Thursday, November 7, 2019

Our Latest Travel With Hawkeye Podcast Episode






Episode 136 - Over the past few years, there have been so many political changes in Colombia, that travelers have started to return to this country filled with diverse ecosystems, wonderful beaches, exquisite museums  and bustling safe cities.
   Brian Schon of True Colombia Travel joins the podcast to discuss why it's time to visit the South American wonders of Colombia. 









Monday, October 21, 2019

Is it Worth It? The Empire State Building








   The Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the US, is arguably the most iconic skyscraper in the nation. Is a trip to the top of the structure worth the price of admission? Here's some inside information before you visit.

The View of Times Square from The Empire State Building


   The Empire State Building's Observation Deck is on the 86th Floor. Cost to go to the top; $27. The view is spectacular, especially at dusk when the city begins to light up. I thought the price was rather steep, but I figured it was a once in a life time trip to the top. For myself, it was worth it.

   Warning, the Management team who run the Empire State Building do an excellent job of trying to squeeze every last dollar from your wallet. Before you get to the elevator, you will find employees trying to sell you an audio tour, a special map, a photo and a spin in something called the New York City Sky Ride. All this at an additional charge and all this before you get to the first elevator.

   That's right, first Elevator. After waiting in line after line and being solicited by half of Manhattan, you finally take a ride in an elevator that goes to the 80th floor. Then more lines, to take another elevator to the 86th Floor.

After so many lines and two sets of elevators, finally the top


   You will also get an opportunity to take a third elevator to the top of the spire for an additional $17 dollars. This trip to the 102nd floor is not worth the additional cost. The view is basically the same and the viewing area is very small and cramped.

The Spire to the 102nd Floor


The Chrysler Building below a full moon


   More lines when you are ready to come down with an obligatory trail through the gift shop before you leave.  I was amazed at the number of lines you had to wait in to get to the the top, but the view of New York is something you won't forget.
   I would also recommend the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. The view is equally splendid and your vantage point allows you to see all of Central Park. The price is also $27 but the elevator ride up is a unique experience.


Apparently, it's okay to deface other skyscrapers 

Yes, the Empire State Building has a mascot, King Kong

Enjoy my blog? You may also enjoy my new mystery,


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Leaf Peaping: An Enduring Look at New England in the Fall


  My wife Madelyn and I recently returned from a week in New England, an activity after referred to as Leaf Peeping.   I had been to New England in the fall before but Madelyn had always wanted to see it for herself.
    The goal is to be in there during "peak" colors. That can often be difficult, especially when trying to make plans an traveling a great distance.  We probably missed peak by about a weak. Some parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were spectacular, other parts of hadn't started to change yet.  Regardless,  the backroads of upper New England and the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire are postcard worthy regardless of the season.


The Colors






    The key to visiting New England in the fall is to hit "Peak," when the leaves are their most vibrant. There are numerous websites to help you plan your trip. 
    Even though we missed peak by about a week, we still saw spectacular colors and discovered a few trips. We discovered that there might be one section of the state where the leaves haven't started to turn, while a few miles away you may experience some spectacular colors.  
   We traveled mainly on Scenic Route 100, sometimes known as Vermont's Main Street.  We took advice from several of our innkeepers to find some of the best side routes. Enjoy some of our finds


























Sunday, September 8, 2019

1000 Places To Swim Before Your Die

Our Most Recent Podcast 2 April 2019





Our Original Podcast   17 May 2017





I may never get to visit 1000 places to swim before you die, and I may never get a publisher to run with my idea, but I can at least start a blog post and keep adding to it as I go.

This site is meant to be crowd sourced.  If you have a great beach, pool, swimming hole, hot spring or an exceptional swimming site, please contact us.   

If you see an error (or a typo, as I am horrible at self editing) please contact me also.  I call it crowd source editing. 




THE TOP 5


1. The Antique Pool of Pamukkale, Turkey - aka The Cleopatra Pool

    I was lucky enough to visit this pool as a child when my dad was stationed in Turkey at a US Air Force Base.  I have never forgotten the white cliffs of Pamukkale (Turkish for 'Cotton Castle') or the Antique Pool
   According to legend, this pool was made as a gift by Mark Anthony to Cleopatra. An earthquake in the 7th century toppled the marble columns into the pool, and today you are allowed to swim among the ruins.




2. The King's Pond - Hualalai Resort, Kona Hawaii

   This man made pond  carved into the lava rock on the Hualalai Resort is filled with water from the adjacent beach and stocked with a variety of aquatic life.  It's literally like swimming in a giant aquarium.

Swim Note:  The Rainbow Reef at Disney's Aulani Hawaii Resort was modeled after the King's Pond.


