You Think You Blow Hot Air? Check out this Geysir Time Lapse Video

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Roiling steam, trapped in the earth’s belly gushes skyward at Iceland’s Geysir, the oldest documented geyser and natural wonder that birthed the term geyser.

In Icelandic, the word “geysir” means “to burst” and encapsulates the experience watching bubbles of steam lurch from the watery pools. Visitors watch in anticipation as a giant bubble appears in the steaming pond and flinch backward as the plume erupts ejecting a thick cloud of warm mist, the perfect refresher on a cold winter day.

Check out the time lapse video below:

 

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Watery Wintery Wonderland Waterfall

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Gale force winds and piles of snow add to the winter beauty of Iceland’s Gullfoss Waterfall.

Its unforgiving winter weather can turn in a second, as I learned while to visit Gullfoss. The normally 45 minute drive from Reykjavik took double that and due to blizzard conditions and the road became impassable our our way back to the capital.

For nearly 3 hours we sat, along with 25 other cars, waiting for a plow to come and clear the road. Eventually the road’s impassible section was cleared and we inched away (the road was still covered with snow and patches of ice, but not enough to keep us from driving slowlyish).

Check out the time lapse video below – what’s normally an expansive view was clipped into a wintery myopic blur.

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Iceland’s Living Waterfall: Seljalandsfoss

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A craggy, 200-foot cliff traces Iceland’s southern coastline like a towering castle rampart looming over the country’s rugged, natural beauty.

The receding ocean exposed the formerly submerged shelf and waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss tumble over the cliff as glacial meltwater flows to the sea 3 miles away.

Explorers can walk behind Seljalandsfoss’s crashing falls, through its perpetual mist and lush green vegetation.

Below is a time lapse video from Seljalandsfoss. Stay tuned for photos from this natural beauty and be sure to view it in full screen.

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A Cascade of Viking Treasure

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Viking legends fill the mountains and waterfalls of Iceland, and Skogafoss Waterfall takes no exception.

Legend says a treasure is hidden somewhere in the 200 foot tall, 82 foot wide cascade.

Þrasi Þórólfsson, the first Viking settler buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. (Visitors can walk behind the falls and listen to its tumbling torrent). Years later, the locals tried to find the unclaimed treasure, but were only able to grasp a ring on the treasure box’s side before it disappeared again.

The legend continues, the ring was affixed to a local church’s door, which is now housed in the local museum.

On sunny days, the misty waterfall casts a single or double rainbow into the surrounding countryside.

It was a cloudy day when I shot the below time lapse video, but none the less breathtaking.

Be sure to view it full screen and at 1080p.

 

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Dreaming of Northern Lights

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Wispy green apparitions dance through the night like the souls of lost Vikings, lost at sea, seeking their ancient Icelandic homeland.

Once a village of turf huts and scruffy seafarers, Reykjavik has become an international destination for finance and tourism, even during its frigid arctic winter.

Drawn by a rugged natural beauty and fabled Northern Lights, visitors explore the Arctic countryside via horse, sled, snowmobile, car, truck, super jeep, and even “monster trucks” for a glimpse of Aurora borealis, or “Dawn of the North”.

In Roman mythology, Aurora, the goddess of the dawn crossed the night sky, leaving trails of color in her wake, announcing the morning sun.

Science offers a differing explanation. The auroras appear as the sun’s electrically charged particles collide with the earth’s atmosphere, creating the colorful auroral spectacle.

Auroras are visible in the northern and southern hemisphere especially during the winter months, when skies are clear and nights longer.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office forecasts the auroras strength. The night the below photos were taken – one of the only clear nights during a recent 8-day trip to Iceland – the forecast was a 2 out of 9.

They’re a definite tease and a fierce motivation to return as soon as the Viking winds blow me back.

(As always, click on the image below to view full size.)

 

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Indonesia’s Sweet Airy Paradise

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I’m living a fantasy right now – dreaming about Gili Air’s idyllic beaches, feeling and hearing sand and coral crunch beneath my feet and enjoying afternoon siestas in an open sided, thatch-roofed hut.

