Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fall Foliage Scenic Drive - Lakes and Leaves Maine

Maine is one of the most heavily forested states in the nation, containing over 17 million acres of natural beauty, hikes, and magnificent summer and fall foliage scenic drives.

This scenic drive is through Maine backcountry. A rugged environment of thick forests and impressive mountain terrain.

The drive is magnificent in summer but not-to-be-missed in fall foliage season.

The route follows a 218-mile loop through central west Maine along the lower western shore of Moosehead Lake, and then runs parallel with the tree-lined banks of the Kennebec River. It’s best experienced over a few days rather than a one-day excursion trip, and lodging reservations are recommended during the popular fall foliage season.

Let’s get you started…

In the first part of the tour you’ll wind your way towards the town of Greenville on the southern tip of Moosehead Lake. Begin the tour in the town of Skowhegan by taking Route 150 to Route 151 in Athens. Follow Route 151 west to Newport where you’ll pick up Route 7 to Dover-Foxcroft.

Take Route 6 to Guilford, and then follow Route 6/15 north to Greenville.

At Greenville stop and relax for a bit. Greenville is a center for those seeking the pastimes of hunting, fishing, hiking and boating in the area. It’s also home to a number of attractions in the area.

One such attraction is the 110-foot SS Katahdin, a popular steamship that cruises on Moosehead Lake during the summer and through fall foliage. It leaves from the center of Greenville.

A 20-mile excursion east of Greenville takes you to beautiful Gulf Hagas. This is a stunning 3-mile-long gorge, with waterfalls, water chutes, deep pools, and vertical walls 300 feet tall in places. The hike is especially scenic during fall foliage. For those spreading this scenic drive over multiple days this is a must-do side trip.

The Greenville area also boasts splendid hikes along the close-by Appalachian Trail.

If you’re intending to stay overnight then Greenville offers your best opportunity for lodging.

The scenic drive continues along Route 6/15 passing Big Squaw Mountain and Ski Area on the left, and winding along the Moosehead Lake shore to the village of Rockwood. Once at Rockwood you’ll see across the water the imposing Mount Kineo with its sheer cliff face rising over 700 feet from the deepest point in Moosehead Lake.

Stay on Route 6/15 and head west to Jackman. This 30-mile portion of the scenic drive is all about Maine wilderness. Look out for opportunities to stop and admire the summer or fall foliage views in the hills and on scenic lookouts across the lakes and ponds along the road.

Just south of Jackman Route 6/15 will connect with Route 201, and you’ll follow Route 201 south towards The Forks along the National Scenic Byway.

Jackman is a canoeing center, famous for the 42-mile Moose River Bow Trip. The canoe trip takes two or more days and is a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts. It’s one of the few remaining wilderness canoe trips in the Northeast, and organized tours are run by local operators.

Continue on Route 201 south to The Forks where the Kennebec and Dead Rivers meet. The Forks is base for popular and awe-inspiring whitewater rafting trips on the two rivers.

A few miles west of The Forks is Moxie Falls, at 90-feet one of the tallest waterfalls in New England.

The scenic drive continues south on Route 201 to Bingham. This stretch of the road follows the Kennebec River through Caratunk, offering magnificent views of the river and surrounding hills, and is one of the best fall foliage sections on this tour.

Follow Route 201 back to Skowhegan to complete the tour.

Look for other articles in this series of fall foliage scenic drives. Or if you can't wait you can pick up the complete scenic drive free report containing these and other New England scenic drives, along with detailed route coverage and attractions, at his New England vacations guide site.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Boracay: Paradise on Earth

The island paradise of Boracay in the central Philippines is one of the few remaining unspoilt places on earth. It has remained largely untouched by modern civilization despite the droves of tourists that visit it every year.

The first hint of this idyllic hideaway's remoteness comes upon arrival: there is no airport or pier. Travelers are taken on small, wooden outriggers to the island, where they disembark by jumping into thigh-deep water and wading ashore.

