I whole heartedly endorse this article. 🙂

Pete & Amanda in Mexico

Source: imgur.com via Amanda on Pinterest


One of the highlights of our 2009 trip to Riviera Maya was the excursion to Chichen Itza followed by a visit to Ikil Cenote. More on Chichen Itza another time (as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it certainly warrants its own post). Today I’ll focus on the cenote.

After touring the ruins all day in the sweltering, unrelenting sun, our group stopped at Ikil Cenote (translation: “Sacred Blue Cenote”). A cenote is an amazing, magical sinkhole filled with fresh water. Cenotes are created when the original limestone landscape of the Yucatan Peninsula collapsed. If you want to know more about how cenotes are formed, go here.

The blue-green water is 120 feet deep after you already stepped 90 feet below ground. It’s a beautiful site and the water was so refreshing, especially after the long, hot day…

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Part 1: Bucket List

I’m getting the travel bug again.  It’s a lovely thing when it bites, but not so lovely when the funds aren’t exactly there to indulge it.  I have a few countries for which I feel this overwhelming urge to pay a visit to. Apparently, I need to make a Part 2 for this post, since I can keep on adding to this list.

Well, after looking for all the “right” pictures to include in this post, I kind of feel like I’ve visited these countries already.  Not.  Looking at pictures isn’t a good substitute.



New Zealand




*Note: if you click on the photos it will take you back to the original link (National Geographic, TrekEarth, ect.)

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The Whitepod

I suppose as a northerner I am somewhat drawn to snow.  Add in the unusually warm and whiteless winter we’ve been experiencing this year, and that kinda makes snow a little more enchanting.  Christmas was green and rainy.  We’ve only had one really good snow fall so far this year.  Of course, last year when I had to drive an hour to school twice a week, we had numerous snowfalls with an unbelievable amount of accumulation.  Go figure.

So after stumbling upon this place in the Swiss Alps…yeah, I am craving it, Whitepod.  Camping in the winter.  It’s located in Switzerland and sits above the city of Monthey. As an eco-friendly environment (they minimize daily water and electricity consumption, reduce waste production, and favor the use of renewable resources) it gives you the chance to experience the great outdoors in a totally unique way, in a pod.  At first, when I was taking a look at the pods, I was a little alarmed about not seeing any bathrooms.  I thought, “Oh well, it would just add to the whole camping experience to have to make a trek to the lodge to use a toilet.”  Okay, for the record: I was WRONG.  The dome shaped tents do indeed have bathrooms.  No worries.

Oh, the pods are also heated by a woodstove.  The bathrooms are heated by an electric heater.  Can’t have those pipes freeze up; otherwise, you’ll really be running to the lodge to use the john.  But, I thought the woodstove was a nice touch.  Makes the stay at the pod a little more hands on, and I’m all for that.

Whitepod has quite a few activities to offer: snow-trekking in the mountains, dog sledging/sledding, paragliding, skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding.  I have to include that one of the paragliding packages entails climbing a mountain and then paragliding down it.  Right now, I’ll just have to dream of doing that, because there isn’t a way I can actually do it right now.  Bummer.

I encourage you to visit Whitepod‘s website, or better yet…visit Whitepod.

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Travel Break

Okay, I know this is supposed to be a blog about traveling, so my apologies for not keepin’ in the groove.

However, I just have to show off the new member of the family.  The little guy is 9 weeks old.  His name is Howard, but he’s called Howie for short.  Love him to pieces already.

I love his eyes, the little noises that he makes and the pattering of his feet.   His big ol’ ears are so large and floppy and his paws, well, there’s nothing like them.  I love watching him run and pounce on his toys.

Food is very important to him.  He is smart as a whip and already knows where his dog food bag is…fortunately, he’s not tall enough to stick his snout into it to help himself to a snack.  He makes frequent visits to the “food room” to see if anyone has filled his doggie dish up.  All I can say is that he is staying true to his Lab roots because they are forever “hungry”.  They’re pigs.

I love watching him sleep,it’s like the world does’t even exist, he’s so content and happy.  I love his sleepy puppy eyes right after he wakes up from one of his naps.  I think it’s so cute the way he treats his stuffed dog as one of his brothers or his sister, and then cries at it when it doesn’t play with him (poor baby!  Don’t worry though, the stuffed dog suddenly comes to “life”, and then he’s fine).

Howard is such a good lil’ guy.  He slept like a baby through his first night at his new home.  I’ve had other puppies before and never has that happened.  It didn’t take long for him to make himself at home.  Bless his little heart.  :)

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A couple months ago, I visited South America for the first time…Ecuador, to be exact.

While there, I was able to visit the city of Baños with my cousins.  It’s a small city nestled in the Andean highlands and is home to some awesome views of Tungurahua, one of South America’s most active volcanos.  Okay, this going to sound extremely naive and stupid, but I was hoping for a bit of smoke and lava to spew forth from the crater while I was there.  Actually, I was assuming I was going to be able to see some action.  Oh, the naivety of a northern city girl, where all I have to worry about is an occasional tornado in a nearby county.  I burn with shame.  …I digress…


The day we left Baños, the sky was clear and the view of the volcano was perfect

Anyhow, a couple weeks after I returned home, Tungurahua started showing some activity.  And, yes, when I heard the news, I was quite disappointed that I missed it.  It truly would have been the visits of firsts.  First time in South America.  First time bungee jumping.  First time experiencing an earthquake (from the eighth floor of an apartment building).

