Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park - December 2017
Santa Elena Canyon was one of the most surprising features of Big Bend. In the far southwestern corner of the park, the trickling Rio Grande has carved through up to 1500 feet of the surround mesa, leaving a scar in the rock that can be seen from miles away. Along the river, an array of plant life announces the presence of the water which is so scarce in the region.
Chihuahua Desert, Big Bend National Park - December 2017
The Chihuahua desert composes most of Big Bend National park, and is every bit as vast and lonesome as one might imagine. In some stretches there is no shade or water for miles, and all the eye can see are some cacti and maybe an occasional bird circling far overhead. However, closer examination reveals a wide variety of flora and geological formation.
Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park - December 2017
When most people think of Big Bend, the last thing that comes to mind is temperature mountain landscapes. However, the Chisos Mountains are exactly that - a small mountain ranged contained entirely within the park, home to species you would expect to find far further north: oak, fir, whitetail deer, and allegedly black bears and mountain lions. It's one of the few places in park which is open year-round, and hosts the only lodging on park.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center - September 2015
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose Texas is one of the largest wildlife preserves in the United States. We stayed overnight in the beautiful lodge, and then woke up early the next morning for the morning safari tour. Highlights included hand feeding a giraffe, being stalked by a cheetah, and a rare viewing of the critically endangered Grévy's zebra.
Dallas Zoo Giants of the Jurassic - April 2015
Giants of the Jurassic came to life at the Dallas Zoo with lively animatronics. More than a dozen species were represented in various settings. The only disappointing part was that kids weren't calling out their favorite Land Before Time character.
Dallas Arboretum - December 2014
There wasn't much flora in this display at the Aboretum, but the themed mechanical exhibits were unique and creative. Each day was lovely during the day, but at night they took on a whole new life.
De Golyer Estate - December 2014
The De Golyer Estate is a stunning mansion on the Dallas Arboretum property. During the course of the year, the mansion is decorated from top to bottom and opened to the public. For this Christmas season, the mansion has been filled with carolers.
Emerald Princess - December 2014
The Emerald Princess was our home for seven nights. The massive ship was impressive if unattractive, transporting approximately 3500 guests and 1500 crew members. Despite this, we still felt small in the expanse of the ocean at night.
Dallas Arboretum - November 2014
Autumn at the Aboretum housed more varieties of pumpkins and squash than we ever knew existed.
Firestone and Robertson Distillery - June 2014
An unassuming pre-Prohibition warehouse in downtown Fort Worth hides the Firestone and Robertson distillery. I was surprised to learn that the famous TX Blended Whiskey was in fact a blend of Kentucky spirits. However, F&R plans to reveal their homegrown straight bourbon in the near future. Read more here.
Waco Mammoth Site - May 2014
Waco Mammoth Site is one of the best kept secrets in north Texas. Hidden away in an inconspicuous metal barn is the only preserved nesting site of the Columbian Mammoth anywhere in the world. Some sixteen intact specimens have already been excavated, and several more are currently left in situ for observation.
Dr Pepper Museum - May 2014
The Dr Pepper museum was a lighthearted portal to a lost era of American history wherein soda was a food crucial to the war effort and it was considered good for your health to drink it three times daily.
Medieval Times Dallas - April 2014
The antics of the knights were impressive enough, but the true stars of our dinner and tournament were the well trained and beautifully adorned horses.
Dallas Arboretum - April 2014
The Dallas Arboretum is widely regarded as being one of the most impressive flora displays in the region.
Ft Davis and McDonald Observatory - February 2014
McDonald Observatory is hailed as the best place to view the stars in the continental United States. The moon was one day past full, limiting our view but offering an impressive display all its own.
Animals Inside Out - February 2014
Animals Inside Out was smaller but more varied than the original Body Worlds, and was definitely the highlight of our trip to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Chinese Lanterns at Fair Park - November 2013
Despite being about as authentically Chinese as Orange Chicken, the latern festival was nonetheless a dazzling sight to behold.
Ringling Bros Circus Presents Dragons - August 2013
Dragons gave a new twist to the traditional circus experience while still incorporating the classics such as clowns, acrobats, lion tamers and elephants.
USS Texas and San Jacinto - July 2013
Boasting the largest guns in the world during WW1, the Mighty T still saw action on D-Day, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
Houston Zoo - July 2013
The Houston Zoo hosts a large number of animals in a small, compact area... we got lost more than once.
Houston Museum of Natural Science - July 2013
The butterflies in the Houston Museum of Natural Science were a difficult subject matter to capture.
