Jordan Petra and Wadi Rum – 2009

Here is another posting to add another trip to this blog.

We took a day trip from Eilat, Israel, crossed the border to visit Petra, Jordan.  It is quite famous from the Indiana Jones movie of course where he found the Holy Grail.  The reality is the tomb is only like 10 feet deep and not a massive cavern.

Crossing the border is always a challenge, but if you pay the money and get a private guide, it is all good.  Now, what is interesting in visiting Petra, is the fact it is a 1-hour hike to the site…unless you accept the tourist trap offer and pay big money to ride a donkey down the trail.  It is a really fun and scenic hike, so it is highly recommended. Lots of old homes and carvings.  The time passes by quickly.

Towards the end, you then wind through some tight canyon walls before coming out to the famous site/temple.

From there, the huge surprise and delight is the larger city and (homes) off to the right which is part of the bigger story.  Not as many people climb up, but this is the gem of the site and why you should visit.

From there, we took some old Toyota Land Cruisers to go visit Wadi Rum which was made famous in the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

It is quite an experience in taking in the famous landmarks and battle place…

and mingling with all the historical Bedouin tribes that still live and own the area.

The best part…and you have to be patient and tolerate the dropping temperatures is the sunset.  It is memorable.

Overall, very safe and worth the money to take high quality local guides.

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Exploring Peru – 2011

This is a restorative posting from 2011, but I have had some many requests for sharing some stories and pictures, I went back and put together this story from a tour I took in 2011.

Touring the best way to visit Peru since there are so many sights and things to see…but they are very long distances apart and some are a little hard to find. Lima is a very artistic city that is worth exploring and very comfortable to visit despite the claims of crime and corruption. Never ran into any issues, threats or discomfort. You can safely walk everywhere.

However, the most fun is visiting and exploring the countryside and small villages in the mountains.

It is amazing to see how farming and building occurred over thousands of years and how some people retain the culture, style and clothing.

What is the most popular (meat) dish in Peru?  Guinea pigs.  In the villages, they live in your home and when hungry…

And the culture and mysterious superstition of land carvings still exist in the modern towns.  More on the Nazca lines later…

Another highlight was visiting and paddling out onto Lake Titicaca and visiting one of the villages/communities that lives on floating islands in the middle of the lake.

Yes, they still live on these reed collections and maintain their culture, but the kids do go to school on the mainland now.

It was an amazing experience to meet some of the people, share stories and learn all the history of the floating islands.

SONY DSC

OK – time to talk about the Nazca lines.  You have to get permission to an air force base and try very hard to get a seat on one of the rare civilian airlines that can fly over the lines.

It looks easy, but the ride is rough and faces enormous g and wind forces that makes the flights difficult for the timid.

But the highlight is how you can see some of the ancient drawings from above that are impossible to see from the ground.

Very exciting to see some of the images that were created for the alien visitors that visited the people thousands of years ago.

and if yup get the time, you can drive for a few hours and find one of the hidden landing sites that was built for the giant alien spacecraft.  These things were huge!  Look at how small the people are at the bottom.  It is quite a hike down and up.

Speaking of hiking, climbing and hiking the mountains is a highlight in Peru.  You do have to be ready for the high elevations and thin air though.

Some of the routes and sites are breathtaking.  Check out this ancient path we checked out.  Any game for that narrow path with no ropes?

And what is the highlight at the end?  Machu Picchu of course.  A place everyone should visit once in their life.  It is memorable and hard to fully appreciate until you visit in person like the Taj Mahal.

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Lady Gaga in Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas right?  Well, when you see a concert/performance/show like Lady Gaga, you must share.

But when you travel, you must also explore and run right?

I snuck in a 8 mile run and headed to the mountains to prepare for the evening show.  OK – everyone does not want to hear about that right?  You want to hear about Lady Gaga right?  On to the concert!

First and foremost, it is not a concert, it is a show.  It is like a Broadway performance and musical with acting and special effects.  It is held in the Park MGM Theater, not a massive arena where it is massive and you are 1,000 feet away from the artist!

The Park MGM Theater It is much more intimate and everyone is connected to the show and artist, because you are at most, 150 feet away from the stage.  There are high end tables and VIP seating which you can see in the video below, but I think some of the best seats for the money are in section 301, Row A.  You have nobody sitting in front of you, yet you are above the main floor.  A clear win-win!

Let’s talk about the show.  Here is the playlist for Enigma, which does not change because it is a show and story with some virtual characters and acting on the main screen.  It is like a sci-fi movie from the start.

Everyone asks when the show starts, what time it starts, etc.  The tickets say 8:00 PM, but that is never realistic.  But it was now 10:00 PM either.  It starts around 8:20 or 8:30 and begins with Lady Gaga dropping down from the top of the theater which is a true kickoff of what is going to transpire over the next 2 hours.

It is hard to believe but she drops from the ceiling, she is actually playing her instrument and singing.

The Enigma show is a story…in some ways like Abba and Mamma Mia.  There is a science fiction story that is woven through the evening that ties fantasy and her life story together.

Of course, the second song was Poker Face. The sound is not as good as the ending video (spoiler, you will want to listen to that one), but you cannot blame people when they are all excited and signing along.

You have to love the Pixel 3 XL phone for the picture, sound and night sight capabilities.  They helped me to capture the story and Lady Gaga in her giant robot.  I almost felt like this was an upcoming scene in Valve’s upcoming Half-Life 3 game 😉

Now the best audio with the Google Pixel3 phone:

OK – here is the best part of the show.  The Encore.  The Ending.  The Experience.  The Story.

It is all all based on her Oscar nominated song Shallow in “A Star is Born” movie. I think once you see this video (the sound is incredible) and hear her voice, you will want to try and see this show in Vegas.

And if you have missed the movie, you are truly missing out!

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Scuba Diving in Turks and Caicos

Adding another country to list.  Took a Caribbean cruise to check out some of the diving locations in a rolling trip.  Yes, I know, Carnival Cruises are not the best, but you can get to a LOT of dive sites in just one week.  Turks and Caicos was one of the best diving sites I have experienced in the world over the past 10 years.

Was not able to sneak in a run, but I was able to get a dive in.

The Wall is one of the most memorable (and dangerous) dives in Caribbean.

Check out the video!

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Zambia Running Club

Country #61 on my list of visited countries.

And, of course, I had to go running in Zimbabwe and over to Zambia with the local running club!

Who are the primary members of the running club you ask?  Baboons of course!  They love hanging out with other primates 😉

I got a visa to run over the bridge and Victoria Falls as that is necessary to leave the country and return on this very popular 5K running route.

It is always fun to have an early morning running route that crosses countries and borders.

And get a friendly hello from the border security who is impressed you are running and not actually on the bridge just to bungee jump.

back to the hotel in the distance for some early morning breakfast and some GREAT coffee here in Zimbabwe!

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Day Safari in Zimbabwe

Yes, you can go on a safari in Zimbabwe.  Much smaller, much simpler, more focused on day trips and not resorts, but you can have a safari experience in Zimbabwe and also Zambia.  We checked out on with Wild Horizons.

They are mostly focused on rescuing animals from poachers, injuries and protecting wildlife.  As a result, they are VERY friendly to humans and much more reliant on their interaction with humans for care, protection and companionship.

Saying hi to everyone

The elephants are very friendly and love attention.

But do you know who loves even more attention and likes to be interviewed? Sylvester.  He is a cheetah and was rescued about 8 years ago.  He needs human care to feed him as he was never taught to hunt by his mother, so know he is the foundation’s mascot.

All the elephants are free to roam and come and go and only come to visit periodically when they are encouraged by some of the rescue staff.  As you can see in the video, some of the elephants love the attention more than others.

but I suspect the REAL reason they like visiting with famous celebrities is the fact they get fed some gourmet African treats and they cannot resist hanging out and partying to get these sumptuous morsels to compliment their grass, bark and leaves diet.  Can you blame them?

There were also a dozen (wild) warthogs and they are not safe to humans, but…when there are leftover snacks/treats from the elephants, they become very friendly for some reason!

Looks like someone carved my initials in the tree 10 meters up!

On the way back, we checked out one of the oldest trees in Africa – it might be 1,500 years old.  It is called The Big Tree and is a very popular spot for many people to visit.

Stay tuned, there has NOT been any running stories yet!

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Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe

Since we are in Zimbabwe, did we need to go do and see???

An escape room of course! How could you avoid the opportunity to escape the zhombies and get across Victoria Falls?

Well…we did go hike the trails to explore the falls area.

It is about a nice 1.5 mile hike round trip with some amazing views.  This is called the Devil’s Pool and is in some famous movies I heard.

It is best to go very early as the lines can get long, the sun can be hot and the spray can basically obscure and cloud out many of the pictures.

The roar of the falls is quite impressive and exciting to hear.

At the end, you see the famous bridge that was built in the 1920s I think and is the crossing from Zimbabwe to Zambia.

Many people like to go climbing, rappelling and bungee jumping here.  This video will give you a good view of the experience with all the water mist generating rain in the viewing spot known as the danger zone because it is so rocky and slippery.

I think some people would like a statue of this guy erected due to his global adventures to replace…

Dr. Livingston I presume?

Dr. Livingstone who discovered and made this park/location famous to the world.

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