Sunday Special – Utah, USA

Happy New Year! I hope it has started well for everyone. Welcome back to the next Sunday Special. We are close the end of the alphabet, at the letter “U”. So today we’ll take a look at the American state of Utah

One of the the “Four Corners” states where Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico’s borders converge, Utah is recognized for its varied landscape and natural beauty.  It is made up of different geological regions of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, and the Great Basin. The result is a terrain filled with diversity such as mountains with lush valleys, arid regions filled with deserts, salt lakes and flats, and sandstone territories filled with incredible bluffs, striking canyons and arches.

With such a variety in natural beauty this state has plenty to offer with 5 national parks: Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Capital Reef. Winter activities of skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more are in abundance particularly near Salt Lake City. Head into the Moab area for some challenging mountain bike trails. It seems Utah has much to offer. 

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San Rafael Swell in Utah, USA – Photo credit: http://www.cgpgrey.comSan Rafael Swell 4892804322CC BY 2.0


Hoodoos in Utah’s Bryce National Park, USA – Photo credit: James Marvin PhelpsHoodoos from the Peekaboo Loop Trail – Bryce Canyon National ParkCC BY 2.0


Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah, USA – Photo is Public Domain



Sunday Special – Kauai, USA 

The small American archipelago of Hawaii boasts some beautiful landscape in its Pacific Ocean location. The oldest of the 8 main islands is Kauai, it is the fourth largest and is located northwest of the island of Oahu. 

Referred to as the “Garden Isle”, its lush and jungle-like terrain offers beauty like no other. Having myself only visited Oahu and enamored by its beauty I imagine that Kauai would wow me.  In addition to its lush green canopy, Kauai boasts serene beaches, impressive surfs and waves, and good hiking up a few mountains. Kawaikini is the highest point on the island (1598 m / 5243 ft) with Mount Waiʻaleʻale following at 1569 m / 5148 ft. With peaks such as these it is no surprise that one of the US’s most dangerous yet spectacular hikes is found on this small isle. The Kalalau Trail is an 18 km / 11 mile hike (double that for round trip) through rugged coasts, deep valleys and uneven terrain. Permits are required and is only for prepared, seasoned hikers. The mountains are not the only topography to impress. Waimea Canyon is waiting to take your breath away. There are couple of lookout points to see its size and the red-hued rock formation. Or take in Nā Pali Coast State Park. The craggy and rocky coast is popular for boat tours, kayaking, and snorkeling among the fishes. And of course, surfing is always in fashion in Kauai. With numerous beaches and great waves there is something from the novice to the expert. Though, should you prefer a bit more “R & R” then Kauai offers that too. As mentioned, there are plenty of beaches. And the low-key vibe of the small towns allows for a leisurely paced getaway. Aloha!


Secret Beach, Kauai – Photo credit: Bryce Edwards from San Jose, CA, USA, Secret Beach (HDR) (522900051)CC BY 2.0


Glass Beach, Kauai – Photo credit: Jason PopeskuGlass Beach in KauaiCC BY-SA 2.0


Waimea Canyon, Kauai – Photo credit: Kyle PearceWaimea Canyon HDRCC BY-SA 2.0

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.


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.


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


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