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Showing posts with label World Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Travel. Show all posts

Dive Minnow Caves, Key Largo, FL

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True what they say : "There is a whole new world down there ! " I beat myself up every day for not being able to go scuba diving while in Florida :(

Well, that's what my Bucket List is for...

If you are a recreational diver or just thinking about trying our scuba diving, I recommend adding "Scuba diving in Florida" to your Bucket List !

Minnow Cave is one of the best-known coral caves in the Florida Keys, and is home to many of the namesake species. The cave is part of the Northern Dry Rocks, which is a shallow reef with depths up to fifteen feet. The reef is smaller than the Key Largo Dry Rocks but offers everything except for the well-known Christ of the Deep statue. However, divers may prefer this site if they are not particularly interested in the statue and are looking for a less populated location.

 The filtered sunlight and shallow depth also makes this a great spot for snorkeling. Divers at this site will be amazed by the slick movements of the glass minnows that hover around the opening to the cave. Groupers and great barracuda are also commonly seen here. Divers who choose to explore crevices will find Florida's spiny lobster hiding away. This is a great dive for those looking to avoid heavy traffic but still experience a beautiful location.

The reef is marked off by three mooring buoys with the letter "N" inscribed upon them. This area contains a .05 square nautical mile Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) which is marked by yellow buoys.

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Kayaking Amongst Kalapana Lava Flows In Hawaii

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You know how you set one goal/dream, and then, on your way to reach it, you realize it's not grand enough ?

I've never been to Hawaii, and while planning my tip, among "must do things" like surfing in Oahu, or scuba diving in Maui, I also wanted to see the famous Kilauea Volcano.

Kīlauea, being the only volcano in the world that is simultaneously active enough to be interesting, docile enough to be harmless, and carefully monitored enough to be approachable, is a major part of the island's tourist draw.

All I wanted was to hike to the top, and snap a few pictures, very harmless, totally touristy thing to do...

Then I saw this photo and watched this video...

I mean, how awesome is it to be as close to erupting volcano as this ?!!!

Would you put it on your Bucket List ?

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Spear Hunting On One Breath

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Spear fishing and ( may be ) free-diving are among a few new adventures I added to my Bucket List.

While for somebody like me, those are just adventures, for some people around the world, fishing still remains the main way to provide for themselves and their families.

 For example, the Bajau people of South-East Asia live in stilt houses and fish underwater. Sometimes known as the sea gypsies of Malaysia and Indonesia, they are renowned natural freedivers. Traditionally, they are born, live and die at sea, and fish by diving 20m (more than 65ft) underwater for minutes at a time on one breath.

Below is an amazing video of a Bajau fisherman who free-divers to 20 meters to catch a fish.

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Winter Adventures In Oregon : Crater Lake National Park

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...I hope to have a few days off in February, and since I'm broke ( after all that traveling ), was thinking about some local adventures ... May be Oregon ?

 Been planning to visit Crater Lake National Park for a while ( and even put it on my Bucket List ! ). Heard it offers amazing XC skiing opportunities in winter ... Also, would love to take my SUP for a long paddle around the lake !

Among other things to do:  I'd like to go skiing/riding at Mt Hood, ski-biking at Hoodoo Ski Area, and chillaxing at one of Oregon's famous hot springs !

Sometimes I wish I Was A Ski Bum

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For the past 4 years I've been reading and following many people who decided to dedicate their lives to pursue their dreams. Their stories are a true inspiration for me. Every time I read or watch such a story, I wish I could find that courage, passion, and dedication in me.

 Recently, I came across a beautiful video about a group of friends traveling in tiny RV-style hand built home visiting the great ski areas across North America. They took the house all over the western United States and into Canada, over 9000 miles. Below is an amazing video that shows how the project started and how the timy house was built.

Last year, on my Bucket List I added " Buy a trailer and live for at least 2 months as a "digital nomad". This video inspired me to start a new category "Trailer/Campers/Simple Living" where I will post stories and pictures of people who decided to challenge norms, do what they love in the outdoors, and enjoy life !

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Driving Through Death Valley And Mojave

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After visiting Grand Canyon NP, I headed towards California.
#1 attraction on my "Bucket List Of Things To See" - Death Valley National Park.

This is the "weirdest" National Park I've ever visited. There is no "official park entrance". Basically, Death Valley National Park is HWY 190 that runs through the park ( Death Valley got its National Park status only in 1994. The earlier legal status of Death Valley as a National Monument rather than a National Park was largely a political consideration ).

What does it mean to you ? No "official entrance fee" !!!

The Furnace Creek Visitor Center is the major Park Service interpretive effort in Death Valley. When I asked a ranger for a map, his first question was if I'd paid the park fee. So, if you don't care about the map, no need to pay !

TIP: Once again, don't be lazy and stupid ! Do your research before the trip ! If you just GOOGLE "points of interest death valley", you will find more helpful and interesting information than any ranger can provide !

My first point of interest was Zabriskie Point -

Zabriskie Point is an elevated overlook of a colorful, undulating landscape of gullies and mud hills at the edge of the Black Mountains, just a few miles east of Death Valley - from the viewpoint, the flat salt plains on the valley floor are visible in the distance
It's right be the HWY, just a short ( 5 min) hike. Snap a picture, and off you go...

TIP : If you REALLY want, make an extra effort to drive to Badwater Basin, the lowest place in North America and one of the lowest places in the world at 282 feet below sea level. Other than taking a picture by the sign, you really won't see much ( since I visited the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, I didn't want to waste my time just for that ).

Next was the Furnace Creek Resort. It was also weird. In the middle of nowhere, a resort !

Targeting wealthy visitors, they set out to create a luxurious oasis, hoping it would become as much of a must-see attraction as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.
Long story short, it didn't become a "must-see attraction". It hardly deserves spending 10-15 minutes, walking around the Borax Museum:
The Borax Museum at the Ranch at Furnace Creek provides the history of the property and key figures involved in the history of Death Valley and the resort. It offers a pictorial history and showcases artifacts from the past such as antique stagecoaches, mining tools and a railroad steam locomotive. It is the oldest structure in Death Valley.
TIP: Are you an avid golfer ? The resort features the world's lowest golf course (18 holes at 214 feet below sea level).

But my BIGGEST DREAM was to see SAND DUNES !

For me, "desert" has always been associated with sand dunes. Unfortunate, only less than one percent of Death Valley is covered with dunes.
Mesquite Flat Dunes are the best known and easiest to visit in the national park. From the parking lot, it's an easy hike to the dunes, but if you want to wonder a bit further, it'll become a challenge. Although the highest dune rises only about 100 feet, hiking in the middle of the summer is no "walk in the park".

Which brings me to my last TIP : when is the best time to visit Death Valley ?


Check out a new video of our road trip through Death Valley in winter ! 

Scuba Diving: Dos Ojos Cenote The Yucatan Peninsula

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... Chac-Mool cenote diving during my trip to Cancun, Mexico was THE MOST EXCITING EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE !

Though before that, I had done 2 more tropical dives ( Underwater Museum and a one tank reef dive near Playa del Carmen ), cenote diving was the experience to remember for the rest of my life !
It's one of those things when "you've got to be there" :)

 If you're a certified diver, definitely put Cenote Diving on your Bucket List !

Meanwhile, here is a short video to give you a general idea of what to expect...( but trust me, even the best edited video will not substitute the real life experience )

Photo/Video credit Expert Vagbond

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Rappelling Into The Krubera Cave

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The Krubera Cave (or the Voronya Cave sometimes spelled Voronja Cave) is the deepest known cave on Earth. It is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagrinsky Range of the Western Caucasus, in the Gagra district of Abkhazia. Bookmark and Share

Tips On Visiting The South Rim Of The Grand Canyon

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Visiting the Grand Canyon has been on my Bucket List for the past 5 years...

The Grand Canyon is one of the 7 "Natural Wonders Of The World" ( don't forget, there are many different types of "Wonders Of The World" ), and though it happens to be in this very country, I still can't believe it took me so much time to finally see it with my own eyes.

....unfortunately, it was absolutely opposite to how I dreamed/planned to visit this world famous Natural Wonder....

 NOTE: There is a big different between "visiting" and "exploring"  the Canyon.

"Visiting" mostly implies "stop by/drive by, take a bunch of pictures, and ,may be, do some light "exploring" ( short hiking, biking around the park, camping...)

 "Exploring" ( for a small number of people ) means hiking rim-to-rim or multi-day backpacking or rafting.

Hiking rim-to-rim and getting "close and personal" was my original plan/dream. But as I happened to visit the park during one of its hottest months ( middle of June with day temperatures in high 80's ), I had absolutely no desire even to try to reach the bottom of the Canyon.

So I lowered my expectations, and settled with the idea to see the Grand Canyon like a tourist ( yeah, I still hate myself  for that :) )

So, here are a few tips:

Driving Through Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona

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Monument Valley provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by empty, sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times over the years for movies, adverts and holiday brochures. Because of this, the area may seem quite familiar, even on a first visit, but it is soon evident that the natural colors really are as bright and deep as those in all the pictures. The valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat, sometimes desolate landscape, interrupted by the crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region.

There is only one main road through Monument Valley, US 163, which links Kayenta, AZ with US 191 in Utah. The stretch approaching the AZ/UT border from the north gives the most famous image of the valley, and possibly of the whole Southwest - a long straight empty road leads across flat desert towards the 1,000 foot high stark red cliffs on the horizon, curving away just in front.

The Valley Drive passes 11 numbered stops at the most scenic places, and a typical journey around the loop takes at least 2 hours. Tourists are not allowed to hike away from the road closer towards any of the formations, but even so the trip is very enjoyable.

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Surfing, Alaskan Style

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I wrote before about incredible surfing and stand up paddleboarding opportunities in Alaska. Recently, I came across a great photo site by Scott Dickerson.

Scott, raised in Alaska, has been pioneering the waterman lifestyle in the last frontier for 15 years. As a photographer, sup distributor/dealer and surf charter boat captain, he enjoys sharing the breathtaking scenery of Alaska with the world, especially from a standup perspective.

Please, check out his site, even if you're not a surfer, you'll find his pictures amazing and breathtaking !

Visiting Alaska is already on my Bucket List, and along with things like sea kayaking among icebergs, climbing Denali, heli-skiing, I'm going to add "Surfing/SUPing".

You might also like :

Surfing and SUPing In Alaska

Extreme Glacier Surfing In Alaska Video

Tandem BASE Jumping In Moab

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What are your thoughts when you're standing on the edge of a cliff looking down ? Have you ever felt the urge, this weird impulse, inside sensation to just jump ?
I have literally dreamed of this moment many times, and now it was about to happen...

It's true what they say : " Be careful what you wish for".

I month before my visit to Moab , I'd written a short post about Moab BASE Adventures that offered an unbelievable opportunity to try tandem BASE jumping off a cliff. I was so excited about it that I even added it to my Bucket List on Pintrest.

But when the opportunity presented itself.... I almost backed out !

It wasn't the fear of the drop itself, rather the fear of unknown...

BASE jumping is a relatively new sport, and tandem BASE jumping is even less known ( at least to an Average Joe like me ). Hence, there are a lot of questions go through one's mind : Is it safe ? Is it dangerous ? How high is the cliff ? How long is the free fall ? Do you need any specific training ? What happens if the parachute doesn't open ?

Though, no skydiving or climbing experience is necessary ( you just need to weigh fewer than 185 pounds and be fit enough to hike and scramble to the top), that's not the most important requirement.

When it comes to tandem BASE jumping, it's all about mental commitment...

That's probably why the company's first customers were climbers, skydivers, mountain bikers, people who are familiar with the feeling of "adrenaline rush", and are aware of the risks involved.

Tandem BASE jumping is not for everybody, it is not a roller coaster ride at your favorite theme park.

Now that I've done tandem skydiving, paragliding, and BASE jumping, I can say that there is something that sets BASE jumping apart from any other "extreme sport".

Most of the action in BASE jumping, at least at the novice level, occurs before the actual jump. In BASE jumping, the edge you're standing on is attractive in so many ways; it’s a boundary between the known and the unknown, the tame and the wild, the sane and the mad.

The range of feelings you're experiencing is enormous. Before a jump, you're filled with anticipation, fear, excitement, worry, anxiety, some more fear, and right before you're about to take a leap - tranquility…

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Seligman - The Beginning Of Historic Route 66 In Arizona

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U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road...

Route 66 embodies a complex, rich history that goes well beyond any chronicle of the road itself. Today, more than 85% of the original alignments of Route 66 are drivable, and many special places along the way are included in the National Register.

For me, one of those paces where I could get a glimpse of this famous highway was a small but delightful town of Seligman.

Founded in 1895 after the completion of the "Peavine" Railroad the railroad camp known as Prescott Junction officially became Seligman and was an important railroad stop along the line. Seligman embraced Route 66 wholeheartedly upon its arrival in the late 1920’s. The railroad and tourist traffic from Route 66 became Seligman's main source of economic security. In the late 1970's Seligman was bypassed by the Interstate and the Santa Fe Railroad ceased its operations in the town in 1985.

Nostalgia continues to be the mood in Seligman, with the town straddling the longest remaining stretch of Historic Route 66.

There is not much to see or to do in town. It took me just half an hour to drive through, stop by a few quirky shops, and snap a few pictures...

Today, Seligman marks the beginning of Historic Route 66 in Arizona. In fact, it was in Seligman that the move to preserve Route 66 began. Eventually those actions helped to garner the designation of Route 66 as a historic highway.

So if you really want to "experience" Route 66, swing by Seligman !

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Riding Slickrock

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The Slickrock Trail is The Mountain Bike Trail that put Moab on the adventure travel map. The trail made Moab the center of the mountain biking universe, and it's one of the most unique rides I've ridden so far ( well, that and the Bonneville Salt Flats ).

Since the first time I saw a picture of a biker in Moab, it's become an iconic image associated with mountain biking for me ! I knew that one day I'd absolutely have to do that !

The best thing I loved about the trail is that it was only minutes away from downtown Moab.

I read a lot about how popular and , sometimes, overcrowded the trail becomes, but to my surprise when I got there - it was all to myself ! Not a soul in sight ( except for the sounds of 4x4's in the distance ).

The trail is 12 miles long, with lot's of ups and downs, add to this the fact that I was riding in the middle of July, during the hottest part of the day - it was pretty exhausting ! But was totally worth it !

Besides the beautiful scenery, the feeling of riding on the (Navajo) sandstone can not be described ! You have to try it yourself !

There is a lot of info about this trail, and very often it's categorized as "technical/advanced". My advice - don't get overwhelmed, just go and try it for yourself. There is a "Practice Loop" (approximately 2 miles) which is well marked, and, though challenging, can be done by anybody.

If you're visiting Moab, biking on the Slickrock Trail is one of  "must do adventures"...

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