Archive for the 'Forest' Category

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On the morning of Friday,July 24th I left Deadwood South Dakota and within an hour had entered Wyoming on SD 34/ WY 24 . The first stop was Devil’s Tower.

Beartooth Highway

Rising straight out of flat farmland,Devil’s Tower is 867 feet and formed in a short time due to volcanic upthrust. It is very geologically different than the Black Hills over 100 miles away, or the Rockies , more than 200. You can experience it in the video above.

A Sheer Climb,With Nowhere To Rest. This Zoom Is About 400 Feet Up.

By mid afternoon I settled into Sheridan, at the foot of the Big Horn National Forest. As usual I dined alone on the hotel porch rather than in a lively restaurant .COVID life on the road. Everything closed by 8 anyway.

Ranch Riding

Big Horn National Park offers hundreds of square miles of hiking, climbing, glacier trekking and ATV trailing. Since it’s not a National Park, it’s not well known except locally. I was the only Florida plate, most were from Wyoming and Montana.

Wyoming Has The Lowest State Population 578,759 – Less Than Uptown Manhattan.
Snake River Canyon – Wyoming/Montana

Dropping down a few thousand feet from the Big Horn Range, TotalAdventure explored the Snake River Canyon , traversing the Wyoming Montana border. The canyon had been dry with a seasonal stream until a dam was built in the 1930s.

# 48 !

I then entered my 49th state, Montana ! Just one more to go – Oklahoma, but won’t be there until the return trip East in September.

Mountain Goats Above Snake River
Dinner In Red Lodge

Before Yellowstone, I overnighted in Billings and Red Lodge Montana. In Billings I enjoyed a big Montana steak, but when I arrived at my hotel in Red Lodge after a day in Snake River, about 7:30 to discover that due to COVID my hotel restaurant was closed and the few restaurants still open in town would be closing at 8. This New York/Miami traveler is not used to small town hours but had to adjust on this trip or face night time starvation. I was the last one served from the line at a Mexican cantina and scored a PBR from the bar/casino across the street. The bars closed at 9 !

Late July Beartooth Highway

From Red Lodge to Yellowstone the winding ,high altitude Beartooth Highway crisscrossed several times between Wyoming and Montana.

1st National Park – 1872

The Summer of 2020 was probably one of the best to explore Yellowstone. Though crowds were sizable , they were all American crowds, as most foreigners, not even Canadians, could visit in the COVID summer. The notorious traffic jams did not appear.

Do not pet the furry cow. He can ram and stomp you .
Geyser

Yellowstone sits atop a super volcano. When it does finally blow – anytime between the next 10 minutes to 10,000 years – the park will become a 50 mile wide lake of boiling red lava and will cause global cooling for years to come.

If You Stick Your Leg In Here, Only Bone Will Come Out.
One Ton Swimmer
Yellowstone Grand Canyon Falls

The falls look even more incredible in the video above. Be sure to watch it all.

After a day and a half in Yellowstone ( many people stay a week or more) it was time to head north into Montana. Passing Big Sky on a beautiful highway with a legal speed limit of 80 mph I arrived in Butte around sunset. I would stay there 2 nights, to explore the old mining city , to catch up on work ,do laundry and get the extremely dusty X2 washed.

Gold Copper and silver were mined here. Butte was known as the “Richest Hill On Earth.” Miners came from all over the world. Copper is still mined, but there’s not much left. The old city is quiet but not quite abandoned.

Lucky 13 ?
Big Money In 1900

From Butte , a few more hours to the Northwest and I arrived in Whitefish ,gateway to Glacier National Park. Whitefish was full of California ‘refugees”,many who had arrived in private jets ,escaping mask and lockdown restrictions in their home state.

Entrance To Glacier National Park

In Glacier , on the first day of August, I swam over a mile in 2 lakes and walked in the snow.

