Things to do in Florida:

  • Ringling Circus Museum In one of the eerier sections of the museum, there are life-sized outlines of behind-the-scene circus folk performing their everyday duties. The shadows cast by the cleverly placed spotlights created an ambience that left me feeling as if I had wandered into a two-dimensional circus of ghosts.
  • Dinosaur World! There was something so enchanting about walking through these beautiful gardens which were decorated with giant depictions of the (extreme) past. They put a lot of attention into every detail and the entire park was incredibly clean and well-maintained, which is exactly what you would expect from a botanical dinosaur garden.
  • The Dade City Giraffe Ranch The Dade City Giraffe Ranch is one Florida experience that is well worth the price. You get up close and personal with the animals – and can take the ultimate selfie with the giraffes! Your Facebook friends or Instagram followers will be green with envy!
  • Can You Escape? The gist is this: You and your teammates are all locked in a room. You have to search through the room to find all the clues that will lead to your escape – but you only have 60 minutes to do so.
  • The Sunken Gardens Today I want to share with you two of my most recent videos, both done at the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg.
  • Skydive Tampa Bay Last June I went skydiving. Here is the video.
  • iFly Orlando I would recommend this place to anyone who wants to experience skydiving without actually having to go skydiving. Scaredy cats, this one is for you! This is probably the closest you can get to the experience without having to jump out of a plane, and you are completely safe the entire time – especially ...
  • Swimming with the Manatees “This next place you have about a 25% chance of seeing a manatee, but the snorkeling is really beautiful. To get to the good spot, all you have to do is swim past those two white signs. There are all kinds of beautiful fish, turtles, and underwater plants.” Mr. Funk was the one who spoke ...
  • Beach Horses! “Well, get on!” said my horse guide. It was then that I noticed that we would be riding bareback. Wow, I had been horseback riding a few times before, but never have I been given the opportunity to ride bareback! How exhilarating, how thrilling… how… TERRIFYING!
  • The “Other” Cat Place (Big Cat Habitat) Right from the start there was a huge difference in this place compared to the Big Cat Rescue. Instead of having a guide take us around the sanctuary to tell us a little about each of the animals and to make sure we didn’t harass them, this place pretty much just set us loose to ...
  • Big Cat Rescue Big Cat Rescue stresses that these animals might seem tame, but they are in fact wild animals who were meant to be free. The Rescue will only keep animals that have no way of ever being reintroduced to the wild
  • Heritage Village Heritage Village is a historic museum located on acres and acres of land. It’s set up with buildings that look like they were taken straight out of Little House on the Prairie.
  • Safety Harbor It was a fairly small roped off area that one of the volunteers told me was an Indian burial site. According to a sign in the front of the museum, the town of Safety Harbor was actually the Native American town of ‘Ucita’ in the 1400’s, which would explain the Indian Burial site, but I ...

Switzerland Travels

  • Wrapping up Switzerland And now the final problem I saw with the language barrier… you can’t eavesdrop on interesting conversations! While I was on the train there was a couple of girls having an extremely interesting sounding conversation. They were extremely animated and seemed very excited or upset about SOMETHING. But I will never know what that something ...
  • Luzern, Switzerland On Saturday I took the train into Luzern. I had been told by numerous people how beautiful it was, and I decided that I wouldn’t let my foot keep me from enjoying my last few days here and seeing the sights. Plus, my foot was already starting to feel better anyway!
  • Another Day in Switzerland We went to “Restaurant Brunnentor” which is famous for their schnitzel. It was delicious! If you don’t know what schnitzel is (I didn’t!) it is a popular dish that consists of meat pounded very very thin, then breaded and fried.
  • The First Thing That Tried to Kill me in Switzerland OK, so I may be being a TAD melodramatic here. But if things had gone just a little bit differently, I could have broken a neck! And I really wanted to make another shout-out to the Australian Croissant Incident.
  • Switzerland – The First Weekend Now came the real challenge. How to get to Zurich? I’ve never really taken a train by myself, so it took me a bit of staring blankly at the map and the ticket thing before I could figure out what to do.

Australia – from start to finish

  • Australia, HERE I COME! This is it! I’m about to leave for some dinner and then the airport! Don’t expect any updates for a little while but I’ll definitely update as soon as I can.
  • Australia, HERE I AM! The plane ride was uneventful. It was REALLY LONG though. I don’t think I could have handled much more – but at least I didn’t sit next to the stereotypical smelly guy or crying kids! On the trip from London to Singapore (I apparently had a layover in Singapore that no one told me ...
  • New wrinkles in my brain… I have only been in Sydney for one day, but I’ve already learned some very interesting tidbits of knowledge. And because you are my captive audience, I will share them with you.
