Thursday, May 17, 2012

Yoga - Slow Flow - What are the benefits?

Yoga - Slow Flow - What are the benefits?

I recently started going to yoga and have had already seen a number of benefits. There are a number of different types of yoga practices, each with it’s own set of benefits. I currently participate in four different forms: Slow Flow, Hot Yoga, Yoga Basics, and Yin Restorative. They sometimes have different names. You may or may not be aware of these, but I wrote briefly about each one here:

For this series I am only going to focus on Slow Flow and the types of poses performed. These poses are identical to what you do in other forms of yoga, although in the more advanced classes you may not hold them as long and there may be a slight variation to make it more difficult. I will go into proper technique at a later time, maybe I’ll include some pictures or videos.

Slow Flow

Slow Flow is the first type of yoga practice I did. It is a progression of various poses which you hold for an extended period of time in 75 degree temperature. Unlike other forms of yoga where you move quickly from one stance to the next, in Slow Flow you gradually transition. This allows for a deeper stretch. The benefit is that it tears down the muscle tissue which ultimately leads to muscle building. It is excellent for toning the arms and legs. Depending on the types of poses you do, it can also benefit the core.

Some of the more popular poses you may do include the following:

Downward Facing Dog - This particular pose will help you build muscle in your shoulders and triceps. You will most likely do this pose 8-12 times in an hour session, maybe more. You will definitely feel it in your arms. Another benefit is that it is a great stretch in your calf muscles.

Plank - The plank position can be done in a number of ways. For the most benefit hold your body in a push up position. If that is too difficult you can drop to your forearms. If that is still too tough you can put your knees down, but you won’t get as much out of it. Depending on which stance you do the sensation may be different. Regardless, the majority of your weight should be held up with your core. You could feel a stretch in your calf muscles and toning in your shoulders.

Upward Facing Dog - This pose should build muscle in the lower back and lead to more flexibility as well.

Warrior 1 - Consists of doing a lunge with your hips pointed forward and arms raised above your head. This builds muscle in the calf and quads. It will also help with the upper back and shoulders.

Warrior 2 - Consists of doing a lunge with your hips facing sideways and arms extended parallel to the ground, one forward and one extended behind. Like Warrior 1 it will build muscle in the quads, back, and shoulders.

Warrior 3 - Consists of standing on one foot with the other foot lifted in the air parallel to the ground. The arms can be placed in a number of positions for balance. This will build muscle in the calf and quad of the standing leg.

You can do the above poses in a series of flows from one posture to the next. Popular sequences are Sun Salutation A, B, and C. They become more difficult as you progress from A to C.

There are also a series of poses that involve twists and folds. These are good to massage the organs, lengthen the spine, stretch the back and legs, and increase flexibility. There are too many variations to go into details.

The benefits I have seen from doing Slow Flow Yoga for the past 3.5 months have been more definition in my arms, legs, back, shoulders, and abs. I am much more flexible in my back, arms, and legs.
Beyond muscle and toning, I have also improved my breathing. Slow Flow focuses on proper breathing technique, in through the nose and out the nose. Deep breathes known as One to One breathing. The inhale should be deep and be equivalent in length to the exhale. The top sage's in the world take 3 breaths per minute. A good sign to see how stressed you are is to count your breathes in a minute. Anything over 6 breaths says you have a stressful life. Practice this breathing technique and it will help you feel more at ease. Most people breathe 15 times per minute.
I guess that's why they say when you are stressed to "breathe." It really does help a lot.
The main thing with Slow Flow is to be free of all external thoughts, focus on the present moment, and keep breathing. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Yoga - What classes do I go to?

Yoga - What classes do I go to?

I started going to yoga about 3 ½ months in mid-February. I didn’t know what to expect. I obviously had heard of yoga, and new the basic idea, but I was under the impression that it was mostly meditation and occasionally sitting in strange, twisted poses. As I said before, I was completely wrong.

It turns out yoga is a real workout and is much more than breathing loudly and sitting Indian style for hours. It’s actually more like playing twister. I just thought of that as I was writing this, but it’s very accurate. There is no dotted mat of course or spinning a wheel. Instead the teacher just tells you what to do as you flow through the poses.

I am in no way a pro at yoga, but after just a few months I can see huge results. My abs are more tone, weight loss, and more definition in my arms, back, shoulder, and legs. I also have a clearer mind. I’m sure much of this is due to low stress in my life and the fact that I work out everyday lifting weights, swimming, running, or cycling, playing soccer - not all of those in the same day of course. But I have no doubt that yoga has played a huge part in achieving this.

So what forms of yoga do I do?

Slow Flow

I started out only doing Slow Flow. It’s usually set to 75 degrees in the room and consists of holding poses for an extended period of time. It is great for people who aren’t familiar with yoga and just want a chance to see what it is about. Because you are holding the postures for a longer period of time you are required to stay focused throughout, both in body and mind. It will improve your balance and slowly improve your flexibility. I usually go on Saturday morning.

Yoga Basics

Yoga Basics is basically the same as Slow Flow, but is slightly modified with the help of blocks, props, and straps. Although you can modify any form of yoga. It may have other names as well. The poses are essentially the same as other forms of yoga, but not as intense or fast paced. It is also 75 degrees. It doesn’t mean the class is easy. I still sweat a lot and feel like I got a great workout afterwards. I try to go two times a week, usually on Monday and Wednesday. Although I have recently changed my routine and have started going to a different class on Monday.

Yin Restorative

After I felt a little more comfortable I began going to Yin Restorative. This form of yoga requires the student to hold 12-15 poses for about 3-5 minutes each. It is a very deep stretch. The majority of the poses deal with the lower body. The Yin represents the lower half of the body, while the Yang represents the upper half.

The first time I took the class I had to leave early to go to a soccer game. I could barely run and didn’t know why. I later found out that because the stretch is so deep that it takes time for your body to recover. If you are going to do this form of yoga it should be at the end of your work out, not before. Your body wont respond properly if you try to do any form of vigorous activity without recovery time. It is an important form of yoga and shouldn’t be ignored. I go twice a week if possible, Sunday and Tuesday. I used to go on Tuesday only, but the teacher is very good and it helps me recover from my workouts to stretch in a more focused way.

