roadtrip

Rhineland Germany

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I've been spending some time in Germany particularly the Rhineland-Palatinate state since late October and even though I am here for work, during my free time I try and explore the country as much as I can.  I haven't written in awhile but since I have been able to venture out and explore I can share with you some of my experiences so far in Germany.

If you have not been to Germany, I would highly recommend it. Pretty much everyone speaks some sort of English if you are like me and can't speak a lick of any foreign language, this helps. If you like history and castles, holy shit there are a bazillion of them and I haven't even scratched the surface! I remember driving along the beautiful Mosel river and I shit you not, within an hour drive I saw roughly 10-15 castles.  If there is an overlook of some sort then a coin flip chance there is a castle there.

This article is about a few spots I have been so far in the Rhineland (Rheinland) area which houses Ramstein Air Base.  So there are plenty of Americans in the area as well.

Eltz Castle

Eltz  Castle, unlike most castles along the Mosel river, is set a few kilometers away from the river basically in the middle of nowhere surrounded by beautiful trees and a stream that borders the Castle as well. The day I went it was closed during winter. I have learned that all the cool things to do and see are closed during the winter. Don't expect to hop on a gondola in a city. I encountered that 3 times already. Anyways, Eltz Castle has probably been my favorite castle I have seen so far. It may not have the best views, but aesthetically it appealed me the most. Just look at it!

 

Cochem Castle

Cochem Castle is pretty badass. It has that medieval look which I always loved and it was sitting on top of a big hill in the middle of the valley next to the river. Driving up to it you have to drive through the small town of Cochem and then it's literally next to a middle school. I mean, it would be pretty sweet going to school next a beautiful castle. The only way into the castle is a 6 Euro tour that takes you through a few rooms and outside. I was not impressed with the tour because there were so many rooms we didn't get to check out. I did, however, buy an Atlas Sculpture I've been dying to get my hands on in the  gift shop they had there. It also is a cafe with bakery goods in case you are hungry.

Geierlay Suspension Bridge

Next up, Geierlay suspension Bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge in all of Germany and it recently just opened up in the beginning of October 2015. The bridge is in the middle of nowhere that connects Mosdorf and Sosberg.  The Bridge is over 360 meters long and 300 feet high. I have a feeling some adrenaline junkies will be bungee jumping from this bridge in the near future. To get to this sweet little bridge, you have to park in town at the link above which makes no sense.

Once you pay for parking, there is a store/cafe you can go into but guess what? it was closed when I arrived. Who would've thunk? After you explore the store and whatnot you just follow the signs which turn out to be roughly a 3 and a half mile hike to and from the bridge. There is a map that shows you the route so you can extend it if you please. If you do go, go early or very late. I got there around 9 a.m. and spent an hour taking photos with my new camera (Sony Alpha 7) and once I was leaving a group of 10 plus showed up. Ok, time to leave.

Bremm

Bremm Horseshoe Bend was another place I really enjoyed.  This was my first stop before I checked out the bridge. The small town of Bremm is surrounded by vineyards in the valley of the Mosel river. I consider it the "Napa Valley" of Germany. Very steep valleys of vineyards line the river for miles and miles.  I arrived at sunrise trying to find the photo-op I found online and let me tell you it was a fucking fiasco.

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It's all about the journey to a place. This instance I went off roading, hiking in freezing weather and drove along the extremely steep narrow through the vineyards. One wrong move and I could have rolled down the hill in a fiery death. Ok, i had to be a little dramatic but it was pretty damn narrow and steep. Once you enter that road, there is no doing a 3-point turn. I had to back out about a half a mile after I got to my viewpoint "Calmont" I wanted which took over an hour driving through the mud and whatnot. Guess what? It's all worth it for that incredible view. That is what I am about and will conquer, the struggle for "that" view.

A few updates since last time I wrote is that I am here till April and recently upgraded cameras. I still have my GoPro as my right-hand man but also invested in the Sony Alpha 7 Mirrorless camera for more close up photos. I had the Sony a6000 for a few months but wanted a full frame and wow a huge difference. If you are looking for an excellent camera but can't afford the expensive ones I would go with the a6000. The ratings are through the roof and mirrorless cameras are the future of DSLR. Sorry Nikon and canon, take a back seat. If you have any questions about them feel free to get in contact with me. Until next time, Murica!

