Tag Archives: Adventure

Sitting at the Edge of the Grand Canyon – 15 Photos

A few years ago I posted a gallery of photos of me standing and sitting on picturesque rocks around the world. Well, after spending a few days at the Grand Canyon with my dad last week I came home with a grip of new photos with the same theme so I figured I’d make another gallery.

It goes without saying that the Grand Canyon is absolutely breathtaking, mind-boggling, and awe-inspiring, so to be able to experience its vastness up close and personal was a real treat! These photos will always remind me of what an incredible place the Grand Canyon is!

Photograph of Fat Tony at the Grand Canyon

This post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of me with my dad!

Two Days Experiencing the Wild Animals of South Africa

Recently while on vacation in South Africa I booked a two-day, one-night organized tour that ended up being one of the highlights of my trip.

The driver picked me up at my hostel in Cape Town at 7am, and after picking up a few more people we had a van filled with myself and six other travelers from different parts of the world. The scene was set for a great couple of days with new and interesting people.

Our first stop was an ostrich farm, where in addition to getting to hand (and mouth) feed the giant birds, I got to ride one! Ever since I was a kid and saw Swiss Family Robinson, I’ve always wanted to do this, and the experience didn’t let me down!

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Yep, just like in the movies!

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Ever had an ostrich eat food that’s clamped between your lips?

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The ole reach around. When an ostrich wants food, he gets food.

After the ostrich farm we went to the Cango Wildlife Ranch, which is like an interactive zoo of sorts. When the guided tour was finished I was able to pet a cheetah! Seeing the world’s fastest land animal up close and hearing him purr when I pet his head was pretty unbelievable.

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Crocodiles are probably the most gnarly and terrifying animals on the planet. If you zoom in and look close you can see the piece of meat that the tour guide dropped into the mouth of this crock.

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It ain’t easy being cheesy.

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After seeing and photographing this leopard, I think I found a new favorite animal. Absolutely beautiful…

We had some long drives through the Garden Route that were insanely beautiful, and at the end of the evening our group had a good time hanging out around a fire at our hostel.

The second morning of the trip started out with a stop at a place where we got to ride elephants and hand feed them fruits and vegetables. Once again, the opportunity to get so close and personal with such a unique animal proved to be really exciting.

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Just getting in some overhead squats with an elephant head… No big deal. #CrossFit

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Ever seen the inside of an elephant’s mouth? Trunk up! Open wide!

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I shot this one while sitting on the back of an elephant as it drank water from the lake.

The final stop of the trip was the safari-like game drive on a private game reserve. For about two hours we drove around in the back of a truck looking at animals, including four of Africa’s “Big Five”. We spotted an elephant, a heard of buffalo, two rhinos, and a few lions…the cheetah was hiding, so we didn’t see him.

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Cruisin’.

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Zebras.

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A long neck, and long tongue make it possible for this guy to reach food on the top shelf.

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Lions are some of the laziest animals out there, so catching one mid-yawn isn’t too difficult, but you can always lie and say that it was in the middle of a ferocious roar.

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Putting the GoPro to good use.

After another beautiful drive through stunning countryside we found ourselves back in Cape Town where everyone said their goodbyes and I put an end to another incredible adventure in a new country.

Thanks to Hotspots2C for the awesome trip!

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Off to the next adventure…

 

Living on the Edge – 14 Photos from Around the World

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved to climb on rocks. Keep in mind, I’m not a rock climber, and I’ve never actually been rock climbing (I had a sprained wrist when I was supposed to go in Thailand), but I’ve always loved to climb on rocks! When I see a big pile of boulders or a giant rock with a picturesque background my natural instinct is to climb and jump around like a mountain goat. After traveling to Australia and New Zealand last month I realized that over the years I’ve accumulated quite a few photos from around the world of me standing on rocks, so I pulled together my favorite 14 and put them in this gallery!

Australia Rock Pools GoPro Video

While in Australia earlier this year my friends and I went to the Currumbin Rock Pools in Queensland several times, including one time when the park was closed due to a bad storm that had ripped through the area. Strapped with my GoPro Hero 2 camera, I made a fun little edit from the day’s adventure. Every time I watch my face stretches with a huge smile across it as I remember great times with awesome people…

Click here to see some of my photos from Australia.