Summer Snowfields That Won’t Completely Melt Before First Snow In September.
The X2 Loves Mountains.
Cold & Clear
Above The Snow Line
Granite Peak

On the morning of August 2nd, I left Whitefish for a day of mostly dirt roads from Montana into Idaho. I missed my westward turn and would up at the Canadian border. When I originally thought of this cross country trip,years ago, I had always meant for it to include Canada. Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Banff would have been on the itinerary. But in March 2020, the Canadian government had shut the borders to all but commercial traffic, due ,of course to disease spread.

Canada – The Forbidden Land – Looking Into British Columbia

All I could do was look into this closed off , beautiful land – in this case the easternmost corner of British Columbia ,near Alberta. The next several hours was on windy isolated dirt roads – into the town of Yaak .

Yaak Montana – The Political Scene Of Summer 2020

I walked inside the bar, which of course was all bikers . Had a friendly beer and they were amazed I was all the way from Miami. No photos were permitted, probably for very good reasons.

Northern Border Country
Target Practice On The State Line

I spent the night in touristy Couer d’Alene, Idaho, another town where restaurants closed at 8 and I had to order pizza by 9 before that closed too. Changed clocks back for the last time. The next day – through Washington State, past Spokane – to Portland ,Oregon – almost completely cross country !

Jan 21st
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On Thursday August 20th, after lunch with my son and future daughter in law, I left Portland Oregon and headed south on the the I-5 ,then US 101 before arriving in California’s northernmost town, Crescent City for the evening.

Humboldt County

Crescent City is a big fishing port . The water is slightly warmer than nearby Oregon, in the high 50s, so I was able to swim. I had had a delicious seafood soup breakfast before heading to Humboldt County.

Eureka

Eureka, the county seat, is a funky old town reminiscent of 1960s San Francisco. Most Californians have never visited Humboldt , one of the most remote end unspoiled coastlines in the Lower 48.

A Place For Meetings.

I was privileged to spend a night in Shelter Cove, an isolated community at the end of a long and windy road that raises and lowers up to 3000 feet before arriving at sea level.It’s very hard to find a room there.

Exactly Opposite Bay Head New Jersey

Incredible black sand beaches with very dangerous surf. The Cove of Shelter Cove is where all water activity takes place. Please see the video at the top of the page. The summer weather is pleasant, about 70 and sunny in the afternoons, but the winter can bring up to 100 inches of rain from December to March.

Danger !

Northern Humboldt is home to huge legal marijuana farms supplying the California marketplace. One can smell it while driving by the tents used for growing and drying.

After Humboldt it was off to volcanic Lassen National Park. See the video. Night was spent in Reno Nevada – not in the COVID restricted casino but in a huge luxurious suite at $ 90 a night.

Carmel Valley

2 nights in Tahoe, 2 nights in cold smoky San Francisco and a night in Carmel are all highlighted in the video. The plan was to drive down Big Sur, but again ,closed because of massive fires. I wound up at the farm home of a friend in Ojai. Finally was getting towards Southern California.

Ojai Sunset.

TotalAdventure has always been interested in living part time in Los Angeles. A week in an AirBnb as I did in Santa Monica this time, and last year, a week in Beverly Hills.

Incredible Sashimi In Santa Monica !
121 !

Although Santa Monica stayed cool, never going over 90, Las Angeles County experienced its’ hottest day in history on September 6th. We drove to Van Nuys to experience it – 121 degrees ! Also the hottest temperature ever recorded west of any mountain range in California.

On September 10th – it was time to head back to the East.

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On the morning of September 10th, I awoke for an early morning dip in the Pacific before heading Eastbound the the Atlantic. Pulling out of my AirBnb Santa Monica garage I was soon eastbound on the 10 and then north on 15 to Las Vegas. Most of this TransContinental Adventure has been off interstates, but they will be used into Utah and again in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida.

The Highlight of the Eastbound Cross Country Would Be Utah ,Exploring 5 National Parks.

Fires raged in the San Gabriel Mountains to the north, sending thick smoke down to I-10. Some of the smoke from all the California and Oregon fires spread all the way to the East Coast ,dimming sunrises in New Jersey. This southern smoke band would follow me. I managed to always be a day ahead of it, until Colorado where I changed my itinerary because of it.

