“What the wybe is?” (Translation: “‘what’s up?”) Fresh off the Bahamian turf, and I’m still rockin’ that island lingo. My favorite word is “tingum”. Basically, if there’s a word you can’t remember, you just say “that tingum”. Worked for me. 🙂
I’ll be sharing much more about my experience in Exumas, Bahamas in due time…but for now, here’s a little aerial “breather” from the G-Bird drone. Those Exuma beaches, man I’m tellin’ ya…”gumma dat all day”!
29° and dark was the biting forecast just outside my tent at the base of the California Eastern Sierras a few frosted high desert mornings ago. Because I was nestled in the comforts of a toasty -25° Kelty sleeping bag designed for an Arctic field surveyor, the cold hadn’t bit me just yet. Aggressively nibbling it was, as the winter chompers of that eager morning were on alerted standby. My goal was simply to catch the morning glow as it would creep upon the highest mountain peak in the contiguous 48 states, Mt. Whitney. At 14,505 feet, this colossal point among hundreds of lesser-known across the freshly powdered Sierra Nevada was within a short 10 minute drive from my campsite. In order to witness the lovely thulian-and-rouge-hued “magic hour” light casting over these majestic peaks, which was scheduled to make an initial appearance around 6:20am, I had to bear the inevitable and mentally excruciating sound of the un”zip” and force my thermal-layered buns out of that cozy tent. With a pocketful of chilled Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies as my motivating breakfast, I hit the road to a scenic viewpoint overlooking the bumpy and barren Alabama Hills.
6am arrival. Twilight slowly stalking the Sierras like a bobcat moving stealthily towards an unsuspecting desert cottontail rabbit. Gloves off. Ice cold tripod the reminiscent temperature of the 3 Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen beers I guzzled down 8 hours earlier. Camera mounted. I set up my shot and waited patiently in the soul-numbing silence of desert dawn. The cheek-numbing cold was omnipresent as well, but mostly ignorable due to the epic scene that was unfolding before my stretch-deprived eyes. Like the sun melting beyond an ocean horizon, the first light of day emerges quickly. A blanket of magenta-colored clouds hovered over the jagged mountain tops, acting as a quick cue to position the finger on the trigger.
Not more than 20 seconds later, boom…and there it was. Ideally, my first instinct is to admire such a scene with eyes wide open panning a full 180° panorama. But in order to provide visuals along with my story, my default view must come primarily through the small square prism of my cropped camera viewfinder. I clicked away with an overwhelming awe. The “magic hour” light usually peaks and begins to fade within a window of a few short minutes, so you have to make efficient time of your shot selection. I photographed as much as I could while I was rewarded the most beautiful light of any morning I had witnessed throughout the trip, while framing the rugged contrast of the peculiar Alabama Hills in the foreground of the towering and magnificent Eastern Sierras.
If there was ever a confirmation of my long-standing claim that the most beautiful time of the day is to be experienced at first light, this was a universal, unanimous jury. You can deprive me of hand-warmers and cookies all you want, but you can’t deprive me of the desire to witness this Earth at its most captivating and inspiring hour (or minutes) during its steady revolution around the big “glow”.
Here’s a video I filmed recently in partnership with Air Rarotonga and Cook Islands Tourism. One of the most remote islands on Earth, Manihiki, is an idyllic and naturally stunning South Pacific atoll, and is home of the legendary “Black Pearl” of the Cook Islands. Hope you enjoy the paradisal journey through the “Island of Pearls”! 🙂
My latest journey with Bella Guatemala Travel. Get to know one of the most fascinating civilizations and cultures on Earth, as they take you on an intrepid expedition to discover the “Lost Kingdoms of the Maya” world! (Filmed on location in Guatemala and Honduras)
I just peeled off my sweat-soaked mask and kicked off my mud-caked hiking boots upon returning from a 2-week expedition through Guatemala, exploring some of the “lost kingdoms” of the ancient Maya world with Bella Guatemala Travel. One of the highlights of the tour, which is, as aptly advertised, called “The Lost Kingdoms of the Maya” tour, was an adventurous visit to the remote jungle region of Petén in the northern part of the country to explore the Pre-Classic site of El Mirador, the largest Mayan archaeological site ever discovered. Accessible only via helicopter or a mud-slushing 3-day trek through an uber-dense forest, which is home to the feared fer-de-lance snake and the highest population of jaguars in Central America (I took the helicopter), El Mirador was one of the earliest and most powerful of the ancient Maya city-states, dating back to over 700 BCE. Pictured here is La Danta pyramid, the tallest pyramid in the Americas (230 ft). It is part of the most massive Mayan complex ever built, and one of the largest manmade structures of the entire ancient world (even larger in volume than the great Egyptian pyramid of Giza). Construction of La Danta dates back to 300 BCE. Though most of it is still buried beneath the jungle, El Mirador is one of the most significant discoveries ever made throughout the Maya world. Recent discoveries that researchers are making here are forcing archaeologists to rethink Maya chronology and rewrite chapters in the history books of these fascinating “Lost Kingdoms”.
Stay tuned for more about my recent adventures with Bella Guatemala Travel!
Today is Earth Day. I’d like to share a bit of my personal journey around the blue planet. Over the past 20 years, I’ve been a fortunate witness to a fraction of it…a small fraction on an absolute scale, but one that has routinely reinforced to me just how lucky we are to be able to call this place our home. Normally I only share images of nature on Earth Day, along with a message about being environmentally conscious. But this year I decided to include some images that express the human spirit as well. It’s the one thing that connects us all. The indelible humanity that I have witnessed is what inspires me the most. We are a product of nature too, and are the primary custodians of our planet. As such, we have a collective responsibility to take care of it. It’s the only home we have…and a really awesome one, to say the least!
Please turn up your speakers, click HD and enjoy the photo journey…and never forget how beautiful our world is! 🙂
Music: “Down to Earth” by Flight Facilities
Gringo With A Green Bag is heading back to the LA Travel and Adventure Show this weekend to get some fresh travel inspiration, feed the celebrities and showcase some new tricks on the Segway. Bring your can openers and keep your hands on the handlebars at all times kids! #GWAGB
The G-Bird soars over La Paz, Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. Filmed with a DJI Phantom 3 Pro drone. #GringoWithAGreenBag
Music: “Flower” by Sunsphere
Happy 2018 my friends!
A fresh start requires a fresh state of mind…an enhanced perspective…sometimes even a fresh environment to dig your feet into and get some new traction (I don’t suggest snow for the traction part, however). Here’s to starting #fresh in 2018!
(Bryce Canyon, Utah)