Friday, January 31, 2014

Balboa Park: A Landscape of Art and Culture, Serenaded by Music and Nature

Balboa Park
in the picture above: Organ Pavillon, California Building, Museum of Man, Alcazar Garden and Mingei International Museum

Whenever I have my "me" time in San Diego, a place I most often go to and get lost for one day and still not see enough is Balboa Park. It is a place which has all that I love, arts, culture, food, and NATURE! Let me share with you the many ways I enjoy Balboa Park.
I usually start getting lost in Balboa Park at the Desert and Rose Garden. 
Desert and Rose Garden
Balboa Park is a huge cultural park in San Diego that has about 17 museums, about 20 gardens, several performing arts venues for both music and theater, and a lot of other attractions and recreations. Aside from that, for the nature lovers, there are canyons to escape, where all of a sudden, it feels like in a palm oasis and not inside a cultural park. Among the many attractions at Balboa Park, I have my favorites. I could not see everything here in one day, that I usually would tell myself, "I'll go to other museums and attractions next time", but oftentimes, I end up going to the same museums and gardens. :) I usually go to Balboa Park with an intention of seeing another museum, but at the moment I step at Desert Garden, and then, Rose Garden, I forgot about time and my original plan, that I end up always taking the same route. Haha! 

What I love about the Desert and Rose garden are the busy bees and birds. I love listening to the song birds, and I love shooting flowers at various angles, haha! Somehow, I just can't get enough of them. :)
Some Macro Shots of Busy Life @ The Desert and Rose Garden

Aside from the busy bees and birds, I also love the various distorted forms of cacti, they look already to me like natural sculpture, in the form of plants. :)
Various Cacti

And the blooms usually of cactus are just as stunning as the roses. After the Desert and Rose Garden, my next favorite spot in Balboa Park is the Natural History Museum, which is my most favorite museum among the 17 museums of the park.
Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Arched Hallways of Balboa Park

What I love about Natural History Museum? Well, I won't deny I love Science and Nature, and our Earth's history. It's like all my favorite subjects when I was still in school are in here, and I am always so inspired to see kids here so engrossed with learning about their world. I am so inspired with their "geeky questions" and always inspired by very inquisitive minds.  

I also love going to the 3D theater in Natural History Museum, where what they show always make me teary eyed. I am not so much a fan of IMAX theater in the Science Museum though, since all those motions give me somehow headache. :( But I love 3D theater, because I feel like I am right there during the exploration. The shows are always very inspiring, moving you to be a responsible and active participant of this planet Earth. 

Outside the museums, usually are individuals or small groups who gather together to provide entertainment to the people. I could get lost too watching and listening to them. 
They may not be professional artists, but their love and passion for music, for humor, and for theater are very entertaining. The instruments they play have that deep tone, real sparkling good-time sound, that I wonder if they use those instruments with good gretsch g9460 dixie 6-string banjo review.

Another place that I always check out at Balboa Park is the Zorro Butterfly Garden. I love the very exotic looking flowers here, where it seems, spring is YEAR ROUND.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Some recent pictures of birds from our recent weekend wanderings here in San Diego. We were not into birding before, but somehow, since we had experienced the joy of young peregrine falcons spring of last year, we were hooked. :)
Juvenile Peregrine Falcon

Before, whenever we see birds in San Diego, we would just dismiss them as "just birds"! Now, they are no longer "just birds", they are BIRDS! Special creatures with wings, serenading us with soothing songs and chants. 
Here are some shots of birds we captured lately here in San Diego.

Free Standing Boat Lifts

Having a boat can bring many days of joy. However, a water vessel is a big investment and maintenance does not come cheap. By protecting a boat from the turbulent waters, salt build-up, and elements of the weather, a boat lift can be the perfect maintenance solution. By spending a little extra money, the investment of a vessel can last for many years without showing signs of wear. A boat house is not readily available for everyone and often, piers are removed from the water where changing seasons are prominent. This makes free standing boat lifts a sensible selection for many boaters.

Types of Boat Lifts

There are 4 different styles of boat lifts, depending on the area where your vessel is docked. These include side mount for securing against a pier, piling mounts to cradle boats in a sling-type apparatus, boat house lifts, where a secure and dry area is needed, and free standing units that offer flexibility in parking anywhere. 

