ALASKA… Where to See Wildlife… tips from a cruise ship insider

NEW VIDEO POST… I just posted a new video to my YouTube Channel “Travel Guide and Photography”…

This is the seventh video in a seven part series on Alaska and the Inside Passage. This video focuses on Where to View and Photograph Wildlife. I have been a professional photojournalist and published since 1979. I have lived and worked on cruise ships for the past 11 years and spent eight of those years in the summer cruising to Alaska… Enjoy the video, information and photographs…

My Favorite Shore Excursions… Tips From A Cruise Ship Insider

NEW VIDEO POST on my YouTube Channel “Travel Guide and Photography”… It is the 6th video in a 7 part series on cruising to Alaska and the Inside Passage… I have been living/working on cruise ships for close to 12 years and for 8 years in the summer I have cruised Alaska… This video focuses on my Favorite Port and Shore Excursions… Enjoy the video, information and photographs…

TRAVEL GUIDE and photography | Inside Passage Glaciers…Tips From A Cruise Ship Insider

NEW POST… Yes it’s Monday and another new post on my YouTube travel channel “Travel Guide and Photography”… Whether you are going or want to go on a cruise to Alaska this information is guaranteed to help you with your travels… Even if you are not planning on cruising to Alaska at the very least you are going to see some really nice photographs of glaciers…


I have been a professional photojournalist and published since 1979. When I started this channel one month ago it was the first time I have ever shot a video let alone edit one… I think I’m starting to getting the hang of it… The format is a little bit different and I’m learning so much every day…
Please take a look, let me know your thoughts and enjoy the wonders and beauty of Alaska…


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuZWoc9dp8k&t=907s

NEW POST on my YouTube Channel… “Travel Guide and Photography”

NEW POST on my YouTube Channel… I posted the fourth video in a seven part series on Alaska… “Port of Call – Skagway and Haines… Tips From A Cruise Ship Insider”… Join me on an adventure to Skagway and Haines, Alaska on where to go, what to see, favorite restaurants and shore excursions…Oh yeah some nice photographs too…. Enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJYyf5mT1Ok&t=7s

Alaska Itineraries | Selecting Your Cruise Itinerary

UP and RUNNING…. I posted the first video on my new YouTube Channel called Travel Guide and Photography. Yesterday was the “official” start to channel beginning with a 7 part series on Cruising to Alaska and the Inside Passage.

Please take a look… all comments are greatly appreciated. If you like what you see and/or where I am heading please Subscribe”… It cost nothing and Hit the Bell Button to know when I post a new video… and the Like Button if you like the video…

Thanks in advance

Tips from a Cruise Ship Insider… I’ve lived and worked on cruise ships for 11 years and for 8 of those year during the summer I was on a cruise ship in Alaska… This has given me a very unique perspective…

Travel Guide and Photography – YouTube Channel

I just started my YouTube Channel today…

I invite you to watch a brief introduction of Travel Guide and Photography. Let’s explore the possibilities of the worlds travel destinations through conversation, videos and photography together. 

A professional photojournalist since 1979 specializing in travel, landscape and wildlife photography I have traveled to over 80 countries with my camera and notebook in hand. For the past 11 years I have worked and lived on cruise ships traveling the globe. The channel is not just for those traveling by cruise ship, many places I have visited cannot be reached by ship. It is for all travelers regardless of how you reach your destination. 

Each weekly video will explore the possibilities focusing on a given destination. We will discuss what to see, where to go, my favorite places to eat and favorite tours. I will also focus on photography. At the end of each video I will include several still images giving photographers an idea of the photographs they may capture. I will also select a favorite image and tell the story behind it. For those that are not photographers this will give you a sneak peak of what you can expect at that destination.

My goal is for you to benefit from my experiences, lend advice and answer questions on destinations that you are considering and maybe some that you have not considered.

Please join me at the link below. If you enjoy the channel please subscribe, hit the bell to be notified of my next upload and hit the like button…

enjoy

Travel Guide and Photography – YouTube Channel

I just started my YouTube Channel today…

I invite you to watch a brief introduction of Travel Guide and Photography. Let’s explore the possibilities of the worlds travel destinations through conversation, videos and photography together. 

A professional photojournalist since 1979 specializing in travel, landscape and wildlife photography I have traveled to over 80 countries with my camera and notebook in hand. For the past 11 years I have worked and lived on cruise ships traveling the globe. The channel is not just for those traveling by cruise ship, many places I have visited cannot be reached by ship. It is for all travelers regardless of how you reach your destination. 

Each weekly video will explore the possibilities focusing on a given destination. We will discuss what to see, where to go, my favorite places to eat and favorite tours. I will also focus on photography. At the end of each video I will include several still images giving photographers an idea of the photographs they may capture. I will also select a favorite image and tell the story behind it. For those that are not photographers this will give you a sneak peak of what you can expect at that destination.

