How to prepare for the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim trek

LOCATED IN THE STATE OF ARIZONA in the southwest corner of the United States, the Grand Canyon is a geological wonder that has developed over the past 17 million years.

Being 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and a mile deep, there are many wonderful areas to explore. One of the best ways is to hike from the southern rim to the northern rim and back to experience the vast solitude and see the canyon from many different perspectives.

Distance: 46 miles
Duration: 6 days (recommended)
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Grand Canyon

Continue reading

Samoa: Leaves of the Banyan Tree by Albert Wendt

This post is a book review as part of the Traveling Between The Lines series.

samoaAs a foreigner, Samoa has always conjured up romanticized images of a tropical island paradise. A place where everyone is happy, and where you can have a pig roast, trip out on kava and leave with a traditional tribal tattoo and say you’ve experienced ‘the culture’. This narrow view is hardly reality since Samoa reportedly has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.  Unemployment and strict religious and societal expectations are cited as influencing factors, but are these really remnants of a colonial history in conflict with a noble past? Continue reading

6 Things To Do In 6 Hours: Vaduz

WHERE IS VADUZ?  you are probably wondering and you wouldn’t be the only one since I had never heard of it either before going there. I stumbled upon Vaduz when planning a ski trip to Austria. The plan was to fly into Zurich then drive to Austria and there in between was the tiny hamlet of Liechtenstein and its capital city Vaduz. Despite local friends telling me there was nothing special to see or do and that I would be wasting my time, I couldn’t resist a little stopover and check another country off the list.

Although Liechtenstein is the 6th smallest country in the world, with a total population of ~37,000 and only 5,270 living in Vaduz, it should not be underestimated. Granted it is small enough that you could see the entire country in one weekend, but if you like quiet, quaint, classy, historical charm and the chance to browse swanky shops, linger in museums, sip local wine in an outdoor cafe, or take in the fresh mountain air, you should definitely consider a visit to Vaduz. Continue reading

Tragedy on Everest

The recent news of the 16 Nepali sherpa guides who died in an avalanche on Everest has left me with a mix of emotions. I grieve for the men and their families and the Nepalese community as a whole, and I am incensed at the callous reactions of some climbers and some expedition leaders, as well as some western media outlets reporting of the incident. I am outraged by the blatant exploitation, and I also wonder what effect this will have on the future economy of the region. Continue reading

6 Things To Do in 6 Hours: San Francisco

After a couple of days touring the wine country, I headed back down to spend the day touring San Francisco. With only 6 hours available before heading to the airport to catch a red-eye flight home, I had to be very selective about what I wanted in a city with so much to see and do. The itinerary was a bit ambitious and at times felt like a treasure hunt, but it was definitely a lot of fun and gave me a distinct and varied set of experiences.

Although these attractions may not be on everybody’s list, here are my top 6 things to do in San Francisco (in chronological order): Continue reading

Ballooning over Napa Valley

Riding in a hot air balloon must be on every bucket list ever written. It certainly has been on mine and I could think of nowhere better for my experience than over the world famous vineyards of Napa Valley.

Rising early in the morning, we ventured over to meet our group for coffee and pastries. After the dutiful signing of the liability waivers, we received a brief introduction from the tour company, were assigned a respective pilot, and headed out to the site.

Fortunately, the conditions were perfect – around 53 degrees, light wind, clear skies. The sun was just beginning to rise and the pilots were beginning to fill the balloons. Continue reading

Boston Wine Expo 2014

I will soon be visiting the Napa Valley region of California for the very first time. So when I saw an advertisement for the annual wine expo in Boston, I felt it was my duty to prepare – both in the practice of tasting, as well as scouting for some decent wineries to tour.

The Boston Wine Expo is the largest wine event in the country, featuring over 1800 wines from more than 400 wineries from 13 different countries. There are also over 40 restaurants showcasing their delectables, and other vendors, such as the occasional cuban cigar retailer and travel outfitter.

With so much on offer, the event is split into several exhibition rooms. I opted for a ticket in the Vintner’s Reserve Lounge to “sample rare and expensive vintages… [that] retail for $75 and up” and that also hosted a live jazz band while we all quaffed and nibbled our way through the various tables. Continue reading

Ice climbing in a blizzard

A few years ago I made the decision to stop buying “stuff” for my children for Christmas. Most of the time it’s just a waste of money. Whatever I buy usually gets forgotten or lost into some mysterious abyss or “not what they really wanted” (like a $500 new Xbox One even though the 360 is perfectly fine).

Instead, I try to find something that will create lasting memories.

I knew my children enjoyed indoor rock climbing, but had not tried any climbing outdoors. So for Christmas 2012 I surprised them with an ice climbing lesson.

Little did I know that I had scheduled it during one of the 5 worst winter storm’s in New England’s history. Continue reading

Winter in the Grand Canyon (trekking rim to rim… to rim)

A few years ago I came to the realization that I love multi-day trekking and with no plans for my winter holiday, I began searching for something to quench the need for a good long walk. What I found was a 46 mile rim-to-rim-to-rim trek of the Grand Canyon. This seemed perfect. I had never actually visited the canyon before and I could never endure the usual 100oF + temperatures in the summer. So I was delighted to discover that you can trek across the canyon during the winter season with far fewer people and far more moderate temperatures.

Continue reading