Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Inspiring Book for the Adventurer in all of us

Several months ago I bought Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. I completely forgot about it and left it in my bookshelf to collect dust. It wasn't until a week ago when I rediscovered the book and decided to read it.  This book was truly one of the most inspiring books I have ever read and it made want to hike the PCT

Plot: (Taken from Review)

At age 26, following the death of her mother, divorce, and a run of reckless behavior, Cheryl Strayed found herself alone near the foot of the Pacific Crest Trail--inexperienced, over-equipped, and desperate to reclaim her life.Wild tracks Strayed's personal journey on the PCT through California and Oregon, as she comes to terms with devastating loss and her unpredictable reactions to it. While readers looking for adventure or a naturalist's perspective may be distracted by the emotional odyssey at the core of the story, Wild vividly describes the grueling life of the long-distance hiker, the ubiquitous perils of the PCT, and its peculiar community of wanderers. Others may find her unsympathetic--just one victim of her own questionable choices. But Strayed doesn't want sympathy, and her confident prose stands on its own, deftly pulling both threads into a story that inhabits a unique riparian zone between wilderness tale and personal-redemption memoir. --Jon Foro

Everyone should check this book out for an amazing literary adventure and let me know what you think!!

Follow along on twitter @Cheap_Adventure 

Waterfalls and Redwoods in the Bay Area

Big Basin Redwood State Park is California's oldest State Park and is home to the largest population of ancient Redwoods south of San Francisco. The park features an incredible diversity of terrain. There are beautiful waterfalls, redwoods, and a freshwater marsh. Inside the park are many hiking trails and today I'm going to talk about an amazing trail that takes you by 3 waterfalls.

Berry Creek Trail

The Berry Creek Trail is a strenuous 10.2 mile hike. It may seem very intimidating but this is the best hike in the San Francisco area. Seasoned Berry Creek Falls hikers suggest doing trail counter-clockwise and if you want a less crowded hike do it during the week days. 

You will start the trail by the head quarters parking lot and gradually ascend through a lovely redwood forest. Pretty soon you will hear the roaring waters of the Golden Cascade Falls and you can easily see how it got its name. 

Golden Cascade Falls

After Golden Cascades, follow the trail to Silver Falls. The base of Silver Falls is a great place to relax and take a quick photo op. Silver Falls is a 70 ft waterfall over sandstone and limestone. During the summer months you can walk right up to the falls and play in the water. The trail takes you to the brink of the falls, where you trek over slippery sandstone steps. Steel cables are along this portion of the trail to help you get down.  

Hikers using the steel cables at Silver Falls
Continue hiking through the redwoods and you will once again here the sound of rushing water.  You are now at the 65 foot high Berry Creek Falls. There is an overlook platform which is great to relax and take some stunning pictures of Berry Creek Falls. Be warned that this is the most viewed falls out of all of them on this trail. On the weekends is when Berry Creek is the most crowded.

Berry Creek Falls

This is a great day hike and it only cost $10 for parking and a trail map. A more detailed trail map is available for $8 at the park station. For more info about this trail click here

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Monday, March 25, 2013

10 most Beautiful Black Beaches in the World

1. Vik Beach, Iceland 

Vik Beach is located in the Southern part of Iceland. The black sand comes from volcanic origins and this area is know to be the wettest spot in Iceland. Sunny days are rare so if you decided to check this beach out bring an umbrella. 

2. Playa Negra Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico

A remote beach that requires a hike through a dry river bed to gain access. I guarantee nobody else will be at the beach, except for a few wild horses. Only a portion of this beach has black sand but it is still a sight to see. 

3. One'uli Black Sand Beach, Maui, Hawaii

One'uli Black Sand Beach is an amazing beach for snorkeling and diving, but not the best for swimming. Coral reefs are abundant here and you will not go 10 minutes without seeing Green Sea Turtles. 

4. Playa Hermosa Beach, Costa Rico

Playa Hermosa Beach (Jaco) is a beautiful black sand beach that is ideal for surfers. The waves are big and rough so it is not the best swimming beach but it is fun to sit back and watch the surfers charge at the waves.