Located at the northwestern tip of Panay in the Western Visayas region 345 kilometers from Manila, Boracay boasts 30 beaches and about 200 private resorts that cater to the more than 300,000 tourists that descend on the 630-hectare island annually.

It's not clear how the island emerged from obscurity to become one of the world's best beaches. But it's said that a group of foreign travelers stumbled upon the place by accident in the early eighties and word quickly spread about the modern day Eden tucked away somewhere in the central Philippines..

Boracay has since become a beacon attracting sun-worshippers from the four corners of the world. Its crystal-clear waters and powder-fine white sand make it second to none.

Boracay offers more than just sun, sea and sand.

The mouth-watering smell of barbecue and freshly cooked seafood lingers in the air as tourists sample the local culinary taste. Fruits are also in abundance. And for those who prefer foreign food, international cuisine is always available.

There's also a host of relaxing activities for all kinds of tourists, including sailing on an outrigger to the other side of the island, diving, exploring by bike and hopping from one beach to another.

If you're the less energetic type, you can comb the beach on horseback, lie in the sand and soak up the sun or simply watch the sun set while you finish a cocktail or a beer.

The fun doesn't stop after nightfall. In fact, the action is just beginning as travelers get ready for a night of dancing and partying until the wee hours of the morning.

If you're a sun-worshipper, Boracay is the place. If you want to forget about the cares of the world and be close to nature, Boracay is the ticket. If you just want to get away from it all, Boracay is the answer.

Indeed, Boracay is paradise on earth.

But it may not remain one for long. Civilization is fast catching up. Already the island has access to cable television and the internet.

In a world of instant communication and jet travel, the isolation that the island has enjoyed for centuries is finally coming to an end.

This has raised fears that Boracay will ultimately become a victim of its own success as development takes its toll on the once virgin territory. That day may just be around the corner.

But for the island’s residents and the many foreigners who have come and made it their home, Boracay will always remain a paradise.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My Personal Account Of The Sea Canoe Kayaking Excursion In Phuket Thailand Which Explores The Caves

As the anchor slid into the Andaman Sea, a hush of anticipation descended on the boat. Here we were, a dozen or so tourists, dwarfed by the limestone karsts that punctuate the seascape between Phuket Island and Krabi on Thailand’s southern shore, looking forward to our adventure.

I for one did not really know what to expect as the crew unloaded the bright yellow kayaks. Will I have to paddle? Will I be able to find my way in the dark caves?

My questions were soon answered as the head guide gave the briefing. Once we had put on our life vests, he explained, we would pair-up and join one of the guides waiting in their kayaks which by now had spread out around the boat like ducklings around their mother.

Stepping gingerly onto my allotted kayak, I grinned nervously at my guide who beamed a typical Thai smile. If you know Thailand you will know what I mean: the type of smile that can be seen from space. Our guide, ‘Nit’ was his name, paddled us effortlessly away from the mother ship and closer to the, by now, imposing cliffs of the island, the first of many we would be getting to know intimately that day.

This excursion was pioneered by an American John ‘Caveman’ Gray. It was in 1989 that John discovered the ‘hongs’ of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand: the Thai word ‘hong’ means room and it refers to the open area inside these limestone islands. If you can imagine that some of these islands in Phang Nga Bay are shaped like donuts, the type with a hole in the middle. John discovered that at low tide it is possible to follow a network of caves through the limestone rock into an inner world.

In that same year John set-up his company, Sea Canoe; and so successful was his concept that he spawned many copycat companies including more than a few Sea Canoes. To avoid confusion John has re-named his company John Gray’s Sea Canoe.

‘Nit’ explained in his very good English that at certain points on our journey through the caves we would have to lie flat on our backs because of the low ceilings. You can imagine at this point I was beginning to question the sanity of my decision to drag myself out of bed early that morning simply to put myself in mortal danger. At the same time I was trying to work out which way the tide was running. If these caves were only accessible at low tide, how much time did we have to get in and out before the tide turned?

