Category Archives: Travel

Armchair Travel ~ Horseback ~ Canada’s Great Divide

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Riding the Great Divide

Photos from a journey through K-Country on horseback by Sabrina Doyle

Kananaskis Country is a giant scenic playground covering 4,257 square kilometers of the Rocky Mountain foothills. There are many ways to explore the region, but Andre Prefontaine chose to venture offroad on horseback (look for his story in the September 2015 travel issue of Canadian Geographic). Guiding him was the charismatic Dewy Matthews of Anchor Doutfitters. For seven days the group moved through the Highwood Range to the Continental Divide and into British Columbia. Here’s a glimpse into their trip.

The group makes their way up to Fording River Pass, along the continental divide, before crossing into British Columbia. After leaving the tree line behind they reached a large stony area where a patch of petrified horn coral dating back to the mid-to-late Cretaceous period, some 66 to 140 million years ago. (Photo courtesy Janet and Mike Michaud)

The group reaches British Columbia after crossing the continental divide. (Photo courtesy Janet and Mike Michaud)

Dewy scans the horizon on day 3, from the summit of a mountain he called the Strawberry Hills. (Photo courtesy Janet and Mike Michaud)

Atop the Strawberry Hills. (Photo courtesy Janet and Mike Michaud)

Lunch break on the summit of the Strawberry Hills afforded breathtaking 360 degree views of the valleys below. (Photo courtesy André Préfontaine/Canadian Geographic)

An early morning view of Mount McPhail through the mist. Taken at the third and final base camp along McPhail Creek. (Photo courtesy André Préfontaine/Canadian Geographic)

Photo courtesy André Préfontaine/Canadian Geographic

Three chuck wagons follow the Highwood River as the group makes their way out of the mountain back to High River Junction on the last day of the ride. The wagons contain all the gear and food for the seven-day ride. (Photo courtesy André Préfontaine/Canadian Geographic)

Dewy stands on a fossil patch on the way up to the Fording River Pass. (Photo courtesy Christine Thomas)

Dewy rides to the top Fording River Pass. (Photo courtesy Christine Thomas)

http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/travel/travel_magazine/sep15/great-divide-ride.asp

WATER DROPLET HAPPY ICON GIMPCROPPEDHope you enjoyed your horseback photo adventure                         into the great mountains of Canada. 

 Have a great weekend everyone – get out and enjoy some of your local events now that the extremely hot                                                  temperatures seem to be behind us.

Mother Nature at Her Most Bizarre ~ Photos

I received the following photograph collection of Mother Nature’s amazing oddities, “These Bizarre Nature Photos Show How Strange Earth Really Is” from http://www.viralnova.com/earth-oddities yesterday.

These photos might look like they come from an alien planet, but it turns out our own little Earth is capable of some truly weird stuff. All of these things occur naturally across the globe because of, like, science and stuff. A lot of the reasons why go over my head, but it’s all true. It’s easy to appreciate the wondrous beauty of Earth without knowing exactly how it happens. Some of these are cringe-worthy, but others make me want to buy a plane ticket. And I am definitely going to pay closer attention to sunsets from now on. Take a look at some of the cool things you didn’t realize happen on our home planet.

1. Never-ending Wave: Occurs twice a year in Brazil when the Atlantic ocean meets the mouth of the Amazon River. The resulting waves can travel 500 miles inland before slowing down.

2. Underwater Crop Circles: In Japan male pufferfish flapping their fins creating their alien-esque circles in the sand.

3. Bleeding Glacier: Also known as Blood Falls in Antarctica, the outflowing water resembles blood due to iron oxide.

4. Blue Lava: Due to sulfuric gases at extremely high temperatures, this volcano in Indonesia produces the blue glowing lava.

5. Calcifying Lake: This creepy lake in Tanzania has such high PH levels that it calcifies any animal that goes into the water.

6. Cocooned Trees: During the flood season in Pakistan, spiders are forced to flee to the trees where their webs create this effect.

7. Danixia Landforms: Over millions of years, the red sandstone and mineral deposits in certain areas of China have created these rainbow-like landforms.

8. Frost Flowers: In Arctic areas these floral ice formations occur when the temperature between the ocean and the atmosphere differs.

9. Green Flash: This rare phenomenon occurs when the conditions are right at the beginning or end of a sunset.

10. Hair Ice: Water escaping ice in freezing weather can have this follicle-effect due to certain bacteria presence.

11. Horsetail Falls: In Yosemite National Park, California, this waterfall looks more like lave with a bright orange glow at certain times of the day in February.

WATER DROPLET HAPPY ICON GIMPCROPPEDHave a great weekend everyone.  It looks as if Mother Nature is finally going to be kind to us and send us some half decent weather over the weekend – hope you have the same.

Happy New Year 2015!

