Photo of the day!

September 28, 2012

WOW this would be amazing!

Photo accessed via Beautiful Planet Earth’s facebook page on 9/28/2012.

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Budget Travel: 29 Photos from the Southwest

September 21, 2012

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Great West.  I’ll use any excuse to get on a plane and head out west, especially to California.  Budget Travel has a piece out right now titled “29 Dramatic Photos of the America Southwest” which showcases user submitted photos of the region.  Here are a few of my favorites.  To see the whole slideshow click on the link below to be taken to the Budget Travel site.

29 Dramatic Photos of the American Southwest

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Pictures from Yosemite

August 23, 2012


Planning & Itinerary for Half Dome

August 19, 2012

About two months before the trip my friend told me he had a few extra permits for the hike, and he put the offer out to other friends as well so he could try to get a small group together.  Two of my friends had four passes so they were trying to find another couple to go.  Luckily for me, there was no other couple that was able to go so I joined them and the three of us spent the weekend together doing this amazing hike.  One of the permits went unused unfortunately, but it was definitely better that we had too many than too few.

Hiking and Camping Permits

There are two types of permits that are needed to hike Half Dome hike and to camp overnight at the campgrounds.  “Day-hike permits” are required to hike Sub Dome and to get to the top of Half Dome.  The permit is required to do the cable hiking, which leads to the very top of Half Dome, and to hike Sub Dome (which in my opinion is more demanding than the cables).  The reason Yosemite requires permits is to control traffic in certain areas.  The approximately 600 foot cable portion is very steep and dangerous so not many people can use it at one time, so this area is crowd controlled.  Everyone can hike about 90% of the trail without a permit but by requiring the permits for this portion they’re able to control traffic to 400 people per day.

The second type of permit is the “Wilderness permit” and it is required to camp anywhere in the park.  In order to camp at Little “Yosemite Valley campground”, which is along the main hiking trail, a reservation is required which is tough to get because there is very limited space for campsites.  With a general wilderness permit, camping is allowed almost anywhere in the park except within certain areas.  In the case of hiking Half Dome, in order to camp freely it has to be done a minimum of more than 2 miles from the campgrounds.  Because we failed to make a reservation at the Little Yosemite Valley campgrounds, which we thought the permits we had covered us for, we had to go out of the area and camp on our own which in my opinion was one of the best things about the whole hike (entire blog post to come about the camping).

My friends had four day-hike permits, but not a wilderness permit.  Their intention was to make reservations at the Little Yosemite Valley campsite but the night before we started the hike, while finishing our packing, we realized we only had day-hike permits but that we’d likely need a wilderness permit to camp overnight.  The next morning, when we set out to do our hike, we went to the park office and they gave us the information on where we could camp.  So long as we were more than 2 miles away from Little Yosemite Valley campsite, we were ok.  On the map, the ranger marked a small creek and told us to make sure to reach the creep.  At that point would know for sure we were in the area where we were supposed to camp.

This sign is just past Little Yosemite Valley campgrounds as a final check to make sure you have the required permits if you’re planning to hike to the top.

Itinerary:

Tuesday— Full day of school in Tampa, including an exam.  Then a late night flight from Tampa to San Francisco, arriving into SF at 11:50pm.  My friends rented a ZipCar and picked me up from the airport.

Wednesday— Spent the morning/afternoon in SF on my own, then when my friends got off work we headed to the mountains.  We left SF about 6pm and arrived at our hotel near Yosemite around 11pm.

Thursday— Woke up early, went for a swim in the hot tub, checked out of hotel around 11am.  It took a few hours to get situated, park our car, and start hiking.  We began hiking at around 3pm which gave us about 4-5 hours of hiking before the sun went down.  We camped overnight on the side of the mountain by our selves at a spot we found about 10 minutes before the sun set.

Friday— HALF DOME!  We woke up at our camp site around 7am and set out on our full day of hiking.  We had to make it to the top of half dome and all the way back to the bottom by time the sun went down so we had about 12 hours to do it all.  After the hike, we checked into our hotel inside the park.  We were exhausted so we had a quick pizza dinner at the nearby restaurant and called it an early night.

Saturday— Woke up, checked out of hotel room and had lunch in the park.  We had lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel which is the nicest hotel in the park.  We couldn’t afford to pay the $500+ per night it costs to stay there but having lunch there was a good way to go see what we missed.  After lunch we drove to another vantage point that overlooks the valley that we hiked in, and then we had to hit the road back to San Francisco because the car rental was due by 6pm.

Sunday— Spent the morning/afternoon in the city and at Dolores Park.  Evening/overnight flight back to Tampa leaving SF at about 8:30pm.  Due to missing my connecting flight in Phoenix, I arrived back in Tampa around noontime on Monday afternoon.

Links:

Half Dome Permits for Day Hiking

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm

Wilderness Permit Information

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm

Camping Information at Little Yosemite Valley

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/lyv.htm

Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Park

http://www.yosemitepark.com/the-ahwahnee.aspx


National Geographic Series at the Straz Center in Tampa

August 7, 2012

A few years ago I sat next to a guy on a flight who was traveling back from Indonesia to his home in Sarasota.  I don’t recall the exact flight we were on but I think it was somewhere around Los Angeles to Albuquerque, but it wasn’t to Tampa.  So it was somewhat of a coincidence that he lives in Sarasota, about an hour south of Tampa where I am from.  The guy next to me is an underwater photographer and he told me about what he does.  He has a ton of experience spending 3 months at a time in the South Pacific.  Because of the limitations of the visas, he spends three months at a time in the region and then he travels home and takes a month or two off.  He makes a living selling his photographs and video to magazines and other companies to be used in print.  I’m very interested in scuba diving and the ocean in general so I really enjoyed sitting next to this guy and hearing his story.

The Straz Center in Tampa is hosting a speaker’s series next year presented by National Geographic.  The first speaker on January 22, 2013 is an underwater photographer in the South Pacific, the same region the guy I sat next to spends most of his time.  Below is the description and a video of what the presentation will be about.

Tickets go on sell on September 12th and are $18 each.

National Geographic Live! Secret Edens with underwater photographer David Doubilet

National Geographic Live! Journey with photographer David Doubilet into hidden Edens from the heart of the coral triangle in Raja Ampat, Indonesia to Africa’s Okavango Delta, where seasonal floodwaters transform a desert into flowing rivers filled with crocodiles, hippos and a lily forest. Considered the world’s leading underwater photographer, Doubilet has introduced a generation to the mystery and wonder of the deep, photographing coral reefs, historic shipwrecks, ocean predators and exotic marine creatures for more than 70 stories for National Geographic. For David Doubilet’s official website, click here.

January 22, 2013: http://www.strazcenter.org/Events/1213_Nat_Geo_Live_Speaker_Series/Secret_Edens_with_underwater_photographer_David_Do.aspx

(photos from National Geographic’s website)


2012 Goal: Around-the-world trip

December 31, 2011

I’ve read about around-the-world plane tickets before and I understand the concept, but I’ve never actually searched for an itinerary before.  My sister is going to Bahrain soon for a year to two years and I’d love to visit Dubai.  Also, a friend in Colombia would like to visit Morocco and Egypt this summer and I’d love to visit those places as well.  Unfortunatley, Egypt isn’t really safe to travel to so we’ll have to keep and eye and see how things are at the right time.  If I were to purchase an around-the-world plane ticket, then I’d have to continue traveling East which would take me to India and possibly Nepal and visit with my uncle if he’s able to make it during that time.  And then to top it off, my friend Heather’s dad lives in Korea and would like for her to visit so I could meet her in Korea and then maybe visit another country such as Japan with her.

The actual itinerary for what’s above is more than I would be able to spend so I’m going to research further and maybe add additional stops such as New York City and London and it can possibly reduce the price a bit.  I figure if I even only go and visit my sister in Bahrain and that’s it then I’ll still be extremely happy.  Cheers to 2012!!!  Happy travels to everyone out there!


Colombia 2011

December 26, 2011

Going to Colombia was a priority trip for me because it was relatively inexpensive and I wanted to visit a very dear friend of mine who lives in Medellin.  The flight down was only five hours and it was about the distance of traveling to New York City but south to the other side of the equator in South America.  The weather in Medellin has been pretty rough the past few months, with it raining a few times a day every single day because of El Nino.  I arrived on a Wednesday and went on a weekend visit to another small village from Friday to Sunday.  From Monday until the following Friday I spent in Medellin, with a one night stay outside of the city at a friend’s farm house near the international airport.  In total, I was in Colombia for 16 days and it’s the longest I’ve spent in an international city at one time.  The types of trips I’ve previously done were group trips and we’d spend no more than two days in each city.  Each trip was about ten days long and included four or five cities and a lot of traveling in between.  My trip to Colombia was much more relaxed and I was able to get an insider’s look at some of the scene in a pretty nice area and I also visited some of the poorer sections of the city.  I am beyond grateful for the nice friends I met and to my friend Elizabeth and her family.  This trip was one of the most humbling experiences of my life and I’ve fallen in love with the Latin culture.  I’m excited to write about many of the great experience I had and to post the many hundreds of amazing photos I was able to get.