Sunday Special – Whale Watching in Maui, Hawaii 


Second largest of the eight islands that comprise the US island state of Hawaii, Maui is known for being a lush tropical paradise. Of the various activities found on the island, whale watching is near the top of the list. The ideal time to see the numerous pods of Pacific Northwest humpback whales is November through May. During this time these magnificent creatures make their annual sojourn from the northern Pacific Ocean to the warmer waters of the South Pacific.  They travel nearly two months to either give birth or to mate. January and February are the most prolific months of “mating action” with males actively vying for the attention of the females.

One of the best ways to see the whales is out on the water (though it is common to observe them from land). Maui boasts a number of tour companies offering whale watching so there are plenty of opportunities to view these stunning mammals. Additionally, humpback whales are protected internationally by various laws and acts. No country, region or person can claim to own them. They can not be corralled, poached, harassed, fished or traded between any countries. Yay!!

Should you find yourself in Maui in February take time out to visit their annual Whale Festival. Presented by the Pacific Whale Foundation, this day aims to educate people about protecting humpback whales and oceans. They even have a parade. The next one is coming up on February 18, 2017.

mauiactivities26tours

Humpback Whale in Maui _ Photo is Public Domain via Wikimedia Commoms

Sunday Special – The Simpson’s Ride Universal Studios Hollywood


A number of months ago I was perusing Instagram when I spotted a photo of  travel blogger TheClumsyTraveler in front of “Krusty Land”. She was at Universal Studios Hollywood and they have The Simpson’s Ride. WHHAAATTTTT??!   As I commented on the post – I had no idea such a place existed! I love The Simpson’s. This also shows you that I know very little about theme parks – LOL. Well this one is on the list (as is anything Harry Potter).

The Simpson’s Ride opened at Universal Studios back in 2008 (I am so outta the loop) at both Florida and California locations. It replaced the Back to the Future rides that were previously housed at both locales. To enter the ride you must walk through a giant head of Krusty the Clown. The journey continues through some pre-shows and then onto the ride. Afterwards you can visit The Kwik-E-Mart gift shop, have donuts at Lard Lad and even have a beer at Moe’s Tavern. I seriously need to go here! And then head off to see all the Harry Potter fun at Universal Studios too.

And a big thank you to The Clumsy Traveler for posting about it on Instagram! I’m glad to have learned about it.

ush-_simpsons_ride_enternace

The Simpson’s Ride Universal Studios Hollywood – Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons: Taken and owned by user METRO96

le_bar_de_moe_28sc3a9rie_tc3a9lc3a9visc3a9_the_simpsons29_a_universal_studio_a_los_angeles_2013-04-07_22-29

Moe’s Tavern at Universal Studios Hollywood – Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by User JasFabSch

Sunday Special – Mono Lake, CA (USA)


Mono Lake, located in the Eastern Sierra region of the state of California, is a bit uncommon when it comes to lakes. First off, it is very very old – it’s been around for almost 1 million years. Secondly, it is secluded; in that there are no outlets for runoff into the ocean. Due to this, the lake has a very high saline content and is approximately 2.5 times saltier than the oceans. Finally, since there is freshwater springs that run down the mountains and mixes with the alkaline water of Mono Lake unique outcroppings have formed from calcium carbonate. These are referred to as “tufas”. The eco-system of Mono Lake allows it to be teeming with brine shrimp, algae and alkali flies. Several species of birds call this lake home for a good part of each year. The water levels also fluctuate depending on how much freshwater run off there is each year. At times the water levels are low and others quite high.

Each year many visit the  lake and the Natural State Reserve. It is very popular with photographers for its vivid mountain and  water vistas. Bird watching, hiking, boating and nature tours are widely available. The Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve aims to help educate and help protect the beautiful tufas. The Mono Lake Committee has helped protect the freshwater runoffs from being diverted from the lake towards Los Angeles since 1978.

mono_lake_tufa

Tufas on Mono Lake, California – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Vezoy

mono_lake_-_mono_lake_tufa_state_reserve_ca

Mono Lake, California – Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by A. Perucchi

Sunday Special – Brooklyn (NYC), USA


Today, a dear friend of mine is starting a grand adventure. She will head off to New York City and then fly across the Atlantic to South Africa for a couple weeks. I am so very excited for T and wish her best of times. In honour of her trip, today’s spotlight will be on The Big Apple.

Where to start when focusing on such an iconic city? New York has such variety and many well-known places, activities and areas. A city made up of five boroughs with each one having more than enough to offer. These boroughs are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Since T will be staying in Brooklyn we’ll look there (though she is planning on visiting Manhattan and Staten Island as well).

Brooklyn is probably best known for its bridge, which at the time it was built was a significant engineering accomplishment. The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 and is a suspension/hybrid cable bridge that has 6 lanes that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan. Another area famous in this borough is Coney Island. This neighbourhood has arts, amusement parks, beaches and even a minor league baseball team: The Brooklyn Cyclones. Other neighbourhoods in Brooklyn to check out include trendy Williamsburg, historic Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy), artsy DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and old-world Brighton Beach.

brooklyn_bridge_2004-01-11

Brooklyn Bridge, New York. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Keith Pomakis

Brooklyn

View of Brooklyn – Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Kenneth Lu