A Travellerspoint blog

Yet Another Intermission... Yellowstone is a lie!

What a scam, there weren't any yellow stones

Ok ok, I'll admit, I've been lazy and haven't made too much progress on those South America Photos, but I promise you they are worth the wait! In fact, they are 99.73% satisfaction guaranteed (Props for those who are confident knowing the significance).

(Click on the photos for bigger version and even more photos!)


Yellowstone is a lie, there are no yellow stones there. I was so angry of being cheated from seeing yellow stones, I went on an epic research journey trying to figure out why it is called Yellowstone. To sum up my research, people were lazy! Yellowstone was originally named by a group of Native Americans who lived near some yellow rocks. They migrated up river and kept the name Yellow Stones, which were adopted by the French (who didn't do their homework and called it Roche Jaune even when there were no yellow stones there) and later adopted by the Americans (who didn't do their homework and called it Yellowstone River even when there were no yellow stones there) and ultimately turned into a national park (which by now, no one cared why it is called Yellowstone anymore). If the French had contacted another group of Native Americans who lived further up north, we would have had Elk National Park instead, which is a much more accurate name.


Now I have nothing against these nice creatures roaming around the park, but the people who form a one hour traffic jam (and even hopped out of their car) just to take some photos of animals that they have seen in a zoo is just ridiculous. (No, I was driving and taking the picture at the same time, well more like taking a picture while sitting in a traffic jam in the middle of nowhere).


Where is the Old Faithful? It is where everyone is looking at with their cellphones/tablets/cameras. Well, except for the two Asians, one is more interested in conversing with the person behind her (sometimes Asians are like that, they get to a place see it for a second, take a photo, then ready to move on to the next thing, even if they fly all the way across the world to see it) and another one who is surprised at how good looking the person standing across from her is and couldn't take her eyes off of him. Or is that a he?...


Ahh here lies the world's largest muticolored hot tub, the Grand Prismatic Spring. Due to the extreme heat of the spring, it is constantly steaming, which is terrible for taking photos of the entire spring. Luckily there was a little hill about a small valley across from the hot tub that offered a great view, after a 5 min drive, 10 min walk, and a 20 min treacherous climb.


Ansel Adams eat your heart out! I bet you didn't have 16 Megapixels, HDR, and digital post processing when you took your photo next to the Snake River.


I took a little side trip to the Grand Tetons during my trip to the no-Yellowstone-to-be-found National Park to divert my mind off of the disappointment. The beauty of the mountain ranges certainly did just that. I thought about doing some of the longer hikes, but without the strongly recommended bear spray, it was a little daunting to take on a black bear with bare hands.

The vastness of the Yellowstone National Park is quite breath taking (not in the literal sense this time). Driving around the park would take 2-3 days to hit all the major spots. From the waterfalls to the hot tubs and the geysers, it makes a great week long trip. Or if you have couple months to spare (and at least 2 bottles of bear spray), a great place to hike to your heart's content.



Posted by btang 19:35 Archived in USA Tagged usa yellowstone grand_teton Comments (0)

Intermission in Southwest USA

Please wait patiently while the poster readies his second half of his South America trip

Whew, it's a time to take a breather from all the fast travels in South America by revisiting a even faster trip within the USA. Plus it will give me a chance to catch up on editing the second half of the photos (there are over 900 and my computer is very old =\)

Every year, in order to prevent myself from getting fat over the turkey day, I take trips across the country. This way I get to see new places, keep in shape, and avoid awkward family dinners in front of the TV. This year (2012), what better way to celebrate than visiting the sin city? Hotels in the sin city is quite cheap during this time of the year, I guess most people don't go there for the the day we are suppose to give thanks to the Native Americans that helped us from starving over the winter. But you never know, it may become a new trend.

(Click on the photos for bigger version and even more photos!)


There was a wedding chapel with a Elvis theme located near our hotel room. Taking a brief peek there were filled with pictures of many happily wedding couples. I am sure that their love and affection for each other will last long into the future. The hotel room only costed at a bargain price of $18. I was all happy and excited until I found out there was a $3 energy fee, $8 parking fee, $5 conservation fee (being green is important), 12% being an ignorant tourist tax, $2 lobby fee, $3 hotel association fee, $1 eye contact fee, $2 conversation fee, $2 elevator fee, $5 coffee making fee, and $20 miscellaneous fee. Suffice to say, I will be reading the fine prints more closely next time.


It has been a while since I was back in Las Vegas, but walking down this street always surprises me; I can't believe how much free stuff they are giving out to the people. I thought about getting into a black limo for a free all night tour of the city with eager hostesses, but since I was on a tight schedule, I had to pass.


Waking up the next morning was like waking up in a post human earth. It was quite eerie. Although I am quite used to this scene as it happens every time when I tell my friends that I am hosting a party.


I am going to sit here for a while to admire the pretty rocks...
You are still here? You want more description? Well, this place is called Angel's Landing and it's a risky 2 hr hike up the narrow ridge (the tallest point on the photo; there have been 5 people killed trekking this path. =/ I am going back to enjoy looking at the pretty rocks.


I can't say much about the valley of death as there is nothing in it. Except for a large group of people taking photos near some water that is pretty foul tasting. Although there is another group of crazy people that runs around in minimal cladding every year from here to Mt.Whitney, which is 135mi (217km) long with 282+8360ft (86+2548m) in elevation change in 120F (49C) weather. Yes, I was too lazy to add it up for you.


There is a magical pile in the middle of no where, which was where its maker's hot air bloon crashed, called Salvation Mountain. From the legends, the maker is a very friendly and humble guy who wanted to spread love to everyone in the world. In my opinion, I think he could have chosen a better spot to maximize his out reach. Maybe if he turned to social media, he could have affected millions of people in a meaningful way. Alas, I was not able to meet this maker as by the time I arrived, his health has deteriorated too much. He did have a cameo with the girl from the sparkling vampire movie.


Not far away from the magical pile is a ghost town called Salton City. Instead of sand, their beaches is filled with dead fish bones... O.o (Yes as opposed to live fish bones, and I told you that guy could have picked a better spot.) The smell is pretty foul as well from the rotting fish and dead plants. It used to be a vibrant vacation spot in the southwest US with expensive yacht clubs, but with the downfall of the ecosystem the hope of a future metropolis was abandoned. I guess this is what happens when you accidently make a huge swimming pool without proper drainage and too many people peeing into the pool...

Well, it wasn't the most appetizing trip, but among the pretty rocks, the pretty lights, and the opportunity to avoid awkward family conversations, it was a nice trip. Oh, I did have turkey on turkey day in the form of a burger, but it was rather bland. Then again, national parks are not known for its home cooked Thanksgiving food.

Posted by btang 09:12 Archived in USA Tagged california death_valley usa zion salton Comments (0)

Peru, the kingdom of the llamas

It's pronounced 'ya-mas' not 'la-mas'

Continuing my epic quest down to the magical lands of South America, I have entered the kingdom of the llamas, or as known as Peru. Many pilgrims who visit the llama kingdom will take anywhere from 2 - 15 days to hike to the lost city of the once proud sun worshipers, which was conquered by man-in-the cloud worshipers from another far away kingdom across a vast body of blue wet stuff. Apparently the man-in-the cloud worshipers disapproved of the sun worshipers' ways and methods of living and all the shiny yellow stuff that they had. But I digress...

(Click on the photos for bigger version and even more photos!)


So my first encounter of the llamas began in the typical food place in Peru. Ok, maybe this is not food from a typical food place, but to my defense, I was very hungry that night and apparently all the that advertised llamas were tourist places. Nevertheless, it was a good break from looking like a sore thumb while eating in the restaurant.


After a good meal and a good night's rest, I set out on my journey to see the lost city of the sun worshipers (note: to limit the amount of deterioration to mother earth, the original path - Inca trail - is limited to 500 people per day. But the alternative routes provide better scenery.) I was really glad that I stopped over at Quito (see last post) as my cardio was improved to the point that I could finish the 2 day hike at 4000m without any sort of technological assistance. Well, our group did have a few horses at our disposal...


During my pilgrimage, as I was carefully treading around not to step on any sacred plants or flowers, I over heard some noises behind me.

Red llama: So what do you think will become of us in the next year? (equivalent to about 3-5 human years)
Yellow llama: Hmm, not sure. We will probably be still be here eating the same grass, pooping at the same place, doing the same stuff.
Red llama: Yeah, that sounds really mundane.
Yellow llama: I agree, there must be more to life.
Red llama: Well, from what I heard, if we do our best to be the fattest llama, we will get promoted and get to see the city.
Yellow llama: Really?? Man, I always wanted to see the city, so much more potential and opportunities there!

At that point, I was going to turn around and tell them the truth about the city life, but they saw a pair of female llamas and ran after them.


On the third day, I reached the lost city, with much physical pain and lost pride. Apparently the llamas go there before I did, or I could be mistaken as I can't tell the difference among them, they all look alike. All the llamas at the lost city stood proudly as they munched on the plants knowing well how to pose for a photograph. Only if they figured out that they could charge the tourists 1 peso for doing so like how the local people realized...


Breathtaking is probably the best word for describing the view of the lost city, not only because of the physical beauty but also because of the high altitudes (2430m or 7972ft). For someone who has hard time adapting to the altitude like me, it literately takes your breath away. I have to say though, it is a good thing that man-in-the cloud worshipers didn't find this place as they raked through the land, or else we wouldn't have such breathtaking views today.


As I progressed through the llama kingdom, I found the cuter cousin of the llamas, the alpacas. Not only were they cuter, their fur is also much more valued than their uglier cousin, which makes sense. The alpacas who had the fortune of being shaved naked early after birth has twice the fineness of llama wool and also 5-10x the price. The caretaker in the photo above has realized she can charge 1 peso/person/photograph, only if the llamas at the lost city knew...


I wasn't able to find any llamas at lake Titicaca, probably because they were all hiding, couldn't swim to get to the islands, the nickname Rock Puma scared them away, or a combination of none of the above. I did however, saw a reincarnation of the ship Titanic. I guess whoever built the boat left out a few key features.

The land of the llamas was a great trip, filled with breathtaking views, breathtaking trips, and breathtaking towns. I didn't bother to stop at the new capital as meeting a llama there seemed out of place, plus they were probably more superficial and materialistic. Oh and just a note, if you leave the llama kingdom and enter in the neighboring realm of Boliva and you are from the empire of USA, please make sure you have all the necessary documents and crisp bills, or else your driver and everyone on it will get impatient and leave you behind... with all your luggage... in the dark... alone... with wild animals... ...


Posted by btang 21:47 Archived in Peru Tagged peru south_america Comments (0)

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