Archive for the 'Travel' Category
This past Memorial Day Weekend, Melanie and I took a trip up to Savannah, Georgia. We stayed in the heart of the historic district in what is probably the nicest Holiday Inn Express on the planet. From the rooftop pool there were great views of the city and the Savannah River, through which some impressively large ships travelled. The historic district was amazing; it is a huge area filled with 22 parks and all kinds of neat old homes, churches, and buildings. Although a bit touristy at times, the city has a very unique feel to it, and was a lot of fun to visit.
My favorite photos are in the Gallery.No comments
Click to see the photo gallery!
One of the fun things about living in a different state is all of the new travel opportunities. Not only are there tons of fun road trips to be had, but a lot of interesting places are now a lot closer and cheaper. So when we found a killer deal on tickets to Costa Rica for spring break, we jumped on it. We had to drive four hours south to Miami to catch a plane run by some airline that we’d never heard of (TACA, the national airline of El Salvador), but doing so saved us a bunch of money… and we made it back in one piece!
We rented the cheapest 4×4 we could find, a tiny little SUV called a Suzuki Jimny. It turned out to be perfect as it had just enough room for me, Melanie, and our luggage. While gutless and bumpy, it always made us smile with its Tonka truck looks.
First we headed up to a town called La Fortuna (map) near the Arenal volcano, pictured above. The volcano is fairly active but not TOO active; we saw a bit of steam in the day and some brief lava flows at night. There was a ton of stuff to do in this area, and we chose some more adventurous options including whitewater rafting and ziplines. Both were amazingly fun. We also went on a really nice walk at Arenal Hanging Bridges, which has a series of trails and suspension bridges through the rain forest. We saw all kinds of flora and fauna, including a sloth and monkeys. The place we stayed, Hotel El Silencio de Campo, was excellent as well. We would have liked to stay a lot longer, but we also wanted to include the beaches in our trip, so we headed off after a few days.
Our next stop was an overnight in Jaco (map), which is a touristy and Americanized town on the Pacific. We stayed there just as a halfway point to our final destination and didn’t do anything in the town, but we really liked the place we stayed, Aparhotel Vista Pacifico. It is perched up on a hill overlooking Jaco and the Pacific, and had a really nice vibe to it. It was really cheap as well.
After Jaco we headed through palm orchards down to Dominical (map), where we stayed a few nights and enjoyed the beaches. Not only was the sand soft and the water bathtub worthy, we had the beaches pretty much all to ourselves. Unfortunately the waves didn’t make for very good swimming or snorkeling, so don’t count on Costa Rica for those activities. But we still had a lot of fun walking, wading, finding cool sea shells, and seeing crabs, birds, lizards, and spectacular views.
The town of Dominical was small and quiet, which we liked. Just enough stuff, like a grocery store and a burger joint, but not touristy or crowded. We stayed at another excellent place, Shelter from the Storm. (Thanks TripAdvisor.com for helping us find all these great places to stay and things to do.)
Overall this was one of our favorite vacations; the country was beautiful, the people friendly, and there was lots of adventure to be had. Just be sure to avoid touristy areas like Jaco and Manuel Antonio (Quepos). We felt very safe the whole time we were there, had no problem driving around the country with a good map, and language was not a barrier as everybody we encountered spoke at least a little English.
Click here for the photo gallery. The video is below. (After you press play be sure to pick 720p or 1080p if your computer/connection supports it!)No comments
Last month Melanie and I took a weeklong trip to south Florida for Mel’s spring break. After flying into Fort Lauderdale, we stayed in Boca Raton at the Renaissance Hotel the first night. Tired from traveling all day, we started to settle into our room, but we were disturbed by an odd buzzing noise. We searched all over the room for the source before finally concluding it must be coming from an adjacent room. After a while we decided the buzzing was too much to bear, so we went back to the front desk and complained. They very politely gave us a new room, but on the way there we still heard the noise! Fearful that we were going crazy, it finally donned on me that the noise was coming from my suitcase. Immediately I knew what it was; my electric toothbrush had turned on and was making a racket in my bag. Oops.
