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Spring sports are starting- are you ready?

According to Punxsutawney Phil, spring is still a few weeks away, but many ‘spring sports’ practices are in full swing, and games are just around the corner. From baseball to track, soccer, and lacrosse, parents everywhere are gearing up for a lot of quality time on the sidelines.

March and April are fickle months; one day you’re sweating in a t shirt, and the next, shivering in your ski jacket. Temperature highs and lows often fluctuate 20° or more during the spring, depending on your location. Planning ahead for weather at outdoor activities in the spring can be a challenge, since temperatures often shift dramatically throughout the day. Here are some best practices to help you get through various outdoor activities in changeable weather.

Layering

Everyone knows that layering is a good idea, but most people don’t really know how (or what) to layer for optimum comfort. To start with, each layer has a function. The base layer (against your skin) keeps you dry, the mid (or insulating) layer protects you from the cold, and the outer layer protects you from wind and rain. Mix and match as needed; if wind and rain aren’t concerns, the first two layers may be sufficient.

If you regularly attend outdoor sporting events or go camping, it’s probably worth investing in decent equipment. Most high-quality brands are designed to take a beating and last for years. Do your research — visiting a reputable outdoor gear shop or reading reviews online can be a good start.

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Addressing physical comfort

For most folks, standing during an entire little league double-header is not a good time. Bleacher seating is not much better- think hard, cold metal + annoying sports parents. Of course, we shamelessly recommend sitting in style (and comfort) in our Chaheati camp chairs. With four heated settings and a comfortable, durable design, our chairs are second-to-none when it comes to unpredictable temperatures.

Food & Beverages

Another way to keep warm or cool off at a game is from the inside out! A mug of nice, hot coffee makes a frosty, early morning event downright enjoyable, while a cold soda or bottle of water can be a life-saver in more sweltering conditions. Keeping those beverages and snacks at the proper temperature can be challenging, but an insulated cooler like this one can make a big difference to your enjoyment of that hot pastrami sandwich or cup of icy lemonade. (If you’re headed to a tailgate, check out these insulated shot glasses.)

No matter what sport your kid/niece/grandson plays, you’re bound to enjoy it more with a little advanced preparation. Sit back (preferably in your Chaheati chair), relax, and stay comfy, friends!

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Spring Activities: How to Enjoy the Outdoors More in the Spring

For many the call of spring means melting snow and cleaner homes. For others it’s a time of renewal and new-found motivation. And while temperatures still fluctuate between warm and brisk, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the outdoors during the spring. In fact, there are many outdoor activities that are better done during a chilly spring morning or evening.

Camping during the spring can be a real treat due to the contrast of comfortable midday temperatures with brisk nighttime air. You may not notice this phenomenon as much if you live in the city, but those who reside in the country understand. Go hiking during the day in your shorts but then slide into your pants in the evening. By the time the sun has fully set, you’ll probably want to pull up a Chaheati and sit by the campfire. And in the morning you’ll be greeted to frosty or cold, dewy grass. If you’re prepared for both warm and cold temperatures, spring camping can be truly amazing.

While debatably a sport of opportunity, horseback riding ranks highly among spring activities for many of the same reasons. A cool spring morning is the perfect time to ride full gallop through a field or trot down a mountain trail. The chilly air racing across your face will remind you that you’re alive, while you fully enjoy the blossoming trees and flowers. If you don’t have horses of your own, planning an outdoor spring excursion with horses is still possible, especially through specialty travel agents like Hidden Trails.

When talking about spring outdoor activities, it’s difficult not to mention the barbeque. Lighting up the charcoal or gas grill for the first time acts as reminder that yes, spring is here. The first spring barbeque makes the perfect excuse to invite your friends and family over. When the cool night air arrives, pull up the camp chairs outside and keep the party warm by the fire pit. Share stories and catch up with what’s been going on with your friends. You may even feel inspired and begin planning your next spring outdoor vacation while your there.

This excellent springtime activity — great when the weather is still brisk — may surprise you: stream and river cleanups. The National River Cleanup initiative strives to keep citizens informed of the importance of the nation’s rivers and streams. With massive amounts of trash making its way into America’s streams and rivers each year, it’s important volunteers help with putting garbage where it belongs. Why is spring great for this? In early spring the ground is still slightly firm and easier to tread on in the morning, especially around waterways. Cleanups around the banks of rivers and streams are considerably easier when you’re not getting stuck in mud the entire time.

In all, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy spring outdoor activities. Don’t let a little bit of cool air indoors keep you inside. Let nature’s call of spring lead you out of the house and into the great outdoors.

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Support Your National Parks This Spring

Americans are increasingly turning to national park vacations as a cheaper travel alternative. In 2009, U.S. national parks nearly set a new record in overall attendance. And while numbers dipped again in 2010, overall attendance remains strong among the best national parks in the country. And for good reason: U.S. national parks are among the best in the world.

Despite the dip in attendance in 2010, several U.S. national parks set or nearly set new records. After seeing several years or attendance increases, Yellowstone National Park saw another record shatter last year, with over 3.6 million people visiting the park. Glacier National Park in Montana was another park that saw a surge of attendance in 2010, falling a mere 3,800 people short of its 1983 record of 2,203,847 visitors in 1983.

Yet whispers of a potential government shutdown are causing alarm, with concerns that a repeat of 1995’s nearly month-long closure of national parks could drastically affect those planning spring activities in those locations. Additional funding cuts to national parks are being proposed as part of the budgeting process occurring in Congress, drawing an even darker shadow. “We need to keep our national parks open and well-funded,” said John Gardner, a budget and legislation representative with the National Parks Conservation Association. “During a time of economic hardship, we need to adequately fund the places that protect our American heritage and draw tourists from throughout the world.”

It’s difficult not to agree with Mr. Gardner. Americans have been keeping travel more local over the last several years, meaning more tourist dollars for already cash-strapped states. It would be a shame if national parks had to shut down because of budget issues. That’s why it’s more important than ever to support your national parks. Grab your national parks pass, camp chair, and tent, and see America’s beauty. Let your representative know that national parks should be free of the whims of politicians. Tell them that national parks are not merely local draws: people from around the world wish to experience our natural wonders.

Finally, if national parks do get shut down this spring, don’t be afraid to turn to state parks or private museums for your vacation. State parks and attractions are having their share of budget woes. They often don’t have the same pizzazz as national parks, but there’s still plenty to be discovered.