Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Sorry State of the Travel Channel

Posted by on August 30, 2011

Given the amount of traveling I do I don’t have many opportunities to watch television. When I am back in the US I use Hulu and Netflix to catch up on some of my favorite shows as well as watch some of my favorite channels. In addition to the Discovery Channel and the History channel one channel I used to watch extensively before I started traveling was of course the Travel Channel. The Travel Channel was one of the ways I got my travel fix before I hit the road. When I’ve tuned in to the Travel Channel this month things were different.

It is hard to describe how disappointed I’ve become in the Travel Channel.

Outside of Anthony Bourdain, who is really a food guy when you get right down to it, Travel Channel basically has nothing to do with travel anymore. Take a look at some of their current shows:
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August 2011 Question & Answers

Posted by on August 21, 2011

The Brewers are up by 7.5 games in their division and the Packers are looking good in their preseason games for another run at the Super Bowl. Sweet corn is on sale on the roadside in Wisconsin and the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. All seems right with the world.

As such it is time once again for another Q&A.


Annabel Candy from GetInTheHotSpot.com asks: Hi Gary, I have three, yes three digital cameras. I love taking photos and, like everyone, I don’t think I’m bad.

Taking photos while traveling is always a highlight of my trip but I never get out of automatic mode, even on my SLR. It seems too complicated! So please can you share one or two easy ways to get out of auto mode?

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Photo Essay: The Glacier Fields of Kluane National Park

Posted by on August 16, 2011

Kluane National Park is on the Canadian side of the St. Elias Mountain Range with includes Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. It is the home to Mt. Logan, the highest point in Canada and lies in the extreme Southwest corner of the Yukon.

I had the pleasure of having two aerial photography sessions over the ice fields of Kluane National Park in the Yukon back in June. One in a helicopter and the other the next day in a fixed wing airplane. It was one of the best photography experiences I’ve had in my 4.5 years of traveling.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Yukon Tourism for showing me a great time and giving me the chance to take such amazing photos.

Now I’ll let the photos speak for themselves….

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UNESCO World Heritage Site #152: Garajonay National Park

Posted by on August 11, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #152: Garajonay National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #152: Garajonay National Park

From the World Heritage inscription:

La Gomera lies to the west of Tenerife, and is one of seven islands that make up the Canary Islands archipelago off the north-west coast of Africa in the Atlantic. The island is accessible by ferry from Tenerife. The park can be reached by road from the island’s major towns and villages.

The 1812 Constitution abolished the estates of the nobility and transferred ownership and administration of the forests to the municipal governments. The forests were declared public property and appeared as such in the last Register of Public Property listing dated 1879. The park encompasses San Sebastian, Hermigua, Agulo, Vallehermoso, Valle Gran Rey and Alajero mountains. It consists of an eroded plateau and gently sloping central terrain whose steep sloping escarpments comprise uneven steps that extend as far as the park boundaries.

La Gomera is the only island in the Canaries that has not experienced an eruption in recent times. Thus, ash and lava fields have been eroded away leaving mature soils formed from horizontal basalts cut by a series of ravines (barrancos ). The local landscape is further characterized by volcanic dykes and domes (roques ), examples of the latter being Agando, Ojila, La Zarcilla and Las Lajas in the south-eastern sector of the park.

The park harbours one of the largest continuous areas of laurisilva (laurel) forest, a habitat that has almost disappeared from southern Europe and North Africa. Almost half of the remaining forest in the Canary Islands is included in the park. In spite of being biologically diverse, a large proportion of the flora (25%) and fauna (50%) is endemic, and many species are considered to be nationally threatened.

Garajonay National Park sits in the middle of the island of La Gomera, one of the smallest of the Canary Islands. The laurel forest which covers the interior of this island can be extremely haunting, especially if the forest is in the clouds at the time.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #151: Teide National Park

Posted by on August 10, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #151: Teide National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #151: Teide National Park

From the World Heritage inscription:

Situated on the island of Tenerife, Teide National Park features the Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano that, at 3,718 m, is the highest peak on Spanish soil. Rising 7,500 m above the ocean floor, it is regarded as the world’s third-tallest volcanic structure and stands in a spectacular environment. The visual impact of the site is all the greater due to atmospheric conditions that create constantly changing textures and tones in the landscape and a ‘sea of clouds’ that forms a visually impressive backdrop to the mountain. Teide is of global importance in providing evidence of the geological processes that underpin the evolution of oceanic islands.

Mount Teide is the highest point in all of Spain and it sits at the center of Tiede National Park. The park itself is a giant caldera with geologically recent lava flows and a desert like environment. On the drive up to the park you will pass through several different ecological zones including a forest of Canary Island Pine Trees. Tiede really is one of the most spectacular parts of the Canary Islands and if you are there on a clear day you will be able to see at least four other islands.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #150: San Cristóbal de La Laguna

Posted by on August 9, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #150: San Cristóbal de La Laguna

UNESCO World Heritage Site #150: San Cristóbal de La Laguna

From the World Heritage inscription:

The historic ensemble of San Cristóbal de La Laguna has outstanding universal value is an urban design that represents the concept of the ‘town-territory’ as the first example of an unfortified town laid out and built according to a complete plan based on navigation, the science of the time, and as the organized space of a new peaceful social order inspired by the millenary religious concepts of the year 1500. As the first non-fortified Spanish colonial town, its layout was the model for many colonial towns in the Americas.

San Cristóbal was founded in 1497 by Alonso Fernández de Lugo. The last town to be established in the Canary Islands takes its name from a shallow lake or marshy area (La Laguna), drained in 1837. The original settlers, almost all soldiers, were not allocated building plots; the defined non-fortified urban area was considered to be a public space where anyone could build. As a result small houses were erected haphazardly around the church of La Concepción, without any overall plan. In 1502, a regular town plan based on Leonardo da Vinci’s model for Imola was drawn up by the Captain General (Adelantado) for the area. Wide major streets linked the public open spaces and formed the grid on which smaller streets were superimposed. The resulting Lower Town expanded rapidly, attracting the island’s ruling classes and monastic communities began building. A piped water supply was installed at the expense of the Town Council in 1521, and the first public buildings were constructed. However, the political, religious and economic centre was progressively transferred to Santa Cruz, and San Cristóbal declined.

La Laguna is an important city for several reasons. First, it was one of the launching points for Spanish expeditions to the Americas. Second, it was one of the first cities built without walls. Its protection came from the sea and its distance from the shore. Finally, it was an archetype for many Spanish colonials cities which were founded in the New World in terms of layout and architecture.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Everything You Wanted to Know About UNESCO World Heritage Sites But Never Bothered To Ask

Posted by on August 9, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage LogoAs you may have noticed, I have a slight fetish about visiting world heritage sites. To date I have visited over 150 of sites and I have made a point of featuring each one I visit as a daily photo. Some of them are incredible and some are……less than incredible.

I’ve had several people ask me what the deal was and why I bother to go out of my way to visit them. If you have traveled even a small amount there is a good chance you have already visit one or more sites without even knowing it. There is also a good chance you’ve been near one and never bothered to take the time to go and visit it.

This post is intended to be a primer for what World Heritage Sites are about, why they exist and why you should consider making them a part of your next trip.


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