Monday, December 28, 2009

Suntrek Trip #6 - California Discovery

Lafayette, CO - Wow, I can't believe we are about to wrap up yet another decade. It seems like just yesterday, we were all ready to start digging bunkers and hording food for fear that a computer glitch would end life as we know it. It's nice to know that going into this next decade all we have to fear is joblessness, socialism and total economic collapse. I know I'm breathing easier.

Anyway, Suwei and I are back in Colorado, crossing our fingers for snow again and are ready to take on the new year. But before we say good-bye to 2009, I have one last post from my summer with Suntrek. This next set of photos were taken during my 6th and final Suntrek Tour.

The California Discovery Tour is one of Suntrek's more popular tours. It is a one week lodging tour starting in Los Angeles and heading to San Francisco via San Diego, Joshua Tree, The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, and Monterey. I was more than happy to escape the humidity of the east and was thoroughly enjoying the dry air. Also, it was quite nice to be on familiar ground. It's a lot easier to act like you know what you're talking about, when you know what you're taking about.

For this tour I had nine people in the van (there were 9 more in a van running parallel to us). Again we had a nice mix of nationalities with folks hailing from Australia, Germany, Thailand, Poland and Austria. We hit 3 states and put 1895 miles on the odometer. Here are some of the photos I took:

Group photo in Joshua Tree National Park (from left): Ariane, Audy, Matthew, Jeu, Veronika, Veronika, Laura, Paulina, and Julia.

Dinosaur in Cabazon / Joshua Tree National Monument

The Shoe Fence near Rice, CA

Yavapai Point, Grand Canyon National Park

Bad Water, Death Valley National Park

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco / Cannery Row in Monterey

And that is it for this year. Hope you all have a very happy New Year! See you in 2010.

Here is the link for the slide show:

Suntrek Trip #6 - California Discovery

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the Road - Miami to Los Angeles

Mountain View, CA -  I am determined to knock out a few more posts out before the New Year.  I really need to catch up on all these photos. 

Which brings me to the next chapter of the summer.  For this post we go back to September 6th, 2009. After a final night out with my 5th Suntrek group in Miami, Florida, I hit the road and headed west along Interstate 10.  I had one week to drive the 2970 miles to Los Angeles and pick up my final group of passengers. I have to be honest, I did not miss the humidity of the east one bit as I made my way back into the deserts of the southwest.

When I took this set of photos I was attempting to create somewhat of an essay about, "Life on the Road".  Basically, I kept the camera in the seat next to me, and just pointed it at things I felt had become intimately familiar while moving about the country.  I also took a few shots of some local road-side attractions, which are usually good for a bit of a chuckle, but mainly serve as a great excuse for a pee break.  If you look carefully you will see the world's largest rocking chair from Gulfport, Mississippi and the world's 3rd largest fire hydrant in Beaumont, Texas.

Anyway, here is my "Life on the Road" collage.

I'll include a few of my favorite photos from this trip in the next slideshow. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Suntrek Trip #5 - Florida Sunshine "A"

Mountain View, CA - Happy Holidays Everyone!!!  Suwei and I are now back in California for about 10 days of visiting with family and friends.  So far, we have held a Christmas/Slideshow/End of the Year/Pizza Night get together at Eng-Shien's place, we've gone for a run through the redwoods up in Huddart, we have met up with Mike, Christy and Natalie for a drink in San Francisco, and we've gone for a 7 mile hike in San McDonald County Park.  We're keeping busy as usual.

But that's not what this post is about.  I'm still working on the photos from Summer.  For this set we stay in Florida.  My 5th trip with Suntrek was very much like the 4th.  On August 30th, I picked up a new group of intrepid travelers in Orlando and brought them along the same route in reverse, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Naples, Everglades, Keywest and then back to Miami on September 5th.

My second attempt at the Florida Sunshine trek went much better than the first.  First of all, I tend to learn from my mistakes.  In other words, if something didn't work on the first trip, I tried something different the second time around.  If worked great the first time, I made sure we did that again.  Secondly, the weather was much better.  More Florida Sunshine, Less Florida rain.  Finally, I think the trip works better in the "A" direction.  The timing is better and you finish up with Key West, which is really the highlight of the trip.

Florida Sunshine "A" like the reversed "B" version was a one week camping tour (except for the one night in Naples where I managed to finagle us some air-conditioned cabins).  There were eight passengers, this time hailing from UK (3), Italy (2), Germany (2) and Denmark (1).  Florida was hot, humid, and quite awful again that week, so again we hovered around the beaches and avoided our tents.  Here are some of the photos:

The gang getting ready to go snorkeling in the Keys.: Meike, Pernille, Elena, Mary, Mike, Lorena, Saro, and Paul.

