’s also one piece of advice that in itself can make your visit there turn out somewhere between tolerable and fun.