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The emerald green jungle sailed past at 150 miles per hour with nothing between me and the cliff walls but air. My helicopter tour of the island of Kauai was going to be an adrenaline charged adventure to capture the beauty of this most inaccessible pearl of the Hawaiian Islands. I got the best spot on the Hughes 500, a 5 seat helicopter, in the right rear seat. This chopper was going to fly with no doors on the bird. The only thing between you and a thousand foot drop onto the jungle below was a 4 point harness. I hoped to get great photographs without the Aluminum and Plexiglas door between my camera lens and the beauty of the Garden Isle. Kauai is the farthest west of the six main Hawaiian Islands. Over 90% of the island is inaccessible by road. It has been the site of many movies…
Monday, 01 January 2018

Playing in Prague

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Part Three of The Bearable Lightness of Being in Czech Republic Crossing Charles Bridge Connecting Old Town with the Little Quarter is perhaps one of the world’s most famous pedestrian bridges: Charles Bridge. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Prague—its most recognizable monument—and it has a Bohemian vibe as we step out of Old Town’s Knights of the Cross Square, pass the Old Town Bridge Tower, and walk onto the stone bridge for the first time. As you walk over the Vltava River which crosses through Prague’s middle (and was the reason a settlement became a city here in the first place) it’s hard to believe that this stone bridge has been here since the mid-1300s. It feels as sturdy as it looks, constructed of massive sandstone that was supposedly strengthened by adding eggs to the mortar. Charles IV commissioned it in 1357. Until 1741, it was…
Wednesday, 01 November 2017

Exploring the Area around Prague

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Part Two of The Bearable Lightness of Being in Czech Republic There is so much to see in Prague. But there’s a lot to see just a short train ride from Prague as well. We set our scopes on three places in particular. Kutna Hora Nataliya, Brian and I take a train about 45 miles east of Prague for an excursion to Kutna Hora. This was once the second most important town in Bohemia, due mostly to the enormous amount of silver here. In the second half of the 13th century, rich deposits of silver were found, making the king the richest ruler in central Europe. The silver mined from Kutna Hora and minted into coins (the Prague Groschen) circulated across Europe. This, the largest silver mine in Europe, made Bohemia the richest area of the world in that time. One man could, with hammer and fire, pound out as…
Prague, Czech Republic. The City of a Thousand Spires. For years I have wanted to explore this eastern European treasure, this alluring gem buried behind more westernized European destinations like Paris and London, Berlin and Barcelona. I’ve heard others yearn out loud for a visit to Prague and have listened to others praise it as one of their favorite stomping grounds. I’ve watched the Czech films, read Czech literature, studied Czech guide books and history. But it’s never quite the same until you’ve been there and sensed it yourself. For nearly a decade now I’ve been looking for the right time to make the pilgrimage to Prague. The time is now. Watching Time The time has come, quite literally, in fact. We are staring at a clock, watching it’s shimmering face in the late afternoon sun, waiting for the minute hand to make one more movement and for the show…
Saturday, 01 July 2017

Slovakia: Mountains, Lakes & Caves

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In my pursuit of unexplored destinations, I chanced upon the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia. The Tatra Mountains form a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. They are the highest mountain range in the Carpathians and second in Europe, only outdone by the Alps.Though fairly unheard of, these majestic mountains have a dramatic black rugged topography to excite any hiker or photographer. I started my journey from Krakow, Poland with a pleasant 2.5 hour drive cutting across the border into Slovakia. The place I chose to stay was Štrbské Pleso; its large glacial lake is a favorite ski, tourist, and health resort. Because its a stop on the Tatra trolley and rack railway, its a starting point for a host of popular hikes including to Kriváň and Rysy. As soon as I had entered the Tatra region, I starting passing through many small mountain villages. I decided to make a quick…
Monday, 01 May 2017

Ten Things to Do In Guilin

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The fantastic Li River karst scenery of south China, a major subject of Chinese landscape painting, draws millions of visitors each year. They may come for the scenery but history buffs like me also discover plenty to intrigue them as Guilin's position as an historic highway between the central plains and the south has left a tangible Guilin is also a paradise for outdoor activities enthusiasts, with the Yulong River valley near Yangshuo a sublime spot for cycling, hiking and boating. Here are some of our Guilin highlights: 1. Boat the Li River The Li River is iconic Guilin, synonymous with the almost surreal karst scenery it has both sculpted and fed for eons. The outer-skin of the limestone peaks has been washed away through millennia of water erosion leaving a fairytale landscape. The combined length of the Li and Gui Rivers is 437km but the most acclaimed scenery is…
You don’t have to be a hiking enthusiast or a professional photographer to enjoy Sedona, Arizona’s red rocks, the Grand Canyon’s rich hues, Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos, Zion Canyon’s erosion-sculptured sandstone or Hoover Dam’s curved wall of concrete. Simply slip into your favorite walking shoes, grab a bottle of water and you’re ready to move from one mesmerizing view to the next. After my husband and I landed in Las Vegas to begin our 10 day southwest road trip, we rented a car and headed south for the Hoover Dam. Concrete Rules at the Hoover Dam – Day 1 To say that large amounts of concrete were poured during the construction of the Hoover Dam is an understatement. According to the US Bureau of Reclamation, which has constructed more than 600 dams and reservoirs including the Hoover Dam, there is enough concrete in the Hoover Dam (4 ½ million cubic yards)…
Sunday, 01 January 2017

Gir Lions, India

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By age ten, my paleontology phase mothballed by fears that all the Jurassic skeletons would be exhumed with no bones left for the adult me, zoology became the new discipline and lions were my thing. As I scoured the nature and science books studying lifespan and habitat and how the great felines did better in zoos – an acceptable line to take back then – it was a given that King Lion lorded over an African realm. But there was always that curious addendum: There are a few hundred surviving Asian lions, in the Gir Forest of India. This seemed bizarre to me. I came to regard these freak lions as a lesser, more milquetoast creature, like those stunted Indian elephants whose shell-like ears were no match for the great fans of their African cousins. There was also that strange habitat. What self-respecting lion, apart from Bert Lahr, lived in…
Egle, our tour leader, met us in the hotel lobby the night before our tour began. She memorized our names and outlined our agenda, emphasizing that we would be on a tight schedule. We will cover three countries in seven days, she told us, and she wanted to show us the sights and teach us about this part of the world. Then she encouraged us to attend a music festival in the main square and she went home to prepare for the tour. We were in Vilnius, Lithuania, to begin a cycling tour of the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia). The tour had been organized by Explore (, a U.K. travel company, which arranged the tour leader, bus, driver, and bicycles. There were 11 of us -- eight Brits and three Americans – representing a variety of ages and backgrounds. It was a cordial group, easy to fit in…
Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Discovering the Remote Islands of Indonesia

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The more remote islands of Indonesia had always been on my travel bucket list but eluded me for many years because there were no cruise ships plying the vast expanse of these islands. In recent years there was a legitimate concern of piracy on the waters surrounding certain areas of Indonesia, and these personal safety concerns likely explains the scarcity of cruise ships in the region. Then, one day before we were about to book a privately guided trip to Mongolia, I stumbled upon a National Geographic/Lindblad expedition cruise titled “Indonesia Odyssey: Bali to the Great Barrier Reef”. While I expect my travel to esoteric destinations to continue for many years to come, I told my wife that if we had only one trip to choose from for the remainder of our lives, this was it. After reading the day to day itinerary, we immediately signed on for the trip—and…

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