Hot Yoga/Vinyasa Flow

I recently started going to Hot Yoga, also known as Vinyasa Flow. This class is 95+ degrees. I was nervous about going to the class just based on the heat alone, I also thought it was more for people with experience. After 3 months of practice I decided I would give it a try. It is very strenuous and I am soaked in sweat when I leave. Basically to the point where I feel like I just ran through pouring rain or took a shower in my clothes. I love the class. After just a few times I can see a difference, especially in my legs and abs. A number of the poses require you to keep your abs and legs active, resulting in muscle building and definition. You hold the poses for a shorter period of time, but still long enough that you can feel the burn. As of right now I go on Monday or Tuesday. It’s the type of work out that you probably don’t want to do too often in one week, especially considering all the other classes I take and exercise I do. I have gone back to back days before and it was tough.

If you have been considering doing yoga, hopefully the information above will help you understand which form is best for you and what to expect. There are many versions of yoga with many different names. The main thing is just trying it and seeing which is best for you.

So that sums up the forms of yoga I currently practice. Below is a recap by day of my yoga workouts. It has changed over time, but this is what I will be doing for the foreseeable future.

Sunday Afternoon - Yin Restorative (1 Hour)
Monday Evening - Hot Yoga (1 Hour)
Tuesday Evening - Yin Restorative (1 Hour)
Wednesday Morning - Yoga Basics (1 Hour)
Thursday - None
Friday - None
Saturday Morning - Slow Flow

Promotional Video

I created a video to promote my upcoming adventure to New Zealand and Australia. With this journey I am hoping to expose people around the world to the awesome excurions you can do in this region of the world during the winter months.

I have a number of exciting activities planned, including the following: paragliding, bungee jumping, hangliding, helicopter rides over glaciers, kayaking, plus many more. You can read in more details about my plans here: New Zealand to Sydney

The video below is a compilation of some of the exciting things I have done in various parts of the world from Costa Rica to China and many places in between.  Please comment, like, and share it with everyone you know. I hope to use my experience in New Zealand and Sydney to improve my video and photography skills and use it to promote my new business venture. You can read about what my business plan is here: Digil Media Marketing

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Adventure Travels Promotional Video

To promote my upcoming adventure to New Zealand and Australia I have created a video showcasing some of the exciting activities I have done around the world. You will be able to follow me on my blog from June 5-July 30 as I make my way around New Zealand's North and South Island and through Sydney, Australia. My hope is to make a documentary of all the excursions I do and inspire others to live their dreams and reach their goals.  

To view my video please visit: Adventure Travels Promo Video

Please check out my other videos on my youtube page: One Man, One Journey. If you are interested in making a small donation to help offset some of the costs associated with producing the documentary visit my kickstarter project: Adventure Travels. For your support you will be guaranteed a reward. Please feel free to share it with your family and friends.

Outdoor Magazine is giving a $10,000 grant to help fund a creative journey. In hopes of winning I have entered my video along with a 500 word essay explaining a proposed expeditition to Patagonia. My intent is to packraft and bike from Puerto Montt, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina. I will begin this adventure in February of 2013 and take about two months to complete it. Finalists for the award will be notified on June 1, and voting for the winner will be conducted on Facebook starting on June 4.

You can read about my plans here: Outdoor Adventure Grant

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Yoga - What is yoga and why I started

Yoga - What is yoga and why I started

I joined Lifetime Fitness in Mansfield in October of 2011. My reason for doing so was to get back in shape after I retired from coaching. I had hoped to do some cardio work on the stationary bikes, swim, run on the treadmill and elliptical machine, do some ab work, and occasionally lift weights.

When I first became a member at Lifetime I spent most of my time going to the cycling classes three times a week, an intense ab workout five times a week, and lifting weights four to five times a week. After my favorite cycling teacher moved in February I discontinued going to the class. The other teachers weren’t as good to me; therefore, I needed to find a new workout routine.

I had used the treadmill quite a lot, but it was becoming repetitive to me. Lifting weights is good for building muscle, but too much can lead to injury. So I started looking for alternatives. That’s when I decided I would try yoga.

I have always been agile, but never very flexible. I was hoping it would improve my flexibility. I also thought it would be good for stress relief, and it seemed like a lot of cute girls were going to the classes, and that never hurts.

Like most men, I thought yoga was for girls. It was easy. And didn’t really have any benefits. I really thought it was just standing in weird postures and meditating. I was clueless. I convinced a friend to go with me and see what it was like. It was nothing like I expected.

There are dozens of different forms of yoga. There is vinyasa flow, slow flow, yin restorative, ashtanga, and many more. The most popular forms at Lifetime are the vinyasa and ashtanga, but they do offer others as well.

The first class I went to was a slow flow class. I didn’t really know what that meant, but the other classes had the temperature set to 95 degrees, while this particular class was only 75. That alone made it sound better.

The slow flow class is a series of 12-15 postures that you hold for 3-5 minutes. The objective is to get a deep stretch. The teacher we had was very good and I continue going to her class twice a week even.

Not having any experience didn’t matter, you figure it out as you go. There are even props to assist you if you can’t do something fully, for example, blocks, blankets, and straps. The blocks are good for support, while the blankets are good for padding or elevation and the straps can help you stretch further.

I have been going to yoga now consistently for 3 ½ months and I have to say I love it! I try to go three times a week minimum, usually Monday, Tuesday and Saturday. I recently started going on Sunday as well and I have occasionally gone on Wednesday and Thursday if I missed another day of the week due to conflicts. I am planning to start going a lot more though.

In just a short amount of time I can already tell a huge difference. Not only with my flexibility, but also my upper body strength and my core. Even my legs have gained muscle. In addition to flexibility and strength, it is also great for your mental stability. The breathing technique is extremely helpful, especially if you feel any kind of stress or shortness of breathe. If you just slow down your breathing it can really clear your head. I guess that’s why they tell people that are upset to “breathe.” Next time you get upset slow your breathing down, it will help.

