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Archive for May, 2014

5 Ways To Enjoy The Outdoors For Free

Posted on: May 23rd, 2014 by Quik Shade


Getting out of the house or the apartment and enjoying the outdoors is a great way to unwind from the stresses of everyday living in society. It’s healthy for the body and the soul to free yourself from the stress that work and the life in the city can bring on. Most people think that this requires a financial commitment, big or small, what with the fees to go camping or fishing, or sometimes just having to pay to get into somewhere like a national park.

But there are ways out there that one can enjoy the great outdoors for free that are not as far off as one might think. Here is a simple list of activities that one can partake in for free that will get you out and enjoying nature.

Go for a Hike

This is the most obvious one, and someone does not necessarily have to have the right equipment to do this. All you need is a pair of sturdy shoes, a backpack with lunch and some water in itm and off you go. There are countless places to find out and go for a hike all across the country, even for those who live in major metropolitan areas. All it takes is some research and usually a short drive to find a good place to get out and go for a hike. Make sure to bring some food and stay hydrated, and take some pictures while you are out to remind yourself later how nice it was.

Go for a Bike Ride

When someone thinks of The Outdoors, it is usually taken to mean nature, away from society, far out somewhere that is removed from the everyday living of civilization. But this does not necessarily have to be the case. Nature is all around us, and the outdoors are, well, out the front door. Get on your bike (assuming you have one, of course) and take a ride somewhere, enjoying the sun, trees, birds and so on. The exercise and leisure of it will definitely help your mental and emotional state tremendously, and hopefully it will help you get out and do it more.

But if you are really looking to get away somewhere remote, there is always heading out for a good mountain bike ride somewhere in nature. Again, there are plenty of places that one can head out and find a trail to make some tracks on, getting out into the thick on nature and flying along on two wheels. Just make sure to bring some food for energy and plenty of water, and, of course, be safe and wear a helmet. Watch out for those rocks!

Head to the Beach

One of the most relaxing places that one can get out and enjoy the outdoors in is at the beach. This is, again, assuming that you might live near a beach or a large lake, but that’s nothing that a good drive won’t fix. Make sure to bring some food for lunch and sunscreen so you don’t get burned. Even better, bring that canopy you have and set up some chairs underneath of it, sitting back and relaxing with some drinks and that book you’ve been meaning to start reading.

Closer Than You Think!

There is always getting out and enjoying nature right in your own backyard, literally. Being in the outdoors does not mean one has to take a long drive and head to somewhere remote  in order to enjoy the fruits of nature. Just set up that canopy and those chairs right on the back lawn on a nice day, get that book mentioned earlier, and relax, enjoying the sounds of the birds and the wind through the trees.

Go Fishing

Assuming you have all the necessary gear and know-how, head for a fishing trip somewhere nearby. Fishing is one of the most leisurely things you can do, with the added bonus of possibly catching something. Bring along a lunch, a cooler, and those chairs and set up right next to the river or lake and have at it. And good luck, too!

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10 Activities To Add To Your Bucket List

Posted on: May 21st, 2014 by Quik Shade


Everyone has a list of things that need to be tried before passing away from this world. For everyone it’s different, depending on what has already been done and what someone’s interests and desires are. But if you find yourself lacking in this list, not really too sure what to think when it comes to doing things before you die, then here is a brief list that should help you out.


There is a big world out there, full of fascinating people and places for one to experience. And traveling somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to drop a lot of money to do so. It all depends on your comfort level. There are cheap flights and deals on airline tickets that you can keep an eye out for, as well as inexpensive hotels and even hostels all across the world that afford comfortable living.

Go To A Resort

Who doesn’t like to be pampered a bit? Going to an all-inclusive resort is something that is definitely worth the money, and it is something that you will remember for the rest of your life. There are numerous places to go all over the world that offer things like massages, horseback riding, tennis lessons, nature hikes, so on and so forth.

Go Skydiving

The rush of skydiving is something that no one forgets. Who likes to jump out of a perfectly good plane and fall at terminal velocity? Someone who has a bucket list might. Despite what most think, the safety involved in skydiving is extremely thorough, so much to the point that people usually take a few day classes beforehand just to make sure everything is down pat.

See a Concert

Going out to see your favorite band perform live on stage is something that you will cherish as a memory for a long time. With the crowd and the showmanship, the noise and the electric vibes, going to see a concert (or two? or three?) is as awesome experience that leaves your ears ringing and your heart thumping.

Attend a Music Festival

Instead of seeing one concert, why not go to a place where you can see several all in a row? Music festivals are great places to see and meet a variety of interesting people. And not only is there music, but food and activities and dancing as well. Here are some tips to stay cool while you’re there.

