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The Salish Sea is a huge area encompassing much of the area between Vancouver Island in Canada to the southern end of Puget Sound, but it mainly refers to the waters of the Georgia, Rosario, Haro and Juan De Fuca Straits between Canada and Washington State. Many groups of the indigenous Salish people made their homes along these shores and gave the region its name. A multitude of over 400 islands dot the waters of the Salish and it has over 6,000 square miles of coastline. I chose to visit three islands: Fidalgo, Whidbey, and San Juan Island. Anacortes sits near the northern tip of Fidalgo Island and is called the gateway to the San Juan Islands. I drove over the Swinomish Channel bridge which connects the island to the mainland and began to explore its scenic beauty. It has much more to offer the visitor than just a ferry…
My first trip to Europe forty years ago started with a group tour to Vienna and then on to other countries in Europe. I fell in love with the totally intact old city and vowed one day to return to explore Vienna in more depth and see the rest of the country. This year my wife and I finally did that. While Austria is a relatively small country by size (around the size of the State of Maine), it is definitely one of the crowning jewels of the many spectacular countries throughout Europe. It has so many distinctive regions with charming towns and villages perched along its rivers or nestled in lush green valleys within the Alps. I spent several months planning the three week trip, which included calculating travel distances by car particularly in the mountainous region, identifying several unique sites off the beaten track as well as those…
Today is the day we have looked forward to; the reason we flew half-way around the world. Today we are to climb up to see Bhutan’s famous monastery, Tiger's Nest. It’s a long way from the U.S. to Bhutan. If you take a globe and put a finger of one hand on the U.S. and a finger of the other hand on Bhutan, you will find your two fingers at nearly opposite points. And it’s not all that easy to get there. There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Bhutan, so you fly through Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Singapore, or Thailand. We flew from San Francisco to Delhi, India where we spent a night. The next day we boarded a DrukAir (Bhutanese Airline) plane for the three-hour flight (over the Himalayas and through Kathmandu) to Paro, the only airport in Bhutan. The view of the snow-capped Himalaya Mountains (including…
Mardena knew what had happened, she said, as soon as she heard that “thump, thump, thump.” It was my head, bouncing down the staircase of our guesthouse in Luang Prabang, Laos. I’d gone downstairs to check that the night clerk had requested a tuk tuk to take me and my wife Mardena to Luang Prabang airport at 6:00 the next morning. Our flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was scheduled for 7:30, and I wanted to make sure that we’d get to the airport in plenty of time. The clerk confirmed he’d ordered the tuk tuk, and I headed back up the stairs. Ten or twelve steps up, my right hip gave out; I grabbed for a nonexistent railing and fell head first back down the staircase. My wife rushed down from the second floor and the clerk hurried over. “I’m okay,” I mumbled. My blood was smeared all over the…
It was on the third day of our cycling trip up the coast of Uruguay that it hit us: the countryside looks familiar. We woke that morning to fog – a dense gray mist that covered everything; including the lighthouse outside our hotel window, the large dark boulders that faced the waves of the Atlantic Ocean below, and the eucalyptuses forests that lined both sides of the road. It shrouded the countryside as we started our ride. Beneath the fog rolling green hills stretched as far as we could see, cattle grazed on pasture grass, and golden wheat fields waved in the breeze. On the other side of the roads, waves drenched the empty sand beaches. As we rolled along, we were struck by how similar this was to the coast of Oregon, or South Carolina, or Maine. But here we were, on the other side of the world. Como…
Pacific island nations are a common blind-spot on the holiday destination radar for Europeans. Until recently that part of the world has been prohibitively distant and/or expensive to journey to for many of us who've yet to emigrate to Australia (and some who have). Well, the times, they are a-changin'. Budget air carriers springing up between Europe and South-East Asia (like Scoot and Finnair) have slashed the cost of a hop over to the Pacific vicinity threefold over the past two-to-three years. With that said, the next time there's a week to spare, check out Vanuatu. An archipelago of 83 islands stretched over about 1,300 kilometers and home to roughly 250,000 permanent inhabitants, Vanuatu's capital Port Vila on Efeta island is a mere 3.5 hours flight northeast of Sydney and merits every second of the trip. Tourism comprises a comparatively huge chunk of its economy, yet Vanuatu remains so undiscovered…
Saturday, 01 September 2018

Madrid: The Literary City of Amor

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“And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed.” – Pico Iyer Due to the heat wave that has come from North Africa, I feel sweat running down my spine as I walk to my poetry class in Madrid. 1.6 kilometers each way exactly. And every day when I get back to my dorm room, I must change my sweat-drenched shirt. This becomes a cycle. My heat-based study-abroad cycle that doesn’t allow me to experience the city like I want to. 35 degrees Celsius. This is the temperature almost every day. The heat keeps me indoors as much as possible. Like the rest of my peers, I have a routine. Breakfast: toast with a crushed tomato spread and olive oil, a typical Spanish breakfast. After breakfast,…
Through my life I have had two passions, motorcycles and traveling. After an extremely gray depressing winter in Seattle in 2017 I decided to see if I could build a high-level plan to combine the two while maintaining a successful career. I am fortunate enough to work remotely so my mindset was: I can give this a try and worst case I have to return to Seattle after I fail miserably. Best case, I succeed and open up a new dimension to my life that many not only cannot imagine but would never dare to attempt. Preparation: Although my introduction sounds like I just packed up and left - it took over two months of planning until I was comfortable enough to attempt using Montana as my beta state. It was a month of preparing finances and defining a high level view of what I wanted to accomplish with this…
My husband and I grew up on the Northeast Coast. We crave cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, experience the energy of Broadway shows in NYC, and stroll the Jersey shore beaches. When we decided to investigate how our neighbors on the Northwest Coast live, we weren’t disappointed. The two of us enjoyed everything from wandering through Portland’s Japanese and Rose Test Gardens in Washington Park, snacking on local mussels and cockle clams in Seattle’s Fish Market, to exploring Vancouver’s west coast rainforest and artistic totem poles in Stanley Park. First Up, Portland After a flight from New Jersey to Portland, Oregon, we rented a car and began our 11 day northwest road trip. If you’re a bookaholic, don’t miss Powell’s City of Books – the world’s largest new and used bookstore. Stocked with over one million books, Powell’s Books occupies an entire city block in the Pearl District. Powell’s helps you navigate…
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…

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