  • Tourist-y Day Today, I did most of the tourist-type things that I wanted to do in Sydney. First I went to the Sydney Opera house and did a tour. It was built so that it resembled a ship. It’s right on the edge of the water so the master architect thought it would be cute to have ...
  • Snakes, Spiders, and Cuddly Things Today I went to the Australian Wildlife zoo. My feet are STILL killing me, so I couldn’t do much but limp my way there. AND (forgive me, I still want to complain a bit) my calf muscles are bringing me so much pain. I guess I did way too much walking yesterday. On the plus ...
  • Just killing time… Well, it’s raining here, so there isn’t much really to do. I walked down to the work and travel office (I definitely think it was a great idea for me to do this program through them as opposed to by myself. I have a lot of advantages like free internet, and all kinds of great ...
  • Link for Pics Like I said in the previous post, I was going to give you a link for pics
  • The first thing that tried to kill me in Australia… What could it be, you wonder? A snake? A shark? A croc? No, it was…
  • I’m back! Well, back to the internet at least. Sorry I didn’t have one last blog before I left like I planned to, but wouldn’t you know it, the internet in the hostel was out for like 18 hours and then I had to go to surf camp, where there was no internet.
  • Surf Camp We got to the beach and they gave us a two hour lesson on surfing. It was raining it wasn’t very windy so the waves weren’t too bad. I wasn’t able to stand up on the board the entire first two hours, but I didn’t feel too bad because a lot of the other people ...
  • What a long, strange trip it was! Well, yesterday I went on my tour of Nimbin, which was a town unlike any I have ever seen in my life.
  • May the force be with you… When I saw him yesterday, he stopped to talk to me and ask me where I was from. I told him, and then he asked me if I was at the Nimbin market yesterday. I’m not sure how he knew, but maybe that is a big thing to do on Sundays? So I said, “yes ...
  • Americans Abroad… In talking to all of these people I have realized now more than ever what a bad name America and Americans have in most other countries. Everyone that I’ve met has told me that America is pretty much a big joke in their respective country.
  • Oh, and the photos! There are some new ones in the Sydney collection as well. You will notice that almost all of the pictures of me surfing are really just me holding on to the board for dear life. I got maybe five of me standing…
  • Happy Valentine’s Day! In a few hours I’m going to be back on a bus, and I will be arriving at Melbourne tomorrow morning.
  • It’s quiet… TOO quiet… Well, as most of you know I am now in Melbourne. Melbourne is… well, for lack of a better word, strange. It is a city, perhaps not as big of a city as Sydney, but it definitely looks like a city. However in feel… well, it really doesn’t feel like a city.
  • Real Australia Part I I’ve been staying about an hour outside of Melbourne since Sunday. We had a barbecue on Sunday with a few other Aussies (and a South African) and it was so yummy! Meats, potato salads, you name it, the works! But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about the food so I’ll just tell you ...
  • Real Australia Part II Today, I did something truly Australian. I tried a little something called ‘Vegemite’.
  • Real Australia Part III I went into the house and the first thing I saw were kangaroos hopping around EVERYWHERE. There were four or five in the living room, eating hay and chilling out, and there were a few more in the kitchen, and still more in an outdoor enclosure connected to the house.
  • New Pictures and Bill Bryson While I was in Melbourne I witnessed some guy in a car make a REALLY weird right turn. He was all the way in the left lane and made the turn from that lane. I initially thought that either he was drunk or he had gotten stuck in the wrong lane or something, but then ...
  • I’m in Tasmania! I knew I would like Tasmania right away when I saw the beautiful scenery on the bus ride up. Wow, the whole state is breathtaking. I saw a sign on the road that made me smile. “Quiet! The trees are growing!” A few minutes later I saw a rainbow arcing all the way across a ...
  • One thing I’ve always taken for granted… Internet. Never again will I take it for granted. Here in Tasmania it is unbelievably expensive. As of right now I am paying a dollar for 9 minutes of internet usage. And there is no way for me to upload pictures!
  • So very sorry, and a little Tasmania! The trip I took to Tasmania was five days, and because each day is a bountiful glory of pictures and information, I will be separating each post by day. This way you don’t have to read all of them in one sittings and then probably get fired from your job – since I know most ...
  • Under Down Under Tour – Day 1 After our fantastic walk along the beach, we went back up to the wooded area of the trail. The trail was pretty high up above the beach, certainly higher than the tide would have come in, but we noticed that there were tons of shells up there and were trying to figure out how they ...
  • Under Down Under Tour – Day 2 When we arrived, we got out and started walking through the forest. It was only about an hour-long walk this time, but the rain forest was beautiful. Not quite as beautiful as the tropical rain forests (like the ones I had seen on a previous trip to Costa Rica) are in my opinion, but temperate ...
