Recent Travel Highlights

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum

Durango
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Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum, Durango, Colorado
The scenic route from Durango to Silverton: Take an historic narrow-gauge railroad
There's only one way to make this journey--by narrow gauge railroad, pulled by a vintage steam locomotive. This is a truly iconic experience in the southwest of the state, and one of the ways to feel the full grandeur of the San Juan Mountains. You board the train in the morning at the depot in Durango, just as passengers have been doing since 1882! The trip takes about 3.5 hours and you can either ride the same train back, or opt for the one-hour bus ride down Highway 550. There are a number of cars and classes to choose from, from standard coach to the Knight Sky, an all-glass carriage in First Class that allows views up the stunning canyons (and not just their passing walls). Tickets start at $85.
The scenic route from Durango to Silverton: Take an historic narrow-gauge railroad
1 experience, added to 3 Lists

The Belfry

Seattle
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The Belfry, Seattle, Washington
Natural Wonders
If you're a fan of taxidermy/curiosity stores like Paxton Gate in San Francisco or Deyrolle in Paris, you'll need to check out the whimsically morbid Belfry Oddities. It's located in the Pioneer Square area near the train station, but don't let the slightly rough neighborhood put you off. Inside, you'll find a fascinating assortment of taxidermy mounts, carnivorous plant terrariums, skulls and bones, seashells and gemstones, jewelry, hair art, and greeting cards. While the taxidermy can get pretty expensive, there are affordable terrariums in the $30-40 range, and inexpensive trinkets like $5 glass beakers filled with tiny starfish or mineral specimens. If you feel like splurging, ask about their taxidermy classes, where you can try your hand at stuffing mice, squirrels, or bunnies.
Natural Wonders
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paseo

Seattle
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paseo, Seattle, Washington
The Legend Lives On at Paseo
The saga of Paseo has been an emotional roller coaster for Seattle sandwich enthusiasts. The beloved institution suddenly closed in November 2014, to citywide consternation. But new owner Ryan Santwire replicated the recipes for those famously messy, greasy Cuban sandwiches, and Paseo reopened in 2015. Judge for yourself whether the flavorful meats and chewy Macrina rolls live up to the legend. (And yes, the all-caramelized-onion sandwich is back, plus vegetarian options.)
The Legend Lives On at Paseo
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Pittsfield

Pittsfield
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Pittsfield, Pittsfield, Vermont
Farm to Fork Fondo
In July, former pro cyclist Tyler Wren hosted the premier Farm to Fork Fondo bike ride in Central Vermont. I couldn't think of a better way to explore the area than on two wheels. Throughout the ride, local farms doubled as rest areas so riders could refuel on farm fresh food. Simon and Jessica, the incredibly nice innkeepers at Amee Farm Lodge also won a cycling company called Great Bike Tours. They rented me my bike for the ride and Simon volunteered to drive the course as support for the riders. Great Bike Tour's offers a six-day ride around the area which I hope to get back to. Their itinerary includes stops at Vermont microbreweries, cheesemakers and farms. They also run tours in Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Georgia, Virginia, the Florida Keys and further afield in New Zealand. Pedaling scenic roads with great hosts and incredible food waiting at the end sounds like a perfect trip to me.
Farm to Fork Fondo
1 experience

Nate's Wings & Waffles

Seattle
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Nate's Wings & Waffles, Seattle, Washington
These Wings and Waffles Are a Slam Dunk
This chicken-and-waffles joint is owned by NBA star Nate Robinson, which explains the basketball jerseys and memorabilia decorating the restaurant. What needs no explanation are the juicy, sauce-glazed wings and fluffy, oversized waffles delivered piping hot to your table. Order wings or chicken strips by the pound with the sauce of your choice (the garlic ginger is a stand-out), and don’t miss the savory waffle, made with fried chicken batter crumbles, cheddar, and green onions, and accompanied with rich honey rosemary butter and maple syrup. A second location in the Central District will be opening soon, so there’s no excuse not to indulge.
These Wings and Waffles Are a Slam Dunk
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Fremont Vintage Mall