Dallas World Aquarium - April 2013
The Dallas World Aquarium surprisingly hosts more than just fish. The multi-storied warehouse is also home to tropical birds, reptiles, and live entertainers.
Sea World San Antonio - April 2013
Although in recent years the franchise has become more focused on rides and attractions than the animals, the jovial staff and trainers still set Sea World apart from standard amusement parks.
Ft Worth Zoo - January 2013
Fort Worth has always been our preferred zoo in the metroplex, and the newly opened Museum of Living Art only reinforced this belief.
Thunder Over Louisville - April 2017
Thunder Over Louisiville is a massive celebration each year, one week prior to the running of the Kentucky Derby. It features one of the country's best airshows and culminates in the world's largest annual fireworks display. From our VIP rooftop seats we had a great view of the action... and the open bar certainly didn't hurt.
Hot Springs National Park - October 2016
Of all of the bathhouse on historic Bathhouse Row, only the Fordyce Bathhouse has been preserved as a museum to showcase the equipment and facilities of the time. Of particular interest is the women's section, which at the time was hailed as being virtually identical to the men's. Other houses have been converted into modern day spas, and one is even a microbrewery.
Blanchard Springs Caverns and Ozarks - October 2016
Caverns is nestled away in the picturesque Ozark National Forest. It is a living cavern, home to spiders, cave crickets, and unfortunately, invasive mold. The views aren't particularly spectacular compared to some of the caves we've visited, but it was a fun experience with a number of neat formations such as the Battleship.
Vicksburg National Military Park - October 2016
Vicksburg National Military Park is located on the outskirts of the city. Therefore, the majority of the monuments and historic locations are dedicated to the Union forces who were assaulting the city, while the Confederate locations are outside the park scattered amongst the city itself. Perhaps the most moving sight was the landscape itself, which is still visibly scarred from the artillery fire some 150 years later.
Natchez Trace - October 2016
The Natchez Trace is perhaps the greatest roadway in America that you've never heard of. Running 444 miles from southern Mississippi into central Tennessee, the roadway follows a historic trail used by early American settlers. The road is closed to commercial traffic, meaning there are no semi trucks, roadside advertisements, or amenities of any kind. Instead, dozens of pull-offs showcase various historic sites and artefacts, but the real show is the natural splendor of the land and wildlife. This segment we toured the southern half of the Trace, from Natchez to Tupelo.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve - October 2016
Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Reserve is hidden away in the south side of New Orleans. It seems like an unlikely place for a national park, and you happen upon it without much in the way of warning or signage. Inside the park, we found disappointingly few alligators, but the wealth of interesting plant life made up for it.
Glen Eyrie Castle - May 2016
Glen Eyrie was the home of the railway baron turned Union general turned surveyor William Jackson Palmer. He built the residence into the style of castle at the request of his wife, Mary Lincoln "Queen" Palmer. After their deaths, the property was purchased by a Lutheran ministry and is now used as a hotel and conference center.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument - May 2016
The Florissant Fossil Beds are significant due to their preservation of ancient leaves and insects, which are usually too small and fragile to become fossilized. Unfortunately, most of the fossils have been removed from the site, and all that is left to see are photographs and the stumps of fossilized redwood trees.
Stanley Hotel - May 2016
The Stanley Hotel was a surprisingly bustling venue which worked hard to play up it's "haunted" reputation and downplayed it's actual historical significance. The highlight was Cascades Restaurant, which features a whiskey bar containing more than 500 unique bottles.
Rocky Mountain National Park - May 2016
We were unprepared for the huge amount of snowpack still on the ground at Rocky Mountain National Park, and did not make it far into the field. However, the landscape was gorgeous even from the roadways.
Colorado River Headwaters Scenic Byway - May 2016
Our journey on the Colorado Headwaters Scenic Byway began as an attempt at a shortcut. While it certainly did not end up saving us any time, we were glad to have made the detour.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison - May 2016
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is nearly 3,000 feet deep at its lowest point. The main attraction is the Painted Wall, where 2 billion year old pegmatite adorns the steepest cliff face in North America.
Fantasy Canyon - May 2016
Alternatively known as "Nature's China Shop", Fantasy Canyon is a very small park in a remote part of Utah where some very intricate and very delicate rock formations are found. The monument is a brief snapshot in time where the silt and shale has eroded away from the cliff, but the slighter tougher sandstone remains. Unfortunately, erosion continues on and several of the more famous features have already been destroyed.
Dinosaur National Monument - May 2016
Dinosaur National Monument is probably the greatest paleontological site every discovered in the United States. The exhibit hall preserves some 1500 fossilized bones in situ on a single wall of the cliff face, which once upon a time was the bed of an ancient river. Amazingly, what you see today is roughly 1/6 of the original site: most of the fossils were excavated and sent to places such as the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.
Grand Tetons National Park - May 2016
The Grand Tetons are iconic; the range is what immediately springs to mind when most people think of the Rocky Mountains. The prominence of the mountains is astounding: you can draw a line on the map precisely where the plateau ends and the mountain begins to soar. The Grand Tetons is also one of the best places in the country to see moose, the beautiful and ornery king of the deer family.
Wort Hotel - May 2016
One of the first buildings to be constructed in Jackson Wyoming, for many years the Wort Hotel was famous for its bar and illegal casino. These days the bar remains open, and remnants of its colorful past have been converted into historical exhibits.
Old Faithful Area, Yellowstone - May 2016
Old Faithful is located in a region called the Upper Geyser Basin. This is where the big guns live: the eruptions here are dramatic in their violence. Some of the other geysers such as Beehive were more impressive to watch than Old Faithful, but the world's most famous geothermic feature is still prized for erupting like clockwork every 92 minutes.
Old Faithful Inn - May 2016
The world's largest log cabin was built in 1903, mostly to prove that it could be done. The architect, Robert C. Reamer, claimed that its asymmetry reflected the chaos inherent in nature, but really, it seems to have been built as a testament to American power of will. The cavernous main room stretches some seven stories high, and is completely open air: the actual lodgings of the inn are something of an afterthought attached to one side.
Lake Village And East Entrance, Yellowstone - May 2016
On the east edge of Yellowstone, the elevation rises and the mountains form a formidable boundary. The vegetation becomes sparser and the snow becomes deeper; this is ideal grizzly bear country. Yellowstone Lake was still partially frozen, yielding some dramatic patterns in the ice.
Canyon Area, Yellowstone - May 2016
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is one of the most iconic scenes in the park, and is what many people think of when they think of the great national park. Unfortunately several of the lower trails were still closed for the season, but the view from above was still spectacular and we more than made up for it with a series of lucky chance wildlife encounters.
Norris Area, Yellowstone - May 2016
The Norris Area is probably the most geothermally active area in the park. The hot springs and geysers here aren't as large as their counterparts to the south in the Old Faithful area, but they very vibrant and active. No two erupt on the same timings or in the same manner: each has its own unique personality.
Mammoth Hot Springs Area, Yellowstone - May 2016
Mammoth Village is built on the site of the Army fort, built in 1886 to protect the nation's first national park from trespassers and poachers. The hot springs themselves are still growing at a rapid place, and changes are visible from year to year. An elk herd perpetually inhabits the streets.
Tower-Roosevelt Area, Yellowstone - May 2016
The northern most end of Yellowstone is home to Lamar Valley, and the Tower-Roosevelt Area. This is the only portion of the park which is open year round and provides the best viewing for wolves, black bears, and all of the large herbivores.
Devil's Tower - May 2016
Standing alone in the flat landscape, Devil's Tower holds religious significance for more than twenty Native American tribes.
Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range - May 2016
Thought to be descended from Cortez's war horses, the wild mustangs have been living peacefully on Pryor Mountain for more than two hundred years. They are thought to be the last truly wild horses in North America. To see them, visitors must traverse a treacherous mountain road of steep cliffs and uneven boulders.
Chapel In the Hills - May 2016
With blueprints provided by the Norwegian Department of Antiquities, a Lutheran pastor built an exact replica of an ancient Nordic stave church in the hills of Rapid City.
Badlands National Park - May 2016
In early May, the Badlands are surprising lush and hospitable. Green prairie grass sweeps out to the edge of and even into the formations, and a chorus of bird song fills the air.
Black Hills National Forest - May 2016
The Black Hills still bare the scars of the infamous Jasper fire in 2000. Efforts are underway to replant the areas which were so badly damaged that they would never grow back naturally. Through it all, the granite peaks of the Needles remain largely impervious.
Jewel Cave National Monument - May 2016
While Jewel Cave does not contain any gems, it does boast a wide variety of speleothems in a surprising array of colors and shapes. With over 180 miles of mapped passages, scientists have only begun to discover what is thought to be the third longest cave sequence in the world.
Crazy Horse and Mt Rushmore - May 2016
Started nearly 70 years ago, the Crazy Horse monument is still barely just begun. It dwarfs Mount Rushmore in both size and level of detail. After Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore is rather underwhelming, and in person is obviously unfinished.
