Posted by: xploreyourworld | September 12, 2010

The Way Home…

The Way Home…

Wyoming Bison

You may remember the last time we spoke I was lounging around the National Forests of Kentucky; swimming, eating, sleeping, hiking and generally being carefree. You know how it is, your slate is clean (relatively), you’re making plans for the next few weeks – what you’re going to do, where you’re going to go. Then you get a photo text message from your wife, and all of a sudden, plans change. This is what happened when I woke up one early June morning, flipped open my phone and saw this:

Wake up call

Very happy and excited I packed up camp and hit the road, calling Tabatha and talking with her the whole hour-long drive home. We’d been hoping this would happen but didn’t think it would happen this soon. We did have a contingency plan though, and it involved high-tailing it back across the country, spending some time with friends and family in California, then hopping across the Pacific pond and back to Aus.  So, it was time to get the wheels in motion, literally; Indiana, Chicago, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and up and over the Sierra Nevada to our sunburnt, golden home of Butte County, California.

Butte Canyon, California

So now we’re in countdown mode, once again it’s time to squeeze in everything you wanted to do but never got around to. Time to make a roll-call of goodbyes to say and times to spend with friends and family that you won’t see for a while. Camping with my friends Patrick and Kim in the Lassen National Forest….

Patrick and Kim at Lassen

…hiking the redwoods with friends from Oregon….

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

…hanging with the seals on California’s north coast…

California Seal

…or just driving down the Interstate…

Mt Shasta

…northern California in the summer is an outdoor playground with breathtaking sights around every corner. But as winter approaches, so do the grey skies and the Pacific North-west rains. As Tabatha’s belly swells, it’s time to pack up and move to the other side of the Pacific.

I will miss California and America dearly. The past 12 months have been one of the free est and easiest of my life. Never did I imagine north America was so diverse and awe-inspiring. I’ve rediscovered a love for the outdoors and hope to be able to share this with my kids, as soon as they’re old enough to walk. For now though, it’s time to take care of business, build a home and bring a child into the world. Till then…



Posted by: xploreyourworld | July 18, 2010

Daniel Boone National Forest – Appalachia

Daniel Boone National Forest – Appalachia

Camping by Indian Creek

Just outside Lexington, Kentucky in the foothills of southern Appalachia lies tobacco growing country and the Daniel Boone National Forest. Named after the famous pioneer and explorer who founded one of the first English-speaking settlements west of the Appalachian mountains, this bear-infested tract of green hillsides and creeks is abundant in secluded and peaceful campsites. Indian Creek is small but surprisingly deep allowing for great swimming and diving among the sandy banks where shoes, and even clothes, are optional.

50m swimming and diving hole

Sitting by the creek I’m reminded of events earlier in the day, when my intended route through to the famous “Red-River Gorge” area was blocked by the local Sheriff. When I tried to sneak through, he swaggered over to my vehicle and informed me that the park was “closed” because they were “looking for a barrrr”. Suppressing the urge to say, “you’re looking for a what?” I remembered my earlier experiences in the south, where “there’s a bear in there” is apparently pronounced “there’s a barrr in tharrr”, and notioned that he was actually looking for a large, furry mammal known to the rest of the world as a ‘bear’. Apparently some hiker was attacked on one of the trails, and this bear was a repeat offender. No longer afraid of humans, the bear’s fate was sealed and a bunch of gun happy hunters were let loose in the forest to make the bear pay for humans encroachment of it’s habitat.

Indisputable bear-evidence

Well and truly aware of the presence of bears, and one in particular who associates humans with food, I do feel a little out of my depth when hiking alone in the mountains. But I’ve come this far and I’m not going to sit in my car all day and hide, so off I go in search of a hiking trail. Unfortunately, police or park rangers have been stationed at the trail-heads blocking the entry of recreationalists such as myself, so it’s necessary to make your own trail. Luckily the geography of these mountains provides abundant creeks and streams, and invent a new sport I term “Creek Scrambling” which is exactly that; scrambling along a creek. The one I chose is basically the low point from where two steep hillsides rise, and provides a challenging scramble to it’s source.

Creek scrambling in Daniel Boone National Forest

The creek is alive with all manner of fauna, including brook trout, crawfish, this dragon-fly…


…and this little fella.

Creek turtle

Independence Day

The following series of photos were taken on colourful Independence Day, the fourth of July, when Americans celebrate their country gaining independence from the King of England. For a noisy video of the parade, click here.


Me, Tabatha and Reka

Posted by: xploreyourworld | July 5, 2010



Southern landmark

After an alcoholism-inducing stay in New Orleans it was onwards and upwards into the heart of the continent and Tennessee/Appalachia. In another welcome surprise, Tennessee met none of my expectations. Images of Nashville from the movies were all I had to go on, and good ol’ Tennessee was green, warm and inviting. First stop on the itinerary (well, the only stop actually) was to visit an old friend in Knoxville. From there we went for a three day hike up in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in the southern Appalachian mountain range.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The ‘Smokies’ were wonderfully green and wet, with torrential downpours a feature of every day. One day I’d love to return and would consider the entire Appalachian trail. However, with the Bonaroo festival looming, three days was enough for now.