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The following youtube video, “Happy New Year – Auld Lang Syne by Sissel (Live).wmv.flv”, features phenomenal videography of panoramic vistas, endearing nature scenes, and of course the remarkable voice of Sissel Kyrkjebø, the Norwegian soprano.

WIDELY OBSERVED NEW YEAR SYMBOLS AND TRADITIONS

Resolutions: It is believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions, and people all over the world have been breaking them ever since. The early Christians believed the first day of the new year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in the new year.

Fireworks: Noise-making and fireworks on New Year’s eve is believed to have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck. The Chinese are credited with inventing fireworks and use them to spectacular effect in their New Year’s celebrations.

SCOTLAND

The birthplace of “Auld Lang Syne” is also the home of Hogmanay (hog-mah-NAY), the rousing Scottish New Year’s celebration (the origins of the name are obscure).  The Torchlight Procession is the official start of three-days of spectacular Edinburgh’s Hogmanay events.

Credit: Lloyd SmithLast year’s event welcomed over 35,000 participants and spectators, joining the Up Helly Aa’ Vikings, massed pipes & drums and thousands of torch carriers as they illuminate the city from our start position on George IV Bridge to the finale viewing areas at Waterloo Place and Calton Hill. The Torchlight Procession fireworks finale can be viewed across the city and beyond! One of the traditions is “first-footing.”

Credit: Lloyd SmithShortly after midnight on New Year’s eve, neighbors pay visits to each other and impart New Year’s wishes. Traditionally, First foots used to bring along a gift of coal for the fire, or shortbread. It is considered especially lucky if a tall, dark, and handsome man is the first to enter your house after the new year is rung in. The Edinburgh Hogmanay celebration is the largest in the country, and consists of an all-night street party.

GREECE

Orestiko_New Year’s Eve

A different type of celebration for New Year’s Day is happening in Argos Orestiko, a town in Northern Greece.  From New Year’s Eve to January 2, the locals wear their carnival costumes and celebrate in an unusual way. Unlike the rest of the cities in Greece, Argos Orestiko celebrates with a carnival during Christmas and especially around New Year’s Day. In fact, this was a custom of western Macedonia in Greece, which had its roots there at the time while the country was enslaved by the Ottomans. In order for people of the area to celebrate freely, they were in disguise — the men dressed as women and vice versa. This celebration kept on for centuries, even after the liberation of the region in 1912, and now it offers unique moments of festivities under the sound of music and, most of the time, with very cold weather.

BELARUS


In Belarus, unmarried women compete at games of skill to determine who will get married first in the New Year. One game involves setting piles of corn and a rooster before each of the single ladies. Whichever pile the bird approaches first, is believed to be the one who is to be married first.

 JAPAN

In Japan, on New Year’s Eve people prepare for and welcome Toshigami , the New Year’s god. People clean their home and prepare Kadomatsu or Shimenawa to welcome the god before New Year’s Eve. Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times at midnight in the tradition Joya no Kane. The rings represent the 108 elements of bonō, mental states that lead people to take unwholesome actions.  In most cities and urban areas across Japan, New Year’s Eve celebrations are usually accompanied by concerts, countdowns, fireworks, and other events to mark the beginning of the New Year.

People gather around the Zojoji Temple to release helium balloons up in the sky containing New Year’s wishes and watch the lighting of Tokyo Tower with a year number displayed on the observatory at the stroke of midnight.

THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch burn bonfires of Christmas trees on the street and launch fireworks. The fires are meant to purge the old and welcome the new.

SPAIN

At midnight, Spaniards eat twelve grapes, each one bringing luck for one month of the year. The actual countdown is primarily followed from the clock on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid. It is traditional to eat twelve grapes, one on each chime of the clock. This tradition has its origins in 1909, when grape growers in Alicante thought of it as a way to cut down on the large production surplus they had had that year.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

New Year celebrations in the USA

On New Years Eve, at 11:59 pm, millions of Americans tune in to watch the dropping of the giant ball in Times Square in New York City. The ball, which is made of Waterford Crystal, weighs 1,070 pounds, and is six feet in diameter, reaches the bottom exactly at midnight. What most people don’t know is that this ritual is carried out five times, as local news stations replay the event at midnight in each time zone.

HAPPY5

and best wishes for health, happiness and prosperity in 2015

from Martin, Dave, Louise

MARTIN, DAVE, LOUISE FOR BLOG
~ Rainsoft Ottawa ~
Eternally Pure Water Systems, Inc.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_Eve
http://ryanseacrest.com/2010/12/28/9-strange-new-years-traditions-from-around-the-world/
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/newyearcelebrations.html

Win a trip to Kennedy Space Center

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MAGAZINE LOGOAstronomy Magazine & Kennedy Space Center Sweepstakes —
Total Prize Value: $6,425!