  • Under Down Under Tour – Day 3 It turned out to be another five-hour hike day, and this one was so much more challenging than the first five-hour hike. This mountain was TOUGH. There were so many loose rocks, and it seemed like this hike could be really dangerous – if you weren’t an expert mountain scaler like myself.
  • Under Down Under Tour – Day 4 Our first stop was the rainforest of Montezuma Falls. Another beautiful rainforest for me to enjoy! Unfortunately it was another cold day, and this time it was raining. However, the forest during the walk was beautiful, so it didn’t bother me TOO much.
  • Under Down Under Tour – Day 5 First, we went through one forest to get a glimpse of Nelson Falls (another waterfall!). It was still freezing cold so we walked pretty quickly. It’s really a shame I didn’t come to Tasmania more prepared for cold weather. I could have stopped to enjoy the rain forest a bit more instead of rushing to ...
  • Laziness in my posts! The first night we stayed in and just watched a couple of movies, including an Australian film that was EXTREMELY disturbing. It was one of those real-life ones that try to teach you a lesson… the ones that they make you watch in high school.
  • The Great Ocean Road (And Grampians) The first stop on the tour on the unofficial beginning of the Great Ocean Road was Bells Beach. We really only stopped here to check if there were any surfers doing their thing. Bells Beach is a famous surfing beach in Victoria that hosts the ‘Rip Curl Pro’ event
  • The Great Ocean Road (And Grampians) Part Deux We went exploring for a while around the national park. We climbed over some rocks that were covered in barnacles to get into a really cool sea cave and then we headed off to see the Twelve Apostles again.
  • The Great Ocean Road (And Grampians) Part Trois Now, silly me, I figured I would be fine to do this hike in my Birks. Tash told us that we couldn’t wear flip flops, but I asked if the Birks would be ok because unlike flip flops, they have backs and because the only other shoes I had were the yoga slide death shoes.
  • Adelaide I liked Adelaide. I had heard that Melbourne is an artsy city, but it pales in comparison to Adelaide. In Adelaide, you can go for a walk and weird artwork will pop up everywhere. Most of the best stuff was at the outdoor Rundle Mall, but other strange stuff was strewn throughout the city.
  • I AM BACK! Guys, I’m back from the outback! I came back on the 26th at night, but I am just now able to get to a computer. It was a wonderful trip and I have so much to say about it. There will definitely be one post per day so be ready for reading!.
  • Heading Bush – Day 1 The first couple of hours of our tour actually was just us trying to get out of the city of Adelaide. Gus the tour guide repeatedly mentioned how much he hates city driving, and how he couldn’t wait until we were out of the area of traffic lights, pollution, and people rushing around with their ...
  • Heading Bush – Day 2 We were in for quite a treat that night! We would be having story time over the campfire with some of the Aboriginal people who lived in the village. They would be telling us a bit about themselves and their lifestyles, and a bit about the Aboriginal culture.
  • Heading Bush – Day 3 Before we got to the quarry Terry started to talk to us about spirituality. He pointed to a mountain which he said was the oldest piece of land known anywhere in the world. He told us that life first developed here, as it must have, because it was the oldest place known in the world. ...
  • Heading Bush – Day 4 Our next main stop was to Cooper Pedy, a mining town. Cooper Pedy means ‘white mans hole’ in the Aboriginal language. It was named as such because as soon as it was discovered that this area had opals, people started digging frantically for them – hence making a huge ‘white mans hole’.
  • Break in-between Heading Bush Posts I wanted to let you all know that I am leaving tomorrow and will be at Cairnes in three days. Thanks for your nice comments about the last post, I do take excellent notes!
  • Heading Bush – Day 5 This town used to be the end of the line for the old Ghan railway – a railroad that was built many years ago by Afghans who had come into the country for work. It was initially called the Afghan railroad for that reason, but it was shortened to Ghan later.
  • Heading Bush – Day 6 It was a muddy river. Isn’t this where crocs hang out? So maybe they aren’t seen in the desert, I wasn’t getting into any body of water in Australia that I couldn’t see my hand when it was an inch underwater.
  • Heading Bush – Day 7 Today,we journeyed to Uluru along the Lasseter highway, named after Harold Bell Lasseter. He was a man who once went into the bush to search for gold and came back telling stories of how he found a whole lot of it. When people went back out looking for it, no one ever found it again. ...
  • Heading Bush – Day 8 Today we were going to Kata Tjuta, which is a rock formation right next to Uluru. The name means “many heads”, and is named because of the look of many rocks jutting into the sky. We did decide to first take an unscheduled trip back to Uluru. It was still raining, which so rarely happens ...
  • Heading Bush – Day 9 On day nine of our tour we woke up, as we were in the habit of doing every day, but this time… something was different. This time… we were going to KINGS CANYON!
  • Heading Bush – Day 10 The last day of our tour was a bittersweet one. It was sad because we’d all soon be out of the desert and back into civilization and going our separate ways, but it was nice to think that soon we’d be back into civilization with hot showers, washing machines, and chocolate chip cookie ice cream ...
  • Alice Springs, with friends In the museum they also had a lonely crocodile they had in a tank outside. It looked pretty sad. It was in a small enclosure and it was all by itself. I don’t know if crocodiles do get lonely for other crocodiles, but I imagine it would get depressed living in such a small enclosure. ...
  • Alice Springs, without friends Suzanne said that some of the major problems facing Aboriginals who try to adapt to our western habits is that they end up becoming obese, developing diabetes, or becoming alcoholics. They hadn’t had sugar or alcohol in their diets for thousands of years before us, so suddenly being introduced to it can cause major problems.
  • Trip To Cairns Our next stop was at a giant termite mound. Giant may be an understatement! The mount in the picture below is dead now, but it is thought to be over 200 years old. I’m next to it for scale. And if you were wondering, I’m 5’9.
  • Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef Green Island was nice, but it was a complete tourist-trap. Most people who go there will spend some time on the beaches or at the beach bar or gift shops, and they might take a ocean-plane or a helicopter ride… the REALLY rich will stay there overnight in a swanky resort for 500 dollars a ...
  • White Water Rafting on the Tully River The guide was just getting his bearings after that near miss and was asking me if I was OK. He didn’t realize we were short one man. I shouted “He fell in!”
  • Cairns And now I’ll tell you the most amazing part of Cairns. Every morning and every night at sunrise and sunset, thousands and thousands of bats fill the sky. I am not exaggerating about the number. There are literally thousands of them. They fill up the sky, and for a few minutes all you can see ...
  • Beach Towns… Airlie beach was an incredibly beautiful town, even though it was a big touris/spring break partying kind of place. I stayed at a hostel called ‘Beaches’ which apparently was just another huge never-ending party hostel.
  • Fraser Island Fraser Island is an incredible place for many reasons. First of all, it is the largest all-sand island in the world. The ‘all sand’ part is what makes it so incredible. Most islands have something underneath the sand, like rock or dirt. This island truly is just sand. If you were to dig straight down, ...
  • Noosa – And Dolphins Beach House Maybe they’ve had problems in the past with a couple of the patrons, but the signs and attitudes made me feel less valued and almost as if they were treating us like children. Maybe I am being overly-sensitive, but I didn’t like it. Some of the signs were friendly little reminders, but some were downright ...
  • Not the zoo but… I was really hoping I would be able to leave Australia without ever having to experience bed bugs, but no. The reception lady did say “I don’t think it is bed bugs” but as of now I am pretty sure they were. I noticed a line of red bites on my shin that definitely looked ...
  • The Australia Zoo My immediate impression of the zoo was quite favorable. It didn’t look like your typical zoo. Nothing with in it looked like a cage. The animal enclosures were huge and all looked very natural. The workers at the zoo were all wearing the signature Steve Irwin outfit – khaki shorts and a khaki top.
  • Just quick I’m feeling a little crabby so I don’t much feel much like updating the blog. It has rained every single day since I’ve been in Byron Bay, and not just rained, but poured. It is supposed to just do more of the same for the rest of the time that I am in Australia. So ...
  • Monks, Leeches, and Jane Eyre At the ceremony all of the monks were all there along with the translator and they started it out by telling us that for the ceremony to be effective, we had to believe it will be effective. They said that even though Buddhists believe that you should never have blind faith and you should only ...
  • Safe in the US Just a quick note to let everyone know that I am safe and made it home OK… but our internet connection at home has been out since before I came home… I am at my sisters house now so I don’t have time to write a concluding post… but be prepared for one… if our ...
  • Well, well, well…. Being back in the States, the first thing I was able to appreciate was the fact that I no longer had to inwardly cringe when I met someone new. I wouldn’t have to wonder whether they would judge me automatically because I was an American. This country is full of ’em!

Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica – Part III – The Ending: Monte Verde & Manuel Antonio And now for the final installment of my Costa Rica adventure! If you haven’t read part II, you can do so here. June 3 Today was a very long bus ride to Monte Verde, but at least it was enjoyable. For a good portion of the drive we were going up a mountain, and the scenery was beautiful. There ...
  • Costa Rica – Part II: Pale Verde The pseudomyrmex ants are constantly patrolling the acacia trees, but if you don’t see them at any time, all you generally have to do is shake a branch on the tree, which will cause a swarm of ants to come out. Because this relationship has evolved over many years, the tree now depends on the ...
  • Costa Rica – Part I – The Beginning: La Selva In 2003 (13 years ago!) I went to Costa Rica as part of a study abroad program for my college. I was required to keep a journal while I was there and then turn it in after the trip. I have had this journal sitting in my bookshelf for years just collecting dust, and I ...