Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking back on 2012 and forward to 2013

This past year, we had a very interesting year trying hard to maintain our ability to go waterfalling while also trying to raise our little daughter.

The year began with some slim pickings at our local waterfalls in the Southern California area. Thanks to a severe shortage in rainfall throughout much of California, there really wasn't much going on except for repeat visits to Eaton Canyon Falls and Monrovia Canyon Falls as well as some fun times at old favorites like Paradise Falls as well as a redux of Escondido Falls, where we finally got to visit its hidden upper tiers.

A big twist to our waterfalling ventures this year was bringing our one-year-old daughter along. She was a fast learning as she was quickly able to associate the word waterfall (in both English and Chinese) with the actual waterfalls we took her along to go see!

So even with repeat waterfalls, when you share it with others (in this case our baby daughter), it just never gets old!

The locals waterfalls held us over until Julie and I embarked on a long awaited trip to France. It was Julie's second time there and my first. A major twist to the way we visited this country was that we self-drove once we left the TGV-convenient routes as well as the major cities of Paris and Lyon.

Thus, we got to appreciate France on a much deeper level getting familiar with its geography as well as mixing in some scenic attractions that are familiar to most Europeans but well outside the radar of most visitors to the country who only think of Paris and Provence.

Thus, we got to visit a surprise waterfall in Etretat in Normandy, visit some waterfalls in the Mt Dore area, spend time in the Pyrenees (seeing Gavarnie and Ars Waterfalls), see waterfalls in the Provence area, see waterfalls in the Haute-Savoie area encompassing the French Alps, and see waterfalls in the lush Jura Mountains.

All along the way, we also visited plenty of medieval sites to mix things up such as Mont-St-Michel, Carcassone, Eze, Annecy, and Yvoire among others.

The only real downer to this magical trip was the persistent of bad weather as it seemed much of Europe seemed to get their rains late in the Spring and it seemed to persist well into Summer.

After a long Summer without waterfalling except for one visit to Solstice Canyon Falls (where we were shocked to see it was still flowing in September), we then embarked on a rather unique Autumn trip to the Southern States.

This encompassed the regions of Northern Georgia, Upcountry South Carolina, Western North Carolina, Southern Kentucky, and Eastern Tennessee.

As an added bonus, the Fall colors were in full effect during our visit. So we not only got to see some of the South's most spectacular and unusual waterfalls, but we also got to see them juxtaposed with the changing colors of the leaves. Indeed, this was something we hadn't seen before, and it definitely opened our eyes to the beauty of Nature in one of the places that was previously a gaping hole in our survey of waterfalls in the Eastern US.

Finally, we capped off the year with a return trip to paradise in Tahiti. It had been 10 years since Julie and I first came here in the Dry Season. But now the challenge was to visit this place in the Wet Season and while bringing our daughter (who was already exhibiting the terrible 2s).

The weather left much to be desired, but at least there were priceless moments as well as accomplishments in wrapping up the survey of the most significant waterfalls of at least Tahiti and Moorea.

This "test" trip with our daughter taught us many things about what we can and can't get away with when traveling with her. But at least we're now older and wiser, and we're in better position to pick and choose the waterfalling excursions where it's reasonable to bring her along while balancing that out with separation anxiety.

Next year promises to be an unpredictable year in terms of where we're to be waterfalling next. Complicating matters is that we're in the midst of a major website overhaul (brought upon by a major change in our web host that required us to do things very differently [and much more slowly] than before). It'll be a challenge juggling this mammoth task with engaging with our daughter with waterfalling and with work. So we'll see how it all plays out this year...

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