17 More Travel Photos from New Zealand

I love traveling in tropical areas. Beaches, oceans, and palm trees make me feel alive… Before traveling to New Zealand earlier this year I had never spent much time in areas peppered with lakes and mountains, but since exploring the South Island, I definitely have a new appreciation and love for the mountain terrain. Here are 17 more photos of what I experienced during my stay in Queenstown and the surrounding areas…

Click here to see my other photos from New Zealand.

17 Travel Photos from New Zealand

After visiting Australia earlier this year, I hopped on a flight to New Zealand where I spent a week exploring the South Island. With some of the most breathtaking landscapes and scenery I’ve ever seen, I couldn’t help but shoot a ton of photos during my short stay. From the rivers at the bottom of the canyons to the tops of mountains, I scoured the area in search of the best spots. Even though I have 17 amazing photos here, I still didn’t even scratch the surface of the natural beauty NZ has to offer…

16 Travel Photos from Australia

I started 2013 by venturing off to Australia where I spent four weeks traveling around the continent’s East Coast. Along the way I visited Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast and Brisbane, and the country’s largest city, Sydney. I rode my bike a lot, hung out with some amazing friends (new and old), and of course, shot lots of travel photos… Here are 16 of my favorites!

Helicopter Tour, Shark Cage, Snorkeling & Scuba Diving – GoPro Video From My Hawaii Trip

While in Oahu, Hawaii in December 2012 I had the opportunity to go on several incredible adventures including a helicopter tour of the island, snorkeling at Turtle Bay and Hanauma Bay, and scuba diving at Koko Crater. Of course, I brought along my GoPro and captured some of the action…

To see some of my photos from Hawaii, click here!

For the helicopter tour, I booked it through Paradise Helicopters, and I highly recommend them!

For the shark cage snorkel trip I booked it through North Shore Shark Adventures. It was awesome, but I got lucky and only had six people on the trip with me, whereas they usually have up to 24 people on the boat at a time. I heard that another company on the island only brings six at a time maximum, so I’d keep this in mind if you are planning a trip.

For my scuba dive, I went with Island Divers Hawaii. I didn’t find the staff at the shop or on the boat to be particularly friendly or helpful. If I decide to go scuba diving again in Oahu, it won’t be with this company.

Bizarre Foods I Ate In South East Asia

Part of what I enjoy about traveling is getting to try out new foods that a culture has to offer, and as my luck would have it, South East Asia had a ton of crazy new delicacies for me to sink my teeth into. Here’s a quick list of some of the weird things I ate on my trip to Thailand and Cambodia last December along with a bunch of photos to help your eyes digest it all…

– A variety of insects including crickets, various sized grasshoppers, a mealworm, a grub, and a cockroach.
– Fried chicken tendons.
– Grilled chicken intestines, feet, hearts, and head.
– Boiled duck egg fetus.
– Shark fin soup.
– Fried and soft boiled quail egg.
– Grilled snake, frog, and squid.
– Dog curry and grilled dog.
(Plus tons of other traditional local dishes, soups, and desserts.)

10 Photos From The Gibbon Experience In Laos

One of the coolest things Lindsay and I did on our trip to Asia last December was called The Gibbon Experience. It’s a great project that was started as a way to help preserve the forest and wildlife in Northern Laos, but when you are actually in the forest, it’s very easy to forget that you are helping the environment.

In a nutshell, you visit a remote village, hike through the forest and rice fields, and then zip line your way around the forest for a few hours before zip lining right into a treehouse that you sleep in about a hundred feet in the air. (The only way into or out of the treehouse is via zip line.) Some of the zip lines are nearly a half mile long and several hundred feed above the ground—and all of them are fun as hell! It was definitely a highlight of the trip, and as cliche as it sounds, the photos don’t really do it justice. Nonetheless, here are 10 photos from The Gibbon Experience so you can get a taste of what it was like.

Thanks to my old college buddy Rebecca Beacham for telling us we had to do this!