My goal is for you to benefit from my experiences, lend advice and answer questions on destinations that you are considering and maybe some that you have not considered.

Please join me at the link below. If you enjoy the channel please subscribe, hit the bell to be notified of my next upload and hit the like button…

enjoy

Laguna Beach… California’s Riviera

The small artist community of Laguna Beach is the Riviera of the West Coast. Its pristine white beaches, clear blue water and numerous rocky coves offer seclusion and a sense of privacy. Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, this seaside village is an oasis in the concrete jungle of Southern California.

Crescent Bay in the north part of town is one the the numerous secluded beaches

To reach Laguna, you have to drive the famed Pacific Coast Highway as it winds and dips its way along the countryside, skirting the Pacific Ocean as you listen to the Beach Boys sing Little Surfer Girl. The alternative is a 10-mile drive through Laguna Canyon, surrounded by the peaceful hills of the coastal range.

The Top of the World to Countryman’s Trail through the coastal range above Laguna

If you choose the canyon route, as you near town to your left are the grounds of the Sawdust Festival, and just a couple hundred yards further on the right lies the Festival of Arts. The festivals offer various display and sale of works of art, from paintings and sculptures to handmade clothing to blown glass and everything in-between, all from local artists.

The Sawdust Festival was created in 1967 by local artists. Eclectic works of art housed in a diverse range of display booths constructed by the artists themselves. As you wander through the narrow passageways of the sawdust-covered grounds, music fills the air and transports you to a simpler time.

The Festival of Arts began in 1932 and is a more modern setting than the rustic Sawdust Festival. As you roam from booth to booth exploring the grounds your eyes are filled with the colors, shapes and forms created by the region’s talented artisans.

The Festival of Arts is also the locale of the Pageant of Masters which was first introduced in 1933. The pageant offers a live performance of approximately 1,200 volunteers, 500 of which are cast or work behind the scenes. The cast are positioned, donned in period clothes and painted with makeup recreating famous works of art. The recreations include paintings, sculptures and statues, culminating with an interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper.”

The Sawdust and the Festival of Arts are joined by a slew of other art festivals throughout the year, including the Art-a-Fair, also held in the canyon. It includes 100 gifted artists displaying their work, giving workshops and demonstrations.

All the festivals take place during the summer, Christmas and during holiday periods. The town is also filled with a plethora of quaint shops and art galleries for you to explore.

Laguna has numerous quaint shops to visit

In recent years, Laguna has become a foodie destination as well, with a wide variety of restaurants ranging from taco stands to small mom-and-pop cafes to five-star establishments.

Forest Avenue “downtown” Laguna hosts a number of shops and restaurants to explore

Lodging options are just as diverse, and include a myriad of hotels, inns and resorts. Some are nestled in canyons, others on hillsides overlooking the ocean, and still others sit on the sandy beach.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach is located in the quiet and serene Aliso Canyon, a five-minute drive from the center of the village, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, yet close enough to enjoy everything that Laguna has to offer.

A tranquil scene at The Ranch at Laguna Beach is a perfect place to relax

As a member of the prestigious National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, this exceptional gem was ranked among the Conde Nast Travelers Top 10 Reader’s Choice Awards in 2019. A Forbes recommendation and AAA 4 Diamond rating further accents the resort’s impressive portfolio of attractions.

The Ranch hosts a GEO-certified nine-hole golf course, replete with a country club, a patio restaurant and a bar that overlooks the course. There is also a well-appointed pro shop with lessons available.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach hosts Orange Counties most beautiful and relaxing gold course

The resort’s boutique Hudson Salon and Spa offers therapeutic massages, anti-aging facials and innovative Cryoskin body toning therapy from Paris to zap away unwanted fat.

Regardless what time of year you visit Laguna you are sure to enjoy what the town has to offer. It’s little wonder that Laguna Beach has earned the unofficial title of California’s Riviera.
…Nov. 27, 2020

Yosemite’s Savage Beauty Awaits

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Camping under the Milky Way at Crocker Point

The long and tedious span of the worldwide covid-19 lockdown felt more like years than months for many, including myself.

But finally many countries are beginning to reopen allowing us once again to breathe fresh air and experience the great outdoors.

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Enjoying the view from Crocker Point

For me there is no better place to do this than at Yosemite National Park in California.

Yosemite reopened its gate in mid-June with restrictions to reduce the number of people entering the park and a decision that a number of facilities that will not open in 2020 including some restaurants, stores and lodging.

On the upside the reduced number of cars allowed into the park means far fewer traffic jams than usually accompany the summer months and much smaller crowds at key attractions.

Driving the “Valley Loop” you can enjoy a scenic turnout at Valley View and just another 15 minutes away you will find is Tunnel View.

