Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sukhothai On New Year's Eve

Lots of things contrast the last three days in Chiang Mai here at Sukhothai. For starters, this place seems to be far less busier than the bustling city. It's also much warmer as well as less mountainous.

And as Julie and I attempt to embark deeper into the less touristed regions of Thailand in an effort to visit the acclaimed Thi Lo Su Waterfall, we're bombarded with incessant random sounds of loud fireworks as we're less than an hour away from 2009 in this part of the world. It sounds like a war zone here as I'm sure it sounds this way in other parts of the world trying to celebrate the New Year with the Roman Candles (which I believe is actually a Chinese invention).

Anyways, have a Happy New Year!

Waterfall of the Week

Closing off 2008 with another Icelandic beauty. Have a Happy New Year!

GoĆ°afoss


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Broken Camera Lens (again)

It's now our third night in Chiang Mai. Up to this point, we've seen about 8 major waterfalls (6 in the Chiang Mai vicinity alone) with perhaps the best one so far being the Mae Ya Waterfall. To complement all the waterfall sightings, we've also seen numerous temples (including Doi Suthep and the chedis atop Doi Ithannon), Pong Dueat (a tiny hot spring and geyser area), and bustling night markets (including the Sunday Walking Street, the New Years Festival on the moat, and the Chiang Mai bazaar night market).

Well, that's the good news to report. The bad news was that today while atop Doi Ithannon (Thailand's highest mountain), my camera lens on my Canon EOS was acting up again. I suspected it was because some salt water got into it when a guy with wet hands (from the ocean water at Maya Beach in Phi Phi Island) was taking our picture. This one barely lasted 6 months. Eventually, the zooming on the camera failed as salt probably crystallized and jammed (or did something to) the fine gears within the lens.

Fortunately, at the end of the day, we went to the Panthip Computer Plaza in Chiang Mai where they sold lots of electronics. There, we were lucky to find a replacement lens (not cheap) . I was certainly glad the camera failure happened near a big city and not some place remote like Umphang. We still have half the trip left so hopefully this salvages our ability to capture moments and scenes from this trip and thus salvage it...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chiang Mai

After our night in Bangkok as well as in a jungle raft in Kanchanaburi, amidst the ruins of Ayutthaya, and the surprisingly Thai-crowded Khao-Yai National Park, we're now in the moat-surrounded northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.

Apparently, our timing is just right for their "Sunday Walking Street" (not to be confused with their popular daily night market) set in the middle of town. The sea of humanity on this street completely dwarfs that of Khao San Road in Bangkok. Quite fun, but definitely have to keep an eye out for pickpockets and try to stay close to your party or else get lost in the "conveyor belt."

This part of our trip also marks the beginning of our long Northern Thailand journey that includes Doi Ithannon, Umphang, Sukhothai, and Kamphaeng Phet among others. We'll try to keep you posted on what goes on in this part of the trip as internet access and time are available. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Waterfall of the Week

How's this for a Christmas Eve waterfall? (and no that person in the red jacket in the photo is not Santa Claus!)

Dynjandi


One Night In Bangkok

We're now on Day 4 of our trip (with Day 1 being that evening in Patong Beach, Phuket). Currently, we're in Bangkok. A cancelled flight and a slight delay later, we scrambled to check out Wat Pho and Wat Arun. The Grand Palace will have to wait for tomorrow (with an itinerary change so we've decided to axe the Floating Market).

Days 2 and 3 involved going to Phang-nga Bay and Phi Phi Island, respectively. Quite nice.

But after our one night in Bangkok (while trying to stay on top of hustlers looking at tourists like walking cash registers), tomorrow is the official start to the waterfalling portion of the trip...

We'll try to keep you posted on the latest of this adventure.

Finally, before I sign off, I'm sure it seemed scary about the whole PAD and the airport situation last month. Now we're here and discussing with some of the locals what went on, it seems that there wasn't any danger as the protestors were totally not targeting the tourists. In fact, they tried to accommodate and apologize to them. We're still keeping an eye out for latest developments, but with a better understanding of the situation and the local sentiment, we're less worried than we were a week ago...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Popular Ice Waterfall?

