Subscription Preview

To read the full article, you must log in or subscribe. Enter your email address:

The joys of 'virtual hiking'

Couch potatoes, rejoice: Pretty soon, you won't have to actually set foot on a trail through the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone national parks. Instead, you'll be able to enjoy an online "virtual hiking expedition," compliments of the energy-bar maker Nature Valley. The company hired crews with 360-degree cameras to hike 100 miles through each national park in order to "bring the parks experience to the indoors and outdoors-oriented alike," reports Nature Valley marketer Scott Baldwin explained that showing a picture of wilderness is easy, "but people want to have deeper experiences." And what could be deeper than experiencing something on your computer screen? So sometime next year, prepare to kick back, click on Trailview and let your virtual muscles do the walking.

Jefferson County's schools in the Denver area have long been innovators in the world of marketing, engaging in efforts that Click and Clack, the "car guys" who have an hour-long program on National Public Radio, might mock as "shameless commerce." But what's a school district to do in this era of starved budgets and crowded classrooms? Jeffco's latest foray into advertising is selling 2-inch banners on the bottom of all report cards; the client is an education savings plan called CollegeInvest.

Fed up with a husband who interacted only with videogames, Alyse Bradley of Logan, Utah, put Kyle Bradley up for sale on Craigslist, calling him "easy to maintain, just feed and water every 3-5 hours." She quickly got some takers, reports the Salt Lake Tribune, though a few people felt that Kyle, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, deserved whatever time he needed to play "Modern Warfare" from the safety of his couch.

It may not make intuitive sense, but the Washington Post reports that even as we clutter our homes with just about every winking electronic gadget that's ever been made (usually in some faraway Asian country), Americans are on the path to using less electricity. Demand is leveling off because of several factors, with the main reason being greater efficiency. Light bulbs and other electric appliances are being manufactured both to use less energy and last longer; houses are shrinking and being made tighter; and there's a growing consensus among consumers that, especially given the grim economy, it's time to stop being profligate with electricity. "In general, it is now cheaper for utilities to help customers cut back than to build a power plant," the experts say. Still, this could change if some irresistible new product comes along that requires lots of juice, or if electric cars that plug into the grid go mainstream.

From our friends

A constant commitment to the environment

Needless to say, we love and appreciate the fine work all of you do to illustrate the importance of our constant commitment to the environment.

Thanks to all of you for illuminating the critical issues of our world, country and the West. Keep up the great work!

Jeff and Lisa,
Atlanta, Georgia

HCN in the outhouses of the West

From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor