Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Your feet were made for walking--pain free

Hiking on rough terrain in Yosemite National Park
requires good, supportive shoes
Traveling generally means extra walking—through airports, to exotic sights, while shopping, or just exploring a new city. Almost everyone experiences aches in toes, heels, or arches at some point in life, whether you’re an active athlete or sedentary person. But traveling can bring on new pains or increase existing aches.
It’s important to know the impact that footwear has on your body from head to toe—and to choose the best footwear to prevent problems like these.
Colorful running shoes
can double as walking shoes.
Heel pain: Plantar fasciitis, the most common foot problem, results when the fascial band, which connects the heel to the ball of the foot, detaches from improper positioning of the foot in a shoe. Women who choose high heels may be setting the stage for plantar fasciitis or joint pain in the ball of the foot.   Flat-soled sandals and flip-flops lack support to cushion the foot, and repetitive stress can also inflame the heel bone and cause tenderness, especially if you walk on hard or uneven surfaces (like cobblestones in many European cities) a lot.

Knee pain: “One-inch heels can increase the pressure on your feet by 22 percent, and three inches adds a whopping 76 percent,” says Steven Raikin, M.D., of the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia.  As a result, high heels alter a woman’s posture and increase risk for degeneration and development of arthritis. A lot of patients go to the doctor for knee pain, but it really starts from the foot. Comfortable, supportive low-heeled shoes are a must for travelers. Save high heels for a few special occasions, or just leave them at home and wear fancy flats.
Shoes don't have to be
bulky to provide support.
Lower back pain: Internal rotation at the hip from wearing high heeled shoes causes the pelvis to tilt forward and increases compression in the low back area. The resulting poor posture is often the root of low back pain. Same advice as above to relieve this pain.

Leg pain: A flattened arch and associated leg rotation can increase forces on muscles in the lower leg. Orthotics may help reduce soft tissue stress and improve postural alignment, thus relieving achy legs. Check with your foot doctor or a specialty store with personnel trained in fitting orthotics properly.
Hiking requires a
different kind of sole.
Athletic shoes come in a variety of colors and styles these days. With proper fit, they provide support and comfort to eliminate most problems caused by faulty footwear. Choose from major manufacturers like Nike, Asics, New Balance, and Wilson.
You can also buy stylish walking shoes with padded soles and low heels that provide all-day comfort. Brands to check out include Aerosoles, Ecco, Clarks, and Naot. For hiking shoes, Merrill and Keen offer options from sturdy shoes to high-top boots.

Even fashionable sandals
can provide all-day comfort.
When planning your travel wardrobe, footwear is not the place to skimp. Good shoes may cost a few dollars more, but they will wear better and longer, and your whole body will appreciate the difference.

If you're a female traveler of "boomer" age, check out this article from Irene Levine for more footwear suggestions:
 Photos by Larry Burmeier and from free sources.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Derinkuyu--underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey

Can you imagine living underground for six months, never coming above ground to see daylight or breathe fresh air?

Entrance to the underground city of Derinjuyu.
During a prolonged period of invasions, takeovers, and different civilizations inhabiting the Cappadocia region of Turkey, perhaps starting as early as the 8th century B.C., the people sought respite from their enemies by building massive living complexes beneath the surface.  As various marauding armies traversed the area in search of captives and plunder, the Indo-European people who inhabited Cappadocia kept digging lower underground and expanding these troglodyte cave-cities.  

Derinkuyu (which means "deep well") is the deepest of the 36 underground cities in Cappadocia. This defensive hideout extends downward for four stories and has 53 airshafts carved at least 300 feet into rock formations left by ancient volcanic eruptions. Amazingly, the original ventilation system still functions, enabling visitors to go underground and marvel at what the early Turks had accomplished. The underground city includes churches, stables, wineries, and storage rooms and was capable of safely housing 10,000 people for many months.  

Cave houses were common in the Cappadoccia region
of Turkey. Volcanic ash was easy to carve into liveable spaces.
Giant rock formations in this area are composed of volcanic ash, which is fairly soft and easily carved. Throughout Cappadocia, these weird formations, called fairy chimneys, have been carved into cave houses where people lived for centuries. In some areas, people still live in these primitive structures.

