Page 5 of Stephen Paul Travel Blog Posts

South America » Chile » Magallanes » Torres del Paine April 10th 2007

After having my wallet stolen I returned to Torres with a new attitude: No matter what, nothing could get worse than it already was. After mentally letting go, I was finally able to relax! This fresh attitude was rewarded with a warm bed and excellent meal at Hosteria Pehoe. Rain poured all night as I sipped garlic soup shoulder to shoulder with the Carbineros. When the clouds cleared the next morning, the heavens opened to display what everyone was talking about- the magnificent Torres del Paine Massif towering over Lago Pehoe. But attention grabbing intro's aside, I need to first mention the drive past Lago Sarmiento on the way into the park. Having my own car I was enticed to the shores of this gigantic glacial lake that greets all visitors to the park long before ... read more
Storm over Lago Pehoe and Cerro Paine Grande (3050 meters)
Mirador el Condor, Torres del Paine
Camp Pehoe, Lago Pehoe, Cerro Ferrier

South America » Chile » Magallanes » Torres del Paine April 8th 2007

The road from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine is usually taken by public transportation by backpackers running "The Gringo Trail". Fresh from Ushuaia by way of Buenos Aires, the Gringo's look forward to the next few stops: Torres del Paine, El Calafate and Perito Moreno. The Lonely Travellers from a far off Planet take the economical and convenient buses out of necessity. For me though, the bus doesn't work- I wouldn't be able to roll the windows down and blast the fresh Chilean air in my face, stop anywhere I choose to take pictures, be free of timetables or wander away from the main road. How exactly is being alone most of the time, driving on international roads and paying exorbitant sums of money for a car an advantage? It lets me see things most ... read more
Hosteria Las Torres
Pehoe Shuttle Catamaran

South America » Chile » Magallanes » Puerto Natales April 6th 2007

Arriving into Puerto Natales, one truly feels at the end of the world. Sort of like being in Alaska, in that there are lonely roads and a real feeling that you are in a polar region. Ice and mountains, winds and cold. Forests give way to fields, and quickly after the views of the Fjords appear you arrive at the outskirts Puerto Natales. The towering mountains of Sierra Dorotea a the back of Puerto Natales were completely unexpected. Their sedimentary layers faced the setting sun like a patient audience...thousands of sunsets later they still look west. Puerto Natales was just round the corner, past the crumbling greenhouses and yellow fields. The sleepy waterfront was lined with Chilean black neck swans and birds surfing the choppy surf. The fjord was wide and long, and the giant cargo ... read more
Black Neck Swan, Puerto Natales
Local, Puerto Natales
Sunset over Sierra Dorotea

South America » Chile » Magallanes April 5th 2007

By way of San Francisco, my flight left Los Angeles for Santiago at 1pm. The flight was pleasant, I had 2 empty seats next to me, a clear window seat and the hottest flight attendant at my service. And these were Chilenas, serving free alcohol courtesy of one of the best airlines, LAN Chile. After a brief stop in Peru, the before sunrise arrival to Santiago passed well. The flight to Punta Arenas was much anticipated, I reserved an east facing seat, ensuring an unbstructed view of the Magnificent Chilean Andesandes I had researched the past 2 years. Punta Arenas reminded me of some sort of polar outpost. Flying over the landscape before the landing, scattered glacial ponds dotted the green hills. Patches of forest, many quite thick, grow scattered over the ridges and... read more
Nandu trying to hide behind the Fence
Spiritual Awakening
Lenga Forest, Moss

North America » United States » California March 30th 2007

Spring has arrived early this year in Central California. With two free days a few weeks ago, I decided to take advantage of this and visit Yosemite NP. While Yosemite has the name and the goods to prove its spectacular, the Los Banos National Wildlife Refuge only has the goods. Both places were a great escape, especially the incredibly dense flocks of birds at the Wildlife Refuge. I dont think I'll ever forget the sounds of their wings and their squawking when the whole flock- tens of thousands of birds- took off all at once. (Wildlife pictures on last page) Tragic to find out less than 10% of California's Central Valley wetlands remain, lost forever to agriculture. Not that Agriculture is bad- In 2004 agriculture brought in $31.8 billion in revenue. But the intensity to which ... read more
Firebaugh, California
Yosemite Valley, California
Los Banos National Wildlife Refuge

North America » United States » California » Monterey February 1st 2007

After being at Pt. Lobos for only a short period of time, one quickly realizes the beauty and character of this place is found nowhere else on earth. Endemic species abound in California, and Pt. Lobos is no exception. Like a microcosm of the unique character that comprises the California Floristic Province, this biological hotspot is teeming with diversity. Speckeled Granite cliffs inhabited by Cormorants; Lichens that cover the conifer forest like icing; Harbor Seals swimming through a kelp forest. We find three keystone species here that are cherished throughout the world- The Monterey Pine, Southern Sea Otter and Monterey Cypress. Lets start with the Monterey Pine, Pinus radiata. What could possibly make this pine stand out over all the others 115 species of Pine? After all, there is a lot of competition: The 4000 year ... read more
Rainbow over Carmel Beach
Harbor Seals Resting on the Rocks
The Most Beautiful Meeting of Land and Sea?

Once again, my Evite for an overnight trip to see a Meteor shower fell on deaf ears. With not one person interested or able to make it, there was only one option- go alone and experience nature in its purest form- free from social distractions! Sequoia National Park was created by Congress in 1890, becoming the Second National Park in the United States- established even before Yosemite. Only Yellowstone National Park, created in 1872, is older. When logging of the Giant Sequoia's began in the late 1800's, locals from Visalia and Fresno championed efforts to save these ancient sentinels of the forest who could not defend themselves against the saw. In the mid 19th century, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were expanded and effectively managed as one park. One could argue that Sequoia and Kings ... read more
sunset, Moro Rock
how big is a mature Sequoia? This Big!
Kaweah River, Moro Rock, Alta Peak

November is always a great time to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada. Conditions are ripe for solitude: the children are all in school, the days are short and the weather is cold. Rain always arrives in California by Halloween, but mostly the storms have only just started to come, if at all. Because of this, only the most determined hikers and backpackers can be found in the wilderness- Fortunately for me and some friends, we were some of them! Relief Reservoir is near Sonora Pass, a 9643 ft (2919 meter) Mountain Pass that was first crossed in 1853 by only the most determined of settlers. In history, the settling of California is told from an East Coast perspective. Thus, the mass migration of these people is termed Emigration- "To leave on region and settle in ... read more
Western Juniper, East Flange Rocks
Summit Creek Falls, Dusk
Aspen Leaf, Wood, Granite, Water

This was an overnight, solo trip to 8000 feet deep into the heart of the Sierra Nevadas. I tried to invite people, but nobody wanted to come! I knew it was going to be a long weekend with lots of driving and hiking. But I also knew I would get to spend a day and night in the wilderness enjoying the biggest meteor shower of the year. I brought food I didn't have to cook. I brought only a sleeping bag and mat. I only said a few words in 24 hours to the 3 passing hikers I saw on trail. Backpacking solo is relaxing and centering, it gives you the peace of mind to notice every little thing around you. Its silent and serene! The Perseids Meteor Shower was incredible, I saw over 60 in ... read more
My camp
Contorted Log
Lilly Pad Pond

My first live-aboard diving trip! 4 days on a Truth Aquatics Vision Live-Aboard boat with unlimited diving, great food and great people in the gems of the Mediterranean Pacific ocean off the coast of Southern California. Most diving was done on San Clemente Island, although we also dove at Catalina Island and Santa Cruz Island as well. Tons of wildlife, very warm water, incredible weather and a fantastic crew made the trip noteworthy! Lets not forget the 3 hours of drunken revelry for July 4 at Avalon Bay, Catalina. --Steve ... read more
Fireworks over Avalon
Farnsworth bank

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