Hello 2016. I can’t wait to see what you bring in my adventures. 2015 was a great year for exploring the world. I visited 3 continents and 7 countries. I had some great adventures and some amazing experiences. I even had time to visit a few US states and cross 5 National Parks off my list.
Wrecking my rental car in Iceland
I was a couple of days from finishing up my Iceland winter road trip. I had made it all the way around the island and was on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula a couple of hours north of Reykjavik. I was on my way to my hostel when I hit a patch of black ice and slid my car into a guard railing. I was unhurt but the car was not. I knocked the front bumper off the car and scraped up the side a little. It was a horrific end to a disappointed day since the cloud cover ruined any chance of seeing the lights.
Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland
After my car wreck, I found my hostel and called in the accident. I checked the Northern Lights predictor and the results were abysmal. For the entire week, it was going to be clear over this part of Iceland and yet now that I am here it’s clouded over. My mood was low since the car wreck. I made dinner and check my emails. I decided to check the predictor one last time before heading to bed. The weather had changed and there was a break in the cloud cover over Snæfellsnes. I headed outside to get in my car and head away from the town lights. I walk outside and I knew. Even with the light pollution I could see the lights. Once out of town, I spent an hour freezing my but off and watching the lights. This website provided me with legal advice and support at that time.
Pink Tower Bridge in London, England, United Kingdom
My friend told me to buy cheap flights to london so I did. I was on a bus on my way back from Dover to London when Princess Charlotte of Cambridge was born. I wasn’t in England that reason but I was excited since last time they had put colored lights on the bridges to celebrate the birth. I didn’t find out about the birth until I was reading the news on one of the trains to London. After dinner, I wandered around the Thames and took in the pink lights of Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, and the London Eye.
Exploring the magical world of Harry Potter
Hiking to Hanging Lake in Colorado, USA
On one of my last hiking trips in Colorado, I drove out to Glenn Canyon and had fun trying to located the small parking lot that lead to the Hanging Lake Trailhead. The hike to Hanging Lake is just under 2 miles and is mostly a uphill. The first 3/4 is a steady uphill until the last steep climb before arriving at the lake. The small alpine lake has crystal clear water and is feed by the snow melts. The lake is protected from pollution and it is possible to see the various logs and rocks hidden below the surface.
Seeing the Northern Lights in South Dakota, USA
Seeing the Northern Lights is on this list since I saw them twice this year. The second sighting was during my July road trip to South Dakota. I was doing some night photography when I started to see some green tinges in the air. My star photography showed them much better. I spent three weeks freezing my but off in Iceland and yet here I am watching the light in South Dakota during the summer.
Watching the set over Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Half Dome is the iconic dome in Yosemite National Park. It is probably the most famous view in all of the US National Park System. As a park junkie, it was surprising that I hadn’t been to Yosemite before this year. I just hadn’t made it there yet. I wanted to hike Half Dome but it was too late in the season for that hike. I had to settle for enjoying the sunset from one of the overlooks.
For my birthday, I made the boat trip out to Alcatraz Island and spent the day exploring the island and learning about the history. The island was on my must do list while in San Francisco. I really enjoyed wandering around the jail house and learning about the prisoners, their lives, and escape attempts. Although my favorite fact of the day was that the mice on Alcatraz are starting to evolve and having coloring similar to concreate.
Visiting the Shadrick Elephant Orphanage Nairobiibi, Kenya
I spent part of my first day in Kenya meeting some amazing orphaned elephants at the Dan Shadrick Elephant Orphanage. This amazing place is devoted to rescuing and raising and eventually reintroducing these elephants to the wilds. They rescue every orphan they can. They also play a critical role in educating Kenyans about elephants and hoping to prevent more human-wildlife conflicts.
Feeding a Rothschild Giraffe in Nairobi, Kenya
After the Elephant Orphanage, I went to the Giraffe Center. The Giraffe Center is more than just a chance to meeting, feed, and pet a giraffe. It is a educational / breeding center for the endagered Rothschild Giraffe. The success of the breeding program has helped to increase the population of the Rothschild in the wild. The center has a raised platform that allows one to look the Giraffe in the eye and a chance to feed them. Several of the giraffes love sticking their head up and getting special giraffe pellets. Their tongues are really long and very flexible. It was fun to feel the tongue as it took pellets from my hand.
Having lunch stolen by a baboon in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
The first day of my safari, we were having lunch by the Lake Nakuru. We had the table set and were sitting in a circle and eating lunch. A male baboon charges into our group. He ignores our guide and his sling shot. The baboon knocks over the table and makes off with a loaf of bread. This was my first human-wildlife conflict.
Getting charged by a Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda
After bushwhacking, our way through the Kibale Forest for about an hour. We were trying to catch up with the troop of chimpanzees. The troop was on the move and we had to move fast if we wanted to catch up. Finally, they settled down to eat and we were able to catch up. The first chimp we encounter let us take a few photos. Suddenly, his mood shifted and he charged us. I could feel his fist pound into the ground from about 12 feet. He snapped small trees like they were toothpicks.
Trekking in Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
The highlight of my safari was trekking to visit with a gorilla family in Volcanos National Park in Rwanda. It was a 2.5-hour trek up a mountain to the family. Most of the trek was through thick underbrush and a lot of mud. We went slow but it was still rather tiring. We reached the gorilla trackers and set our packs down and headed in to meet our gorilla group. The group is 14 individuals. The groups founding sliverback died in Septemeber and his eldest son took over as leader. Watching the gorillas in the wild was an amazing experience. I would truly like to see them through my infrared binoculars at night, I want to see what they are up to at night! Their interactions are very human like and one can see the intelligence in their eyes.
Flipping in class 5 whitewater on the White Nile in Jinja, Uganda
I love whitewater rafting. I have rafted many rivers in the United States. I was looking forward to rafting some really big water on the White Nile. The White Nile full-day rafting trip has 8 rapids ranging from a large class 3 to large class 5. Our raft made it through the first class 5 without an issue but come the second class 5 we hit it wrong and flipped in the rapid. I knew we were flipping before it happened so I didn’t get separated from the raft. I can be seen holding on to the raft in the second from the front on the right side.
Sneezing and getting stitches in Cape Canaveral, Florida
My last big travel adventure in the year was a visit to Cape Canaveral National Seashore. I was getting out of my car and sneezed and hit my head. I ended up needing 5 stitches. After all my adventures this year, a sneeze is what sent me to a hospital and my first travel injury that need medical attention.