The next day we hopped in our bright yellow Pontiac G5 coupe (which seemed appropriate for Florida and was actually a pretty nice car, if a little gutless… RIP Pontiac) and headed for the Florida Keys. It’s a fascinating drive. First there’s Miami, filled with huge condo high-rises and crazy traffic, then the suburbs, then open land, then marshes, then the bridges start. Some are short, some are long, and one is seven miles long. They string together the keys all the way to Key West. As is typical with Florida, there are some really beautiful parts to the keys and some really trashy parts, but overall the experience is totally unique. We drove about halfway down the chain and stayed a couple of nights at the Continental Inn, which was a little dated but nice and in a great location. While there we visited the Bahia Honda State Park, which is a beautiful place, and also went to Key West for a sailboat snorkel/kayak tour. The snorkeling wasn’t great, especially with Portuguese Man o’ War in the water, but the kayak trip around a mangrove island was a lot of fun. Key West itself is a huge tourist trap and we didn’t stay long.
After our stay in the keys we headed up to the Everglades National Park. Like most national parks, this was an amazing place. There are many diverse ecosystems, from marsh to swamp to river to lake to hardwood hammocks (islands in the marsh basically), and so much wildlife to see. I’ve seriously seen less animals at a zoo than I did in the everglades: osprey, huge fish, turtles, herons, anhinga, alligators, oh my! Just an amazing place.
After our visit to the Everglades we stayed in a Travelodge in nearby Florida City. It was the quintessential cheap motel experience, but to their credit it was clean. That’s about all than can be said.
For our last night we went 180 degrees from Florida City and stayed at the Highland Beach Holiday Inn, which is in very fancy area near Boca Raton. There we met up with some friends of Melanie’s and spent some time relaxing at the beach and checking out the area. The next day we played some mini-golf and ate PF Chang’s with our friends then headed back home. All in all a great trip!
Check out the photo gallery.No comments
Back in February Melanie and I took a quick trip to Las Vegas. I’ve posted a few pictures to the gallery from this trip. Once again all pictures were taken with the Panasonic DMC-LX3. This is a great little camera.
While there we stayed at the South Point hotel, which is really a great deal if you don’t mind being a 10 minute drive from the strip. The place has nice rooms and fun stuff like a huge bowling alley. We also saw the Titanic exhibit at the Luxor which was simply amazing and is very highly recommended to anyone remotely interested in the Titanic. Well worth whatever it was we paid.1 comment
Wow, it really has been a while! I took a bit of a hiatus from Seansense, but I’m back. I’m working on quite a few updates about the various things I’ve been up to for the last few months, but I thought I’d start here since it’s simple. Back in March, Melanie and I needed a quick escape so we took a road trip to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. I only took a few photos, but I think they turned out pretty well. All are handheld with my Panasonic DMC-LX3. Gotta love 24mm and f/2.0 in a cave! Check out the gallery.No comments
A few weeks ago, my job gave me an incredible opportunity: Travel solo halfway around the world to meet with a customer in Israel. The catch? The meetings would last just two days. If I wanted to stay longer it would be out of pocket. Since brining Mel along was not financially plausible, I decided to go ahead and set a personal time-distance record: 16,000 miles over 5 days.3 comments
Back in July, Melanie and I went on an awesome camping trip with Marc to Montana De Oro State Park, near San Luis Obispo, CA. The park has a normal campground, but we opted for one of the “environmental” campsites. Instead of being packed together in a typical campground loop, the four environmental sites are spread throughout the park. Our particular site involved parking at the bottom of a hill and hiking 1/2 mile up a dirt road. Once there the site had a very clean pit toilet, a nice picnic table, and plenty of space to spread out. It also had a sweeping 360-degree view of the ocean and surrounding hills. Notably absent from the view were other people; unless you were looking through binoculars, you couldn’t see anyone else. We literally had a whole hill to ourselves. It was wonderful!
We camped for two nights, spending a lot of time soaking in the view and enjoying nature. We also went for a great hike along the coast on land owned by PG&E for the adjacent Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. (Pleasant name, eh?) The PG&E folks were very nice; they simply asked that we signed in and out and agreed to stay on the trail unless we wanted to get shot at. Sounds like a good deal to me! The rugged coastline is amazingly beautiful. None of my pictures do justice to the place, which really must be experienced in person.
We also found time to entertain ourselves with kites. See the photo gallery for a play-by-play account. While we mainly fed on the mountain of food we packed up the hill from our cars, we also headed over to Los Osos for a great burger at a little place called Sylvester’s. If you like a good burger and are in the area, you’ll love this place.
Overall the trip was a blast; I came home wishing I could spend more time out in nature enjoying the beauty of it all. It also renewed my interest in backpacking; I’d really like to do a big backpacking trip one of these days. I think it would be a great experience.
Click on the picture above for the full gallery.No comments
Melanie and I save up all year to take one annual “big vacation”, and this year we decided to go to the Big Island of Hawaii for a week. This was our third trip to Hawaii together (we’ve also been to Kauai and Maui). What can I say? The place is addictive! The fact that we had a free ticket thanks to frequent flier miles sealed the deal.
We stayed in an awesome condo at the Fairway Villas in the Waikoloa Resort area north of Kailua-Kona. This turned out to be an excellent location, as just 20 miles south in Kona the weather was not nearly as nice and suffered more from the vog. The area also had some awesome beaches, our favorite being Waialea Bay just up the road. The sand was nice, the water calm, and the snorkeling excellent. We liked it so much we’d get up early in the morning just to be among the first to arrive. One morning we had it all to ourselves for a while. Paradise!
We also went on a helicopter ride from Hilo over the volcano. We opted for the “doors off” flight, which was wonderful if not a little windy and cold. It made for some excellent photos and video and was quite exhilarating.
The big island certainly is big; it’s over 220 miles to drive all the way around. We did a lot of driving and saw a lot while we were there, but really we just scratched the surface. There was a ton of stuff we didn’t do, and we had such a nice time there that I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and do the rest.
Click the image above for the photo gallery.
A video is coming soon!1 comment
Last week I turned 30. I’d think of something clever to say about this milestone, but now that I’m so old such extravagances are out of the question. I get tired just stirring my Metamucil. Don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging… You can look forward to such exciting posts as “All this progress — phooey!”, “By gum! 2nd BM this week!”, “An Open Letter To The Dog Who Shat On My Lawn”, and “Has Anyone Seen My Reading Glasses?”
Last week was also Melanie’s birthday, so to celebrate our mutual birthday week we headed out to Vegas. Figuring that it was a somewhat major birthday milestone, we decided to live it up and stay a night at the Bellagio and a night at Mandalay Bay. The Bellagio was awesome, great room, great service, nice atmosphere. The pools were great too. The Mandalay Bay had a great room but it was way too busy and crowded… We got to the pool at 9:30 AM and couldn’t find a single chair. Blah. But we got to see Penn & Teller, eat good food, and gawk at the ridiculousness that is Vegas. Good times.
Click on the image above to see the gallery.No comments
Mel and I had been looking forward to heading out to the Wild Animal Park all week so we could try out the new video camera, so this morning when we saw big dark clouds coming we thought for sure our day would be ruined. But we pressed on, making it to the park in time to beat the majority of the crowds. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the clouds from the coast seemed to scatter and dissipate before they reached the park, so we wound up having a beautiful sunny day. We saw lots of animals, I took lots of video, and we ate a tasty (but pricey) lunch at the park.
This afternoon I spent a lot of time editing the video in Final Cut Express (FCE). iMovie ’08 (which I had previously been using to edit videos) is a great program that is easy to use and produces good results, but I was already starting to feel a little limited by it. Making the jump to FCE is huge; it is the same basic program as Final Cut Pro, which is used to edit multi-million dollar movies and TV shows, just missing the more advanced features. Think of it as the Adobe Photoshop of video editing. At first it comes across as a very complicated program, but after spending some time reading the user manual (an 1152 page PDF document) and watching the tutorials on Apple’s website I started to get the hang of it. I can see why people like this program; it allows for a huge amount of control and has some very nice features. It’ll be fun to work with it more in the future. I still have a lot to learn!
And so here it is, my first video from the Sony HDR-SR11 edited in Final Cut Express:No comments