Scuba Diving

The beauty of the ocean is one of the most wondrous things that one can experience in nature. This is also something that you will not soon forget. Make sure to take along one of those underwater cameras to capture sights and moments that you will love to remind yourself of later.

Take a Cruise

Again with the pampering! Cruises are one of the most leisurely and adventurous things that somebody can do for themselves. There are a variety of places that one can take a cruise to. And with the offshore traveling and on-boat activities, going for a cruise is something that will be worth remembering.

Rekindle Old Friendships

Using the internet, a very rewarding thing you can do is reach out and find old friends to get back into contact with. Sharing old memories and making new ones is a special thing that we should all do while we still have time in this life.

Go Back To School

Have you ever wished that you knew how to draw or play the guitar? Have you wanted to know the full history of this culture or that country? Colleges are a great place to pick up knowledge on things you always wish you had known. Go back to school to pick up some knowledge on things that you would like to get to know before you die.

Pick Up A Hobby

One thing that tends to shorten the lifespan of people, especially those who are retired, is boredom. Make sure to stave it off by doing a hobby, something that you think you might enjoy or have in the past. This is a great way to keep yourself active and stimulated by doing something creative. 

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Get More Than Fresh Air From Outdoor Activities

Posted on: May 19th, 2014 by Quik Shade


Getting into the outdoors and taking a breath of fresh air is one of the healthiest things that someone can do for themselves. Going for a long hike or riding your bike through the mountains does more than just invigorate your body, it eases the mind and the soul. Going in groups is a great way to have a bonding experience with others, especially with people like your family.

When going for a hike or a camping trip, try to appreciate the beauty of the natural world that is around you. Make sure to admire the peace and quiet that exists away from the bustle of city life. City life can be hectic and stressful what with the traffic, long lines, constant noise, and other stressed out, hyperactive people. Living a constant city life with all those environmental stressors can actually decrease one’s lifespan. So, get out of there as much as you can and escape to the outdoors where relief from stress exists in plentitude. It will help you get grounded and back to your normal self so that you may go back and be able to face the world with a clear mind.

Take Pictures

Take as many pictures as you can and review them often. The memory of the natural world and revisiting the ones you made while out in nature will help you return to the serenity that you experienced while out among the natural world.

It might be beneficial to start journaling, and take that journal with you while you are in the outdoors and make entries daily. After you have come home and made a few more while back in society, read back on them and compare how your mind was before and after taking a trip into the wilderness.

Diversify where you go as well. There are countless places to visit here within the United States, all of them offering something new and different for you to experience. There are regular local campgrounds and hiking trails, and then there are national parks and preserves, just to name some. What with the deserts, forests, beaches and prairies that we can find in our country, one will have more than enough places to visit in one lifetime.

Set Aside Time

Make sure to set aside some long periods of time during the year to take longer trips- don’t just go for day trips all of the time. The longer you are away and enjoying the outdoors, the better you will feel during and after. it will go fast, sometimes too fast, and you’ll look back on it and wonder where the time went.

There are groups designed to bring together the adventurous type of person to go into the outdoors with. Don’t go by yourself; find a group of people who are like minded in the interest of the outdoors and stick with them. This is a great way to make friends or maybe meet someone special.

Take care when going into the outdoors though. For many, it is out of their element, what with being away from society and all. There are hazards to be taken into account when going out into nature. The elements are one of them. When camping, we are out of the safety of a climate controlled environment, so be prepared for very hot and very cold weather.

Camp Prepared

If camping in a camping site, take extra blankets and clothing for those cold nights, and have a canopy or two ready for those hot and sunny days. In some places, the temperature variation from night to day can be drastic. For example, while camping in a place like Joshua Tree, California, out in the desert, it has been known to happen that one can cook an egg on a rock during the day and have a water bottle left outside of the tent freeze at night.

Being prepared and ready to absorb the fruits of nature will make your going outdoors more than just a leisurely trip- it will turn it into a special experience that one will enjoy remembering, hungry to have more of it. 

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The Top 5 Family Resorts For Summer 2014

Posted on: May 16th, 2014 by Quik Shade

The Top 5 Family Resorts For Summer 2014

It’s difficult to really choose where in the country one might want to go for a nice vacation. If you’re aiming at a resort, the field gets even more overwhelming, what with all of the choices that are out there these days. It is an expensive proposition, trying to decide exactly where to stay and how much you can spend. You don’t necessarily have to fly to Jamaica or other exotic locations in order to have a good time. Here is a guide to some of the best places to take the family in the country, some of them being in places that one might not have expected.

