Saturday, January 30, 2010

This Article Is So Spot On

As waterfall lovers, we're very cognizant of the relationship between our way of life and the demands put on Nature to sustain it. This is especially true of the river ecosystems, which are where waterfalls can be found.

So when I came across this blog that proposes what happens in an Avatar sequel regarding the next big drama to take place on Pandora, I couldn't help but think how spot on it was. Have a look and see what you think!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Waterfall of the Week



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Avatar

It's not often that Julie and I go see movies on a weekday, but considering that I'm on and off on the night shift presently, we just went for it even though it was out of our norm. Besides, it seems everyone has been talking about Avatar these days. We heard about it a lot in New Zealand (even the grossly overplayed song "Fireflies" seemed strangely appropriate for the movie despite having not seen it yet), our friends have seen it and talked about it, it apparently won a Golden Globe award, it's all over the internet, and even ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning talked about it this morning!

But perhaps the biggest evidence that the hype machine was working was that we watched the movie on a Monday night well over a month after the movie came out, and the theater was crowded!

I had originally thought this was going to be some quirky The Lord of the Rings thing with lots of loyal fanatics and over-the-top fantasy amidst lots of scenery. But after seeing the movie with its 3-D effects, I found myself quickly getting over the cynicism of the LOTR nerd stereotypes, the impossible physics (e.g. the waterfalls without drainages coming out of floating islands?), or the 3-D novelty, and ended up taking them for granted amidst the suspension of disbelief.

Maybe it was the plethora of waterfalls gracing the backgrounds of many scenes. I swore I was getting flashbacks of being at Iguazu Falls or being within the tepuis of Venezuela. Or the on-top-of-the-word feeling of being at the edge of a cliff above the clouds like we experienced near the Tianmen Arch in China.

Whatever it was, the message of the movie also didn't get past us. We've been advocates of Nature, but apparently the writers of the movie are, too. We definitely noticed the references to the "War on Terror" in the name of oil (oops, I meant that nameless ruby worth a bunch of money) to keep shareholders happy. We also noticed the natives (hmm, could they be talking about Native Americans?) being forcefully re-located against their will by intruders who don't understand the land. Not sure if most of the people watching the movie got the message or not.

But all in all, we enjoyed the movie. We don't normally give movies recommendations, but if you're a waterfalls and nature fan, we think you'll enjoy this flick like we did.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Glad We Didn't Go There

Yesterday, we had done a couple of hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains to waterfalls. Towards mid- to late afternoon, we considered going to Paradise Falls, but decided against it because we had run out of time.

Turned out there was another good reason not to go. The body of a hiker that went missing this week during the series of heavy rains this week was recently found at the Wildwood Park (i.e. the same park that houses Paradise Falls. This was something we had heard about, but didn't know it was this particular park until I had chanced upon this article. We'll have to go back there when the conditions are more benign...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Taking Advantage of El Nino

We hadn't seen my parents in over a month so we took advantage of the good weather and the recent El Nino rains from this week to go waterfalling in the Santa Monica Mountains. It was a rather spontaneous outing as we had just decided to do it last night. But considering that I'm going on the night shift for the next couple of weeks, opportunities like these don't come around all the time. So we seized the moment and went for it.

On tap for today were the La Jolla Canyon Falls and Sycamore Canyon Falls. To make a long story short, the LJC Falls was once again disappointing (if 5 straight days of heavy rains from El Nino can't revive this guy, then I reckon you have to be here during a downpour to see it flowing well) but SC Falls was quite nice albeit a bit crowded and too popular.

We didn't have time to visit Paradise Falls (no, we're not talking about the Paradise Falls in the UP movie, but we know that one flows quite reliably so we'll come back some other time for a re-visit to see how much has changed since our initial visit some 8 or 9 years ago!

Look for updates on the World of Waterfalls website in the coming weeks. I've been swamped with work, but they'll be in there soon. Stay tuned...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Waterfalls of India

Just to give you an idea of how big a country India is, and just how many impressive waterfalls exist over there, I stumbled upon this article. It showcases several more waterfalls I wish we could've visited but either didn't have the time (we only had less than three weeks of touring and travel takes much longer there than you'd expect) or we didn't know about them. Now keep in mind that right now is more-or-less the Dry Season around most of the country, and you'll have to wait until Mid-Summer (see when to visit India's Waterfalls page) for the waterfalls to gain the benefit of the Monsoon.

