El Otro Varadero …. The Other Varadero – Varahicacos Ecological Reserve

El Otro Varadero …. The Other Varadero – Varahicacos Ecological Reserve

We had traveled into the town of Varadero and done the tourist shopping thing already so today the plan was to visit the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve on Varadero Peninsula. In stark contrast to the manicured lawns of the surrounding resort complexes, this bit of preserved natural habitat in the middle of the Varadero Peninsula offered us a look at “El Otro Varadero … the Other Varadero”. Continue reading

Another day trip into Varadero

Another day trip into Varadero

Unlike the blue sky days we had enjoyed so far, today offered a change in weather and the possibilities of a few rain showers.  I had traveled into Varadero the day before for a bit of a sightseeing tour but today Adell and I had planned to go into Varadero for a bit of window shopping and perhaps a bit of souvenir hunting.  The plan was simple – go early, come back early, so despite the possibility of rain, we headed over to the bus stop to await the arrival of the Varadero Beach Tour double-decker bus. While we waited for the bus, I kept myself busy photographing some of the local construction activity. Continue reading

Varadero Beach Tour Bus – Varadero Peninsula, Varadero, Cuba

Varadero Beach Tour Bus – Varadero Peninsula, Varadero, Cuba

For those who don’t mind a bit of sunshine and a bit of wind in the face, the Varadero Beach Tour double-decker bus is a great way to see Varadero and the Varadero Peninsula.  Cost is $5CUC ($5US approx) for a ticket good for the whole day and with unlimited on-off privileges. The bus runs about every half hour with multiple stops along the Peninsula and about every three blocks in town. Continue reading

Barcelo Premium Marina Palace and Cayo Libertad – Checking out the resort

Barcelo Premium Marina Palace and Cayo Libertad – Checking out the resort

One of the benefits of the direct flight from Ottawa was our arrival time. After checking in and taking a look at our room, we still had most of the afternoon to look around the resort in daylight hours.

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Lyonia Preserve, Deltona, Florida

The Lyonia Preserve is a relatively new wildlife ecological preserve established to develop a restored scrub preserve in Volusia County north of Orlando, Florida. I first learned of the preserve when visiting the Marine Science Center at Ponce Inlet a few days earlier.

My main reason for visiting the Lyonia Preserve today was to photograph some of the many Florida Scrub Jays that now call the preserve their home. I wasn’t disappointed. The county and school groups have re-established a wonderful scrub habitat and ecosystem. An interesting series of three looped trails allows individuals to walk through the preserve without disturbing the environment. The trails are wide and obvious so no problem with losing one’s way although one signpost caught my attention and made me smile. The footing is a soft fine grained sand but footing is generally stable but not solid enough for wheelchairs. Strategically located benches provide spots to sit and watch the world unfold. There are only limited areas with any sort of shade so, on a hot day, taking a bottle of water along would be advisable. Since I was short on time, I did all three trails at a very brisk pace but a more leisurely pace would be highly recommended.

Trail in Lyonia Preserve, Deltona, Florida
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Rhinocerus Iguana, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Rhinoceros Iguana

Rhinocerus Iguana, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The resort houses a few of these large lizards in a caged-in area. I don’t normally like to photograph creatures in confined quarters but made an exception in this case since these are pretty restricted in their territory and it was very unlikely that I would be encountering one in the wild.  As I was trying to photograph the iguanas, I had a battle with a rather large Euphorbia type cactus with very large spines and my self-inflicted wounds meant that I had to shorten my photographing session and head for the first aid kit.

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Bright Angel Trail, South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon South Rim - Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail, South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Bright Angel Trail begins on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at an elevation of 6860′ and descends to the Colorado River in the Canyon bottom. I only had time to hike down to the Indian Garden at an elevation of 3800′ so this blog entry contains images of my travels over that 3060′ drop in elevation and the harder return to the top. It is a well traveled trail with many switchbacks (zigzags) down the canyon walls and is shared by humans and mules. I’ve marked the normal stopping points where a decision has to be made to go on or start the long trek back to the top. I chose to go to the Indian Garden. Round trip took me almost exactly 6 hours and my camera equipment got very heavy by the time I got back to the rim. From what I could find out, the normal pace would take about 7 hours so I guess I was moving along quite quickly despite stopping to take a few hundred shots along the way.

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Along Arizona Route 93

Along Arizona Route 93

After visiting the Hoover Dam, we continued our journey along Route 93 to Kingman where we then headed East along Interstate 40 to Flagstaff, Arizona. The car rental folks had run out of my requested subcompact size of car when I arrived and provided me with a no-charge upgrade to a 4-wheel drive SUV. I was therefore almost obliged to drive off the road at least once or twice along the highway. Couldn’t go into really nasty roads though. Although the SUV was 4-wheel drive, they had equipped it with highway tires rather than a nice set of off-road lugs so I only went along the mining roads until the bed of loose skree like gravel got two steep for my comfort. Had fun though!

We were likely a week or two ahead of the really energetic blooming season for the desert wildflowers but the cacti were beginning to dot the landscape with their pink blossoms.

Other colorful flowers were beginning to dot the landscape but not yet profusely.

As I was driving along the mining roads, I would sometime catch a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye (the other eye was always on the road!!!). I would then stop the vehicle and the search would begin for these little lizards (Zebra-Tailed lizard – Callisaurus draconoides).

I found the geological outcroppings along the highway to be very interesting. Most of the time we didn’t have much other traffic on the road but when we arrived at one of the mining side roads shortly after 5PM, I found myself stuck in a traffic jam.

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is well known for it’s casinos and nightly entertainment but only a short drive away from the main Las Vegas Boulevard is a beautiful piece of natural desert with striking red canyon walls known as Red Rock Canyon. Love visiting the canyon and this day was no exception.

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