On our recent visit to Cappadocia we were able to tour the underground city of Derinkuyu. In ancient times, the first two floors under the surface housed a missionary school. Two long tables carved from rock and probably used for communal meals are still standing. We could see where the people had created a baptismal, kitchens, storehouses, living quarters, wine cellars, and stables for their livestock. Extensive networks of passages, stepped pits and inclined corridors link family rooms and communal spaces where people would meet, work and worship.

Inside the underground city rooms were created with
specific functions for everyday living.
The third and fourth floors consisted of tunnels, some created as dead-ends and others that simply went in circles to confuse any errant invaders. There were also secret places to hide and armories for their weapons. Water wells, hidden passages ways, a church and graves, and a confessional occupied the last floor.

Passageways are small for people
today, but some were designed to
fool invaders.
Approximately 600 doors lead into the underground city, all of them hidden in courtyards on the surface. Passages are mostly short and narrow; I even had to stoop over to walk through--and I'm short!

In times of peace, the people did not live underground but used the spaces for storage of crops and stables for their horses. Whenever conflicts arose, which continued into the early 20th century when Cappadocian Greeks sought to escape persecution by the Ottomans, they could go and live there.

As we explored the underground city, we learned that it is connected to other towns by tunnels that run for miles underground. When the Christian inhabitants of the region were expelled in 1923 the tunnels were abandoned but were rediscovered in 1963, after a resident of the area found a mysterious room behind a wall in his home. Further digging revealed access to the tunnel network.  Although the temperature was mildly cool inside, our guide said that it was quite hot when she took an excursion to walk from Derinkuyu to another town via one of these tunnel.
This large room was probably a communal area.
Since local citizens were used to living in cave houses, most were not very happy when the Turkish government began converting underground cities to museums in the 1960s. But we were grateful for improvements such as steps, lights, and signs during our tour.

Seeing how ancient people created these cave cities--with primitive tools, no less--and imagining how they lived and worked there is experience you don't want to miss.  

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ziplining in Texas: exercise and great views

Getting a birds’ eye view of the Texas Hill Country is easy if you book a thrilling zip line tour. Central Texas has caught the craze with several places to experience the ultimate adventure. And it’s perfect for families (even your teen will want to do this with you).

Zipping over Lake Travis near Austin.
It’s okay to let out a couple of whoops and hollers; in fact, it’s expected.  Just don’t forget to appreciate the scenery while soaring through a canopy of old growth oak trees, whizzing high above Lake Travis, or swooping among trees over scenic ravines. If you have yet to experience flying through the air while harnessed to a steel cable, it’s time to check out these popular zip line locations.

Wimberley  Zipline Adventures

Wimberley Zipline Adventures
Soar between mountains (okay, large Texas hills) on ten lines ranging from 50 to 900 feet in length. More than three-fourths mile of wire cables cross canyons, creeks, and valleys of true Hill Country geography. Guides provide entertaining information about history of the Winn Ranch just south of Winberley, where the zip line is located, as well as plants in the area.

Views take in a 15-mile panorama, so be sure to look out instead of down (forget that you’re 100 feet above the ground). Instruction includes zipping on a short practice line so guests build confidence before tackling longer lines.  Length of each line is determined by the natural topography, and the last line is “blind,” as trees obscure the landing spot.

Wimberley Ziplines has an added element of excitement because participants must learn to stop themselves using its active braking system.  

Wimberley, Texas
Open year-round; closed on Tuesdays
Located on Winn Ranch between Austin and San Antonio (directions on website)

Cypress Valley Canopy Tours

Not just the first zip line in Texas, it’s the only canopy zip line with participants flying from tree top to tree top. Located 30 miles west of Austin, the tour takes guests over old-growth cypress trees and springs, traversing a ravine on six zip lines and three sky bridges. Take a leap of faith for an amazing view of nature with minimal impact on the environment. Add in a bit of rappelling for more fun.

Cypress Valley Canopy Tour
Stay at Juniper or Willow, secluded tree houses where guests can spend the night and enjoy sunset and sunrise accompanied by songbirds. After the canopy tour, guests may stay and have a picnic, including zipping to a dam-created lake for a cool dip. It’s an excellent family bonding experience.

1223 Paleface Ranch Road
Spicewood, Texas
Open every day except Monday in summer

Lake Travis Zipline Adventure

Experience the longest and fastest zipline in Texas at Volente Beach near Austin. Zip across incredible canyons and Lake Travis inlets on five zip lines ranging from 250 feet to more than 2000 feet. An automatic braking system leaves your hands free for waving to friends. For an absolutely thrilling finish, you’ll walk uphill to the 20-story high launch platform and whiz along on a screaming half-mile ride.  Even better, it’s a dual line, so you can race your buddy to the end.