Quick Trip Through Vegas.

Normally I would spend a night in Las Vegas, but the wide open fun loving town is a bit clamped down for the moment due to COVID. In the video you can experience a very quick trip up the Strip. I did stop for some video poker at an empty slot hall in Mesquite, Nevada and walked out $ 30 richer. From there it was about 40 miles across extreme Northwest Arizona to St.George Utah where I would spend the night. Changed from Pacific to Mountain Time.

The Gateway To Arches National Park

The next morning I was up with the sun and off to Zion National Park. It was an introduction to the the incredible Utah geology. On the way I visited Hilldale, on the Arizona border. Hilldale is the town known for the highest number of polygamous families adhering to the original Book of Mormon. I saw groups of wives out shopping together dressed in 1800s style farm dresses and driving pickups.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park was the next stop. Now the temperature changed drastically according to elevation. St.George had been expecting a high of 100 degrees and this evening near Bryce the temperature slipped to 32 – I was glad to have a gas fireplace in my cabin for the night.

In the morning I continued through Bryce and then headed Northeast to Teasdale where I would explore Capitol Reef National Park with an old childhood friend I grew up with in Germany. We took a 6 mile hike up a canyon.You can see all the national parks in the video at the top of the page.

Arches National Park Is Otherworldly !

The final two nights were in Moab – home to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National park. In Canyonlands the X2 did amazingly well on rugged roads, in spite of the warning signs.

Finally I turned around where a spring had flooded a section of road turning it to muck. Without 4WD,I did not want to risk spending $1000 to be towed !

South Central Utah

 Crossing from Utah into Colorado, the smoke from California finally caught up, turning skies from bright Western blue to greyish white and encasing mountains in haze – diminishing prospects for photo and video acquisition.

Telluride – Old West Town, Now A Mini -Aspen.

Highway 50 climbed rapidly higher into the Rockies and by lunchtime I had reached Telluride, for the first time in 30 years. The big changes are to be expected. What was once a laid back Wild West type town with great skiing with a few bars up and down the main drag was now clogged with tourists even in off season September – looking for parking and lining up for $ 6 lattes. Tourism was higher than in the summer when people had been more cautious of COVID.

Rocky Mountain Stream.

The second night in Colorado was spent at the home of an old friend from the East. His wife is an Olympic ski champion.

La Junta Colorado

On Friday September 18th the X2 crossed the Continental Divide. For the next 1000 miles I would be tracking the Arkansas River from its’ glacial small steam origins to the wide river flowing into the Mississippi.

Spent the night in Syracuse,Kansas . The next morning , driving across table top flat land and crossing from Mountain Time to Central Time, I entered my 50th State – Oklahoma !

Near Where Eustace and Muriel live.

I stopped for lunch in the Panhandle town of Guymon and then went on to the Texas Panhandle.

The Big Texan, Home of the Free 72 Ounce Steak.

Stopping in Amarillo for the night, I stayed next door to the Big Texan. In one of my very few indoor meals of the trip, I dined on Rocky Mountain oysters and delicious Texas T-Bone that was about 20 ounces. The 72 oz steak is free if eaten in an hour. That’s 4 1/2 pounds, 2 kilos of meat. It comes with salad and baked potato which also must be consumed. If not finished in one hour the price is $ 72.

I-40 Eastbound the next morning. Back into Oklahoma. At Oklahoma city, the California smoke finally ended and the skies were clear once again, over the rolling Southern Plains.

Bill Clinton Library Little Rock Arkansas

Spent Sunday night in quiet Little Rock and toured the Capitol city the next morning. The Clinton Library , on the Arkansas River is an architectural masterpiece but closed by COVID.

Kibb’s BBQ – Best In The Southland ?

In Stuttgart I stopped for perhaps the best BBQ I’ve ever had with chopped ribs in a sauce that tasted like plums, coffee and super hot spice ! I bought a gallon jug to take home, which I carefully rationed over the next month.

Last Stop – Sarasota Florida !