Tyler Place Family Resort, VT

Nestled comfortably next to the shores of Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont, this resort is one of the few that enjoys having a staggering 90 percent return rate of the people who choose to stay there. It is a family run resort that was set up back in the 1950’s and was one of the pioneers of having an all-inclusive set up for their customers. The best kind of all-inclusive resorts have a large array of activities offered in far away picturesque places. This fits that description.

Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, GA

This is the kind of place that one should take the family if you really wanted to get away from it all. Reached only by boat, this humble little place only can accommodate a maximum amount of 32 guests at a time. It was a private hunting lodge built in 1917, but opened up to the general public in the 1970s as a resort. The lodge is within a 10,000 acre nature sanctuary, so you are bound to come across a large array of wildlife. If you take the family here, prepare yourself for VIP treatment. Rates include meals, snacks, and all beverages; naturalist-guided hikes, kayak tours, fishing trips, reptile safaris, and evening owl prowls; boat transfers to and from the island; and unlimited use of the island activities and recreation gear.

Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Steamboat Springs, CO

If you’re into the rugged kind of getaway, with rolling fields and high mountains, horseback riding and hiking, then this is the place to go. Here, one can learn to ride horseback, herd cattle, watch the kids compete in a just-for-fun rodeo (which we hope doesn’t include actual bull-riding!) and then unwind after a long day of great activities in their private jacuzzi included with your private cabin. Rates include meals and all beverages; horseback riding; guided hiking, biking, and fly-fishing; river rafting and kayaking; kids’ and teens’ programs; evening barn dances and rodeos; and shuttle service to and from Steamboat Springs.

Travaasa Austin, TX

Moving more into the natural side of things, this resort is what is known as a holistic retreat house. Located on the edge of the 24,000-acre Balcones Canyonland Preserve. It’s the kind of place where you can go for a gorgeous hike, take a cooking class, have a massage, and enjoy a gourmet farm-to-table meal all in the same day. Leave time to chill in the infinity pool, which delivers a panorama of the hill country landscape. The rates include meals, snacks, and nonalcoholic beverages; challenge course, yoga, culinary, and other group classes; and a $125 resort credit good toward spa treatments, a private class, or golf.

Club Med Sandpiper Bay, FL

If you’re looking for more of the classic paradise kind of getaway, then head to Club Med Sandpiper Bay down in Florida. Club Med is one of the most world-famous all-inclusive brands of resorts. This place boasts one of the best kids programs and a full-service nursery, as well as having a circus school where kids can learn the art of being a clown, and a full-on tennis academy. The setting on the sandy banks of the St. Lucie River is perfect for kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding.

The Best Outdoor Markets In America

Posted on: May 14th, 2014 by Quik Shade


A good outdoor market is the kind of places one can find the best produce in town and some odds and ends that aren’t sold anywhere else. If you haven’t experienced one of these, then it is highly recommended that you drop by one at some point and take it all in. Here is a guide to some of the best outdoor markets in the country, so find one near you and head on over.

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, CA

Every Wednesday and Saturday year-round, this outdoor market can be found in famous Santa Monica, CA. Drop on by to pick up honey from Bill’s Bees, fruit from Avila and Sons Farm, mushrooms from Clearwater Farms and bison from Lindner Bison.

There are some great places nearby to visit and get some food, such as sushi spot Sugarfish and bistro-style Fig Restaurant. The markets also offer cooking classes for those who feel they need to brush up on their chef skills, as well as green-living workshops and gardening seminars for adults and kids alike.

Green City Market, Chicago, IL

Held in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, this market starts its outdoor activities on the 5th of May. Held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the market focuses on local and sustainable food, with 55 diverse stalls filled with more than 20 varieties of plums, elk and tamales.

Well-known local chefs, Dale Levitski from Sprout and Rick Bayless from Topolobampo, will perform cooking demonstrations throughout the summer, so head on over to watch them perform their expertise. And on May 12th, you can head on over for the Green Street Market Barbecue, where you can sample barbecue from top restaurants and locally made beer.

Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University, OR

Portland itself has seven large outdoor markets, all of them notable in their own right, but the biggest and the best on to visit is the one held on the campus of Portland State University. Running from March until December, the Saturday market features more than 160 vendors selling local, in-season items like kale, radishes, carrots and scallions.

And keep your eye out for the new kids on the block that show up to the market to sell their wares- Temptress Truffles will sell locally harvested mushrooms and huckleberries along with truffle butter, oil and salt. The local chefs start coming out and showing off their skills at around 10 AM, and the kids can get their hands dirty with lessons from the students who attend The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland.