Having fun at Lake Travis
Zipline Adventure
Guides relate nature facts as you walk to each platform, and you’ll have access to a private beach where you can swim in the lake or relax in lounge chairs. Coolers and picnic baskets are delivered via boat.

For the truly adventurous, schedule a two-and-half hour moonlight excursion featuring seven zips and views of the sparkling lake.

14529 Pocohontas Trail
Volente, Texas

Safety first for all zip line experiences:                                          

  • Trust the equipment. Harness, helmet, and gloves (when needed for braking) are provided and double checked by the guides for proper fit.
  • Wear sturdy shoes for walking on rocky paths
  • Listen carefully to instructions and follow them explicitly (each place and line is slightly different according to the particular set-up).
  • Drink plenty of water (provided).
  • Check age and weight restrictions before making reservations.
This article was first published in the Dallas Morning News in June 2012; it has been updated. Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Friday, July 17, 2015

Tips to help you stay on a budget when traveling

I’m not a hard-core backpacker carrying everything for my travels on my back. Most of my readers don’t stay in hostels and wash the few clothing items they bring on trips only when absolutely necessary.
Although you can definitely save money traveling like that, there are other ways to stay within your budget—some should be considered before leaving--and still travel comfortably.

Try to fit everything into a suitcase you can carry on a plane.
Pack lightly so you don’t have to check a bag (unless it’s free because you belong to a loyalty program or have racked up a ton of miles).
Plan ahead for best selection, whether you’re considering a flight, cruise, excursion, or other activity. Last minute deals may be good, but choices are usually limited and may sell out quickly.

Granola bars are filling and tasty.
Take healthy snacks like fruit or nuts so you can avoid fatty, overpriced items in the airport or tempting sweets at convenience stores along the way.

Purchase fresh fruits and
vegetables at the market.
At your destination purchase food at farmers’ markets or local stores so you can prepare meals and eat in. Dining in restaurants every day can be expensive.

Skip the hotel movie and stream entertainment on free wi-fi (You did check to be sure the hotel offers connectivity at no charge, didn’t you?)

Attend a local festival or outdoor event instead of purchasing expensive tickets for entertainment.

Local festivals like the Pony Express ride in
Gruene, Texas provide inexpensive entertainment.
Water is the best
Wander off the beaten path to discover little-known, perhaps quirky places, for people watching, chatting with locals, or trying new activities.

Drink water—in refillable bottles—instead of pricey sodas or cocktails at dinner. When you do eat out, share a main course with a companion, if possible. These are usually large enough for two anyway.

Taking a bus can keep
transportation costs low.
Use public transportation instead of taxis. Walk when feasible.

Photos provide lasting
memories of your
Skip souvenir purchases. Let photos remind you of your wonderful experiences.
Photos from free sources.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Crafting handmade rugs in Goerme, Turkey

Knotting silk into carpets is extremely
difficult and tedious.
In ancient times, the Turkish people migrated from Mongolia in northern Asia. The Mongols were a nomadic people who lived in yurts, round tent-like structures that are easily moveable.

The people needed something to keep the yurt warm, so they knotted carpets. (The oldest carpet discovered is thought to be around 1000 years old.) Once they settled down instead of moving constantly, the Turks started producing finer carpets.

Turkey produces fine-quality silk to use in making rugs.
The first carpets were wool, then cotton was added. Later silk arrived from China, and eventually Turkey began producing its own silk. Today Turkish carpets, along with those from Persia (Iran) are considered the most prestigious carpets in the world.

Younger women are learning to knot
and preserve this ancient skill.
The problem is that knotting carpets is a dying art. Few young women are willing to learn the delicate and tedious skills, which must be done without error. Since beautifully crafted rugs are the pride of Turkey, the government began opening schools to teach ancient weaving techniques to willing learners.

On our visit to the Cappadocia region of Turkey, we learned more about how these rugs are made at the Matis Turkish Rug School in Goerme. We saw silkworm cocoons in a tub (shake them to hear the rattle of a live silkworm inside) and saw how a strand comes out of each. Raw silk has 300 filaments per strand; in fact, it is so strong it will cut granite. To complete the workmanship, only natural dyes only are used for coloration.

Schools become factories producing handmade rugs.
To start, rugs have 10 knots per centimeter. Finer rugs may have up to 450 knots per inch on both front and back of the rug. Angora is the best wool, and 300 knots per square inch is the maximum number that can be done on wool.  Rug makers work from a pattern and must have nimble fingers to tie the tiny knots in the precise locations and colors. If a mistake is made, the work must be completely undone and then repeated to perfection.
A myriad of designs, sizes, and
materials can be found in prized
Turkish rugs.

Dozens of beautiful rugs in a variety of styles, colors and designs were spread on the floor, and we were invited to touch them, even walk on them. So, of course, I did, including a purple rug just like one custom-made for Elton John. Meanwhile, I sipped on raki, a strong, anise-flavored milky-looking alcoholic drink which I diluted with water.

Of course, the school/factory has plenty of carpets, large and small, for sale. Depending on complexity of design, fabric, and number of knots per square inch, even wall-hanging sizes can be museum-quality collector's items.

Because I love and admire handmade things, it’s not surprising that I found a beautiful rug I could love, but I did not buy another one. Since I already have three Turkish rugs it seems I have enough heirloom pieces.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Beautiful pottery from Cappadocia, Turkey

Avanos, a Hitite city in the World Heritage region of Cappadocia in Turkey, is an ancient town where people still live in rock houses carved into the famous basalt formations.

Its other claim to fame is that Turkey’s famous pottery is made here, so I really enjoyed our visit to Omurlu Ceramics on our recent trip to Turkey. Kizilirmak River, the longest in Turkey, starts at Mt. Arafat, flows through the town of Avanos, then makes a U-turn and goes back to the Black Sea. On the banks of this river is a red-hued clay used in making the pottery.

Different styles of pottery made at Omurlu
The Omurlu family has been making pottery for 200 years—that’s seven generations—and we met with Hassan, the oldest son who is now in charge. Pottery display and reception rooms are built into a cave, as is often the procedure in this region. Hassan explained that two artists work on each piece of pottery—one crafts the piece and another paints the designs. Creating one piece can take several months depending on complexity of the design.

Omurlu is one of only two places that can produce the Iznik tiles used in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Red clay from the river is an important component, and artists demonstrated their incomparable skill in creating collector items as well as functional pieces that are dishwasher safe.
The business is seven generations strong.

Hassan explained that there are different kinds of clay: Ceramic clay has chemicals, but Omurlu uses a quartz clay that is lead-free and absorbs higher heat resulting in more brilliant colors. A combination of 80% quartz and 20% red clay is used for many pieces.

A potter works intently to create
a new piece.
We watched as one of the potters created a piece on his wheel. Afterwards, Hassan played a traditional mandolin-type instrument called saz and sang Turkish songs while we waited for drinks—wine, tea, colas, or coffee-- to be brought in.

Later we learned that three types of designs are generally used on Turkish pottery:

Iznik has flowers, including tulip designs, the national flower of Turkey. Iznik type flowers can also be found on carpets, bowls, walls, and painted items. The Omurlu family style features intricate geometric patterns in vivid colors. The designs are creative and ornate and made of 80 percent quartz and 20 percent clay. Hitite style pottery uses primarily animal designs.
Each piece is handmade and unique, and the company can custom make a pattern in any size a client might want. Plates take anywhere from 10 days to one month to make, but the Omurlu family style designs are the most difficult and many take even longer.

Painting the intricate designs takes weeks, even months.
Since pottery of any kind is my weakness, I felt the need to bring home an example of the finest, most detailed pottery I had ever seen. I bought a bowl painted in family style, a brightly colored geometric pattern with raised dots that added to design difficulty, a piece that Hassan said took two months to complete. I received it a few weeks after our return and was once again struck by its beauty.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bicycle tours make vacation healthy and fun

Today we have a guest post from Adam York at Sublime Public Relations,

Biking is fun, green, and good for your health (an hour of moderate cycling burns about 600 calories). It’s also a great way to absorb a destination slowly and without barriers. Bike tours are becoming more and more popular worldwide and often organized around food, wine, and other themes. While avid cyclists frequently represent bike vacationers, regular travelers who are in decent shape can enjoy cycling tours, as well. 

Below are five cycling tours for all skill levels that offer amazing access to exotic locales by bike.

