Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Photos by Tiffen Tapia
I’ll kick off with this picture of Lake Atitlan and the Atitlan volcano to begin this post. The first glimpse of the lake and the volcanoes is one of the times when the phrase "breathtaking" really does apply. Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America and its waters don’t flow anywhere else. What makes it such a spectacular sight are the three volcanoes that ring it – Atitlan, San Pedro and Toliman. Atitlan, which you glimpse here in our picture, is still active, although it’s been almost 150 years since it last erupted.
The traveler can catch a first glimpse of the lake on the approach into Panajachel from the Interamerican Highway. Don’t be deceived by the highway nomenclature. Consider it a paved path. You can drive, but I wouldn’t. I’d rather take my chances on the “chicken bus” so named for the obvious reason … the bus can hold passengers and chickens. On our journey, there were only people onboard – at least as far as I know – but we were crammed in like chickens! Sorry that it didn’t occur to us to grab a picture, but we did grab some shots for you outside the market in Antigua.
Panajachel is the main point of entry into the highlands. The town is a center of commerce for the indigenous Mayan communities who call the region home.We were able to find a nice little hotel – Mario’s – two beds, hot water, cable TV and breakfast for about $20. Nope, it wasn’t the least costly way to go, but we thought the price was right for comfort and cleanliness. And there was a computer room, with a couple of ancient Mac computers in the second-floor lounge where we could do a quick check of email. And we were right on the main drag – where we could catch a glimpse of the goats going by in the morning.
It was a good starting point from which to plan our Atitlan adventures. Details coming up.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Check out my VisitSouth.com blog post on the Hot Shop here. For more information on the Chihuly Collection, go to http://www.chihulycollectionstpete.com/
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Whenever I go to Anna Maria Island (off Bradenton north of Sarasota), the sunsets just blow me away. The beaches are pretty sensational, too, with beautiful white sand, clear blue water and lots of laid-back dives to hangout in. This is the weekend beach getaway for the middle class, although you can find a couple of luxury condos here and there. By and large, it's a beer and margarita kinda island with Three Dog Night cover bands and pizza by the slice. So what's not to like? Go to annamariaislandchamber.org to scope it out.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Today we hiked 2 miles to Moro Rock, a massive granite boulder that can be seen for miles. Once you climb the 400 or so chiseled steps to the top, you get one mind-blowing 360-degree view. This photo shows Val and me at the top of Moro Rock. From the top, we could see the Continental Divide and all the way to Kings Canyon National Park, just north of this park.
Everywhere you go around the Sierra Mountains, there are warnings about the bears. Don't feed the bears. Watch out for the bears. Well, today, we finally saw those sneaky bears! Freaked us out as we were driving along the main road in Sequoia National Park, rounding a curve and there they were ... a mother and 2 cubs. Took this photo from the car window.
Today, we drove south from Yosemite to a really beautiful area where both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are located. It's a region of lush green forested mountains and rushing mountain rivers filled with boulders and white water rapids.
Although warm at lower elevations, as we drove up the winding park road the temps dropped 25 degrees as we got to around 4,500 feet and there was snow everywhere! Many trails and roads in the park are closed due to snow. This area is known for the famous towering Sequoia trees, so we had to make a stop to see the General Sherman Tree, the oldest living tree in the world. Here's Val in front of the tree at ground level.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Here is one of the most famous of them all ... Upper Yosemite Falls. As you can see, the rain has stopped (although it's still pretty chilly, in the 40s-50s), so we are happy to see the blue skies topping our waterfalls.
We are amazed with not only the number of tourists here for mid-May (hate to be here in summer), but the deer which are everywhere and seem relatively tame. This shot was taken not far from where we were eating a picnic lunch. Four deer calmly grazing in a small patch of grass right next to the road!
While there is only a smattering of wildflowers here and there in the lower elevations, Val and I have grown fond of the elegant white dogwood trees that are blooming everywhere. We don't have any in Arizona or Florida. Here's Val showing a dogwood blossom. Pretty, huh?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Our plans for hiking today dissolved in the gray mist that soon enveloped the valley. So we decided to take a 2-hour guided bus tour through Yosemite Valley. It was our only option ... and not a bad one, really.