Why Free Standing Boat Lifts are Popular

Free standing boat lift units are made completely of aluminum. This material offers lightweight handling, corrosion and rust-proof properties, and is very durable. They are designed to hold an 800 pound, 1200 pound, or 1500 pound weight capacity. A manual or electric winch provides easy lifting of the vessel. Rollers control the guiding while carpeted runners provide a scratch-free method of securing. Galvanized mounting hardware keeps the boat from shifting during high winds and a stainless steel cable will never lose its grip. Many boat owners appreciate the motor driven model where a simple Click here button takes the drudgery out of cranking by hand. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Can Be More Fun?

What happens when cousins get together?

Well, just like when they were younger, they color the world FUN!!! Their kind of FUN!!!!

What Can Be More Fun Than Exploring Our Beautiful World on Foot?

And Enjoying The Heavenly Sights on Earth?

What Can Be More Fun Than Dancing With The Breeze?

5 Things to Check on your Car before Setting off on a Road Trip


A road trip can be a long time in the planning. You have to pack suitable clothes for your destination and research accommodation choices. Hats, cameras, medication, pillows, food and drinks are all necessities for a road trip but none of this will do you any good if your car is not in top condition. A well serviced and checked vehicle will make your road trip adventure smooth going.

Check Air Pressure

Check that the tyres on your car and also the spare tyre have the correct pressure. You can do this yourself at a service station or have a full safety check done at a mechanics. Never exceed the maximum pressure.

Check light and signal functions are working

Get a friend or family member to check that all lights and indicators are working when you flick them on. If there are problems, you may need to replace a bulb or a fuse. For safety, all lights and signals should be in correct working order. Always have some spare bulbs or fuses in the glove compartment when travelling.

Anacapa island

Inspiration Point, Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park
Best Time to Visit: Spring to Early Summer, by summer, the island becomes dry and less colorful, and the sea gulls have left the island, you are left with only the left-over smell of the gulls.
Closest Major City: Los Angeles, CA. The drive to Oxnard Harbor from Los Angeles is about an hour, and the ferry ride to Anacapa Island is about 45 minutes, plus or minus depending on the conditions.

Sea Arch, Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park

The pictures here I am attaching are not really the best of Anacapa, since when we visited the island, it was already late of June, and the wildflowers were mostly gone :( and most of the gulls that nested on the island probably had gone back to the mainland already. 

Gulls on a Bed of Wildlfowers, Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Survival Basics When Lost in Wilderness

Everyone hopes that they will not have to survive alone in an extreme situation, but it happens to people every year. Campers get lost trying to find their way back to their campsites. Hikers lose the trail and are not sure where to turn next. The key is not to keep yourself out of these situations, but to be ready for them when they arrive. With a little planning and a bit of basic survival knowledge, you can get through the ordeal.

1. Waiting is better than running. 
You may be tempted to panic and try to get out of the woods on your own, but you are usually much better off to wait where you are to be rescued. Even if you got lost, you are still close to the place that you told people you would be, so the search will not take as long. 

2. Find water. 
When you think you are going to have to stay in the forest overnight, you need to find water. The human body can survive for days and even weeks without food, but you need water every day. 

3. Follow a river. 
If you cannot wait and you have to keep moving, find a river and follow it for as long as you can. Follow it the same direction that the water is flowing. Towns are usually situated near water sources, so the river should at least take you toward people, and it also means that you retain your water source as you travel.

4. Leave signs behind. 
As you move through the woods, leave signs for people who may be looking for you. Piling up rocks is a very popular way to do this. The more obvious the trail, the easier it is for the rescue team to track you down. If you would like to learn more survival tips and ideas, just click here.

Our Philippines: Negros Occidental

Orchids from our Backyard in my Hometown, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

The Salitype Society, where I am also a member of the site, is hosting " Our Philippines " meme, where we feature our beautiful country, the Philippines.

