Hawaii’s Kohala Coast

The Kohala Coast

After a full 12 hour day driving the Hamakua Coast from Kona yesterday, I opted for the closer Kohala Coast today. It still felt like a lot of driving, and if I had it to do over again, I’d probably just stay in Waikoloa Village at one of the resorts and relax a little more given my short time here. That said I have a problem with FOMO, fear of missing out, so I had to see everything!

LET’S GO

Hawaii’s Hamakua Coast

The Big Island

My first stop on my six week adventure of island hopping was to the Big Island of Hawaii. I only allotted a week of time, and I quickly learned this was not enough. Each side of the island, Kona on the west coast and Hilo on the east coast each deserve a week with all the optional side trips and a few days of relaxation.

During my time in Kona, I spent a day exploring the Hamakua Coast. While I saw many places, each stop was very brief and it was a very full day of driving. If I had to do it over again, I’d limit my stops to about three places at which to spend more time rather than feeling like I was always in the car. Anyway, these are the places I visited.

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Things to Do in Salt Lake City

About Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and its most populated city.  It was founded in 1847 by the church followers led by Brigham Young who fled the east to escape persecution.  It is now home to the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints. 

The immigration of church members, mining booms, and construction of the first transcontinental railroad spurred Salt Lake City’s growth.  Now Salt Lake City has developed a strong outdoor recreation industry based around skiing, and it is known for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics.

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Hikes in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon is located in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest approximately 15 miles east of Salt Lake City.  It was created by a glacier many years ago.  Its quartz and granite, mined by the Latter Day Saint pioneers, was used to construct the Salt Lake Temple. There are several excellent trails in Little Cottonwood Canyon, though my favorites are quite long.

GO HIKING …
Lake Blanche near Salt Lake City

Hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon is conveniently located just east of Salt Lake City along Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway, State Route 190, which also travels over Guardsman Pass to Park City.  The 15-mile long canyon provides access to many outdoor activities including hiking, biking, camping, and fishing in the summer and snowboarding and skiing in the winter at its two ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude.

During my three-week stay in Salt Lake City, I explored several trails in the area including Brighton Lakes, Desolation Lake, Twin Lakes and Lake Blanche.  What do all of these trails have in common?  At least one lake.  All of the trails were lovely, but if I had to pick one, it would be Lake Blanche.

GO HIKING …

Hikes in American Fork Canyon

American Fork Canyon

The American Fork Canyon is part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and is located southeast of Salt Lake City off State Route 92, a popular scenic byway that attracts over 1 million visitors a year.  As a result, entry requires a $6 three-day pass, a $12 weekly pass, a $45 yearly pass, or a National Parks pass.

I spent three weeks in Salt Lake City, and of the five areas to hike within 60 miles east of the city, Emigration Canyon, Mill Creek Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and American Fork Canyon, I favored the latter.  The hillsides dotted in aspen and lakes tucked beneath glacier carved peaks are simply spectacular.

The American Fork Canyon offers visitors several hiking options from easy to hard.  Some of my favorites include: Stewart Falls, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Silver Glance Lake and Emerald Lake.

GO HIKING …
red oak leaf

Hikes in Mill Creek Canyon

Mill Creek Canyon

Mill Creek Canyon, located just east of Salt Lake City in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, is an extremely popular hiking destination.  Not only is it popular for its proximity to the city, it is also attractive to dog owners as it is the only dog friendly canyon in the area.  Much of the Wasatch Mountains is restricted to dogs because over 60% of Salt Lake City’s drinking water comes from the watershed, and therefore must remain clean.

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Safari in the Masai Mara – Day 3

Morning Game Drive

On our third day in the Masai Mara National Reserve, we arose for another sunrise game drive with breakfast scheduled upon our return.  Always in need of food, I grabbed a hard-boiled egg for the 2-hour ride which could be longer if we stumbled across something cool.

GO ON SAFARI
mama and baby leopard in the Masai Mara

Safari in the Masai Mara – Day 2

On our second day in the Masai Mara, our wake-up call, complete with coffee delivered to our rooms, came early.  It was still dark as we walked toward the jeep, thus the night watchman escorted us from our tents.  I asked if he saw any wild animals overnight, and he said he chased away some elephants.  Hmm, I don’t think I’d like that job. Hey enraged elephant and lurking leopard, shoo!  It was hard enough to keep the monkeys from visiting our tents.  More on that later.

GO ON SAFARI
cub playing with mama's tail in the Masai Mara

Safari in the Masai Mara – Day 1

So nine years ago, almost to the day, I went on a safari in Tanzania with some friends.  It had always been on my bucket list, but I would never sign up to go because I was afraid it wouldn’t meet my expectations if I didn’t see everything I’d hoped to see.

Our trip included driving from Arusha to Tarangire to Manyara to Ngorongoro Crater and to the Serengeti.  We literally saw just about all Africa had to offer: A cheetah kill an impala, a lion hunt, the wildebeest cross the river, the big five including the rare black rhino, and even three of the small five (which I didn’t know there was such a thing).

It was such an amazing experience that I have turned down Rootie’s invites to go on safaris ever since as I didn’t think it could be topped.  Then I realized, the safari in Tanzania was my all-time favorite trip, so why not go back.  And go back I did, this time to the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya with Mike, Rootie, Rozy, Jake, and Martha.

GO ON SAFARI