Even though a visit there will surely open your eyes and challenge you in many ways, it's things like this that motivate me to return...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Waterfall of the Week



Saturday, January 16, 2010

Heading Home

Well given that the Cook Islands has very slow internet, we hadn't been posting anything for a while. But to make a long story short, we've basically spent the last six days (4 days in Raro, 2 days in Aitutaki) in the Cook Islands and we're right now waiting for our flight home tonight. Considering it's only noon time here, we have lots of vegging to do. It's very hot and humid here and tropical thundershowers had been happening sporadically, which isn't surprising considering this is the Wet Season here. But even some of the downpours weren't enough to revive the dry Wigmore's Waterfall.

As for the tail end of the New Zealand part of the trip, we wrapped things up with lots of waterfalling hitting up most of the falls we had set out to see, including many new ones we hadn't visited before. The only real miss was a strenuous trek to see Bells Falls on Mt Taranaki. I guess we'll have that'll have to wait for a next time...

We are a bit homesick even though we know we will miss traveling for a bit in the next year or so. However, we do look forward to returning home and updating the World of Waterfalls with the latest from this trip...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Waterfall of the Week



Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Waterfall of the Week



Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Busy As

Since our last posting, we had done quite a bit of moving around. After spending time in the Blenheim wine country area and being guests at a Kiwi family dinner, we ferried over to Wellington (aka Wellywood since it's the film and media capital as well as the capital city of NZ) where we enjoyed another rare day of sunny skies.

Even though the weather was fine, it was very windy. I guess that's nothing new for that city.

Today, we visited the rarely touristed Tararua area where we saw the impressive Waihi Falls. Unfortunately, we were never able to visit the private Mangatiti Falls (also in the Tararua area) because the landowners were probably on holiday (like a large percentage of other Kiwis this time of year). It just wasn't meant to be.

We're now in Palmerston North in the heart of sheep and cattle grazing country. Even though the city felt kind of dead as, we did manage to witness a bit of a gang scuffle Maori style. This was certainly something we didn't expect, but our trips are seemingly full of the unexpected.

Tomorrow, we're headed to the Taranaki area. Hopefully the weather holds up so Mt Taranaki might show its elusive self.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rain Follows Us

We thought the Marlborough region and the Abel Tasman National Park were supposed to be some of the sunnier regions of New Zealand's South Island. Instead, we ended up with yet another variable day of heavy rains and mostly cloudy skies with only pockets of sun breaking through. It just seems that no matter where we go on this trip, the rain follows us. Perhaps yesterday's gorgeous weather in Kaikoura was merely a head fake.

In any case, we managed to make the long drive from Nelson to Wainui Falls. The falls was nice, and the excursion proved to be rather popular. However, our day pretty much amounted to this bit of sightseeing as well as a brief stint at Totaranui Beach. But nothing more came out of today especially with the dreary weather.

There was some jazz festival that started today in Nelson. Unfortunately, we didn't join in the festivities. Perhaps I was just too tired from all the hiking and driving. With tomorrow being a rest day, perhaps this is our chance to get caught up on sleep and get revived for the North Island part of the trip after the ferry ride the day after tomorrow...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking Back On 2009 And Forward To 2010

The year that was 2009 was one of our most internationally active waterfalling ones to date. In a way, it was a year about coming full circle. After all, we got re-acquainted with the local waterfalls again, we returned to our roots in China, and we've ended our extended honeymoon returning to the country that started it - New Zealand.

It started off with Thailand and Cambodia where we were winding down this three-week trip by kicking off the New Year with the Thi Lo Su Waterfall as well as the Khlong Lan Waterfall. In between the logistics and waterfalls, we also visited some impressive temples, including the famous ones near Siem Reap Cambodia like Angkor Wat.