5. Black Sand Beach, Prince William Sound, Alaska

This beach is located about 60 miles from Anchorage. The water is a beautiful and freezing icy blue color. Although its not a swimmers beach people still flock here to go kayaking. If you go kayaking you will truly see some amazing views of the mountains and Alaska's wildlife. 

6.  Santo Domingo Beach, Albay, Philippines 

The sand at this beach is as black as black can get. The contrast of the black sand and the blue water really makes for a memorable time. The swimming is actually pretty good here unlike most black sand beaches. 

7.  Kamari Beach, Greece

Hotels, bars, and water activities line this beach. It can get a little crowed though. You can swim, snorkel or do a number of other water related activities here. 

8. Piha Beach, New Zealand

Piha Beach is know as surf spot for locals but people can swim here too. Just be careful because the current is extremely strong. A hike up Lion Rock is a must do according to locals.

9. Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia

This has to be one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. Swimming in the crystal clear water is also a must do!

10. Lost Coast, California

True to it's name, this beach is very remote and quiet. This truly is one of the most beautiful natural beaches in the United States. There are no major highways nearby and the only way to get here is by hidden mountain roads. If you can find the Lost Coast you have to go there!

Follow along on twitter: @Cheap_Adventure

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A 550 Million Year Old Bridge in Massachusetts

Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams, Massachusetts
Don't worry you don't need glasses. A 550 million year old bridge does exist in the state of Massachusetts. The bridge can be found in Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams, Massachusetts. As you may have guessed, this bridge is not man made but it is an extremely rare bridge in North Adams.  The bridge is the only natural white marble bridge in North America. According to Geologist, the natural bridge is 550 million year old bedrock marble that was carved into an arch/bridge by glacial melt water about 13,000 years ago. 

Natural Bridge
The park is open from 9 am to 5 pm throughout the summer and early fall. Parking is extremely cheap at only $2. The park itself is pretty small and you'll probably spend just over an hour there. There is a 1/4 mile walkway above and through the chasm and a 1/2 mile wooded walking trail. The trails are easy and most people bring their dogs to go sightseeing with them. 

For more info about Natural Bridge State Park Click Here

10 Best Travel Films of All Time

Click the link below and check out the list of best travel movies.

I haven't seen all of them but I'm disappointed Y Tu Mama Tambien is not mention, it's a great road trip movie. 

Agree or Disagree?

Screen Shot of a scene from Into The Wild

Traveling the A.T.

The West coast has the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and the East coast has the A. T.  (Appalachian Trail). The Appalachian Trail is about 2,200 miles long and goes through 14 states. It ranges from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.


Some adventurers, know as "thru-hikers" try their hand at hiking the entire trail in a single season. I've only done trails in Massachusetts but would love to hike the Appalachian Trail in it's entirely. I've heard that the best way to hike the whole trail, is to start in Georgia and work your way up to Maine in the fall for the changing of the leavesIt's an absolutely beautiful hike and I can't wait to do it. 

The Appalachian Trail has more than 250 shelters and campsites that are available to hikers. The shelters and campsites are mostly maintained by local volunteers and the shelters are in great condition. I remember watching a program about the trail on Discovery Channel and they talked about how friendly the locals are. 

The trail crosses numerous roads, which give the hikers a chance to hitchhike into a near by "trail town". The trail towns are use to seeing hikers, so there are a lot of accommodations specifically geared to those hiking the trail. Trail towns are where the hikers get to see the generosity of the locals. Locals almost always provided food, a hot meal, or shelter for hikers. 

Scenic lookout from the trail in Massachusetts

The Appalachian Trail has increased in popularity over the years and it can get crowed at times. You will run into a lot of fellow hikers, so if you are looking for a more secluded trail this is not the one for you. I'm hoping within 2 years I'll be hiking the entire trail, and you bet your ass I'll write about it!

If you have ever hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirely don't be afraid to share your story with me. I would love to hear some personal stories. 

Follow me on twitter @Cheap_Adventure

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Gila Cliff Dwellings of New Mexico

If you ever find yourself in the beautiful state of New Mexico, you have to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings.  The Gila Cliff Dwellings take you back in time to 1300 AD. 

