I stumbled upon this amazing necklace

Right up my alley. Any object with the world on it. Mine please!

Uncommon Goods

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Best U.S. Hiking Cities

National Geographic came out with an interesting article a few days ago on the best cities for hiking in the US. At first, I read the list and laughed a bit…seriously, Vegas? But then I read through it and the hikes actually sound quite spectacular!

Salt Lake City

1. Salt Lake City, Utah

Get Hiking: From the Brighton Ski Resort, follow the Brighton Lakes and Lake Mary trails to some of the wildest scenery near any American city: high-altitude wildflower meadows, three serene alpine lakes, a ring of ragged peaks surrounding the valley, and, if you make it just more than five miles to Sunset Peak, views over the canyons surrounding Salt Lake.

2. San Francisco, California

Get Hiking: Even though it’s within biking distance of the city, parts of the seven-mile loop on the Matt Davis, Steep Ravine, and Dipsea trails can feel nearly as pristine as they must have felt when Miwok Indians walked here centuries ago. That is, of course, until you get to the panoramic views of the coast, city, bay, and beaches from the top of the 2,571-foot namesake peak.

3. Portland, Oregon

Portland

Get Hiking: Try Triple Falls, a three-mile walk from the Horsetail Falls Trailhead that takes hikers through a wooded canyon with views over the Columbia River. The payoff is a stunning three-pronged waterfall—all told, a mere 30 miles from Portland.

4. Las Vegas, Nevada

Get Hiking: Try the strenuous five-mile round trip to Turtle Head Peak from Sandstone Quarry. You’ll hike 2,000 vertical feet through flats covered in blackbrush, Joshua trees, and yuccas; along a ridge; and finally to the 6,300-foot summit with a hawk’s-eye view over Sin City.

5. Seattle, Washington

Get Hiking: This popular four-mile hike has a large measure of challenge (3,700 vertical feet of climbing) with an equal payoff (views of Mount Rainier, Seattle, and the Olympics on a clear day). The journey isn’t so bad either: Along the way, hikers pass classic Pacific Northwest conifer and fir forests, streams, and views over the valley.

Phoenix

6. Phoenix, Arizona

Get Hiking: Park at the Pima Canyon Trailhead and wander a nest of well-mapped trails, or tackle all or part of the 14.3-mile National Trail, which leads to spectacular lookouts on South Mountain over Phoenix and Camelback Mountain, another classic local summit hike.

7. Washington, D.C.

Get Hiking: Check out the kayakers from a lookout over the falls, then keep ambling south to shake off the majority of the visitors. A three-mile loop on the River, Ridge, and Matildaville trails leads along the craggy Mather Gorge, up steep climbs, and through serene forests of oak and ash.

8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Get Hiking: Pick up a map at Valley Green Inn, then head up the yellow trail to a nest of less-frequented loops through evergreen and deciduous forests frequented by deer, fox, and some 125 species of birds.

9. New York, New York

New York

Get Hiking: Despite the weekend crowds, the view from the top of Bear Mountain is worth the 1,100-vertical-foot climb. The four-mile loop on the Appalachian and Major Welch trails leads past a vista of the Hudson River, Iona Island, and the verdant hills of Westchester far below. It’s also the perfect spot to pick out your next hike—perhaps Anthony’s Nose, right across the river.

10. Austin, Texas

Get Hiking: The park’s Wolf Mountain Trail is one of the region’s most beloved hikes, winding past fern-lined canyons, the ruins of a settler’s house, beautiful views over the Pedernales River Valley, and finally to the mother of all Hill Country vistas at the peak.

11. Chicago, Illinois

Get Hiking: Happily, there’s little reminder of nearby urbanity on the 4.5-mile loop (trails two, ten, and nine) that winds through forests, wetlands, and the 200-foot-tall dunes that have formed over millennia.

12. Miami, Florida

Get Hiking: Try the Long Pine Key Trails, a seven-mile nest of paths through pine forest and saw palmetto, haunted by birds, lumbering alligators, and even the elusive Florida panther.

Boston

13. Boston, Massachusetts

Get Hiking: The 3.7-mile Rock Circuit Trail can take over four hours to complete thanks to its rugged forest terrain and steep rocky scrambles. Just when you’ve forgotten your proximity to the city, you’ll top out at Pinnacle Rock, which has views over the Boston skyline and the tree-speckled New England landscape.

14. Los Angeles, California

Get Hiking: One must-do hike, the six-mile Mishe Mokwa loop, climbs 1,400 vertical feet to the top of Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, where hikers gaze over the Pacific Coast, the Channel Islands, and the sparkle of Los Angeles far below.

15. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Get Hiking: Tick off an out-and-back on any part of the state forest’s 31 miles of trail—the scenery is similar between sections—to see a glimpse of the vestiges of prehistoric America.

My pick? I would go for Portland or Seattle. I really want to visit those cities, and I can just imagine how spectacular the views would be on those hikes.

Photo of the Day – Happy Place!

This photograph makes me so happy. It was taken in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park on a bright and balmy July afternoon.

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone

All of a sudden I feel like running up a hill and rolling down….into the brown grass filled with dead leaves….oh I can’t wait for summer!