Seattle
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Fremont Vintage Mall, Seattle, Washington
Pyrex Piled High at Fremont Vintage Mall
It may not look like much from the simple street entrance, but vintage-loving shoppers will find plenty to browse at this underground, two-floor antique mall. You’ll find black velvet paintings, vintage pinup magazines and comics, and antique collectibles, plus some truly impressive taxidermy mounts downstairs. For a more packable souvenir, try one of these colorful and charming Pyrex pieces or some midcentury barware.
Pyrex Piled High at Fremont Vintage Mall
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Sherlocked

Seattle
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Sherlocked, Seattle, Washington
Sleuthing in Seattle
If you like solving puzzles, cracking codes, and yelling at strangers, this unique locked-room challenge might be just your cup of tea. You’ll be locked in a room with your group, and you have one hour to solve about a dozen riddles or puzzles in the correct order to unlock the safe, nab the gold bar, and escape your rival secret agent's locked office. Children are welcome, but the puzzles are fairly challenging and probably best for teens and adults. Each time slot allows up to 7 people, so if your group is smaller than that, you may be playing with some new friends. Advance bookings are required, but same-day reservations can sometimes be accommodated in case you get rained out by Seattle's fickle weather.
Sleuthing in Seattle
1 experience, added to 3 Lists

The Continental

Miami Beach
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The Continental, Miami Beach, Florida
The Continental: The Best New Opening in South Beach
Famed chef, Stephen Starr has brought his popular eatery, The Continental, to South Beach in Miami. The restaurant showcases the spirit of 20-year old original location in Philadelphia. The menu includes sharable dishes with world cuisine. The eatery's approachable, yet sophisticated design includes mid-century modern style in the dining room and al fresco fun on the tropical patios. The Continental is a great spot to grab a drink, with an expansive cocktail list with premium spirits, fresh ingredients, and tiki inspired recipes. Executive Chef Matthew Oetting, has worked in South Florida's BLT Steak. Menu highlights are entrees large enough for groups to share, including build-your-own sushi, "vegetables on ice" (aka crudité) and burgers. Since 2009, Starr has opened four restaurants in South Florida, including Steak 954, Makoto, Verde, Ted’s at YoungArts and a catering company. The opening parallels the new Aloft Hotel that will be opening soon.
The Continental: The Best New Opening in South Beach
1 experience

St. Vitus Cathedral

Prague
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St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
Breathtaking
Beautiful cathedral, lots of lovely stained glass and a very serene feeling
Breathtaking
1 experience

Portland Saturday Market

Portland
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Portland Saturday Market, Portland, Oregon
Browse the Stalls at the Portland Saturday Market
Being in Portland on a weekend is important. It’s the only way to experience the Portland Saturday Market for yourself. Despite it’s name, the market is on every Saturday and Sunday from March to Christmas Eve. Over 400 artists participate, alongside sizzling food stalls and street entertainers. You’ll find the best of Portland in one place. The city is, after all, about community, art and food, and so is the market. Beware: a feeling of “needing everything” in sight may suddenly come over you as you browse stalls. I don’t know if anyone really “needs” the Game of Real Life.
Browse the Stalls at the Portland Saturday Market
1 experience

Café Nikki

Miami Beach
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Café Nikki, Miami Beach, Florida
Cafe Nikki Elevates Miami's Coffee Culture
Cafe Nikki, located in the world-famous Nikki Beach, combines Miami glamour with coffeehouse vibes. The cafe serves light breakfast and lunch fare like coffees and teas, croissants, quiches, pastries, European marmalades, and Zak the Baker bread in a charming courtyard filled with greenery at reasonable prices. A refreshing takeaway from typical South Beach style, with its bookshelves, wicker swings, and communal tables. Whether you hit up the cafe before a day on the beach, or as a spot to catch up on work or a good book. The approachable menu and low price point caters to the local community of Miami, which was a goal of the team during the August 2015 opening.
Cafe Nikki Elevates Miami's Coffee Culture
1 experience