There are a lot of poses that I don’t know and can’t do, but I’m certain that if I continue going to yoga on a regular basis that within a year I will be very good. I am even considering getting a yoga teaching certification.

As a soccer coach I invented a thing called “Tai-Chi Tuesday” as a calming, stretching, meditation for my players, but had I realized the benefits of yoga we would have done it instead. I highly recommend that you get into yoga if you haven’t already. It will build muscle, since you are lifting 75% or your body weight, you will become more tone, and be mentally healthier.

Friday, May 11, 2012

June 16 - Day 9 - Chamonix, France - Mont Blanc

June 16 - Day 9 - Chamonix, France - Mont Blanc

We woke up early and headed to the train station in Martigny to find out about trains to Chamonix. Luckily there is a small train dedicated to this route, it seemed like a touristy train. Our Swiss Passes covered the fare. We left at 8:42 AM and arrived at 10:15 AM. The ride itself was very scenic. The sky was very blue, mountains and trees were all around.

Chamonix is a small town that seems solely based on tourism. It felt a lot like the towns in Switzerland we had been. It almost felt like a honey moon destination. There were a lot of bed and breakfasts and hotels, including a Best Western. It looks really nice and I was ready for a nice night in a real bed, but that wasn’t to be.

We immediately found out where the campsite was and began our hike across town. We weren’t really sure if we were walking the right way based on the directions we received. It seemed like we were lost, but finally we stumbled upon the campground.

It was extremely nice. It was much different than the campgrounds in Switzerland. It wasn’t very big, but it was very clean. The grass was perfectly manicured. We found the man that ran the campground and he informed us to choose a site and then come back and pay. We picked a spot near the restroom under a big tree with Mont Blanc in the background. It couldn’t have been any nicer.

We got our tent set up pretty quickly. The sun was shinning and it was kind of warm. All we intended to do was take the cable car to the top of the mountain and possibly do another short hike if possible. I was tired so we rested. Rather than lay in the tent I just laid on the grass. It was so soft and comfortable. It was a big change from the rains we experienced in Switzerland.

After a brief nap we decided to head to town and find out about transportation to Italy for the next day. We didn’t want to be in a situation where we would have to stay an extra day and get off schedule or have to back track into Switzerland.

We asked people at the train station, but they were clueless. They said the only train that came in was the one we arrived on and it didn’t go any further. In other words, we’d have to back track. We asked the people at the information center but they were no help either. Our next option was the bus. The bus station was closed though.

Our plan was to get to Aosta, Italy by bus and then continue on to Pisa. It was Saturday so we weren’t sure if the buses would run on Sunday. We had read that in most instances buses don’t run on Sunday, but we were assured that it would be running from Chamonix through a tunnel that passes through Mont Blanc and onto Aosta. I wasn’t so sure based on the previous information I had heard, but we decided to give up on this for now and find out in the morning if there really was a bus.

Our one last hope would be to take cable cars over Mont Blanc into Italy and from there get a bus. It was more expensive and time consuming, but it was an option. It was becoming lunch time and we hadn’t eaten very much in the past week so we decided to find somewhere cheap to eat. That was pretty tough to do. We decided on a sandwich shop called Mojos. It was 5 Euros for a sandwich, but it was very big and very good. The waitress was English and had moved here to improve her French.

It was now almost 3 PM. After giving up on our quest to find transportation we decided to go the cable car to find out about going to see Mont Blanc. The Aiguille du Midi would take us to the observatory on the mountain where we would have good views of the city and surrounding scenery. It cost 37 Euros per person and took about 20 minutes to arrive at the top.

We had originally planned to take a series of cable cars across to Italy, but because we were thinking we were going to have to take that route in the morning we decided we didn’t want to pay for it twice. It was very expensive. We were still considering going part of the journey to Panoramic Point, but by this time it was much cloudier than it had been in the morning and we felt it wasn’t going to be worth the money for limited views.

Even though it was cloudy we decided to go up anyway. We went above the clouds and it was much more clear. Occasionally the clouds would come in and cover the mountain, but a few minutes later and it was clear again. Mont Blanc was absolutely amazing.

The steep jagged peaks and sheer drop offs are exactly like what you see in pictures. A helicopter ride over the Alps of southern France would be awesome! If they offer something like that in the future I would definitely do it.

At the top there was a look out point as well as portions of the mountain that had been blasted out to form a tunnel. The tunnel was basically pitch black with little light coming in from the entrance, but I don’t recall a purpose for it’s existence. The observatory on the other hand was really cool. I was able to get some neat pictures of it. Because it was so high and it was still very snowy in the mountains icicles had formed on its windows.

There were actually two observatories. One of these buildings was resting on the top of a peak like a bird’s nest and the other was higher up and reachable through an elevator inside the mountain.

At the top there is a lookout platform. When we reached this portion I immediately felt light-headed. Possibly brought on by the lack of food in combination with the high altitude. When I went back inside I felt fine, but standing outside would bring it on again. It was also very bright from the sun reflecting off of the snow. I was able to get a few pictures of the mountains and a small group of mountain climbers. Every few minutes I had to go back inside to recover.

We spent about two hours total. It was now about 5 PM. We decided that it was getting late and there wasn’t much else for us to do at the top since the clouds were beginning to return and didn’t clear out like they had before.

When we got down we returned to our campsite. We hung our clothes out for the 4th time, hoping they might finally dry. After this much time soaking wet in our bags they smelled terrible, but I was more concerned about the weight the wet clothes added. It must have been a few pounds at least. While we waited for our clothes to dry I laid back down in the grass for another nap.

