.All Trips / British Columbia / North America / Western Canada

Magnificent Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

010a Takkakaw Falls 07-2014

There are hundreds of amazing places in the Canadian Rockies.  Beautiful lakes and rivers, wonderful mountain peaks and breath-taking vistas from high alpine meadows.  Yoho National Park, in eastern British Columbia, straddles the continental divide on Alberta’s border and not only is a place of great beauty but geologic significance as it is home to the legendary Burgess Shale Formation.  Yoho derives its name (not from a Johnny Depp pirate song but) from the Cree language, meaning “Awe and Wonder”.

The crown gem of this beautiful area, in my humble opinion, is Takakkaw Falls which thunders as it pours into the Yoho Valley not unlike the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley.  Takakkaw Falls has a total drop of 384m (1260 ft) …

Read More

Tagged , , , , ,
.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

Hiking in Horseshoe Canyon; an introduction to Alberta’s Badlands

008 Horseshoe Canyon 06-2014

Most of the hikes I’ve featured on this blog are in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, with good reason.  The scenery in these mountains is truly spectacular, the altitude not overly taxing, and the long summer days are usually dry and sunny.  But there’s a lot more to Alberta than its Rocky Mountains.  Most of the province is actually composed of vast rolling prairies within which you’ll find limited regions known as “the Badlands”.  The Badlands are one of the most unique ecosystems in Alberta, a mostly treeless environment that offers expansive and colorful vistas of eroded, banded mesas, buttes, and coulees.

The easiest place to explore the Badlands is at Horseshoe Canyon, just over an hour’s drive north of Calgary, near Drumheller, …

Read More

Tagged , , , ,
.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

John Steinbeck Country: 2) Salinas. The National Steinbeck Center

001a Steinbeck Museum, Salinas 5-2014 intro

John Steinbeck is one of the greatest writers in American history and certainly a favorite of mine.  This is the second installment in a series describing my visit to John Steinbeck country.  In part one we looked at John Steinbeck’s boyhood home in Salinas.  This post discusses the other significant Steinbeck attraction in Salinas, the National Steinbeck Center, a museum focusing on the life, times and writings of its most famous citizen.

The Steinbeck Center Foundation was established in 1983 and fifteen years later (June 27, 1998) the center itself was finished and opened to the public.  The center is the most significant archives of Steinbeck’s work anywhere, and presents Steinbeck’s life, its formative processes and significant events, and of course …

Read More

Tagged , , ,
.All Trips / Asia / Nepal

Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

012 Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu

Swayambunath Temple, in Kathmandu, Nepal, is one of the most important sites in this ancient city.  It is known as the “Monkey Temple” because of the large number of (mean spirited) monkeys that have all but taken over this complex (and are said to be “holy monkeys”).

Swayambhunath is an ancient complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley.  Most approach it via a long uphill climb of 365 steps (one for each day of the year), past thousands of Buddhist prayer flags that set the atmosphere for the complex ahead.  Each morning before dawn hundreds of Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims ascend these steps and begin a clockwise walk around the stupa at the center of this ancient site.

The Swayambhunath complex dates to …

Read More

Tagged , , , , , , ,
.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

John Steinbeck Country: 1) Salinas. The Steinbeck House

001 Steinbeck House 05-2014

I greatly admire and enjoy the writing of American novelist, John Steinbeck – in fact, you’ll see a quote from one of Steinbeck’s books underneath my blog’s banner.  Steinbeck was born and grew up in the small farming town of Salinas, California, in 1902.  His formative experiences in and around this community were extremely influential on his life view and future writing, including his Nobel prize winning novel, “The Grapes of Wrath” .

It had been decades since I’d last stopped in Salinas and I knew that a new Steinbeck museum had opened in town which I very much wanted to see.  So while doing an (all too short) California road trip with two of my Arthur C. Clarke buddies, electronics engineer Wayne …

Read More

Tagged , , , ,
.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

A backpacking trip to Sequoia National Park: Pear Lake (The Lakes Trail)

Sequoia 6-1996 008  Pear Lake

Most folks visit Sequoia National Park to see its giant sequoia trees, the largest living things on the earth!  That’s a great reason to go and there are wonderful hikes through these amazing forests of giants and the meadows that surround them.  But Sequoia National Park also provides access to the high Sierra Mountain range comparable to what you find in the high country of Yosemite National Park (like around the Tioga Pass Road).

When I lived in Southern California, Pear Lake was one of my favorite places to go backpacking, having made five separate trips there (two with my oldest son when he was just a boy, and one with my dear friend Dr. Gary Schwartz, the best oncologist in …

Read More

.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Ontario

St. Catharines Market, Ontario

009 St. catherines Market 07-2014

One of the oldest Farmers Markets in Ontario is found on the Niagara peninsula, in the pleasant small city of St. Catharines (nicknamed the “Garden City”).   The market has been held since the early 1800s and is currently located in Market Square in downtown St. Catharines, at the corner of King and James Streets (adjoining the historic courthouse).

The market highlights the quality fresh produce grown in the rich soil of the Niagara peninsula.  You’ll also find fresh baked bread and other bakery items, meat products, seafood, and cooked food for sale.  Several vendors sell fresh cut flowers, jams and preserves, honey, and even some handicrafts are available.  The farmers market operates year round every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with an extended …

Read More

Tagged , , , ,
.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Mission San Juan Capistrano. The “Jewel” of the California Missions

040a Mission San Juan Capistrano 03-2014.

I love honesty in advertising!  When a place as historically famous as Mission San Juan Capistrano tells you it’s “Worth a Visit”, it’s not only a believable claim but likely one of the most understated in all of California.  Founded in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra, San Juan Capistrano is one of a string of missions in the state and home to the state’s oldest surviving buildings.  This is a much beloved place and is known as “The Jewel of the Missions” because of its beauty.   Despite severe earthquake damage in 1812, which collapsed the roof of the Great Stone Church (still in ruins) and killed 40 people, Capistrano has endured and still functions as an active church.   It …

Read More

Tagged , , ,