Nashville Farmers Market, TN

Having started back in the 1800’s, this open air market boasts a good reputation, solidified by time and effort on part of the locals. It is hosted in three separate areas:  the Farm Side with most of the food vendors, the Market House with restaurants and a café, and then the Flea Market that sells crafts like pottery and jewelry.

Head over to the food stalls to get your hands on some tubs of chèvre from Noble Springs Dairy and spicy kettle corn by Moose Head Kettle Corn. The market is held all year round, so check the seasonal calendar that they have to see what is coming up. Check out the Night Market on June 15, when the market stays open after hours starting at 6:30 p.m. Restaurants will provide special menus, and Market House merchants who normally show on Saturdays will open up.

Union Square Greenmarket, New York City, NY

This is one of New York’s most recognized open air markets, and it happens every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in Union Square Park. During the market’s peak season, expect to find 140 vendors from around the region selling everything from dried lavender sachets to emu and ostrich eggs.

Cooking demonstrations take place every week, and on Mondays, kids can stop by the Greenmarket Youth Education Station and get a tour of the local market, meeting farmers along the way. And on May 30th, Fishmonger Stephanie Villani and chef Robin Puskas will teach you how clean, fillet and cook sea trout.

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A Guide To Upgrading Your Outdoor Lounge Area

Posted on: May 12th, 2014 by Quik Shade

A Guide To Upgrading Your Outdoor Lounge Area

If you’re one of those people who has a patio that is not being used, or a space in your backyard that could easily be changed into something worthwhile, then this is a little guide that can provide a few tips on upgrading it into something that is worth envying, a place that you can entertain guests and lounge on with pride.

The Patio

First off, when it comes to patios, most the time the wood used to make the patio can be old and sometimes either rotted out or hit with a termite infestation. Make sure to check out the patio to make sure that none of this has happened. If it has, then the unfortunate and rather expensive task of fixing or completely replacing your patio will have to happen. However, as burdensome as this might seem, if it is done, then this is the kind of fix that will last a long time and be worth it in the long run.

The Setting

Next, take into account the ambiance of the house and the backyard as a whole. Like the frame of a painting, the surroundings of where your outdoor area are add to the way it is received by yourself and others. Ask yourself if the house might need to get some touching up on the trim, or the roof needs to be worked on a bit. Take a look at the backyard lawn and the plants growing around. Should they be touched up a bit? Would some rose bushes or other kinds of plants need to be added? Taking into account these kinds of details will help the way you feel about your backyard and accompanying patio.

The Furniture

For a outdoor lounge area to be successful, there must be, of course, lounging. Do you have patio furniture? If you do, what kind of condition is it in? Does it need to be replaced? Take into account how many people you think you might want to have over for a party or a barbecue. Do you have enough patio furniture? The right kind of furniture makes all the difference and is worth an investment, much like the fixing of a patio or deck.

A good canopy makes all the difference as well when it comes to having an effective backyard lounging area. In the summer it is going to get hot and sunny, and in the winter, there is going to be rain. You don’t want to have your backyard area that you’ve put so much time and money into only be used during certain times of the year, while the rest of the year it just goes unused. So, invest in the kind of canopy that can keep the hot, beating sun off of you and your guests, as well as one that will stop the rain when it comes pouring down.

The Details

Like any fine art piece, greatness can lie in the details. You’ve got your new patio, the mowed lawn and tendered plants, the clean walls of the house and patched roof. You’ve got your new patio furniture and strong canopy. But now, you have to pay attention to the little things. These little things are commonly referred to as accessories.

Hang a few potted plants from the tree and the railing of your patio. Maybe have a few of the larger kind decorating the perimeter of your patio and backyard, and make sure to keep them watered.

There are also a lot of different kinds of accessories that one can include in their backyard lounging area. These are things like a barbecue, a hammock, tiki torches, a fire pit, a space heater for those cold days, a thermometer, hanging lamps, some weatherproof art pieces, and so on.

Go Forth!

This should help you get the kind of backyard lounging area that you want, the kind that will last a long time and be able to entertain your friends. Make sure you invest in quality items too, so they last you a long time and hold up against the wear and tear of all the parties that you are going to have.

5 Summer Activities That Can Bring Your Family Together

Posted on: May 9th, 2014 by Quik Shade


Summer is a time when the kids are off school, the weather is great and people are getting out and doing things, enjoying the sun while it lasts. Summer is a great time to get the family together and go out and do things together, making great memories and getting closer to one another. 