Pincho Factory

Coral Gables
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Pincho Factory, Coral Gables, Florida
Pincho Factory: Kabobs, Tasty Burgers and Zingy Cajun Fries
For a daytime lunch or an inexpensive dinner in Miami, Pincho offers a twist on a quick meal. With flavorful kabobs AKA Pincho's, rice bowls, pitas, salads, wraps and burgers along with tots, loaded fries and much more. Pincho Factory is a unique concept that brings street food from the east and the west (Pinchos and Burgers) and have elevated it to a modern day experience. Using the freshest of ingredients, custom meat blends, and flavors inspired from around the world, we pride ourselves on sourcing the highest quality products and carefully crafting each plate for an unforgettable experience. Menu highlights include the Pincho Burger which comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, potato chicks, and their special pink sauce. Served on a fresh brioche bun, the crispiness of the potato sticks made a nice addition. The pink sauce is legit and the burger was cooked to perfection. Pair the meals with cheese fries with a side of pink sauce which isn't on the menu. The fries were topped with a zingy Cajun flavor. Along with a drink, all was under $15 and you will have some leftovers. The restaurant has three locations in Miami, but the Coral Gables location is the most well-known. The indoor-outdoor dining rooms have a bistro-vibe with a line of customers.
Pincho Factory: Kabobs, Tasty Burgers and Zingy Cajun Fries
1 experience

Fundació Antoni Tàpies

Barcelona
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Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain
Embrace the unusual art at the Tàpies Foundation
Perhaps less well known than Catalan artists like Dalí and Miró, Antoni Tàpies was a delightfully strange painter, sculptor and art theorist, and Barcelona's museum dedicated to his work is located just off Passeig de Gracia, making it much more easily accessed than Fundació Miró on Montjuic. To me, at least, his early work resembles spookier, artsier version of gothic comics, and later paintings and sculptures are objects as art on par with Marcel Duchamp's fountain sculpture made from an upside down toilet. Some of my favorites at the museum include a chair piled with clothes, and an open wardrobe nearly exploding with garments. The museum is also worth a visit to get a look at temporary exhibitions, or check out its outstanding art and architecture library (only with prior appointment). The gift shop has a few interesting Barcelona art souvenirs and neat postcard sets.
Embrace the unusual art at the Tàpies Foundation
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The General Palmer Hotel

Durango
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The General Palmer Hotel, Durango, Colorado
Classy old digs in Durango: The General Palmer and The Strater Hotels
There are plenty of places to camp in the mountains around Durango, but the way it worked out, we got to sample two of the city's hotels known for their Old West elegance. We spent one night in The General Palmer and one night in The Strater Hotel (visible in this photo from a balcony of the General Palmer). My daughters were impressed with both -- with the fancy sitting rooms in the lobbies as well as the multiple morning whistles of the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which has run from the nearby depot for 134 years. They are both lively, bustling places, though the Strater is a good deal larger and has more bars, restaurants, and goings-on. Both are right downtown and both make it easy to imagine Durango in the old days. The Strater Hotel: http://strater.com The General Palmer: http://generalpalmer.com
Classy old digs in Durango: The General Palmer and The Strater Hotels
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Mesa Verde National Park

Mancos
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Mesa Verde National Park, Mancos, Colorado
Staying inside the park: Lodging options for Mesa Verde National Park
Far View Lodge is a hotel 15 miles inside Mesa Verde National Park. I don't think I've ever seen a property so perfectly situated. There are 150 rooms built in clusters on a shoulder of the mesa, all with balconies — with vistas into four states. I'd originally planned on pitching a tent at Morefield Campground, but our family had been tent camping for nearly two weeks by the time we got to Mesa Verde. I wanted to give them direct access to the cliff dwellings, the rock-built homes of the Ancestral Puebloans that have made Mesa Verde both a UNESCO World Heritage site and a unique cornerstone of the National Park System. I wanted to be close enough that it would be easy, say, for my wife to spontaneously grab the girls after dinner and hike down to one more dwelling. So after savoring my steak with southwest flair at the Metate Room Restaurant, I helped buckle everyone in for the five-minute drive to the trailhead, then retreated to our room to watch the sunset. IF YOU GO: The autumn months are a quieter, cooler time to visit Mesa Verde National Park, but get there before the lodge and campground closes in late October. Stay at Far View Lodge (150 rooms, $129-179 per night). Morefield Campground has 250 sites in a desert landscape ($29 per night). The campground and hotel are both run by the same company, Aramark, website below:
Staying inside the park: Lodging options for Mesa Verde National Park
1 experience, added to 3 Lists

