Adventure Writer Peter Stark signs a copy of his latest book, "Astoria" at the Oblong Books and Music store.

Adventure Writer Peter Stark signs a copy of his latest book, “Astoria” at the Oblong Books and Music store.

Peter Stark

See the resemblance? Maybe the big eyes or the bushy brow or the curse of the cowlick?

This is adventurer, essayist and exploration writer Peter Stark, making a book signing appearance at Oblong Books and Music in Rhinebeck earlier tonight. His latest treasure is called “Astoria, John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire,” a story of wealth, ambition and survival.

Coming from Albany, I was (fashionably) 15 minutes late for the start of his riveting presentation. He was already in the throws of intriguing character descriptions and history lines, breaking occasionally to read favorite passages from his book, when I raced from my car to find a seat.

For those of us who have yet to read the extraordinary true story, Stark warned of spoiler alerts but his revelations did little to temper the suspense of the exploration. In a nutshell, in 1810, John Jacob Astor sent out two advance parties to settle the wild, unclaimed western coast of North America. More than half of his men died violent deaths. The others survived starvation, madness, and greed to shape the destiny of a continent.

When asked if he explores the areas he writes about, specifically for inspiration, Wisconsin native Stark replied with a resounding “Yes, of course!” To read his latest harrowing tale, pick up a copy at Oblong or your local bookstore.

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Lodging at Silver Star in Park City

by Sonja Stark on April 15, 2014

Want to learn more about Resorts West properties?  Go to: www.resortswest.com/silverstar

Want to learn more about Resorts West properties? Go to: www.http://www.resortswest.com/silverstar

Did you watch the SKI Dream House video I shot, a few blogs ago? It’s a rich sell for Resorts West but should you need more affordable lodging, they offer a vast collection of options.

Here’s a Spring Skiing video for your liking, shot on location in Park City a few weeks ago.

As told by Resorts West Director of Marketing, Lincoln Hoffman, this video combines the mining history of the area with skiing at Park City Resort and the beautiful condo I stayed in called Silver Star.

For more information, visit www.resortswest.com/silverstar.

To see the video, CLICK HERE ~

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Travel, More than Seeing Sights

by Sonja Stark on April 15, 2014

Intrepid traveler logoA wonderful film made by Intrepid Travel’s food travel partners, US-based couple Daniel Klein and MirraFine of The Perennial Plate. It encapsulates a series of monuments filmed by Daniel and Mirra on their Real Food World Tour across 12 countries, including China, Japan, Turkey, Italy and Spain.

To see this video, go to TOUTUBE ~

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Tax Day, live like a billionaire

by Sonja Stark on April 15, 2014

Dream Home

The SKI Dream Home Resort is a rental thanks to Resorts West

Park City is where the wealthy go to escape. It’s a ski enclave where movie moguls, dot-com billionaires, politicians, investment bankers, business executives and celebrities, descent to ski, enjoy a culinary hotbed or attend Sundance. It’s also where homes cost roughly 60 percent more than the national average.

In honor of Tax Day, I thought I’d show you what you too could have if your taxes were as low as the rich and famous. High up Summit View Drive, a private gated community that loops past magnificent $20-million homes, is a property where the rest of us can live large – if only for one night. I was given rare access (for no more than 45 minutes) to video this magnificent ski rental bordering Deer Valley Ski Resort.

The dream home (literally a slope-side ski chalet) is owned by the vacation rental company Resorts West. If you can find 16 friends to go in on the experience, you can rent all 13,500 square feet for $16,500/night. Okay, you still need a trust fund to afford this opportunity but the chance is there.

This exclusive home has even been rented by Robert Redford to show films during his Sundance Movie festival. Amenities include six bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, 15 fireplaces, outdoor pools, 2 wine bars, steam rooms, sauna, golf simulator, grand theater, native trout aquarium, ski in and ski out access, complimentary shuttle, daily housekeeping and much more.

To see the video, click HERE ~

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Travel to Africa, Save an Elephant

by Sonja Stark on April 10, 2014

OutsideGO_elephantsWith a yellow marker in hand, I devour Outside magazine regularly, especially in flight. Besides riveting reads, the editors list the camera, lens and settings used to take the perfect accompanying photo.

Besides that, they talk about the best trips, outfitters, luggage and guides and in February they launched an extension of the magazine called OutsideGO. In partnership with Chip and Sandy Cunningham, veteran outfitters, the 25 global excursions are said to be “exiting, inspiring, epic and one-of-a-kind.”

And here’s another reason to travel with OutsideGo; their most recent itinerary and marketing strategy shatters the status quo. Today they launched a filmmaking safari to help save elephants in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District from poachers. Through an inspiring film workshop, the trip will empower eight aspiring filmmakers to create a short film that documents the worsening crisis facing some of Africa’s most charismatic wildlife.

With a full support team on hand at all times, the eight participants will work together to craft a documentary that will reveal the heart-wrenching plight of Kenya’s elephants to a worldwide audience, encouraging real and lasting action across the globe.

Guided by seasoned war journalist and accomplished documentary and IMAX filmmaker, Dominic Cunningham-Reid, each filmmaker will be immersed in Africa’s mysterious soul to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly – and how they can make a change.

“As a filmmaker, I’m determined to apply my experience to a different kind of conservation message, one more essential now than ever as booming Africa comes at the cost of nature, and I really look forward to doing this with like-minded participants.” Dominic Cunningham Reid, Filmmaker and Conservationist.

Read the full interview with Dominic Cunningham-Reid at OutsideGO.com

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Hiking the Wasatch Mountain Range

by Sonja Stark on April 9, 2014

Mormon mud sticks to your shoe like glue in SLC, Utah.

Mormon mud sticks to your shoe like glue in SLC, Utah.

Before leaving SLC last week, I made a final push for the living room. Not the plush sitting space of my hotel room but a popular climb overlooking Salt Lake City.

No more than 3 miles with an elevation gain of just under 1000 feet, the hike proved an easy climb before my flight home on Friday.

On top, manmade sandstone rocks have been arranged to create the illusion of furniture. Careful not to get too comfortable though. I stretched out on a tippy section of slab, as if it were a recliner, and nearly keeled over.

With several downtrodden trails, my hiking companion and I traversed the least muddy route to the top.

Like the drives we had taken earlier through the Wasatch canyons, I was expecting to see mountain goats leaping from boulder to boulder among the red scree. Or perhaps deer, elk or moose along the ridgeline? Rather, the furry best friend kind were happily unleashed and easily scrambling past us.

For more information on any of the activities I enjoyed this week in Utah, visit SKI UTAH and VISIT SALT LAKE.

Hiking Living Room Trail

Hiking Living Room Trail

Hiking Living Room Trail

Hiking Living Room Trail

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