Seven falls swimming hole. Plumas National Forest, CA

Seven falls swimming hole. Plumas National Forest, CA

I have been on a mission to conquer the best swimming holes northern California has to offer. This adventure is about Seven falls not to be mistaken for the seven falls in Colorado Springs which is awesome by the way or seven falls in Santa Barbara. This swimming hole consisted of 7 plus waterfalls that plunge into their own swimming hole. Stunning emerald-green water, cliff jumping, and the roaring sounds of the waterfall was an incredible peaceful experience.

Welcome to Red Rock Country. Sedona, Arizona.

Welcome to Red Rock Country. Sedona, Arizona.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Sedona, Arizona then jump on it. The scenery around town is to die for. Stunning red rock formations everywhere. The town is full of local art galleries, craft stores, world-class resorts, I swear every commercial building blended in with the rust-red like landscape, and beautiful southwest style homes line the streets throughout the town.

Illegal Venture to the Forbidden Mossbrae Falls

Illegal Venture to the Forbidden Mossbrae Falls

Ever committed a victimless crime, scramble down a hill, cross an ice-cold river waist deep, risk the walk along a narrow railroad track illegally just to see a pristine waterfall?  Sounds exciting doesn't it? If rules are only suggestions to you as they are to me, then I suggest this to you.

Short and Sweet Day Trip to Big Sur.

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Despite route 1 being extremely crowded, it is by far one of the best scenic drives in America. The drive is absolutely stunning. From Monterey down to Big Sur, the drive offers multiple vista points and beaches to snap a picture, stare at the gorgeous ocean that looks like a thousanddiamonds strewn across a blue blanket, or if you are like me, people watch. In this case, tourist watch. My favorite spot had to be Bixby Bridge. It may be just a bridge but it had aesthetics  with the beach and the turquoise blue waters, it was a stunning view.

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Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park was a disappointment to be honest.This was the first stop and the website said they allowed dogs but half the trails in the park did not allow dogs. Our plan was to hike Pfeiffer Falls but with signs everywhere and other places to see before sunset, we didn't take the risk. We walked around for a total of ten minutes along the creek so Joose my dog could get some exercise in. What a waste of $10. No worthy pictures here. Next stop!

Pfeiffer beach was next with a decent crowd. It was so windy it felt like I was in a sandstorm. There was a few natural arch rocks that offered great views which apparently is one of the most photographed spots in Big Sur. How about them apples? In the water along the rocks there were clams and these neon green sea orchids so that was a must to take a picture of. We had to wait in line to park because parking was full but it worth the narrow road you have to take to get there. Make sure you don't miss the turn on Sycamore Canyon road because it is unmarked so you have to pay attention. If you are heading south on route 1 it's after Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park but before the post office on the right hand side. Oh! Make you have that Alexander Hamilton bill because they only accept cash.

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Mcway falls was absolutely stunning. Watching an 80 foot waterfall cash into the ocean is something out of this world. This trail was about a half mile roughly stroll on a well kept trail that was crowded out and back. You can not miss this place due to the flock of cars and the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park sign across the road. I wanted to stay here and enjoyed this view for hours upon hours. My goal is to hang my hammock up and sleep overlooking the falls. I found a spot and I'm not telling til I do so:)

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A few things to keep in mind while traveling to Big Sur;

  • Plan ahead - We barely had any cell phone service (we have Verizon and AT&T) so bring maps, write down phone numbers, etc. (Write down numbers you say? I know we have to go old school here, suck it up you will be fine without Facebook)
  • Big Sur = Tourist trap - The shops and gas station will light a fire in your pocket so be sure to bring extra cash for the $6 peanut butter, $3 for that soda you have been craving, $11 for that puny sandwich, or the $50 meals that will make you hungry in an hour.
  • Staying overnight? - Don't stay in Big Sur unless you don't mind paying $300-1000 for a double. They do offer campsites but like I said earlier, plan ahead because they book fast.
  • Have fun - Stay for a few days and enjoy the trails they offer, the stunning ocean views, and get off the beaten path to enjoy the region from a different perspective.

