Friday, December 10, 2010

See Antarctica With Quark Expedition



SAM 019 I have just returned from Quark Expedition, The Antarctica Explorer. A 12 day trip that starts and ends in Ushuaia, Argentina.





Although, I learned during my trip that Quark Expedition itself is going through some internal changes, from start to finish my trip was operated by a fun, professional and safety conscious group of individuals.




Blue Ioffee Akademik Ioffee



From the Expedition Leader on down, they all worked diligently to make our trip adventurous and enjoyable.


CAN 026 There were about 107 passengers on board and the only disappointment expressed was by a handful of the 30 passengers that took the camping excursion.

Not quiet the experience most of them expected.




Chilin Peguin However, this can be dependent on the weather which can change in the Antarctica rather quickly.

I would not hesitate to recommend or take another trip with Quark Expedition if given the opportunity.




Sunday, November 28, 2010

Flip And Philips, My New Travel Companions


As primarily a solo backpack traveler, I must chose my travel companions, if any, very carefully. Any travel companion must add to my travel experience, be slim for the most part and a light weight with good looks getting a few extra points.

Usually, I have nothing against having a few extra pounds but if I must hang out with or carry my travel companions around then I don't want to be weighed down. My two new travel companions meet and almost surpass my rigorous requirements.


SAM 083 Flip, who I am just getting familiar with, will allow me to easily capture and share videos on YouTube and my travel blogs.

I found Flip at a local Wal-Mart for just $79, 20% off the regular price, so far he is not a bad travel companion.




SAM 082 Now Philips on the other hand does not like to travel alone and tells me he prefers to hang out with Sony Earbuds.

Since Philips came at a reasonable price $39.99 and allows me to enjoy a few of my friends like Hank Williams Jr, Abba, Barry White and 4 Non Blondes, I agree to take him and Sony along.


I am headed to Antarctica and so far my new travel companions have been a lot of fun. Flip has been capturing and Philips has given me a good Vibe. I hope they can stand up to the rigors of a 12 day Antarctica expedition. It will be a true test of our new friendship and whether they will remain my travel companions.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bad Hotel In Gainesville, Florida



Samsung 505 Making hotel arrangements through I am disappointed when I arrive at Extended Stay in Gainesville, Florida.

Although the property is conveniently located of Interstate 75 with lots of restaurants and stores like Wal-Mart nearby, the room I was given left much to be desired.




Obama Smoking Entering Room 321 at Extended Stay in Gainesville, I felt like I had just walked into room left by chain smoking Camel Joe and a wild pack of dogs.










Samsung 508 With pet hair everywhere combined with the over powering stench of smoke it was a quick return to the front office for a checkout and a refund.






Samsung 507 Since I had reserved the room through this took some coordination and a lengthy hold on line trying to talk to the right representative.

Not something to look forward to after a long day of driving when all you want is a clean, quiet and comfortable place to sleep.




In the end, the front desk clerk was pleasant to deal with but I would not recommend Extended Stay in Gainesville unless you can get a pet-free, non smoking room away from the noise of the interstate.



Great Canoeing In Kentucky



Map picture

A short easy drive from Nashville International Airport, Cave City, Kentucky is a good launching spot to visit Mammoth Cave National Park. It is just 90 miles from Nashville along Interstate 65 North.


Sam 137 If you are planning on visiting Mammoth Cave National Park I would recommend not missing the opportunity to explore the beautiful and scenic Green River in a canoe.








Sam 182 Green River Butterflies




Sam 146 Mammoth Cave Canoe & Kayak located at the boundary line of Mammoth Cave National Park can give you the opportunity to do so at a reasonable price.

After a trip to the caves for just $50 per canoe we launch on 7.5 mile down the Green River. From the Dennison Ferry to Green River Ferry this routes takes about 3 hours.






Sam 164 Sun Bathing Turtle



Sam 186 You can move at your own pace just leave your canoe along the parking lot at Green River Ferry before dark.

Mammoth Cave Canoe & Kayak offers other trips and no matter which one you choose, I am sure it will be an enjoyable  experience.




For more info:



Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tail Of The Dragon Hotel





We are practically half frozen to death by the time we arrive at Phillips Motel in Robbinsville, North Carolina.

Running behind because of so many beautiful stops along the way we have just crossed most of the Cherohala Skyway, Highway 165/143 from Tellico Plains, Tennessee, shivering.






SAM 035 It is a cold clear night with a full moon lighting our path on 50 miles of a curving mountain highway.







I feel like Harry from the 1994 Dumb and Dumber movie, wishing I had brought a second pair of gloves. “Lloyd, I can't feel my fingers, they are numb!”. My hands are so cold I could barely write to register for the room reserved at Phillips Motels.



SAM_3612 Bikers that have arrived ahead of us are camped around a bonfire on the front lawn of the motel enjoying it’s radiant heat and sharing stories.

We are tempted to join them but may have to jump in the fire to stay alive.






SAM_3614 In the end, we are reluctant to escape the warmth of a comfortable room that comes equipped with a microwave, small refrigerator and a fly swatter for just $55.00 a night.






Operated by an elderly couple, Phillips Motel is located on Main Street and has a few buildings spread around the complex. Although prices are as low as $40 per night, I am told while making our reservations that the rooms upfront are worth the extra $15 per night.



SAM_3616 Phillips Motel 290 Main Street Robbinsville, NC 28771. 828 479-3370



Phillips is not your typical standard chain hotel, it has a charm all it's own and is more than adequate as a place to spend a few nights while you explore all the great riding and scenery in the area. Restaurants, shops, a grocery store and even a McDonald's with free wi-fi are all close by.

I would certainly stay at Phillips Motel again but next time I will arrive early enough to stay warm by the bonfire.



Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spectacular, Southern Fall Colors



SAM_3732 Mention fall foliage in the United States and places like Vermont and The White Hills of New Hampshire come to mind.









SAM 014 Lake With Fall Foliage




SAM 007 However, parts of the South like Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas can be just as beautiful as in the Northeast and more affordable.







SAM_3773 From Atlanta I take a journey on Georgia 400 North also known as 19 North then 60 North towards Tennessee 68 North.









SAM 017Amazing Beautiful Fall Colors




SAM_3782 Along some areas of the highway the median is covered with brilliant pink and purple flowers which provide a stark contrast to the bright reds, orange and yellows in the background.







SAM_3688 Combined with hairpin curves and snaking roads I am thoroughly enjoying this fall journey on a rented Honda ST-1300 motorcycle.









SAM_3705 Scenic Overlook



SAM 016 If you have an opportunity to visit this part of the country in the next week or two, do it!

You won't be disappointed.





Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Mount Saint Helen Tostada, Muy Bueno!



CAN 312 Night is falling as I return west along Highway 504 from Mount Saint Helen. I am headed back to downtown Portland, Oregon.


I don't think I will make it unless I deal with an upset friend.



Long before I approach Interstate 5 my stomach has fired warning shots that tells me it is not happy that I have spent the entire day basically ignoring it. With so much to see and do in so little time, I knew it would be near the end of the day before I sit down for a full meal.


CAN 327 Although there are other dining options nearby, it is almost always difficult for me to resist the full culinary flavors of Mexico.

El Compadre located in Castle Rock, Washington on Highway 504 just east of Interstate 5 knows my weakness.






SAM 016 Tamale And Tostada Combo



Warm tortilla chips with a flavorful but not too spicy salsa turns my weakness into a victory. For $8.95, I am dining on a generous size tamale and tostada along with rice and refried beans.


SAM 020 Remove the other customers, rearrange a few pieces of furniture and I would swear the flavors tell me I am having dinner in a Mexican family home.

Now I might be delusional after a day of hiking and being outdoors in the Great Pacific Northwest but I am willing to bet you a taco you will have the same great dining experience at El Compadre.



Muy Bueno!



Friday, October 8, 2010

Maryland, An October Surprise In Baltimore


MD CAN 057 After spending an early afternoon walking around downtown Baltimore, “The Charm City”, I end in the area of the National Aquarium.