Not that I don’t love NYC, but I think everyone is ready for the frigid days and snow piles to thaw into spring.

A smoldering volcano looms east of Gili Air on the island of Lombok and seems to create its own weather patterns. In the rainy season, ominous clouds surround Rinjani’s peak and drench its hillsides with torrents of water (When I was there we hiked down the volcano for 6 hours in a muddy soup – still a damn good time).

Check out the photos below from Gili Air and how to get around on Lombok.

And follow the link here for photos from climbing Rinjani.

 

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Paradise on Earth (Where I Wish I Was Right Now)

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Stepping into paradise begins with a splash.

Moments after the high-speed ferry intentionally runs aground on Gili Air’s sand bar, its passenger’s hop into the warm water and splash onto its sun-bleached beach.

Three miles around with sandy roads and surrounded by turquoise waters sparkling with a kaleidoscope of fish and aquatic life, Gili Air is a dreamy, earthly heaven nestled between the touristy (but still amazing) island of Bali and the rugged island Lombok.

Accommodations are simple and Internet is limited to non-existent, both plusses in my get-off-the-grid paradise. Our cabana, with ocean views, set us back $15 a night and for dinner we’d explore the island and settle on which beachside restaurant offered the freshest fish. Our favorite: freshly caught red snapper, veggies and fries for $7.

The sun is strong near the equator and during the day, snorkeling to the reefs is a must, but only after renting a mask, snorkel and fins for $2.

When it’s time for a rest, grab a fresh coconut for a dollar or two, drink its milk and scoop out the succulent coconut meat.

Now, I’m not trying to sell this place as one of the most amazing places on earth, but it’s definitely in my top 3 most romantic, affordable and just all around “Holy shit. I better get back here some day!”

Check out the photos below and a few more stories about Gili Air here.

 

 

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A Himalayan Thaw (No Spring Required)

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It’s bloody cold in New York City right now, maybe even colder then trekking through the Nepali Himalayas. As the Gosain Kund trek progressed and the declining altitude ushered in a wonderful oxygen-filled intoxication, spring-like warmth and greenery filled the trek’s remaining kilometers.

Hikers no longer huddled around wood-burning stoves but enjoyed the surrounding cascade of mountains bearded in trees, fields and forests from temperate outdoor patios.

Beers were clinked (lots as you can see in the below photo) and tired legs and muscles buzzed with a sense of accomplishment.

Check out photos below and stay tuned for the next installment…where in the world are we off to next?

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Machu Pichu’s Carved Mountaintops

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Talking about terraced fields sent me digging through my image archive looking for other photos I’ve shot showing human ingenuity.

Below are a few early morning photos from Peru’s Machu Pichu, with clouds rolling up the mountain from the nearby Sacred Valley.

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The Terrace of Human Possibility

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Goodbye snow and hello green sums up day 4 trekking from the Nepali villages of Ghopte to Kutsmsang.

The world seems to blossom and breathe a thawed life, leaving the bleached snowy Himalayan heights behind.

Plots of corn and other crops begin to cover the few gentle slopes and places where human hands and tools have chiseled the landscape into steps.

Terraced mountains strike my heart with a sense of humbling wonder. Starting with day 4 and continuing for the rest of the trek where altitudes are lower and mostly snow-free, lush terraces carve the steep mountainsides.

Many Asian and South American farmers use terraced fields for agricultural production. Terraced fields even cascade down the mountains surrounding Peru’s Machu Picchu temple, which was built by the Incans in the mid 1400s.

 

Clouds obscure the  surrounding terraced mountains around sunrise at Peru's Machu Pichu

Clouds obscure the surrounding terraced mountains around sunrise at Peru’s Machu Pichu creating a Yin/Yangn balance

I am perpetually amazed by human ingenuity. Traveling exposes you to so many people, places and randomness and each discovery is like an epiphany of human possibility (both good and bad) and how ceaseless innovation has paralleled human development since the beginning of time.

Sure they’re just steps carved into the side of a mountain, but at some point someone developed the idea, the tools and executed the idea. Just like travel: taking a dream or a passion and making it tangible.

 

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