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Balabanova All Over

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[Lone Pine, CA / Furnace Creek, CA, Mar 29, 2019] Death valley is one of those parks I’d heard about even as a kid in Bulgaria. The mere mention of its name conjured up images of skeletons and skulls. The  weather was incredibly hot much of the year, I’d read as a child, and many a men had paid the highest price for venturing into this place unprepared.  Death valley was named… Read More

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[Oahu, HI, Dec 30, 2018] On our last full day in Hawaii, we ended up all over the island – from the southeastern shore to the westernmost tip. Our first stop was Hanauma Bay, one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the island. Hanauma Bay was created by a crater explosion along the eastern shore of Oahu. Wave erosion along one of the walls of the crater gradually created the bay…. Read More

[Kaneohe, HI, Dec 27, 2018] On our agenda for today was a visit to the Byodo-In temple in the town of Kaneohe, on the eastern side of Oahu. After encountering lots of traffic on the North Shore yesterday, we figured we’d get an early start so that we can get to the temple shortly after it opens at 8:30 am. The drive from Wahiawa was beautiful! We got to cross the Ko’olau… Read More

[Haleiwa, HI, Dec 26, 2018] My friend’s home in Wahiawa made it easy to explore Hawaii’s North Shore. World famous for its surf breaks and awesome beaches, the North Shore is a must when visiting Oahu. But first, we couldn’t help but fall for the tourist trap that is Dole Plantation. It was less than 10 minutes from Vanya’s house and it welcomes more than 1 million visitors a year, so we… Read More

[Mount St Helens National Monument, July 20, 2018] On the agenda for that day was a long drive (3+ hours) from Lake Quinault to Mt. Rainier National Park. We enjoyed our breakfast in the Lake Quinault lodge restaurant as much as last night’s dinner. I had the sweet potato pancakes, which were amazing. We realized that we would be passing by Mount St Helens and we couldn’t resist the detour, even though… Read More

[Olympic National Park, July 17, 2018] The Olympic peninsula is on the Western edge of Washington state, across Puget sound from Seattle. Its home to the northwestern most point in the United States, Cape Flattery. At about 3600 square miles, the peninsula remained largely unmapped until the late 19th century. The Olympic mountain range sits in the center. It blocks the passage of rain-producing systems and casts a dry “shadow” in the… Read More

[Whidbey Island, July 16, 2018] After a long day exploring the North Cascades, we were happy to have a very fluid itinerary. Our only imperative was to get to Port Angeles, WA, on the Olympic Peninsula. We had a ferry reservation for 4:15 pm but other than that, the day was wide open. Since we had plenty of time, we decided to try to find another Washington location for the 2002 movie The… Read More

[Colorado Springs, CO, July 6, 2018] Colorado Springs is one of several mountain towns in what is known as the Pike’s Peak region. This region is at 6,000 ft (1828 m) above sea level and includes other towns such as Manitou Springs and Canon City. Rising another 8,000 ft above these towns is Pike’s Peak, one of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners (peaks over 14,000 ft/4200m above sea level).  Pike’s Peak is higher than… Read More

[May 25, 2018] The Kilauea eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii is in its third week. The majority of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is closed, and many people are worried about safety if they go. In this blog post, I will share why I think it’s still safe to go, provide resources for those who need to research on their own, and share my favorite activities on the island. Should You… Read More

[Key West, FL, Dec 26, 2017] If you read the previous blog post, you already know that this was our second attempt at getting to Dry Tortugas National Park, one of the most remote ones in the US. Unlike last year though, we headed straight for the keys. Without a detour to Miami and the lack traffic this early in the morning (we left Boynton at 5:30 am), we hit the upper keys… Read More