Long before Junebug discovered and befriended the great blue herons that frequent nearby Bubbling Ponds and enlisted them as unwitting participants in a long-running, one-sided game of tag, she got really into with hummingbirds. The Anna’s hummingbird — a gregarious species whose males flash brilliant pink feathers on their heads and necks — quickly became a particular favorite, pink being Junebug’s favorite color.
Posts tagged ‘travel advice’
The summer heat, not to mention Arizona’s lackluster coronavirus response, has soured S somewhat on Sedona as a retirement destination. Even so, we are continuing to enjoy our temporary residence in the Grand Canyon state. To escape the heat, we have been exploring the northern ponderosa pine forests around Flagstaff, hiking in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness and birdwatching at the Kachina Wetlands. Last week, taking advantage of D’s mini work break, we ventured a bit farther afield, visiting the Petrified Forest National Park.
In the beginning, we were thrilled simply to be able to set foot outside and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Our daughter, not yet three and clearly traumatized by the experience of being personally told by a stern security guard that she was not allowed to go outside in Manila, would remind us first thing each morning that “in Sedona we go hiking every day.” First came the red rock hikes, then the nearby state parks. Having spent a few months in Sedona, we are now beginning to feel like locals, frequenting off-the-beaten-path creek spots and swimming holes and venturing up north to explore the starkly different scenery around Flagstaff.
Despite the closure of Sedona’s most popular trails to limit coronavirus transmission, hiking options abound in red rock country. At first, we weren’t too particular. Our settling-in period coincided with flawless weather and a work lull that allowed us to hit the trails for a few hours most days. We have since scaled back considerably both because the warmer weather has made midday hikes uncomfortable and because increased demands at the office have forced us to rotate childcare responsibilities in lieu of scheduling family outings. Taking the kids to the park requires considerably less energy than wrangling them on a hike, so we have defaulted to the former and have only gone hiking twice in the last couple of weeks. Those two hikes, however, easily top our list of favorite outings over the last month in Sedona.
Sunday was National Audobon Day, which marks the birth of America’s most famous ornithologist. John Audobon was not the first naturalist to illustrate America’s birds – that honor goes to Alexander Wilson – but his work was much more thorough and visually arresting, and his legacy considerably greater. Appropriately enough, we spent both Saturday and Sunday at Arizona state parks that are renowned for their birdlife.
The circumstances of our departure from Manila left a bit of a sour taste in our mouth. It’s hard to reconcile how relieved we are to be back in the States with how much we had enjoyed the first nine months of our assignment in the Philippines. Just a month before the virus hit, for example, we spent a long weekend in Bohol – our last taste, for now, of the country’s many natural wonders.
After an eventful week in northern Vietnam, we caught an early morning flight across the border to Laos. Two impressions struck us on arrival in Luang Prabang. First, after relying almost exclusively on Google Translate for communication in Vietnam, it was refreshing to hear English spoken widely. Second, because Luang Prabang is a backpacker haven, a powerful wave of nostalgia swept over us.
Arriving in Ha Long after spending the better part of a week in rural Vietnam is a bit of a shock to the senses. Parts of the city along Vietnam’s most famous bay feel like they have been transplanted from Europe; the French architectural influence is unmistakable. And whereas we hardly saw a soul in Pu Luong, at the Ha Long boat terminal we found an assembly line-like tourist infrastructure designed to process thousands of visitors per day. Six million foreigners visit Ha Long Bay each year, making it far and away Vietnam’s top tourist attraction.
The principal challenge with touristing in Vietnam – aside from the arcane visa process – is rooted in the country’s geography. Vietnam is long and narrow – it is barely thirty miles wide at its narrowest point, but extends for more than one thousand miles from north to south. The country’s karst formations, long coastline, innumerable caves, and multitude of rivers ensure that there are gorgeous places to visit throughout. Stringing Vietnam’s top highlights into one trip is difficult, however, as doing so requires a lot of driving in between destinations.
Another weekend, another trip to Rizal. Last time, we got a bunch of our friends together for an adults-only playscape adventure. This time, we planned the outing with our kids’ social circle in mind, joining forces with another family for a weekend getaway in the foothills of Mt. Purro.