Riding in Sardinia beside beautiful scenery.
1. Mediterranean Island Hopping - Outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, and nature and water lovers will be dazzled by the dramatic beauty of Italian-influenced Sardinia and French-flavored Corsica as they tour these fascinating Mediterranean islands by bicycle. This coastal route showcases the best of northern Sardinia and western Corsica and their respective Italian and French cultures.      

History and beauty combined in a bike tour of Croatia.
2. Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula - Italy’s neighbor to the East, Croatia offers idyllic cycling through a medieval landscape of castles and vineyards, all with a beautiful view of the Adriatic Sea. The terrain on this peninsula’s coast is perfect for the cyclist who wants to combine slightly rolling and hilly terrain with images of Croatia’s history and unspoiled beauty.     

Spectacular mountain scenery on Going to the Sun road in
Glacier National Park. Credit: The Cycling House
3. Glacier to Yellowstone Cycling - Riders will cross the Continental Divide over Going-to-the-Sun highway in Glacier National Park then parallel the Rocky Mountain Front all the way to Yellowstone National Park. The rewards are abundant with stunning views, glimpses of wildlife (grizzly bears and more), and a chance to pass through almost every type of terrain in the park, from large glacial lakes and cedar forests to windswept alpine tundra.     
Cycling in France gets you out of the city and into small villages.
Credit: Hide & Seek
4. Provence by Bike - The bicycle outfitter Ride & Seek has introduced a tour in the Provence region highlighting some of the “most beautiful villages of France” as ordained by the group Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Destinations include St.-Rémy-de-Provence, Ansouis, Les Alpilles and the ruins of Glanum. Time off the bikes will allow for wandering the streets of St.-Rémy, birthplace of Nostradamus and the site of the sanitarium where van Gogh painted his final work.     
Customize tours to your skill and interests when exploring
Mediterranean islands. Credit: Ciclisima Classico

5. Chile Wine Adventure - Explore the best of the Santiago valley region on this active wine and cuisine adventure. Enjoy biking through vineyards, trekking in the Andes, culinary tasting experiences and sightseeing on a week-long Chile tour. Visit well known museums and hidden gems as you soak in the beautiful landscapes and quaint villages which make this region unique and intriguing.  Rides can customize and increase the biking distances for more advanced cyclists.

 Some photos provided by Adam York

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Visit the fairy lands of Cappadocia, Turkey

When we booked our Oceania cruise sailing from Istanbul, Turkey to Lisbon, Portugal, going to Cappadocia wasn’t on our radar. But it’s one of the most amazing areas, both for its incredible landscape and its long history.
Cave house are still in use in parts of Cappadocia, Turkey.
We flew from Istanbul to Kayseri, a city in the center of Asia Minor, the cradle of civilization. The first settlement of humanity dates back to 8000 B.C., although 32 different civilizations have lived there over the centuries. Kayseri is one of the richer cities of Turkey because of trade, most importantly with handmade carpets, the pride of Turkey.

Caps are easily seen on these fairy chimneys.
The unusual, even unearthly landscape of Cappadocia is the result of early eruptions of Mt. Aegis, which put volcanic ash into the soil. Weird landscapes have resulted in “fairy chimneys,” basalt formations that have not eroded like ash. In varying shades of gray and tan with rock strata often visible, some fairychimneys have dark-colored pointed triangles on top called caps. These are almost totally basalt and protect the yellow part, which is volcanic ash, from eroding. The cap may fall down causing the death of a fairy chimney, but then a new chimney starts to grow from it, so it’s an ongoing process. Because the rock is soft, people in ancient times (around 2000 B.C.) carved homes and churches in the ash using only primitive tools.
Cappadocia is one of the best places in the world to take a
hot air balloon ride--so intriguing.
Early one morning we went for a hot air balloon ride. More than 30 balloon companies fly up to 150 balloons on any given day. Because of rain and thunder the previous night, some had canceled, but the morning turned out perfect: clear and sunny with a slight breeze. Balloons of all colors filled the sky as we drifted toward the valley, between rock walls, and over fairy chimneys in a spectacular ride.

