Billy Ocean

Vacation & Travel Thread

174 posts in this topic

10 hours ago, mookie3127 said:

I'm in the same boat about St. Lucia.  It's been on our radar for a while, but it seems a bit limited.  My wife would be content to just sit on the beach for however many days but I'd be bored within 30 minutes. 

Dominica and PR are options that we'll look into also.  Hawaii would be a dream for the wife and I would love to go also, but I'd want to island hop and spend 1-2 weeks taking it in, so budget wise it's probably out.  The SW is my personal pick.  Fly into Vegas, check it out for a couple of days and then road trip to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Zion NP, and then back to Vegas.  I just know the wife wouldn't be up for the early mornings and photography.

Yeah, your route for the desert trip is nearly spot on to the one we did, just in the other direction.

Day 1: We flew into Vegas, but aren't really fans go the place, so we got our rental car at the airport upon arrival & immediately drove to where we were staying in Washington, Utah as our base for visiting Zion.

Day 2: We spent the entire next day in Zion exploring both sides of the park.

Day 3: Drove to Bryce Canyon & hiked around all day, watched sunset from Inspiration Point, then stayed the night in Hatch, Utah.

Day 4: Got up while it was still black out & returned to Bryce Canyon to watch the sun rise over Bryce Point. Then had a beautiful short drive down to Page, AZ. In the late afternoon, we had a lengthy photo tour of Lower Antelope Canyon... which was absolutely amazing. Thought about doing Horseshoe Bend, but opted to get a nice dinner & some much needed rest instead.

Day 5: Had lunch at Lake Powell & then drove to Monument Valley, where we had a private cabin with unobstructed views of the Mittens. Explored the immediate vicinity a bit & tried my hand rather unsuccessfully at astro photography that night.

Day 6: Got up while it was still pitch black out to meet our guide for a private sunrise tour of the Valley... another absolutely unforgettable experience.

Day 7: Drove to Grand Canyon (South Rim) & stopped off at a ton of different viewpoints from Desert View & the Watchtower to Yuma Point. We camped in the park, so we checked into our spot, got set up, ate dinner, and then watched the sunset from Mather Point.

Day 8: Drove back to Vegas, stopping off near Lake Mead to witness another outrageous sunset & then flew home happy, trying to process all of the incredible natural beauty we had witnessed that week.

It was truly an amazing experience that I highly recommend. We've been talking about doing it again because there's so much we couldn't get into that one week.

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On 11/19/2018 at 6:51 PM, k-train said:

Yeah, your route for the desert trip is nearly spot on to the one we did, just in the other direction.

Day 1: We flew into Vegas, but aren't really fans go the place, so we got our rental car at the airport upon arrival & immediately drove to where we were staying in Washington, Utah as our base for visiting Zion.

Day 2: We spent the entire next day in Zion exploring both sides of the park.

Day 3: Drove to Bryce Canyon & hiked around all day, watched sunset from Inspiration Point, then stayed the night in Hatch, Utah.

Day 4: Got up while it was still black out & returned to Bryce Canyon to watch the sun rise over Bryce Point. Then had a beautiful short drive down to Page, AZ. In the late afternoon, we had a lengthy photo tour of Lower Antelope Canyon... which was absolutely amazing. Thought about doing Horseshoe Bend, but opted to get a nice dinner & some much needed rest instead.

Day 5: Had lunch at Lake Powell & then drove to Monument Valley, where we had a private cabin with unobstructed views of the Mittens. Explored the immediate vicinity a bit & tried my hand rather unsuccessfully at astro photography that night.

Day 6: Got up while it was still pitch black out to meet our guide for a private sunrise tour of the Valley... another absolutely unforgettable experience.

Day 7: Drove to Grand Canyon (South Rim) & stopped off at a ton of different viewpoints from Desert View & the Watchtower to Yuma Point. We camped in the park, so we checked into our spot, got set up, ate dinner, and then watched the sunset from Mather Point.

Day 8: Drove back to Vegas, stopping off near Lake Mead to witness another outrageous sunset & then flew home happy, trying to process all of the incredible natural beauty we had witnessed that week.

It was truly an amazing experience that I highly recommend. We've been talking about doing it again because there's so much we couldn't get into that one week.

What time of the year did you do the trip?  I want to catch the light rays in Antelope whenever I make it out there, but dread the thought of being out there in the middle of summer.

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1 hour ago, mookie3127 said:

What time of the year did you do the trip?  I want to catch the light rays in Antelope whenever I make it out there, but dread the thought of being out there in the middle of summer.

We were there in September & the weather was perfect.

You are probably already aware of this, but there are actually two Antelope Canyons... Upper & Lower.

Basically, in Upper AC it is wider at the bottom with just a narrow opening above, like an 'A', whereas Lower AC is the opposite, with a narrow bottom but wider top, more like a 'V'. Upper is WAY more popular & thus substantially more overcrowded. This is mainly due to the fact that you just walk right into the canyon after a dusty 4x4 ride to the location, so it's accessible to way more people. Lower AC requires you to descend a few somewhat steep ladder/stair things to get into & out of the canyon. There are also some narrow passages in Lower AC that require you to do some work to get through... nothing insane, but could be hard for people with any sort of disabilities, older folks, bigger bodied folks, etc. Thus, it's a bit less packed.

From a photography standpoint, Lower AC actually offers better visuals in the canyon itself... more interesting colors, shapes, etc. Upper AC is where they do the light beam photos, but once you go there & see what is actually happening to get those shots, you'll quickly understand why a lot of more experienced photographers avoid Upper AC like the plague these days.

Those beams don't happen on their own, they happen because the guides throw shovels of dirt from the canyon floor into the air. The narrow crack above acts like a snoot or grid, directing the light in a beam, but you don't really see the beams like that on their own. They become visible because they reflect off of those swirling dirt particles flying through the air. It'd be fine if it was a rare occurrence, but these days every single person in the canyon is trying to get those same shots... literally hundreds of people at a time in a small inclosed area... so you have a ton of guides all throwing dirt all over the place at once, which will absolutely get your gear filthy both on the surface & on the sensor, inside of your lens, etc. Heck, that ride out to the upper canyon on the back of the open 4x4 kicks up so much dirt that it get's your gear covered it dirt even before you arrive. and we're talking superfine dust & dirt particles that get into EVERYTHING... even inside of your sealed camera bag. It's nuts, and you absolutely 100% CANNOT change lenses anywhere near either canyon. Even in Lower AC, which thankfully doesn't have guides throwing dirt all over the joint or as many tourists shuffling through & kicking up even more, my gear was dirty as all heII by the time we finished the tour. I had kept everything packed up until I reached the floor of the canyon, and used electrical tape to provide an extra seal at the lens mount, but it made little difference... I still had noticeably spots of dust on my sensor after that & had to do a very thorough deep cleaning of the camera & lens afterward.

You've also got the issue of it being darker in Upper AC because the narrow space above lets in far less light than Lower AC. I mean it's still hard to shoot in Lower AC because there's not a ton of light, so a tripod is pretty much mandatory. There are issues with this in both canyons. In Lower, you can often be limited in the amount of room you have to fully set up the tripod... especially in the narrow sections when tour groups pass by. I used mine as a monopod more than anything. Just crank the heII outta the ISO, get the funky white balance figured out & do your best. In Upper AC, you have more space to fully extend your tripod, but it's full of random dingbats who have zero sense... so people will definitely be in your shots (and you don't get the same amount of time in Upper AC during the tours, so you likely won't be able to take a super long exposure hoping they move out of the way) AND people will regularly be running into your tripod in the middle of your shots (which is a shot-killer in a low light shooting scenario like that).

One thing of concern with Lower AC is that the last time I had looked, they were no longer offering photo tours. Not really sure why that is, but it's a bummer if that's a permanent thing. Way back in the day, they let you buy a photo pass & stay down there on your own. Then, they were doing photo specific tours where the guide would take a small group of like 8-10 photographers down there & stay for 2 hours or so. Now it appears they are only doing the standard tours.

An option I see a lot of photographers exploring lately (possibly because of Lower AC no longer offering photo tours) in nearby Canyon X. That might be worth looking into... and if you don't already know how to do your own sensor cleaning, I'd recommend learning how big time before heading out there.

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On 6/22/2017 at 0:46 PM, Andrews_31 said:

I was always told to avoid Idaho at all cost, but I've flown over it may times!

I recently did a road trip through Idaho and hit most of the major scenic byways.  It’s not as stunning as Mt. Rainier, Yellowstone, the Tetons, or parts of Montana.  But during the fall, with the colors, it was very beautiful.  The drive from Stanley to Missoula is very impressive in a rugid, barren sort of way.  The farm land around Moscow is great too if the season is right.  And if you visit the west side of the Tetons (Pocatella up to West Yellowstone), there’s some pretty scenary.  I wouldn’t call it a “must visit” destination, but definitely worth a look if you’re in that area anyway.

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On 11/5/2018 at 11:41 AM, mookie3127 said:

So Disney was great and my son had an absolute blast!  Meltdowns were at a minimum for a 5 year old, but now it's time to start planning our next trip and need some input.  This one will be for our 15 year anniversary in 2020, so we're a little under a year and a half out.  We would like to stay in the $2K range for travel and lodging, but can stretch it a little bit.  Some of the places that we're considering are an adults trip to Disney (we're suckers for the mouse), Peru, Yosemite, the US Southwest and Vegas/National Parks in that area, Costa Rica, New York (neither of have been), USVI, St. Lucia, Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks, Washington D.C, and Hawaii (if a good trip pops up.)

Time of year would probably be late spring/ very early summer.  My wife and I are complete opposites on vacation.  She's content to sit by the pool or on a beach while I can do that for about an hour and then need to find something to do.  I do a lot of photography, so anywhere we go needs to have plenty for me to photograph.  Neither of us are big romantics so it doesn't have to be all decked out for that, but we would like a nice place to eat to celebrate our anniversary.  We're still very much in the planning and research phase, so we're open to suggestions if any of you more experienced travelers have any input.

A lot depends on what you want to do.  I can’t imagine finding a trip to Peru, Costa Rica, or any other place outside the country for around $2k (I assume that’s total).  But maybe I’m wrong.

You mentioned late spring/very early summer.  Yellowstone and Tetons will still be covered in snow during that time.  Same for other similar places like Mt. Rainier, Rocky Mountain National Park, or the central Colorado rockies (e.g., Breckinridge, Vail, etc.).  So keep that in mind.  

You can always find very affordable lodging on the Vegas Strip, almost always under $100 and sometimes there are sales around $40-60 a night at Harrah’s or the Stratosphere.  Of the ones you listed, Orlando and Vegas are probably the most affordable.  

Washington DC and New York are going to also be very expensive in terms of hotels, food, Uber/taxi’s, etc.  

The real question is how many days are you thinking about traveling on the trip?

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On 11/19/2018 at 6:41 AM, mookie3127 said:

I'm in the same boat about St. Lucia.  It's been on our radar for a while, but it seems a bit limited.  My wife would be content to just sit on the beach for however many days but I'd be bored within 30 minutes. 

Dominica and PR are options that we'll look into also.  Hawaii would be a dream for the wife and I would love to go also, but I'd want to island hop and spend 1-2 weeks taking it in, so budget wise it's probably out.  The SW is my personal pick.  Fly into Vegas, check it out for a couple of days and then road trip to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Zion NP, and then back to Vegas.  I just know the wife wouldn't be up for the early mornings and photography.

When you’re talking about trips like this, don’t limit your options to a round trip ticket.  I mean, you don’t have to fly into AND out of Vegas.  There are severaly other areas that have regional airports, so you could fly to Vegas, then to the Grand Canyon, then to Zion NP, and then up to Salt Lake City to fly back home.  

The benefit is that you’re not wasting and entire 1-2 days backtracking to Vegas for a flight home and passing all the stuff you’ve already seen.  

Also, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed Salt Lake City.  Visiting the Tabernacle was kind of amazing.  I didn’t expect to enjoy it that much.

By the way, another option is to drive up to Moab, CO and see Arches National Park and then fly out of Grand Junction.  It’s all about the same amount of driving wherever you go.

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On 30/11/2018 at 2:44 PM, Leon Troutsky said:

When you’re talking about trips like this, don’t limit your options to a round trip ticket.  I mean, you don’t have to fly into AND out of Vegas.  There are severaly other areas that have regional airports, so you could fly to Vegas, then to the Grand Canyon, then to Zion NP, and then up to Salt Lake City to fly back home. 

By the way, another option is to drive up to Moab, CO and see Arches National Park and then fly out of Grand Junction.  It’s all about the same amount of driving wherever you go.

Agreed on the Moab bit. Arches and Canyonlands, fantastic even if it's only 2/3 days at the end of the trip. Even if it's driving up and then across to Salt Lake City.

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On 11/30/2018 at 9:21 AM, Leon Troutsky said:

I recently did a road trip through Idaho and hit most of the major scenic byways.  It’s not as stunning as Mt. Rainier, Yellowstone, the Tetons, or parts of Montana.  But during the fall, with the colors, it was very beautiful.  The drive from Stanley to Missoula is very impressive in a rugid, barren sort of way.  The farm land around Moscow is great too if the season is right.  And if you visit the west side of the Tetons (Pocatella up to West Yellowstone), there’s some pretty scenary.  I wouldn’t call it a “must visit” destination, but definitely worth a look if you’re in that area anyway.

Back when I was in a band touring across the US a bunch, our routing always had a stretch where we'd go from Denver > Salt Lake City > Boise > Seattle > Portland > Arcata/Chico/Eureka > San Francisco > etc.

The drive from Boise to Seattle on I-84 & I-82 is nothing special for the first hour, but then once you get near the Idaho/Oregon border it really picks up big time. That drive actually became one of my favorite parts of tour.

There is a state park called Emigrant Springs Heritage Area where we'd camp about 2 hours into the drive. It was a campsite used frequently along the Oregon Trail, and there are sections that have been protected & preserved where you can still see the ruts caused by all the wagons that passed through the same area over & over & over.