“And when you get inside”, Nit’s voice interrupted my thoughts, “to protect the environment, there is no talking and no smoking”. Excellent, now I remembered why I was risking life and limb. It was this idea of visiting a pristine environment that had first attracted me.

The caves were becoming narrower now as Nit manoeuvred our kayak through the dark. “Lie down” he whispered as his torchlight captured a low hanging rock. The ceiling of the cave was getting closer to my face and I had to turn my head to prevent my nose scraping along the sharp limestone. This was actually getting exciting although I wasn’t sure how long I could cope with this claustrophobic feeling that was starting to creep over me.

But within minutes the cave started to open up again and a hint of daylight caressed the cavern wall.

I squinted as we emerged into the bright sunlight, into a land that time forgot. Trees were clinging to the steep scrub-covered walls of the ‘hong’ and reaching out for the brilliant blue sky above. A sea eagle swooped down low to see who these interlopers were. And all was peace and tranquillity.

The family of kayaks paddled slowly through the hong, the occupants in awe of this magical, secret place in southern Thailand. The only sounds were the lapping of water, the call of the cicadas, the clicking of cameras and whispers of excitement.

All too soon it was time to head back. John Gray’s professional guides were well aware of the movement of the tides and making sure we were through those caves in good time.

The excitement only increased with each ‘hong’ we explored and the memories of that day will never leave me.

This Sea Canoe day excursion is available from Phuket, Thailand: it is a relatively expensive one but for me it was worth it.

Tony Champion is a retired travel professional and owner of a web site dedicated to high-end accommodation on Phuket Island, Thailand. For more information visit: http://www.ExclusivePhuket.com

Monday, October 1, 2007

There Are Many Reasons Why You Should Choose Inflatable Boats Over Traditional Boats

If you spend any time in or around the water then you probably own or have considered owning an inflatable boat. There are many uses for inflatable boats and many people own them for a variety of very different reasons.

What Can I Use An Inflatable Boat For?

Inflatable boats were originally used in the Navy to haul cargo and missiles back and forth to larger ships. Eventually the inflatable boats moved into the recreational market for fishing, personal transportation and for tenders on larger boats, particularly yachts.

Some other uses are:

* Scuba diving
* Search and rescue
* Emergency lifeboats
* Security patrol
* Law enforcement
* Fishing and hunting
* Pleasure
* Water sports
* Many others

What Are Some Benefits Of An Inflatable Boat?

There are many advantages to an inflatable boat over a hard sided boat, but to see the true benefits you really need to know what you plan on using your boat for.

Are They Heavy?

Inflatable boats are extremely lightweight in comparison to more traditional hard sided boats. And the fact that they are light weight makes them an excellent choice for many people. This is great if you are using your boat for fishing. Instead of towing a regular dinghy or canoe behind your vehicle you will be able to strap your inflatable boat to the roof of your car or even strap it into the bed of your truck.

The lightweight nature of the inflatable boat is excellent if you need to pull your boat up on the shore of the lake, or river during a fishing trip. One or two people can easily pull an inflatable boat up on shore a safe distance.

What About Stability?

A big concern of most people have when they are considering an inflatable boat over a more traditional boat is the stability of the inflatable. Will it be tipsy or unsteady when you are standing in it? This is a major and very common misconception of most people. In fact, an inflatable boat is generally much more stable than a traditional boat.

Because of their buoyancy tubes, inflatable boats are actually known for their incredible stability. And because of these buoyancy tubes these boats actually sit flat in the water which makes them virtually impossible to flip over. This is a great feature for people who might be a little bit nervous about small boats, or especially scuba divers who need to flip backwards into the water and pull themselves up and into the boats.

Why Choose An Inflatable Boat?

There are a number of reasons why inflatable boats make a better choice than the more traditional aluminum or fiberglass boats. Depending on why you need a small boat will depend on why you are better off with an inflatable.