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – Heading Home

As I sit in the back of a tuk-tuk weaving my way through the disorderly and chaotic streets of Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh I’m finally starting to truly reflect on the life I’ve lived in South East Asia for the last five weeks. I’m also getting to enjoy one of my favorite parts of traveling. The kayaking, scuba diving, hiking, and trying weird foods are all great, but there’s something about watching the daily life of a culture and a people that is so different than your own that just can’t be beat. The sounds of motorbike engines, horns, and bumpy roads, the smells of food stalls and fresh meat and produce at the local market mixed with the exhaust from the crowded streets, and the sights of ordinary people doing ordinary things. A guard helping a young boy cross the hectic street. A woman making sugar cane juice. Men working on machinery. And entire families of five on a single motorbike saddle going who knows where. In my own city, or even country, everyday norms are all too often overlooked, but on the other side of Planet Earth these distinctly different norms have a whole new meaning and give me a new perspective on things. And that is something beautiful that comes along with traveling.

This has been the longest stretch of time I’ve ever traveled, and my first time in this part of the world. The experience as a whole has been completely surreal and unbelievably exciting, and each mini-experience, adventure, and excursion along the way is a story worth remembering and telling on its own. I’m grateful I’ve had each and every one of these experiences and I’m just as grateful to have been able to go through them all with a close friend who I hold so dearly.

I’ve learned a lot while I’ve been on this trip. I’ve learned about traveling, about friendship and relationships, about cultures and people, and I’ve learned about myself. I feel a great sense of peace as I begin this 26-hour journey back to the United States. I am refreshed, recharged, and rejuvenated, and ready to get back to a life that’s a bit more familiar.

However, even the life I’m going back to isn’t completely familiar anymore. For the past five and a half years I’ve worked for Ride BMX Magazine, and when I get back home I will begin my new career as a full-on freelance photographer and videographer in the BMX industry. I’m eager to see what’s behind all these new open doors and to see where the paths behind them will lead me.

As I leave Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia I want to show my gratitude to Lindsay Matush for planning and researching the trip and being the best travel buddy I could ever ask for. I also want to thank all the other people we encountered an met along the way for giving us a glimpse into their fascinating lives and culture.

Thank you very much!
Kob kun krab! (Thai)
Khop chai lai lai! (Lao)
Awkunh ch’ran! (Khmer)

To see my other travel updates from this trip to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, click my “Travel Update” tag page.

I have a ton of great travel photos to post over the next several months that I’m really excited to share. Be on the lookout!

*Written and photographed on my iPhone while in a tuk-tuk at 7:45am on January 13, 2012.

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – 3 Cities In Cambodia

It’s been about five days since my last travel update from this trip, and as of right now I only have two more nights left in South East Asia before I fly back to the U.S., leaving Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia behind and ending this five week mega-adventure/mini-retirement. Since m last post Lindsay and I have made our way from Battambang to Siem Reap, and from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. I feel like we’ve been packing as much into each and every day as I usually squeeze into a month, so to give a play by play of the past five days would be impossible, but I’ll quickly list some of the highlights and a bit of reflection as I relax in this hammock on the third floor balcony here at our final guesthouse in Phnom Penh.

Battambang
– We rented a motorbike and drove it through some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen.
– We rode a bamboo train with our motorbike on the cart. The bamboo train is a simple two-axle cart with a sheet of bamboo and a motor on the axles. The tracks are antiquated and dilapidated. Since there are only one set of tracks, if two carts are approaching each other from opposite directions the one with the least cargo/passengers must stop, disassemble their cart, remove it from the tracks, and let the other pass. Since our cart had our motorbike on it, we never had to stop and disassemble.
– We visited some temple ruins at the top of a hill with a fantastic panoramic view of the farmland around us.
– We visited the ruins of a second temple at the top of another hill. There were wild monkeys all over the place that were really fun to watch and photograph.
– On the same hill we visited some caves where men, women, and children’s bodies were dumped during the Cambodian Genocide during the late 1970’s.
– We watched several million fruit bats fly out of a cave at sundown for about a half hour as they streaked across the sky like a scarf waving in the wind.
– We ate boiled duck eggs with developed fetuses in them.
– We took an eight-hour slow boat ride from Battambang to Siem Reap, navigating through floating and stilted villages and getting an extremely interesting glimpse at life along the river for so many Khmer people.

