Archive for the 'Volcano' Category

Jan 21st
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On August 3rd I drove 400 miles from Couer d’Alene Idaho to Portland, Oregon, transversing eastern Washington State ,then along the Columbia river as the desert emerges into green forest. Portland is home to my Son, his Fiancée and soon, my Grandson.

Crater Lake National Park

I stayed in beautiful downtown Portland in an AirBnb very close to my son’s. The Rose City was on war footing as nightly street battles erupted between extreme left and extreme right factions along with police and federal agents.

The Apple Store destroyed, with the senseless destruction uploaded via Apple devices. However Fox News dogwhistles on “Antifa ” were largely to spread panic and give undercover law enforcement free rein . TotalAdventure does best to stay neutral in these extremist political times. We are about bringing the world together, not ripping it apart.

Burned and Bashed – The Federal Courthouse.

Hawthorne Bridge Over the Williamette River.
Portland – The Rose City

In a three week break from the road ( TotalAdventure and family business) we managed to take beautiful trips within the state.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake was created in one day 7000 years ago when the mountain blew its’ top. Thousands of years of precipitation, mainly melted snow, have filled the crater with water almost 2000 feet deep. There is one swimming area, reachable by a path that descends 800 feet from the rim.. . See the video where we jump off a 35 foot cliff.

Pirate Ship Island

Portland is two hours from the Pacific Ocean. The X2 had finally made it coast to coast !

Tillamook

In Portland it was 96 degrees, in Tillamook the air was 74 and the ocean ,an icy low 50s. If TotalAdventure is unable to swim, that means the water is only swimmable in a wetsuit.

X2 By The Pacific.

In Montana the X2 had reached 10000 miles, at the tender age of 3 months on the road. In Portland BMW performed the first free maintenance and took care of a few very minor repairs, as well changing oil.

On August 19th, it was time to explore California !

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In the Summer Of 1993 when Perestroika was in full bloom , with Russia and the United States in full economic cooperation, most attention was focused on the traditional Moscow St. Petersburg realm, with some forays into oil-rich ,newly independent Kazakhstan.

The above video, “Russia’s Wild East “ focuses on business opportunities in the Russian Far East. Alaska Airlines was the bridge for US investors and explorer to travel there. At the time, Russia, emerging from the breakup of the Soviet Union needed to make an immediate move into a market economy . Americans were there to help. The Peace Corps , normally sending young people to Africa, recruited older ,experienced businesspeople as advisors to Russian companies. We interview some of them here, along with younger entrepreneurs , lawyers and other pioneers. We even visit the nascent Vladivostok Stock Exchange.

The video, produced in the analog age, was formatted for television, so there is a few seconds of black before the program starts .

Pipes carry hot water from the hot water plant to apartment blocks. A true vestige of Central Planning.

11 time zones to the East – the diplomatically long frozen Bering Strait crossing had thawed. Alaska Airlines began twice weekly flights to Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Yakutsk, with first stops in Magadan.

In 1993 Digital Maps On Seatbacks Did Not Exist.

The focus of the trip was to explore the Russian Far East for cross strait opportunities for American business who were opening up the market economy on Russia. Rehabilitating old Soviet companies and factories, bringing in new products and services for sale and train the former communists in the nuances of a market -for-profit economy.  In addition, we were to discover the incredible natural wonderland, especially in Kamchatka.

My coproducer Yuriko Gamo and I met in Seattle. She flew in from San Francisco and I from New York. We spent a day there interviewing the Alaska Airlines marketing team at their headquarters. It was a big investment for them to open up the Russian Far East. We then boarded our four-hour flight up to Anchorage. Alaska Airlines paid for our flights from Seattle to Anchorage and on to Vladivostok round trip. In Russia we took two internal flights on Aeroflot on its ancient Soviet fleet.

We landed at 10 PM on a sunny Alaska night in early July. It never got completely dark there, some twilight around 2 AM. We had 2 days until our Russia departure so went down to Homer where we swam in the far North Pacific and visited villages where Russian was still spoken from times before “Seward’s Folly.
 

At 1 PM on Saturday July 10th We departed ANC for a beautiful flight, first seeing Mt.McKinley in the distance, then swampy Tundra. The Bering sea, Chukotka, in Russia and then leading at the Arctic port of Magadan. On landing, our pilot said welcome to Magadan Russia – where it is 1 PM – tomorrow. While we had a 4-hour flight, with a four-hour time change backwards, we crossed the International Date Line. It was 1 PM Sunday, July 11. In Magadan we entered a primitive Soviet cinderblock terminal to have our visa booklets and passports stamped – then back on the plane to Vladivostok – 4 hours to the south.

Arriving in Vladivostok , my co-producer and I were greeted by Dimitry Motovilov. We stayed at his sunny, comfortable apartment in a pleasant Soviet flatblock. He was our guide for our several days there .