If you are a fisherman, a lightweight inflatable canoe makes a much better choice than a traditional hard shell canoe. With an inflatable you will be able to carry the boat to the river or lake by yourself, which is very handy if you prefer to fish by yourself. Also you will be able to transport the boat to and from your fishing site easier and without fear of scratching your vehicle if you choose to transport it on top of the vehicle.

If you are a yacht owner looking for a tender for your larger craft an inflatable boat is the best choice for a few reasons. It is very important to yacht owners that they not scratch their beautiful boats; with an inflatable, those concerns are virtually eliminated, because these boats are made from materials that are soft and will not mark the surfaces of other boats.

Also, because inflatable boats are lightweight they can easily be brought on board when the yacht is under sail. However, just because you have an inflatable does not mean that you cannot attach a trolling motor to it. In fact most inflatable boats allow quite large motors to be attached to them. Although many inflatable boats are not built for performance and speed, some are built for speed and efficiency. However, even if you have a motor you should always carry paddles with you and you should always wear a life jacket.

All Purpose Inflatable Boats

Inflatable boats are much more than the image of a blow up boat that you played with in the pool as a child. You can now attach motors to these boats, put boat seats in them and even drive through the ocean surf at top speeds. This is much more than the boat that you remember as a child!

You can get inflatable kayaks, inflatable canoes, inflatable rowboats and fishing boats. No matter what you need a small boat for; there is an inflatable boat that is perfect for your needs.

© 2005 http://www.inflatable-boats-now.com

About the Author
Kevin Brown is successful author and publisher of many informative websites including http://www.inflatable-boats-now.com. His websites offer tips and advice on a wide array of topics including inflatable boats, inflatable kayaks, boating accessories, and more.

Motifs Used In Hawaiian Jewelry

Hawaii is a well-known tourist destination that leaves everyone who lands on her shores dumbfounded by the exquisite display of nature in all its glory. Whether it’s the frothing volcanoes, the vast blue ocean, the luscious tropical fruits, vibrant flowers or endless beaches – Hawaii is like nature’s museum. One natural wonder on display after another and each more magnificent than its predecessor.

Using Nature As Inspiration

It is hardly any wonder that nature has found its way into various forms of creative expression on the islands including Hawaiian jewelry. From the earliest inhabitants in the 4th and 5th century, Hawaiian jewelry has been a canvas for nature. The earliest baubles were made of shells, seeds, coral, teeth, whale ivory, bone and bark and featured patterns of various sea creatures. Sea turtles and fish were extremely popular motifs. Another surprising motif that found popularity was that of the canoe. The motifs reflected the isolation of the island life and the high value associated with the canoe. In addition, royalty wore a hook shaped necklace called the lei niho palao made from whale teeth and human hair.

With time, the popularity of motifs depicting nature in all her glory continued to grow. In the 20th century the famous Hawaiian jewelers Ming’s and Gump’s both sold jewelry depicting island flowers such as hibiscus, orchids, pikake, bird’s of paradise and anthuriums. Guglielmo Cini who designed some of the most popular Gump’s jewelry was best known for his tropical floral motifs.

Today, nature continues to the muse for most artists in Hawaii. Pineapples, palm tress, hibiscus and plumeria flowers, fish, ships, ukuleles, volcanoes, lush tropical fruits and shells find their way on earrings, necklaces, bangles and brooches.

Wedding bands designed to represent the natural native foliage of the hala tree found in Hawaii have also become extremely popular. They have escalated the simple, traditional Hawaiian wedding bands to exotic Hawaiian heirloom jewelry.

Shell Jewelry

Shell jewelry from Hawaii has been around forever. Shell jewelry generally uses no motifs and in fact shells themselves are used as motifs on other materials like gold and silver. Ni’ihau shell jewelry is extremely famous and sought after.

The Cultural Influence

In addition to nature, Hawaii is steeped in a culture frothing with customs and traditions. The petroglyphs found on the islands reflect this very primitive and spontaneous culture and also are a source of ideas for designers.

