.All Trips / Chile / South America

First Hike in Torres del Paine National Park

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The Torres del Paine are three distinctive towering granite peaks of the Paines Massif (see above photo).  Extending up to 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) above sea level, these towers dominate much of the landscape of the park, as does the horned part of the mountain known as the Cuernos del Paine.  The Patagonian steppe abuts the mountains.

We arrived in Torres del Paine in the afternoon and had only a few hours to spare that day for a hike.  I had hoped to hike to the base of the towers, for there is a lovely glacier and lake there, but did not have the time.   Among the feasible options, we decided to hike along the hilly steppe and take in the views …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America

A visit to the Celestial Seasons Factory, Boulder

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My younger son is a PhD student at UC Boulder (astrophysics of all things) and visiting him has given me the opportunity to explore this pretty little city recently.  It’s got some nice attractions, especially it’s close proximity to the Rocky Mountains and a great summertime farmer’s market But there are many Americans who think of tea when they think of Boulder. You heard that correctly — a tea factory in America’s heartland.

Celestial Seasons may not be the biggest distributor of tea in the USA but it unquestionably has the most devoted following and is the country’s largest supplier of herbal teas.  I know several people who would have trouble going to …

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.All Trips / Nevada / North America / Southwestern USA

St. Mary’s in the Mountain, Virginia City, Nevada

‘s in the Mountains

Virginia City is an interesting destination, being one of the best preserved “Wild West” towns I’ve ever visited.  Once a prosperous mining city, it was one of the largest communities in northwestern Nevada during the late 19th century.  Thousands of people flocked here when silver and gold were discovered in the Comstock, including many Irish Catholic immigrants.  Those of you who remember the popular television series, Bonanza, will remember that the Cartwrights frequently visited Virginia City to conduct their business.  They were not alone, as Virginia City provided services to local miners, ranchers and timber men. There’s lots to see in this old town, still a center of commerce but now catering mostly to tourists rather than locals.

I thought the …

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.All Trips / Asia / India

Signs of Delhi

01 Signs of Delhi

There’ s no place quite like Delhi!  A large sprawling city with a population of about twenty million (itself more populous than many countries!), it is bustling with commerce of all types but mostly of the small street vendor to consumer variety.

As many of you know, I collect “signs”.  Delhi was a little challenging in this regard.  Many of the signs were crafted in Hindi, which I can’t read, but there were a fairly large number that were bilingual or created in English (with tourists and expats in mind, I assume).  It is these I tended to photograph. 

As with most things about Delhi, like its noise, traffic, crowding, filth and smells, the signage can be overwhelming to the senses.  Often …

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.All Trips / Hawaii / North America

Black Sand and Green Turtles

‘u Black Sand Beach (5)

I love visiting the Big Island, my favorite of the Hawaiian Islands.  I think the main reasons are because of its active volcanoes and large stretches of undeveloped land.  The volcanoes especially fascinate me and draw me to see them again and again.  It’s because of its volcanoes that Big Island has so many black sand beaches — black sand is only formed by the breakdown of lava rock, often when hot lava encounters the ocean, solidifies, then shatters in the powerful surf.  White sand generally is due to the breakdown of shells, corals, and other organic matter. 

An excellent example of a black sand beach is Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park, located on the southeastern Kau coast.  Since black sand …

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.All Trips / Central USA / North America / North Dakota

Sertoma Park, Grand Forks

08 Grand Forks Sertoma Park (29)

The city of Grand Forks, situated in northeastern North Dakota, is not exactly located on  main tourist paths.  In fact, it’s what most folks would call “flyover” country.  And that wouldn’t bother the friendly people of Grand Forks one little bit.  They know they live in a clean and beautiful city, of which they are rightly proud.

Most of my memories of Grand Forks are from when I was a boy, traveling to it from our home in Winnipeg for shopping weekends.  It had been several decades since I’d last spent any time here and what I found when we recently visited Grand Forks was a pretty city that was extremely family friendly and liveable.

We stopped at Sertoma Park, one of …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

The Dubai Marina

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Just like most of greater Dubai, by all rights the Dubai Marina should not exist.  As such, it seems surreal when you first see it.  Built in the desert along what was once a vacant 2 mile stretch of sandy beach, it’s now a towering artificial canal city with a beautiful jumble of skyscrapers juxtaposed against the water.  

The construction project was complex and involved years of dredging and building, the construction still continuing.  When the building phase is finally completed, it will be the largest marina in the world (currently that title belongs to Marina del Rey in California).   The city of Dubai Marina can accommodate over 120,000 residents, many of them expats who enjoy the warm climate and …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Gangaramaya Temple: One of Colombo’s top Attractions

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Sri Lanka is a country of many traditions and faiths, but most of its residents are Sinhalese Buddhists.  As such, exploring the Buddhist temples of the country offers a gateway to understanding the culture and traditions of most of its people.  Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most important temples in Colombo and one of the city’s more interesting sites.

This Buddhist temple is encompassed by several buildings and is situated in the heart of Colombo, not far from Beira Lake.  It includes a Vihara (temple), a Bodhi tree, an Image house, and an assembly hall for monks.  The complex also has an eclectic museum, library, residential hall and an educational hall.  The beautiful Simamalaka Shrine is nearby and a satellite …

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