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Ryan Trapp's Posts
Ryan has posted 36 reports and 288 photos.

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Alabama Visit: 2013-3
2013-06-22 - March 2013: In Mobile on a day trip from New Orleans, I made visits to the Historic Fort Conde (http://www.museumofmobile.com/other_locs.php) and the Cathedral Basilica of Immaculate Heart, which was the first parish established on the Gulf Coast (http://www.mobilecathedral.org/).


Albania Visit: 2016-6
2016-10-21 - June 2016: I started my time in Albania by crossing the border from Montenegro to Shkodër, one of the oldest cities in Albania, where I visited the old town area, the fish and produce open markets, as well as the well-maintained Rozafa Castle, which offers impressive views of Lake Skader and the city. Next I headed to Tirana via a stop in Krujë to visit the castle and bazaar. I spent two nights in Tirana and made visits to the Et’hem Bey Mosque, which was built in the late 1700s and closed under communist rule and later reopened (without permission from authorities) as a house of worship in 1991; the National History Museum, and Skanderbeg Square, named in 1968 after the Albanian national hero, Skanderbeg. I then visiting Durrës, including the Roman Amphitheater, the largest amphitheater in the Balkans, which was discovered in 1966. En-route to Berat, I spent some time at the Lagoon of Karavasta, which is part of Divjake-Karavasta National Park, where I saw numerous pygmy cormorants. In Berat, known as the “Town of a Thousand Windows”, I visited the fortress and the old quarters and stayed at the well-located, Hotel Mangalem (http://www.mangalemihotel.com/). I then headed south down the Albanian Riviera to Sarandë, stopping first at Apollonia, a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site which was founded in 588 BCE by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth, and in the towns of Dhërmi and Vlore. From Sarandë I visited Butrint, an ancient Greek and later Roman city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Blue Eye, which reaches unknown depths and is fed by an underground spring; Ali Pasha Castle, which offered stunning views of the Ionian Sea, and Gjirokastër, where I visited the fortress, the historical core and stayed at the Hotel Kalemi (http://hotelkalemi.tripod.com/). I then traveled the backroads nearly 200km to Korçë via the Këlcyrë Gorge and Përmet, which is surrounded by mountainous panoramas of the Vlosa River Valley. In Korçë I visited the cobblestone bazaar and the Korçë Orthodox Cathedral.


Banaba Island Visit: 2014-5
2014-05-12 - May 2014: Three other travelers and I chartered a well-aged 150-foot catamaran (normally used for passenger and delivery services to areas around Kiribati) in Tarawa and sailed approximately 36-hours to Banaba. On Banaba, we were met by the Chief of Banaba and his driver and escorted around the island in a roofed flatbed of a truck (which was donated from Taiwan) along bumpy, narrow, and unpaved roads to visit the many old crumbling buildings leftover and mostly abandoned from the lucrative phosphate mining days, a Catholic church and small village, an elementary school, the miniscule local post office, and the highest point in all of Kiribati (which has a rather disregarded soccer field atop it). We all took a quick swim in the warm ocean off the makeshift landing dock before we returned to our boat and spent another 30+ hours in choppy ocean sailing back to Tarawa. The 4-hour truck/tour was 20 AUD total and there is a departure tax of 11 AUD per person (both of which appeared to be determined on the spot).


Beijing (District) Visit: 2014-4
2014-04-28 - April 2014: I spent 5 days in Beijing where I visited Tiananmen Square and the adjacent Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall of China (at both Mutianyu and Badaling), and the Ming Tombs (the most interesting being Dingling Mausoleum of Emperor Zhu Yijun, which is located underground).


Colorado Visit: 2014-5
2014-05-23 - May 2014: From Denver I made a long day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park (http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm) where I drove the entire 48-mile length of the Trail Ridge Road from Grand Lake to Estes Park (which peaks at a height of 12,183 feet and is the highest continuous paved road in the United States). I later visited Boulder (where I lived for over a year in 2000-2001) on my return to Denver. In Denver I had dinner at the Downtown Aquarium, where I ate surrounded by over 500 species of tropical fish in an underwater aquarium (http://www.aquariumrestaurants.com/) and had drinks at The Cruise Room in the Oxford Hotel, which was established in 1933 and is the oldest bar in downtown Denver (http://www.theoxfordhotel.com/dining/the-cruise-room/).