Then you come to a section called Deadman Pass where you are kinda in the middle of nowhere & go up a somewhat steep, winding course through some mountains covered in this crazy looking grass (it seriously feels like you're driving through a world from a Super Mario video game). There's a final large curve to the left & then suddenly it feels like you can see forever in front of you. The entire view is just these soft rolling hills in brilliant shades of green with an occasional farm scattered throughout under massive blue skies with puffy white clouds. The highway descends & runs straight through the middle of all of it.


The region you mention near Moscow is called The Palouse & is indeed pretty stunning. I'm not sure if the area I'm talking about in eastern Oregon is technically part of that or not, but it does look very similar.

After that, you end up following the Columbia River for a long, long time as it winds through the gorge & offers up stunning views. Then you get views of Mt. Ranier & then you reach Seattle. That's a good drive.

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Hey folks, looking for some tips for those who have knowledge of Texas and/or Arizona/Utah. I'll be renting a car so transport isn't an issue, but making the most of the time I have is.

I should have at least three full days before arriving in Houston (possibly from tues-fri), and one full day after the Texans game before flying onwards to the Monument Valley area (tues-fri) and then arriving in the Phoenix area Saturday for the college game and Cards on the Sunday (Sat-tues).

Any tips on things to do, restaurants, and I'm not sure on whereabouts in Phoenix to stay?

Been eyeing up this trip since I started travelling for Falcons games in 2012, so this has worked out perfectly with the back to back road games!

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To my fellow bloggers. I just found out I need a defibulator to help regulate my weak heart. It goes in June 3rd and I have made a bucket list that starts fathers day weekend. My wife & I are avid horse race fans and have frequently visited Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Belmont. There are several more on my list. Fathers Day will be Parx and then Pimlico later on. If I'm still going strong, the California tracks will be added next year. :tiphat:

GA missed the boat on legalizing horse racing. For the Kentucky Derby, Delta had to triple up on it's flights out of Atlanta and switched all of the planes to the wide bodied.

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2 hours ago, Big_Dog said:

To my fellow bloggers. I just found out I need a defibulator to help regulate my weak heart. It goes in June 3rd and I have made a bucket list that starts fathers day weekend. My wife & I are avid horse race fans and have frequently visited Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Belmont. There are several more on my list. Fathers Day will be Parx and then Pimlico later on. If I'm still going strong, the California tracks will be added next year. :tiphat:

GA missed the boat on legalizing horse racing. For the Kentucky Derby, Delta had to triple up on it's flights out of Atlanta and switched all of the planes to the wide bodied.

Sorry to hear that.  Do you need a transplant? Is the difibulator just a medium until you get a heart or will it suffice for existence? 

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1 hour ago, WhenFalconsWin said:

Sorry to hear that.  Do you need a transplant? Is the difibulator just a medium until you get a heart or will it suffice for existence? 

No transplant. It will kick in with a mild shock if the hesrt falters.

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45 minutes ago, Big_Dog said:

No transplant. It will kick in with a mild shock if the hesrt falters.

Are you on a list? Man, don't let this politics BS stress you out, it's not worth it. Both sides of us anyways, don't let it run your health. Be

I want to see you have many more horse track days in reasonable health.

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8 minutes ago, WhenFalconsWin said:

Are you on a list? Man, don't let this politics BS stress you out, it's not worth it. Both sides of us anyways, don't let it run your health. Be

I want to see you have many more horse track days in reasonable health.

I was on a list and just got a call an hour ago that there was a cancellation. I just got moved up to this Thursday. :slick:

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3 hours ago, Big_Dog said:

I was on a list and just got a call an hour ago that there was a cancellation. I just got moved up to this Thursday. :slick:

Good news, we'll have Squirrely Bob to push around a while longer.

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24 minutes ago, WhenFalconsWin said:

Good news, we'll have Squirrely Bob to push around a while longer.

  :( Wife said I get very little sympathy after day 2.

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2 hours ago, Big_Dog said:

  :( Wife said I get very little sympathy after day 2.

If the unthinkable happens you know we love you here...goodbye

Oh, and put something in your will that you would want WFW to have...just sayin';)

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6 hours ago, WhenFalconsWin said:

If the unthinkable happens you know we love you here...goodbye

Oh, and put something in your will that you would want WFW to have...just sayin';)

:lol: You  can have my Jack Russell who digs holes to China daily.

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3 hours ago, Big_Dog said:

:lol: You  can have my Jack Russell who digs holes to China daily.

 Had an Alaskan Malamute who did the same thing about 40 years ago. He would dig three or four feet down and lay in the holes to cool himself off. That dog was not meant for Virginia's summers.

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Anybody ever spent time on Key Biscayne outside of Miami?

Got roundtrip tickets from Raleigh to Miami for $30 each & are headed down for a few days in early December. Gonna be staying in Key Biscayne and looking for recommendations, tips, etc. if anyone's been there before.

Thanks!

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