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El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls and the Merced River at Valley View

A 30-minute drive will take you to Glacier Point affording one of the best views overlooking the valley, Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls. Heading in another direction in 30 minutes you can walk among the giant redwoods of the Mariposa Grove and 30 minutes further on awaits the wonders of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite’s high country.

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North Dome, Tenaya Canyon and Half Dome from Glacier Point

Even with the reduced  number of people allowed to hike the area many of the trails have fallen victim to the covid-19 pandemic with fewer trail permits issued. But if you limit yourself to hiking relatively flat terrain the valley floor has approximately 10 miles of trails to explore and a trail permit is not required. In a one- or two-hour stroll you can marvel at the iconic structures of El Captain, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock and Yosemite Falls.

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Yosemite Falls from Liedig Meadow near the Yosemite Lodge

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Half Does from Cooks Meadow near Yosemite Village

Whether you are a day hiker or the more adventurous sort like myself, who has donned a 40-50 pound backpack for days or weeks at a time to explore, the pristine wilderness awaits and one can still obtain the highly prized “wilderness and trail permit” by applying online.

One of my favorite day hikes is the 2.1-mile roundtrip trail with only a 456-foot elevation gain to Sentinel Dome. Add another 3 miles and 666 feet of elevation and you will find yourself at Taft Point on the south rim looking straight down at valley the floor 3000 feet below. The downfall due to the ease of the trail are the crowds, the upside is the incredible view consisting of Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome and many of Yosemite’s landmarks.

If you are looking to escape the crowds a good alternative is Dewey, Crocker and Stanford Points where the 9-mile trail and 1,925-foot elevation gain make for fewer visitors. Carrying a 54-pound backpack, 14 pounds of which was camera equipment, I recently spent three days on Crocker Point photographing the Milky Way, with day hikes to Dewey and Stanford Points.

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Carrying a full load at Dewey Point

The trail begins downhill through a covered forest for three-quarters of a mile, opening into the lush green McGurk Meadow for another half mile before once again entering the forest. At the 2 mile mark the steep climb to Dewey Point begins. As the trail ascends the sounds of birds singing, an occasional deer or bear sighting a sense of peace engulfs you overwhelming your senses.

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The forest opens to McGurk Meadow

And then suddenly there is that most welcome sound of all for a backpacker, the sound of a small stream where you can quench your ever-building thirst with fresh, cool water. It is important to note that even though you are in the wilderness you should to filter the water. Giardia is the last thing that you want to encounter.

Pushing uphill the last half mile past the stream you reach Dewey Point where most people stop and return back to their cars if on a day hike or pitch their tent to spend the night. I reached Dewey in the late afternoon where about 15 tents had already staked their claim for the night.

Having lived in Yosemite on and off for three years. I knew a little over a half mile further was Crocker Point which is seldom visited, and I had the place all to myself for three days. This is where I would suggest you spend the night.

The steep downhill trail which of course means a steep uphill climb when I leave can be daunting, but you will be rewarded with a much better view looking down on Bridalveil Falls, which you cannot see from Dewey. There is a panorama view from the cliffs edge of El Captain, North Dome, Clouds Rest and Half Dome.

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View from Crocker Point of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, North Dome, Clouds Rest and Half Dome

If you have never experienced the night skies in the backcountry away from the light pollution of the city prepare yourself, there is nothing on Earth quite like it. The dark blue velvet sky is filled with millions of stars shining like diamonds. During the summer months the Milky Way comes into view and splashes a palette of color from azure blue and rich purple to brilliant orange and crimson red.

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The Milky Way from Crocker Point

Whether you opt for a day hike or spend one to several nights out in the wilderness of Yosemite it will be something you will never forgot. If you are lucky it will get under your skin and you will want to return time and time again to Yosemite.

For me my Yosemite passion started back in 1965 when I was just 10. I spent my honeymoon there in 1972. I lived and worked there for three years and now at age 66 I still don a backpack and head into the wilderness. Yosemite and its hauntingly beautiful wilderness have become part of who I am.

Southeast Asia’s Spectacular City of Lights

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When most people hear the phrase “City of Lights” they think of Paris. But when I hear a reference to the City of Lights, I think of the colorful central Vietnam coastal town of Hoi An, and its brightly, multihued buildings, French architecture and streets adorned with hundreds of lanterns of various shapes, sizes and colors lighting up the night.

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When I hear a reference to the City of Lights, I think of the colorful central Vietnam coastal town of Hoi An.

Traveling to Hoi An your adventure begins in Da Nang, which hosts the closest airport. I would suggest applying for your Vietnamese visa online. There is a Vietnam government website, as well as several private websites to assist you, I have used both. I would highly recommended paying the extra $25 — and it must be in U.S. dollars — for the assisted expedited service. If you do, on your arrival in Vietnam, you will be met by a representative who will help you bypass the long lines and goes directly into the immigration office, saving you a great deal of time and red tape.

