United States

My favourite beaches from around the world

Some of my happiest memories from early childhood is when my parents announced we’d be spending the day at the beach. Mom would prepare thickly buttered salami on rye sandwiches; dad would pack up the Oldsmobile. Off we’d drive to Long Sault, a park along the St. Lawrence River near Cornwall, Ontario. The beach was no great shakes, but at the time I thought it was the best place in the world. While my taste in beaches has changed (some might call me a beach snob), I’m still delighted by a great day at the beach. Here are some of my favourite beaches.

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Categories: France, Indonesia, Maldives, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, United States | Tags: , , | 53 Comments

A short trip to a different planet: Death Valley National Park

Death Valley Extraterrestrial

Giant craters. Windswept dunes. Warped mountains. Monochrome hills dappled with garish green rock. Death Valley National Park may provide the best otherworldly experience while being firmly planted on Earth—you might even meet an extraterrestrial. Located in Eastern California, near the Nevada border, the park is stark, harsh and magnificent. We left the Vancouver rain behind and spent three mid-January days hiking and camping in warm, dry Death Valley. This post features my favourite photos from an out-of this-world park.

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Categories: Hiking, United States | Tags: , , | 63 Comments

Cycling Weekend on San Juan Island, Washington: The Island that Could’ve Been Canadian!

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Wonderful cycling on San Juan Island, Washington

Back in June, I had one of my best weekends of the summer—a two day cycling trip on Washington’s San Juan Island. Just days before our departure I was perusing  John Crouch’s Cycling the Islands. I was looking for an island within reasonable distance of Vancouver, with great cycling and scenery that wasn’t too large, too small, too mountainous, too flat, too busy, too quiet, too beholden to too many ferries…Bingo! With its stunning coastal vistas, pleasantly rolling terrain, good roads and courteous easy-going drivers, San Juan is a total pleasure for cyclists. Damn! To think that this island could have been ours (Canada’s). Continue reading

Categories: Biking, United States | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico…it Rocks!

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Canyon Trail at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument—C.Helbig

If you find yourself between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, I highly recommend turning off I-25 for a little hike at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. With its brilliant white cliffs and unique cone-shaped tent formations we felt like we were walking into a fairytale. The name Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the traditional language of the Pueblo de Conchiti. We’ve been lucky to visit many of the geological wonders of the US Southwest, but this small, little-known place holds its own among the big names. Tent Rock’s two short hiking trails are loaded with amazing rock formations, mesa-top views, and a beautiful slot canyon. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, Hiking, Places, United States | Tags: , , , | 31 Comments

Ten Great Things to See and Do Around Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Adobe buildings and chile decor in Santa Fe—C.Helbig

Our plan had been to go to Glacier National Park, Montana, but that was kiboshed by the wildfires. A quickly hatched Plan B took us somewhere completely different—Santa Fe, New Mexico where hiking was replaced by burrito eating and gallery visiting. Santa Fe has long been on my list and it didn’t disappoint.  We were so impressed with its beautiful architecture, rich history, colourful local residents, and interesting places to visit around the area.We even managed to fit in a couple of hikes. Here’s some of the things we enjoyed most during our jam-packed week in Santa Fe. Continue reading

Categories: Places, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Yant Flat, Dixie National Forest, Utah: Sandstone Drama

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“Quilted” Navajo sandsone at Yant Flat—C.Helbig

It was a fitting end to our last day in southern Utah: a little adventure, some drama, and a whole lot of natural beauty at Yant Flat, in Dixie National Forest near the town of Leeds. During our trip, I had become obsessed with the Dr.Zeuss-like playgrounds of swirling, colourful Navajo sandstone found in these parts. Meghan from Another Walk in the Park recommended Yant Flat (she has three great posts about the place). Yant Flat may not have quite the grandeur of South Coyote Buttes or White Pocket, but it does not require a permit, it’s easier to access, and is totally awesome. Continue reading

Categories: Hiking, Places, United States | Tags: , , | 29 Comments

Kolob Terrace Road, Zion National Park: Guns, Scenic Drive, and Mini Hikes

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Scenic Kolob Terrace Road—C.Helbig

We’re just back from Cambodia and Laos but my photos (and I) are still an unorganized mess, so I’m going to do a couple of posts to finish off my southern Utah series. I’m usually not a fan of car sightseeing, preferring to walk/ride, but Kolob Terrace Road, in Zion National Park, is a real gem. It starts in the town of Virgin, not far from Zion’s main visitor center, and is only 21 miles to Lava Point, one of the highest spots in the park. Kolob Terrace Road makes a great half-day excursion with plenty of short scenic hikes and viewpoints to give your legs a stretch.The majority of Zion visitors overlook this section of the park, so it’s gloriously peaceful. Continue reading

Categories: Hiking, Places, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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