Corn Islands Visit: 2014-6
2014-06-27 - June 2014: I flew into Big Corn Island from Managua and stayed two nights at Casa Canada (http://www.casa-canada.com/). On both days I rented a golf cart (that went 35 miles per hour) and spent several hours circling the island each day (and over a dozen times total) and taking every road and dirt/beach trail possible around Big Corn Island.


El Salvador Visit: 2014-6
2014-09-05 - June 2014: I entered El Salvador by bus from Guatemala and stayed a couple days in San Salvador, where I spent my time touring the city by taxi and making a day trip to the San Salvador Volcano in El Boqueron National Park. I next headed to Suchitoto, a colonial city, for a couple days staying at the excellent Hotel Las Puertas de Suchitoto and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere. Finally, I ended my trip with a couple days in the surf city of El Tunco, just outside La Libertad, before continuing on to Honduras and Nicaragua.


Ethiopia Visit: 2015-1
2015-01-30 - January 2015: I started my trip in Addis Ababa where I visited the National Museum, Ethnological Museum and the Mercado (which despite being the largest market in Africa was pretty uninteresting and only sold mainly junky household items). Next I hired a car from Ethiopian Impressions Tours (http://www.ethiopianimpressions.com/) for a stunning 9-hour rural drive through dozens of villages to Bahir Dar (in which I also spotted a couple packs of common baboons while en route) where I visited the Lake Tana Monasteries (2 island monasteries and 1 peninsula monastery) and the Blue Nile Falls. I then took a 3-hour public minivan to Gondar, where I had the good fortune to be during the lively Timket Festival, and visited the Royal Enclosure, the excellent (and well hidden) Saturday Market, and made two long day trips into Simien Mountains National Park. I then flew to Lalibela where I visted all 11 rock hewn churches and made a day trip to the Yemrehanna Kristos (which is built into the mouth of a cave and where there are the remains of over 10,000 pilgrims), Bilbila Chirkos and Bibilla Giyorgis.


Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Visit: 2016-6
2016-10-21 - June 2016: I started my time in Bosnia in Sarajevo where I visited, among other places, Baščaršija, an old trading center from the Ottoman period, and numerous mosques such as Gazi Husrev-begova džamija (Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque), which was built in 16th century and is the largest historical mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most representative Ottoman structures in the Balkans; Morida Han that was built in 1551 and considered a true caravanserai because, when operational, it could accommodate about 300 passengers and 70 horses during medieval times, and the Tunnel Museum of Sarajevo, commemorating the siege of Sarajevo in the 90s war, and the War Tunnel Museum, which preserves the hand-dug tunnel that kept Sarajevo afloat during the Serbian siege. I later made a roughly 2-hr drive up the mountains to Lukimor, Bosnia’s highest and most isolated mountain village (1469 meters), where I enjoyed meeting some remote villagers and getting impressive views of Rakitnica Canyon. I also visited the pleasant town of Travnik while en-route to Banja Luka, where I spent time in the historical old town area, the fortress and the Birth House of Ivo Andrid, who in 1961 was a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Finally, I traveled to Mostar via a lengthy stop in Jajce to tour around some of the twenty famous water mills that date back to the Middle Ages, the fortress (Jajce area is on the tentative list of UNESCO -- http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/2098/), and had lunch at Pliva Lakes. In Mostar, I wandered the UNESCO-listed old town around the Old Bazaar.


Fiji Islands Visit: 2014-5
2014-05-21 - May 2014: I spent three days in Fiji where I based myself in Nadi and visited the Hindu Temple (the largest in the Pacific) and made separate day trips out to the Mamanuca & Yasawa Islands on the Yasawa Flyer (http://www.awesomefiji.com/), and by public bus to Lautoka, which is the second largest city in Fiji.


Gilbert Islands Visit: 2014-5
2014-05-14 - May 2014: I spent 4 days in Tarawa in total in the beginning and end of a charter expedition to Banaba Island. I stayed all nights at the Otintaai Hotel in south Tarawa (http://www.otintaaihotel.com/). Highlights of my trip was a visit to the beachfront (and well-preserved) WWII battle sites in Betio and traveling to north Tarawa through innumerable villages by public buses, a motorized canoe, and on foot wading across two chest-deep lagoons.


Guatemala Visit: 2014-6
2014-09-05 - June 2014: I flew to Guatemala City from Houston, TX and spent a couple nights in the city center and visited most of the city\'s slim historical sights. I next took a taxi to Antigua for a couple days, which I thought was beautiful but very generic and over-touristy. I left the country by direct bus from Guatemala City to San Salvador.