I am from the province of Negros Occidental, which is located in the Western Visayas Region. I was born, and raised in Bacolod City, 
the capital city of the province of Negros Occidental. 
My Hometown Sunset
In this post, let my memories bring my story to how I have grown to love the great outdoors!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Simply Reminiscing Joy: High School Best Buddies and Our Beatles Fantasy :)

Reunited with My High School Best Buddies

One of the highlights of my Philippines December 2012-January 2013 vacation was being reunited with my high school best buddies. There are four of us in the group. All 3 are now here in US, two of us in Califorinia, and one in Arizona. Whenever we go home, we try hard that we have the same schedule, so we could have our "BEATLES" reunion! Haha, yes, we were Beatles crazy when we were in high school. We love to sing. They love to play their guitars ( I was the only one who sadly didn't know how to play guitar). Because I did not know how to play guitar, so I would self-assign myself as the "lead singer"! Haha, sadly, I also have the most out of tune voice, that whenever I would self-assign myself as "lead singer", they would tell me, "oh-oh, we think, being a band manager is more appropriate for you!" Haha! I was a kind girl, so, I would accept the tag, "band manager", but I would add, "lead singer", so I was the, "band manager+lead singer"! 

Back then, we ( sorry, I forgot I do not know how to play guitar ) simply played whatever guitar was available. Our favorite hang-out was on top of a tree! Yes, we were tree climbers! We would look for trees that would have lots of sturdy branches so we could sit, and start singing and playing. The tree branch was our stage, the world below was our audience! Oh, such happiness of high school life. I just could imagine how groovy we would look if we also had Simmons electronic drums at Musicians Friend.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fitness Tips for 2014


Now that 2014 has begun in earnest, many people are looking to make positives changes and improvements in their lives. Unsurprisingly, one of the most common areas in which said people try to improve themselves is in the area of personal fitness. In order to achieve the fitness goals that you have set for yourself this year, what are some changes you can make to ensure success? In this article we will go over some of the ways to approach your new fitness objectives, as well as some of the trends that seem to be shaping up (no pun intended) for 2014.

One easy way to boost your chances of getting into better shape this year is to actually adjust the way you talk about your goals. Rather than making general resolutions, such as “I want to get in shape”, try instead making specific ones, such as “I want to have more toned legs”. By narrowing down your focus, you will not only clarify to yourself how to get to the results you want, but you will also be able to more easily track your progress. Having more defined fitness routines and benchmarks will help you to stay on track.

In addition to setting more specific objectives, you may also find it of benefit to set a bunch of near-term goals, rather than one longer-term goal. For example, rather than vowing to lose 30 pounds in 6 months, instead break it down so that you are attempting to lose 5 pounds every month for 6 months. This may seem like a rather simplistic piece of advice, but following it can have a powerful psychological effect. As humans, it is all too easy to measure ourselves against a distant goal and feel disheartened by our lack of progress; by setting more quickly attainable measures for ourselves we can prevent this from happening. Now that you are armed with better ways to approach your physical health journey, what are some of the upcoming trends in fitness that can help you reach your milestones faster?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
2014 figures to be a big year for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT is exactly what it sounds like; doing wide variety of exercises for brief durations at very high intensities. One thing to like about this type of training (especially for those of us with a lot on their plate) is that it does not require a large time commitment, as workouts can take as little as 35 minutes. Another thing to like about HIIT is that studies have shown that athletes using this training technique improved their performance more than athletes using traditional methods.

Barre Workouts
Barre classes are similar to many other fitness classes you may have taken in the past (such as pilates and zumba), only with the addition of a ballet bar. Barre workouts are ballet-inspired, and as a result can help you improve in all the areas you would expect ballet dancers to excel in; flexibility, core strength, balance and range of motion. Additionally, Barre conditioning is designed to be very gentle on your joints, tendons, and ligaments.

Body Weight Training
Body weight training is simply the idea that you can create enough resistance to increase your muscle tone without the use of weights or bands. Some examples of body weight training include jumping lunges, wall-sits, reverse push-ups, and burpees. The best part about these exercises? You can do them at home, and without purchasing any expensive equipment.

As we get deeper and deeper into 2014, don’t miss out on an opportunity to shake up your fitness routine in order to improve your results. The mental adjustments and new trends listed above should help not only to motivate you, but to help you get closer to the goals you want to achieve in the upcoming year.

