Archive for the 'Swimming' Category
In late September,TotalAdventure decided to explore a part of the “Miami Neighborhood ” which is basically the entire Caribbean Basin. Just two hours away from Miami is the US Territorial Island of Puerto Rico. At 107 mies long and 40 miles wide, it’s perfect for a long weekend getaway. As a US Territory , it operates fairly independent of Washington.
Just off the plane , I went right to the beach at Playa Piñones. The first and last nights were spent in San Juan..Here is the Villa Herencia, charming and from the colonial era.
Breakers near El Morro. However there is no beach there, only sharp jagged rock.
Just 30 miles from San Juan is El Yunque, a mountainous rainforest going up to about 4000 feet elevation. While not that high, temperatures there are much cooler than 90 degree San Juan, often remaining in the 70s during the day.
TotalAdventure circumnavigated half the Island in one day, arriving in Ponce by nightfall. The Eastern coast has great panoramas ,but very few hotels..
The Colonial city of Ponce is well preserved, despite recent bombardment by Hurricanes and Earthquakes.
In the deadly earthquakes of 2020, an urn weighing several tons fell from the right tower. Luckily no one was under it.
A great bodysurfer,TotalAdventure stopped in at Playa Rincon ,known all over the USA as a top surf spot. The waves were small right breaks onto a rocky shoreline. Waves get up to 20 feet with winter cold fronts. The cold fronts do not bring cold weather however, it stays in the 80s in January.
Saturday night was in Isabela, on the Northwest Coast. A rustic surfer hotel,The Oceanfront was very basic, no internet, for $ 100 per night. However ,it had incredible views as seen above. I spent the entire morning bodysurfing and seeing waves crash on the cliffs as well as following sea turtles. Watch the above video carefully.
The final night was back in San Juan. I took a motor view of the seaside Barrio of La Perla, where cameras are strictly forbidden. The final activity was snorkeling just off El Morro, before dashing to SJU for the flight back to MIA.
It’s not easy being an adventurous spirit but living confined to the city, so today, October 8th, 2021, I am starting my 3 days snorkelling-intensive trip in the Galapagos Islands with a tailored-made itinerary.
I visit the islands as much as I can, but each new occasion makes me feel like I’m a privileged alien who is on a mission to discover an entirely new world, not ruled under the normal laws of biology.
This time, I have coordinated my hotel stays, meals, and snorkelling tours with Andean Travel Company. The rest of the adventure is up to me, so here we go!
Yesterday I arrived and took the afternoon at leisure to explore Santa Cruz island’s amazing white coral beaches where flocks of iguanas defiantly stare at you and block the way. The world’s only marine iguana is endemic to these islands.
I’m staying in a hostel in the middle of the bustling, colourful town of Puerto Ayora, one of the three urban centres of the archipelago. I would very much prefer this whole place to be inhabited, but people have been driven to these islands by the promise of economic success for decades now.
I was picked up by my guide and we walked a couple of blocks towards the dock. We embarked on a speedboat to Seymour Island.
I was provided all the necessary equipment and went directly to business (after listening to the guide’s directions). My very first sight was a group of whitetip reef sharks cruising between the low basaltic cliffs below me. I did not expect that my first animal observation would be this quick and thrilling!.
Colourful fish such as the king angelfish, boxfish, and parrotfish swam around, and I got lost in thought admiring them. A strange sound brought me back to reality. It was as if small missiles were being shot… It was the sound of blue-footed boobies and pelicans plunge-diving at enormous speeds to catch fish!
These daily snorkelling tours provide lunch, and I’m grateful for that, as it is a very energy-intensive activity.
In my second swim of the day, I spotted one of my favourite marine animals, the black-botched ray. It looked so elegant with its perfectly aerodynamic platform and majestic in its cyclic underwater flight. I also hoped to see a scalloped hammerhead shark, but they are difficult to find, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.
Today, October 9th, 2021, I’m heading to one of Galapagos’ most iconic landmarks. Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé Island. Located northeast of Santa Cruz island, 2 hours away in a boat, this is an immense spearheaded obelisk rising from the ocean. We disembarked on the appropriately named Golden Beach, and from there I started swimming into a shallow cove full of precious coral formations and reef fish.
During my time inside the cove, however, my mind was obsessed with swimming around the massive Pinnacle Rock itself. We got there in due time, along with the rest of the group and the guide. (No matter how good of a swimmer you are, when snorkelling always stay close to your group!)
At the underwater intersection where the sea bottom becomes a cliff, I found spectacular lava formations, where reef and Tiger sharks were accommodated inside natural galleries. Swimming ahead, I found medium-sized sea lions who adventured so close to my face that I actually got a bit scared. I tried to make as much eye contact as possible with them, and it’s a tender sensation that I will never forget.
To finish off this day perfectly, we spotted the endangered Galapagos penguin standing on some rocks above the water. An Antarctic bird in these warm waters is certainly an unexpected sight, but they are one of the best examples of the unique animal adaptations happening on these islands.
Day 3! I cannot believe that today is the last of my snorkelling trip. We navigated northwest to Santa Fé Island. The area destined for snorkelling was well-protected from open sea currents, so my first thought was that this might be a smart choice for beginners. These calm, shallower waters, however, delivered generously.
