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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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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trip report: Canadian Rockies – decision, planning, & getting in, August 2019

Ah Lake Instagram, rather Reddit Lake, I mean Moraine Lake. The last time I visited this beautiful spot was in 2011 on a road trip, when a group of us checked out the mountains and breweries around the Pacific Northwest that eventually ended up here.

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Our joke for our drive through the Canadian Rockies was that they must sprayed LSD in the air because the colors were so unreal.

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Jared overlooking the teal Lake Louise back in 2011

I’ve meant to head back to properly explore the backcountry since then, but it seems like the rest of the world had the same idea. With the crowds, must come the permits to protect the beautiful landscape from being loved to death and effects of overcrowding. Since this current trip was planned rather last minute, the initial prospect looked like I’d have to wait to see the best and most popular spots. But with some flexibility and constant checking of the permit websites, I got to have my cake and eat it too… a big LSD filled cake.

This is the first entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our pre-trip planning (1) and our travels to the Canadian Rockies (2). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Patagonia – Ruta 40 & driving the Carretera Austral, January 2019

My current struggle in life is the constant feel of needing to optimize my time. It’s the feeling that I need to be productive whenever possible, but I don’t think I am actually any more than before in the overall scheme of things. Maybe I started to feel this way because of the combination of how easy I can waste a day and just the never ending to do lists. Whatever the reason, it makes it very difficult to relax as anything nonproductive comes with a feel of regret in the end. This specific struggle carries over into the realm of traveling as well when it comes to unplanned and free form travel. It is hard not to feel the need to do something at every minute. But at the same time, unplanned free form travel is the cure as you don’t have anywhere to be but to relax and immerse yourself in the beauty out there. There is no place better for me to relearn that than the remote regions in Chile on the Carretera Austral.

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carefree zone

In the spirit of free form travel, the hikes and activities we throughout the rest of our trip wasn’t really in any organizable order. This is due to a few travel restrictions and situational parameters that are explained in the post. So this part of the trip report will cover our decisions as we went, the specific route that we took, and our driving experiences on the Carretera Austral. Subsequent sections will delve into the different hikes and major activities that I will mention in this overview of our trip.

We pick up this trip report the day after our Huemul Circuit hike (see part 2 of this series). This is part 3 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – getting in & Huemul Circuit return, January 2019

On my first solo extended out of the country trip, I found myself at a pub in Bruge drinking with the a bunch of new friends I didn’t know the day before. A quote that stuck with me from that night was that you travel not to experience everything, but to find all the great things about a place to return to. In the travel atmosphere that is suggestive of the bucket list and country counting attitude, I am all for the counter viewpoint of also returning to a place that once put you in a state of awe. The Huemul Circuit is currently my favorite hike in the world, so a return trip to Patagonia meant I’d head back there.

As I start to write this, I am not sure how this report will go. This is the first time I’m writing up the exact same hike on this page and it didn’t deviate much from my first trip. Secondly, my SD card crapped out during this trip leading me to lose a good portion of my data unbeknown to be until I started going through the pictures post trip. To that end, I’m approaching this write up of the Huemul Circuit as a complement to the my first report with the insight that the trail has gotten much more popular.

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This is part 2 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – planning & research, January 2019

Two of my favorite hikes in the world at the moment is in Patagonia, the O-Circuit of Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile and the Huemul Circuit of Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. I would return to either places in a heartbeat, as our two previous week long trips out there during our spring breaks left us wanting for more. But these two hikes are just a small portion of the vast region of Patagonia with plenty that I’d looked forward to exploring in the future. So when I saw a USD$400 roundtrip flight from the United States to São Paulo, Brazil in business class, that future was much closer than I originally thought. Not to take away from what we had experienced in Brazil, but it was no question we’d be heading back to Patagonia.

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This is part 1 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: John Muir Trail, July 2018 – part 2, getting in & Yosemite National Park warmup

Do you remember your first backpacking trip? For me, it was with Jared, Matt, Will, and Arnold in Yosemite National Park during my last Memorial Day weekend in California before graduate school. Of course, we didn’t have permits beforehand or even thought of how busy it would be that weekend nor really knew much about what was really necessary for backpacking. Through that weekend of floods, rain, infinite hot dogs, and plenty of Gentleman Jack, we emerged as Poopanauts, which is a story that will have to wait for another time. The main point is that it is hard to recall the feeling and mindset of getting into the wilderness for the first time. It was something I had to try my best to relate to as I lead my California friends Arnold, Joey, and Miguel and new friends Becky and Doris back to Yosemite National Park. For Becky and Doris, it was their first time into the backcountry. Since these guys were willing to take the time off work to drive me up to Yosemite – where I would start my John Muir Trail (JMT) hike – and spend several days in the backcountry with me, I hoped that I was able to share my enthusiasm of the outdoors with my friends again and for the first time.

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This is part 2 of my John Muir Trail (JMT) trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: John Muir Trail, July 2018 – part 1, decision & planning

Sometimes you submit an application for a permit with a three day start window for one of the most popular trails in the United States Park system on a whim. And sometimes you’ll just win that golden ticket on the first try. That’s the short story of how I took a long unpaid leave in the summer of 2018 and spent it walking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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This is part 1 of my John Muir Trail (JMT) trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below.

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trip report: Busan, South Korea, June 2018

 

I can’t say that South Korea was high on my list of places to visit. However, when your buddy is getting married there, it’s a good opportunity to visit. While I only had a few days to experience the southern city of Busan and even less time being able to spend it with my good friend Dongil, it is a place worth visiting for the food, beach, and hiking.

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trip report: Singapore, June 2018

 

Singapore is well known in the travel blog and travel hack community, though mostly for its award winning airport. That’s how I knew Singapore having spent a couple of nights laying over there a few years back. It wasn’t a place I’d intended to visit, but work brought me there anyways. With the surprisingly popular movie Crazy Rich Asians (imdb) providing a full on commercial account of the city and the world’s longest nonstop flight between Newark and Singapore restarting (thepointsguy), I figure I’d provide my experiences there.

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trip report: Wales, May 2018

The origin of our trip to Wales was open ended, so much so that we didn’t know Wales was our destination until a couple weeks out. This trip serves as an example of an unplanned road trip that’s a culmination of cheap flights across the pond, an expiring travel voucher, and no time to plan. The end result was cliffs, rocks, castles, and fish and chips.

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