We learned a lot about the history, ecology and geology of the national park, but the rain and cold (in the 40s) was not condusive to photography. By mid-afternoon, the rain had turned to snow in the upper elevations and we had to take an alternate route back to our RV park since we did not have chains for our tires! Yes, it's snowing here .... life is an adventure.
Note: If you can't see the video, just go to my blog page at www.getawaygirltravels.com
Monday, May 10, 2010
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
Our group took over two 12-cabin barges which were once working the waterways of Europe but are now converted into comfortable passenger barges. Here I am in front of my barge, the Merlijn.
Our itinerary went from Brugges, Belgium, north to Amsterdam and I must say it was an excellent trip all around. Our bicycle tour guide was very experienced and we were thankful, because the many biking routes are spread like a spider-web across the land. Finding our routes, which were often narrow gravel paths, dirt roads, dykes and some city streets, would have been difficult had we biked on our own.
Meals and lodging on the barge were nothing fancy, but then if you want fancy go take a cruise. We toured cathedrals and museums and most nights we could wander around the town where we were docked.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
It was a wild time at the Big "O" Birding Festival last weekend near Lake Okeechobee in South Central Florida. A real adventure for us newbie birders was the field trip out to the J-Seven Ranch where third-generation owner John Ward gave my group an up-close-and-personal safari around his cattle ranch.
Lots of excellent field trips, including photo shoots, boating on the Big O, and biking on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail combined with wonderful camaraderie to make this a very enjoyable weekend. If you plan a visit to the area, be sure to stay at the historic Clewiston Inn in Clewiston, a charming 57-room inn built in 1938 and registered as a National Historic Site (http://www.clewistoninn.com/). To check out the festival schedule, go to http://www.bigobirdingfestival.com/
Below, two of the more exotic species spotted during the weekend included the Crested Carcara and the Happy Getaway Girl!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
April, you say? Yes, in my book it's the best time to find great deals, no lift lines and awesome mild, sunny days. Look for lots of festivities, concerts, competitions and weirdness in the final weeks of ski season.
One of my favorite spring skiing destinations is Vail, Colorado, for the annual Taste of Vail (see photo).
Here's an excerpt from my article which ran in the Tampa Tribune Travel section last Sunday:
This year marks the 20th annual Taste of Vail, three days of epicurean indulgence including food and wine tastings, cook-offs, dinners and seminars with notable chefs. Set for April 8 -10, Taste of Vail is a great opportunity to explore the culinary talents of the many outstanding chefs and restaurants throughout Vail Valley, as well as to rub elbows with the locals.
My favorite feature of this event is the popular mountain picnic held atop a peak with sweeping views of the valley below. Guests take the Eagle Bahn gondola to a snow-covered picnic area where nearly 50 restaurants offer samples of gourmet fare, along with some 50 wineries offering tastings.
Here's a link to my story where you can get more information:
Monday, March 1, 2010
Alaska has some of the most spectacular scenery on our side of the solar system. ... A short drive south of Anchorage is the town of Girdwood and the home of Alaska’s premier ski area and resort, Alyeska. ... skiing is accessed by a 60-passenger aerial tram, climbing 2000 feet in elevation and depositing you in the middle of a mountain that receives frequent and sometimes record powder dumps.
Glacier City Snowmobile Tours will set you down on a snow machine, (“snowmobile” to us Lower 48’ers), and guide you on an adventure in the Alaska backcountry. Through Chugach mountain valleys and around gold mines and creeks you’ll ride, and if the conditions are good, they’ll take you to the face of a great glacier, where you can explore ice caves and view countless icebergs.
Would you like to fulfill your bush pilot fantasy? Try a flight-seeing tour with the pilots of Girdwood’s Alpine Air Alaska zooming close (but not too close!) above clear-blue glacial ice and rich blue waters. For a dependable wildlife fix for the trip, motor south out of Girdwood to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The center cares for and rehabilitates injured animals. Among the denizens of the natural enclosures are bear, reindeer, moose, elk, coyotes, caribou, bison and even a porcupine, bald eagle and an owl.
Continue on to the picturesque town of Seward for beautiful Kenai Mountains views and a memorable Resurrection Bay boat tour, starting in early March, replete with orcas, sea lions and bald eagles.