Fluorescent blue chin parrotfishes, yellowtail surgeonfishes, and pufferfishes swam around the turquoise waters, and sea lions made me close company again. I really felt as if these boys knew that I was on a mission, and decided to escort me to the right place. To the open waters where the scalloped hammerhead sharks finally decided to reveal themselves. What an amazing creature, a perfect example of the ambitious effects of evolution. Its distinctive, enormous head works as a sensor that has yet to be explained by science. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to this trip.
Thank you, Galapagos! May we be able to do enough to preserve your treasures!
When most people think of Michigan, they think of Detroit,city of cars and now, urban wasteland. The Upper Peninsula is a very different land that most Michiganders have never been to, and very reminiscent of nearby Canada. People even add ” eh” to the end of every sentence.
On Wednesday, July 15 I departed Whitehall and drove through the only major rainstorm I encountered in 3 months and spent the night in in Sault Ste. Marie, normally a bustling border town, now a ghost town because of the almost total border shutdown.In July instead of 2500 cars per hour crossing, it was 50 trucks, as commercial traffic was permitted.
It was about 4 hours to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I parked and took a 4 mile hike through the woods ( each way) to Lake Superior.
For Full Effect, Watch The Video Above.!
For lunch and dinner I dined on delicious lake fish ,fresh smoked. Much healthier than burgers and not a slave to the early Midwestern clock.
Saturday morning, July 18th I departed Marquette and drove the rest of the vast Peninsula. Crossed into Central Daylight Time The iPhone changed instantly, but the X2 had to be set manually.
Around Noon,I entered Wisconsin, my 45th State – the first of 2 new states that day. Mostly I stuck to the Lake Superior shoreline. Though it was a beautiful summer day, outdoor eating is not a thing in Wisconsin ,so I had my only McDonald’s meal of the trip. And then – it was on to Minnesota.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
From Red Lodge to Yellowstone the winding ,high altitude Beartooth Highway crisscrossed several times between Wyoming and Montana.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In Glacier , on the first day of August, I swam over a mile in 2 lakes and walked in the snow.
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.
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 .
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.
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 !
Vietnam Voyage Is A 23 minute excursion from Saigon to DaNang by air, from DaNang to Hue by train and then from Hue to Hanoi by air. TotalAdventure explores the main sites of the 4 historic cities with culinary adventures ,such as cobra snake in Hanoi.
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.
On Monday, January 16 ,TotalAdventure drove to Esenada Nombre de Dios on the Gulf of Mexico. Other than Mexico itself, it is the only place on the Gulf where one can actually see mountains – the limestone monoliths of Viñales about 30 miles distant.
As the peninsula was only 30 miles away, we thought it would be a quick morning trip to explore’s the area’s possibility as an eco-resort ( not likely ) and a snorkel swim. However, the roads were in serious need of repaving and turned out to be an all day excursion instead.
Iconic lighthouse, about half way between Florida and Mexico.
The Gulf beaches are clean and peaceful. TotalAdventure is exploring areas that might be good for an eco-resort – but the coral reef is not well developed in this area.
A deserted subtropic isle.
One of the world’s newer nations, Montenegro declared independence from Serbia in 2006. Montenegro escaped the vicious wars that tore apart and destroyed most of the other Yugoslav Republics. TotalAdventure entered by bus from Mostar,Bosnia on Sunday night, June 26th. On Monday we hired a local driver ( 65 Euro) to take us to Bar – where we took the last leg of our Eurail trip – about one hour to the capital city,Podgorica.
The Bay of Kotor is a Fjord coming in from theAdriatic Sea.
Islands with churches dot the Bay. Montenegro is primarily Serbian Orthodox.
Herceg Novi ,near Croatia and Bosnia , is beautiful and more isolated from tourist crowds to the South.
Medieval Ruins in Kotor Town.
Stevi Stefan – for Serbia’s Elite !
Adriatic Coastline. About 50 miles north of Albania.
Sunset over the capital city of Podgorica – known as Titograd in Titoist times.
TotalAdventure finally had some time to relax after a whirlwind journey. We stayed int eh luxurious resort town of Bodrum, on the Aegean Sea Our gracious host was Nezih Çavuşoğlu,the well known Turkish artist we met in Istanbul in 2012. Read the November,2012 article here. You can review , and perhaps buy his paintings here on Artsy.
Balcony at the house of the Artist.
Crystal clear Aegean waters. The atmosphere was peaceful in the days after the attack at Ataturk, hundreds of kilometers to the north.
A newly constructed Mosque.
The peaceful Mosque interior.
Bodrum by night.
Delicious fresh seafood every night.
On July 2 at 7 AM we left our host’s house in Bodrum to board a catamaran ferry to the Greek island of Kos, only 20 km across the channel. We looked back at beautiful vibrant Turkey, hoping to return in the near future – to explore from Istanbul to the eastern provinces.
We arrived in port 20 minutes later. We spent nearly 40 minutes to get passports stamped, as we were re-entering the EU and Shengen. Afterwards a 50 km taxi ride to Kefalos .
In Kefalos , we found a beachside Taverna where we ate excellent grilled squid, stored our stuff and went snorkeling.
The water was as clear as an aquarium.
There were ruins right by the sea !
Soon it was time to leave for the airport. We took a turboprop to Athens, flying over hundreds of Aegean Islands. In Athens – once again passport control , as we were leaving Schengen. 4 hours later – another 1.5 hours in customs entering the UK.
Just before midnight we arrived at our hotel, after a long Tube ride. We were right by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
Our final day before returning Stateside was a whirlwind tour of some of the major sights.
Iconic, but we opted for Indian instead.