Monthly Archives: November 2013

December in Australia

Posted by on November 29, 2013

December 2013 Australia RouteI’m happy to report that I’ll be spending most of the month of December in Australia!

Starting in early December I’ll be embarking on a 3-week long tour of Australia with G Adventures. This will tour be the 5th continent I will have traveled to with G Adventures and my longest trip with them to date.

I’ve been to Australia six times now, but my first and biggest trip to Australia was back in 2008 when I spent almost 5 months in the country and visited every state and capital city. I drove from Melbourne to Cairns and from Darwin to Perth. I even took a bus from Adelaide to Alice Springs.

I’m often asked if I revisit places I’ve been before, and the answer is a resounding YES! Most of the stops on this trip are places I visited in 2008, but it was under different circumstances. My photos from 2008 were OK, but I have a much better idea of what I’m doing now. Also, after years of daily photos, I’ve pretty much run out of decent photos of Australia to post on my site. So if nothing else, I’ll be able to restock my portfolio with Australia images.
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North American National Park #2 – Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Posted by on November 27, 2013

North American National Park #2 - Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

North American National Park #2 – Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Located just one island over from Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the island of Maui, Haleakala is Hawaii’s second national park. Haleakala is a dormant volcano which reaches over 10,023 ft (3,055 m) above sea level. What makes it more impressive is that the base of the volcano….is at sea level. It is one of the few places in the world where you can drive from the beach to 10,000ft (3,000m) in about an hour.

One thing you will notice if you visit Haleakala is a greenish-white plant called a Silversword. It is extremely rare as it is only found on Haleakala and only above 2,100m (6,900 ft). It was near extinction until conservations efforts stopped its destruction and stabilized the population.

As with Mauna Kea on the Big Island, Haleakala is a home to several world class astronomical telescopes at the summit. It’s location above the clouds in the Pacific makes it an excellent location for astronomy.

One of the popular pastimes at Haleakala is to rent a bike near the summit and coast 10,000 feet down to the bottom. I haven’t done it, but it is on my to do list for my next visit to the park. In addition to coasting, hiking in the caldera is also a popular. I saw dozens of hikers and backpackers in the caldera during my two visits.

The park is open year round and is subject to normal National Parks Service entrance fees.

View my complete list of North American national parks which I have visited.

North American National Park #1 – Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Posted by on November 26, 2013

North American National Park #1 - Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

North American National Park #1 – Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Early in my travels in April 2007, I flew to the Big Island of Hawaii from Los Angeles and visited Volcanoes National Park. I had previously been to Volcanoes in 2006 as part of a geology department trip with the University of Minnesota.

Volcanoes is one of the few places on Earth where you can see an active volcano. Despite having been there twice, however, I have yet to see flowing lava. Because conditions are always changing, what you will see when visiting Volcanoes is sort of a crap shoot. You might see nothing more than steam coming out of the ocean, or you might get to see a spectacular lava waterfall (lavafall?)

Volcanoes has a plural name because there are actually two active volcanoes in the park: Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Kilauea is currently the more active of the two, but Mauna Loa is by far the larger volcano. In terms of sheer mass, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano in the world.

Visiting Volcanoes will require a flight to the Big Island of Hawaii and then renting a car from either the cities of Hilo or Kona. Hilo is less than an hour from the gates of the park where as Kona is several hours away on the other side of the island.

Despite having been to Volcanoes twice, this is one park that I would return to in a heartbeat. Not only is the experience different every time, but my during my last visit I was still learning how to use my camera and my photos are less than stellar.

In addition to being a national park, volcanoes was also named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

View my complete list of North American national parks which I have visited.