Maketto

Washington
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Maketto, Washington, District of Columbia
H Street Communal Hotspot
Inspired by the vibrant Southeast Asian night markets, DC chef Erik-Bruner Yang (of Toki Underground fame) and DC streetwear mogul Will Sharp create a sleek, two-story indoor/outdoor space that's part menswear store, cafe, and restaurant. Glass-encased displays featuring Sharp's DC-based clothing line, Durkl, as well as designer sneakers and accessories from other brands make up the ground floor. Sip locally roasted Vigilante coffee while snacking on Frenchie's pastries and desserts in the upstairs cafe. Beyond the retail section lies the patio and open kitchen serving up Yang's blazing hot and flavorful Cambodian and Taiwanese cuisine. Don't miss out on American Wagyu Tartare, Khmer Tamarind Salad, Steamed Pork Bao Buns, and "Zha Ji Pai" (Taiwanese Fried Chicken).
H Street Communal Hotspot
1 experience, added to 2 Lists

Meteor Crater

Winslow
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Meteor Crater, Winslow, Arizona
Meteor Crater
Wow, look at the size of that bowl. Looking into Meteor Crater, Winslow, Arizona, I have a difficult time envisioning a 160-foot wide nickel-iron meteorite crashing to earth at 26,000 mile an hour. However, the collision happened around 50,000 years ago, resulting in a crater 1 mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 700 feet deep. The meteor’s impact, released energy greater than 20-million tons of TNT, and shook the southwestern plain for miles. The meteor left little evidence of its origin behind, it vaporized on impact with the earth. Moreover, erosion has done little to alter the original crater. Furthermore, during the 1960’s NASA used the crater to provide extensive scientific training for the Apollo astronauts, on their way to the moon. Subsequently, Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, Ed Chow, and Don Milton, all of the U.S. Geological Survey, discovered new minerals coesite and stishovite at the crater. After looking at the enormous hole in the ground, I can understand why the massive crater remains one of the best-preserved meteor impact sites, in the United States.
Meteor Crater
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Cirque du Soleil Theater

Chacalal
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Cirque du Soleil Theater, Chacalal, Mexico
Cirque du Soleil's JOYÀ
Another jewel in Cancun's entertainment crown opened recently with the opening of Cirque du Soleil's JOYÀ. Drawing on Mexico’s history and heritage, JOYÀ tells the story of an alchemist and his granddaughter embarking on a transformative quest to uncover the secrets of life. Through their wonderfully disorienting journey they discover a hidden gem in the mangrove, passing along the poetry of love and life to future generations. The name JOYÀ is rooted in the Spanish “joya” meaning jewel or pearl, and alludes to a person or event of great value. Through the performance, the alchemist’s granddaughter discovers joy and wisdom by sharing an extraordinary experience in an unlikely place. A premium dinner service during the show features international gastronomy and the finest beverages, including champagne from Mercier.
Cirque du Soleil's JOYÀ
1 experience, added to 7 Lists

MUSA

Quintana Roo
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MUSA, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Cancun Underwater Museum
Located off the coast of Cancun, the Cancun Underwater Museum features more than 500 sculptures scattered across the ocean floor, allowing art lovers a unique perspective personal while snorkeling or scuba diving. Since 2010, sculptures have been submerged at the bottom of the ocean in two phases by the resident artist at that time, Jason deCaires Taylor. Marine life has slowly moved into the museum area, bringing life to “The Silent Evolution” – the name of the first phase of sculptures to make up the exhibition. With everything from life-size human sculptures, many of which were caste from Cancun locals, to a lifesize VW Beetle - especially designed to encourage lobsters to make their homes inside the vehicle - each statue is made with materials that are safe for marine life and encourage the formation of artificial reefs. These works of art have formed a complex reef structure teeming with marine life and provide a fascinating dive and snorkeling site. Recently, nine latest additions were added to the collection. These pieces were created by several artists including the current resident artist of MUSA, Elier Amado Gil. For "landlubbers," glass bottom boats offer an alternative view.
Cancun Underwater Museum
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Sea Tower Apartments Inc