Since I consider it too late in the day for a visit, I make a general inquire about the admission prices just in time to stumble on an October Surprise.





 MD CAN 093 Cool Cow Fish




MD CAN 101 Celebrating it's 30th Anniversary, The National Aquarium for the month of October 2010 has a fantastic deal.

Admission is only $5 after 5pm every Friday in October with the Aquarium staying open until 9:30pm on Fridays.





MD CAN 084 If you are in Baltimore and have the chance do not miss this opportunity, it is well worth your time. Tickets go on sale around 4pm which will normally allow you entrance before 5pm.

It takes at least 2 hours to view the aquarium and you will be given a set entrance time.




MD CAN 154National Aquarium


I was able to purchase my ticket for a 4:30pm admission and had no wait time. However, leaving the National Aquarium around 6:30pm, I discover there was an extensive line for admission. I recommend you get there early to avoid the line and it might just be the best $5 you have ever spent.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

See America The Beautiful For Pennies


Yellowstone NP As the first country in the world to establish a national park in 1872, national parks are one of America's hidden treasures.

Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, not many take the time to explore the gems of America's natural beauty.





Yellowstone Grizzly Yellowstone Grizzly

For $80, just pennies a day, an annual pass from the National Park Service gives one good reason to set out on a National Treasure Hunt. From Yellowstone in the West, The Great Smoky Mountains in the East, Denali in the North and Big Bend in the South, you have a treasure map that would make any pirate adventurer proud.  “X's”  everywhere!


NPS Annual Pass Your annual pass gives free access to all National Parks, Bureau of Land Management Areas, National Wildlife Refuges and or discounts to other park programs,

This applies not only to the card holder but also accompanying guests.





Grand Teton Range Grand Teton National Park



Old Faithful Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park








From Mt. St. Helens, The Grand Canyon to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you can truly get a sampling of America The Beautiful for a steal.

National Parks Information:



Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Fun Airport Hotel In Tampa, Florida


Map picture


In all my travels, The Best Western Bay Harbor Hotel Tampa located less than 15 minutes from Tampa International Airport (TPA) is by far one of my favorite airport area hotels.

Canon 179 With convenient airport shuttle, The Best Western is a refreshing break from ordinary airport hotels.





Canon 180 Although home to a “Crabby” guy name Bill this hotel offers the opportunity for FUN.






Canon 181 With three beach volleyball courts don't be afraid to jump in and show off your set and spiking skills.

On some nights games are played until 2am!






Canon 208 If you are not quite ready to show the world your volley ball talent, don't worry. You can demonstrate your Bean-Bag tossing or Beer curling skills at Crabby Bill's outside bar area.

Crabby Bill's is a “Fresh No Frills Seafood” restaurant and bar adjoining The Best Western.




Canon 214 

Caribbean Mahi-Mahi with two sides is just $7.99 if you dine before 6pm. Complimented with a draft beer from America's Oldest Brewery, Yuengling for $2.50 along with the atmosphere it's a meal that's hard to beat for under $15.


Canon 216 Popcorn Shrimp






Canon 175 Besides Volleyball, Darts, Pool Table, Bean-Bag Tossing, Beer Curling and on property Jet Ski Rental ($95 per hour, a bit expensive), The Best Western has a great old fashioned pool.





Canon 184 Almost 9 feet at the deep end although with no diving, one family finds it a great place for tossing reluctant swimmers.


Canon 177 If you plan on staying at The Best Western Bay Harbor Hotel Tampa request an even numbered room for great views of Tampa Bay.

Dissipating summer evening thunderstorms usually produce nice sunsets which can be enjoyed from your balcony, patio or the hotel’s bay front beach area.



Canon 186 Besides Crabby Bill, I found the hotel staff to be courteous and friendly.

I even got to use the employee lounge microwave to heat up a plate of Florida Famous, Publix Fried Chicken for lunch.



Free computers and wireless internet along with the possibility of a late check out makes The Best Western Bay Harbor Hotel Tampa a bargain at around $75 per night.

For more info: