Friday, February 28, 2014

Christmas Procession in Antigua

In Guatemala, the indigenous Mayan culture mixes with Spanish Christian religious rituals resulting in unique Christmas traditions. For example, on Christmas Eve in Antigua a lively procession consisting of the figures of Mary, Joseph, the Three Kings, as well as popular cartoon characters (think Zorro and alike) passes through the streets of town, accompanied by the beat of drums and the crackle of fireworks.

The beat of drums and the crackle of fireworks provide lively accompaniment as Christmas processions moves through the streets of Anitgua de Guatemala, stopping from time to time to collect food, money, and blessings of locals.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Grand Prismatic Spring

The third largest hot spring in the world: Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. It's so beautiful that no photo can do it justice.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rocky Mountains Nationa Park

Rocky Mountain National Park was one of the biggest surprises of my last year's "national parks tour."

First, I was (positively) surprised that there were hundreds of hikers, many with small kids, on the trail in the early hours of a random Wednesday. Second, I was surprised how similar this part of the Rockies is to the Polish Tatra Mountains!

Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Enchanted Forrest

Few weeks ago we went hiking in Mt. Tam area, just north of San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge.

Hiking there again reminded us how immensely beautiful and diverse the Bay Area is, as well as how easily accessible all this beauty is.

Although there were hundreds of people on the trail, I didn't feel like complaining about the crowds. Instead I was happy to see that there are so many like-minded folks who also think it's worth their time to get out of the city and enjoy the nature.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Antigua de Guatemala

The first stop during our visit to Guatemala was the city of Antigua. Antigua is a former capital of Guatemala and it's famous for its colonial and Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture, which earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

Sadly, Antigua looks completely run down and there are hardly any renovations taking place. I fear that if this sad state of affairs continues, or the next big earthquake hits, there will be nothing left to see in Antigua. That's a shame, as with a bit of effort Antigua could turn into a beautiful destination. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blue Glacier

The glaciers are blue
and I'm blue too
as they carve and melt
until nothing is left.

Global Warming in action: glacier carving just few meters away from our boat in Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska.

A great documentary on the subject: "Chasing Ice."
Watch it if you haven't seen it yet!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Valley of Fire

Setting sun sets on fire colorful rocks of Valley of Fire in Nevada.

"Love is a burning thing
And it makes a fiery ring.
Bound by wild desire
I fell into a ring of fire."

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Evolutionary Benefit of Cuteness

Apparently, the kind Mother Nature makes babies of all species look super-cute and adorable, as to protect the young and vulnerable from becoming prey to stronger animals. It seems though that in the case of grizzly bears Mother Nature failed a bit, as the biggest threat to young grizzly cubs are adult grizzlies. In the photo below, three cubs and their mom are alertly surveying the behavior of a nearby alpha grizzly bear, ready to flee at his slightest movement in their direction.

Mama Bear and Three Cubs at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Importance of Being Nice

Words of wisdom from the streets of Belize City.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pearls of Rain

Rain adorns the spiderweb with pearls of water.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Existential Crisis?

It seems that humans don't have monopoly on melancholy...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Welcome to Chez Monsun

Our today's attempt to find a nice brunch place led to the conclusion that there is no restaurant like home restaurant :)

We ended up staying in and quickly assembling a breakfast of home-made paleo blackberry-chia muffins, gluten-free blueberry waffles, organic fair-trade mangoes, organic strawberries, organic mandarins, organic red walnuts, accompanied by optional sugar-free organic raspberry and mango jams and an organic coconut spread.

To drink we had home-made, freshly-squeezed red grape juice and organic fair-trade blue bottle coffee on organic, lactose-free, grass-fed milk.

No restaurant can beat that! :)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Journey

Life is a journey, not a destination.

Badlands National Park

Friday, February 14, 2014

Black Night

Crater Lake at Night

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Green Grass, Pink Flowers...

Flowers on the trail in Roosevelt National Park

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Red Rocks...

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

White Sands, Blue Sky...

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Monday, February 10, 2014

A not-so-Lonely Elefant in Masai Mara

It amazes me that animals are more afraid of humans on foot than of humans in the cars (this extends to humans on the horses/other animals). I don't have a good theory to explain that. Do you?

2006 Safari in Masai Mara, Kenya

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Soldiers of Pinnacles

The newest addition to the national park family is Pinnacles National Park, where eroded pinnacles stand tall and strong like soldiers. It's been almost a year since my last visit there, so it's time for another trip, likely at the beginning of March. Let me know if you want to join!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

White Horses of the Ocean

One of my favorite places in the whole world is Point Lobos. It's dramatic and rugged yet serene and peaceful, and I think it's this contrast that appeals to me so much.

On the photo below, the waves, like wild, unstoppable horses, head for the rocky shore of Point Lobos, where awestruck visitors admire the spectacle.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Elephant Seal Taking a Nap on the Beach

I was walking on the beach taking in the views, fresh air, and aloneness, when my eyes caught a moving rock to my right. Come again?!? Moving rock? Closer inspection revealed that all is good with the universe and rocks don't move. The moving object turn out to be a giant elephant seal (they can grow up to 5 meters and weigh up to 2500 kilograms!) taking a nap on the beach.

The seal must have sensed my presence as it opened it's eyes, slightly raised its head and looked attentively in my direction. I showed it respect by keeping a safe distance and passing it as slowly and gracefully as I could. It worked. The seal decided that I'm not a threat and it went back into the land of dreams, in which, I'm sure, there are no humans.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Namibian Staple Food

Millet is the staple food of the Owambo tribe in Namibia. After pounding and winning it's mixed with water and cooked over the fire fueled by cows' dung until it achieves porridge-like consistency. This demands constant and careful mixing.

Millet can also be fermented into a beer-like drink, which–at least to my unaccustomed Western stomach–tasted like rancid invitation to a food poisoning.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ladies of the World

At Taj Mahal, India, distinction is made between "Ladies" aka "High Value Ticket Holders" and "Indian Ladies." In case you wonder, I chose to stand in line with "Indian Ladies."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Today's Spotlight: Carlsbad Caverns

The beauty of Carlsbad Cavern (Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico) is accentuated by the illumination placement designed by a theatrical lightning designer.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Four Years Later

I'm still having the time of my life and I owe it all to you.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sächsische Schweiz Rocks

Luckily, the United States doesn't have monopoly on interesting rock formations. There are some funky rocks spread out throughout Europe too, amongst which my favorite are Elbe Sandstone Mountains (aka Sächsische Schweiz). I spent many weekends hiking and climbing via ferratas there and I have extremely fond memories of these experiences.

Sächsische Schweiz National Park, Germany

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sunrise over Arches

Continuing with the theme of sunrises and national parks, here's one of my photos of sun rising over Arches National Park.