This post is provided by the creative team at Pingup. Pingup is a mobile phone application that allows users to book health and beauty appointments and classes at gyms and other establishments across the country.

About The Author:

You can connect with the Pingup team by following them on twitter here:

Training for a Grand Hike

South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park

Let me start this post with one of my favorite quotes,  

" Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike." -  John Muir (1838-1914)

This quote strikes me so much because it sums up why I love to be with nature. My desire to see the deeper beauty of nature keeps me moving and kicking my feet, bringing me priceless joys and inner peace that strengthens body, mind and soul. I have several hikes in my bucket list, two of them are in Grand Canyon National Park. Though we have hiked several trails of Grand Canyon, but we never really had completed a rim to rim hike. It is strenuous, about 20 miles round trip and 6000- 7000 ft descent/ascent. Add to this is another hike which is also in Grand Canyon, the Havasupai Falls hike. It is again about 22 miles round trip and 7000 ft descent/ascent. These days, I am both physically and mentally preparing myself for these hikes. 

One of the biggest challenges in Grand Canyon hike is that it is a reverse hike. At the top, it is cooler, yet as you go down, it becomes warmer. You start early of the day when it is cooler, but on your return,  you are facing the giant climb at higher temperatures and your feet may already be tired. My biggest weakness in hiking is facing high temperatures. Somehow, I get sudden headache when temperatures would soar past 70's! I know, 70F (21C) is very comfortable for some, but somehow, when I am hiking, I could not handle this kind of heat.  It is for that reason that most of our summer hiking trips always mean hiking in cooler places.
summer hiking at Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
( this may look cold, but it wasn't, up in California mountains, so much snow accumulation that last til summer, yet we were hiking in the 60s! 50s to 60s F or 10 to 20 C is my ideal hiking temperature. )

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Places of Interest Near and Around Sacramento, California

A friend of mine recently asked me, "Betch, have you been to Sacramento?" Haha, somehow, whenever any of my friends move to California, they would think right away I am the person to ask about the place. Sadly, even though Sacramento is the capital city of California, but I have never been there, yet. :( The nearest place to Sacramento I've been to is this sunflower field in Sacramento Valley, on our way to Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Sunflower Field, Sacramento Valley, CA

Now, because my response was "No, I haven't been there yet, why?", my friend got anxious that Sacramento may be a boring place to live because I've never been there! :) LOL! I assured her that the reason behind I have not been to Sacramento is not because it is a boring city, but simply because, our travels always center around National Parks and nature's wonders.

Anyway, my friend told me she is planning to move to Sacramento to escape the long bitter cold of winter. She said she is not really crazy about San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles or any other coastal cities of California because of their high cost of living. Sacramento she found out, being inland, is cheaper than the coastal cities of California. It would just be right for her even though Sacramento's cost of living is still more expensive than where she lives right now and most of  US because she said she is willing to downsize or live in a smaller place. Aside from escaping the bitter cold, she also sees the advantages of living in a smaller house/condo. Less time for home cleaning and maintenance, more time for life's leisure.

I told her however, that Sacramento is too inland. Inland California can be very hot in the summer, like 90s-100s, unlike places along the coast that is moderated by the ocean thus enjoys a very mild climate year round. She said, she will take that few months of dry heat over long period of bitter cold. Dry heat means no humidity, which a lot find more comfortable than the places that are both hot and humid in the summer. My friend told me that she got a reasonable offer in one of the hospitals in Sacramento. Before really taking a plunge in moving, she plans to just get some rental first before looking at buying a place. It's good that these days, property management sacramento ca, could assist in both rentals and home acquisition.

Too bad, Sacramento is too far from San Diego, about 8-hours drive away (500 miles)! Otherwise, I and my friend can go hiking more often. :) However, Sacramento is close to many places of interest I have been actually. Here are some of the places of interest in California near and around Sacramento. I am sure my friend would love visiting, being also an outdoorsy person.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Finding Joy In Boogie Boarding

I knew…. I’ll Ride You As long as I could.