Gila Cliff Dwellings
First, let's start off with a quick history lesson about this site. The cliff contains the ruins of several interlocked cave dwellings built by the Mogollon people. The Mogollons lived in these cliff dwellings from 1275AD to about 1300AD.  As you can see, the dwellings provide excellent shelter from mother nature and predators. 

Hikes through the cliff dwellings are not the only thing you can do here. Bird watching, wildlife viewing, fishing, and stargazing are also excellent activities offered here. You can also camp at many of the camp grounds near by but you can not do an over night at the dwellings. 

Photo from Wikipedia. Looking out from the cliff dwellings
The trail to get to the Gila Cliff Dwellings is open everyday (even holidays) from 9 am to 4 pm and everyone must be off the trail by 5 pm. A museum and visitor center is located near by and staff members are always at the dwellings. To visit this breath taking historical site you don't have to break the bank. It costs families only $10 per day and for the lone Adventurer is only cost $3 per day to explore. 

For more info click here

Don't forget to follow along on twitter: @Cheap_Adventure

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Grand Canyon of the East

Letchworth State Park 
I doubt any one from outside of New York State has heard of Letchworth State Park.  It's a shame more people haven't heard of this natural beauty that's in Americas backyard.

Letchworth State Park is located about 40 miles southwest of Rochester and about 60 miles southeast of Buffalo, New York. The park itself is about 16-18 miles long and covers 14,350 acres of land.

Some of the major attractions at the park are the 3 large waterfalls on the Genesee River. The three major waterfalls are called the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls and they are located in the southern part of the park. The highest waterfall in the state of New York is located at Letchworth Park. There are also 50 other small waterfalls found in the tributaries.

Middle Falls
Letchworth Park got the name "Grand Canyon of the East" because of the gorge formed by the river. Some rock walls reach heights of over 600ft. Hikers can choose from 66 miles of hiking trails that take you to some of the most scenic places on the East Coast.

The park also offers trails for horseback riding, biking, and snowmobiling. If you don't want to go on the trails there are a number of other activities to do. Whitewater rafting, kayaking and hot air ballooning are also available. If you choose to go hot air ballooning make sure you do it in the fall, it is an unforgettable experience.

If you find yourself in New York and you are sick of the city, come visit Letchworth Park. It's only $8 to park, but it's completely free to explore one of the most beautiful sights on the East Coast.

For more info click here

Monday, March 18, 2013

World's Strangest Natural Wonders

Here is an interesting article about the worlds strangest natural wonders. I haven't even heard of half of them before. Let me know if you have or let me know if you have any other strange natural wonders you think Yahoo should add to their list.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Florida's Best Kept Secret

I spent 4 years living in Tampa and have explored many Florida beaches. Almost every beach I went to had something unique about them like the waves, the water color, and the type/color of sand. However, the one thing that almost all of the Florida beaches have in common is that they become wicked crowed. The crowds are huge and during the winter months when the "Snow Birds" come down the beaches can be insanely packed.

It took a day of boredom for my roommate Liz and I to venture up north and check out Tarpon Springs. We both heard that Tarpon Springs was famous for its sea sponges and wanted to check it out. We did the typical tourist thing and went straight to the sea sponge dock. The docks were packed and I was sick of getting my foot rolled over by old people in electric wheelchairs. My roommate and I ask a local if there are any good and quiet beaches around and he told us of a quaint beach called Howard Beach in Fred Howard Park.

The park is pretty easy to find if you have a GPS and navigating your way through the large park shouldn't be a problem. When we first were driving through we thought the local guy was pulling our leg because we were driving through what appeared to be a forest. Out of nowhere the trees ended and a causeway surrounded by water appeared in front of us. The causeway is about a mile long and takes you to a small parking lot by the beach. Be warned, there is a $5 all day parking fee.

Causeway leading to the Howard beach
The beach is almost never crowded, but on the weekends the park is busy with people fishing, canoeing and picnicking. The beach itself is incredible clean, and the white sand is super soft. Large palm trees line the beach providing shade for those who want it.