Fort Lauderdale
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Sea Tower Apartments Inc, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Tropical Modernism
Fort Lauderdale seems a little slow to embrace and protect its historical architectural gems. Beautiful examples of modernist buildings still meet the wrecking ball to make room for yet another highrise along the ocean. Luckily, some of the old buildings are too loved to meet that fate. The 'Sea Tower', designed 1957 by Igor Polevitzky is a great example of how architects adapted the idea of modernism to different parts of the world. Perfect for the tropical climate, the building blends inside and outside living spaces, and to top it off, an innovative passive cooling system was implemented. I have a soft spot for architecture, so I'm always visiting these old 'characters' wherever my travels take me. Please note: 'Sea Tower' is a private 55+ community, so please don't trespass. If you want to see another fabulous example of this type of architecture, make sure to drive by the 18 story 'Birch Tower', designed by McKirahan, and built in 1960 (located at the corner of Terramar St and North Birch Rd, Fort Lauderdale). For more Fort Lauderdale and Miami modern architecture, check out Tropic Magazine, whose editor tirelessly drove me around Fort Lauderdale (THANK YOU!). http://tropicmagazine.uberflip.com/i/501654-tropic-may-2015-sm __________________________ A warm thank you for my Fort Lauderdale experience — courtesy of Pelican Grand Beach Resort (http://www.pelicanbeach.com) @pelicangrand
Tropical Modernism
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La Cueva del Chango

Playa del Carmen
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La Cueva del Chango, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Dining in the Monkey's Cave
When visiting Playa del Carmen, La Cueva del Chango (Monkey's Cave) is an especially good choice for breakfast. Nestled in a jungle setting with Maya gods peeking through the patio décor, breakfast favorites include fresh papaya, huevos a la méxicana (scrambled eggs with onion, tomato and chiles), warm tortillas and rich, steaming coffee. For lunch and dinner, tried and true stand-bys feature: enchiladas with tangy mole, sprinkled with sesame seeds; homemade empanadas with huitlacoche corn truffle and classic chilaquiles - with or without - chicken. Chips, pico de gallo salsa and guacamole are - of course - a "must." An ample wine list, beer and selection of Tequilas, Mescals and other "spirits" are available.
Dining in the Monkey's Cave
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Champagne Beach

Sanma Province
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Champagne Beach, Sanma Province, Vanuatu
Champagne Beach
The most white sandy beach with turquoise, clear water on the island. Relax, unwind and don't be surprised if you find the beach all to yourself. The water temperature here is perfect- it's just absolutely beautiful. It is quite unspoiled, though there is an entrance fee of 2,000 Vatu per vehicle. Come here to spend the day as it takes almost 2 hours to get here from Luganville- the island's town center. You won't regret coming here
Champagne Beach
1 experience

The Mint Bar

Sheridan
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The Mint Bar, Sheridan, Wyoming
Stay Sharp
It’s hard not to love a lens that can handle difficult light like this. At first I wasn’t sure if my new Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO was going to be up to the challenge, as it is not the fastest lens on the market. I’m used to tackling mixed light and blue hour scenes like this with a speedy f/1.4 prime, but Tamron’s proprietary Vibration Compensation system performs even better than I anticipated. I’ve shot this scene dozens (maybe hundreds) of times, as the good old Mint Bar is only a few blocks from my house. Of all of those images, this is undoubtedly my favorite. My Tamron lens renders colors beautifully, and even in low light, my subject is tack sharp. Of course, things may have been different if I had tried to shoot this scene after a few pints of Black Tooth brew at The Mint.
Stay Sharp
1 experience

