Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lava flows continue in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

After driving from the Big Island’s dry southeast shore through volcanic dunes, created when fine sand blown by trade winds piles up, we begin to appreciate the unique topography of this youngest and largest of the Hawaiian islands. Unlike Kauai, which has had millions of years to stabilize (no volcanic eruptions) and bloom into a tropical paradise, the Big Island of Hawaii continues to evolve.
Rising gases are a result of volcanic activity.
Five volcanoes make up the land mass of the Big Island. Kohala on the northern tip is the oldest; Mauna Kea at more than 13,000 feet is the tallest, and Mauna Loa is the largest by sheer volume. An active volcano, it erupts about every 25 to 50 years (last eruption was in 1984). Kilauea, home of legendary volcano goddess Pele, has been erupting continuously for more than 30 years with new lava flows that started in summer 2014 threatening to devour more roads and homes.

This landscape was recognized for its historic and geologic significance and became Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the United States’ 13th national park, in 1916, even before Hawaii was a state. 

Our tour arrives at Jaggar Museum, and we observe glowing displays of red-hot lava in the crater there.  We walk steamy Sulfur Banks Trails filled with craters bubbling up strong- smelling sulfur dioxide gas. Then we drive the winding Chain of Craters Road where magma swells and forms a rift along which eruptions occur.  A 36-mile round-trip drive, Chain of Craters Road descends 3,700 feet to the coast and ends at a 2003 lava flow.

The volcanic rift is easily seen in this photo.
The caldera is easily accessible by car, which provides an excellent opportunity to see flowing lava. Since the lava’s path changes constantly, check with the Kilauea Visitor Center to get the latest report on where to see this.
Nate, our guide leads us to a remote area where we walk carefully on what resembles a moon scape, dusty and drab and jagged, to see the aftermath of the eruption of Mauna Ulu. Hills and small craters cover the area, and it’s very windy and chilly in late afternoon. But it’s such an unusual scene that we are glad to experience it. Spotty patches of vegetation creep in ridges as plant life adapts to this most improbable place. Even where it’s dry, the so-called fog drift provides much needed moisture.

Walking on a lava field
At sunset, Nate drives to his secret place where we dine in semi-darkness. He has planned a treat and invites us to follow him down a path, clutching flashlights and jackets against the night chill. Many tourists go to Jaggar Museum to witness what we see close-up in the dark sky--a brilliant red plume rising from the ground. We’re standing beside an active lava display, all the more spectacular for the darkness that surrounds us--—the crowning glory of our tour .
Vegetation is just beginning to appear after this lava
flow. No reconstruction has taken place here.
The gate to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours every day. There is only one entrance to the park as the eruption from Kilauea from that began in 1983 blocked the other entrance. Since the eruption continues today, the road hasn’t been repaired leaving a 10-mile gap where vehicles cannot drive. 

Check on updates from the summer 2014 eruption. if you plan to visit

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Exploring volcanoes that shaped the geology of Hawaii's Big Island

Remnants of volcanic eruptions cover the landscape on the
Big Island's dry side.
We hear about volcanic eruptions in Hawaii and marvel at the fiery red molten lava that threatens to destroy homes and property. But the fact is that eruptions have been continuous for more than 35 years in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. The thought is hard to comprehend until we start a tour from the dry, rocky side of the island to the more tropical and humid coast.
We meet few cars on Saddle Road (Hwy 200), a deserted span that cuts across the middle of island instead of following the coastline. Brown tufts of fountain grass pop up along the road with a few mesquite trees scattered around. The ground is covered with remnants of past volcanic activity.This is mostly ranch land with tradewinds blowing across the island that shake our van.

Vegetation begins to dot the barren land as we move closer
to the wetter, tropical side of the island.
The entire Hawaiian Island chain was created by volcanoes, which still fill the ocean for 18,000 feet below the surface. When there’s a hole in the earth’s crust, heat comes up from the mantle causing lava to dribble out rather than blasting the top off. The entire Big Island is a hot spot with a constant flow of lava in what is now the protected park.
As the youngest island in the chain, Hawaii is made up of five volcanoes that are constantly changing. Mauna Loa, an active volcano that last erupted in 1984, is the largest mountain in the world by volume. Even though only the tip is visible above water, it makes up 60 percent of the island.