Haiti Visit: 2009-10
2014-04-28 - October 2009: I arrived in Port-au-Prince by flight from JFK. My visit to the country was organized by Jacqui at Voyages Lumiere and included her as a guide and a Haitian driver (http://voyageslumiere.com/). I stayed at the Hotel Oloffson, which was ideally-located in the heart of the city (http://hoteloloffson.com/). Highlights of the visit included: the Marche de Fer (Iron Market), the Presidential Palace (which was destroyed 3 months later in the earthquake), the National Museum of Haiti (Musée National d'Haiti), and the southern beach city of Jacmel, which is on the UNESCO tentative list (http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1947/). I left the country overland on a Caribe Tours bus to Santo Domingo, DR (http://www.caribetours.com.do/).


Iowa Visit: 2014-7
2014-07-08 - July 2014: I drove through the majority of Iowa making visits to Winterset (visiting the childhood home of John Wayne) and the capital of Des Moines (which is the most impressive capitol building I have seen, especially the interior library quarters).


Jeju Island Visit: 2014-4
2014-04-27 - April 2014: I hired a car/driver and concentrated my time around eastern and central Jeju Island where I visited Manjanggul Lava Tube (the worlds longest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1264), Seongsan Ilchubong (a 180 meter high volcanic crater, which I hiked to the top of), and Jeju Sexland, which contains over 100+ sex-based sculptures in a natural park setting (http://www.jejuloveland.com/eng.html). I stayed at EJ Hotel (http://www.hotelej.co.kr/).


Kermadec Islands Visit: 2015-4
2015-04-12 - March/April 2015: I visited all 5 main islands of the Kermadecs chain with Heritage Expeditions (www.heritage-expeditions.com) sailing on the Russian vessel Spirit of Enderby from the Port of Tauranga in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand on a 10-day expedition. After nearly 43 hours of sailing, we stopped first at the barren and bird-filled volcanic rock of L esprance, the southernmost island of the Kermadecs, which we circumnavigated by ship before continuing on to the closely-linked Curtis Island and Cheeseman Island (where we did the same). Early on the fourth day of the expedition, we dropped anchor at Raoul Island, the largest island of the chain and the focus of our expedition, where we took zodiacs to the island and I made four separate several hour landings (1 landing each day) in which I hiked along various different trails. Highlights of Raoul Island were Denham Bay, with its beautiful beach coastline complete with a rusted shipwreck (and disembarking the island by zodiac with large waves which thoroughly soaked us all), the rugged island trails filled with friendly Kermadec perikeets (which numbered in the hundreds and were seen at very close range), and snorkeling twice offshore by zodiac with colorful fish and a few Galapagos sharks. After 4 days at Raoul Island, we spent 3 days sailing back to the Port of Tauranga, circumnavigating Macauley Island by ship on our voyage back, which completed our visit to all the main islands of the Kermadecs. The lead staff of Heritage Expeditions noted that this expedition was the first time they had ever been able to make landings all four days at Raoul Island due to perfect weather conditions -- normally they schedule four days at Raoul and are only allowed to make two zodiac landings due to ocean swells which prevent safe landings on the rock-filled shoreline.


Korea, North Visit: 2014-4
2014-04-28 - April 2014: I spent a week in North Korea with overnight stays in Pyongyang (4 nights), Kaesong (1 night), Nampo (1 night), and Mt. Myohyang (1 night).

In Pyongyang, the sights I visited are far too many to mention, but the highlights were: the Mansudae Grand Monument, Kim II-sung Stadium (where I watched the Pyongyang Marathon -- which was the first ever in which foreigners could participate), Pyongyang Metro (the deepest in the world and where we rode the subway for 6 stops), watching the Mass Dance in celebration of Kim II-sung's 102nd birthday and the following fireworks show overlooking Juche Tower, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun (where I viewed the bodies of Kim II-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il), the Grand Peoples Study House, the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and the adjacent USS Pueblo, and the Pyongyang Film Studios. In Kaesong and Nampo, the highlight was a visit to both of North Korea's UNESCO sites of Complex of Koguryo Tombs (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1091/), and the Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1278). In Sinchon, I visited the US Atrocities Museum (which gives a highly unbelievable account of the Korean War and the US soldiers attack on its people). In Mt. Myohyang, I hiked the mountain of the same name and visited the nearby International Friendship Exhibition, which displays gifts to the present and past country leaders (most interesting being a bullet-proof limousine from Stalin to Kim II-sung, and the most recent being a signed basketball jersey from Dennis Rodman to Kim Jong-Un), and in Panmunjom, I visited the DMZ (which is far more relaxed and less restrictive then the South Korea side, which I visited just previous to this trip).

