December in Australia

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 tour will 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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Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

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.

Haleakala National Park

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.

Sunset Viewing in Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park

Tourists who wish to enjoy sunset viewing at Haleakala National Park are now required to reserve in advance. This update was effective February 2017. This reservation is not part of the entrance fee to the park. The rate is $1.50 per car. Those who do not reserve in advance can still enjoy sunset viewing; however, there will be no guarantee that parking spaces will become available. It will be catered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Reservations can be done up to 60 days prior to the sunset viewing date.

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

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

North American National Park #1 - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the first national parks when I began traveling full time. I had previously been to Volcanoes in 2006 as part of a geology department trip with the University of Minnesota.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 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?)

The park 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 as measured from its base, which is at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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 whereas Kona is several hours away on the other side of the island.

Despite having been to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 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 were also named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

Plan Your Visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Want to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park? It is a 45-minute drive on Higheway 11 from Kailua-Kona. There are rental cars available if you want to drive yourself to the park. It is recommended if you want to visit the park as there are no public transportation service there.

The park headquarters is located in the Kilauea Visitor Center. This is also where you can get information about exploring the park. It will also serve as your first stop before going to the park. It is open from 9AM to 5PM daily. Within the visitor center itself, you can enjoy feature films and other exhibits.

The entrance fee to the park is $25 for private vehicles (valid for 7 days), $12 for bicycles and pedestrians, $20 for motorcycles (7 days), and $30 for the Hawai’i Tri-Park Annual Pass. You can use the annual pass for 1 full year to visit the two other national parks in Hawaii: Haleakal? National Park and Pu‘uhonua o H?naunau National Historical Park.

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

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Feb 5, 2018 @ 8:58 pm

On the Trail of the Yukon Quest

2013 Yukon QuestIn February 2013 I was invited to be part of the media pool which covered the Yukon Quest sled dog race which starts in Whitehose, Yukon and finishes in Fairbanks, Alaska by way of Dawson City. I knew next to nothing about dog sledding before my visit, but left fascinated by this little known sport. I also got to try my hand at driving a sled dog team and it was one of the enjoyable things I’ve done in all my travels.

Photographing the dogs and the mushers was a pleasure and I developed a respect for the men, women and canines which compete in this extreme sport.

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Donate to Support Philippines Relief Efforts

Philippines Relief

One thing that traveling has done for me is that it has a given me a more visceral and emotional connection to many places around the world. When a disaster strikes someplace I’ve been, it isn’t just a abstract curiosity. Traveling makes the people and places who are effected real.

The Philippines is a real place to me. I spent almost a month exploring the country and I’ve met dozens and dozens of Filipinos around the world since my visit. I’ve consistently said that Filipinos might be my favorite people in the world. I’ve literally met Filipinos on every continent (that includes Antarctica!)

As you are aware the Philippines was hit by a devastating typhoon only months after the same region was hit by a large earthquake. There are estimates of 10,000 dead and hundreds of thousands without homes.

G Adventures and Planeterra is looking to raise money for reconstruction efforts. G Adventures will match every dollar raised up to $30,000. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Every little bit adds up.

I just donated and I encourage you to as well.

2014 Travel Photographer of the Year!

Several days ago I came out of the Namib Desert to find out that I had been named the 2014 SATW Travel Photographer of the Year! This is a huge honor and something that I was rather surprised to have won.

The list of people who have won in the past 32 years is a who’s who of some of the best travel photographers in the world. These are normally men and women who photograph for the likes of National Geographic. I am conspicuously different from every other previous winner of the award in several ways:

  • I am the first full time blogger to win the award.
  • My work has never appeared in print. I have never had it featured in any magazine or newspaper.
  • I have never even so much as been approached by any print publication to have my work displayed.
  • I am completely self taught. I’ve never taken a course, read a book or had a mentor in the subject of photography.
  • All of my images are available for the public to view for free.

This isn’t just a triumph for me, but for everyone in the world of new media. I might have been the first such person to have won, but I will not be the last.

I also won my second Lowell Thomas Award for my photo essay of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.

To celebrate, I’ve decided to publish a special photo essay of the images which got me the win. The following 20 images were taken around the world over the last 2 years and compromised the portfolio I submitted. I don’t necessarily think they are my best 20 photos, but they do represent a diversity of scenes and places.

As always, I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did taking them!

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