April in Paris.

April in Paris is one of the earlier romantic fantasy stories of Ursula Le Guin. I recommend seeking it out, downloading and reading it, for it’s a magical book. And if anyone is still unfamiliar with the work of this American genius – you should be ashamed of yourself! Start with anything from this list.

Paris happens to be one of my favorite cities.

I’m not sure why but I can be happy here just wandering around for hours (today I was walking for more than six). I understand how some folks don’t like Paris, while others are indifferent… but as for me, I ‘m a pure Parisophile.

paris-france-eifel-tower

More: The Tower, The Dame & The Modern Art…

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Blood of the Earth

Search engines will lead you to sites claiming that the “blood of the Earth” is oil. Don’t believe a word of it. The blood of the Earth in fact looks like this:

tolbachik-eruption-volcano-lava-kamchatka0

Here we are, April, on the Kamchatka Peninsula, checking out the Tolbachik volcano erupting – on a long-weekend trip. It’s a long way to go for a long weekend, but for me and crew – it sure was worth it.

More: A lifetime experience…

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Californian elephant seals – best avoided.

And so, the last of my Californian trips (one, two)…

Today I am taking the westernmost section of the coast road, from Half Moon Bay, via Pescadero, and on to Santa Cruz and Monterey (map).

First off – what you do not need to see here. The colony of elephant seals. They are the most hideous, stupid (according to the local rangers), and lazy of beasts, and totally incompetent on land. Mind you, they dive well – down to one and a half kilometers.

CaliforniaOne word: ugly
More: The rest of the route was almost non-stop delights…

King of the trees

I’d long wanted to return to California’s oldest giant redwood park. I was first here in something like 1997, 15 years ago – and have cherished the experience ever since. And here I am again! Back in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The brain struggles to take in the size of these trees, the biggest in the world. They’re bigger than… Atlas – supporting the sky on their branches… Forgive me for getting all mythologically romantic and lyrical, but there’s no other way to convey my emotions.

California Big Basin Redwoods State Park

As touched upon in the recent Golden State & Golden Gate post, the giant redwood– otherwise known as Sequoia sempervirens, coast redwood or Califiornia redwood – can live (with a bit of luck) for more than two thousand years! The tops of these trees are waaaay up somewhere in the sky – more than 100 meters above the ground! One of the fallen giants has been cut into cross sections and different epoch’s rings are indicated show when and where major historical events occurred.

More: Enormous trees that witnessed the history…

Golden Gate & Golden State.

Hi everyone!

I’d always dreamed of one day walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco – and recently, I’m glad to report, that that dream came true! Traversing the Bay took about an hour (with plenty of stops to soak up the views and take some photos) – from south to north (where I met my fellow frequent travel partner T.T., who was also in a rental car).

Golden Gate, San Francisco

More: Coming next – Muir Woods & Point Reyes..

New Zealand-2013. Days 6-8. Floods, euro-tracks, Hobbitywood, and mad-hatter in-flight shuffles…

Day 6. Tales of the unexpected.

No expedition can be insured against unexpected surprises – be they unpleasant or otherwise.

And the South Island of New Zealand had quite a few in store for us. The first of these was announced to us while waiting to board the ferry at the car rental place. It turned out that getting to where we were headed and were to spend the night was totally out of the question. There’d been some torrential rain (more torrential than the norm, that is) causing villages to be washed away and a bridge brought down, while the road we needed to take was closed and was to remain so for several days. As a result we didn’t make it to the Franz Josef Glacier, which is where we were highly recommended to get to.

New Zealand

More: treks, floods and falls…

New Zealand-2013. Days 3-5. Geysers, volcanoes, a frying pan lake, and pancake rocks.

Day 3. Geothermality.

At last! The time has come to move onto the most interesting bit (at least, for me!) of NZ – of which there happens to be plenty.

Our route was planned thus: from underwhelm-ness, via mid-whelmness, and on to overwhelm-ness, along hundreds of miles of road surrounded on both sides by luxurious landscapes and a continuation of the inevitable – scads of sheep.

Our third day in NZ served up the following for our touristic pleasure: geysers, hot springs, cauldrons, pot holes, fumaroles, and other assorted volcanisms and geothermality – all unconditionally mandatory for visiting and studying more closely.

New Zealand, Geyser Pohutu

More: Geysers, volcanoes, a frying pan lake, and pancake rocks…