Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

One of my favorite places in Iceland during our trip in November 2014 was Þingvellir National Park.

me + Þingvellir

It's the only place in the world where you can walk between two tectonic plates. You can see the edges of the North American and Eurasian plates (as in the above photo) So it's important geologically, but also is a site of cultural significance to Icelanders. 

The Icelandic Parliament first met here in 930 AD and continued to do so until 1798. You can see remnants of the above meetings still on site. The National Park was founded in 1930 in honor of the 1,000th anniversary of Parliament. It's now also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

We rented a car and self drove the Golden Circle, as we wanted to spend more than a day doing so and so we could spend more time at each place. It turned out to be a wonderful decision because we got more time at each location than every tour bus we saw. Often we'd arrive before the next batch of buses, and still be there when they left. So I highly recommend self driving this if you go. 

There are so many wonderful lookouts too. I took so many photos of this park that the number itself is unbelievable, let alone the scenery. I still cannot believe the beauty!!

The beauty of Thingvellir, and also Iceland in general, is the stunning geological features (and scars). But after that, even the stark emptiness and simplicity of Iceland is beautiful. I cannot wait to go back in the summer! 

Here's a few more gratuitous photos of Thingvellir:  

from near the visitor center

Short walk to a waterfall surrounded by black rock

I love falling water

And cold, stark scenery. It's beauty is amazing and intense. 

You can see forever!

Sunrise in Thingvellir

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bucket List: Wild Platypi!!

I have ALWAYS wanted to see a platypus, and seeing one in the wild is a major item on my bucket list. They're such wild creatures - mammals that lay eggs, males have a poisonous claw, they're basically furry amphibians. So strange. But I finally saw them!

The fact that I even have a passable photo with a blurry shape that resembles a platypus is a miracle. It was fairly dark, and luckily this one actually cooperated. 

I was in Lismore, NSW Australia, visiting my awesome friends JR & PR. They are lucky enough to live near some wild platypi. (PS - I don't know if the plural of platypus is platypi, but if it's not, it should be.) We went 3 nights in a row and finally on night 3 we got lucky! I would have squealed with delight if I didn't think that would scare them off. 

It was really great to just see one cruising by, doing platypus stuff. And then, it was gone, swimming away down Tucki Tucki Creek and I was happy to see it. BUT there was a second one! Two playtpi! Amazing!!

A less cooperative platypus, so now appreciate the first one :) 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

How to beat jetlag when you travel through time

My friend JR & I like to joke that she is talking to me from the future when we video chat. Typically she's a day before me, since she's in Australia and I'm in the US, and it's an entertaining idea. But travelling that distance can really mess with your body and mind. Luckily for me, on my recent trip to Australia (super recent, I got back 4 days ago) my system for beating jetlag did not fail me. Here is what I do:

1. Get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water the night before your time travelling journey begins.

2. When you get on the plane, the time in your world is now the local time at your arrival airport. In my case, my flight was at 0950 from Sydney, landing at LAX at 0630 on the same day. And it was a 13hour flight. So when I got on the plane at SYD, I told myself it was now 1650 (the current time at LAX). Which day you're actually on is less important than the time at this point. So, I got on the plane, suddenly its now 5pm, instead of 10am. It's okay though, because you have a long flight to trick your brain into believing it.

3. Now that you know what time it is at your next airport, follow that schedule. If it's 5pm, you're probably normally awake. So be awake. Once it is later and around a normal time to go to bed for you, take a nap. If you can't sleep for long, that's okay. Watch a movie, and take another nap.

4. Keep reminding yourself what time it is. If you wake up from a nap, think "oh man it's 2am." Try to go back to sleep. If not, watch a movie, read a book, or something, and try again later. It's less important to get tons of airplane sleep and more important to think in the correct time zone.

5. Keep drinking water. Proper hydration solves a lot of problems.

6. When you arrive at your destination, stay on that time! In my case, I landed at LAX at 0630 and was tired. But I treated it like I just didn't sleep well, and it's not unusual to only get 4-5 hours of sleep per night for me, so I had some tea and breakfast and dealt with it. But it actually felt like 0630, and if it feels like the right time (or pretty close) then you're doing great.

7. If you have shorter flights after your long haul flight, feel free to nap. On my next flight (a 3hr jaunt) I took a nap. I occasionally nap in my real life so this is okay. Besides naps are awesome. But remember the time of the place you're going to!

8. When you get home, follow your normal schedule. I went to bed at my normal time and got up the next morning at 615am for work with no issues, and I was also well rested and jetlag free!

For me, jetlag is just a mind game.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Iceland: The Blue Lagoon

My buddy DM & I had long been talking about traveling together, and both wanted to go to Iceland. So we did. We went November 2014 and had a wonderful time! I truly recommend everybody go to there.

We arrived in Reykjavik at 630 in the morning, and stayed at the airport a bit to regroup. We had booked a pickup from the airport into downtown Reykjavik with a stop at The Blue Lagoon. This seemed like the easiest way to a) get from the airport into town, which is about a 45 minute drive, and b) to visit The Blue Lagoon. Many tour groups offer tours like this, so we picked a reputable one and got on their first pickup of the day.

One corner of the Blue Lagoon

We arrived, checked in our luggage, and went off to get entrance tickets and go for a soak! The changing room is kind of wild, at least for the women. You change into your swimsuit, do a quick shower, and then head off to the Lagoon. Maybe it's just Europe, but there were women walking around the changing/shower rooms butt naked. Later at our hostel we made friends with 2 British guys and they had a similar experience. But, nobody cares, everybody's there to enjoy the lagoon, so go enjoy it!

The water was warm, and amazing, and super relaxing. There are also buckets scattered around with silica stuff in them which is meant to be a face mask or exfoliant. You look totally ridiculous with it on but it felt wonderful.

View from in the lagoon

Blue skies!

bridges over the lagoon

In November, the sun rises about 10am and sets about 5pm. So we basically got on site around sunrise. And little did we know, but that was some of the only blue sky we'd see the entire trip. I know there are hot baths all over Reykjavik, but the view of this one and the blue color just cannot be beat. It was really a great experience. I absolutely recommend a visit!

I had my GoPro! Woman in the back with a silica mask...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wetlands for everyone!

I've been incredibly swamped these past few months with field work, working on my house, and playing with my camera. And also, since Earth Day is this weekend, I thought I'd share some wetland photos in honor of that. While you enjoy these photos, I'll get to work on the actual big post I've been working on for what seems like ages. Enjoy!

Myrtle Grove, taken with my wide angle lens

Lafitte, taken with my cell phone

Myrtle Grove, taken with my wide angle lens

Sunrise in Delacroix, taken with my cell phone

Cold winter day in Dularge, taken with my cell phone

Lake Salvador, taken with my GoPro

Berwick, taken with my cell phone

Morgan City, taken with my cell phone

Rockefeller, taken with my 70-300mm lens

Rain at Rockefeller, taken with my GoPro

Myrtle Grove, taken with my wide angle lens