With the ice storm that has gripped must of the New England states last week, this article caught my attention. Ironically, it's one in which a big waterfall is famous for its ice.

Julie and I have been openly looking to visit the New England states (especially this past Autumn when there were some impossibly low rates), but that fell through.

But after checking out this article from WCAX-TV News' Destination Recreation series, I couldn't help but long for a trip up to America's northeast:

Destination Recreation: High Falls Gorge

Wilmington, New York - December 18, 2008

The wind is blowing and the clouds are swirling over High Falls Gorge in Wilmington, N.Y.

But inside the cozy confines of the visitor center it's nice and warm.

And it's here that every trip to the gorge begins.

Proper footwear is a necessity.

"So these are yak tracks. They're basically snow tires for your feet," explains Kathryn Reiss of High Falls Gorge.

Tourists have been visiting High Falls Gorge since the 1890s.

The half-mile long hike features several cascading waterfalls as the majestic west branch of the Ausable River tumbles north toward Canada.

"Right now it's beautiful and full," Reiss says.

Once just a summer attraction-- the gorge is now open-year round, no matter the weather.

"We have two snow blowers here and then it's a lot of shovel work where there's stairs," Reiss says.

"This is a climax forest. It's an original Adirondack forest. It hasn't been harvested and it hasn't burned," Reiss explains. "I think I'm going to put a hat on because it's awful cold. The wind doesn't help."

The half-mile long hike takes about 45 minutes as the path travels from one waterfall to another.

"I think the drama of it all; the artistry of it all is just amazing," Reiss says. "It really is beautiful, along with the power of the water coming down."

The ice storm of 1998 almost closed the popular attraction forever. Freezing rain covered everything with ice; trees toppled, crushing bridges, walkways and fences.

Ironically -- the ice is what now draws people here during the winter months.

Reiss says, "We turned a very dramatic experience into a whole new adventure for High Falls Gorge."

Angelo Greco of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., agrees.

"It's really amazing to see, to be up close to such a cool waterfall," he says.

The walkways allow visitors to get up close and personal with the falls.

"Over a million gallons of water flows through the gorge every day," Reiss explains.

A perspective you'll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

"The drama of that waterfall and the power of it is just amazing," Reiss says.

Winter at its finest-- in beautiful High Falls Gorge.

It costs $13.50 to visit the gorge during the winter and the experience includes a bonfire on weekends.

For more information on High Falls Gorge and on visiting the Wilmington area-- including directions-- click here.

Keagan Harsha - WCAX News

Once again, so many places, so little time!

Friday, December 19, 2008

PAD-Thai

Thailand is up next.

But unlike our previous trips, this one has got us a bit nervous. That's because the week of Thanksgiving, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) took over the country's two main airports for 8 days to try to oust the current prime minister at the time. It essentially stranded over 300,000 travelers (including those who weren't visiting Thailand since Bangkok's airport is an important international hub) and really impacted the country's economy (especially its tourism). It was also the culmination of numerous protests and demonstrations that took place ever since we first heard about it since returning from our Africa trip.

Now we had entertained thoughts of canceling our trip, but considering how expensive this trip was (and the land portion was nonrefundable), we knew we were going no matter what.

Just this week, the country elected its new prime minister (the third in as many months) from the opposition party. I'm sure there's now the pro-government supporters of the previous regime not happy with this development. As to whether they'll stage a similar protest to halt the economy or cause social disorder, who knows?

So you see, that's where we stand today. And even though politics has affected our travels in the past (like Kenya's post-election violence and Zimbabwe's Mugabe-dominated electoral martial rule), we have managed to come out with a deeper appreciation of how the world works and why people do what they do. We'll just have to consider this yet another educational experience (and waterfalling adventure, of course)!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bay Area Waterfalls

I stumbled upon this article about some waterfalls near the Bay Area that we've always been meaning to do but never really got around to doing. Who knows? Maybe 2009 is the year we find an excuse to drive up to No. Cal. and make good on our intentions to see the falls up there. In the mean time, have a look at the article courtesy of Silicon Valley's The Wave Magazine:

Chasing Waterfalls
A hike to a stunning waterfall is closer than you think.
By Damon Orion

For ages, artists have been paying tribute to majestic waterfalls. Painters such as Henri Rousseau and Georgia O’Keeffe have captured their likeness in oil; wordsmiths such as Carl Sandburg and Mary Oliver have invoked their image in poetry; and musicians as diverse as Hank Williams, Jimi Hendrix, the Stone Roses, Electric Light Orchestra and TLC have all sung their praises. With all the poetic whimsy surrounding them, it’s easy to forget that waterfalls are actual, tangible phenomena of nature – not to mention the fact that we have a wealth of them right here in our Bay Area backyard.

Here are some of the best local spots where you can hike to see waterfalls in all of their gushing winter glory. We may not choose to honor them with songs or paintings, but with so many of these wonders within hiking distance, there’s no excuse not to at least pay one a visit.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
21600 Big Basin Way, Ste. 406, Boulder Creek (831) 338-8860 www.bigbasin.org
Twenty-three miles northwest of Santa Cruz, we find California’s oldest state park, Big Basin Redwoods, home of an 11-mile loop of trails that leads to a series of raging cascades. Featuring approximately 1,000 feet of elevation gain during its second half, this hike offers an eyeful of flora and wildlife on the way to the waterfalls, which are considered by many to be the finest in the Bay Area. While they generally run throughout the year, the cascades are especially powerful during the rainy season. There’s the multitiered Golden Cascade Falls (which, as its name suggests, gives off a striking golden sheen due to its iron-stained rocks); the majestic Cascade Falls, which boasts a mighty 80-foot drop; Silver Falls, which has rock stairs that allow you to walk just below the waterfall, bathing in the mist as you use a handrail for balance; and the 70-foot Berry Creek Falls, considered by many people to be the best waterfall on the California coast.

Castle Rock State Park
15000 Skyline Blvd., Los Gatos (408) 867-2952 www.parks.ca.gov
One of the many natural treasures of the Santa Cruz Mountains is Castle Rock State Park in Los Gatos, which, along with offering several opportunities for rock climbing and hiking, boasts the memorable Castle Rock Falls. A viewing platform makes it easy to get a peek at the waters of King’s Creek, spilling approximately 75 feet over a massive vertical sandstone slab. When the waterfall is in full force during late winter and spring, you’ll begin to hear its waters from a distance as you approach from the nearby hiking trail.

Edgewood County Park
Edgewood and Old Stage Rds., Redwood City (650) 368-6283 www.co.sanmateo.ca.us
At five feet in height, Sylvan Trail Falls is hardly the largest waterfall on the list. But the fern-covered rocks that surround it make for pleasant viewing, while visitors will enjoy a laid-back, family-friendly trek through Edgewood County Park in Redwood City, best known for the colorful wildflowers that cover its grasslands and hillsides in the springtime.

Forest of Nisene Marks
Aptos Creek Rd. and Soquel Dr., Aptos (831) 763-7062 www.parks.ca.gov
Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy this Santa Cruz County forest, famous for being at the epicenter of the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. A nine- to 10-mile round-trip hike via Aptos Creek Fire Road and the Aptos Creek Trail will reward visitors with an up-close view of Five Finger Falls, spilling 20 feet into Aptos Creek. Also known as Aptos Creek Falls and Monte Vista Falls, Five Finger Falls gets its name from the proliferation of five-finger ferns growing nearby. Also at Nisene Marks is Maple Falls, accessible via a challenging hike dotted with natural obstacles.

Memorial County Park
9500 Pescadero Creek Rd., Loma Mar (650) 879-0238 www.eparks.net
La Honda’s redwood-rich Memorial Park is the site of Pomponio Falls, which finds Peterson Creek dropping 24 feet onto Pescadero Creek. While you’re there, be sure to visit the eight-foot Upper Pomponio Falls. Also in La Honda is Portola Redwoods State Park, home of Tiptoe Falls, a cascade that is usually between five and eight feet in height.