A journalist by background he went on to teach journalism at the local university and is currently the Media Assistant of the US Consulate in Vladivostok.

The US Consulate ( not pictured above) was invaluable in setting up the Peace Corps program, and along with Dmitry, set up interviews with businesspeople, factory supervisors, shipyard owners, and the stock exchange. They are the go-to for American businesses in the region, including the US oil companies drilling in Sakhalin. In an uninformed ,shortsighted move, outgoing Secretary of State Pompeo temporarily ceased operations at the Consulate. It is hoped that newly appointed Secretary of State Blinken can quickly restore the very important American outpost – rather than having to rely on Moscow embassy ,6000 miles away.

Eastern Terminus Of The Trans-Siberian Railroad – 6000 Miles From Moscow.
Family On Tram
Vegetable Shop – “Produce”
On The Funicular

From Vladivostok station we took an overnight train ride on the Trans Siberian to Khabarovsk. A sleeper compartment was about 1000 rubles – $ 5.

MIG

Khabarovsk is the main gateway to Northeast China. Chinese markets sprang up all over the outskirts of the city for Russians to buy much needed consumer goods. The main currency in the markets was dollars- not rubles or yuan.

In The Office Board Room
Factory Propaganda
Work Together Hammer & Sicklle

We visited ancient, dusty factories to try to determine how they could be converted to a modern day business model. Please view the video “Russia’s Wild East ” above.

Happy For Not Having A Communist Future
Stalinist Country Housing
Enjoying A Warm Summer Afternoon. Born Around The Time OF The Revolution Or Before, These Women Endured Incredible Hardship In Their Lifetimes .
Along The Amur River – Manchuria In The Distance.
Market Trader From Across The Border
Здравствуйте ? It’s 1939 Calling.

In our rare calls to the US we did not use this phone. We had to speak on satellite pay phones at $ 12 a minute. Needless to say , we did not engage in idle chat about the weather.

The Khabarovsk weather by the way, was beautiful – hot and dry, nearly 100 degrees along the Amur River, a nice contrast to cool foggy Vladivostok. Khabarovsk, on the edge of Siberia sees -50 in winter.

Socialist Workers Paradise

From Khabarovsk, we flew on an ancient Aeroflot TU-34 to Petropavlovsk, only city on the California sized Kamchatka Peninsula. Kamchatka is the most volcanically active area in the world, with 16 active volcanoes.

Geothermal Plant – Providing Unlimited Heat & Hot Water To Petropavlovsk
In The Caldera, Sulphur Fumes On The Ring of Fire

We drove the full 80 miles on Kamchatka’s only road to a geothermal plant high in the mountains. We slept in dormitories there. After a long hike to the volcanoes, it was great to have a hot shower from the unlimited supply of hot water pumped up from the earth. One could take a shower lasting millions of years and the hot water would never run out.

Volcanoes Everywhere
Holkam
Hot Gases From Inside Planet Earth

Kamchatka is one of the most adventurous and hard to get to places in the world. This coming summer of 2021 , Yakutia Air plans to start weekly (return ) flights from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk. TotalAdventure welcomes Kamchatka providers to upload trips immediately. We welcome providers from all over the Russian Far East and Siberia.

Soviet Rubles In Volcanic Sand. Almost Worthless.
World’s Tallest Lenin Statue – Petropavlovsk.
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Hokkaido Is One Of The Snowiest Places On Earth.
Mt. Yotei .

Last January TotalAdventure flew across the Pacific from Portland,Oregon to Tokyo. TotalAdventure had only 8 days in Japan, so we decided to split it between Tokyo, one of the most urban places on Earth, and Hokkaido, one of the widest ,snowiest islands on Earth.

Approaching Hakodate On Flight From Tokyo.

We Only Had Four Days, So We Stuck To The Sapporo Region. At Two Million People,Sapporo Is One Of Japan’s Smallest Cities.

Shinto Temples Abound Everywhere.

Year Round Outdoor Cafe. Coffee Is Overtaking Tea In Japan.

A Woodcut of Otaru Port In The 1600s.

Winter Festival In Sapporo. TotalAdventure Watched The Sculpting.

Global Warming Is Not Yet Affecting Hokkaido. When It Does, More Snow Will Fall.

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At 6 AM on Wednesday, October 11 we left Uyuni Town and headed south 3 hours to the southwestern corner of Bolivia – not far from where the country meets with Chile and Argentina. There, we left the highway and would not see a paved road until the return to Uyuni two and a half days later.

The only settlements were some mining and farming villages.

Llamas, a distant relation to camels, are a source of wool and meat, are semi – domesticated , grazing for scarce vegetation and sometimes return to pens, herded by dogs and farmers.

Spring snowmelt brings some drinking water.

The land is rugged and never dips below 12,000 feet. By this time , TotalAdventure is quite comfortable with the altitude. We stopped at a hot springs at mid day. Please view the video above to see it. Swimming was balmy at 105 degrees ( 41C) while there air was around 40 ( 5 C).