First time I got a boogie board 
 I did not know what to do 
 I looked around  
 As the wave started to form a huge crest, I docked down, 
hid myself underwater to escape the wave’s wrath

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Thor's Hammer from Navajo Loop trail, Summer
Hiking Distance: 3 miles loop
Descending: 580 ft, then, Climbing: 580 ft
Best Time To visit:  year round for those who do not mind winter and summer temperatures. For a most pleasant hike, I believe early fall and spring is the best.

For photography, 
Late Fall and Winter: You will have the contrast  of orange rocks and snow.
Summer: Hoodos are fully exposed if you want full details of hoodoos ( very first photo above ). Late summer also has lots of thunderstorms, which most photographers love because of dramatic clouds over hoodoos. 
Early Fall: Hoodoos and Fall colors ( haven't been at this time, I believe it is very beautiful to have fall colors and hoodoos, sadly, my vacation time does not coincide. )
Spring: A combination of having the full details of hoodoos at exposed areas and some snow accumulation in some parts. Most photos below are from early spring 2009. 
Sunset Point, Navajo Loop Trail, Late Fall or Thanksgiving 

Utah rocks rock! They do! They will amaze you! For me, they even haunt me in my dreams, inviting me to go back there, again and again.

Queens Garden and Navajo Loop hike is the best way to see the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Most visitors usually are awed already looking down from the rim, and do not spend time going down the canyon. Even though the views from the rim are stunning, but the experience is entirely different going down Bryce Canyon floor. Nothing can compare being up close to the hoodoos, as close as you could hug them. Well, if only you could hug them since they are giants compared to our size. Hoodoos are pillars of rock erosion, and I have written about them before, in "Hoodoos Keep on Haunting Me".
Enjoying Bryce Canyon Even at -4F ( -20C), Late Fall

Friday, January 17, 2014

Happy Feet, Happy Me :)

Fab 5's Happy Hiking Feet

The picture above shows the happy feet of the Fab 5 in the trails during their Alaska exploration. Pardon us if we called ourselves the Fab 5, haha! I know, fabulous usually is associated with fashion, and we are not into fashion.  Okay, maybe one of us is into fashion, but it's not me and definitely not hubby, haha! However, during our Alaska hikes, we called ourselves the Fab 5 simply because we thought we are. Haha! Really, I could not remember how we started with the Fab 5. :) Anyway, here is a collage of the Fab 5's exploring in Alaska. 
Fab 5's Happy Adventures in Alaska

I guess, we named ourselves Fab 5, because we were simply fabulously happy wandering at that time! We hiked on rocky terrain, we went hiking in the rain, we hiked on ice exploring a glacier inside, we rolled on wildflowers (except hubby ), we danced on grass, we kept on flying high ( haha, actually, just jumping high ) at the trails, and many more. That's our kind of fun. 

Our kind of fun requires us to take care of our health big time, especially our legs and feet. Could you imagine the scare I had last September when during snorkeling, I accidentally twisted my knees? 
Ice Therapy For the Knee

The very first thought that came to my mind after feeling the pain during the incident was: "Can I still hike? Oh Lord, help me please, that I still can hike!" Thankfully, the injury was not serious, that I am able to go back to my regular activities after 2 or 3 weeks. 

Let me share with you some excerpts from my most recent visit to my doctor:

Me: "Doctor, I still feel some very minor pain on my knee. It's not something that really interferes with my regular activity, but I just could feel some minor pain still."

Doctor: ( did a lot of knee diagnosis by pressing here, pressing there, checking my knee reflexes, etc). "You seem to be fine. There is one very minor weak response however, which could be from the healing torn ligament. Continue your icing, your stretches, and WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES!"

Me: "I wear comfortable shoes most of the time, doctor."

Doctor: "No, not only most of the time. It should be, all of the time!"

Me: ( quiet, how do I respond with that anyway? I do not want to pick up an argument with my doctor, haha!)

-am guilty of not wearing comfortable shoes all of the time because of my tendency to wear sandals and flats which have no arch support at all -

Doctor: "Let me check your shoes."

Me: ( I would never visit my doctor not wearing comfortable shoes, I know how much nagging I'll get if I don't wear one as I heard him lecture to one of the lady patients who was wearing high heeled shoes one time during visit. Anyway, with confidence, I showed him my shoes- which at that time I was wearing my comfortable Mephisto shoes. )

Doctor: "Good! You wear very good comfortable shoes." - ( then, I can't believe it, he even checked the outsole, haha, because he said even very good comfortable shoes could lose support in time. haay, thankfully, the pair I was wearing was one of the newer ones ). 