I booked my trip with Koryo Tours in Beijing (http://www.koryogroup.com/).


Korea, South (mainland) Visit: 2014-3
2014-04-28 - March/April 2014: I spent a couple days based in Seoul where I visited both the modern business area of the city and the traditional old city areas containing numerous outdoor markets. I also took a day trip to the DMZ (the highlight being walking 1.2 miles down the narrow Third Tunnel that North Korea reportedly dug to try and gain access to South Korea) and Panmunjom. I arranged my DMZ/Panmunjom day tour with I Love Seoul, which I recommend (http://www.iloveseoultour.com/eng/)


Louisiana Visit: 2013-3
2013-06-22 - March/April 2013: I based myself in New Orleans, where I stayed a couple of the nights at the Hotel Monteleone, built in 1886 and located in the French Quarter and one of the oldest hotels in New Orleans (http://hotelmonteleone.com/). To me, the most interesting site in New Orleans was Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, which contains above ground vaults constructed in the 18th century and 19th century. On long day trips from New Orleans, I visited the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, a former sugar cane slavery plantation with 300+ year old live oaks lining the pathway to the residence and has been featured in numerous films including Interview with a Vampire (http://www.oakalleyplantation.com/), as well as Baton Rouge, where I toured the Louisiana State Capital Building (where former senator and governor, Huey P. Long, was assassinated in 1935 and is also buried in an expansive garden area in front of the building) and went to the 27th floor observation deck, which has sweeping views of the city and Mississippi River (http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/louisiana/cap.htm), and the Cathedral of St. Joseph, which was built in 1863 and is on the National Register of Historic Places (http://cathedralofstjoseph.org/).

1999: I briefly visited Shreveport while driving from Tampa, FL to Bellingham, WA.




Minnesota Visit: 2014-7
2014-07-08 - July 2014: I have visited Minnesota a couple times. On my most recent trip I visited Minneapolis and had the famed Jucy Lucy burger (which is a cheeseburger that has the cheese cooked inside the meat patty) at Matts Bar, which has been around since 1954 and supposedly created it (http://www.mattsbar.com/), as well as visiting the capitol building in Saint Paul and the Cathedral of Saint Paul (http://www.cathedralsaintpaul.org/). I also drove extensively throughout central, western and southern Minnesota while traveling to/from North Dakota and Iowa.


Mississippi Visit: 2013-3
2013-06-22 - March 2013: I made a day trip to Biloxi where I visited Biloxi Beach and drove around areas of the city that were not damaged during Hurricane Katrina (the main city strip of Biloxi was almost completely destroyed and took well over a year to rebuild).


Mongolia Visit: 2014-4
2014-04-27 - April 2014: I started my trip in Ulaanbaatar where I visited, among other places, the Parliament Building of Mongolia, the Gandan Monastery (the largest and most important monastery of Mongolia and the only one not destroyed during the communist regime), and the Winter Palace of Bogd Khan (which displays his particularly interesting taxidermy collection). Outside Ulaanbaatar, I visited the imposing Genghis Khan Statue Complex and went horseback riding in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park.


Nebraska Visit: 2014-7
2014-07-08 - July 2014: From South Dakota, I drove to Lincoln, the state capitol, and then on to Omaha, where I visited the Henry Doorly Zoo, which was excellent (http://www.omahazoo.com/).


Nevada Visit: 2015-8
2015-08-23 - August 2015: I have visited Nevada several times in the past, including Reno and Las Vegas. My trip in Nevada started when crossing from Tahoe City, CA to South Lake Tahoe State Park and on to Virginia City, which is an old mining town from the mid 1800s. After a short visit there, I backtracked to the capital of Carson City, which is of little interest beyond the small, historic downtown. I left the state after a short visit to the South Lake Tahoe portion of Nevada.


New South Wales Visit: 2015-4
2015-05-16 - April 2015: I spent 5 days in Sydney visiting, among other places, the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo (http://www.wildlifesydney.com.au/) and the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium (http://www.sydneyaquarium.com.au/). The highlight of my visit was the stunning coastal walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach.


Nicaragua Visit: 2014-7
2014-09-05 - July 2014: I entered Nicaragua overland from Honduras first stopping in Managua (which I found quite annoying considering it has no true center and is not a pedestrian-friendly city whatsoever) where I stayed two nights and then on to Granada for another couple days, which was excellent.


North Dakota Visit: 2014-7
2014-07-08 - July 2014: I drove the entire length of North Dakota from Fargo to Theodore Roosevelt National Park (where I saw over a dozen bisons and some wild horses) via a stay in Bismarck, the capitol, where I (thanks to a post by another MTP member) had an excellent dinner at the Peacock Alley American Grill & Bar, which was established in 1933 (http://www.peacock-alley.com/).


North Island Visit: 2015-4
2015-05-16 - March/April 2015: I started my trip in Auckland where I spent time exploring the city on foot over a couple days visiting numerous places, such as the underwhelming Auckland Fish Market. Later, I caught a 2.5 hour bus to the port city of Tauranga and on to neighboring Mount Maunganui, where I hiked to the top of the mountain of the same name and boarded my 10-day expedition ship to the Kermadec Islands.


Ohio Visit: 2015-10
2015-10-06 - (October 2015) I started my trip with a couple days in Columbus, the capital of Ohio and the largest city in the state, which is distinctive for its many red-brick buildings. I then rented a car and drove through central Ohio visiting Mansfield and the nearby Ohio State Reformatory, where a large portion of The Shawshank Redemption was filmed, but the prison was unfortunately closed as it is seasonal (http://www.mrps.org/). Next I continued on to Millersburg, in the center of Holmes County, which has the highest density of Amish in the country. Driving the two lane backroads throughout the county, which had bright green fields and mountains of dying cornstalks, was a real highlight of the trip as I saw dozens of Amish families walking around the roads and riding in traditional horse buggies. I also visited Cuyahoga Valley NP, which was the least impressive national park I have visited (http://www.nps.gov/cuva/index.htm) and ended the trip in Cleveland where, among other places, I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum (http://www.rockhall.com/) and the original home featured prominently in the 1983 classic film, A Christmas Story.


Oregon Visit: 2013-7
2013-07-11 - April 2014: I visited Portland and had dinner at Hubers Cafe (est. 1879 and specializing in turkey meals -- http://www.hubers.com/), and made a day trip to Salem where I visited the Oregon State Capitol Building.

July 2013: I have visited Oregon dozens of times, including road trips to all parts of the state. In July, I started my trip in Portland and made a loop through Cannon Beach, Seaside, and Astoria. I later drove to Bend, in central Oregon, and from there to Crescent City, CA via Crater Lake NP (http://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm).


Republic of Srpska Visit: 2016-6
2016-10-20 - June 2016: I first entered Srpska from Serbia en-route to Sarajevo and stopped off for a couple hours in the city of Višegrad to see the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and walked through Andridgrad, which was built by the famous film director Emir Kusturica in the memory of Ivo Andrid, the only Yugoslav Nobel Prize winner. I later traveled to Banja Luka for a night from Sarajevo and spent my time around the well-kept Kastel Fortress (which occupies a stunning location on the Vrbas River); Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (1929); the recently fully refurbished Ferhadija Mosque (which was rebuilt after a bombing), and enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere around the small and compact pedestrian areas. I stayed at the Hotel Bosna (http://www.hotelbosna.com/).


Serbia (other) Visit: 2016-6
2016-10-21 - June 2016: I started my time in Belgrade where I spent three nights and visited the Nikola Tesla Museum, which displays and honors the life of the famed Serbian inventor (http://www.nikolateslamuseum.org/); the Zemun suburb (once an independent city in Austro – Hungarian empire, now one of 17 municipality of Belgrade) and the viewpoint atop the Gardos Tower; Avala Mountain; the Republic Square; the National Theatre, which was founded in the 19th century; the Parliament; Saint Sava Orthodox Cathedral, which is the second largest Orthodox church in the world; the Belgrade Fortress, and the Bohemian Quarter. I then traveled to Novi Sad, one of Eastern Europe's most impressive small towns, via Vršac, where I visited the well-preserved historical core of the town, including the oldest park in Vojvodina, the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, the Patriarchal residence, and drove to the top of Vršac Tower, which dates back to the 14th and beginning of the 15th century. In Novi Sad, I visited the City Hall, Liberty Square, and the Petrovaradin Fortress – one of the largest and best preserved fortifications on the Danube River. Next I continued to Sremski Karlovci and visited the Patriarchal Residence and the St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral before arriving at the Hopovo Monastery – one of the best preserved and most beautiful fresco-painted medieval monasteries in Europe and built within a walled fortress with active monks living on the premise. I then visited Niš via a stop at the Viminacium Archaeological Park, which was one of the most important Roman towns and military encampments from the period from the 1st to the 6th century, and the Golubac Fortress, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe and overlooks Romania. In Niš, I toured the 18th century Niš Fortress that was built by the Turks, and Skull Tower, which is composed largely of human skulls collected during the 1809 Battle of Čegar. My last stop in Serbia was in the mountain town of Zlatibor in the far west of the country near the border with Srpska.


South Dakota Visit: 2014-7
2014-07-06 - July 2014 -- I started my trip in Rapid City where I made day trips to Deadwood, where I visited the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, Sturgis, Custer State Park, where I was caught in a stunning, hour-long traffic jam with hundreds of crossing bisons, and also saw many deer and praire dogs (http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/default.aspx), Wind Cave National Park, where I saw 8 bisons (http://www.nps.gov/wica/index.htm), Crazy Horse Monument and Mount Rushmore National Monument. I then drove to Sioux Falls making visits to Badlands National Park (http://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm) and the capitol of Pierre en route.


Turkish Thrace (Turkey in Europe) Visit: 2015-1
2015-01-31 - January 2015: While en-route from the U.S. to Ethiopia, I had a 2 day layover in Istanbul where I revisited Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and the Grand Bazaar.


Washington Visit: 2015-2
2014-11-02 - February 2015: Over a long weekend from Portland, OR, I circumnavigated the Olympic Peninsula by car going first up the west coast on the 101-freeway via Aberdeen (with a quick visit to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobains boyhood home), Quinault (to see the worlds largest spruce tree) and Forks to Port Angeles. I then visited the Hurricane Ridge area of the Olympic National Park (http://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm) before heading to the excellent Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, which allows a 5-mile walk along one of the worlds longest sand spits with clear views of Victoria, BC (http://www.fws.gov/refuge/dungeness/). I then made a quick stop in Port Townsend (known for its Victorian architecture) before heading down the east coast of the peninsula (which offered stunning views of Dabob Bay and was far superior visually compared to the west coast of the peninsula) to Shelton before finally connecting to the I-5 at Olympia and onto Portland.

December 2014: I visited the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Ridgefield/), located an easy 27-mile drive from Portland International Airport. The wildlife driving loop of the park is 4.2 miles throughout fields, wetlands, sloughs, and forests where it is very easy to spot at close range hundreds of Dusky Canada geese, Canadian sandhill cranes, various eagles, hawks and ducks, and dozens of nutrias -- which are a semi-aquatic rodent native to southern parts of South America. In the 1930s, they were sold throughout North America to fur farmers and as a means of controlling unwanted aquatic vegetation and many escaped and bread and now continue to live wild throughout southern Washington and Oregon.

October/November 2014: I spent a couple days in Spokane, the second largest city in Washington, where I visited the Monroe Street Bridge (which was built in 1911 and is the largest arch bridge in the U.S.A), and Cat Tales Zoological Park, which houses dozens of big cats (tigers, panthers, etc.) (http://www.cattales.org/). Downtown Spokane reminded me a lot of downtown Minneapolis -- clean, compact, and with many sky-bridges connecting adjoining buildings. I later visited the pleasant town of Walla Walla, which is known for its 100+ vineyards and the Washington State Penitentiary, which houses the worst criminals in Washington state and still gives death row inmates a choice of death -- lethal injection or hanging.

On previous visits I have driven comprehensively throughout the state including literally dozens of visits to Seattle.


Wyoming Visit: 2014-5
2014-05-23 - May 2014: From Denver I made a day trip to Ames Monument (http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/NationalRegister/Site.aspx?ID=1), the Wyoming Territorial Prison, which ran as a state and federal prison from 1872 to 1903 and once housed Butch Cassidy, but which has since been thoroughly remodeled and now lacks a lot of original features (http://www.wyomingterritorialprison.com/), and Laramie (where I stopped at the Lincoln Monument, which is a thirteen and a half foot tall bronze statue of President Lincolns head built in 1959 in honor of Lincolns 150th birthday), and Cheyenne, where I visited the Wyoming State Capitol Building, the Cheyenne Depot Museum (http://www.cheyennedepotmuseum.org/), and the Big Boy Steam Engine, which is the worlds largest steam locomotive.
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