 

Climbing higher, we reached Laguna Verde. The green color comes from a high concentration of arsenic. Swimming in or drinking from the lake can be fatal. There are no fish ,birds or four footed animals anywhere near the lake.

Close to 16,000 feet we reached the remains of winter snows, that actually can fall in the summer as well. The strong dry wind and strong subtropical sun  three miles above sea level evaporate it into strange shapes.

The ground underneath is always frozen.

From underneath the frozen ground comes boiling sulphur clouds. All of the Bolivian Altiplano borders the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Llama and quinoa for lunch. Tough and lean, but tasty and very healthy !

A steam vent.

Rock formations that look manmade but aren’t.

We spent the night at Hotel Tayka. See more in the video. Amazingly at 15,500 feet, ten hours over very rugged dirt tracks from the nearest paved road , that such a hotel can exist. Comfortable beds, reasonable heat and solar generated hot water  (quick shower) .Oxygen is kept behind the front desk for those in need.

The next morning we explored several lakes that were home to huge flocks of flamingos. Most people think of flamingos as a bird of the tropics – but here they thrive in  very cold temperatures.

A coyote enjoys some llama meat.

San Pedro de Quemes  from another Tayka Hotel.

The town store closes early, but has the essentials.

On The last night in Bolivia, TotalAdventure looked forward to Salar de Uyuni the next day.

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Crossing North Iceland from Egilsstaðir to Akureyri was slow going as a blizzard struck in the mountains. The landscape was literally torn apart by volcanoes and earthquakes over many millennia. We also crossed from Europe to North America, as this is where the Eurasian and North American plates meet on the MId Atlantic Ridge.

Courtesy BBC.

Cold beyond imagination.

Icy.

Country Church.

Whiteout.

City Church. Akureyri 65.68 North.

 

For adventures in Iceland, 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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An eight hour flight from Miami to Santiago,Chile bought ArcticTropic from a late rainy season tropical wave to a delightful Southern Hemisphere spring morning. As we approach Santiago, one can see the icy cold South Pacific Ocean in the distance.
Above, the final approach to SCL. What was supposed to be a one hour layover, turned out to be 3 hours as the flight was delayed due to the Puyehue Volcano erupting once again. Though 670 km south of Santiago, the ash cloud spreads far and wide. We are informed the Mendoza airport is closed and the flight may be cancelled. ArcticTropic began investigating  connections by bus, but at 1 PM ,it was announced that a window had opened and we ad to board quickly.
Up over the Andes, a crossing we have made many times.
Warm spring sunshine is softening the snowpack, providing ample water for the vineyards below.
On the Argentine side, the volcanic dust cloud was apparent. I was surprised we were allowed to fly. Volcanic ash can freeze jet engines  and make a plane drop out of the sky !
Disembarking our flight at MDZ.
Early evening, about 8 PM riding north through the desert  from Mendoza to San Juan.
Volcanic sunset. Tomorrow’s north  winds will blast away the dust and send temperatures soaring.
Apr 19th
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After a rough sail southwards from Iceland, dodging icebergs along the way, we finally make landfall about 10 days after leaving Reykjavik Harbor. At 39’30’ North, 31’ 10” West we reach Corvo.

Corvo

Flores

Most of the islands were or are still volcanic. Many have hot springs. The Azores are one of the the highest mountain ranges in the world after Hawaii.

Faial

Pico

The mild mid North Atlantic is not known for snow – but Pico is snowcapped half the year.

São Jorge

Though in the high 30’s North Latitude ,São Jorge has an almost tropical feel.

Terceira

From here one can fly to Lisbon, and in the summer – to Boston.

Graciosa

São Miguel

Santa Maria

And now, we continue to the Portuguese islands of Madeira.  An interesting note – almost all the islands of the Atlantic speak either Portuguese ,English or Spanish– or dialects thereof.

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An ideal sailing trip to visit all the Atlantic Islands would take about 12 to 18 months, leaving Iceland in the late spring ,witha first stop in the Azores. By the beginning of the Antarctic summer, the boat would be in the far South Atlantic , visting Tristan da Cunha,South Georgia and the Malvinas ( known as the Falklands by the British), before turning back north to visit the Brazilian islands, on to Bermuda, St. Pierre and back to Iceland.

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The Philippines offer extreme adventure and incredible vistas . The island nation is easily accessible from Hong Kong for shorter getaways and is well worth the trip from Europe and North America for longer expeditions.  Above is a volcanic lake not far from Mt.Pinatubo.

Palawan, Northeast of Borneo in the South China Sea is excellent for mountaineering and diving . The Coral Reefs are pristine and mostly undisturbed.

ArcticTropic will be adding several new providers in the Philippines today. Reminder to current providers : Keep your websites up to date, or you lose your opportunity to reach our adventurers !