Then, he proceeded again lecturing me about how very important it is to take care of our feet since our feet caries our body weight plus the weight we carry. Wearing the wrong kind of shoes usually is the cause of knee injuries for women. Men usually is from sports injury. He told me he just could not understand why so many women love to hurt themselves by wearing fashion shoes which are lacking comfort and support. I was just quiet while he lectures me that, because I know, sometimes, I do wear ladies flats and sandals which lack support. Just "sometimes" though. :)
Wearing Ladies Flats which surely lacks support 
~ I very seldom wear ladies flats that lacks support , only when I go with the ladies, haha, I guess, ladies pressure! most ladies fashion based shoes, flats or high heels lack support ~

Then, from his computer, he printed out for me this infographics below, for some healthy feet regimens to follow.  
The Anatomy of a Healthy Foot: Why Happy Feet Make a Happy Person

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Toadstool Trail, Paria Rimrock Hoodoos, UT

Betchai and The Toadstools

In  my post K Ka-Boom at Kelso Sand Dunes, I mentioned that nature has its special way of bringing the child in us. The experience is the same at Toadstool Trail. Seeing and being up close with the toadstool hoodoos tickled the child in us and we could not help it but just simply enjoy what the hoodoos have to offer. There is always something magical with the hoodoos, it was only this year's spring when the hoodoos haunted us back to Bryce Canyon National Park to enjoy the hoodoos wonderland. Never would have I thought that in the same year I would have fun with the hoodoos again, but in another nature wonderland.

What to See and Do in Cleveland, Ohio.

Today Cleveland is no longer known as ‘The mistake on the lake’. This great industrial port has long been the butt of jokes but the downtown area is now a hub of energy after a sensitive restoration of the waterfront.

Lake Eric and the Cuyahoga waterfront now glisten with museums, city center malls and new downtown super stadiums making Cleveland a great place to live and visit. Add to this a range of classy hotels, some major corporate headquarters and the excellent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and you have to admit this place is starting to look pretty special.  Here are some of the best things to see and do in Cleveland.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The biggest names in rock and the greatest stories come head to head at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. This amazing experience includes 4 theaters, 7 floors of exhibits and multiple interactive stations to provide a fantastic day out. Discover all about the world’s most powerful art form as it takes you on a journey to explore the impact that rock has had on our world. Here you will find rock and roll news, performance notes, galleries, films, artist interviews and a huge range of events and exhibits. The museum is open every day and costs $22 adults.

University Circle

Take a cultural tour to discover the institutions that make up the University Circle. You’ll need to plan your day as there is so much to see and do including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History and the Shafran Planetarium, the Western Reserve Historical Society, the Botanical Gardens and Severance Hall home to the Cleveland Orchestra. The University Circle of attractions are all within a quarter mile radius and so are easily walkable once you get there.

West Side Market

The West Side Market is a real hub of activity and you’ll find yourself immersed in dozens of fruit and vegetable stalls, local butchers, bakers, cheese, fresh flowers and other amazing treats. Arrive early on a Saturday morning for the best selection of produce. The market dates back to 1840 and is Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market. Today it is home to over 100 vendors of great ethnic diversity and last year attracted over a million visitors.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hiking Rainbow Falls at Mammoth Lakes, California

Rainbow Falls from the top view point

Location: Devil's Postpile National Monument, Mammoth Lakes, CA
Hiking Distance: 2.5 miles hike from Rangers Station to the top viewpoint, with additional 0.3 miles to the base of the waterfall. There are two choices on the way out, hiking back to Rangers Station for 2.5 miles, or hiking to Rainbow Falls trailhead at the Red Meadows Resort, for about 1.3 miles. 
Best Time: When Devil's Postpile National Monument Road is open ( which is summer). Usually, the road is closed after a major snowfall in November, and then, clearing of road from snow accumulation is done late spring or early summer, depending on snow accumulation. At other times of the year, the area can still be accessed for snowshoeing or skiing. 

Our hike:

We started our hike from Rangers Station, which is 2.5 miles away from Rainbow Falls. However, in 0.4 miles, we reached the base of Devil's Postpile.
Devil's Postpile

Fire and Ice created the unique basalt columns which is called Devil's Postpile. About 100,000 years ago, a lava flowed from an unknown location upstream. As the lava flowed down the valley, it ran into an obstruction which served as a dam to the lava's path. Pooling up to 400 feet behind the natural dam, the lava cooled. Conditions were such that the lava--that was incredibly uniform in its mineral composition--cooled at a very slow rate. As it cooled, it contracted and cracked, forming hexagonal columns. 80,000 years later, a glacier flowed through the same valley, revealing the sides and tops of the columns. Glacial polish can still be seen today at the top of the formation.- source:
Glacially Polished Hexagons which could be seen at the top of the Postpile formation
Devil's Postpile Columns Up Close

Looking at the columns, it is so amazing how nature works, where the columns lack horizontal jointing, and very symmetrical. Rock formations like these are rare, but can be seen also in a few other places in the world.

From the base of Devil's Postpile, instead of taking the trail straight to Rainbow Falls, we hiked up first to the top of the formation to see the works of ice. After taking in the scenery, we went back down to the main trail towards Rainbow Falls. From the base of Devil's Postpile to the top viewpoint of the waterfall did not have a lot of elevation change, thus the hike felt easy, despite this is a high elevation hike ( some may be affected by thinner air at high elevation). 
Rainbow Falls from the Top Viewpoint

For a lot of people, the top viewpoint is the end of the hike. However, Rainbow Falls could also be enjoyed from the base. We hiked down extra 0.3 mile to the base via steep stairs. The steps of the stairs were uneven, so one should really be watching for their steps. 

When we reached the river at the bottom of the stairs, we could not help it but unzipped the lower portion of our hiking pants so that it become shorts. We wanted to test the water. We actually had swim suits in our backpacks. However, when we felt the water was cold, we decided it was not so worth it to swim since we still had to hike back. So, we just spent some fun time enjoying the waterfall from the base. What is fun for us? Photoshoot of course. :)

Here are some pictures from our photoshoot, with hubby as our official group photographer. :)
Us, Marching Toward the Waterfall ( this was the toughest part of the hike, we did not anticipate the current was strong, and the rocks were so slippery! )
We Made it to the Log :) yey yey for us!!
And Of Course, we Have our Individual Posing Contest :) Who Do you think won? Haha! 
Of Course, our photographer had to have his photo taken too :)

After we had enough fun, we hiked to Red Meadows bus stop, which is only 1.3 miles from the top viewpoint of the waterfall. The total hike is only about 4.1 miles. After hiking, we had lunch at The Yodler in Mammoth Mountain, which serves Bavarian Cuisine. 

Lodging: Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain is a skiing (winter) and mountain biking (summer) resort. Thus, there are many hotels, lodges, and vacation rentals in the area. 

Nearby Nature Parks:

Actually, there are so many beautiful sights in the Eastern Sierra of California, I only mentioned Mono Lake and Yosemite because that is what often others asked about.

** pictures above were from our hike last summer 2013.**

Vietnam - Nature Delight

Perched on the east of the Indochinese Peninsula, fascinating, congested and vivacious Vietnam sweeps over more than 1600 km of magnificent countryside. It is a land of so many stark contrasts - urban city jungles sprawl between ancient sites, temples, ruins and palaces, little crooked pathways lead to far into the countryside, and royal tombs are scattered between lush mountain ranges and ancient villages.

And, then there is the glory that is Ha Long Bay, one of Vietnam’s most mysterious, magical and romantic regions and the most majestic area of natural outstanding beauty. No matter how many photographs you may have seen of Ha Long Bay, nothing can ever prepare you for the incredible experience of this magical slice of Mother Nature.

Misty shrouds give way to truly massive limestone outcrops that almost appear to rise mysteriously out of the deeply rich, silky emerald waters of the bay. Ancient Chinese junks glide past, their concertina sails barely ruffling in the wind in the Gulf of Tolkin.

Ha Long Bay is home to not one but two magnificent eco systems – a stunning coastal eco system and a lush tropical rain forest. Both thriving eco systems are part of the contribution to this stunning, almost surreal region becoming a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. Ha Long Bay should not be confused with Ha Long City – the real natural beauty of Vietnam will not be found in the city, but in the Bay.

The Con Dao National Park and Con Dao Islands – of which there are 16 stunners – is a lesser known region associated with the congestion and steamy wall to wall chaos of Vietnam itself. This incredible paradise makes places like the Bahamas and the Seychelles look like they are beginners.

Heaving with an abundance of marine and wild life, the protected area of the Con Dao National Park is also home to some of the rarest marine life in the world like the elusive dugong, and the green turtle, among others. When you stand with your feet sinking into the soft cashmere sands on the beach, with the almost luminous turquoise waters lapping on to your toes, while the breeze ruffles your hair and the palm trees sway seductively, it is hard to believe that this place hasn’t always been complete and utter paradise.

With a tumultuous past, this little handful of islands wasn’t always the ultimate tourist destination for diving and exploring the beautiful countryside. In fact, Con Dao was an island that was actually a prison island – a home for a number of many political prisoners, way back in the French colonial times. The times when the regime of Saigon used to put their prisoner in those infamous Tiger Cages, happened right here on Con Dao. And the old prison and a little museum are there as reminders of it’s somewhat hectic past.

These days the islands enjoy a somewhat different notoriety that of one of the premier diving destinations in the world, with is beautiful coral reefs and lush under water forests and practically deserted and breathtaking beaches. Diving and snorkelling in Con Dao are the best places in Vietnam to do so, even if you haven’t actually been snorkelling or diving before, this is the place to start.

The region is literally untouched by modern infrastructure, the rainforests in more cases than one entirely undisturbed. The natural sites in Vietnam, all through the city, rural areas and regions like Ha Long Bay are simply unparalleled in unique beauty anywhere else in the world.

Phu Quoc is a magnificent region in south eastern Vietnam, dense mountain ranges and even denser forested regions surround some of what is considered to be the most beautiful beaches in all of Vietnam. In fact it is considered to be what Phuket might have been like, if the taste of money and development had not over run the wildly popular tourist area. Breathtaking and beautiful, for moment it appears to be staying that way.  Home to the best fish sauce on the planet – nuoc mam it is also one of the best places in the world to visit if you plan of feasting on the best seafood, and one of the best places if you want to buy pearls.

It is a magnificent region of natural paradise, plenty of scuba diving opportunities, temples, markets and plenty of places to eat, shop and just lie in the sun and let the soapy surf lap at your feet. The dive sites are great for snorkelers or first time divers; there are at least 20 spectacular dive spots, each with its own complicated underwater network of delicate coral and home to an impressive amount of colourful marine life.

The marine reserve is protected in many areas, and conservation plan are in place to make sure that all of this area falls under the marine reserve, ensuring that the marine life and delicate ecosystems will be protected for many more years to come.

Visiting Vietnam may initially feel like an assault for the senses but it won’t take long until you find your groove and get into the rhythm of this amazing country.

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Desert Road Trip Thanksgiving Week 2009

The desert has its many interesting features, showing a deep beauty that has survived the harshest tests of time. However, aside from the inspiring beauty of the desert, it is the extreme peacefulness and serenity that invites us to explore it whenever we get the chance. Though we had thousands of pictures, but I decided to post 2 pictures a day from our trip.

Day 1 @ Death Valley National Park, CA
Badlands Creatively Carved by Nature, Zabriskie Point
Little Boy Enjoying His ATV, Dumont Dunes
( this is not part of Death Valley National Park, we just saw this recreational park on our way to Death Valley )

Day 2 @ Death Valley National Park, CA
Mesquite Sand Dunes, Early Morning
Dante's View
Day 3 @ Zion National Park and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah
Hiking @ Hidden Canyon, Zion National Park
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah
(the desert is more than just sands and cactus, this picture shows the immense pine forest next to the sand dunes)
Day 4 @ North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and Page, Arizona
Tourists Sitting on the Cliff Enjoying the View of Grand Canyon 
Glen Canyon Dam, Page, Arizona