Page 4 of swissmaple Travel Blog Posts

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales July 20th 2009

We set off on our road trip to explore a bit of the east coast of Australia. The last time I was in Oz, I checked off all the states except Queensland, and I hadn't explored a whole lot of New South Wales. I basically missed the regular tourist trail up the east coast. Thus this time, we decided I had to see something new. We started our road trip in the Blue Mountains. Having quite enjoyed my walkabout that I did a few years ago in the area, I wanted to go back and explore a little more. We booked into a funky hostel (Flying Fox, highly recommend them) in Katoomba and set off to see the star attraction, the Three Sisters. We decided to descend the Giant Stairway to the bottom below the cliffs, ... read more
Three Sisters

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Kiama June 26th 2009

This time, coming to the land down under was somehow even longer than the first time. Well, I did chose the discount flight (I was quite pleased that I wasn't sharing economy class with chickens at the price I got my ticket!), and had two layovers, but either way, Australia is bloody far away! Within a few days of arriving Down Under, I discovered a new phobia. Now, last time I was here, I chased a dingo in the outback, didn't even think twice when I almost stepped on a black snake in Tasmania (hello one of the most poisonous in the world?) and even somewhat got over my fear of spiders. Somewhat. But give me a leach and I freak out. These leaches are not like our big fat ugly North American leaches found in ... read more
Fitzroy Falls
Old & New
The view

North America » Canada » Quebec » Tadoussac May 3rd 2009

After the USA: A-Ok! trip, I spent about a month in Goshen, NY before I decided I had to return to Montreal. I moved into an apartment chock-full of international people doing various internships, and returned to work whilst trying to enjoy as much spring as possible. I took great delight in walking down my Plateau stairs every morning, watching the tree in the front yard change from a dull, dead grey matter into a full blown blooming purple lilac tree. The little changes that happen every day, as well as the seemingly sudden bursts of spring all over the city, bring many Montrealers great joy after the long, cold winters. My room mates were from Germany and France, as well as for a while I shared the space with a musical duo called West Tokyo ... read more
Walking on the Walls

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas February 27th 2009

Note to readers: You may want to read the stories of our USA road trip in chronological order - in that case, start with or , and work back from there! Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, klang, powf, screeeeeeeeeeeeeech! Ba-bump, screeeeeeeeeeech! An odd smell begins to join the chaos that was pounding our ear drums. Oleg had enough. He did not want to go any further. The funny noises started shortly after Kelso Sand Dunes in Mojave National Preserve. We had continued on to Baker, CA to fill up the tank before heading north to Death Valley. We came across the end-of-President's Day Weekend-return-to-L.A.-traffic that filled the main road of Baker, but after lunch simply headed off again into the desert, leaving the traffic behind. Oleg was a bit unhappy, but we hoped the ba-bump wasn't ... read more
Oleg gets a ride
Up into the Stratosphere

We entered southern California, expecting to stop at a visitor's centre to pick up brochures; instead we were greeted by yet another border patrol / truck inspection site. We had seen these in New Mexico and Arizona...but like everywhere else, we were just waved through, leaving us to wonder what that was all about. Taxpayer dollars hard at work? We needed supplies, but unfortunately for us, we had to drive past our destination to the town of Indio. By this point, both of us were a little sick of driving, so getting lost in Indio didn't suit us well. After picking up our supplies, we grumpily drove back towards the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, our next destination. As we pulled off the highway to fuel up, we noticed what looked to be some RV's ... read more
Ocotillo Cactus
Cholla Cacti
Atop Ryan Mountain

North America » United States » Arizona February 11th 2009

We entered Arizona on a sour note, as it was snowing yet again. We decided to try and see northern Arizona despite the weather, as it would be a shame to be in Arizona without seeing the grandest of canyons and the valley of monuments. But the weather just wouldn't cooperate. We drove on Navajo roads to Canyon de Chelly, managing to catch it in the brief sunlight. Canyon de Chelly is breathtakingly beautiful. Especially at the end of the the south-rim drive, with a view of the convergence of canyons at Spider Rock. To go down into the canyon would've required much better weather and a Navajo guide, but we got our glimpse of the beauty just in time. No more than 5 minutes later, visibility had dropped to a car-length as the snow came ... read more
Spider Rock
And the snow hits!
The reason we missed the canyon!

North America » United States » New Mexico February 5th 2009

After leaving New Orleans, we continued west, to the big state of Texas. We reached Texas past sunset, having driven on bridges over the Louisiana bayous for what seemed like hours. One of the first "cities" we came to was oddly not on our map. It took us a few moments to realise the cities we were seeing in the distance were not actually glistening gold cities but really cities of huge oil refineries, lit up in golden lights for all to see. What had clued us in were the plumes of smoke and the flames from gas burn-offs. It was quite a sight to see at night. We planned to stop for our first Texas night at a Texas rest area, east of Houston, but we discovered it was closed. So we pushed forward, passing ... read more
Texas Scene
City of Rocks
Yucca Sunrise

North America » United States » Louisiana » New Orleans February 3rd 2009

New Orleans was one of the cities on Dave's list. Nevermind that it was too early for Mardi Gras. I was a bit apprehensive of New Orleans. I knew lots of people who had been there before the hurricane in 2005, but no one could tell us what it was like since then. Except Chuck and Charles, our Florida Keys buddies, who spent the weekend drinking on Bourbon Street. All the stories I had heard were mixed: it was a fantastically friendly party city, it was a sketchy city full of racism, it had a lovely old quarter, it was run down. With not a clue of what to expect, we had to check it out. Leaving Florida, we stopped for the night at Gulf Islands National Seashore, at the Davis Bayou in Mississippi. We had ... read more
Fancy Ironwork
Bourbon Street
Old Street Names

North America » United States » Florida January 31st 2009

Finally, we reached Florida! After getting some maps and freshly squeezed Florida orange juice at the visitor's centre, we ventured off into the state known for Disney, car races, old people, alligators and sunshine. Of course when we first arrived, everyone was bitterly complaining of the cold, as it was hovering between 10-15°C (50-60°F). The warmth we were so desperately trying to find was eluding us. But it was well above freezing, and as our Quebec license plates may have indicated, we'd take what we could get. Our first night we reached the town of St Augustine, where we decided to try the nearby state park. As we approached, we saw that the gate was closed, so it didn't look like it was an option until the car in front of us typed in the code ... read more
Key West Sunset
Key Deer
Bahia Honda

North America » United States January 21st 2009

After exploring DC, we headed south to Newport News, Virginia to visit my cousin Ben. The first time we were in Newport News, we were impressed by how fake it seemed. Being so close to Navy activities seemed to mean that everything in the town had to be perfect. Each blade of grass must be xx inches high, each tree must have x number of leaves. It was a lovely city, but we couldn't help feel it was too perfect. Our second impression was a bit better. We met Ben in historic Williamsburg. He gave us a bit of a tour of the older buildings and we all enjoyed meeting a group of Bernese mountain dog owners (and the dogs!) who happened to also be there that day. We took the scenic road back to Ben's, ... read more
Miniature Ships
First in Flight
Bodie Lighthouse

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