Since we didn’t have much food we decided to splurge and go out to dinner. We decided on a small pizzeria called Fanfuille. Every town seems to have tons of Pizzerias and Chamonix was no different. It seems like pizza is everyone’s favorite meal and they order it everywhere. The pizza was ok, but it was really cheap for Europe, 6.50 Euros, so it was fine. After dinner we went to a bakery and bought chocolate meringue. It looked really good and we were wanting something sweet, it was only 1.30 Euros so we decided to get it. It was probably the worst thing I have ever eaten. It basically tasted like Styrofoam. It was similar to eating air. I don’t recommend buying plain meringue ever. I’m sure it was intended to be put on something else as a topping, but we didn’t have anything else. Oh well.

After dinner we walked around town for about two hours in search of something to do. We had heard about a hike you could do and wanted to do that to watch the sunset on the mountains, but we never found it. Instead we walked around looking at the architecture of the buildings and for souvenirs. Most of the shops were closed and we didn’t find anything interesting. It didn’t seem like very many of the people that were out were tourists. June was a great time to visit, but it must not be the high season.

We went back to our campsite for the night, took a few last pictures of the sunset and then took showers. Every 30 seconds the showers would turn off automatically so it was a little frustrating. I eventually just started leaning against the wall and nozzle so it would stay on. It had been a few days since I had a shower so it was worth the trouble. I was finally clean again, but I was running out of clean clothes.

As a whole Chamonix was a very cheap town, at least in comparison to Switzerland. The campground was by far the nicest we had been to, and probably that I have ever been to, and it was still the cheapest. It was about $12 per person. Chamonix and the surrounding area was really nice. It was one of the highlights of my trip and somewhere I have always wanted to return.

"Nexte Halte, Pisa..."

New Zealand to Sydney

Now that I have my itinerary completed, excursions selected, and lodging chosen it is time to ask myself how I am going to pay for this. As stated before I plan to create promotional videos of the activities we do, cities we visit, and regions we explore. By doing so I hope to encourage other like-minded individuals to be inspired to live their dreams and make them a reality.

Although I may not make any money off the production of these promos, I'm planning to use it as a trial for potential clients in the future. I am in the process of creating a business that will create promotional videos for companies, individuals, and non-profit organizations that would like to highlight the benefits of doing business with them. That could be an invention, customer-service, talent, or a number of other endeavors.

Ideally these would be videos or slideshows that include voice-overs and captions and could be placed on a website or distributed on a dvd or cd. Potential clients could be real estate or insurance agents, tourism boards, wedding planners, churches, artists, and many more. I also invision communities that would like to promote their city or town, a Chamber of Commerce, or park district would be interested in my services. Lastly, students looking to be recruited for a college scholarship would be interested.

So how does all of this tie into my trip to New Zealand and Sydney? Well, as I said before, this adventure will allow me gain valuable experience in expanding my filming and editing techniques.

So why am I sharing this with you? For two reasons. First, you may be interested in my services. Second, you can help make this potential project a reality.

How can you help? Simple. Visit the site below and make a small donation to my Adventure Travels Documentary Project. I am seeking $500 to offset the costs of camera equipment to enhance the quality. As a thank you for your gesture you will be guaranteed a small reward to express my gratitude.

Rewards include a copy of the HD quality DVD I produce, bonus footage, an official t-shirt, and high quality photographs.

The link below will allow you to show your generosity and learn more about my project.

New Zealand to Sydney

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Outside Adventure Grant - $10,000 Essay

Below is a copy of the essay I will be entering into the Outside Adventure Grant Contest for $10,000 to put towards a trip. If I make the final cut you will be able to vote on facebook to help me become the winner. The essay must explain what your trip is and what makes it worthy of the grant in 500 words or less. Mine is exactly 500 words.

Outside Adventure Grant Essay

For many years I have dreamed of visiting the Chilean Fjords and Patagonia. Throughout my travels around the world I invariably meet other backpackers that have done amazing adventures. I hope that with the help of the $10,000 Outside Adventure Grant I will finally be able to make this vision a reality.

My goal is to bike and packraft from Puerto Montt, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina. I plan to create a documentary of my project outlining the highs and lows of my adventure. The intent is to inspire others to face their fears and follow their dreams.

My endeavor will be spent backcountry camping and eating over a campfire stove. This epic journey will be environmentally friendly as I will be self-propelled only with the use of my arms and legs. My gear will be recharged with the use of specialized equipment on my bike and solar packs.

My mode of transportation will be a pack raft and touring bike. A pack raft is a light weight, durable, easily inflatable raft weighing about 5 lbs. They are very maneuverable and can hold a great amount of weight, including my bike and other essential equipment. This will allow me to navigate the fjords of Chile, cross the lake district from Puerto Varas, Chile to Bariloche, Argentina, and ultimately reach my final destination.

When I reach Bariloche, Argentina I will be using a bike to ride Route 7 south, also known as the Carretera Austral, to Villa O’Higgins, Chile. The route is roughly 1,240 kilometers of mostly unpaved roads known as ripio. This route usually consists of ferry crossings, but with my raft I should be able to manage these with no trouble.

For much of this trip I will be isolated from civilization, days without contact from other people. One mishap and that could be the end, of me.

Villa O’Higgins is not the end of the line. From here I must criss-cross back and forth into Chile and Argentina as I head south. My projected route will pass numerous National Parks and delicate ecosystems. Some of the highlights will include Puerto Natales, Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine, and Tierra del Fuego.

Once again I will be alone, just a man and his thoughts.

I anticipate this entire journey will take about two months.

Determining the costs of such an adventure is quite complex. I anticipate purchasing an Alpacka Pack Raft for $850. A durable and lightweight paddle, the Sawyer, will be about $295. The bike I intend to purchase is a custom-built Thorn Nomad which runs about $4,500 after shipping. For food I am budgeting $400 as most of this will be purchased in grocery stores. Water filter from Katadyn is $289. A titanium cook set from Snow Peak is $85. Panniers for my bike will be $400. Solar Packs from Brunton will be about $589. The flight to and from Puerto Montt and Ushuaia is roughly $2,000 after the transporting of gear. For a grand total of $9,408.

Digital Media Marketing Business Proposal

Digital Media Marketing Business Proposal

After my return from New Zealand and Australia I am considering a new business idea. Read below for the details and see if you are interested in my services. The prices will be negotiable and very reasonable. Please share your thoughts.


Create multi-media presentations for businesses/individuals to promote their company, product, or talents to be displayed on their website or distributed on a dvd/cd. Videos could be put in various formats, including: slide show, video, voice-over, captions.


Showcase the business, what they offer, and the advantages of doing business with them.


Contact local businesses/individuals that want to expand and promote their business in a more professional manner on their website.


Gives the company a more professional and personal look to it’s potential clients and customers.

Potential Clients:

Businesses with a website.
Athletes looking to be recruitd.
Cities looking to promote life in their town.
Tourism Industry.
Wedding Planners
Wedding Photographers
Personal Blogs
Non-profit Organizations
Sports Teams - all levels
Community Centers
Salons - hair, nails, tanning
Businesses looking to hire new employees.
Businesses looking to expand to a new region.
Businesses looking to promote their product to a larger audience.
Real Estate Industry.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Zealand Travel Documentary - North Island Itinerary

After spending 29 days in New Zealand's South Island we will take the ferry from Picton to Wellington on July 11 to begin phase two of our adventure on the North Island. During our stay on the island we will be visiting Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and the surrounding geyers, the Bay of Islands area, "Mt. Doom" on the Tongariro Alpine Trail, and the Waitomo Caves.

By this point it will be winter and most likely very cold, but hopefully being a little further north will mean slightly better weather and less snow. After doing some research it seems like the weather throughout New Zealand is pretty consistent though. Last summer they had the 3rd warmest winter on record, maybe that will be the case this year as well.

July 11-13, 2012

We will begin our tour of the North Island in Wellington. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and should provide for some good sight-seeing of the city. It lies on a harbor so there may be some water activities taking place here as well. I haven't fully developed a plan and we will stay as long or little as we feel necessary within our three day window.

July 14-15, 2012

We depart Wellington on the 14th of July in our third rental car. As we drive north towards Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park we will take a scenic route along the west coast. Lake Taupo is a beautiful lake just south of Rotorua, home to large population of Mauri people, the natives of New Zealand. While in the region we will visit Tangaririo National Park, one of the best day hikes in the world. This is also the site of Mt. Doom from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

July 16, 2012

Our next stop is the Waitomo Caves. This is the ultimate adventure location, outside of Queenstown in the south. Here you can hike, go spelunking, black water rafting, hike, repel, and many more exciting things. Due to it being summer we plan to only do a few of those things. At the caves we will enjoy a 7-hour Lost World Tour. In this journey we will hike to a location that will require us to repel 100 meters into a cave. Once inside the cave there will be more exploring, both on foot and raft. Floating down a river in an underground cave sounds extremely cool, and it better be because it is very expensive.

July 17-18, 2012

On July 17 we will move on to Rotorua, the site of natural geyers like you see in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The area is known locally as the Wainmangu Volcanic Valley. Here we will hike past geyers, mudpits, and thermal springs in the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Waikite Valley. Time permitting and if it's in our budget we would like to visit a local village where the Mauri people live and see firsthand what life is like. These people are known for their elaborate art, including tatooing their faces.

July 19, 2012

Back on the road we will make a quick pitstop on the northeastern shores in Hahei to see the Cathedral Cove. It is basically a cliff that juts into the see and has a huge arch. During low tide you can hike down to the cove.

July 20-21, 2012

Next we will head to the largest city in New Zealand, Auckland. We will be coming back to Auckland a few days later, but for our first visit we will be visiting sites outside of the city limits. These include Waitakere Reserve, which we will explore in our rental car. The following day we will drop off our rental car and take a bus and boat to Waiheke Island. I don't know much about it, but it looks really cool in pictures and it is highly recommended.

July 22-24, 2012

As we leave Auckland we will get one more rental car to explore the northernmost parts of the island. This will mostly focus on the Bay of Islands region. The main highlights include Abbey Caves, similar to Waitomo but much cheaper and less developed. Also, Karikari Peninsula, Cape Regina, and an overnight boat tour in the Bay of Islands that includes night kayaking, swimming, and fishing for our own dinner.

July 25-26, 2012

Once again we will return to Auckland. After dropping off our last rental car we will check out the city sites on foot and local transportation if necessary. We will spend two days in the city, it may or may not be enough time, but that's all we will have available.

As our time in New Zealand comes to an end we will have numerous memories, photos, and videos. We will be creating a documentary of our adventures and look forward to sharing them with you. Our focus is on the adventure activities that you can do in New Zealand and to ultimately create a promotional video for cities, regions, and the country in general. It will hopefully entice you to visit New Zealand or set off on your own adventures.

If you would like to be part of this adventure please follow along in the coming months as I update my blog, share your suggestions, or cheer us on!

If you would like to go a step furthe please donate to my kickstarter project to help offset some of the costs associated with creating this documentary. There are great rewards available for your minimal investment.

Adventure Travels Documentary Project

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Zealand Travel Documentary - South Island Itinerary

In less than a month I will be embarking on a new adventure. The objective is to explore New Zealand and Sydney, Australia with the intent to film a documentary showcasing the adventure activities one would be able to do if visiting this region of the world.

Due to the fact that this will be winter time in the Southern Hemisphere some of the activties we would normally want to do will be closed or greatly reduced, but there are still many exciting possibilities available, some of which wouldn't be possible at other times of the year.

Our itinerary will take us to some of the most well-known cities and regions of New Zealand, including Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, Bay of Islands, Queenstown, and Milford Sound.

June 5-8, 2012

We will be leaving on June 5 from DFW Airport. The flight will take us to Los Angeles and Sydney for short layovers before we arrive in Christchurch on June 7. We will be passing through Christchurch later on the trip, so for our first stop we will only be spending 1.5 days. This will give us an opportunity to customize ourselves with New Zealand culture, city-life, and recover from our long flight.

We are planning to rent a car for the majority of our stay in New Zealand to give us greater flexibility and access to the country-side. It will also allow us to travel at our own pace. After researching I discovered that the bus system is very good, but in the end won't save us very much money and will limit our options.