Uvas Canyon County Park
8515 Croy Rd., Morgan Hill (408) 779-9232 www.sccgov.org
Rumored to be an excellent dating spot, Uvas Canyon County Park, located at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains west of Morgan Hill, sports no less than seven small waterfalls that are best viewed in late winter. Five of these falls are listed on park maps: Granjula Falls, Basin Falls, Triple Falls, Upper Falls, and the triple-tiered Black Rock Falls (which, at approximately 55 feet, is the largest of the bunch). The mile-long Waterfall Loop that runs along Swanson Creek is an easy hike, while more challenging climbs along the canyon are also available for more adventurous hikers. The canyon can make for cold journeying, so bring extra layers (or someone to cuddle).

*This Article appeared in Volume 8, Issue 26 of The Wave Magazine.

Boy, I can't wait to get up there!

Waterfall of the Week



Monday, December 15, 2008

Clifty Falls State Park

This news posting caught my attention since it sits in Big 10 Country. Or, if you're not into NCAA conference designations, it's located in the Hoosier State of Indiana. The following is an excerpt from the Asheville Citizen-Times:

We travel for a reason — to make new memories, to visit old memories, or to visit with friends or relatives. Last October we went to Madison, Ind., to do all three.

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The lawn of the Clifty Inn at Clifty Falls State Park overlooks Madison, one of our favorite places to sit on a lawn chair and watch the Ohio River roll by. Years ago my daughter and I visited Clifty Falls.

Clifty Falls State Park was established in 1920 to preserve four waterfalls that fall from the rim of Clifty Canyon. The park offers 15 miles of hiking trails. These trails are challenging, so after a hike remember to go to the lawn of the inn and find that chair.

The park has camping, which is second only to Spring Mill State Park in southern Indiana, swimming, picnic areas, nature center, fantastic scenery and the Inn. There are also ranger programs offered that explain the history of the park and wildlife, and offer guided hikes. One great guided hike takes the visitor to a 600 foot railroad tunnel.

Back in 1852, John Brough started building a railroad through Clifty Canyon. The railroad collapsed leaving remnants for us to visit today. After seeing the tunnel, remember that lawn at the inn? Well, it is time to visit that chair.

Now it is time to visit the waterfalls. The waterfalls heights range from 60-83 feet. The best time to see their power is in the spring. During a dry period these waterfalls tend to trickle. But none the less the walk to the escarpment is magnificent, particularly in the fall. Now what do you do after seeing the falls? That's right, back to the chair on the lawn.

Of course, a visit to the town of Madison is a must. Madison is between Louisville (Slugger) and Cincinnati (Reds). The town, named after James Madison, was established in 1809 as a river port.

The first stop in Madison is the visitor center, which has the local area maps to find local attractions and a list of special events. For example, if you visit Madison during July 4th, a must is the Madison Regatta where you can watch turbine powered boats race so fast that all other river traffic is standing still. Madison also has bluegrass music. Remember, Bill Monroe's home in Bean Blossom is not far away.

Next to the visitor center is the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum, which explains life on the river from 1809 to the present. Be sure to see the railroad station and exhibits which explain how the railroad in 1836 revitalized the town's economy. Also nearby is James Lanier's mansion. Built in 1844, the mansion depicts life in the 1850s, when Lanier was the financier of the railroad. The tour guide tells a great story about celery, too. During the Civil War, Lanier was a key player, financing Indiana's war effort.

Now you are ready to walk downtown. Madison's business district is a trip to 1900, when all the activity was on Main Street.

The architecture reminds us of the time when the horse and buggy competed with the horseless carriage. The shop windows show off the latest antiques, art, confections and places to sit and enjoy the food.

After a day in Madison, it is time to go back to that lawn chair at the inn and watch the evening rise in the east on the river town. And as the sun sets, pay very close attention to the twinkling lights as they brighten the approaching evening.

Madison is 377 miles from Asheville. If you go, remember to create memories that you can revisit.

My wife and I created new memories as we visited old memories of our daughter.

Sue and Ken Schroeder live in Arden

(excerpt from "Reader travelogue: Madison, Ind., takes visitors back a century" by Sue and Ken Schroeder • published December 14, 2008 12:15 am in the Asheville Citizen-Times)

This might give me the excuse to go waterfalling in Indiana! Ah, so many places so little time!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

La Jolla Canyon Falls

Photo by Myung J. Chun, Los Angeles TimesThis was a forgotten waterfall before I happened to chance upon it in the LA Times.