Win round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, and admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for four including a behind-the-scenes tour, lunch with an astronaut, and a meteorite collectible.
Open only to residents of the USA and Canada (except Quebec).

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HURRY! Enter Sweepstakes
– before November 30th.

http://sciencecontests.secondstreetapp.com/Win-a-trip-to-the-Kennedy-Space-Center/Enter

IMAGE1Each year, more than 1.4 million guests from around the world experience their own space adventure by exploring the past, present and future of America’s space program at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This Visitor Complex opened on August 1, 1967 in response to public interest and demand to see our space program up close. This was at the time NASA was preparing to launch the first astronauts to the moon. In 1995 Delaware North Parks and Resorts, Inc. began managing the 70-acre facility. They have redeveloped and enhanced this facility to make it one of Central Florida’s most popular tourist destinations. KSC visitor complex offers IMAX films, live shows, hands-on-activities, behind the scenes tours, lunch with an astronaut, and its newest attraction, The Shuttle Launch Experience. The facility offers great shopping, dining, education programs, and sometimes even launches, and it is entirely self-supported. It receives no taxpayer or government funding.

CENTER5Excellent overview of Center link ~ http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/feature/KennedySpaceCenter-122607.cfm

Good luck to all who enter.

Have a scare-riffic Halloween and great weekend!

 fireghost FIREY LETTERS

Fun Friday ~ Quirky USA Town Trivia Part 2

The following article, “America’s Quirkiest Towns”,  is the 2nd part of Huffington Posts’ ‘The Blog’ article posted by Katrina Brown Hunt, taken from Travel+Leisure  Sept. 3, 2014.
America’s Quirkiest Towns (PHOTOS)

Paul Stone loves the colorful locals he sees on Boulder, Colorado’s downtown plaza, the no-cars-allowed Pearl Street Mall…
 That double-jointed blend is probably why the Colorado mountain town also made the top 20 for quirky locals, according to Travel + Leisure readers…

No. 8 Charlottesville, VA

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Thomas Jefferson certainly had his share of eccentricities, and his old stomping ground has carried on the tradition. The hometown school, UVA (which helped the town rank well for its techy factor), was the alma mater of Edgar Allen Poe, and his dorm room is still preserved behind glass (and no, there doesn’t seem to be a beating heart underneath the floorboards). The town also got high marks for its barbecue—such as the brisket and ribs at Buttz BBQ—but you might see even more local eccentrics at Holy Cow, a vegan restaurant that does a barbecue version of the mythic jackalope (in this case, jackfruit).

No. 9 Bloomington, IN

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No one knows exactly where the termHoosiers came from, but these proud Indianans embrace the idea of being a little unpredictable. After all, the midwestern town has been a hotbed for Tibetan Buddhists for decades. You can stroll the gardens at the Dagom Gaden Tensung Ling Buddhist Monastery, or explore the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, established by the Dalai Lama’s eldest brother. To eat like a Tibetan, try the steamed-dumpling momos at Anyetsang’s Little Tibet. And to see why the college town also excelled in beer, check out Upland Brewing Company, popular for its patio, live music, and fabulous sour lambics.

No. 10 Sonoma, CA

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Readers love this wine country town because it hasn’t gotten too posh: you’ll still find historic sites, such as General Vallejo’s house from the 1850s, along with contemporary local eccentrics such as the Dancing Jogging Lady, who has her ownFacebook fan page. Sonoma also ranked in the top 10 for its adobe town square—lined with a dozen-plus wine-tasting rooms—as well as its coffee. A good place to hang with the locals is The Epicurean Connection, a café right off Sonoma Plaza that offers local wine, cheese-making classes, and goat-milk lattes.

No. 11 Burlington, VT

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This town on Lake Champlain gave the world the ultimate quirky college band (Phish) as well as Ben & Jerry’s, which started here in a former gas station—and no doubt helped Burlington rank highly in the survey for ice cream. It also scored well for cool souvenirs—like the locally made maple syrups and stuffed Hugg-a-Planets at thePeace and Justice Store—and wine, such as the bottles from East Shore Vineyard. For something quirkier, check out the tasting room for Citizen Cider, which features artisan alcoholic ciders including the AmeriCran, made with fermented cranberries.

No. 12 Lewisburg, WV

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Any town that names its own performance space Carnegie Hall has confidence, and indeed this Greenbrier County town also scored well in the survey for civic pride. The mountain town’s Civil War past—1862’s Battle of Lewisburg, which the Union won—delivered big points in the history category, and it also ranked highly for historic inns like the General Lewis, which is filled with antiques, Civil War–era tools, and a resident ghost. Come in autumn to join the Zombie 5K, which invites runners to zombie-fy themselves and chase others for motivation. Lewisburg also impressed readers with less-threatening festivities like April’s Chocolate Festival.