June 9-10, 2012

With our rental car we will head towards the interior of the country to the Lake Tekapo area. Our plan is to do some hiking on the Mt. John Hike as well as a few others. Based on pictures I have seen it is a beautiful region with rolling hills and mountains. We are hoping to do this portion of the trip in order to beat the weather. New Zealand is very far south and snow is likely and could potentially close trails and alter our plans. Another reason that personal transportation will be more efficient than buses.

June 11, 2012

We will spend two days at Lake Tekapo and then move on to the city of Twizel to tramp around Lake Pukaki. Our objective here is to do the Ben Ohau Hike. Like Lake Tekapo the pictures are magnificient and if there happens to be snow in the area I can only imagine it would look that much neater.

June 12-13, 2012

One day in Twizel should be plenty and then it's on to Mt. Cook/Aoraki. Here again will be more hiking, but in this area there is the Tasman Glacier. In our two days we would like to do the Glencoe, Key Pointe, and Governor Bush Hikes, weather permitting.

June 14-15, 2012

Traveling between Lake Tekapo, Twizel, and Mt. Cook are less than an hour apart, but for our next destination we will be driving 140 miles to the southeast coastal city of Dunedin. Dunedin is a college town which influences the culture of the region, especially the music scene. Here we hope to see the architecture of the city, possibly experience the live music scene, and the Otago Peninsula where there are sea lions and penguins.

June 16-19, 2012

Our next destination, Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand, and to some people, the world. Here you can do a number of thrilling, heart-stop activities. They include bungee jumping, paragliding, hangliding, hiking, rafting, skiing, and taking a ride on a jet boat which speeds down a local river at 60 mph or more. Due to the weather we are planning to hike in the area, jet boat, and either hanglide or paraglide. I'm not sure which would be more fun and worth the money, but both will offer similar views. It may come down to weather and what people recommend, maybe I'll do both.

June 20, 2012

After four days in Queenstown we will drive 62 km down one of the most scenic roads in the world to Te Anau. I imagine that by this point there could be snow in the area, which would only make it that much more beautiful. Having our own car will allow us to take our time and really enjoy it to the fullest extent.

June 21-23, 2012

We will spend the night in Te Anau and then continue to Milford Sound. Here we intend to rent a kayak and explore the Sound and the fjords. We will also take the Jucy Cruize boat to get different views of the area. There are hiking and biking trails in the region, so that is part of the plan as well for our three day stay.

June 24-25, 2012

From here we begin backtracking to Queenstown and may spend the day skiing or continue to Wanaka. In Wanaka is Diamond Lake which we plan to hike around and have a day of rest.

June 26-28, 2012

Our next stop will be Franz Josef/Fox Glacier area. During warmer times of year you can hike on the glacier and down into crevasses, but during winter you can only hike on top. We plan to do just that at the Franz Josef Glacier. We will also hike at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park and take a helicopter ride over Fox Glacier. I've never been in a helicopter so I'm really looking forward to this. To see the mountains from above sounds really cool to me. It should be great.

June 29-30, 2012

Just up the road is the town of Hokitika. I have scheduled two days here. It is along the coast and surrounded by mountains, so ideally we would like to hike, kayak, and see the small town. I've read that it's a neat place to visit and worth a few days.

July 1-2, 2012

We will now drive across the country, 246 km, to Christchurch. This will allow us to experience Christchurch a little more and see the things we were unable to see on our first visit. We will drop off our rental car, and get a different one. It sounds strange, but it's due to the fact that we need to drop it off in a city that our original rental company doesn't have a location.

July 3, 2012

We will make a short trip north along the coast to the city of Kaikoura. There is a peninsula here and you can swim with dolphins and see other sea mammals.

July 4-5, 2012

From Kaikoura we will go to Nelson Lakes National Park. Here again we will do some hiking, specifically at the St. Arnaud Range. This is a two day stop.

July 6-9, 2012

Heading north we will go to one of the most famous and popular multi-day hikes in the world in Abel Tasman National Park. We will drop off our car in Nelson and then take a bus to Marahau. This can be a 3-5 day hike, but we will be doing it in 2.5 days. We won't be hiking the entire length, but instead spend the first half day of the hike kayaking along the coast then hiking to set up a base camp. On day two we will keep our base camp but hike further up the trail. On the final day we will hike back to the start and take a bus back to Marahau.

July 10-11, 2012

Without a car at this point we will stay overnight in Nelson and take the bus the following morning to Picton. Picton is the site of the ferry to Wellington and the north island. Before we head north for the second half of our trip we will spend a day and a half seeing the city and parts of the Queen Charlotte Track, another multi-day hike. We obviously won't have time to do it all, but we will at least try to hike a short portion of it.

Everything we do will be filmed as a documentary. It will explain the places we visit and the things we do or see. We will be taking this footage to create a short promotional video with the intent of showcasing the activities people should expect to do if they were going to be visiting New Zealand. We will also be taking each city or region we visit and make a more detailed commercial-like promotion, for example, just Queenstown or Milford Sound.

If you would like to contribute to our project and help make it possible please visit the link below to our kickstarter page. It explains in more detail what we hope to acomplish. I am hoping to raise $500 to offset some of the costs and guaranteed rewards are offered for your support.

Adventure Travels Documentary Project

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

June 15 - Day 8 - Martigny, Switzerland

June 15 - Day 8 - Martigny, Switzerland

We walked the mile about as fast as we could. We made it back at 6 PM, with 10 minutes to spare. We had wanted to go to Martigny, a good stopping point for the night since we wanted to go to Mont Blanc the next day. However, the train we planned on taking didn’t stop there. As a result we had to take a train headed towards Milan, Italy and change trains in another city. Our Swiss Pass was getting a lot of use today. I highly recommend getting on if traveling for an extended period of time in Switzerland.