From Arkansas into Mississippi I began a straight run back to Miami. Overnighting in Hattiesburg and then through Mobile Alabama to Panama City Florida for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico. Across the beautiful Panhandle . Though TotalAdventure has been located in Miami for over 18 years, I have never been to the Panhandle. Overnighted in Perry and then to Sarasota, a surprisingly young and thriving town on the Gulf of Mexico.

Back to Miami for a dive into the Atlantic Ocean. Watch the video above !

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A glimpse of Douala

I arrived at Douala airport (one of the two biggest cities in Cameroon) late in the evening August 10th, 2019. I was warned before arriving that I would very quickly and easily make friends. This was lucky for me because the very first person I met on the airplane was crucial to my making it safely to my destination. In Cameroon, people tend to be very kind and inviting. Perfect strangers helped me fill out paperwork, navigate the airport and safely find my driver.

Once I was in the car, the ride to the volunteer house was about an hour and a half. The city of Douala was such a culture shock- it was almost indescribable. Unfortunately, it was after midnight, so I could not see much, but what I did see was SO different. The city was nothing like my experience of a US city. The infrastructure from roads to buildings were seemingly dilapidated and old. Many markets and shops were simple tents or just products (like bed frames) laying on the side of the street.

Yet, much of the city was still very much awake at 1AM. There were clubs and bars full of people and loud music. The most mouthwatering smell of grilling chicken permeated the air everywhere we went.

Older cars and bikes were driving all over the road in a strictly Cameroonian way of driving. The traffic was another major culture shock. Laws that would be enforced in the US seemed more like suggestions here. Red lights don’t necessarily mean stop- they mean look before you go. Many roads were not divided into lanes, and the ones that were were completely ignored. Cars weaves around each other sometimes squeezing four side by side. Bikes, pedestrians, and cars shared the road equally.

Perhaps the scariest part is when we were stopped at two roadblocks- one leaving Douala and one entering Limbe- by police. They just wanted to check our identification, but they were holding very threatening machine guns and were not very friendly. The stretch between the cities was very natural and forested, but too dark to see anything.

Limbe

I woke up to the sounds of an animal orchestra outside of the research house. Combined with the sounds of all the primate species at Limbe wildlife center were the screeches of all the neighborhood chickens, cats, dogs, pigs, horses, and other unidentified animals.

Sunrise in Limbe

Limbe wildlife center is a major attraction of Limbe and the reason why I am here. The LWC is a wildlife education and conservation center. The animals kept here were orphaned as a result of bushmeat hunting or the pet trade. This is a huge issue in Cameroon and throughout Africa. Animals are often killed for meat, and the infants are kept as pets or trophies in horrible living conditions. They are rescued and brought the LWC for rehabilitation and to live with members of their own species. I am lucky enough to be spending 3 weeks volunteering at this sanctuary.

View from the Volunteer house

One of my first stops in Limbe was the local market “old market”. The most efficient way to get there is by motorbike. This was a totally new experience to me- clinging to the back of a bike in weaving traffic. The market was much like stores in Douala where tents or small wooden shelters cover the fruits and vegetables spread on burlap sacks on the ground. There were probably 20 or so shops at the market with a wide variety of African produce. Many merchants will help you find what you’re looking for, and you’re almost guaranteed to go home with a free sample of some new or unique produce.

The town of Limbe

Just a few blocks from the market is mars bar- a European themed restaurant and bar on Down Beach. Down beach is a black sand beach that stretches along the coast of Limbe. It is not very good for swimming because of the amount of litter, but it is popular for the fishing culture and economy of Limbe. The beautiful Mountain View and the sunset over the ocean also make it well worth the visit.

View of Down Beach from Mars Bar
Litter on Down Beach

Finally, another worthwhile attraction is the Limbe botanical garden. The garden is home to many beautiful (and some edible) plants. There is also a “naturalistic” amphitheater, a nearly 200-year-old cemetery, and plenty of beautiful views. While you are there, be sure to check out Hot Spot, a restaurant within the garden that has delicious burgers, and sometimes even cheeseburgers- which are extremely rare in Limbe.