           

3.  Piscine Molitor - Paris, France

   The Piscine Molitor is noted for the introduction of the bikini in 1946 by designer Louis Reard. It is also the inspiration for the name of the main character in the book and film 'The Life of Pi."
   The pool and hotel were built in 1929 but fell into disrepair  and was closed in 1989.  It was rebuilt and reopened in 2014.
   The Piscine Molitor is also famous for the introduction of the bikini during a fashion show in 1946 by designer Louis Reard

The World's First Bikini, introduced at a fashion show at Paris' Piscine Molitor


The Piscine Molitor at it's low point. 

The Piscine Molitor today


4.  Waikiki Beach and the The War Memorial Natatorium - Waikiki, Hawaii

 Waikiki Beach might be the most famous beach in the world. Once an outpost in the pacific, jet travel opened up the islands to beach lovers from all over the world.   With the iconic Diamond Crater in the background, it's  been the set of countless movies, TV shows and ad campaign. 

Swim Note:  Surfing pioneer Duke Kahanamoku once was a beach boy on Waikiki beach. 



On the Diamond Head side of the beach is the War Memorial Audtorium. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Natatorium is in disrepair and awaiting redevelopment.  The pool was built in 1927 in the Hawaiian Beaux Arts Style in honor of those who perished in World War I. 
   

Swim Note:  Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku took the first swim in this ocean fed pool. Buster Crabbe and Johnny Weissmuller won events at the first swim meet held there. 

Swim Note: The Natatorium is the starting point for the famous 2 1/2 mile Waikiki Rough Water Swim.  The route was used in the world's first triathlon and the 2 1/2 miles became the standard distance for Ironman triathlons. 

   



5  The Spas of Budapest

    The City of Budapest sits on numerous thermal hot springs. Some of the baths go back to the days of the Ottoman Empire.  Two of the most popular are the 100 Gellert Spa with it's incredible indoor pool and an outdoor wave pool

     The Szechenyi Baths is one of the largest and has numerous indoor and outdoor pools. It also host a part on Saturday night that lasts till 4am.  

    Other baths include the Rudas Baths, Lukacs Bath, Kiraly Baths and the Casaszar Baths. 

The incredible 100 year old indoor pool of the Gellert Spa

The Szechenyi Baths.  Take the Yellow Line, one of the oldest subways in the world to the city park.


Beaches - 

The Americas


Hidden Beach at Marieta Island.  22 Miles off the Coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 

   My high school friend Lori Roman wrote me about this amazing place; " Great boat ride to get there and then you jump into the water and swim to the island, but to get to the beach you actually have to swim through a large tunnel to get inside. It is absolutely AMAZING!!"

   After doing more research, there is some speculation that this beach may have been created back in the day when this remote island was used by the military for bombing practice. Regardless of how this crater was formed, this now National Park is a spectacular site.



Waikiki Beach and the The War Memorial Natatorium - Waikiki, Hawaii

   Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Natatorium is in disrepair and awaiting redevelopment.  The pool was built in 1927 in the Hawaiian Beaux Arts Style in honor of those who perished in World War I. 
   Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku took the first swim in this ocean fed pool. Buster Crabbe and Johnny Weissmuller won events at the first swim meet held there. 

   As for the Waikiki Beach,  it's the most famous beach in the world where Duke Kahanamoku once was a beach boy.  



Beaches - Asia and The Pacific

Coron Palawan - Philippines

Sone say this may be the most beautiful place on earth. This island in the Philippines with a number of beaches and lakes is truly spectacular.  Divers can explore Japanese shipwrecks from WWII. Jungle and kayak tours of the lakes, cliffs and beaches makes this paradise for the adventurous.






Pools

Piscine Molitor - Paris, France

   The Piscine Molitor is noted for the introduction of the bikini in 1946 by designer Louis Reard. It is also the inspiration for the name of the main character in the book and film 'The Life of Pi."
   The pool and hotel were built in 1929 but fell into disrepair  and was closed in 1989.  It was rebuilt and reopened in 2014.
   The Piscine Molitor is also famous for the introduction of the bikini during a fashion show in 1946 by designer Louis Reard

The World's First Bikini, introduced at a fashion show at Paris' Piscine Molitor


The Piscine Molitor at it's low point. 

The Piscine Molitor today
    

The Venetian Pool - Coral Gables, Fla

   From the City of Coral Gables Website - The Venetian Pool is an aquatic facility unlike any other in the country. It has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, and is still one of the main tourist attractions for those visiting the City of Coral Gables.
The pool was created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry, where much of the original coral rock was used to border and further accentuate the pool. It also features two large historic lookout towers, with a view to the City Beautiful.
The 820,000 gallon pool is fed with spring water from an underground aquifer. In the spring and summer seasons, the pool is filled and drained daily!








Hot Springs

The Spas of Budapest (6)

    The City of Budapest sits on numerous thermal hot springs. Some of the baths go back to the days of the Ottoman Empire.  Two of the most popular are the 100 Gellert Spa with it's incredible indoor pool and an outdoor wave pool

     The Szechenyi Baths is one of the largest and has numerous indoor and outdoor pools. It also host a part on Saturday night that lasts till 4am.  

    Other baths include the Rudas Baths, Lukacs Bath, Kiraly Baths and the Casaszar Baths. 

The incredible 100 year old indoor pool of the Gellert Spa

The Szechenyi Baths.  Take the Yellow Line, one of the oldest subways in the world to the city park.

Berkely Springs - WestVirginia    Coming Soon

San Antonio Hot Springs - New Mexico          Coming Soon

Jerry Johnson Hot Springs - Idaho    Coming Soon

Travertine Hot Springs - California   Coming Soon

Tolovana Srpings - Alaska      Coming Soon

Banff Upper Hot Springs - Alberta, Canada   Coming Soon

Harrison Hot Springs - British Columbia, Canada   Coming Soon






Must See It To Believe it


The Antique Pool of Pamukkale, Turkey - aka The Cleopatra Pool

    I was lucky enough to visit this pool as a child when my dad was stationed in Turkey at a US Air Force Base.  I have never forgotten the white cliffs of Pamukkale (Turkish for 'Cotton Castle') or the Antique Pool
   According to legend, this pool was made as a gift by Mark Anthony to Cleopatra. An earthquake in the 7th century toppled the marble columns into the pool, and today you are allowed to swim among the ruins.




The King's Pond - Hualalai Resort, Kona Hawaii

   This man made pond  carved into the lava rock on the Hualalai Resort is filled with water from the adjacent beach and stocked with a variety of aquatic life.  It's literally like swimming in a giant aquarium.
   Side Note:  The Rainbow Reef at Disney's Aulani Hawaii Resort was modeled after the King's Pond.


           


NLand SurfPark - Austin, Tx

     The Size of 11 football fields, this man made wave runs thru the middle of the lagoon and has three different skill levels.  Multiple people can ride the wave at one time.
    The best part is that after the wave passes, you can literally walk back to the line up and wait for the next wave, eliminating the exhausting swim back.
    If you are learning to surf, this artificial wave will allow you to catch more waves in an hour than you would catch in three days. You'll be amazed how quickly your form will improve



Make Waves from NLand Surf Park on Vimeo.

Willamette River - Portland Oregon

   There aren't many cities in the US that have reclaimed their rivers for swimming. Portland is one of the few.  In 2010, a $1.4 Billion public works project diverted sewage from spilling into the river.  Since then the Human Access Project  has worked to clean up the shoreline and promote urban swimming.   The HAP even has a swim team, the River Huggers,  that swims across the river 5 days a week






Swimming Holes 

Nature made this inland swimming holes and often man improved upon it. Regardless, pack you suit and towel and don't miss this great swimming holes

The Swimming Holes of Central Texas  (5)

   The San Antonio - Austin corridor host some of the most unique urban pools in the USA.  
   San Antonio's San Pedro Park is one of the oldest parks on the continent, appointed as public land by King Phillip V of Spain in 1729.  The park hosts the recently rebuilt San Pedro Springs pool.  The cypress trees that surround the rebuilt pool originally surrounded the original spring fed pool. 

Old Postcard featuring San Antonio's San Pedro Springs

   Landa Park in New Braunfels and Barton Springs in Austin offer to unique urban spring fed oasis' in the middle of modern communities. 
   Austin also features 2 other spring fed pools with traditional structures, the Deep Eddy Pool and the Big Stacy Pool, the later that is fed with warm Artesian Well Water and is open year round. 

   

Barton Springs - Austin


Balmorhea State Park, Texas.  World's Largest Spring Fed Pool

    The amazing thing about the oasis in the middle of West Texas, is that it's deep enough to scuba dive. If you live in El Paso, this is the nearest place to get certified. If you're not aware of the pool's existence, it's kind of surprising to see Scuba shops along the dusty highways of West Texas. 
   The pool also has it's own species of pupfish that can only be found at the springs of the state park.

The Spring Fed Pool, (72 Degrees year round)


Hamilton Pool - Dripping Springs, Texas

One of the most unique swimming holes in Texas is Hamilton Pool near Dripping Springs. Because of the popularity of this spring filled natural pool complete with waterfall, reservations are required for this public park


Hamilton Pool near Austin, Tx

Rooftop Quarry - Monroe County, Indiana

   Made famous in the Oscar Nominated film Breaking Away,  the quarry is actually on private property and still owned by the Indiana Limestone Company. Swimming in the quarry has become a rite of passage for undergrads at Indiana University along with Bloomington townsfolk, albeit, an illegal rite of passage and you are trespassing on private property



Homestead Crater - Utah  

   This beehive dome east of Park City,  Utah,  hides a one of a kind geothermal spring,  
consistently heated at 96 degrees. 
   Deep enough for scuba divers, you might find yourself floating next to someone from nearby Salt Lake City getting certified. A tunnel (and a seemingly out of place door) through the rock provides access to the therapeutic waters.  You might also recognize the crater from the movie '127 Hours'







Umauma Falls  - Big Island, Hawaii

   More known for it's ziplines that pass over 22 falls, you can also spend the day down below enjoying a variety of pools at the bottom of one of many waterfalls.  Note: the water can often be cold, as much of it originates from melted snow atop the 14,000 ft Mauna Kea



      



The Waterfall Used in the Movie 'South Pacific' - Kauai, Hawaii. On Private Land

   For many years, this spot was not only open to the public, it was on tourist maps.  Used in the filming of the movie South Pacific, this spot is known for it's flume / waterfall. 
   The spot is on private land but a few years ago is was on the market for a mere 7 Million Dollars.




Ahalanui Warm Pond and the  Pokoiki Hot Pond - Big Island, Hawaii (2)

   The Ahalanui Warm Pond is safely separated from the ocean with by a retaining wall.  The pool features a mixture of salt water and spring water that is heated from underground lava (actually Magma). How often is your swimming experience enhanced by newly formed molten hot rock from an active volcano  (water temp, a comfortable 90 degrees). 
   Nearby in the Isaaac Hale State Park is a collapsed Lave tube that offers a much smaller but similar experience.  The Pohoiki Hot Pond provides a refreshing dip abut 100 feet from the shore. 

The Ahalanui Warm Pond

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park - Week Wachee, Florida 

   The spring fed pool with its white sands and limestone walls is so popular that the park often fills up on summer days.  The source of the spring is so deep that it's never been found and is so strong that it can knock off a scuba divers mask.  A number of thrilling water slides have been built that empty into Weeki Wachie Springs. 

   Perhaps this park is better known for they Mermaid Show. Once one of America's favorite roadside attractions, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Mermaid Show in the Submerged Theatre has been convincing motorists to pull off the highway since 1947




The Swimming Holes of the Mad River Valley, Vermont

Lareau Swim Hole - Waitsfield, Vermont

   Located in the Mad River Valley, this watering hole off the Mad River is a longtime summer gathering place.  However, it wasn't until 2002, that the city developed this the local watering hole into a city park after a State salt shed nearby flooded. The state gave the land to the city, who made Labeau Swim Hole more accessible.



Warren Falls - Warren, Vermont

   Located just off scenic Route 100 in the Mad River Valley,  Warren Falls is known for its crystal clear waters and a variety of jumping spots. The falls is just one of many swimming spots along the Mad River, but it is perhaps the most popular do to its depth and the granite cliffs the surround the swimming hole.  There is a small parking lot at the trail head, but the spot can get crowded on a warm day 





Slide Rock State Park - Sedona,  Arizona - Coming Soon


A Cure For The Blues

Blue Lagoon   -  Iceland  Coming Soon

Blue Hole  - Santa Rosa, NM     Coming Soon

The Great Blue Hole - Belize   Coming Soon


 


And the 1000 Place to Swim - The Final Listing

1000 - The Devils Pool at Victoria Falls in Africa
   On Livingstone Island in Zambia,  high atop the world's highest falls, Victoria Falls,  is an amazing swimming spot, the Devil's Pool. At the very edge of this natural infinity pool is the Devil's Armchair, a ledge that keeps you from going over the edge and falling over 300 feet.  A guide must take you to the exact spot and there is only a few months a year you can access the Devil's Pool.  
    Watch the video and I think you'll agree why this is our final place to swim before you die.


        



    


Listen to our Travel With Hawkeye Podcast where we discuss our favorite places to swim 
And please leave a comment of places to add to the list
   
 


Sunday, July 7, 2019

An Enduring Look at Gulf Shores

   If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that our family would be vacationing in Alabama, I would have not believed you. But a youth baseball tournament took our family to this little slice of white sandy beaches and a whole lot of fun called Gulf Shores, Alabama. 
   My travel buddy Billy Jones (from Episode 1), a frequent visitor to the Gulf Shores, joins the episode to discuss some of our favorite places to visit. 


One of our favorite places, The Gulf Restaurant

As Mentioned on the Podcast





My granddaugher on the white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama


The sun sets on Gulf Shores, Alabama

One of our favorite places, The Gulf Restaurant

My granddaugher's first day ever on the beach