I guarantee you won't go 5 minutes without seeing some of Floridas amazing wildlife. Every time I went I saw at least 5-10 dolphins swim by. There are several species of birds that call this beach home, so you might want to bring some binoculars for bird watching. Sea turtles and the occasional manatee can also be spotted near the beach. If sunbathing or bird watching is not your thing to do than you can get in the water and try your hand at catching scallops and sand dollars. Don't leave early when you come here because this is one of the best places on the Gulf Coast to watch the sunset. Bring your camera, leave your worries at home and relax at Howard Beach!!

More info about Howard Beach click here

Aerial shot of Howard Beach

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An Unlikely Place for Redwoods

When you think of Redwoods trees, I bet you automatically think of California. I bet if I told you there is a Redwood forest in Maui, you would tell me to stop smoking all that Maui Wowie.

Now, I've been to Maui a number of times it was only on my last day in Maui in August of 2012 that I found out about the Redwood forest. I didn't have enough time to go, but the next time I'm in Maui it will be one of my first stops.

I've heard that the trails are almost never packed here, so you essentially have the forest to yourself. This is not a tourist destination but a local destination. If you choose to visit, make sure you have a 4x4 vehicle because the roads can easily become impassible. Remember you will be ascending so the temperature will be significantly cooler than it is at the coast, so make sure to bring a sweatshirt.

I don't have much personal information about this place and all I can tell you is what I've been told. I'm simply writing this post because I don't want any one to miss out on Redwood forest like I did.

For information about Maui's Redwood forest, click here

The Redwood forest is often covered in fog giving it a mystical appearance. 

Trail Map of Poli Poli State Park


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fire, Nudity, and Drums in Maui

If you go to Hawaii, the best thing to do is befriend a local. They really let you in on some of the best secrets of the islands. My neighbor in Lahaina told us about Little Beach and the drum circle that occurs on Sunday nights. Of course I had to check it out and all I can say is that it was one hell of a time. 

Drum Circle at Little Beach 

Little Beach is adjacent to Big Beach aka Makena Beach. To get to Little Beach you have to climb a somewhat strenuous hill, but once you get there you'll forget about the climb. Little Beach is know as a nudist beach so if you are uncomfortable seeing people walking around in their birthday suits, this is not the beach for you. Also if you are not comfortable around a lot of weed, then I would also skip this beach. The hippest of hippies come fully stocked with bags of weed and rolling papers, so prepare to get your smoke on.  

The party really gets started at sunset, and thats when the fire dancers come out. They put on an amazing show, it's not to be missed. It doesn't really matter if you are a local or a tourist, just come with an open mind and you'll fit right in. Just make sure you bring a flashlight for your walk back to your car.  This is truly a unique experience and a must do if you are ever in Maui. Mahalo!!

More info about Little Beach here 

Travel through Time in Framingham

Old Burying Ground Cemetery in Framingham
It was around mid October when I started getting the travelers itch. I need to get away, go on an adventure, but I was stuck in my hometown of Framingham, Massachusetts. I googled "Hiking trails in Framingham" and I stumbled upon a post about the Old Burying Ground.  I remember going there for my 3rd grade field trip that showcased the long history of Framingham. So one fall afternoon I took my my dog with me to explore the historic grounds of the Old Burying Ground on Main Street.

Upon entering it's gates, you are greeted right away with mysterious looking headstones and primitive looking graves. The town keeps the grounds pretty neat and clean, and the graves seem to be well taken care off.
Weird looking markings on a grave

Take your time and explore every inch of this place because some graves are hidden. Some of the coolest looking and oldest graves are hidden in the right hand corner of the cemetery. The oldest marking I could see were from the late 1600s, but there are older graves that are ineligible. 

Grave of a Revolutionary Soldier
There are several Revolutionary War soldiers buried here as well as veterans from other wars. As you walk in, there is a plaque with the names of the Revolutionary War soldiers. One of my best finds was the grave of Peter Salem. It is located all the way in the back, down a slight hill and it is completely by it self. One of the best things about this place is that you can go home and research the names you found. You'll find out that some of the people buried here played a significant part in American history.

A freed black slave who killed British Marine Major John Pitcairn 

One of the oddest graves I found was near the front right corner and the gravestone described several children dying on the same day. If you look closely at the photo below you will notice that half of it is upside down. I don't know it this a mistake or if it was done on purpose, but it's the most interesting grave in the whole cemetery. 

This is what I could make out from the carvings on the grave: "4 of the children of M' Ezra and Susanna Twitchell. Susanna died Dec 19th 1776 age 8yr. Anna who died Dec 18th 1776 age 6yr. Calvin who died Dec 18th 1776 age 3 years 6 months. Synthya who died Dec 18th 1776 age 1 year 5 months"

Even after I left Old Burying Ground I couldn't stop thinking what killed these kids all on the same day.  Was it a disease? Was it an Indian massacre? It took me a while but I did find out what the cause of death was. All four of these kids died of throat distemper (diphtheria) on the same day. Here is more info on the Twitchell family.

Old Burying Ground Cemetery is located on MAIN STREET in FRAMINGHAM. Please check it out, you will not be disappointed at some of things you will find.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Believe in Belize

Belize is a beautiful but often overlooked country in Central America. It has so much to offer. If you love the water, Belize is the place to visit. If you love the jungle, Belize is the place for you. There is something for everyone in Belize.

If you want to experience Belize in the raw, then you need to book your stay at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge. Lower Dover is located in the Cayo district and as the website says, it is "the perfect getaway for adventure travelers wanting to experience the vanishing natural world".
Cabanas in Lower Dover 
Lower Dover offers many options for rooms. They range from a romantic honeymoon cabana, private cabanas to a bunkhouse. You can find out more about the type of rooms and their rates here.  The bunkhouse at this site is a great deal for its location. The bunkhouse has a hostel vibe too it and it is only $15 for a bed. 

Interior of the Bunkhouse
You don't even have to go far to have fun because there is so much to do and see when you enter Lower Dover. Activities range from bird watching, nature trails, swimming in the near-by creek and star gazing at the beautiful night sky.  If you want to dishes out some money, Lower Dover offers many tours to Mayan Ruins, Cave Canoeing, and zip lining. 

Lower Dover also offers a Mountain Pine Ridge tour that is truly worth the $75. The tour takes you through Mayan villages, to the Rio Frio Cave, Rio On pools and the amazing 80 ft Big Rock Waterfall. More info on the Mountain Pine Ridge tour can be found here
Big Rock Water Fall
If you plan a trip to Belize do yourself a favor and book a stay at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The magic of Iao Valley

The Needle from the ridge top lookout
If you ever find yourself in Maui, then you have to visit Iao Valley. My first time visiting this place was in August 2012 and I can't wait to go back. There is something magical about this place. You feel a sense of calmness and peacefulness when you walk through here, even thought it is the sight of one of Hawaii's deadliest battle.
The Iao Stream. Locals often swim here
Iao Valley is rich in history. In 1790 it was at the Battle of Kepaniwai that King Kamenhameha I clashed with Maui's army in his attempt to unify the islands. Kamenhameha ultimately defeated Maui's army in bloody battle and thus changing the course of Hawaiian history. 
Paved pathway through the valley. 
Iao Valley State Park is an excellent CHEAP way to explore the island. Parking is only $5 and once you park you are free to walk around at your own pace. Paved pathways take you along streams, through botanical gardens and at times it seems like it is taking you through a lost world. At any minute I was expecting a T-Rex to jump out from the trees.
Took an unpaved path to get a closer look at the stream

I noticed that there are also unpaved trails that require more of a strenuous hike. I ventured down an unpaved trail to get closer to the stream, but because I was by myself I didn't go to far. The unpaved trails go through thick rainforest jungle and one can easily loose there way here, so be careful.
The Needle at Iao Valley
The Needle is the main attraction here. There is a path with many stairs to take you to a lookout right next to the Needle. If you are up for climbing up several stairs then this lookout is definitely worth the trip. Since you are in the mountains it does get a little chilly up there. I would bring a sweatshirt or a rain jacket because you never know when it might rain. I went in the afternoon and a large cloud hung over head the whole time. After returning home from the trip I was told by a local that the morning is the best time to visit the park because of less cloud coverage.
View from The Needle lookout
Click here for more info about Iao Valley State Park