Entrance to Botanical Garden
Limbe Botanical Garden
Overgrown ampitheater
Cemetery at Botanical Garden
Childrens swing set at Botanical Garden

Overall, the breathtaking nature, incredibly sweet and welcoming people, and the laid-back lifestyle of Limbe made it one of my all-time favorite destinations.

TotalAdventure does not currently . have adventures in Cameroon, but we invite Cameroon companies to apply. For another exotic area in Africa, check out our trip to Ethiopia. https://totaladventure.travel/trips/203383

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     In the summer of 2019, I was offered the amazing opportunity to volunteer at a Cameroonian primate sanctuary as an animal care giver. During one of my days off from the sanctuary, a fellow volunteer (Tesse) and I took a tour with local guide Thompy Ekonde. He showed us around “Mangrove Forest” just outside of Bimbia. The road there was long, winding, and treacherous with huge rocks, ditches, and falling logs. Many times we had to pull over to calculate exactly how to place the car. Upon arriving at the forest, we trekked through the trees for about two hours as Thompy showed us some of the breathtaking native African flora.

Tesse, Thompy, and I

We had to wade through two shallow but powerful rivers cutting through the lush forest.
Termite Mound

This tree is called the “milk tree” by locals. It is used in Cameroon as a medicine, the bark and white sap underneath are harvested and made into a drink for breast feeding mothers. The drink is said to increase the amount of breast milk produced, in a country where it is culturally significant to have many kids.


This tree pictured is the largest and oldest tree in the forest at over 400 years old, and too tall to see through the forest canopy.

This is a small section of the acres of mangrove forest. During our visit, it was low tide and was very easy to see the magnificent system of roots tying this forest together.

TotalAdventure does not currently . have adventures in Cameroon, but we invite Cameroon companies to apply. For another exotic area in Africa, check out our trip to Ethiopia. https://totaladventure.travel/trips/203383

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Just a few hours from the Peace Pagoda, nestled in the Catskill mountains, is Kaaterskills falls trail head. This is a free two mile trail in New York that offers beautiful waterfall views.

The hike to Kaaterskills falls is very short, but don’t be fooled, it is steep, rocky, can be treacherous. On the day we visited, the falls were roaring from the rain.

On the mountain, there is a nearly floating observation deck great for taking in the sights and beautiful sunsets.

If you’re more brave and not afraid of getting wet, you can also go right up to the waterfall and swim in the lagoon below.

Finally, don’t forget to drive around the forest to check out the many other falls and rocky cliffs.

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Final edit of Go-Pro footage of ArcticTropic’s exploratory voyage across Russia in early Summer 2014. Five days in Moscow , then to Irkutsk,Lake Baikal and Ulan Ude , before crossing into Mongolia.

 

For Adventures in Russia, CLICK HERE

Jul 14th
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From Europe,to Asia back to North America, British Columbia was the last stop on ArcticTropic’s Round The World Adventure. After a long flight from Tokyo,via Manila , we settled into Vancouver to readjust to North American life, then ventured North of the city.

Fjords begin just out of Vancouver and stretch thousands of miles up into Alaska.

Glaciers overlook the Pacific.

A young Miamian enjoys the summer snow.

Mysterious life forms in the rainforest.

Road signs in First People’s Native Language of Tsihqot’in.

Enjoying the northern sunshine.

Back across the Date Line.

And finally – Home !

 

For adventures in Canada, CLICK HERE

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Green World Adventures, in Costa Rica is one of ArcticTropic’s featured providers. As it is now the summer low season, prices are lower than in the peak winter months.

Some of the more high end trips feature luxury accommodations – great to relax after a day in the jungles and on the beaches.

Costa Rica is so close to the US – 5 hours from New York or California – only 2 hours from Miami. It is also one of the safest countries in the Western Hemisphere.

You can book directly right now by CLICKING HERE.

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Before surfing, I biked throughout the Pichilemu countryside – which is almost totally devoid of human population. You can bike for miles on these roads and never encounter a car.

FOR ADVENTURES IN CHILE, CLICK HERE