All in all, motifs used in Hawaiian jewelry include various things around the islands that represent the warmth of Hawaii; the warmth that is found not just in its beautiful climate but also in the people that reside there. And the best thing about Hawaiian jewelry is that you no longer need to be in Hawaii to select from the latest trendy designs. Websites feature traditional as well as contemporary Hawaiian jewelry of the best quality and with a 100% guarantee.

Visit My Hawaiian Jewelry for more information! Please feel free to email info@myhawaiianjewelry.com for any inquiry.

Perfect Maui Day

Live in the Moment!

Sleep In.

Oh, to wake up in Maui!

Sit on the lanai. Drink coffee.

Feel warm, slightly crisp morning air against skin.

Watch waves. Listen as waves hit the beach.

Smell the freshness of the ocean.

Watch teams of canoe rowers out on the water.

Go for walk on the beach.

Pick up small pieces of drift wood. Toss them into the ocean.

Watch the sand crabs scurry in and out of the sand.

We splash along, walking through the waves.

Feel the water wash over our feet.

Notice sea turtles bobbing up and down on the coral reefs. Wow!

We play in the water.

Boggy boarding, attempt to catch the waves, try not to get dumped upside down.

Play and play, just like kids.

Stop at mobile fish taco stand. Eat fabulous fish tacos. Yum, Yum!

Relax on the beach. Take a nap.

Go for another stroll along the beach.

Swim amongst the waves.

Sit on the lanai. Enjoy a glass of wine (delicious chardonnay)!

We can’t believe our eyes!!! Right there in front of our condo.

Mamma whale and her baby calf: Playing, flipping their tails. Popping up and down.

Unbelievable moment! Will NEVER FORGET!

Every moment counts.

Perfect Maui Day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Port Macquarie Accommodation

Port Macquarie accommodation is of such variety and comfort that you will find it an enchanting holiday that will never fade away from memory.

What do you expect on your holiday in Port Macquarie? At the end of your visits to the beaches, golf links, sports venues or sailing trips, your heart aches for the inviting bed or the soothing spa in your apartment. You would like to put up your feet and savour a drink, relax alone or enjoy the bonhomie of your family or friends.

The perfect haven

It is the homecoming at the end of the day, which you yearn for and would like to earn it through vigorous and robust exertions of the day.

Port Macquarie has a variety of places of stay, hotels, motels, beach resorts, apartments and what have you. You can choose, cut a good deal and reserve on line.

You want to relax and revitalize? Flynns Beach Resort is just a stone’s throw away from the pristine sands of Port Macquarie's famous Flynns Beach. It is the perfect haven for the perfect holiday you have always been planning.

Port Macquarie hotel accommodation can be had just to suit your budget, your taste, your sense of privacy and your yen to make the most of your holiday. You will receive tons of what you wanted to get out of your holiday rest, relaxation and restoration of your ability to recapture the magic of life.

What is in store for you

· Modern, spacious two-bedroom, self-contained apartments with a variety of facilities.

· Hot deals for the weekenders or the grand Christmas holiday for ten days with attractive add-ons.

· Families, couples, singles or just you and your friends are welcome.

· Spa in luxury apartments where you can rejuvenate your tired limbs.

· If you want to take it easy, you will luxuriate in the tropical gardens, the swimming pool or the golden sands of the beaches.

· If you are the outdoor type, you'll enjoy BBQ areas, tennis court, fully equipped gym, playgrounds, nature walks and all the fun of shopping in craft and antique shops.

The right to rest and renewal

During the day you hike, ride a canoe or shop around, trudge on the white sands and let the sun shine and the wind beat on you all day long. But at the end of the day, your weary feet ache and your back pleads for repose. You hasten to your apartment for the rest that you have rightly earned. If you want a break at midday, go ahead and indulge yourself with a siesta, the ultimate luxury of the work weary housewife or the husbandman.

Far from the madding crowd of bustling metropolises, your Port Macquarie accommodation turns out to be your fantasy hideout. You can go into hibernation mode and recharge your batteries for the next foray into that stressful world, refreshed, renewed and confident.