Sundial Bridge. Redding, California

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I remember when I first found out about this bridge.  I was surfing the good ole internet for places to see and things to do on one of my favorite site to find stuff; Roadtrippers.  The picture they had on the website intrigued me instantly.  If you don't know me, I am a visual person.  If I like what I see, I am going after it. That can go multiple ways but we will keep it to landscapes and scenery. This was my first stop during my road trip to Oregon.

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The Sundial Bridge crosses over the Sacramento River and when you walk to the other side of the river I remember standing at the tip of the sundial shadow and thought this was pretty cool, its hot out let me cool down for a little bit.  Then I look behind me and there is this concrete arc that the shadow traced during the day.  Every couple of feet or so there was a metal symbol with a time on it. I looked at the time it posted on the concrete arc and then my phone. They were almost identical.  I don't know about you, but the small things intrigue me. Back in the day as early as 1500 BC this is how they used to tell time and I was able to see it in action thousand plus years later.

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If you live near Redding, California or passing through, this is a great place to check out with the family because if once you are done admiring the walking sundial bridge or taking a dip in the river, Turtle Bay Exploration Park is next door. Exhibitions, a museum, animals, and a coffer bar in case you need that caffeine fix!  A few other places nearby I would recommend is Lake Shasta, Mt. Shasta, Waterfall hikes which I will be posting about in the near future, Lake Shasta Caverns, and Lassen Volcanic National Park.

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Day 6. Hoover Dam and Calico Ghost Town

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Sometimes plans don't work out the way they should. We found out the hard way this morning when we were about to head to Havasu falls. We get in touch with reservations and they tell us we need a permit no matter what to get into the Indian Reservation. They no longer allow day trip hikes which is 10 miles to the campgrounds and falls. She also told us they are booked for the next 2 weeks. Great! Now what do we do? This was our last stop and our plan failed. Plan b? We didn't have one. Note to self; always have a plan B to plan A. Fuck it I'm pretty floored by now so what does Donny do when he's mad? Eat! Donny hungry! We decide over breakfast that we are just going to wing it and start heading back home and stop if there is anything exciting to see. Looks like Hoover Damn is on the way. The Hoover Dam itself was a great piece of work. An incredible engineering feat for sure. Lake mead on one side that was split between two states then the road you could driver over and then the other side was the river and the view of the Pat Tillman bridge. We drove over the Pat Tillman memorial bridge which was pretty cool because I've always been a fan of what pat was about. I read a book about him and it was probably one of the best books I've read so far. If you are looking for a good recommendation for a book, check that one out. After the Hoover Dam there is not much to see. Desert, bushes, and mountains but we found a Ghost Town in Calico, California bustled up against the calico mountains. An old silver mining town that has been around since 1881. I've always been a fan of abandoned buildings and towns like this so this would be cool to check out. Once we pull up to the gate there was a sign for $8 entry fee. Why does everything have to cost money?! Luckily for us it was about to close so there was no one was collecting money. Woot woot! Everything is better when it's free! When I first walked up the town, it wasn't what I expected. It looked like the town was being renovated and they had actual stores, tours, and a real steam engine that still runs which they used back in the day to get into the mines. It was nifty to see the old blacksmith building and noticing all the tools they used back then. I sat in a bathtub from that Era that was in front of a house. The house which had a bed was no bigger than a modern-day walk in closet. Talk about a tiny home! This is worth checking out since it's right off the interstate 40. Note to self, do not stop at the express gas station in Newberry Springs. I am pretty positive someone died in the restrooms. Bugs flying around everywhere and the stench of urine and who knows what else is unbearable. I had to take a deep breath and dive in and do my duties. If I had to hold my breath underwater for over 20 seconds, I'd totally die! Anyways, I have to say I had a blast with the group of friends I road tripped with. We butted heads and had our differences but we all got along in the end. A few lessons learned but that comes along with road trip. All in all, great success! Murica!

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Day 5 Roadtrip Grand Canyon and Bedrock City.

One natural wonder checked off my list. The Grand Canyon is on another level when you think of points of interest or tourist attractions. We decided to enter via the desert view visitor center and drive the south rim stopping at the Vistas along the way to the Grand Canyon visitor center for a fancy dancy magnet and food of course. When i walked up to the Vistas along south rim, I was in shock and awe. I just stared in amazement for a couple minutes and then I finally gathered myself. 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep with 12 visible geologic layers of earth the Colorado River carved it's way over nearly 2 billions years. It makes you wonder, how the hell is that possible?! Well I'm no expert on that kind of stuff but from what I read it's from land masses colliding and drifting apart, mountains forming and eroding away, sea levels rising and falling, and then relentless forces of moving water. This is a land to inspire our spirit. After we enjoyed the stunning views the Grand Canyon had to offer, we headed south so we can get closer to Havasu so we can stay closer before we head there in the am which is still an hour plus drive without including the hike or helicopter ride we decide on. We are searching for hotels and Bedrock City pops up. The Flintstones?! Fuck ya! It'll bring back some childhood memories and take a short tour around what they had to offer. They had everything you could imagine from the cartoon. It was a great 30 mins of fun touring the houses and other buildings they had on display. So worth it for an attraction right off route 66. Murica!

I created a gofundme account to help fund my passion. If you enjoy my photos and what I write about. The link is on my page. I would absolutely love and appreciate the donations. Thank you!

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Day 4. Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

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I woke up to a beautiful sunrise from my hammock on top of Zion. Another beautiful sight to see. Then reality hit and I realized I still have to hike back. Oh! Since JD was complaining about this shoulders being raw because he accidentally bought a woman's backpack, he made me carry this heavy ass tent. Oh great, 10 more lbs to carry on my back. WIDE LOAD! Watch out! The upside of this hike was that it's mostly downhill but still kicked my ass. 5 more miles and it took half the time than the day before. My feet are killing me and my body is physically drained. All I could think coming down the mountain was to roll around in a bed of a medium rare steak, mashed potatoes, and veggies after I shotgun a cool blue Gatorade. Those Fuckers are delicious. If you haven't had one, you are missing out and it'll change your life! If you have disagree, we'll you're drunk. Go home! Unfortunately I had to settle for a chicken quesadilla and a POWERade. It's ok, it's better than snacking on highly processed snacks and purified water from a spring. (lesson learned) Anyways, let's get to the nitty gritty and talk about the journey to Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend which are both minutes from each other in Page, AZ. First off, if you don't mind paying double the price then goto upper antelope canyon where they charge an insane $8 permit to get on the Indian Reservation plus $40 for the tour. Now lower antelope is half the price with basically the same views. I will eventually check the other one out when I make my way down here again. For $28 through Kens Tours this was probably worth every penny because if you look from the ground you don't notice the canyon at all. Then you walk down a ladder into this majestic beauty of smooth and beautiful red weathered rock from flash floods carving it's unique path the past million plus years. We finally finished our guided tour which you must have by the way which sucked because there were so many people in the way for that perfect picture you keep waiting to take but can't because the people in front of you will not get out of the way. If you try and ask them nicely, they don't understand English. Damn tourists! Our last stop for the day was Horseshoe Bend which is right off U.S. 89 just south of Page. We pull up to the parking lot and it's absolutely packed. Mind you this at 7pm. Don't people have to eat or something? Apparently not. Anyways, it's about a quarter mile stroll in the sand with all kinds of foreigners with their selfie sticks and massive iPads. The more you travel, you realize it's more common than you think. I'm not judging but its a sight to see. I got up to the edge to overlook the Colorado River that carved it's way through the earth to create this incredible view. This view was massive, it's one of those views where a cell phone will not capture the whole scene. Thank God for the gopro wide eye. In the photo I share you can see people and a boat. It puts it into perspective on how small they look and how big this place is. I could sit there for hours just staring in the sunset...