We ended up changing trains in a small town called Sion. From there we continued on to another small town, but I don’t remember the name. This train was going to take us to Martigny. It was getting dark, we had no place to stay, and didn’t know what to do. I remember along the way seeing a campground out the train window, but the train didn’t stop in the area and we had no way to get there. Everybody we asked seemed to think that you couldn’t get from Martigny to Mont Blanc, even though I had read that is the route to take. We began thinking that it may be best to just go back to Geneva and try again tomorrow, at least Geneva had hotels we could stay at, even though they would be very expensive.

We decided we would go to Martigny and just take our chances. Just like every other time on our trip that things seemed hopeless somehow it worked out perfectly. We arrived at 9:30 PM and walked about 1 ½ miles to a campground, Les Neuvilles Martigny. Like all the other campgrounds it was pretty nice and very clean. We got our tent set up and it started to rain, perfect timing.

We had spent most of the day traveling by train, but it wasn’t completely bad. We got to see a lot of the country side, Freiburg and Geneva. It also gave my legs a chance to rest. The plan for the morning was to figure out how to get to Mont Blanc.

"Nexte Halte, Mont Blanc..."

June 15 - Day 8 - Geneva, Switzerland

June 15 - Day 8 - Geneva, Switzerland

We made our way back to the train and continued on to Geneva. We arrived a little after 3:00 PM. We weren’t staying overnight so we had to see what we came to see pretty quickly in order to continue on to our next stop. It was a little overcast, but it wasn’t raining finally. We felt it would be easier to navigate the city without our bags so we attempted to find a locker in the train station. Most of the train stations in Switzerland had this as an option, but we hadn’t used one up to this point. The price was 7 Swiss Francs, about $5, so we decided we would just carry them.

Geneva is a much larger city then the others we had been to so we needed to take a bus to get to the sights we wanted to see. There were a lot more cars in Geneva than the rest of Switzerland. The traffic was really bad and slowed us down a lot.

Unlike the western and central portions of Switzerland, in this region most of the people spoke French, however, everyone said “merci” regardless if French or German was their first language. This gave me an opportunity to use my French language skills, although most the people spoke French, German, and English, some even spoke Romanisch, a form of Italian spoken mostly in the southern region near St. Moritz, which we would be going to later in our trip.

Geneva is a city known for it’s support of human rights, international treaties, banking industry, and being very multinational. Our first stop was the League of Nations building. This is where important political figures come to discuss important events taking place around the world and how to solve them. We were unable to go inside, I think it’s restricted to visitors or maybe you can go on a tour. Either way, we didn’t have time to do anything except see it. In the front of the building is a huge square with water fountains shooting out of the ground. In the middle is an enormous three-legged chair, it’s probably 50 feet high at least.

Down the street from the League of Nations was the Red Cross building. There are Red Cross locations all over the world, but this is their headquarters. Inside is a museum that we were able to get in free to with our Swiss Passes. We were able to leave our bags behind the counter for free while we walked around, which was great because my bag was heavy and I didn’t feel like trying to walk in a crowded museum with a backpack on.

As a whole the museum was a pretty big disappointment. It’s a museum, so that was strike one on the fun factor, but there wasn’t much to it. Usually you can see neat artifacts or something of interest, but this was basically an empty building with a few posters on the wall explaining the mission of the Red Cross with important events in time that they have contributed their efforts towards. It was lame, good thing we got in free.

There was also a short movie you could view in one of the rooms. It was basically a slide projector that you would see in 1980s. The video made no sense at all, it was terrible and strongly not recommended. Overall the museum was boring, but at least I can say I’ve been there. The one cool part was a sculpture in the front of the building depicting a group of people blindfolded. I’m sure there is some significance to this, but I’m not sure what it was.

As we were trying to leave the museum a television crew was filming a promotion at the front door for the Euro 2008. There were other people trying to leave as well. Since we had limited time to see everything before our train left we needed to find a way out. We waited around for a few minutes and then someone that worked there directed us to the back door.

It was already 5 PM and our train to Martigny was scheduled to leave at 6:10 PM. The last thing we wanted to see was Jet D’eau, a fountain that shoots out of Lake Geneva. In order to get there we had to cross the street and get on a bus to take us all the way across town.

We didn’t know which exit to get off, but we could see the lake from the bus. We thought the bus would drop us off close to the water’s edge, but that wasn’t the case. We ended up taking the bus a little further than necessary and had to back track. It only spent about 10 minutes looking at the lake. It was very pretty and seemed like a great place to hang out.

It was now 5:45 PM and we needed to get back to the train station. We figured it was about a mile away, but just to be safe we wanted to take a bus. We looked around for a few minutes but couldn’t find a bus stop. We figured this was a popular destination and there would be one near by, oh well. We didn’t have time to wait around. Traffic in the city was really bad anyway, so we figured if we got on a bus we wouldn’t be going any faster than walking. I figured we were going to be able to see everything in just a few hours and then have to wait around for the train, but now we were almost to the point of running out of time.
We had 20 minutes to walk to the train station, which we didn’t really know where it was, and board the train. This was just like the Amazing Race!

"Nexte Halte, Martigny..."

June 15 - Day 8 - Freiburg, Switzerland

June 15 - Day 8 - Freiburg, Switzerland

We planned to wake up early and go to Kandersteg to see Oeschinensee Lake. On the original plan of hiking cross country it was one of the places I was looking forward to most. Even though we weren’t hiking I still wanted to see it.

It was pouring down rain in the morning so we decided to sleep in since we weren’t going to be able to see anything anyway and trying to take the tent down in the rain didn’t sound very fun. The rain began to die down enough that we were able to pack up and leave. We finally departed Bern around 10:30 to 11:00 AM.
Our first stop was Freiburg. I had seen pictures of the city when I was researching the trip and thought it looked cool. Since we couldn’t go see Kandersteg due to the weather we figured we would check out Freiburg. Basically the only thing I wanted to see was St. Nicholas Cathedral. It is a Catholic Church built in the late 1200s with a gothic style. We only had about an hour to walk to the church from the train station, take pictures, and get back in time for our train to Geneva.

It was still pouring down rain as we got to Freiburg. Since we were relocating we had to carry our bags with us through the streets as we got to the church. It was about a 15 minute walk, but we were able to stay dry for the most part since the buildings had awnings over the sidewalks. Across the street from the church was a building with an awning so we could stand under it out of the rain and take pictures.

