Marc's Public Blog - Trips to other locations


All | Aquariums | Arduino | Btrfs | Cars | Cats | Clubbing | Dining | Diving | Electronics | Exercising | Flying | Hiking | Linux | Linuxha | Museums | Public | Rc | Sciencemuseums | Snow | Solar | Trips

This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 | Japan in winter 2017 | Great Britain in 2017 |

Table of Content for trips:

More pages: October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997



2012/06/27 Flyout Group Mountain Flying trip to Colorado
π 2012-06-27 00:00 in Flying, Trips
Kieran and I rented a C182 G1000 at Palo Alto and flew with Scott Stauter who was there to keep us safe :) Just as luck would have it, most of the autopilot was dead on departure though. That kind of sucks for a TAA, but oh well...

FOG/Flyoutgroup trips are typically organized by Dan Dyer from San Carlos Flight Center, and trips can also be found on the yahoo page: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FlyOutGroup/ or http://sancarlosflightcenter.com/fog/ .



>

Day1: Palo Alto to Sedona and Durango

Our first day, Kieran did the first leg to Sedona. We flew direct doing over high Sierras peaks, at peak level. This was the closest to peak level I've ever crossed, but since the weather was nice, it was not an issue.





Our route went close enough to Vegas that we overflew it, and then lake Mead and the Hoover Dam:


Old Town Las Vegas
Old Town Las Vegas








Sedona Airport
Sedona Airport



From Sedona, after lunch, I took over for the leg to Durango:





Nice little runway at Durango
Nice little runway at Durango


Landing in Durango had a special meaning to me since I had been there a few years earlier commercially when I went to Silverton during snow season. With the distance, in good weather, I could have actually made it there in one leg probably as fast as it took me to fly there commercially considering that it requires going to SFO and then changing planes in denver, but it's unlikely that I'll ever be able to fly there in the winter, especially around a storm like I did back then, but eh, it's still nice to be able to pretend :)
We checked in Durango, and I walked around a little bit before joining the rest of the FOG team for dinner:



It's a long train ride to silverton: 7H return (or more than twice as slow as driving)
It's a long train ride to silverton: 7H return (or more than twice as slow as driving)




Day2: Durango to Eagle Country/Vail via Telluride, Gunnison, Alexander Field, and Leadville

Our second day was the day for highest altitude airports in the continental US. We had to get around TFRs due to the multiple fires that were in Colorado.


we saw a lot of fire fighting crafts
we saw a lot of fire fighting crafts



We first landed at Telluride, the highest commercial airport ($6.20 a landing, but you can also buy a shirt to take home :). It's a nice airport that almost looks like an aircraft carrier, then we eventually headed for Leadville, the highest airport in the US.

Telluride
Telluride



Gunnison
Gunnison


Got a bit of rain on the way and flew around mild weather
Got a bit of rain on the way and flew around mild weather

Leadville, the highest airport in the US
Leadville, the highest airport in the US


Yes, I also got the T-Shirt :)
Yes, I also got the T-Shirt :)

The previous year, some planes were barely able to take off Telluride. Despite our plane being close to gross and very high density altitude (about 12,000ft, off the takeoff performance charts in the POH), we actually took off without problems, even if our climb was obviously not stellar. In my limited experience, the much newer C182T we were flying just had more oomph than some older C182s, including the carburated one I flew to Mammoth a few years back.

A bit more weather started in the early afternoon.
A bit more weather started in the early afternoon.



Hi TSA, how I so didn't miss you during this trip.
Hi TSA, how I so didn't miss you during this trip.

After landing in Eagle County, close to Vail, we drove to Glenwood Springs, where we had our hotel for 2 nights.


They had a huge naturally heated pool right next to the hotel
They had a huge naturally heated pool right next to the hotel


I used the rest of the day to hike hanging lake trail along beautiful I70 (thanks to Scott for driving me there and back).









Day3: Local Flying from Eagle County: Aspen, Granby County, Walden-Jackson County, Steamboat Springs

On the 3rd day, we went local mountain flying off Eagle County. Like Durango, I had recently flown to Aspen earlier this year commercially, and it was nice to land there myself (putting aside the hefty $31 landing fee).



More local exercises and fire fighting from Eagle County
More local exercises and fire fighting from Eagle County

Aspen Airport
Aspen Airport

Local Aspen Race Track
Local Aspen Race Track





Snow was very scarce for such altitudes in June
Snow was very scarce for such altitudes in June


We did a pass by leadville
We did a pass by leadville

Back to Eagle County
Back to Eagle County


Back in Steamboat Springs for the afternoon, I went to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park up the cable car and took advantage of the view up there, the few rides they had (including the highest roller coaster in the world, altitude-wise), and a visit of the nice caverns they have up there.






Hotel Colorado, where we stayed
Hotel Colorado, where we stayed

The caverns were a nice 70mn tour (they were a great place to use my firesword flashlight):




this is unofficially called bacon :)
this is unofficially called bacon :)



Day4: Eagle County, overfly of Aspen Mountains, and Grand Canyon towards McCarran Las Vegas

On the 4th day, we departed the area and Kieran flew over Aspen so that I could take pictures of the ski slopes while I wasn't flying:

Snowmass Mountain
Snowmass Mountain


that's a pretty sad looking half pipe without the snow
that's a pretty sad looking half pipe without the snow

Highlands Mountain
Highlands Mountain

Aspen/Ajax Mountain and the town of Aspen
Aspen/Ajax Mountain and the town of Aspen




After leaving Aspen, we went on course for the Grand Canyon Airport
















Grand Canyon Airport
Grand Canyon Airport


Chilling at Grand Canyon Airport before our next leg
Chilling at Grand Canyon Airport before our next leg

I flew the next leg through the Grand Canyon and to Vegas:




West Grand Canyon Skywalk
West Grand Canyon Skywalk







Rich gamblers bring their own private 747 to vegas
Rich gamblers bring their own private 747 to vegas

We parked walking distance from our hotel, the MGM
We parked walking distance from our hotel, the MGM

While I was pretty exhausted due to multiple too short nights in a row, I only had enough stamina to see 2 shows, Copperfield and Terry Fator (there are many other shows in Vegas, but I've already seen them), and I went to the Wynns for a good buffet between the 2:




desserts are the best part :)
desserts are the best part :)




David Copperfield is obviously getting older, but his show was still good. Terry Fator's ventriloquist show was good.


Day5: Sky Combat Ace Flying off Henderson, and flight back home via Death Valley Furnace Creek Airport

That morning, I got up early and went to Henderson for dogfighting and acro with Sky Combat Ace.

After the fun, Kieran and Scott came to pick me up by flying from McCarran to Henderson, where the flight was shorter than their time on the ground :) and after that Kieran flew us to Furnace Creek (Death Valley) airport where I also did a landing in order to have landed at both the highest and lowest (-200ft) airports in the US.

Departing Henderson
Departing Henderson


Furnace Creek
Furnace Creek



It was a slow climb from -220ft to 14,000ft to cross the high sierras, but we made it and we had limited headwind.





And that was it, after 5 days of great flying and lucky good weather, we got home.

A big thanks to Dan and the organizers, as well as our CFI, Scott Stauter.

2012/06/05 Galapagos Land Excursions and Snorkeling with Galaven
π 2012-06-05 00:00 in Diving, Trips
This post is part of our Trip to Galapagos, with land visits and diving.

We spent our first 8 days in Galapagos on the Galaven which we boarded as soon as we landed in Baltra Island, north of Santa Cruz. Almost every day we had 2 land hikes and two snorkels, some of which were actually almost as good as dives when sea lions come to play with you, or seeing iguanas swim, boobies dive for fish, and more.





As soon as we arrived, we went for our first snorkel and land excursion: the first land excursion on the small island of North Seymour north of Baltra was arguably one of the best ones.


Day 1: Seymour Island

Their Seaguls look pretty
Their Seaguls look pretty

Seymour was a great island for blue footed boobies, and they even did their love dance for us, which apparently not everyone gets to see. We got lucky:







The blue footed boobies were awesome :)

A few cute sea lions


Frigate birds are nasty, but they look funny when the males




babies are fuzzy though :)
babies are fuzzy though :)

Even the doves look cool :)


Many marine iguanas too:




But the more impressives ones were the big fat land iguanasrescued from Baltra Island:



beautiful animals
beautiful animals



Day 2: Genovesa Island

On the second day, we went to Genovesa for 2 land hikes. It was also a very good island too:



more blue eyed doves
more blue eyed doves

masked boobies
masked boobies








this juvenile was happy playing with its stick
this juvenile was happy playing with its stick


Two more cool videos from there, boobies preening and a juvenile playing with a stick:

On the rocks, many birds, and owls that were hunting for food:




Found by the water:


For our snorkel, water was crappy, but we saw a few things and a sea lion came to play with us at the end:


bad picture of a hammerhead
bad picture of a hammerhead




During the afternoon, we hiked another portion of Genovesa:










Day 3: San Salvador Lava and Rabida Island

The 3rd morning, we started for a lava hike on San Salvador just across from Bartolome:









The snorkeling there was good:






Here's a video of a marine iguana swimming:

The afternoon, we went to Isla Rabida, nice red sand and beach. It looked a bit like Kawaii in the Hawaii Islands:








After that, we went for a quick Snorkel:








Day 4: Port Ayora/Santa Cruz/Charles Darwin Research Station

On the 4th day, we went to Puerto Ayora to pick up new passengers and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station.










They have the famous Lonesome George, the last of its kind:




Unfortuntely, the poor thing died 2 days after we got home, so its race is now gone from the planet.

As well as other tortoises:



The afternoon, we went to El Garrapatero Beach:
The cacti grow really high up there because of drought, all animals try to eat them to get the water out of them, so as a defence, the cacacti grow even higher






baby marine iguanas
baby marine iguanas



Puerto Ayora is a nice little town:








Day 5: North Santa Cruz: Dragon Hill and Bachas

The next day, we cruised around Santa Cruz to the north side to see Dragon Hill and Bachas. I spotted some dolphins from the dingy:



Dragon Hill was a nice little hike:



the cacti have hairy thorns to protect themselves from climbing tortoises trying to suck up the juice from them.
the cacti have hairy thorns to protect themselves from climbing tortoises trying to suck up the juice from them.



many crabs on each rock
many crabs on each rock









The next land hike was on Bachas, also in North Santa Cruz:

ghost crabs clean the beach sand
ghost crabs clean the beach sand






We also finally got lucky and saw some flamingos:




The snorkels were also decent:






Day 6: Floreana

The 6th day, we went to the old island of Floreana. It has one of the oldest mailboxes in the area. People on passing ships would put mail and would look for other envelopes that were already there, and see if they could help deliver some of them. In that tradition, this is what we did too :)
On the way there, we got a dingy ride to see sea lions and birds. Some were quite happy to see us and would come to our dingy.









playful biting even
playful biting even

We then went to the historical mailbox and lava tube. The mailbox is cool: you put your mail and look at other people's mail and take some of it home and try to get it delivered for them:




There was also a nearby lava tube:





The snorkel from there was great. Sea Lions came to play with us, and we saw several turtles too:












During snorkeling, sea lions came to play with us, and we saw some turtles feeding:

In the afternoon, we went hiking and snorkeling by Sting Ray City:






During snorkeling, we saw scorpionfish:






Day 7: Espanola

On the 7th day, last but not least, we got to see Espanola, the most popular island in Galapagos:


they had piles of iguanas
they had piles of iguanas

did I mention piles of iguanas?
did I mention piles of iguanas?

you're so cute :)
you're so cute :)


Espanola won on the amount of birds, especially Albatros that can't be found anywhere else:




Those lovely masked boobies kill their brothers to get all the food
Those lovely masked boobies kill their brothers to get all the food







friends :)
friends :)


They also had a blow hole:




The afternoon we went to Gardener Bay:


puppy was happy to see me
puppy was happy to see me

The snorkel wasn't bad:








Day 8: San Cristobal

The last day, we arrived at San Cristobal, the end of our trip. In the morning, we went to see the interpretation center, which has nice trails we used the next day when we came back on our own time.



The afternoon, we went to a tortoise habitat:









And that was it for our Galaven trip. After that, we stayed in St Cristobal 2 more days, waiting for our next boat, the Aggressor, to go diving.

Galaven itself was a good enough boat to get around, we had a good itinerary with them (i.e. got to see the better Islands), and the guides were good, so good times were had. We definitely got to see (even under water) many things we wouldn't have seen on a diving boat. It was well worth the trip.




2012/06/03 Visit of Ecuador and Galapaos
π 2012-06-03 00:00 in Trips
After a failed attempt last year due to a knee injury Jennifer had, we were able to schedule our visit of Galapagos this year. I want to thank Arturo for convincing me that we really wanted to go on a one week boat tour of local islands to visit the pretty incredible animals that live there and are totally unfraid of you (you can be 1 meter away, or some will even come up to you because they do not see you as a threat).

So the way we did the trip was one week on a boat that is only allowed to do land tours (no diving allowed, but snorkeling ok), and one boat that was only allowed to do diving. I've already written bigger rants in the page on diving, so I won't repeat them here, but I'm generally unhappy how Ecuador has been making seeing sights and diving more and more of a pain in Ecuador almost every year: we went next to Islands that it would have been great to see for an hour, but we were not allowed to set foot on because it was the wrong time, or we were not allowed to dive sites that were ok for diving, unused when we were there, but reserved for day boats to list just those. Worst, we even had a bus that was not allowed to stop at a sight on the sight of the road because they didn't have a park ranger license to let us off and have a 5mn peak at sink holes which others could see. WTF, seriously?
Getting the land boat with the better of the 2 8 day trips (forced by yet new regulations to make boats to go more places) and something that would match a diving boat in June was no small feat, and Ellen from boutiquetravel.net was great help getting everything lined up and organized for us (we waited until June because it increased our chances of seeing whale sharks although the tradeoff was colder waters).



Anyway, we had to fly to Miami, and from there flew to Quito, a nice ancient town high up (over 9000ft) which we visited before flying to Galapagos:



Quito

Nice colonial hotel we stayed at in old town Quito (Patio Andaluz)
Nice colonial hotel we stayed at in old town Quito (Patio Andaluz)

Breakfast had lots of local fruit to sample, made for a happy Jennifer :)
Breakfast had lots of local fruit to sample, made for a happy Jennifer :)

Paul from Andesconexion set us up with a very knowledgeable guide and a good tour of Quito:


Plenty of high peaks with Glaciers in the Andes
Plenty of high peaks with Glaciers in the Andes



Sampling more local fruit :)
Sampling more local fruit :)

We happened to be there for the weekly presidential speach to his people and ceremony:





Jesuit church filled with gold leaves
Jesuit church filled with gold leaves




We then went to the fake latitude 0 line and museum (it's actually off by 0.06 seconds a per my 3 GPSes). The setting was nice, but the bullshit and faked experiments they were showing on top of a claimed 0 latitude line that was clearly in the wrong place kind of insulted my intelligence more than I entertained me. I personally don't recommend this place, even if some of what they had was somewhat interesting, I don't condone lying and lying more when asked or confronted.






They had a faked experiment where they showed that being 5 meters N or S of their incorrect equator line somehow would change the rotation of draining water which of course a crock of shit. I was not amuzed by how they were just spreading disinformation to people with faked experiments:


Don't bullshit Mc Guyver. Latitude 0 Calculada con GPS my ass!
Don't bullshit Mc Guyver. Latitude 0 Calculada con GPS my ass!

The real equator line was outside their property in the street.
The real equator line was outside their property in the street.

After that we managed to get to the big cathedral in Quito (not part of the tour) and climb to the bell towers. It was a dicy (and tough climb with the altitude), but well worth the effort:








agrophobia and climbing the towers didn't mix :)
agrophobia and climbing the towers didn't mix :)





After that, it was time for a dinner at an elevated terrace just 5mn from our hotel at Vista Hemosa


what time is it anyway? :)
what time is it anyway? :)

And a set of sorbets from the catacombs (served with dry ice, no less)



We had a great day, except for Jennifer who wasn't able to digest food during the night due to the altitude :(


Galapagos

The next morning, we got up way too early to fly to Baltra in Galapagos






One Week of Land Excursions on Galaven

We got to see many non easily accessible Islands via our 8 day land tour on the Galaven. You'll find the details on that page.


2 days in St Cristobal

After getting off Galaven, we had 2 days to burn in St Cristobal. We used them to explore the Island. It's a nice little town, and we liked the Miconia hotel we stayed at, although it had the suckiest internet I ever had the chance to witness so far. I guess that gave me an excuse to go outside some more :)
St Cristobal is a nice little town where sea lions come and cross the street and sleep on bus benches :)






it was too high for the poor little guy to jump. I walked him back to a place where it was able to get back to sea.
it was too high for the poor little guy to jump. I walked him back to a place where it was able to get back to sea.

Finches came to share our breakfast :)



Oh, and they had slipper lobster for dinner, so that was good :)


The first day, we went on a tortoise tour (shown on Galaven page), and the second day, we hiked through the interpretation center to a far away beach after an uncertain 2km trail through rock hoping and somewhat heavy vegetation. The end result







rocky trail to say the least
rocky trail to say the least

ready to go snorkel
ready to go snorkel

we got a fast ghost crab to get out of breath so that we could catch it. Poor thing was missing a leg already
we got a fast ghost crab to get out of breath so that we could catch it. Poor thing was missing a leg already



Once we got to our private beach, we saw many turtles while snorkeling:





One Week on the Aggressor II

There again, I wrote a page on our diving with Galapagos Aggressor II


Day Trip to Bartolome

Due to the lovely regulations, we were within swimming distance from Bartolome just 10 days prior, but not allowed to go there that day, so we had to spend a lovely 6 hours boating there and back from Santa Cruz after our Aggressor tour. The climb and view were nice, even if too short compared to the trip.

The snorkeling was actually the same place we had been to just 10 days prior, which was a bit of a downer, but I was able to see a penguin swim and fish for a few minutes, which had I had failed to see last time, so it wasn't all for naught even if the backtracking felt wasteful, in both fuel/pollution and time.


sea lion bones
sea lion bones



good view :)
good view :)


The snorkeling gave a few other pictures:



It was a bad day for the little fish :)
It was a bad day for the little fish :)


On the way back to Santa Cruz we saw some giant sink holes left behind by giant lava tubes were the top collapsed. Impressive.




And that was it, after that it was time to go home through Guayaquil. We went for a quick walk by the waterfront (dirty water, not very safe city, but nice enough 2H walk anyway):




the ducks were very happy to be fed :)
the ducks were very happy to be fed :)


Oreo cookie festival and amusement park. We almost missed out :)
Oreo cookie festival and amusement park. We almost missed out :)



Long flight home after that. That's all folks :)

See more images for Visit of Ecuador and Galapaos

More pages: October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997