Ybor City in Tampa, Sunrise in St. Petersburg, Antique Store in Key West, Searching for a Bridge on Surgarloaf Key.

Bowman's Beach, Sanibel Island, Florida

Airboating in Everglades National Park

And Finally Elena shows off her Snokeling Skills in Key West

There are more photos and captions in the slideshow. Just click on the link below.

Suntrek Trip #5 - Florida Sunshine "A"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Suntrek Trip #4 - Florida Sunshine "B"

Lafayette, CO - Wow, I am really getting behind in my posts now. Suwei and I just spent a week making our way down to Las Vegas for a bit of climbing out at Red Rock Canyon over Thanksgiving. I brought along a new (at least new for me) camera and tripod and shot another bunch of new photos that I may or may not get around to processing this year. And here I am just getting around to working on photos from August.

Speaking of August... Here are some photos from way back than.

On August 16th, I left New York City and headed south to Miami, FL to start my 4th tour with Suntrek. I had one week to get there So, I decided to make a few stops on the way down.

My first stop was in Arlington, Virgina where I stayed with our friends Tommy and Jessica. Suwei and I met Tommy and Jessica while hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. Since then Suwei has run a half marathon with them in California, we've gone ice climbing with them in Colorado, and they came to our wedding in Utah. You might say, they are a couple after our own hearts. Anyway, they are living just outside of Washington DC now and since I'd managed to pass through the area three times during the course of the summer and had not managed to see them once, I thought I'd pop by and say, "Hi". On top of that, the three previous times I passed though DC, I was so busy that I didn't get to see much more than the campsite in Maryland, the local Jiffy Lube, and the laundromat. DC just seemed to be an ideal place to get chores done and catch up on planning my tours. This time, however, I vowed to be a bit of a tourist myself. So, I spent a day museum hopping down at the National Mall.

Washington DC (Clockwise): Space Helmet at The National Air and Space Museum, Tyrannosaurus at the National Museum of Natural History, The Washington Monument, The Capitol Building, Smithsonian Sign, The National Museum of the American Indian, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Kermit the Frog in the National Museum of American History, & one from the lobby of the National Museum of Natural History.

From Washington DC I continued south stopping for the night at Hunting Island State Park in South Carlonia, had coffee in Savannah, Georgia, passed a drug test in Jacksonville, Florida, saw a movie in Daytona Beach and still had time left over to sleep a day on the beach in Hollywood, Florida.

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Savannah, Georgia

Hollywood, Florida

On August 22nd I met my fourth group at the Ocean Surf Hotel in Miami Beach. We got a little bit of a slow and worrisome start when one of the girls didn't show up at the prescribed meeting time. The desk clerk at the hotel informed me that she had not checked in the night before and that they had no record of her staying at the hotel. That kicked off calls to the Suntrek office and a frantic search for our lost passenger. Turns out she was up in her room the whole time and just didn't hear her alarm clock. She got up two hours late, found my note at the front desk and gave us a call. I was much more angry at the hotel staff for telling me she wasn't there. After a few quick stops at Best Buy, Target, subway, and a Publix, we were on our way to Key West.

This trip was called, "Florida Sunshine B." The "B" just denotes that we were going the opposite direction of trip "A". The Florida Sunshine trip is a one week camping tour from Miami to Orlando with stops in Key West, Everglades National Park, Naples, Sanibel Island, Fort Meyers, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. There were only 7 passengers, so we had plenty of room in the van. Nationalities included 2 Australians, 3 Germans, and 2 from Great Britain. Here are some of the photos:

Group Shot (from left): Christine, Richelle, Danielle, Nick, Sharielle, Olga, and Jule.

Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys

Sunset view from our campsite in Key West.

Key West (Clockwise): The Southern Most Point in the Continental US, Geared up and ready for Snorkeling, Sharielle working through her fish phobia, and finally group nap time.

Air Boating in The Everglades, Bowman Beach on Sanibel Island, Nick lost in the Everglades, Karl in Naples (thanks Christine for the photo), Gator Spotting in the Everglades, Bowman Beach on Sanibel Island.

Thanks again to another great group. Hope you all enjoy the pics. If you'd like to see a few more click on the slide show link below. Don't forget to hit full screen to watch the slide show.

Suntrek Trip #4 - Florida Sunshine "B"