The next few months were spent waiting for the rain to arrive in Southern California, which wasn't until February. That was when we returned to doing some local waterfalls including those we had been to before like Sturtevant Falls, Monrovia Canyon Falls, La Jolla Canyon Falls, and Switzer Falls, as well as those we were seeing for the first time like Ortega Falls, Escondido Falls, Tangerine Falls, Nojoqui Falls, and Tenaja Falls.

In late March/early April, we went to Oregon where we spent a rain-drenched week waterfalling the Columbia River Gorge (seeing such falls like Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, and Triple Falls among others), Silver Falls State Park (seeing all 10 falls on the trail of 10 falls including South Falls), and some falls on the Oregon Coast like Silver Falls and Golden Falls. The weather finally let up on the very last day when we visited both the Chinese and Japanese Gardens in Portland as well as getting spectacular views of the volcanoes from Council Crest.

But the Oregon trip was merely a warm-up to the grand China and Japan trip that lasted from mid April to early June. In China, we got to see the country's most spectacular ones in Detian Waterfall, Huangguoshu Waterfall, and Hukou Waterfall. We also visited waterfalls in the Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve where the colorful lakes stole the show. Plus, we saw many of the country's highlights from pandas to Guilin's karst to the Great Wall to the Terracota Soldiers to Heaven Lake on Changbai Mountain.

We then continued on to Japan where we were completely on our own and struggled through the mostly non-English speaking country. Still, we got to see this country's best waterfalls like Kegon-no-taki, Nachi-no-taki, Ginga-no-taki, Shomyo-daki, and more! Plus, we got to see Japan's most wild area in Shiretoko National Park as well as numerous temples and castles. I still miss the Japanese food, which was both varied, fresh, and divine!

The hangover from the big trip didn't last long though as we were thrust right back into the rat race and once again longed for another getaway.

That came soon enough in late August when we took an extended weekend trip back to Oregon to conquer some demons that haunted us since Mother Nature had other plans for us back in April. This time, we not only got to see waterfalls like Proxy Falls, Salt Creek Falls, Lower Oneonta Falls, and Falls Creek Falls (in Washington), but we also got to see Crater Lake as well as the Windy Ridge section of Mt St Helens.

Shortly after this trip, I had organized a group hike consisting of co-workers (many of whom haven't tried the nature thing yet) to Eaton Canyon Falls. I had never been to a local waterfall this late in the year so I really looked forward to it. But then the wildfires started a couple days before the hike and we had to call it off. Better luck next time, I suppose.

That makeup came soon enough a little over a month later in October when we made another try at Eaton Canyon Falls. This time it was successful, but only 3 people from the original group of some 12 or so (not including Julie and I) made it. Still, the folks that did make it had a great time, and we hope to continue these outings so more city slickers can give Nature a chance and get hooked.

In November, we visited India. There, we got to see the famous Jog Falls as well as other lesser-known-but-no-less-spectacular falls in Nohkalikai Falls, Dudhsaghar Falls, and Athirappilly Falls among others. However, this was also the first time our waterfalling plans were signficantly altered by political instability so we didn't get a chance to see Barehipani & Joranda Falls, Chitrakote Falls, and Hundru Falls (all of which are located in Maoist and Naxalite areas). Of course we had to see the Taj Mahal as well as other Indian attractions (such as the elusive wild royal bengal tiger in Ranthambore National Park), but we ended off this adventure with a much-needed half-week stay in the Maldives.

Finally, we ended off the year in the country that essentially started the five-year honeymoon - New Zealand! There were lots of regions and attractions of the country we missed the first time around, so we went for them on this go-around. At least now, we didn't have to worry about wedding logistics nor the Milford Track logistics. It was pretty much back to the classic self-driving itinerary visiting such falls as Omaru Falls, Ohura Falls, Wainui Falls, Owharoa Falls, Waiau Falls, and more! We also got to see Abel Tasman National Park, Fox Glacier, and spent more time on Mt Egmont while spending more time seeing the cities of Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Wellington, and even Auckland!

We're still in New Zealand at the moment, and we're looking forward to going to the Cook Islands (hopefully seeing Wigmore's Waterfall) to end off this trip. But from that point forward, life will change and we'll have to settle down from our intense world waterfalling.

Sure it'll be bittersweet, but we're looking forward to a different life yet striving to be able to look back without regrets...