It’s a great way to see layers of multi-colored rocks that give a clear picture of the geology of the  area. Volcanic spires and pinnacles, craggy cliffs, and cave houses glowed in the soft morning light. The land is fertile, so we saw many green patches under cultivation (we landed in a farmer’s field) despite an eerie, desert-like feeling in the area.
Creating and painting pottery is a tedious process at Omurlu Ceramics
in Cappadocia, Turkey.
During our three-day visit we toured a variety of places that I’ll describe in more detail in future articles. Avanos is locaed on the Kizilirmak River which provides red clay used to make Turkey’s famous pottery and tiles for the Blue Mosque. Each piece is carefully crafted and hand-painted, often taking months to complete. At Goreme, more than half of the population lived in rock houses and fairy chimneys until 10 years ago, when the government forced them out.

Complete cities were created underground
for protection during frequent wars during
the 9th to 13th centuries.
Carpet making is a skill in danger of dying, so the Turkish government sponsors schools to teach young women how to knot fine carpets from silk, wool, cotton, or combinations of natural materials. We saw this in action at Martis Turkish Rug School and factory.

Goreme Open Air Museum has some of the best preserved examples of cave churches, most quite small but decorated with fading frescos and paintings directly on the rock walls. Another example of how important the rock landscape was to early Turks is found at Derinkuyu, an underground city which could house 10,000 people for up to six months during times of war.

I bought trivets and a few other souvenirs at Pigeon Valley, which gets its name honestly. Trees sparkle with blue “evil eye” trinkets, supposedly good luck charms. Throughout Cappadocia we observed lots of poplar trees, which are used to make furniture. When a son is born, the father plants a poplar tree as an investment for the son’s future education or wedding.

Catch some good luck with an "eye" to
ward off evil.
We made a photo stop at Zelve, an important settlement and religious area between the 9th and 13th centuries. It once spread over three valleys and contains numerous pointed chimneys with large stems. It’s now abandoned since unstable formations make it too dangerous for people to live there. At the end of our tour we flew back to Istanbul from Nevshehir, a city with a small airport used primarily by tourists.

Cappadocia (pronounced cap-a-dok-i-a) is unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and I’d highly encourage visitors to Turkey to include it on their itineraries.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Enter now to win a fly fishing vacation in Colorado

Access to 2,000 natural lakes, 800 reservoirs and 9,500 miles of streams—including 321 miles of Gold Medal Trout Waters— makes Colorado a prime fishing destination. Enjoy remote access to stunning streams with mountain views, hire knowledgeable local guides to share their secrets, and discover a holiday or weekend getaway that encourages a balance of ease and adventure. Anglers can find success whether from the dock or shore, a pontoon or raft, or with your feet firmly planted on the river bed.

Win a Fly Fishing Getaway

Win a fishing getaway with Black Canyon Anglers/Gunnison River Farms. The package includes a 2-night stay, dinners for 2, and a 3-hour intro to fly-fishing. Enter before June 22, 2015 at 11pm:

IRGS Fly Shop and Guide Service will make sure you have
a great fishing trip.
The Basics:

When casting in Colorado, what you reel in is limited only by how many hours you spend on the water. What you find on the end of your line may include rainbow, cutthroat, brown, brook or lake trout; splake, kokanee salmon, grayling, mountain whitefish, wiper, walleye, saugeye, yellow perch, crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, channel catfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, white and rock bass, northern pike, or tiger muskie. Catch-and-release fishing is supported on Colorado waters. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) fishing regulations outline what you can and can’t take, how you can take it, and how you can help preserve Colorado waters for future fishing. Remember to pick up your fishing license, available at one of over 700 licensed vendors statewide.

Fishing is great at Gunnison River Farm.
Big Fish Stories on the Gunnison

With more fish than people, the rivers, streams, ponds and lakes of Delta County present some of the finest fishing on the Western Slope of the Rockies. It’s the quantity and variety, escape from the crowds, diverse fish species and strong fly hatches that make the area exceptional. For an all-in-one fishing experience, stay in cabins at the beautiful Gunnison River Farms, a 1000-acre paradise, and enjoy white-water rafting and 3.5 miles of private river fishing in the stunning Gunnison River Gorge with on-site hosts, Black Canyon Anglers.

Cast and Camp:  

Pitch a tent, pack your cooler and grab your fishing pole. Colorado has 42 State Parks and many of them offer campsites near the shoreline. Chatfield State Park and Lake Pueblo State Park are featured on “America’s Top 100 Family Fishing and Boating Spots.” Just outside Denver, Aurora Reservoir was named “The Best Park for Fishing” by Westword in 2012. In Ridgway State Park, fish the productive tailwater of the Uncompahgre River set against a backdrop of stunning peaks and vast wilderness.

Luxury on the Line

Visit the recently opened Fishing Camp on the Tarryall River—the newest Broadmoor Wilderness Experience Property – where guided fishing on five miles of pristine, private waters is complimented by sunrise cowboy coffee and campfires under clear, starry skies. Head to Dunton River Camp for “glamping” in beautiful tents nestled into woods 30 feet above the river and enjoy some of the best fly-fishing in North America on the West Fork of the Dolores.

Enjoy quiet time and privacy at Lake City, Colorado.
Whether casting for the biggest catch or looking for a place to slip silently into a stream and enjoy some solo time, Colorado is an angler’s paradise. The state's breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 11 national parks and monuments, over 850 visitor-friendly farms and ranches, and 58 mountain peaks over 14,000 feet. 

For more information visit  Media are invited to visit the Colorado Media Room for story ideas, news releases, image gallery, and other resources.

Information and photos courtesy of Anne Klein

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Getting down and dirty with nature at the Galapagos Islands

Rugged shoreline at James Bay on Santiago Island
“Come quickly,” our naturalist guide called to my husband Larry and me as we kayaked in sparkling turquoise water off the shore of Santa Fe Island in GalapagosNational Park. “A baby sea lion has just been born,” she gushed.  Tour guests in the panga (rubber raft) with the guide had just witnessed the amazing delivery.
Most islands, including Sombrero Chino, were home to sea lions.
This was the fifth day of our eight-day expedition to explore several islands in the eastern portion of the Galapagos archipelago located 600 miles from the western coast of Ecuador. Wildlife viewing is a highlight of any tour in the Galapagos; and we had seen plenty of land and marine creatures. But observing an actual birth was an unexpected bonus.

Blue footed boobies were plentiful on Santa Fe island.
We quickly paddled our kayak to the appointed spot and saw the furry baby snuggled under its mother. While we missed the actual emergence witnessed by the others, we still felt lucky to observe the earliest moments of this new life. Experiences like this made our Galapagos adventure with International Expeditions a trip to remember.
A puffed up frigate hopes to attract a mate.
We didn’t really get dirty, although we did get wet and sandy at times during our nature quests. Each day was filled with hiking and snorkeling as the MV Evolution sailed from one island to another, most uninhabited by humans.  Instead of people, iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, crabs, turtles—even penguins and flamingoes--populated the sandy beaches and volcanic landscapes over which we trekked. 

Soft white sand on Mosquera Island, home to hundreds of sea lions.
Puffed-up frigate birds, Darwin’s finches, elusive hawks and owls, and boobies (the red-footed and blue-footed varieties) provided entertainment during our twice-daily walks. We watched rituals such as frigates inflating their huge, red pouches and blue-footed boobies awkwardly dancing before mating. Beautifully colored fish, sharks, rays, tortoises, and sea lions turned our daily snorkeling excursions into playful episodes.
Swimming with sea turtles off Champion Island
Every day consisted of a morning walk or hike after breakfast followed by fresh fruit juices and snacks, and snorkeling before lunch.  Several of the guests relaxed (okay, splashed like little kids) in the hot tub after snorkeling.  After a short siesta, we did an afternoon hike, most often on another island.

Golden sunset at Commorant Point
Each evening our guides presented an informational program about what we had just seen and would see the following day, with an emphasis on land conservation and protecting indigenous species. After dinner we were free to enjoy the bar, swap experiences, or lounge on the outside decks looking at the night sky. Since we were kept busy and active, we appreciated whatever downtime we had.
A bit of silly fun after snorkeling
Larry and I traveled on a small ship (only 20 guests--with a maximum of 32), which allowed us to explore in friendly, manageable groups of 10. If you want to take children, look for trips specifically designed for families, including on small ships. If you think there won’t be enough onboard amenities to satisfy tweens and teens, consider a larger ship—one carrying 100 plus passengers--although the number of hikes and snorkeling opportunities may be limited.

Iguanas populate almost all the Galapagos Islands.
Our ship, the MV Evolution is in the background.
A Galapagos Island adventure is a nature-filled voyage to remote, protected, and sometimes desolate areas. This may not be everyone’s ideal vacation, but if you appreciate seeing wildlife in their natural habitat and experiencing a variety of island topographies, it’s a destination you’ll enjoy exploring. It’s a photographer’s paradise, too, so be sure to bring your camera.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier