Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking back at 2013 and forward to 2014

2013 was a very interesting year in terms of our waterfalling.  It began locally with some waterfalls that we hadn't visited in many years due to road closures from fires or landslides.  Among thosee waterfalls that haunted us were Trail Canyon FallsSoldier Creek Falls, Cooper Canyon Falls, and even Fish Canyon Falls.  I guess it was a good thing we were able to go waterfalling when we did because the rains that came in force in December quickly died away the rest of the season and we ended up with yet another dry Winter.

In February, Julie, Tahia, my Mom, and I all went back to Yosemite National Park.  It was yet another place we hadn't been to in several years after several consecutive years of coming here.  The big goal of that trip was to see Horsetail Falls in its firefall state.  Little did we realize how much of a "special event" it had become as this once obscure phenomenon now entailed a huge event attracting thousands of people just to see the rare event.  Wow!

Julie and my Mom had success with their camera phones.  Meanwhile, I was caught in a bad location and didn't get the best effect on the first attempt.  On the second attempt, I managed to do a bit better from the north side of the valley, but it just wasn't the same as the awesome camera-phone shots that they got from the south side of the valley the day before.  I guess you win some and you lose some.

The big trip of the year occurred in mid-May going into early June as Julie and I went to Italy with a short stint in Switzerland.  We started off in Roma, went south as far as the Amalfi Coast, then went inland to the north through Abruzzo to Umbria, then into Toscana, Firenze, Venezia, then the Dolomites, the Lakes region (including Lago di Como), into Ticino in Switzerland, before ending the trip around Lago di Maggiore to Milano.

We anticipated the kind of Mediterranean weather that we were used to at home.  Little did we realize that there was a freak low pressure system that parked over most of central and eastern Europe for over a month and managed to flood that area while hitting Italy with some of that violent weather in the process.  So we had to be very opportunistic with our waterfalling, but we did venture into some off-the-beaten path places to find waterfalls such as Cascata del Rio Verde, Cascate del Dardagna, Cascate di Nardis, and even the Swiss waterfall Cascata di Foroglio among others.

The waterfalling not only forced us to use the Italian we tried to learn prior to the trip, but it also provided a tremendous mix Nature along with the history the country is well-known for.  And for a nearly month long trip, we needed to mix it up like this to avoid the kind of fatigue that can happen if the trip was too focused on one theme (and be subject to the syndrome where it's easy to say the ruins start looking the same after a while).

In August, I then subjected my body to another Sierra backpacking trip.  This time, we went up Onion Valley to Kearsarge Pass, but there were a few waterfall surprises on this trip despite the fact that it had been a pretty dry year through California including the Sierras.  Sometimes I tell myself why I put my body through this, but with the views and the great company from the backpacking mates, it was well worth it in the end.

Aside from that, we wouldn't do any more waterfalling until October when we then went on a trip to the New England Area as well as Quebec and Ontario in Canada along with a finale in New York.  This time, Julie and I brought our daughter along and she actually did quite well on this trip!

We began in Boston, went down to Cape Cod, then went waterfalling in earnest as we made our way to Western Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, then Maine.  We then headed north to Quebec City as we found some giant waterfalls there as well as perhaps the most charming and European of any city to be found in North America.  We then continued west through Montreal and then eventually Ottawa before heading south into New York through the Adirondacks then west to the familiar Niagara Falls.  We then continued to Hamilton, Ontario before spending the Canadian Thanksgiving day in Toronto before swinging back through Buffalo to Watkins Glen, then to Paterson, New Jersey before capping it all off in New York City.

It was another one of those trips that expanded our minds, dazzled our eyes with the gorgeous Autumn colors, and surprised us in many ways.  It was also a return to some favorite haunts like Niagara Falls and Letchworth State Park.  Plus, we weren't as homesick as the very reason we tended to get homesick on trips like this was with us the whole time.  And it was very cool to see the new experiences from her perspective.

As for the waterfalling highlights, we visited Arethusa Falls in New Hampshire, Bash Bish Falls in Massachusetts, Chute Montmorency in Quebec, Albion Falls in Ontario, plus the waterfalls of Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes of New York among others.  There were so many waterfalls seen on this trip yet most of them were bathed in Autumn colors that just added life to the scenery.

We also learned a bit about the histories of both the US and Canada as well as bit of a cross-mixing of cultures where it seemed like the political boundaries didn't really apply from a cultural standpoint.  Speaking of politics, we had to think fast with some serious last-minute planning when the government shutdown kind of forced us to rearrange our original plans to visit some of the National Parks in the New England area.  We think we did OK with that bit of maneuvering.  Plus, we also happened to experience what would turn out to be a second Thanksgiving as Canadians celebrated theirs a month earlier than us.

Finally, throughout the year, I've been trying to revamp the website with improved navigation, better writeups, larger photos, ratings, and more.  It has been a slow process for sure (especially with putting up with SBI's kludgy and super slow interface), but I'm close to wrapping up this mega project (maybe 2-3 months away as I still have Norway and New Zealand to finish up).

We'll see what 2014 brings.  There's a lot going on in our lives and we'll see what kind of new waterfalling experiences can be attained with the new challenges, shifting priorities, and other things that go on in this thing we call life...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Waterfall of the Week

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Waterfall of the Week

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Waterfall of the Week

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Waterfall of the Week