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Posted by: xploreyourworld | June 3, 2010

Deep South

Deep South

Canal outside of New Orleans

After crossing the continental divide we have the formidable task of traversing Texas to get to our next destination. In what appears to be a theme in all our travels lately, everyone we meet warns us of the next place we are headed; “DO NOT speed in Texas”, “Watch out for Texas police”, “Stay clear of the Mexican border”, and “Watch out for immigration checkpoints” all reminiscent of a Cormac McCarthy novel. And, as usually happens, Texas was very inviting, green, humid and possibly the friendliest place on the trip so far. However, with nothing but oil fields for most of west Texas, we don’t stop until we hit the oasis that is Austin, and Munkebo farm. Run by lovely and eccentric Germaine, Ivan and Milo, 4 dogs, 3 cats, 350 ducks and geese, 2 horses, 4 pigs, 10 cows and a donkey, Munkebo is a developing organic farm that we instantly take a liking to. Just look at how “stoked” Tab is with her carrots..!

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Posted by: xploreyourworld | May 11, 2010

New Mexico

New Mexico

Firelight dances on our trailer at “Heartland Mesa”

New Mexico: As the saying goes, “it’s not really new, and it’s not really Mexico”. Straddling the US/Mexico border it is home to a  range of hippies, alternatives, conspiracy theorists, doomsdayers and travellers. Its remoteness also makes it a perfect location for a range of astronomical observatories, extra terrestrial searches, and other enlightened activities such atomic bomb and missile testing. The famous Roswell incident occurred in Roswell, NM.

Nuclear fallout aside, southern New Mexico is a colourful blend of quirky artsy culture, Native American culture, farmland and alternative lifestyle folks. Indeed half the people we met here continued to warn us “the shootin’s gonna start real soon”. They’re begging for a fight with the feds, and who could blame them?

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Posted by: xploreyourworld | April 22, 2010

Arizona – High Places

Arizona – High Places

1000 year old petroglyphs near Sedona, AZ

The time to leave California and continue eastwards has come. This vast continent is not going to cross itself so we say goodbye to Mojave. With Tom Petty’s “Time to move on, time to get going” playing on the radio we climb steadily up the Colorado Plateau towards Arizona and high places.

Arizona is an exercise in contrasts. While not appearing to be at high altitudes, most of the state sits at elevations of between 4 and 8 thousand feet (higher than Australia’s tallest mountain). Native American ruins dot the countryside…

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Posted by: xploreyourworld | April 15, 2010

Heron Gets His Breakfast

While hot during the day, Arizona freezes at night. I wake early to reflections on the lake.

This Great Blue Heron takes off in search of something substantial for breakfast, something that’s going to stick to the ribs.

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Posted by: xploreyourworld | April 12, 2010

Road Trip USA…the beginning

Snow storms and white-outs rolling in from Alaska force a last minute change of plans to our route across this great continent. Instead of heading due east from our home in Chico, northern California, across the formidable Sierra Nevada mountains and into Utah, we decide it’s best to head to the hottest, driest and lowest place on earth…

Death Valley

Our VW van in Death Valley

First obstacle however, is the wall of mountains between California and the rest of the continent, the Sierra Nevadas. Unpassable due to snow we drive 6 hours south through California’s farmland and the fruitbowl of the nation. Unfortunately this equals tedium as we pass through such jewels as Stockton, Fresno and the myriad of shopping malls and highways running through the Sacramento Valley. As soon as we find an open pass we head east towards Lake Isabella.

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Posted by: xploreyourworld | March 8, 2010

Grand Canyon

Thoroughly deserving of it’s place on the list of Great Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon takes your breath away the minute you arrive. A steady climb up the plateau will take you above the snow-line where you begin your hike. There are several different paths you can take, but all head one way – down. The sheer size of the Canyon cannot be overstated, and once you are inside you feel like you’re on another planet.

Thursday, 3pm.

Patrick and I hit the road for a 15 hour haul from our home in Chico, California, to the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Friday, all day

We hike slowly down the Bright Angel trail,

…across on the Tonto trail…

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Posted by: xploreyourworld | March 8, 2010

Feather Falls (USA’s 6th highest)

In our own backyard, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range runs the Feather River and it’s famous waterfalls. Click here to see the vid.

The hike was beautiful and quite easy, starting up in hill-billy country, wandering through the Plumas National Forest, around a couple of mountains and bang, there you are.  Without breaks the trail can be done in around 3 hours.

More info


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