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Balabanova All Over

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[Channel Islands National Park – Santa Cruz Island, Jun 9, 2019] I am so fortunate to live in California, which boasts nine national parks – one more than Alaska! The closest to Los Angeles are Joshua Tree and Channel Islands. I’d finally visited the smallest of the Channels islands last year. I was supposed to go to Santa Cruz island, the biggest of the five, but a fire broke out there just… Read More

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[Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Apr 13, 2019] I woke up just before sunrise and just before my alarm. The faint light of the rising sun was making its way through my window. I was ready to explore Cuyahoga National Park, which preserves the rural landscape along the Cuyahoga river between Cleveland and Akron. Being adjacent to two large urban areas makes Cuyahoga somewhat unique, which explained why I was seeing homes right… Read More

[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

[Waikiki, HI, Dec 28/29, 2018] For the next few days, we went into major relaxation mode. On our first day in Waikiki, (Fri, Dec 28), the forecast called for rain most of the day. The morning was cloudy but it hadn’t started raining yet, so B and I decided to do a hike Vanya recommended. Makapu’u Lighthouse trail is one of the most popular on the island. We were a little leery… Read More

[Rila National Park, Bulgaria, Sep 15, 2018] The Seven Rila Lakes are glacial lakes located in the northwestern corner of Rila mountain, about 2 hours from Sofia. Since I didn’t want to drive myself or make my parents come with me, I booked a day trip through Globul Tours. I talked about how we decided which tour company to trust in this post. To preserve the mountain and its ecosystems, Rila national… Read More

[Mt Rainier national park, July 21, 2018] For our day in Mt. Rainier national park, we picked the most popular trail in the park – Skyline trail. At only 5.3 miles with 1700 ft of elevation gain, it’s not terribly demanding, although you are bound to feel the effects of high altitude – the trail begins at 5,400 ft. Our visit also fell on a Saturday, so we knew we had to… 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

[North Cascades National Park, Jul 15, 2018] With my Ragnar race now over, the actual vacation part of my trip finally began! On the agenda for the day was a trip into North Cascades National park. This very wild and undeveloped park is a haven for the backcountry hiker, but there are some great trails for day hikers as well. It has over 300 glaciers, the greatest concentration in the US outside… Read More

[Colorado Springs, CO, July 7, 2018] As I mentioned in my previous post, there are several mountain towns nestled in the foothills of the Pike’s Peak mountain. Manitou Springs is one of them, and it is home to a hike that ranks amongst the most difficult I’ve ever done – The Incline. This unique hike is actually a whole bunch of stairs – 2768 of them, to be exact. The incline was… Read More

[Congaree National Park, June 2, 2018] As the week of Memorial Day drew to a close and my conference wound down, it was time to head to Augusta, GA for the post-conference adventures I had planned. Augusta is the second-largest metropolitan area in Georgia, but it is overshadowed by Savannah, GA in popularity. You only hear about Augusta once a year in April when it hosts the Masters golf tournament. Therefore, I… Read More