 

This is how I feel

Video

Since it has been a few months since I have actually packed up my bags and went on a traveling adventure, I find that this blog has helped me to “travel without moving”. Check out my theme song these days:

Absolutely Delicious Dahl’ing

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I am in another Indian food mood. And I do love my soups and stews, so I am going to attempt to make this lentil stew, Indian style, as I have too many bags of lentils sitting in my pantry. Wish me luck!

Dahl

This authentic North Indian Lentil Stew was discovered on the way to New Delhi in a well hidden spot known only to the local cabbies. Savoured for generations, this dahl delight is simple to prepare yet overflowing with richness and flavour. Indulge your senses with Indian music, dress your table with brightly coloured silks, dim the lights and relish the true spirit of Crossing Cultures in your own home.

Serves: 6-8
Prep time
: 15 minutes
Cooking time
: see recipe

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter or olive oil
1–3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, diced
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tomato, cubed
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup urad dahl, washed and checked for stones
½ cup channa dahl, wash and checked for stones
5 cups water (more if needed)
salt and pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Directions

  • Heat butter or oil in large wok or soup pot.
  • Sauté garlic, onion, and cumin seeds until slightly brown.
  • Add tomato, cook until soft, adding a little water if necessary.
  • Add dry spices: turmeric, garam masala, coriander and ginger, heat for 2 minutes.
  • Add lentils, water, salt and pepper to taste, mix well.
  • Cook 25–35 minutes in pressure cooker
  • OR 2 hours on a stove
  • OR 10 hours on low in a crock pot, (7 hours on high).
  • Add cayenne pepper to taste (optional).
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro (optional).
  • Serve over rice or with Indian Naan.
  • Freezes well if needed.

Fantasy Friday – Get your grass on in Saskatchewan!

Keepin it in the country this week, as I fantasize about all the beautiful things I could see at Grasslands National Park, in Saskatchewan Canada.

Here’s my fantasy agenda:

1. View the Stars

Grasslands National Park is pleased to receive the designation of a Dark Sky Preserve. The Grasslands National Park Dark Sky Preserve is one of the largest and darkest in Canada! It is an excellent place to star gaze and to enjoy the beauty of the night sky. For astronomers, this is one of the best places to observe deep sky objects.

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2. Back-country Camping

Back Country Camping is a wilderness camping experience, where campers can randomly set-up tents within the park and enjoy the native prairie landscape with no services. Visitors are expected to park their vehicle on a gravel pull-off and set-up camp out of view – approximately 1km off- road or away from former ranch sites.

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3. Back-country Hiking

A wilderness hiking experience for the free-spirited hiker! Hikers randomly explore and enjoy the native prairie landscape without the constraints of trails, markers or limits! Remember to bring your GPS, map and compass!

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4. Photography (the right way)

All wild animals experience stress when crowded by humans. This is hard on the animal and dangerous. Wildlife behaviour is unpredictable, especially when females are with young and males are defending territory during the mating season.

The following distances are applicable in most instances. However, it is your responsibility to watch for defensive warning signals and react accordingly by pulling back or leaving the area entirely. In general, stay back:

  • 100 metres from bison (unless you are inside a vehicle);
  • 30 metres from all other large species;

If you spot the following defensive warning signals, pull back even more or leave the area:

  • Bison is shaking his head, short charges towards you, loud snorting, raising of the tail;
  • If you see or hear a rattlesnake.

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5. Wildlife Viewing

Prairie dogs are scurrying about their business and short-horned lizards are sunbathing on rocky slopes. It is mating season for the bison herd, and they are often looking for a place away from visitors for some “privacy.”

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With any luck, this summer, with my plans in the works I will be able to give this beautiful national park a visit!

5 little known facts about me

I’ve been blogging now for over 6 months, and would like to thank all of you for checking in and listening to my warble on about my travel dreams and viewing some of my attempts at photography. You probably know my interested pretty well, but I thought I would throw out 5 little known facts about myself.

1. I can tuck in my left ear. (WHAT does that mean you ask?!). When I was a little girl, instead of a soother to help comfort myself, I would play with my left ear and fold it in on itself. Over several years of doing this when I was a little wee one, my ear cartiledge became so flexible, I can still, to this day, fold my ear into my ear cavity and have it hang out like that for a few minutes. (I still do this sometimes when it is really cold out, to prevent the air from irritating my ears).

2. My first airplane flight occurred when I was in third year university (about 22  years old). Shocking for a travel lover, huh? It was to Cuba, and I certainly enjoyed those spectacular white sand beaches and reggaeton tunes blaring every which way I went.

3. I did a stint as a photo lab technician. Wow, what pictures I saw when I developed my towns photographs when in high school. Some of those memories are burned to the back of my eyeballs. Yuck!

4. I have never seen any of the following movies: The Godfather, Rocky, Back to the Future, Gone with the Wind, and just saw Ghostbuster for the first time this Halloween! Basically any acclaimed movie on IMDb’s top 250 list (excluding Star Wars and Lord of the Rings – my fav!).

5. I have never cooked a meal beyond Kraft Dinner, oatmeal, or Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup until I was 27. Now look at my recipe posts right and left!