I would also recommend considering spending a couple days in Da Nang, either at the beginning or the end of your vacation. The city is steeped in history and there are many interesting sites you can take in, from Marble Mountain to the Golden Hands and Dragon Bridges. Or you can just lay on the beautiful white sand beach that stretches for 20 miles.

Da Nang is only a 30- to 40-minute taxi ride to Hoi An, close enough to make a day trip once you are settled in your hotel. Most hotels will arrange for airport pickup and, depending on your length of stay, it might even be complimentary. If not, it is 250,000 Dong, the Vietnamese currency, around $10.

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The biggest draw of Hoi An, and the reason why most people travel there, is the Ancient City, dating back to the 15th century.

The biggest draw of Hoi An, and the reason why most people travel there, is the Ancient City, dating back to the 15th century. It sits on the bank of the Thu Bon River. From the 15th to the 19th century Hoi An was an important Southeast Asia trading port, and in 1999, it received the status of an UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Lone canoe on the Thu Bon River – Hoi An

During what the Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War, both sides agreed not to bomb or destroy the city. Because of this agreement, Hoi An has maintained its unique architecture of colorful buildings. In contrast, the neighboring cities of Hue and Da Nang saw devastating battles throughout the war.

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One of the many art galleries located in the Ancient Town

Hoi An is known for the colorful lanterns which hang in dozens of shops and across almost every street, illuminating the night.

You can enjoy a ride in a 30-minute canoe ride along the river for 100,000 Dong, less than $5.

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If you are lucky enough to be there on the full moon, you will witness the town’s Lantern Festival. 

If you are lucky enough to be there on the full moon, you will witness the town’s Lantern Festival. During the festival, the river is filled with lantern boats to close to capacity, with many boats nearly colliding, but like Vietnam’s street traffic, it is highly orchestrated chaos.

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Evening approaches on the Lantern Festival

Hoi An is quickly becoming a “foodie” destination as well. With its multiple outstanding restaurants, many of which offer cooking classes for those who want to learn how to cook the local cuisine.

Vietnamese food is fresh, healthy and, for the most part, locally sourced from surrounding vegetable farms and herb gardens. Because of its close proximity to the ocean, Hoi An’s restaurants are always filled with fresh seafood.

Be sure to try the white rose dumplings, filled with shrimp or pork. The dumplings are made of rice paper and steamed in the shape of a white rose and are accompanied with a delicate dipping sauce of shrimp broth, hot chilis, lemon and sugar. What makes these elegant treats so special — besides their wonderfully aromatic taste — is the fact that they can only found in Hoi An. This is due to the fact that the unique water needed to make them comes only from the Ba Le Well, built by the Cham people in the 10th century. The Ba Le Well is also used to produce the town’s signature cao lau noodles, another dish you should try, used for centuries to produce traditional medicinal tinctures and teas.

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The Ba Le Well was built by the Cham people in the 10th century. 

Most Anthony Bourdain fans are already aware that Vietnam was one of his favorite places on Earth. Located in Hoi An was Bourdain’s favorite place to eat, a small store front and café called Bahn Mi Phuong. The city’s trademark sandwich is the banh mi, a sumptuous concoction of meat, fresh herbs and pâté, served on a French baguette. The sandwich can be found throughout Vietnam, but to have the best, according to the late Bourdain, you must come to Hoi An and the Bahn Mi Phuong Café.

If street food is your thing you will not be disappointed in Hoi An. There are plenty of food carts on the Walking Street across a small bridge spanning the river.

The streets of Hoi An are lined with shop after shop selling everything from tourist trinkets and T-shirts to custom-made suits. There are over 200 custom tailors in Hoi An that will whip out anything from silk shirts and suits for men and luxurious blouses, cocktail dresses and wedding gowns for women. You can arrive with a photograph from your favorite designer, and within a day or two have your order in hand at a fraction of the price.

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The old Japanese Covered Bridge was used to connect the Japanese and Chinese neighborhoods. 

Another iconic landmark of Hoi An is the Japanese Covered Bridge, built in the 1590s. The ornate bridge was used to link the Japanese and the Chinese quarters traversing a small stream. It is adorned with a small shrine and statues of a dog and a monkey, which some people say commemorates the fact that the bridge was started in the Year of the Dog and finished in the Year of the Monkey. Others say the statues represent that many of the Japanese emperors were born in the Year of the Dog or the Year of the Monkey.

Accommodations in Hoi An range from modest hostels to mid-range hotels to five-star resorts. The last time I went, I stayed at a wonderful mid-range hotel named Hoi An Reverie Villas, and was pleased by my very large room, complete with a sitting area, balcony and large bath. It also had a nice breakfast buffet, swimming pool and patio for $26 per night. Located 1.5 miles from the Ancient City. Five-star accommodations can be found for approximately $50 to $70  per night.