Portland Japanese Garden

Portland
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Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Go with the Flow
A wide-angle zoom lens that can stay stable on its own is an incredible tool for the travel photographer. A wide-angle zoom with vibration compensation features is especially handy when shooting water features. Water looks best when a sense of movement is communicated to the viewer, but communicating that sense of movement requires a slow shutter speed, which would normally mean carrying a tripod into the field in order to keep a camera steady. Thanks to its proprietary Vibration Compensation technology, Tamron’s 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO is a fantastic performer when it comes to staying stable. When this tech kicks in, I can easily slow my shutter to 1/15th of a second—or slower—and keep static elements of my image razor sharp. Portland’s Japanese Garden is full of scenes just like this one—scenes that demand a sense of natural fluidity. Waterfalls, streams, flowing Japanese maples, koi ponds, glistening moss; the perfect creative fodder for this versatile lens.
Go with the Flow
1 experience

Mesa

Mesa
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Mesa, Mesa, Arizona
Join the Party
The best travel photographs are made on the fringes of the day—sunrise, sunset, and the dark of night often provide stunning photographic fodder, and thus these are the times when I’m most often out with my camera. But not all camera lenses were created equal; few pieces of glass can handle difficult shooting conditions. So when I got my hands on the new Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO lens, I knew I had to put it through its paces. On a recent trip to Mesa, Arizona. I got up early one morning to hike the Wind Cave Trail in beautiful Usery Mountain Regional Park, hopeful that I’d get the chance to experience a perfect desert cactus sunrise. My new Tamron lens helped make the image in my mind a reality. The lens’ high-quality glass significantly reduced ghosting, flare and artifacts that are usually present with other lenses – even when I shot directly into the sun. The Piezo Drive autofocus motor worked like a charm, despite the fact that the sun streaming into the lens made it difficult for me to see the cactus and the landscape in the first place. My desert sunrise images came out tack sharp, showed incredible detail and contrast, and true-to-life colors, thanks to my new Tamron lens. Also, thanks to the Tamron’s incredible 18.8x zoom capabilities (16-300mm), I didn’t need to take any other lenses on my hike—which allowed me to go farther, faster, and explore more.
Join the Party
1 experience

Shames Mountain

Terrace
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Shames Mountain , Terrace, Canada
Brave the Backcountry
The sharpest, fastest lens in the world is no good to me if it can’t withstand the shooting conditions I subject it to. On certain jobs I don’t have the luxury of hauling a bag of lenses into the field, either. I need one workhorse lens to hand every situation. My recent backcountry ski trip to Northern British Columbia was such a situation. I’m not the best backcountry skier in the world; I usually spend most of my time dodging trees of digging snow out of my teeth and goggles. This just means that my gear needs to be even more rugged, and ready to work at any moment. The Tamron 16-300mm MACRO’s moisture-resistant construction kept my lens’ internal goods dry even as I subjected it to harsh, wet conditions in all manner of inclement weather. I had enough zoom to spot rabid wolverines on distant bluffs, and a field of view wide enough to capture my fellow expeditioners conquering mountains. Exploring majestic Shames Mountain with Hyland Backcountry Services will go down as one of my favorite adventures of all time—the Coast Mountain Range terrain is spectacular, the powder pristine, and the setting wholly Canadian. I’m glad I had the right equipment in hand to capture the experience.
Brave the Backcountry
1 experience

Luganville

Luganville
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Luganville, Luganville, Vanuatu
Argent Court- Best Local Food
The sign says "the Very Best Local Island Food" and that is indeed what it is. If you're all about diving into the Vanuatu culture, you can't miss out on their local food. This market, off the side of the main road in Luganville, offers the most local and authentic cuisine, made personally by the locals. From freshly made Lap-lap and Tuluk- Lab lab is a vegetable cake, made of sweet potato, taro or yam and topped with coconut. Tuluk is cooked cassava stuffed with meat fillings, wrapped in a banana leaf. You're most likely have never laid eyes or even heard of these before, yet the more reason to try them. Especially since they're 100 Vatu each- only $1! The ladies serving there are really nice- they're always smiling.
Argent Court- Best Local Food
1 experience
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