No. 13 Tiburon, CA

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Once a rowdy railroad town, this Marin County community evolved into an upscale enclave for San Francisco transplants. But walk along its main street and you can explore Ark Row, comprising stores built out of old houseboats. To lounge with the locals—and get great views of the skyline, Angel Island, and Alcatraz—go to the deck ofSam’s Anchor Café, once a hangout for bootleggers (you can still see its escape-route trap door, leading to the water below).

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Hope you all enjoyed your armchair travel time with us and have a great weekend ~ we hope you’ll visit again next Friday for the last 7  Quirkiest Towns in America.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

Ana Rucner – Ode to Joy

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I’m certain the you will be as delighted as I was to watch this mesmerizing and captivating video.  I know I’ve never seen this level of excellence in videography – kudos to those who created this on behalf of Croatia’s Tourism Board.

This Youtube video, “Ana Rucner – Ode to Joy” was uploaded on Nov 23, 2011 as the official video of the Croatian National Tourist Board “Ode to Joy” – Croatia – the new tourism star of the European Union. 

The video, featuring the most famous of Ludwig van Beethovan’s music – Ninth Symphony , was recorded in Ston, in Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

ANA IMAGE 2Performed by: Ana Rucner, Croatian cellist star

Ston is home to the second largest stone wall in the world and the video comes following Ana filming a music video on the Great Wall of China, which provided the inspiration for joining the two sites. The hope is that the music video will like Ana’s previous videos, bring tourists from all over the world closer to Croatia, showcasing elements of Ston’s culture and heritage , gastronomic offer, vineyards and salt works.

Ana plays modern interpretations of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, with musician Neven Kocković accompanying and shellfish harvesters from Ston also featured. 

water-dropletHave a wonderful weekend everyone and share this video with family and friends – a great way to keep in touch.

   

A Photo Journey through Atlantis, Bahamas ~ Fabulous!

ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLANDThe following is a reblog of Leslie Carter’s (my all time #1 favorite blogger!) from her Bucket list publications.  (http://bucketlistpublications.org)- posted Jan.27, 2014
Thank you, Leslie  for this wonderful and magical armchair travel journey.

A Photo Journey through Atlantis, Bahamas.

Royal Tower, Atlantis, Bahamas

Trying to explain everything that Atlantis, Paradise Island has to offer in one post would be impossible. Surprises and unique adventures were around every corner. From water slides, marine habitats, adventure currents, nightly entertainment, spas, sports, and a casino, it was important to pick favorites and cover those activities first because the endless adventures would provide a lifetime of entertainment. Follow our Atlantis journey through a series of my favorite photos.

Celebrity Transfers picked us up at the airport and drove us to The Reef, Atlantis in style.

Celebrity Transfers, Atlantis, Bahamas

The Reef provided us with all the comforts of home including a kitchen, garden tub, amazing ocean views, a semi-private pool, and easy access to the white-sand beaches.

The Reef, Atlantis

The Reef, Atlantis

Our View from The Reef, Atlantis Bahamas

Aquaventure, Atlantis Paradise Island’s water park, is a 141-acre waterscape with non-stop aquatic thrill ride features over twenty million gallons of water, thrilling high-speed water slides, a mile-long river ride with rolling rapids and wave surges, 20 swimming areas, a spectacular kids water-play fort, and 11 unique and refreshing swimming pools. We rode The Current and somehow managed to stay in the tube even when everyone around us was falling out.

Aquaventure, Atlantis Paradise Island

The Current, Atlantis

Aquaventure, Atlantis Paradise Island

The Marine Habitat offers a unique opportunity to explore lagoons, caves, coral formations, and underwater ruins designed to showcase exotic marine life ranging from dolphins and sea lions to sharks, rays, barracuda, to piranha, and eels. Athena loved the sharks the most; amazed by their graceful movements.

Atlantis, The Dig

The Dig, Atlantis

Playing with sea lions and dolphins was a first for my sister, Gabriella. The smile never left her face during the entire time we were in the extraordinary, almost dreamlike, environment.

Funny Sea Lion, Atlantis, Bahamas

Swimming with Dolphins at Atlantis, Bahamas

Every beach at Atlantis has its own unique allure and charm. Mom relaxed during her morning stroll on Atlantis Beach where she rubbed her feet in the fine powder-sand and we all splashed in the waves of The Cove Beach while looking at the spectactular vista of azure water.  Beaches, Atlantis Bahamas

Beaches, Atlantis Bahamas

Visiting Atlantis included adventure, relaxation, family-fun, and side splitting entertainment with Sherri Shepherd. It also included over-coming one of my greatest fears – swimming with sharks through Sea Trek.

Sea Trek Walk with Sharks

Sea Trek Walk with Sharks

The options at Atlantis are endless. When you book your vacation, start thinking about what you’d like to do the most immediately because you’re in for a non-stop, dream-like experience.