Wind Cave National Park - May 2016
Wind Cave is so named because the tiny natural entrance into the cave demonstrates changes in the air pressure, causing a strong breeze to blow into or out of the cave depending on the weather. While it is lacking in diversity, it is world famous for its unparalleled showcase of the boxwork formation.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument - May 2015
Tent Rocks was designated a national monument in 2001. The surrounding land is still owned by the Cochiti Pueblo tribe, and may be closed by order of the tribal governor. The rocks themselves were formed by a volcanic explosion and then shaped by seven million years of weathering and erosion. A trail winds through slot canyons between the hoodoos and eventually rewards travellers with a dazzling view from above the formation.
White Sands National Monument - May 2015
Nestled between the San Andres and Sacramento mountains in southern New Mexico, White Sands National Monument is the world's largest concentration of gypsum sand. More than 140,000 acres of rolling white dunes stretch out before you. The site is completely surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base.
Carlsbad Caverns - February 2014
Pictures do not do justice to the majestic Carlsbad Caverns, one of the largest and most impressive caves in the world. We embarked on the Lower Cave tour in order to see even more amazing natural wonders.
Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ - May 2015
The best known of the Wigwam motels is actually the sixth out of seven such sites. Constructed in Holbrook, Arizona on the historic Route 66 in 1950, it is one of only three that have survived to the present day. The interiors are suprisingly spacious and well appointed, and several old classic cars permanently resting in the parking lot add to the retro atmosphere.
Petrified Forest National Park - May 2015
Despite the best efforts of the National Park Service, a great deal of the wood once found in the Petrified Forest National Park has been carried away by looters. Fortunately, the park still has much to offer, including the desolate Blue Mesa badlands and the famous red Painted Desert.
Barringer Meteorite Crater - May 2015
50,000 years ago, a rock made of nickel and iron about 50 meters across crashed into central Arizona, leaving an impact crater 1200 meters in diameter. Today the site is controlled by the privately owned Barringer Crater Company, which floods the surrounding area with overly self-aggrandizing advertisements.
Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim - May 2015
with well over four million annual visitors, the Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best known destinations in America. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, the canyon itself can be viewed from four distinct rims: one from each cardinal direction. Our trip took us in through the South Rim, the busiest entry with the most infrastructure, and on up to the East Rim, which boasts the Desert View Watchtower.
Red Rock Scenic Byway - May 2015
The Red Rock Scenic Byway runs through the iconic cliffs of Sedona and the Coconino National Forest. Designated as an All-American Road by the US Department of Transportation, the stunning views are a worthy destination in their own right and well worth the slight detour off of the interstate.
Montezuma Castle - May 2015
Montezuma's Castle is all that remains of a large cliff dwelling community built in central Arizona over a three century period between 1100-1425 AD. Contrary to the belief of the Spanish explorers who named the site in the 1860s, the site is of Pueblo origin and not Aztec. Unfortunately, interior access to the building has been closed to the public for several decades.
Chiricahua National Monument - May 2015
Chiricahua National monument boasts spectacular vertical rock formations formed by a massive volcanic eruption some 27 million years ago. The remote location in southern Arizona means that this remains one of the least-visited national monuments today. The high altitude and sharp changes in elevation make the trails throughout the park difficult to navigate.
Cozumel - December 2014
We found Cozumel itself to be largely distasteful: oppressively humid and full of overly aggressive street vendors. However, our excursion to the Jose Cuervo tequila tasting and Discover Mexico museum was both entertaining and enlightening.
Belize City and Lamanai - December 2014
Belize is home to many ancient Mayan ruins which are only now being discovered and excavated. Most of the work at Lamanai has been done in the past decade, and there is still much to be done. Our tour involved lengthy transport by both bus and riverboat to get to the remote location.
Roatan - December 2014
The island of Roatan was developed almost exclusively for tourism, and the contrast between the foreign money and the local population was striking. It rained constantly that day, but the views were still breathtaking.
Boston - November 2014
Boston is one of the most historic cities in America, with a unique blend of modern and colonial styles. Most of best sites can be seen along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile red brick pathway that meanders through the city.
The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park - June 2014
The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological foundation is an unforgettable experience. The wild tiger may well be doomed to extinction, but what we saw is a shadow of the great creatures that once ruled the jungles. Read more here.
Italy - October 2012
For our honeymoon, we spent touring the Italian countryside and staying in historic castles. Our major destinations were Rome, Vatican City, Perugia, and Milan.