There are a variety of things that families can do together during the summertime, and usually not during the winter due to the cold and the rain and whatnot. Here is a list that should help you get some ideas.

Go Camping!

Summer is a great time to get out and go camping out in nature while the weather is still tolerable. It is hard to find a good camping site in the winter due to the cold, rain, snow, all depending on where you live.

There are great camp sites all across the country that are open to people who want to get out and enjoy nature. Seeing as you would be camping in the summer, it is going to get hot and sunny. So, being a canopy or two to set your chairs up underneath so that you can get some shade while at your campsite.

Remember to take into account that you are in nature among the animals, who love your food, so take care to keep your food properly protected against those critters, small and large, that might come by at night to raid your ice chest. Lastly, don’t forget the sunblock!

Off To The Beach!

The beach is one of the best places to go to during the summer, but sadly, not everyone who lives in the United States has access to the coast or a large lake. But for those of you who do, make sure to take plenty of sunblock and a canopy as well to stave off the power of the sun. Set up your chairs underneath, read a book, watch the kids play and enjoy the sound of the surf while on your day at the beach.

Go for a Hike!

Again, as it is with camping, there are plenty of places to go for a nice day hike with the family, even if you live in a large metropolitan area. All it takes is a short drive to the nearest woods or mountain range to find a good place to put on your daypack and head out for a hike with the family. Bring the dog, too! They sure love to go out and find all the interesting things to sniff. Make sure to take plenty of water and wear sunscreen too, as well as maybe a light lunch for that halfway point.

Go To A Music Festival!

Summertime is when most of the music festivals that happen across the country are taking place. There are festivals for every type of music genre out there, and you are sure to find one that is suitable for the whole family. Again, seeing as it is summertime and it gets hot and sunny out in those big open fields that music festivals commonly take place in, make sure to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen, as well as bringing a canopy with you, if you are allowed to bring one in to where you are going.

Tailgating Fun

Summertime is also the time for sports, the kind that you can go and have a tailgating party at the stadium before heading off to the big game. Bring that barbecue and the folding chairs, plenty of food and cold beverages, and that canopy too, because it is going to get hot in those parking lots.

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How To Stay Cool At An Outdoor Music Festival

Posted on: May 7th, 2014 by Quik Shade


Who doesn’t love a good music festival? They are springing up all over the country in places that one might next expect, following the new genres of music that are coming out all the time. One issue that seems to follow music festivals, however, is the weather. It always seems to either be too cold or too hot at a festival, with good weather being a rarity.

The hot weather seems to pervade, and someone should take care when going to a festival to stay cool and not get overheated. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are bad things, and should generally be avoided.

 Drink Plenty of Water

One of the main reasons people get into trouble in the heat is because of the fact that they are not hydrating enough. When people get too warm, they sweat, and when they sweat, even though they might not notice it at first, they are losing bodily fluids that help keep one cool. The more these get lost and not replenished, the more the body gets heated and cannot cool down, which leads to things like heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Sometimes, at festivals and other similar types of gatherings, the venues are selling things like water for too much, like $3 a bottle, so make sure to bring your own, maybe even a camelback or something like that, and refill it as often as you can. This way, you are sure to stay cool and not suffer the effects of not having enough water in your body during a hot climate.

Stay in the Shade

This might not be as easy as one might think, because most music festivals are held in wide open areas, like parks, where there is little shade. The stage is ideally set up in front of a wide open space with no trees or canopies so that everyone can view the show and not have their sight obstructed by something. So, if at all possible, find something that provides shade to stand under. If nothing is available, make sure to wear a hat so as to keep the sun off of your head and face.

If there are places that have shade, like off to the side of the showing area where one might be able to stand and cool off then do so from time to time- take a break from the show and go cool off so you don’t get too overheated and start to have problems, possible ruining the show for yourself. Check out our portable canopy lineup.

Bring a Canopy

If shade is not available, then make your own. It may be that certain venues will not allow someone to bring in their own canopy due to the fact that if they set it up in the middle of the crowd or something like that, people will not be able to see the show. But, make sure to have one in the car just in case they allow you to bring it in- you’ll be glad you did.

Wear Sunblock

Sometimes, sunblock can actually make someone hotter if it is too high of an SPF (sun protection factor) because the higher the SPF, the thicker the liquid is. When this is the case, the thick liquid of the sunblock will block the pores in which the sweat comes out of the skin, making it unable to cool the body off. But this situation is easily avoided- just wear a lower SPF sunscreen, like 15 or 20… 10 even, if you feel you will be alright with that. Sunscreen will help your skin from not getting too hot, keeping your body cool in the process.

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