Alaska marks the 50th and final state visited by my wife. (I am well behind in the low 30s.) Alaska lives up to its Last Frontier hype. Views are grand, flora and fauna are abundant, and rules are guidelines at best. We flew in, rented a car, and road-tripped the state as best we could in two weeks. And as most Alaskans are quick to tell you, Alaska is twice as big as Texas…three times as big at low tide. (Special note, if you try this yourself, and you totally should, know that every road is under construction 24 hours a day during the summer. Plan accordingly.) If you like the outdoors, Alaska is nothing but. But for all the grandness and splendor, the highlight for me were the sled dogs in Denali National Park and Preserve.
(Photo credit to JFB for the better of the wildlife photography)
Over spring break we took a trip to Scotland to continue is our latest trend of travel where it is not hot. (Admittedly we’ve gone too far as all the places we’ve been have not only not been hot, but actually snowed at least once during the trip.) A few things I now know about Scotland:
- As a rule, the folks are quite friendly. Way to buck that stereotype, Scots.
- Haggis is delicious. (I ended up having it at least once a day.) Also blood pudding is delicious.
- For the most part, Scotland operates strictly between 8 and 5. Plan your days accordingly.
- History and grudges go back. Way, way back. No tale has less than 300 years backstory.
We took a trip to Morocco over the Thanksgiving week. Despite crazy floods and catching cold, we had an amazing experience. I was surprised at how much the landscape of much of Morocco looked like the Southern California desert area. Driving around the foothills of the Altas Mountains was strikingly similar to driving out to San Jacinto or Joshua Tree. Another thing that threw me about this trip was my lack of expectations. For example, with a trip to Paris, there are things I know I am going to see that I’ve known about my whole life, like the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower. But I didn’t have much insider information with Morocco. All I really knew was the movie Casablanca (which was shot on a Hollywood soundstage, of course) and that it was, to me, an exotic and remote place. Instead of known or expected experiences, it was a series of brand new experiences. This was a definite travel style paradigm shift for me. Now, having seen it, and smelled it, and felt it, and read much more about it, I want to go back, see more and expand on this first experience. (See full Flickr album here.)
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The fog finally lifted this morning and the final heats of the Round of 144 were completed. The Round of 96 began and some of the bigger names started showing up to surf. Some of the bigger shocks so far are that Bruce Irons, Damien Hobgood and Sunny Garcia are all out already. There have been some good waves out there, but some of the heats are definitely getting better sets than others. The swell is still inconsistent. But the storm in Tahiti is promising some extreme end-of-competition action. Local boys Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach) and Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente) competed in the same heat. Both succeeded and will be moving on to the Round of 48. We’ll have to keep our eye on those two… Hope to get back down there tomorrow and get some pictures of the ladies in their next heats.