Leaving Thurston Lava Tube, a massive lava cave.
As we enter the national park our guide explains that we’re going back to the birthplace of the islands. Our first stop is a lava tube, a cave-like structure that we can walk inside. In its natural state with rocks, dripping water, and slippery algae, we’re give flashlights to maneuver  through the dark.
Hiking on sharp lava. Some vegetation is creeping through
the solid rock.
Our guide explains that there are two types of lava—a smoother, spongy variety and craggy volcanic rock that is as sharp as a Brillo pad. At Huaka Crater we hike a bit off the beaten path and experience this type of lava—it sounds like walking on glass and can cut if you happen to fall on it. This deep crater contains rocks as large as automobiles at the bottom that were offered as gifts to Pele, volcano goddess to whom Hawaiians believe they owe the very existence of their island. We see a curiosity, a lava tree: Lava from the 1979 flow surrounded the trunk causing the tree to die but leaving a perfect, empty mold.

Deep craters like Huaka can be seen at several places in
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
I’ll describe more scenes from the park in a future article.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We went to see bears--and got a bonus with the Northern Lights

Larry and I are sound asleep when he awakes to noises in the hallway of our hotel. Then there’s a brisk knock on our door. Sure, we had put out the “Do Disturb” sign before retiring, but we really didn’t expect that to happen.
It’s 12:45 a.m. and the Northern Lights are visible.  Aurora Borealis.  In October. We jump out of bed, throw on the clothes laid out for morning, and rush outside to the waiting van.

Larry's camera captures a portion of the Northern Lights.
It’s Halloween, but there are no goblins tricking us. Tonight it’s all treat.
We only have to go about four blocks to find a spot with open views of the sky. Stars twinkle in the clear night air—and it’s really cold, at least for us Texans. But cold, clear weather is the right condition for seeing the Northern Lights. Thing is, that usually doesn’t happen in until January or February.

We are in Churchill, Canada—almost 1,000 miles north of Winnipeg—to see polar bears. Our first full day on the tundra in a Polar Rover yielded about 20 bear sightings. We saw bears sparring (play-fighting) on their hind legs, mama bears with cubs, and a variety of sleeping and strolling bears that have migrated to Hudson Bay.
Watching the polar bears was an experience itself.

If we don't see another bear, I would consider the trip successful. But we see even more the following day. This is the middle of polar bear season, a six-week period when the bears congregate in a rather tight area while waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze over so they can hunt seals and fatten up before winter. We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to observe bear behavior and to photograph these magnificent creatures.

Cubs are born in the spring, so this one is about 6-8 months old.
But we hit the jackpot. A bright green curtain of light shines in the sky. I’m amazed by the spectacle. Then I turn around—and realize that the green streak reaches from one horizon to the other. I recognize the Big Dipper, which skirts a portion of the light illuminating the sky.
A natural phenomena, the Northern Lights are caused by large numbers of electrons that stream from the sun towards the Earth along a magnetic field and collide with air particles in our sky. The resulting light, most commonly green, is colored by gases in the atmosphere.

The display lasted about two hours in all--and then the
Northern Lights were no longer visible.
We stand in the dark for half an hour, watching the green glow as it changes subtly with the winds—fading slightly then reappearing in full force. I try to take photos, but I don’t have a tripod and my camera can’t capture the moving light against a dark background. So I just try to etch the scene on my memory and remember how lucky we are to see this remarkable sight.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Don't let mountain air spoil your vacation

If your vacation plans include hiking, biking, or fishing in mountains or a part of the world that is higher elevation than your normal home situation, be prepared for altitude sickness. With less oxygen in the air, symptoms of headache or dizziness may start to appear at about 8,000 feet elevation, although altitude or mountain sickness can occur even lower in susceptible people.
From Arequipa, Peru at 8,000 feet, we traveled into the Highlands.
Our guide kept telling us to move slowly and conserve energy.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is the most common type and causes symptoms similar to those caused by an alcohol hangover, usually within a day or so of arriving at a higher altitude. Symptoms may include headache, tiredness, lightheadedness, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and nausea.

