Category Archives: Video Blogs

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Byron Bay Lighthouse

OnDestination: Byron Bay – Australia’s most Easterly Point

A #justforfun daytrip isn’t complete without an early morning wake up, a trip to the airport and flight to somewhere I haven’t been before. As winter is coming, I chose to escape the fast approaching cool Melbourne day, for a warmer day in Byron Bay. In typical fashion (for me anyway) I only had a short amount of time to arrive, see as much as I could, then return for my afternoon flight home. This time that was a generous 5 hours. Unlike my normal day trips, where I pretty much have nothing planned, today had a sense of purpose about it, as I wanted to go to the eastern edge of Australia.

Securing a car was easy on arrival, so with transport for the day sorted, I approached the friendly tourist information desk for some advice on the best way to see the edge of Australia. Their advice was simple yet useful; drive to Byron, avoid the lighthouse car park as they’ll charge you $7, find a smaller beach nearby, park there, and then take a scenic hike to the point instead. They offered directions to Byron Bay itself which I declined, presuming it would be well sign posted as it’s a major icon along the east coast travel plans of many people who visit Australia. This was, in hindsight, an error.

Byron Bay

Driving out of the airport I decided to follow where the majority of cars were heading, as the signage wasn’t that great… a few U turns later and it felt like I was heading in the right direction. I was actually heading along the freeway towards Tweed Heads, but eventually found an exit that felt right, so took it and luckily enough it ended up in Byron Bay. My detour from the normal approach, exiting the freeway at the Banaglow exit, was rather scenic once you got off the freeway and drove along the narrow windy road into Byron. The trip home was much easier to follow along the coast which is probably the main road in from Ballina.

Arriving into town I drove down the main street as quickly as one can before heading out to find a small beach to make a hike up to Cape Byron. The visitor information centre suggested Wategos Beach because of its free parking, however the transient backpacker population also found this a popular spot to relax for the morning, dry some washing or just sit back with a cup of tea and look out over the beautiful beach. Thus, I backtracked to The Pass where ample paid parking was available. A quick chat with the surprisingly friendly ticket inspector to work out how long the walk would take, a $12 purchase of the relevant parking ticket, and I was set for my walk to the cape.

Byron Bay

Although costing me more than the parking at the lighthouse itself, it gave me a longer walk, more scenic views (especially of Wategos beach) and a bit more time to explore. Given I’ve been lazy with my exercise regime lately it was also a bit of a wake up call as I gasped for breath during each uphill section of the walk (something that would previously have never bothered me). Fortunately the track is also frequented by those who haven’t been lax with their exercise programs, as they fulfill their weekend run obligations, sometimes sans shirts; which provided more scenery and a tad more motivation to keep on walking.

Byron Bay

The walk through the nature reserve is really beautiful and the amount of wildlife that you can see here was surprising given how close it is to the township. I saw a wallaby, wild turkeys, dolphins, stingray, eagles and more all from the walking track and all within just a few hours. It pretty much captures a large amount of the iconic images of Australia within the reserve; nature, animals, beaches, untouched beauty and the occasional “bronzed Aussie surfer”. There is a sign marking the most easterly point of Australia, which is where I filmed this quick video blog and many tourists posed for an obligatory photo at the edge of Australia.

The lighthouse itself is beautiful to look at and has been lighting up the point for over 100 years. I wasn’t able to climb it as the tours were fully subscribed for the day so instead grabbed a quick hot drink at the café beneath, which provided the energy for the walk back to the car, following the same path but getting the reverse view.

Byron Bay Lighthouse

Byron Bay Lighthouse

I was drawn to Byron Bay because I wanted to have been to the most easterly point in Australia. In retrospect, the natural beauty that surrounds this point is probably replicated at many other points along the coast, but because this one has a title (the most easterly point) it attracted me, presumably, like many other tourists, because of the sense of achievement that it brings; I’ve seen the biggest this, tallest that, furthest, longest, widest, fastest, slowest; the list goes on.

Byron Bay Cape Byron

Whatever your motivation, I’d definitely recommend visiting Cape Byron as the natural beauty and opportunity for wildlife viewing is spectacular, regardless of where it happens to be placed according to a compass and a map.

Byron Bay Ocean

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Rotorua Geysers

OnDestination: Rotorua’s Te Puia Geyser Park

The vast majority of my blog contains airport and flight reviews, so, I thought to give you some idea of what I do, and thus what you might want to do after one of these flights, I’m branching out just a little and writing some more OnDestination reviews about the places I visit. I’m somewhat reluctant to make this review the fresh start for that series as for the first time in a while its a less than favourable review of an attraction I visited this weekend while visiting Rotorua on the north island of New Zealand (yes I went to NZ for the weekend – I like to fly – moving on). I thought of saving it for later, but I think its only fair to be honest and upfront and not being all social media friendly and only writing about the good. So, here goes!

Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity, and if you follow any of the tourist buses that flock to this city from Auckland or speak to anyone at the tourist information office you’ll probably end up at Te Puia, or as we called it, the Geyser Park. Why do the buses come here and why do people recommend you end up here? Well it’s probably trying to satisfy the inner human curiosity and/or fascination of watching the earth fire water into the air in the same style as a fire hydrant that’s just been hit by a car does – either that or you’re interested in geothermal activity and all the geology and science behind that. However, most people just want to see something cool that doesn’t happen where you live. And that’s pretty much how we ended up here.

Rotorua Geysers

Arriving into Rotorua in the afternoon we checked out the local tourist office to ask for a map so we could find our hotel (how do people find places without GPS and Siri?) and before we knew it we had skipped the hotel, found a gaggle of tour busses (busses are like geese yeah?), parked the car and were standing outside the ticket booth, gasping at the cost of entry to see what the driver described above aims to avoid. At $47.50 a head (albeit NZ dollars) its not exactly loose change to get into this park and my mind was split as to whether watching hot water squirt out of the ground was really worth that kind of investment. The high price did however have some attracting element to it with part of my mind thinking, well if people are paying $47.5o to get it, then it must be good, right? (don’t judge – we’ve all paid for something crap before just because we thought it was good because it was expensive).

So, tickets paid for (which a 10% discount was given after we’d already agreed to pay – note to sales staff – discount before sale may have made sale easier!) we scanned our tickets at the high tech entry point and were ready to explore all the $47.50 (less 10%) park had to offer. With only 1:15hr before park closing time the ticket staff were worried we wouldn’t have time to see all the park had to offer and suggested the guided tour to make the most of our time which gave us about 15mins of free time before said tour began.

Rotorua Geysers

The lookout closest to the gate provided views of the main geysers which were erupting in what appeared to be full strength as we arrived. Working to nature’s clock only we decided to head straight to the geyser to get close to said eruption in case the geyser had performance anxiety during the scheduled tour. The map makes the park look quite large, however in reality ITS NOT!. The walk from the lookout to the geyser is complete in about the same time it takes to read this paragraph (while walking – watch that pole!). On arrival it is kinda cool and very much like a fire hydrant or hose squirting water into the air, only that this water is boiling and thus there is a heck of a lot of steam in the air and a fairly strong whiff of rotten egg gas in the mix as well. There’s a wooden footbridge across a creek where the hot water eventually falls and flows into and a few other tourists around taking photos within the steam. There are a few signs around telling you the name of the geyser and that hot water comes out of it on its own time schedule but other than that not much information so we rushed back to the gate to meet the guided tour to learn more about this cultural landmark and what it’s all about.

Rotorua Geysers

Meeting the guide who was ready to depart with a large group we were invited to join the “family” for the tour and as the geyser was still in eruption we were heading straight to the geyser where we would be given more information. So, 10mins into the park, we’d now been to the main attraction – the geysers, twice. On arrival at the Geyser the guide advised us that as long as we stayed on the bridge she would know where we were and wouldn’t leave anyone behind (I’m sorry, did we go somewhere where we were likely to be lost – we’d travelled for 2-3minutes max!) Anyway, cynicism aside we waited for more information on the geyser which was finally provided. In summary, that consisted of: “shoots out water between 95-98 degrees… its shoots when it wants… it’s not controllable by man.. and we’re off to the mud pools” and off we departed. Um excuse me? Information, Hello.. oh well… Mud pools must take up more time..

Rotorua Geysers

Arrival at mud pools a few minutes later (ok, maybe 1-2minutes)… “dirt.. hot water.. mud… cant build hotel that close again… always same temperature… off to the kiwi house”. Seriously – for a guided tour this tour wasn’t actually adding anything that wasn’t on the sign’s which provided painfully little information. The kiwi house (using your imagination to see the Kiwi’s in the dark) was the last straw in my tolerance for the tour and at that point we peeled off and decided to do some filming and check out the rest of the place solo as the tour was (to that point) adding no information, and especially not $47.50 worth of information.

Rotorua Geysers

The rest of the park contained cultural things like a collection of small huts (with no signage to explain what it was), a boat, an area for cultural performance (which granted we had missed for the day so that may have been interesting/worthwhile) and some wood carving and weaving schools. However, the main attraction of the park, the geyser was seriously oversold and under delivered. So, having taken photos around the park to add to this review I decided to film a quick video blog to give a quick rundown on the park (see video below).

I think overall the park had some potential to showcase these geysers and satisfy that inner curiosity of how the earth manages to do what we can only do if we crash our cars into fire hydrants however the execution and the price was really poor! My suggestion to travellers would have to be to give this attraction a miss. It’s simply not worth the entry fee! As I said in my blog – the hotel nearby might be a cheaper option to see the same sights.

Rotorua Geysers

Now to wrap up this OnDestination review in a positive way; did I enjoy myself?  Yes – I must admit I had a great time in the park. Do I regret going? No – but I really had to work for it and make my own fun. For me that was turning it into a video blog post and gathering information on how poorly the park showed off its attraction. Unfortunately for 99% of guests – writing a travel blog about how badly something is done isn’t going to satisfy them. So, if you find yourself forking over money to attractions that are quite simply overpriced and not meeting your expectations, try and make your own fun too. Whether that be making up your own stories as to why the water shoots out so irregularly or prematurely (naughty), or by pretending that you speak another language and interpreting everything into that language, make your own fun. You’ve already paid, you’re not getting that money back so you may as well enjoy something about the day – that’s what travel is all about!

carlous moochous video blog rotorua thermal geyser

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All Aboard! “The VIA Canadian”

The are plenty of great railroad journeys around the world that many aspire to complete, the trans Siberian, Indian pacific or Rocky Mountaineer all come to mind pretty easily. Most people associate these grand rail journeys with equally grand price tags and thus feel they are out of reach. But there are other ways to see some of these spectacular railroads without the price tag, at least in Canada.

After much umming and arring, and eventually a promo 50% off sale I decided to book a section of “the Canadian” between Vancouver and Edmonton. Operated by VIA Rail (Canada’s main rail operator) this train is different to the tourist train, The Rocky Mountaineer, as it’s primary function is moving people from A to B, in this trains case the epic 3 day journey from Vancouver to Toronto. Fortunately the views aren’t owned by the tourist train and thus my 26hour ish journey across the Rockies was still going to pack in some amazing scenery.

The main difference with VIA is that the train travels at night, meaning you do miss out in some scenery, however this balances out with the true train travel experience, sleeping (or at least trying to sleep) on a moving train. To make the most of that experience I forked out a little extra for a sleeper class, which wasn’t that much more than a coach seat yet offered private cabin and a bed. Arriving at the Pacific Central station in Vancouver about 2hrs before the 830pm departure was a tad early however provided ample to relax in the panorama saloon with outdoor heated patio overlooking the retro railway carriages I would soon be boarding.

There was an air of excitement as we all boarded our cars, found our cabins and explored the train. I met a lovely couple from Toronto who, after driving their son to Whistler for the winter were taking the train home. The had a double cabin which required an attendant to lower and set up the beds and were rather impressed with how easily my single cabin folded down into a cosy bed by turning one handle. Sleeper car passengers were invited for departure champagne in the rear park car, one of 2 split level trains offering panoramic dome views. Our retro train soon pulled ever so slowly out of the station and through the seemingly endless Vancouver rail yards before disappearing into the darkness.

The trains carriages have been recently refurbished however maintain the original art deco styling, making them rather unique and much different to modern fast trains. For these railways, the journey is as much of a destination as the destination itself and they are not built for speed. Our average speed across the Rockies was estimated to be around the 40-60kph mark, hardly a land speed record especially as we pulled into many sidings to allow the priority freight trains to pass.  After meeting several other solo Aussie travelers and a few lovely Canadians it was time to call it a night and see how the rocking motion of the train which is apparently one of the most relaxing ways to sleep worked on me. Before turing out the lights I decided to record the first of a few video blogs along this trip, which is included below. After lights out I lay in the very comfortable and cosy bed listening to the creaks and groans of the train while staring out the picture window to the scenery that was lit by the moonlight and lights from the train cars ahead. I could have stared out at this tranquil view all night but decided it was best to close the blind and try and get some sleep.

A few moments later we crawled to a stop, blocking a road crossing with the red flashing crossing lights illuminating my cabin like a red light district. This wouldn’t be the last random stop of the night as we slowed and pulled into sidings to allow oncoming freight trains to pass by safely. The creaks and groans of the train navigating the many bends on this railroad would also turn from exciting and relaxing to rather annoying and loud. I think the combination of being a light sleeper and being over the wheels meant it was going to be a rather loud and disruptive sleep. None the less I must have got some sleep as I slept straight through our 40min early morning stop in Kamloops and awoke to the magical views of rivers, forrest and the growing rocky mountains. My good morning Rockies video blog is below.

I got dressed and wandered up to the dining car for breakfast. As a sleeper car passenger all meals are included which for breakfast included several options including a salmon omelette which I heard was amazing and the full hot breakfast which I chose which was equally good. Meal times are a great time to meet fellow travelers and share travel experiences and backgrounds. As each table is filled with solos or couples you never eat alone. After breakfast I decided to relax in bed again watching the day go by before we pulled up for a 10 min stop I the the small town of Blue River. The general store, nicely positioned by the railroad did a roaring trade before we slowly continued on our journey across the mountains.

I decided to have a quick shower before spending the day either napping in my cabin watching the views or sitting in the dome car – Both options were very relaxing experiences. As it was fall the common theme across the the mountains was rain, snow and fog meaning the tops of the mountains were hidden. Despite the weather the colors of the fall leaves and seeing the railway covered in a nice dusting of snow was rather spectacular on its own.

Lunch was served and then the afternoon was spent much the same as the morning with the only change a 1.5hr stopover in Jasper which provided enough time to wander around the town, kick around some snow and meet a local bear as I describe I the video blog below.

Back on the train I ate dinner with an older Dutch lady who reminded me of my own Oma, a fiddle playing Australian beginning her 2 year travels across Canada and a rail enthusiast staring a mega train journey from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale via train. Every meal you meet new people and share new stories while eating some lovely food all cooked on board. During these times you really can imagine the history of the railroad when these dining cars would be filled with the rich and famous, men in suits and women in elaborate dresses taking what was then the fast journey across this massive continent. The weather had improved around Jasper and thus the views over dinner were breath taking, adding to the romance of rail travel.

The sun soon set as we left the mountains for the flat prairies of Alberta and the long and slow trek into Edmonton for an 11pm arrival. As most guests were comfortably trying to sleep I was struggling to stay awake but fortunately my car attendant came and collected me when it was time to disembark this amazing rail journey onto the icy platform of Edmonton.

If you’re on a tighter budget but still want to experience the Rockies by train, I’d highly recommend this train route – during summer prices are higher but I’d imagine the views are even more spectacular. Although I found the romance of the snow covered tracks very appealing and definitely worth an off season trek across these amazing mountains.

CarlousMoochous has branched out and started a travel company providing small group tours to Canada. If you’re interested in visiting Jasper check out the Canadian Holiday Packages available from YourTrip at

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Victoria B.C (No not Melbourne)

Category : Blog , Video Blogs

Hey all, sorry I didn’t get around to doing a video blog last night as it was Halloween over here in North America, so naturally I was on a ghost tour of the Pike Place Markets. I’ll put up a blog and review about that later on during my trip but for today its all about Canada; my home away from home (well kinda). Hope you enjoy this trip update and Video Blog.


This morning was one hell of an early wake up call for holidays with my alarm screaming at me at 5:50 saying, get to the ferry Carlous. After checking out, I had to quickly print off my ticket for the clipper and about 5 minutes and$9 later I was in a taxi and headed for the pier 69 Terminal for the Clipper Ferry. I was a bit annoyed that I followed the rules and printed my ticket when it wasn’t ever used at check in, oh well – on holidays!

The ferry ride also deserves its own review, so I’ll add that to the list of things to write for later, but basically it was a pretty good way to get from downtown Seattle to downtown Victoria. The ride was remarkably smooth and I regretted taking a motion sickness relief tablet before departure as the water was as smooth as a mirror and the ride just as smooth.

Arriving into Victoria BC, the capital of British Columbia, Canada I picked up my checked bag and was cleared by a friendly and chatty Customs officer -great first impression and welcome to this magnificent country. My hotel was only a few blocks walk away so I quickly checked in (nice and early) and dropped off my gear before spending the day exploring this new part of Canada.

If you haven’t already worked it out, I’ve got a bit of a connection with this country. I’m not a spiritual or religious person (despite years of attending the catholic education system) but there is something about Canada that ever since my first visit a few years ago, I just connect with and feel remarkably at home and at peace here. It was this connection (and the amazing scenery) which drew Cam and I back last year to get married in Banff – so it’s pretty safe to say I love this County – sometimes more than my own depending on the politics of the day.

Victoria BC is a little different to other parts of Canada I’ve visited before. Although its a small city of only about 80,000 it is the Capital of British Columbia and reminders of the history of  the colony and the province are littered around every street corner. The old buildings are spectacular and I must admit I was slightly emotional for no apparent reason taking in all the buildings and reading about the history of this city (perhaps motion sickness, jet lag, champagne breakfast and waking up pre dawn all came together). The fall leaves in their various shades of red, brown, yellow and orange act like strokes of paint on a canvas of historical buildings. For a small city, it packs in some breathtaking views.  Insert macho man talk here.

Even though it is off peak tourist season, as its November here and the top temperate is a foggy 12, there are plenty of tourist operators selling tours of all kinds, walking, jet boat, lunch cruises, sea plane flights (although fogged in today) whale watching, garden tours and more. Today I did none of them. I spent the day just walking around the city and immersing myself in the history, stopping to read plaques and take in the picture perfect buildings and amazing parks hiding in the foggy day. It was a great day of exploring and checking out the city, and as it was low season there were very few people around to get in my way – expect they always seem to appear when you line up a nice photo.

Sometimes not doing anything in particular for a day is just what you need to do when you are on holidays and today was one of those days. I just started walking along Government St and then just kept turning each time something interesting caught my eye. I ate lunch out of the back of a giant can, and spent about an hour walking around the 73hectare Becon Hill Park. The sun came out for the first time on my trip so far and although at the end of the day my legs were sore, I had seen alot of the city and spent next to nothing.

I had to take a photo of a local primary school that was positioned on the southern end of Beacon Hill Park. That description is important to remember when you read the name of the school “South Park School” – South Park – LOL. Ok so I found it hilarious.

I also stumbled across this neat little community garden that encouraged locals to have their own space to grow fresh organic produce. I shack looked like something out of lord of the rings but the garden was cute and I think these sort of things give people pride in their neighborhood and help bring a sense of community back to the city centres.

After my emotional feelings in the morning I decided I should man up at night so went to a sports grill for dinner. A beer, water in a wine glass and blackened chicken did the trick as I tried to understand all the sport going on around me on the big screens. It took a while to realise that the two monitors i thought had the same game from different angles were actually different sports, but still, I was manning it up (before heading home to write a travel blog).

I’m hoping the fog lifts tomorrow so my sea plane flight can depart as all fights today were cancelled. I’ve got a back up plan for tomorrow in case it doesn’t lift  but either way I’m likely to be off air for the next few days as tomorrow night I board the “Canadian” train route across the rockies to Edmonton. Until then, stay safe, keep planning your next holiday and I’ll be back with new posts from Alberta.

CarlousMoochous has branched out and started a travel company providing small group tours to Canada. If you’re interested in visiting Victoria check out the Canadian Holiday Packages available from YourTrip at

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Video Blog: Seattle under a jetlag haze

Category : Blog , Video Blogs

The first day of any trip is always a mixture of excitement and being so bloody tired that you need to really think when crossing the road, especially when cars are now coming from the other way. Thus this morning was a little bit of a write off as I wandered around in a jet lagged haze trying to avoid the rain as much as possible. The first point of call for the day was ensuring I would be able to stay dry and thus a quick trip across the road to the local drug store provided a nice yet relatively expensive cheap umbrella – an item carefully placed by the front door which many tourists from nearby hotels were snapping up. Seattle locals seem to prefer the hooded jackets, at least I presume they are locals as they seem completely unphased by the rain.

Armed with my newly christened umbrella and a strong Aussie dollar I headed out to purchase a good wind and water resistant jacket and a pair of comfortable and dry walking shoes. I checked out the Westlake center without much luck so decided to grab a quick burrito for lunch before some more shopping across the road at Macy’s. Unfortunately I didn’t time my visit to coincide with the Nov 1 sale so the sales associate (yep that’s what they are called over here) provided me with a different type of discount for out of towners like me – another 10% off. Trap for new players tho, remember all those price tags do not include tax – which was 9.5% in this case – so my 10% discount quickly became 0.5% off the sticker price. Oh well, still cheaper than back home and at least I’m dry now.

After shopping I gave in to my jetlag and decided to have a quick nap, which ended up being 2 hours. Feeling a little more refreshed I headed down towards the waterfront to check out the Pike Place Markets at night. Unfortunately its all a little quiet down there at night, with the exception of some restaurants  that mainly seemed fish/seafood oriented (funny that being by the sea and the fresh fish markets). It was still pretty cool as the neon lights look impressive and the view (although a little obstructed by the haze of the rain, or maybe that was jetlag) of the sound and the port lights is pretty cool. The view of the Seattle Giant Wheel is pretty cool at night too, and from this distance it doesn’t look at all scary (i have an unnatural phobia of ferris wheels)

Walking back up towards the city I found a cool shop well suited to Seattle’s reputation for the rain – Bellas Umbrellas. Unfortunately it was closed but looking in the windows the displays of every possible type of umbrella imaginable was pretty impressive and made a very interesting shop corner.

The streets look pretty cool at night with many trees lined with fairy lights which in some streets reflect off the wet roads to make quite a pretty. Although occasionally pretty, those wet streets, and especially the sewer caps are very slippery. At one stage earlier in the day I felt as if i was on an episode of Punkd or something as three people fell over around within about 2o mins.

For dinner I stumbled across a Cheesecake Factory and could not resist. I love the TV series “Big Bang Theory” and thus the opportunity to eat in one, albeit not in Pasadena was too great to resist. I was a bit disappointed as it looked nothing like on the show (really I hear you saying) and Penny didn’t serve me or threaten to spit on my burger.  There wasn’t one table full of 4 nerds either or any cheesecake. Despite all that, the burger I had was ok, although ordering food in the US is a long process, and I’m convinced servers are all interrogation agents in training as there are so many questions for every menu choice.

After dinner I had a quick walk around the city again before heading back to the hotel for a Skype chat with home and to post a few blog articles. Tomorrow I aim to have defeated this Jet lag and spend a full day out on the city, potentially ending in some sort of Halloween festivities (if i can find any) in the evening.

I probably should have said this upfront, but you may not have read all this if I told you the cliff notes version is all summed up in the video I’ve attached below. Talk to you tomorrow with another update – Enjoy and Share :)


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Hello Seattle

Category : Blog , Video Blogs

After a marathon 26 hours of travel I have arrived into Seattle and settled into my city view room at the Westin for the evening. I feel like I should have been listening to Owl City when I was landing as we circled around the CBD providing great views of the sound and lakes. Despite the lack of a backing track, living up to Seattle’s reputation, it was raining at the airport on arrival and for a short part of the drive into downtown however while heading out for dinner and a quick walk around the hotel the rain retreated leaving a relatively warm and dry night. The hotel seems located pretty well and is pretty comfortable so I’m hoping for a good nights sleep.

As I’ve been awake for about 30something hours now, I’ll keep this blog post short so I can grab some sleep and wake up fresh for a day exploring the city tomorrow. Hope you enjoy this brief video blog and I’ll be back tomorrow with more trip updates.