Siem Reap
– We went shopping and got massages in the night market.
– We visited a place where local women make baskets, soaps, oils, spices, and other things.
– We visited a silk farm where caterpillars are bread for their silk cocoons. We got to see the process of a caterpillar’s life cycle and how the cocoon is turned into silk for fabrics.
– We saw both the sunrise and sunset at the temple ruins of Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
– We ate grilled snake.

Phnom Penh
– We pedaled bikes around the city and river front and drove a motorbike through some of the most insane traffic in the entire world. In Phnom Penh they do not have any regard whatsoever for stop signs, traffic lights, lanes, dividers, or any other rules or laws of the road. It is an absolute free for all a perfect example of controlled chaos.
– We visited the biggest “Killing Field” in the country where thousands of Khmer people were tortured, killed, and mass buried during the Cambodian Genocide.
– We visited a prison where thousands of Khmer people were held captive, tortured, and killed during the Cambodian Genocide.
– We ate grilled chicken feet and head as well as grilled dog and dog curry.

Be on the look out for one final update with some reflection on the trip as a whole pretty soon. Then, over the course of the next few months I’ll post some photo galleries and videos…stay tuned!

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – From The Islands Of Thailand To Cambodia

As I’m sure you could tell from my last few travel updates, our time spent on the islands off the southern coast of Thailand was incredible!

It's almost too easy to get good photos of long tail boats… Here's one that I'd normally hold on to for a photo gallery of some sort, but I have enough from this trip that I can let one slide.

Now we have made our way on another whirlwind journey to Battambang, Cambodia, and will finish out the last nine days of our trip here and in two other cities in Cambodia before flying home. Once again the means of getting from point A (Tonsai Bay, Thailand) to point B (Battambang, Cambodia) was pretty wild. Here’s the synopsis…

We spent the morning and afternoon rock climbing and kayaking at Tonsai Bay, then got a long tail boat to the mainland around 3pm. From there we boarded a mini van for a seemingly pointless one-kilometer ride to our double-decker bus. That bus ride started at about 4:30pm and was supposed to be 13 hours long, ending in Bangkok. However, about 12 hours in, after rain and flooding delayed us a few hours, our bus diver crashed into another bus, shattering the windshield and busting the driver side mirror and headlight. No one was injured, but plenty of first world tourists were pissed. Half the bus got off there and found other modes of transportation—in the middle of the night, on the side of the road, around who knows where. Lindsay and I didn’t have a schedule or anywhere important to be so we opted to stay on as it was the most convenient and cheapest option for us. Around 9:30am (already five hours late), we stopped on the side of the highway and switched over to a new double-decker bus that wasn’t wrecked. Another two hours later we were finally dropped off at a random bus stop somewhere in Bangkok.

Our busted bus.

Lindsay pulled out her trusty Lonely Planet guide and found that a certain bus station across town had busses that went to the boarder town near Cambodia we were tying to get to, so we hopped in a cab for about 20 minutes and made our way to the bus station. It worked out great and we were just in time for the next bus out of Bangkok.

After another three-hour bus ride we were finally at the border crossing and walked through immigration into Cambodia. Once inside the new country we hitched a free five-minute bus ride to a taxi and bus station where we got a “share taxi” (a beat up old Toyota Camry). We were in that car with another random guy for more than an hour, then he got dropped and a different random guy got in. Then the driver stopped at his house and his teenage daughter got in (sitting on Lindsay’s lap in the front).

Finally, around 9pm (30 hours after our journey began) we were at a hotel and ready to settle down for the night. The hotel (that we are still in it for another night) is the nicest place we’ve stayed at so far on this trip and is only $3 a night per person!

Entering into my 21st country…Cambodia.

Today was our first full day in Cambodia, and it was super relaxing and slow paced, but we still packed in a ton of super fun activities.

Here’s what we did today…
We took our time getting up this morning and dropped off some laundry to be washed at the hotel’s front desk, then went for a walk at the local market where we ate some soup and I got my face shaved and hair cut for $4. I haven’t had a close shave with a legit razor in nearly six years (I always just use a beard and mustache trimmer), so having my face shaved with a straight razor and talcum powder (no water or shaving cream) was a pretty wild experience for me. The haircut was deece considering the sheers were about as dull as you could get and still be able to cut hair. As the razor burn was setting in on my face I got a full head wash and massage that was worth the price alone.

Nope, not hamburger patties and tomatoes. Congealed blood with chicken innards that somehow look a lot like testicles. These are just some of the many colorful goodies you can find at the market. (I haven't tried either yet, and probably won't.)

The nice lady that served us soup in the market.

This was not very pleasant, but long overdue.

After we left the market we made a quick stop at the bank to exchange some money, then rented a motorbike ($5 a day). We took off on the chaotic streets on the motorbike and made our way to some temple ruins, stopping off first at a random roadside house to watch local people make rice paper in their front yard. After walking around the temple we kicked back in some hammocks, drank a coconut, and chowed down on some papaya salad. I ended up taking a quick but amazing nap in the hammock before we cruised on back towards town. On the way back we made a pit stop at a crocodile farm where we got to hold baby crocs for a bit. The night ended with some more soup at a roadside stand and a circus performance from a local school of aspiring artists. They were really talented and extremely entertaining—a perfect way to end a perfect day in a new country!

Moped cruisin'.

If you've ever wondered what the marks on rice paper are from, here's your answer… Bamboo drying racks.

What a croc.

Not quite Cirque de Soleil, but still pretty awesome.

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – Kayaking Around The Islands

I mentioned in my last travel update from this five week excursion through South East Asia that I recently did one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life, so this post is dedicated to that…

Along the southern coast of Thailand there are several inhibited islands and pseudo-islands (that are actually bays only accessible by boat), and all around these islands are massive limestone rock formations—some that have to be upwards of 600ft tall. When you are on a boat passing by them, they are some of the prettiest things in nature you could imagine. They make interesting silhouettes in the distance, and reveal an incredible depth of colors and richness when the sun hits them just right.

However, seeing them from a distance in a passing boat, no matter how many times I passed them, could not have prepared me for how majestic and breathtaking they are when I was directly underneath them in a kayak.

My point of view as we approached two of the formations.

There has only been one other time in my life I legitimately got teary eyed and choked up just by looking at something Mother Nature created (the other being when I was sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon), but that’s exactly what happened while paddling the small blue kayak through coves, bays, and inlets cut in the rock, under stalactites, and around tiny islands of solid rock protruding up from the ocean floor. Looking up and seeing how giant the formations were, and feeling so small in comparison was a powerful experience that I’ll never forget.

Lindsay under a massive overhang on a perfect natural diving board.

My best attempt at a Michael Phelps impersonation.

We paddled around aimlessly for hours, and constantly stopped just to take deep breaths and let our surroundings soak in, appreciating the fact that we were exactly where we were at that very moment in time.

Going into a cove.

Exploring an inlet.

Paddling under a giant stalactites.

Lindsay shooting the gap.

I remember feeling a similar way while white water rafting through a jungle in Ecuador, which I also put very high on the top of my list of my most memorable travel experiences. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a water proof camera with me on the white water rafting trip, and this time, while I did have a camera in the kayak, I almost felt like no photo I could ever take would do the experience justice, so I opted to keep my camera in the dry bag for most of the trip. Lindsay shot a handful of digicam pics, and I did shoot a few photos with my DSLR, but I didn’t get any images that I feel truly capture how magnificent and meaningful the experience was for me.

I think part of the power in experiences like watching the sunset while sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon, white water rafting through a jungle in Ecuador, and kayaking around tropical islands in Thailand comes from the fact that the journey of getting to that place and moment in time has been built up so much. After all the research and planning, flights, buses and car rides, and everything else that comes with the logistics of traveling, finally being in exactly that moment and mindset that you’ve been after all along is just a great feeling that can never be matched. For me, those moments are exactly why I chose to travel the world the way I do and are what make me feel so alive. In those moments I sit back and tell myself, “THIS is why I travel…”

Looking out from under a cut.

A view from the beach where you can see some of the formations we paddled around off in the distance.