I believe it was back in the 2002 or 2003 timeframe when we were still visiting local waterfalls. However, we had a typically dry winter and we were naive about visiting waterfalls. After all, we were in the correct season and assumed the falls must be flowing. Well, lo and behold, we ended up visiting a trickling waterfall. That fact that we took no photos attested to our disappointment (and was probably why we had forgotten about it).

Oh well, at least Julie got to shop at Camarillo afterwards as the consolation prize. But perhaps with a storm that promises to deliver this week, maybe that might mean some much-needed rain and perhaps an opportunity to get re-acquainted with this waterfall...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why Care About Waterfalls?

Now I've waxed poetic before and wrote about what waterfalls do for our health and spirit, which you can read about here. However, more recently with the energy crisis and now the financial turmoil around the world, I thought it might be worth a look at why waterfalls usually get sacrificed for the sake of energy and agriculture.

Are waterfalls for energy a worthwhile trade?

Well, that's in line with all the economics versus environment debates that are constantly going on and we won't get into here. But at least this article should shed some light on the types of decisions policymakers and businessmen must make while trying to appease environmentalists. The article also looks into alternatives to the status quo...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Waterfall of the Week



Sunday, December 7, 2008

Australia

Julie and I just saw the movie Australia today. Since I'm not much of a movie-goer, Julie billed it to me as an excuse to see Western Australia's major waterfalls - especially Mitchell Falls, which we saw on a trailer for the movie.

But we came out of that movie picking up a few more things about Aboriginal culture, about cattle farming as a way of life in the Outback, and about the Top End's role in World War II. I guess the fact that we watched the movie on December 7 (the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor invasion) kind of reinforced that angle. But honestly, we didn't intentionally time this. It was purely coincidence!

Anyways, regarding waterfalls, we did see a few waterfall scenes. But the Mitchell Falls view wasn't what was shown in any of the trailers we saw. However, they did show King George Falls. And if you watch the movie, you'll see that the falls was certainly appropriate as perhaps a tongue-in-cheek reference to one of the recurring characters throughout the movie.

Plus, some of the Bungle Bungle scenes brought back memories of our botched tour as well as our brief time in Kununurra.

As for the movie itself, Julie and I had heard about and read about some of the mixed reviews (though Triple J's Mark Fennel's review was pretty funny). And we both felt it was predictable. However, it was certainly entertaining and not as bad as some critics lead you to believe. Maybe it's just because we've been to Australia before (especially up in that remote area of the country) that we could appreciate the social theme about the Stolen Generation and get some of the language and inside jokes throughout whereas others not as familiar might be like "what?!?" Nevertheless, we think it's alright and worth a look (if not on the silver screen, at least as a DVD rental).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Caribbean Travel Blogs Created

After putting up the waterfall pages for St Lucia, there was still the task of putting up the remaining pages for the Caribbean as well as St Lucia such as the travel blog about our recent trip.

I've also added pages about timing your visit to the Caribbean as well as a review of the book we used.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Friday, December 5, 2008

St Lucia Pages Added

I've finally gotten around to updating the website with the handful of St Lucian waterfalls we've visited during our Thanksgiving weekend trip to this lovely Caribbean island. I've decided to place Caribbean destinations in the Caribbean pages as opposed to appending it to the Latin America pages, which was my original intent. I figure if you really think about it, people generally don't think of the Caribbean when they think of Latin America.

Have a look and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Waterfall of the Week

I decided to move the waterfall of the week to Wednesday to help you make it to the weekend!

Gullfoss


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back from St Lucia, mon!

Last night, we finally arrived home after a pretty relaxing trip (by our standards) to this beautiful Caribbean island. It was a trip in which we had great weather for nearly 2/3 of the time, but the last day and a half was marred by relentless downpours. Of course, we did see a handful of waterfalls as well as the signature Pitons. We'll update the website with the latest travel stories, waterfalls, photos, and blog entries in the coming week. Stay tuned...