trip report: New Zealand – Rees-Dart Track, January 2020

Tramping (aka hiking) and New Zealand are synonymous when we think of traveling to the small island nation. However, there is much more to the hiking scene there than just the Great Walks (DOC). I have met locals that have exclaimed that the Great Walks, while very worth it, aren’t the best scenery that New Zealand has to offer. With our hike of the Rees-Dart track, I completely understand that sentiment. 

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This is the six entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our tramp of the Rees-Dart Track in Mt. Aspiring National Park. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: New Zealand – diving Milford Sound, January 2020

The experience at Milford Sound can sound like a big tourist trap with the many visitors all boarding the similar boat cruise. It was an experience we had to settle for during our first visit to the famed fjord when weather canceled our original plans. To my surprise, the natural aesthetics of the sheer rock faces and tall waterfalls among the moody clouds was more than enough to overcome the tourist crowds on these cruises and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience that day. 

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It only added to my desire to return and see the wonderland from below. Fortune would have it, a couple of diving spots opened up for Mark and I and I would get my wish the second time around.

This is the fifth entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our dives in Milford Sound and our subsequent stay in Queenstown. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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virginia hikes: Stiles Falls – March 29, 2020

If you are looking for an easy hike that provides for plenty of cascading stream views, the hike to Stiles Falls provides for a high views to work ratio. So it is a great hike for beginners or kid friendly hike. But it is a busy one for those same reasons.

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The hike was closed shortly after we hiked here back in March, so I delayed in writing it up until now.

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trip report: Sydney, Australia & travel to New Zealand, January 2020

Other than the Great Barrier Reef, the other thing that comes to mind about Australia is the Sydney Opera House. So on our way to the South Island of New Zealand, we had a long layover in Sydney. To stretch out legs after a few days on the boat, we took the stroll around the waterfront and see that opera house. 

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This is the fourth entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our brief stop in Sydney on our way to  the South Island of New Zealand. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Australia – diving the Great Barrier Reef, December 2019

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the CNN’s Seven Natural World and UNESCO World Heritage Site covering approximately 133,000 sq mi (344,400 sq km) off the coast of northeastern Australia in the Coral Sea (wikipedia). With recent coral bleaching (wikipedia) from climate change (The New York Times), there was no question of where we were going in Australia. So in this edition of travel2dive, aka just my dive log, we boarded the Ocean Quest liveaboard and really went down under 17 times over the course of 4 days to bring in the New Year.

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This is the third entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our diving adventures on the Great Barrier Reef (3) from day 4 to day 8. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Australia – getting in to Cairns, December 2019

Flying to the other side of the world always take a few days especially since I was losing a day to the time zone change. At least I was able to do it in style this time around.

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While the topic of documenting our experienced getting somewhere was something I’ve always included in my past reports, I’m always hesitant to make this an entry for by itself or get too in depth. Unlike many travel websites out there, I am not an AvGeek. Personally, I see getting places as a means for us to see amazing things and not the point of travel. However, we travel a fair amount, and the lack of doing so during COVID shutdown, really made me appreciate the experience and the feeling that comes with the act of traveling somewhere. Whether that is the excitement of boarding a plane, the giddiness being in business class for the first time after we found out we were upgraded, or even the exhaustion of flying halfway around the world with a billion stops because of a cheap airfare. Call me a miles and points arsonist, I am very ready to burn through my points after this pandemic. Anyways, let me know if these posts are something you’d enjoy to read about. Also if there are anything regarding the actual process of travel you’d like to see in the future, I can put more effort in capturing those aspects of our trips.

This is the second entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering my travels into Cairns, Australia from Washington D.C. (2). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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virginia hikes: Angel’s Rest – October 24, 2020

During peak foliage season, popular hikes like McAfee Knob can become very crowded. It seemed like standing room only up there just this past weekend (reddit). For such reasons, I only hike to McAfee during the weekday and for either sunrise or sunset. For the weekend, there are plenty other options along the Appalachian Mountains with outlooks. Angel’s Rest is such a place located about 30 minutes west of the Virginia Tech campus, yet we had plenty of time at the two major viewpoints all to ourselves during this peak hiking season.

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trip report: Australia & New Zealand – decisions & planning, December 2019

In the travel enthusiast game, it is all about jumping on opportunities. This specific opportunity we took advantage of were a couple of one way flights from Auckland, New Zealand to the U.S. for 6000 American Airline Miles each, which is as close to free as you can get. The final result was my first visit to Australia to dive the Great Barrier Reefs and a return to the south island of New Zealand over the winter holidays. Reflecting now on that trip, which took place just before the 2020 pandemic and the travel restrictions, the notion of jumping on opportunities to travel when we can do so safely again in the future seems all the more important. For now, all I can do is to reflect on our adventures down under.

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This is the first entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our pre-trip planning (1). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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virginia hikes: McAfee Knob, September 24 & October 29, 2017

This report was reposted on October 17, 2020 to include a video, new photos, and updated formatting.

McAfee Knob is among the most popular hikes in southwest Virginia and said to be the most photographed place on the Appalachian Trail with its own wikipedia page. The popular nature of the hike is a reason I avoid this hike typically and head over to Tinker’s Cliff unless I am doing a sunrise hike. When Keith visited last year, I had planned to write about our sunrise hike and even took a GPS track on it. However, that hike was completely in the fog.

About 1 year to the day, Keith visited us again so we gave sunrise another shot. As you can see, it was quite a nice success. Given we hiked mostly in the dark, I headed up there again to take some updated pictures of the trail for this report a month later during the peak foliage season. With Amtrak restarting train service to Roanoke from D.C the week I’m publishing this post, hopefully this will be just in time for you to plan a southwest VA getaway.

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