There are about a million different tourist companies in Baños (intended exaggeration here…if you go there or you’ve been there before, you’ll know what I’m talking about).  So, my cousins and I saw a advertisement, which in essence was showcasing a place where we could see the volcano better.  We went up this mountain side.  On the top, there was a makeshift treehouse with a swing, and an older looking house with a few fenced in chickens.  The cloud cover was thick, but the swing was great entertainment.  Seriously, you swing over the side of the mountain.  Nice thrill, at least for the first few swoops over the hundreds of feet below.  I admit it, I screamed my first swoosh out.

The treehouse and the swing...and, yeah, those impenetrable clouds

The treehouse and the swing...and, yeah, those impenetrable clouds

Thank God, during our time up there, the clouds broke over the top of the volcano, so we could snap a couple of shots.  And then it was gone…

The top of Tungurahua

Tungurahua was visible only for a few moments

Oh, and I must say, our taxi driver was amazing.  He stuck around the entire time, in fact, I think he kind of enjoyed watching us and hanging around.  He was very pleasant and friendly.  Kudos to him for making our time up there even better!

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Peak Time in Norway

Norway.  It’s one of those places I want to visit before I die.  No, the cold and the arctic chill aren’t exactly my cup of tea, but there’s a time to experience all that stuff, more specifically, the Northern Lights (also called the Aurora Borealis).  I love nature and all it has to offer.  It’s in a league of it’s own.

The aurora borealis seen above the village of Ersfjordbotn near Tromso in northern Norway (Photo: msnbc.com)

The smartest or most intelligent man or woman has yet to come up with the vast expanse of midnight sky, riddled with stars, the power of the crashing ocean waves, the stillness of freshly fallen snow, the ever-dependable change of seasons, the glory of the sun returning to its rest, or the magnificence of the northern lights.  We’re only able to copy these things in our own finite way, yet nature already possesses all of these wonderful things.

In Norway, the northern lights are typically visible from October to March, with the peak season being December to February.  Most auroras are a greenish color, but depending about the altitude, the atoms involved and the force of the particles entering the atmosphere, there are a variety of different colors it displays.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”  Psalm19:1

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Free Tickets

Hey there!  Just giving a friendly heads up to Megabus’s free ticket give away.  And, no, it’s not a contest or a drawing!  Just go onto www.megabus.com, and you’ll see in the add on the right side of the screen that they are giving away 200,000 tickets (to be used Jan.-March 2012).  First come, first served.  This is for Canada and the USA…sorry, I didn’t see anything for the U.K.  :/

But, anyways…I think it would be perfect to plan a little get away to help break up the monotony of the upcoming cold winter months.  Have a great week, everyone!

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New Zealand Underground

I’ve not had any kind of desire to go inside of a cave for the longest time.  In fact, I’ve never been in a cave.  I confess, I am petrified of bats.  In my mind, caves equal bats.  Pretty much all I can picture are the leathery winged creatures hanging upside down on the ceiling of a cave, and when spooked they will all start flapping about and I will inevitably find myself in the pathway of one (or even worse, more than one).  That’s just an unpleasant thought.

On that note, I came across this pretty amazing cave in New Zealand.  Looks like it would be an awesome experience.  So awesome that I would consider throwing aside my inhibitions about caves just to go in this particular one.

Waitomo Adventures 


Located in northern New Zealand, the Waitomo Caves are an underground marvel that every capable body should experience.  It’s a breathtaking beauty, a subterranean wonderland.  Looking at the landscape above the caves, no one would be able to guess that a beautiful underworld is waiting to be discovered.

How can you go about to partake of such beauty and adventure?

Waitomo Adventures offer a variety of guided tours through the cave.  A couple of them would fall underneath the “extreme” category; however, I vote that everyone needs a little “extreme” in their life.

You are able to go on trips through the cave with guides which include ziplining, tubing, rappelling, not to mention an encounter with glowworms.  These guys are the stars of the underworld, cool thing is they don’t stop shining when the sun comes out.

Abseil/Rappel down into a cavern

Abseil/Rappel down into a cavern (photo: http://www.waitomo.co.nz/)

Tubing in a cave? Of course!

Tubing in a cave? Of course! (photo: http://www.waitomo.co.nz/)

You'll definitely get wet during your underground expedition with Waitomo Adventures. But, hey, where's the fun in staying dry the entire time?

You'll definitely get wet during your underground expedition with Waitomo Adventures. But, hey, where's the fun in staying dry the entire time? (photo: http://www.waitomo.co.nz/)

Underground Planetarium...fun fact for the day: the glowworm produces its glow through its waste and mucus. Just thought you should know.

Underground Planetarium...fun fact for the day: the glowworm produces its glow through its waste and mucus.

Take a zipline through St. Benedict's Cavern

Take a zipline through St. Benedict's Cavern and enjoy the beauty (photo: http://www.waitomo.co.nz/)

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Celebrate Across the Country

 Happy Independence Day!

God bless the USA!

Arizona (arizonalesiure.com)

Seattle, Washington

New York


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

San Fran, California

Denver, Colorado (Denver CBS4)

Detroit, Michigan (Joe Gall)


Washington DC (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

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David Eustace

I stumbled across this guy while working on a school assignment.  Scottish born photographer, David Eustace gives an amazing glimpse of Scotland from behind his camera lens.

I find his photography is breathtaking…refreshing…inspiring.  Check out his collection of “Scotland” photos here: Highland Heart.  It’s absolutely gorgeous.

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