For the 25 to 40 percent of people who get mild symptoms of acute mountain sickness, Dr. Eric Johnson, globally recognized expert on high-altitude medicine, says to rest and stay where you are until you feel better. “Do not  travel or climb to a higher altitude until all symptoms resolve.  Moving to a lower altitude can also help if symptoms do not go away in a day or two,” Johnson adds. 
Altitude sickness can occur in
summer or winter.
The good news, especially for people with limited vacation time, is that a common over-the-counter medication—ibuprofen—could help reduce the symptoms.  A recent study by the American College of Emergency Physicians reports that people who took ibuprofen before, during, and after an ascent were far less likely to develop symptoms of AMS.
“You don’t want to feel horrible for 15-20 percent of your vacation,” says Grant Lipman, MD, whose research at Stanford University corroborates the effect of ibuprofen.

More serious than acute mountain sickness are high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) and high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), both of which are less common but require descending to a lower altitude immediately. HACE involves swelling of the brain and results in trouble walking normally, extreme weakness, confusion, and/or irritability. HAPE involves fluid build-up in the lungs and may not show up for two to four days. Symptoms include coughing, feeling breathless, and trouble walking uphill. If symptoms are severe, get medical attention immediately.

Even at 18,000 feet elevation, vendors are selling their wares.
For any type of altitude sickness a health professional might offer you oxygen to breathe. We’ve found even hotel staff in high altitudes commonly supply oxygen in tanks for guests. Having experienced AMS myself, I know that this is often sufficient to relieve symptoms. Prescription medications used under a doctor’s supervision can help prevent and treat mountain sickness.
Signs identified volcanoes that could be
seen from this high point. The air is definitely
thinner at 18,000 feet. 
Prevention is best, of course, so give your body time to adjust. Avoid moving quickly to high altitudes; plan to stretch out ascending over several days.  If you are hiking, biking, or climbing, avoid difficult physical activities for the first few days. When hiking to a higher altitude during the day, go back to a slightly lower altitude for sleep each night.  Skip alcohol and sleeping pills.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Admiring Tom Mangelsen's Images of Nature

More than 15 years ago our family went skiing in Park City, Utah. As a neophyte on the slopes, I was happy to give my muscles a rest each evening while exploring the shops lining Main Street of this historic silver-mining town.
Main Street in Park City, Utah has many shopping and dining venues.
On one evening walk I discovered the incredible work of nature photographer Tom Mangelsen.

Mangelsen’s Images of Nature Gallery has been located on Park City's Historic Main Street for over 25 years, making it one of the oldest galleries there. Mangelsen’s work is also displayed in seven other galleries scattered across Midwest and Western states.
More than just a photographer, Mangelsen is a biologist by education and training with a commitment to conservation. He has traveled throughout the world for nearly 40 years observing and photographing places and animals. His scenic landscapes and wildlife images have earned many awards, including display at the Smithsonian Institution.

As a young boy observing geese and ducks on the Platte River of Nebraska, Mangelsen learned that patience was essential for photographing in the field. His understanding of animal behavior and willingness to wait for the unexpected moment have allowed him to create artistic images with his camera.

Without knowing anything about his background at the time, I fell in love with stunning images of his that captured the illusive moments of wild animal antics that photographers yearn for.
So, on a recent visit to Park City, I sought out his gallery to admire photos that captured my imagination many years before. Of course, Mangelsen has added many more from his travels, including several books that showcase some of his most prized and collectible prints.

The question for me was: Would I find an image so endearing that I would actually purchase an authentic, signed, limited edition print? Not surprisingly, the answer was yes. But there was an additional reason one particular photo spoke to me.
Mangelsen had photographed polar bears in Churchill,Canada several times over the years. Some of his photos of mama bears and cubs shot during spring excursions were on display and caught my eye--most likely because we had a trip to Churchill planned for the next month. What could be more enticing than a photo of the very bears we were journeying to see?

Now I’m the proud owner of a print called “Back Seat Driver,” which features a mother bear and her two cubs in the snow, one cub climbing onto her back for a ride. It’s adorable. But more than that it’s an image only a photographer with many years experience would likely capture. Even so, I’m hoping to add more of my own polar bear photos to the collection.
Photos from Beverly Burmeier, Mangelsen's web site, and ebay.



Friday, October 24, 2014

Major renovations for La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio

La Cantera Hill Country Resort before renovations
I’ve visited La Cantera Hill Country Resort in SanAntonio and was duly impressed with the western elegance, colorful landscaping, and luxurious rooms. That was several years ago. Now the management company, DestinationHotels, has committed to a multi-million dollar transformation that will affect the entire footprint of the 250-acre facility that appeals to both business and leisure travelers, including families.

Public areas will also get a redesign
Changes include the construction of a new, freestanding destination spa, an extensive reconfiguration of the front entrance, lobby and lobby bar, and a complete redesign of the San Saba Courtyard including a new event lawn.  A junior ballroom, expanded meeting and convention space, redefined restaurants, bars and lounge concepts, and contemporary pools and family areas are also on tap in the most extensive reshaping of the resort since its opening in 1999.

"This substantial upgrade will allow the Resort to enhance its spectacular setting and the exceptional amenities guests have come to expect,” said Destination Hotels President and Chief Operating Officer Jamie Sabatier. "It will also continue to position La Cantera Hill Country Resort as a world-class destination.” 

Palmer Golf Course overlooks Six Flags over Texas theme park.
 “Because the magnitude and impact of the project will prevent our associates from providing our guests with our customary offerings and services, the resort will suspend overnight accommodations and restaurant operations during the major phase of construction from November 3, 2014 through early April 2015,” said resort Vice President and Managing Director John Spomer.  

“Both of our award-winning golf courses – the Resort Course and the Palmer Course – will remain open and operate as usual during the renovations, as will their respective clubhouses and adjacent event venues,” Spomer added.

Golf courses will remain open during the hotel transformation.
Perched atop one of the highest points around San Antonio, La Cantera Hill Country Resort offers sweeping views of the Texas Hill Country and a huge expanse of majestic Live Oak groves interrupted only by native Texas limestone outcroppings, golf course fairways, and sparkling pools.

Sunset is a beautiful time at one of the pools.
Over the past 15 years, San Antonio has enjoyed record growth, bringing a diverse group of visitors to the area. It is a popular escape not only for Texans, but also for visitors from around the world, and La Cantera aims to keep pace with the demand by updating the facility in this major undertaking. I’m anxious to see the changes next spring.

Information courtesy of Jill Byrd, KGBTexas
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Culinary Colorado at Christmas

Shopping in winter in Boulder, CO
This holiday season delight in the relaxing welcome and festive feeling of a snow-covered, Colorado town. Enjoy endless opportunities for festive holiday events; gift the creativity of Colorado crafts and the divine taste of Colorado-made food, spirits and sweets. Embrace the essence of the season, connect with loved ones, and celebrate with a Uniquely Colorado Christmas.

Visit: From the foodie capitol, Boulder, to the undiscovered culinary corners of the state, Colorado is home to artisan chocolateers, bakers, crafters, brewers and people who live to create tasteful treats.

 Give: A gourmet gift basket from the up-and-coming culinary hotspot Fort Collins:
    •    Vern’s Toffee-- handcrafted, mouth-watering milk chocolate butter toffee,
    •    Craft beer--over 220 Colorado craft breweries offer diverse beer styles to choose from: Pilsners, IPA’s, stouts, ambers, porters, cask, Belgian, saisons and sour ales,
    •    Feisty Spirits--handcrafted whiskey made from locally grown grain,
    •    Honey--at the heart of agriculture is the honeybee and every region of Colorado boasts their own liquid gold flavored by the area’s wild flowers, blossoms and crops,
    •    Nuance Chocolate—from ethical cacao beans; roasted, ground and made into spirited artisanal chocolates,
    •    Old Towne Spice Shop—hand blended and ground spices from around the corner and world; gift boxes made by a local artist out of Pine Beetle Kill Wood,
    •    Cheese and Crackers-- artisan Mou Co cheeses or craft cheeses made from sheep, goat or cow’s milk make a decadent appetizer when paired with local chutney, jams and all natural Nita Crisp crackers.

Nutritious Nita Crisp crackers are made with wheat or smelt.
Do:  Learn about the local Ft. Collins food scene: The Gardens on the Creek for the Garden of Lights Tour, Laughing Buck Farm for Family Fun Days, Copoco’s for a beekeeping class, or nearby Haystack Mountain Goat Farm for a creamery tour and cheese making class.  Visit a local craft brewery for a tasting and tour; from New Belgium to High Hops, the Fort Collins area has over 13 craft brewers!
Fort Collins is well-known for its craft breweries.

Get in a holiday mood
with cinnamon eggnog.
Make: Prepare a homemade feast using handcrafted local ingredients: Honey-Spiced Glaze for your Christmas turkey, a Colorado cheese plate with fresh local cheeses, warm up with Fireside Eggnog made with Longmont Dairy Cinnamon Eggnog and a splash of craft Colorado spirits from Feisty Spirits or CopperMuse. Find produce, meats and more at Fort Collins Winter Farmers’ Market

Information courtesy of Anne Klein, Colorado tourism
Photos from Beverly Burmeier, highlighted businesses, and Boulder CVB


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Christmas in Colorado

Whether you live in or near Colorado or just love to visit there (Texans do!), Christmas is a great time to embrace the of the season in this beautiful state. 
Historic settlements, forts and mining towns illuminate their history with twinkling lights against a backdrop of freshly fallen snow. Picture horse-drawn sleigh rides on rustic dude ranches, festive Christmas parades, bustling food halls, steaming hot springs, and handcrafted gifts for a special Colorado Christmas.

Here’s a collection of holiday ideas from different areas of Colorado, with suggestions for a special place to visit, a gift to give, an experience to enjoy, and something you make that creates lasting memories.

Snow fun in Silverton

Visit:  A snowy Colorado mountain town.

Embrace the season and have fun on a Mountain Boys Sled
Give: Pair a sleek, handmade Mountain Boys Sled with cozy, locally made hats, gloves, socks, and mittens made from cuddly woolen fleece.

Do: Head to the tiny town of old mining town of Silverton and experience Colorado’s legendary fresh powder on a sled or sleigh ride. Check the calendar for full moon hikes and events as the mountains glisten in the glow.

Make:  Fill your thermos with a warm Colorado Toddy:  1½ oz. Colorado Honey Bourbon, spoonful of Honeyville honey and a lemon garnish. Kiddos in tow? Try pre-made hot chocolate from Animas Chocolate Company.

Cowboy Christmas

Visit: Celebrate Christmas at a Colorado dude and guest ranch.

Give: Colorado-made Crescent Moon snowshoes for traipsing across the snowy fields. For those cozy evenings by the fire, snuggle up with a good book or a knitting project.

Do: Dude ranches are magical when blanketed in snow under blue skies. Settle into Latigo Trails for sleigh rides, snowshoe hikes, bonfires and more.

Make: Let the wranglers at Latigo Trails help you handle authentic branding irons to create your unique family brand; then burn it onto the ranch wall and onto a wooden block to take home.

Twinkling Traditions

Visit: Colorado’s past to discover heritage holiday traditions

Give: When Slovenians settled in Pueblo, Colorado, they introduced cultural and culinary traditions that are still alive today. One such culinary delight is the sweet dessert, Potica, especially popular during the holiday season. Stop by Mauro Farms or find your favorite baker and pick-up a loaf of this festive bread for your holiday feast.

Do: Experience the most festive and elaborate lighting on November 29 for Pueblo's Parade of Lights. Don your jingle bells to keep with this year’s theme: Silver Bells!

Natural hot springs are great for soothing bodies year-round.
Ouray in fall.
Photo from Colorado Come to Life
Make: Wake up with the sun and coffee from Solar Roast Coffee  – the world’s only commercial solar-powered coffee roaster. Participate in a traditional cupping or simply hang out in the roasting room and roast your own solar coffee from green bean to cup. Take home a bag of your personal roast coffee to serve in a pottery coffee mug you made at Cup and Bowl.

Princely Pampering

Visit: Colorado has over 22 natural hot springs and mineral waters with breathtaking mountain backdrops and star-studded skies.

Give: Pampering products for a basket of self-spa. In historic downtown Salida, Vital Living offers natural bath and body care products and teas. Heal All Salve is a must-have for a mountain visitor or Calendula Crème from Green Earth Farm in Saguache. Deliver your treats in a handmade Feed Sack Bag available at a "must see" Salida market: The Ploughboy.

Do: Soak under the stars at Mount Princeton Hot Springs and relax with an Arkansas River Hot Stone Massage.

Learn to make a variety of cheeses at Mountain Goat Lodge.
Photo from Mountain Goat Lodge
Make:  Stay the night at Mountain Goat Lodge and participate in a cheese making class. Take home soft, fresh cheeses for your holiday appetizer plate and stock up on goat milk-based stocking stuffers.

Information courtesy of Anne Klein, Colorado tourism,

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two attractions to see in Salt Lake City

Red Butte Garden
Red Butte Garden, Utah's Botanical Garden and State Arboretum
One morning during our recent tour of Salt Lake City, Utah, we visited Red Butte Garden, which happened to to be one of the lovliest botanical gardens I’ve seen. Located just 11 minutes from downtown, this beautifully landscaped space is set against a stunning backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains.

Eleven themed gardens are set along well-maintained paths in Red Butte, which has the distinction of being Utah’s Botanical Garden and State Arboretum. Take time to meander gently through the medicinal garden, all-season garden, children’s garden, herb garden, fragrant garden, and more—each a complete garden space with benches and water features to entice visitors to linger.
Outstanding plantings along the Floral Walk in Red Butte Garden
A large pond draws visitors to the far end of the Dumke Floral Walk, a marvelous expanse filled with berms (mini-hillsides) exploding with various hues of the rainbow. Blue, white, pink, red, purple, orange—we saw many shades of flowering and foliage plants in. Tall spiky specimens shadowed low-growing varieties that spilled over the walkway.

Plan to spend at least an hour at Red Butte Garden. If you have more time, bring a book to read or a snack to enjoy as you sit awhile and absorb the calming effects of nature’s beauty.
Ponds and waterfalls create serene spaces to enjoy in
Utah's Red Butte Garden
For those who crave more action, several trails on the outskirts of the garden lead to natural areas and beyond and provide expansive views of the landscape. Quarry Trail, Prospect Point, and Oak Tunnel are possible routes to take for more activity.
300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City
 Natural History Museum

Copper tiles and large expanses of glass decorate
The Natural History Museum of Utah.

Just minutes from Red Butte Garden, you’ll find an extraordinary building, The Natural History Museum of Utah at The Rio Tinto Center of The University of Utah. Perched high on the foothills overlooking Salt Lake City, the museum’s exterior is covered with stunning copper tiles that gleam a bright golden-green in the sunlight. Excavated in 2009 from Kennecott’sBingham Canyon Mine, just 22 miles to the west, copper makes the architectural icon both beautiful and sustainable.
The spacious interior of The Natural History Museum
has clean, contemporary features.
Exhibits in the modernistic building  include historic artifacts, science specimens, and hands-on experiences that relate Utah’s unique natural history. One easy way to tour the museum is to sign on to the museum’s Wi-Fi and use the Trailhead to Utah smartphone guide to help you explore numbered markers or to dig deeper into the stories behind the exhibits.

On five floors you’ll see exhibits that cover Native Voices, First Peoples, Sky, Life, Land, Great Salt Lake, and more. Take a few minutes to wander out on the Sky Terrace on level 5 for exquisite views of Salt Lake City and the mountains beyond. A special exhibit called The Horse, which also focuses on the Utes, is currently on display in the museum’s gallery through January 4, 2015.
View of Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Mountains through
windows at The Natural History Museum of Utah.
As part of the University system, the museum is designed with labs that provide space for scientific research and education, a distinction that makes the museum even more valuable to the area.
301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Americans prefer U.S. destinations for vacation

According to new research, the USA tops vacation destination choices for Americans.  Dubai and Bahamas Islands were next, with European destinations further down the top ten list.
National parks such as Grand Tetons are favorite destinations
for many Americans.
The study was carried out by in order to find out more about the lifestyle habits and holiday choices of US citizens, especially those looking for discounts when planning a vacation. Via email 2,852 American adults aged 18 and over took part in the survey, all of whom had booked at least one vacation during the last three years.

Incredible architecture is a calling card
in Dubai.
All respondents were first asked, “Have you been on vacation outside of the USA in the last 18 months?” to which three quarters of respondents (74%) stated that they hadn’t left the USA for a vacation in the last 18 months.
The survey then asked respondents to identify their favorite holiday destinations, places that they had been to or would like to go to in the future. The respondents were provided with a list of locations and asked to select all that applied with these preferred holiday destinations:

1.       Destinations within the USA – 68%
2.       The Bahamas Islands – 44%
3.       Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 41%
4.       London, England – 39%
5.       Cancun, Mexico – 32%
6.       Paris, France – 29%
7.       Sydney, Australia – 27%
8.       Montego Bay, Jamaica – 18%
9.       Bangkok, Thailand – 15%
10.   Vancouver, Canada – 12%

The Eiffel Tower is an icon of Paris
that people want to see.
The respondents who had selected ‘Destinations within the USA’ as one of their favourites, were then asked to provide the reasons why they liked to vacation in their home country. The majority of respondents (86%) stated that they ‘enjoy the food and culture in the USA’ or that ‘the USA has everything I want from a vacation’ (77%), while a third stated that they enjoy ‘exploring different parts of my own country’ (31%).
 “The USA is a huge country with so much to offer and something to please everyone. From beaches and great hiking places to art galleries and city skyscrapers, there is so much diversity and excitement. It’s no wonder that it tops the charts,” says Matthew Wood of vouchercloud.

If you’re looking for discounts and special offers to help make your vacation more affordable, whether in the USA or elsewhere in the world, check the website.  “Everything from shows in Vegas to dinners in NYC can be done on a budget,” Wood adds.
Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards in the shadow of Vancouver's skyline.
Information courtesy of Leanne Bryan, 10 Yetis Public Relations

Photos by Beverly Burmeier, from my own travels.

Monday, September 29, 2014

5 reasons to visit Albuquerque in autumn

Autumn is a “magical” season in Albuquerque, New Mexico; it’s the time of year that locals look forward to and welcome visitors for a variety of special occasions. Here are five reasons why autumn in Albuquerque is amazing:

Balloon glow attracts visitors during the fiesta.
Albuquerque International BalloonFiesta. More than 500 hot air balloons dot the skies during this annual event. Early risers can witness the mass ascension events, eat world-famous breakfast burritos, and see the sun rise over the Sandia Mountains. In the evenings, balloons stay on the ground for “glow” events, allowing visitors to see these beauties up close. There will also be concerts, competitions and new special shapes, including an orca and a snail. This year’s event runs October 4-12.

Chile Roasting Season Snap, crackle and pop! It’s what you’ll hear when visiting dozens of locations throughout the city where chiles are roasting. Fall is chile harvest season, and visitors will see roasters set up everywhere, from the grocery store to farmers’ markets and restaurants Go to a local restaurant that incorporates them into dishes, from donuts to stuffed sopapillas.
You don't have to look far to find chiles in Albuquerque.

Fall colors from many angles  Albuquerque’s location in a river valley and its altitude – more than a mile high – mean that the city has many deciduous trees, from cottonwood to aspen. To see the trees up close, take a bike tour along the Rio Grande River on the city’s well-known Bosque Trail, a paddling tour on the river, or a breathtaking tram ride to the top of 10,000-foot-high Sandia Mountains. A drive on the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway to the range’s highest point will provide spectacular fall color.

Perfect weather for a mountain hike
Spectacular weather. Most October days are clear and sunny, with highs in the 70s and lows around 50. Humidity is nearly nonexistent, meaning conditions are ideal for spending time outside. If you’re up early to take in a balloon ride or hike, dress in warm layers for the cool mornings; then peel them off as the sun comes up. Don’t miss the sunsets – some of the most stunning in the world, due to big skies, beautiful clouds, and a landscape featuring mountains that turn watermelon pink as the sun goes down.

Take the tram to the top if Sandia Mountain.
Special Events From pumpkin patches to corn mazes and ghost hunts, Albuquerque is a great city for fall traditions. There are several arts and cultural festivals, including events with a Native American focus and a Greek-inspired celebration. One of the most colorful events in fall is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is used to honor deceased loved ones. Brightly decorated skulls can be seen everywhere including jewelry, art, and even as face painting!
Information courtesy of Heather Briganti, Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier