Karstic Treasure: Mammoth Cave National Park (Mammoth Cave, KY)

Although our travel plans were going to be largely confined to Tennessee, how could my wife and I not pass up Mammoth Cave National Park in South Central Kentucky? The first I ever heard of it was during a nature program on PBS, described as the largest cave system in the world. Its size is... Continue Reading →

Waitomo Caves (Waitomo Caves, NZ)

David Attenborough featured them in his BBC Planet Earth series. Arachnocampa luminosa is found only in New Zealand, more commonly called glowworms. Technically, they are not worms, but rather the larvae of gnats. To snare food, one larva can exude several mucousy threads of silk that suspend from the roof of a cave, sticky enough to trap... Continue Reading →

Whakarewarewa Thermal Village (Rotorua, NZ)

The full name is Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao, or Whaka for short. A thermal reserve, Whaka is a showcase for geothermal activity—hot springs, mud pools and geysers. The most famous and largest geyser in NZ, Pohutu, which can reach heights of 40m (130ft), can be seen at a distance from an... Continue Reading →

Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve (NZ)

After spending the night in Whitianga, we headed south to Rotorua. Along the eastern edge of the Coromandel Peninsula is Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve which was set aside by the government in order to protect a rich variety of sea animals and their habitats. Curiously, the sea creatures here grow bigger and are more plentiful than... Continue Reading →

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (NM)

Neither of us has ever been to Carlsbad Caverns. We set aside three whole days to explore it since its remoteness in the southeast corner of New Mexico makes it unlikely we'd ever have an opportunity to return. This remoteness is the reason that, although its wonders are many, far fewer visitors show up than... Continue Reading →

Acoma Pueblo (Sky City, NM)

Our third visited pueblo was one that surprised us. Known in artistic circles for their intricately decorated clay pottery, the Acoma people have one village perched on a 365-foot mesa high above the surrounding valley. Guided tours are the only way to visit the village, more commonly known as Sky City. Photography permits for a fee are... Continue Reading →

Zuni Pueblo (NM)

The town of Zuni is indistinguishable from any other small American town. The only difference is that it is inhabited by about 6,000 Zuni people. Like the Hopi, Zuni are thought to be descended from the Ancient Puebloans who famously and mysteriously abandoned their cliff dwellings centuries ago, but the languages of the two groups... Continue Reading →

Hopi Villages (Arizona)

One of my biggest apprehensions as a tourist is—being viewed as a tourist. Not that there is anything I can do about it. You kind of stick out, so to speak, whether it's the backpack, camera, REI clothes, synthetic zippered-khaki pants, even shorts in certain parts of the world, anything that pegs you as being... Continue Reading →

Mt. Cook National Park (NZ)

At a viewing area along State Highway 80, where the tour bus made a temporary stop, there was a breathtaking vista of a portion of the Southern Alps. Without a doubt, the snow cover made for a most dramatic effect. The tallest peak is Mount Cook (Aoraki, in Maori), the highest in all of New... Continue Reading →

Milford Sound (NZ)

From Queenstown, it took the bus tour four hours to get to Milford Sound, reputedly the most visited tourist spot in all of New Zealand. The boat cruise, once we got there, lasted almost two hours, by which time we got a closer look at the majestic fjords that can tower out of the water... Continue Reading →

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