"Nexte Halte, Geneva..."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

June 14 - Day 7 - Bern, Switzerland

June 14 - Day 7 - Bern, Switzerland

We had had a busy day already, and it wasn’t over yet. We had seen Piz Gloria in Murren, Staubach Falls in Lauterbrunnen, and now we were on the train to Bern. Trains made travel so much easier. We were also able to use our train pass efficiently. We could jump on and off the train as many times as we wanted in the same day. We also could read, take pictures, or what I usually did, sleep. The trains were so smooth and clean. Much better than a bumpy road. They would usually stop for just a few minutes to drop off and pick up passengers, and as always, arrive and leave right on time. These people don’t mess around with their schedules.

Along the way to Bern we passed through Interlaken, a city we had planned to spend a lot of time in while doing our hike, but we had to take it off the list in order to do the other things we wanted to see. We got to Bern in the afternoon, and as usual it was very cloudy and it had obviously been raining there. We immediately got directions to the campground and started walking. It was a pretty long walk. We had to walk through the main part of the city which was very crowded with people and cars. It was much busier than the other places we had been, even Zurich. Zurich had very few cars, but that wasn’t the case with Bern. It was still compact enough that you could walk everywhere, nothing like the cities in the U.S.

We took a trolley to the area we were directed, Camping Erchholz. The campground seemed like it was in a neighborhood, I remember walking around in what seemed like a subdivision with lots of houses. When we got to the camping area we were a little surprised. We knew campgrounds in Switzerland weren’t anything like we were used to, but this was literally a city park with a swimming pool. You had to pay to enter the park, and then a little more if you planned to camp. It was very nice and wide open, but nothing to suggest this was a campground. They said we could put our tent anywhere. We decided to put it under a tree in case it rained and so we could hang our clothes to dry since they were still soaked. We had hoped to do laundry here, but never had an opportunity.

After we got our campsite situated we decided to go back to the downtown area to see some of the government buildings and other significant sites. The route we took was along the river. It seemed like a good walking path that lots of people were using. Once we started walking on it it seemed deserted. To one side was the river and on the other side a fence. I was thinking it was a good place for criminals to hide out and rob unsuspecting people. I don’t know why I thought that, I guess because in the U.S. you would expect something like this, but Switzerland seemed extremely safe. Along the walk we passed people playing sand volleyball at what appeared to be a college, but I don’t know.

This route seemed to take much longer than the way we came in, but it was ok. It gave us a chance to see a different part of the city. We finally got back to the city center and everything seemed to be under construction. Switzerland was hosting the European Championships with Austria in July and Bern was one of the host cities. As a result, all the buildings were getting a makeover. It did make it a little disappointing, the whole country was perfectly clean and organized, and the capital Bern was under construction.

Not only were the buildings under construction, but so were a number of the roads. They had trolley’s in town and they were being improved as well. Even though the city wasn’t in it’s best condition we were still able to see what we wanted to.

We spent about four hours hiking around the city. We began our sightseeing at the train station on the Marktgasse, the main street in the old town. We saw the parliament buildings, which were under construction, with a water show out front. We also saw the Hotel Schweizerhof - a famous hotel where important world leaders often stay when visiting the city. We passed the Church of the Holy Ghost as well as a lot of shops.

It seemed like every street had a fountain with a very detailed figure on top. One of the first we saw, Kornhausplatz, is a fountain with a carnival figure on top. Because I was running out of space on my memory card I wasn’t able to take very many pictures of them. There was one with a bagpiper, another with a knight, and one with bears known as Zahringer Fountain, plus many more. I wanted to save my last few shots in case I saw something really cool.

Because everything was under repair, it was cloudy, and lightly raining, we decided to head to the Einstein Museum, I’m not sure it was originally on our list of things to do but it was neat. It had a lot of information about scientific experiments. Outside in the courtyard there was something like a playground. I’m sure it was mostly intended for little kids, but it had different things to test scientific theories.

We then took a trolley to see the Cathedral of St. Vincent, which had a huge spire on the top that you could climb. Some of the people that were on the trolley looked extremely weird. I remember there was a group of four teenagers, probably 15 years old, two boys and two girls. They had strange piercing and weird hair, much like the punk rock look I mentioned before. They got on at the same time as us, but as we were driving one of them decided to jump off the back. He tried to run and jump back on, I don’t remember if it worked out for him or not.

At the Cathedral of St. Vincent we intended to climb the 270 steps to the top to see great views of the city, however, it was under construction so we were unable to do that. Instead we just took a few pictures of the fountain out front and the door. There was an iron fence out front that must have been locked because we didn’t go inside. However, the door was huge and very detailed with a number of religious figures and events.

It was becoming dark so we continued deeper into the Altstadt or Old Town. The streets in this area were very narrow and all coblestone. I was wearing some very warn out hiking boots and it was kiling my feet. Whoever thought coblestone was a good idea made a mistake.

We passed a really neat arched bridge and decided to walk down to the bottom of it and get a few pictures. There were some very old buildings dating back to the 17th century as we made our way through the city. We bought some Swiss chocolate in one of these shops since it was highly recommended.

We eventually came to the Zutgloggeturm, which means clock tower. At the clock tower there is a puppet show with bears, jesters, and emperors. It is the world’s oldest and biggest show of its kind. It takes place four minutes before every hour. I was down to my last few pictures, but I did get one shot of the clock tower itself.

After the show we passed through the Prison Gate, which dates to the 1200s. There is a small museum inside it today, but we didn’t go inside. We then made our way back to the area of town with the parliament buildings. Again the water show was taking place so we took some photos. I had to delete a few pictures I had previously taken so I could take some of this.

It was now pretty late and dark so we started our hike back to the campground we were staying at. We walked along a different path this time, taking us through the city. We were able to take a trolley to the general vicinity of the camp and walk the rest of the way. Because it had rained our clothes were still wet. Great!

"Nexte Halte, Freiburg..."