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Day 3. Utah, Arizona, and Grand Canyon Road Trip

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Time to hike to our camp site off the west rim trail. Another 5 miles and part of it is the treacherous Angels landing trail in the scorching heat! Hey, can't stop now. Sounds like a blasty blast! Not! But I love it. It's all about the journey. This is why I do it. Along with it, comes peace, tranquility, solitude and my favorite, freedom. After a 2 mile hike to Scouts Overlook. We took a left to continue onto the west rim trail to our campsite which is a other 3 more miles of ascent. For a guy that works out 6 days a week, this is no walk in the park. I'm exhausted, soaked in sweat as I type this part resting under a tree waiting for my 3 hiking companions. Almost 6 hours later we finally made it to the top and I'm cramping so bad. I look at my calves and it looks like a bad chemistry experience going on in my legs. It's crazy looking. I have to say my view from my hammock is fucking awesome. 6500+ ft with an incredible Canyon views. I'm ready for an ice cold beverage and a steak dinner but unfortunately I get to live off of rationed water and snacks from the store until tomorrow morning. I got my photos, my friends,and this view. It was crazy how we encountered deer. They would come up within 10 feet from us. Finally the sun set and the stars came out. Wow what a sight to see! I going on break! Murica!

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Utah, Arizona, Grand Canyon Road Trip part 2 Angels Landing

Its 4pm. It's about time we get started. It's time to hike Angels Landing, one of the most scenic hikes with the best views of zion national park. As we took the shuttle to weeping rock where our trailhead was. Known for being one of the most dangerous hikes in the world because of the 10" path with just a chain to hold onto with a 1000 foot drop off cliff. Here I am, halfway to the top of angels landing. Holding onto chain rails for dear life as I look either to my right or left, it's a frightening thousand plus feet drop on either side. I can see the tiny little shuttle buses on the road and people look like ants. Time to continue. Another break. Wow this is exhausting,but the mission must continue. It's always nice to have small talk with the random travelers. Just talked to some people from Montana doing a thirty day adventure which was pretty sweet. Finally made it to the top! I'm exhausted but it was so worth it to see the incredible views. Now it's time set up my hammock. I have been thinking where I could hang my hammock the whole time and I found a spot at the very top. Perfection! I have to say it was so badass to just relax in my hammock enjoying one of the most amazing views in the world with not a care in the world. As I set up my hammock, someone saw mine and said I beat him to hanging it up. We ended up talking and he was a freelance photographer that's been trying to make it. We talked the whole way down the rest of the trail talking about traveling, solitude, adventures, and life in general. It was pretty sweet, I made a friend today. Murica!

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Utah, Arizona, Grand Canyon Road Trip part 1

Its 0900, my favorite orange ultra zero monster in hand, backpack ready to roll, and here I am waiting on Jd. Where the hell is he? Oh, he's late. Who would've thunk?! The man that basically got me all hyped up on mountain dew about hiking and going on these adventures. He just got back from his deployment from Jordan and the first thing he tells me when I pick him up from the airport, "Bro! Let's go on a roadtrip!" Well, you don't have to twist my arm to have a good time. I'm easy to please. So we rummaged through Roadtrippers (which I used for my Oregon Roadtrip where I will be posting about it in the near future) and put together a sweet roadtrip from northern California to southern Utah, Grand Canyon and northern Arizona. It looks like we will be picking up his sister and she's bringing a friend. Oh great, two females to slow us down. Jd and I are always on a mission and we don't like being held up by a slow herd of cattle causing traffic. How do I know this? The hike that sparked it all was last year with Jd, his sister that just got back from Japan serving a tour over there, and myself. We decided to hike mission peak which is by fremont, California. Brittany is an awesome girl and we gave her such a hard time about how slow she was and weighed us down but its ok, She can handle the heat so she's allowed in the kitchen. It's all in fun:) After hours of driving through the so exciting central Valley, (insert sarcasm here) we end up taking a detour because death Valley was farther than we expected. We found Red Rock Canyon that had cool rock formations as our first stop. Which was alright but nothing to go crazy over. As we make our way over to Las Vegas for the night, driving through the Mojave desert, it was interesting by itself. Nothing but abandoned homes, desert, extreme blistering temperatures year round, and so much emptiness. We came across Lake Dolores rock-a-hoola Waterpark that has been abandoned for over a decade. Makes me think, what was it like 50 years ago? Was the area prospering? What happened?image image