I have returned from my trip through the American Midwest which took me from Calgary through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. At the end of that leg of the trip, I drove back to Calgary and flew back down to New Orleans for another adventure altogether. The trip was, for lack of better words, epic. I am going to start off with the road trip leg and then get more into details about the New Orleans experience.
As I may have noted in some of my previous posts, the main scope of this road trip was to visit Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. It is quite sad, but due to some circumstances there was no time to get to the Grand Canyon. Instead Valley of Fire State Park was quite a spectacular scene in its own right.
Yellowstone, despite its touristy theme park feel, was amazing. I have to say that my biggest surprise was the amount of people that were venturing through all areas of the park (I went on the very last weekend the park was open in terms of amenities). As you may have gathered from my previous posts and photos, my travel photography generally takes me through the Rockies. The Rockies can become significantly more rugged and remote than what I had seen at Yellowstone. Don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of miles worth of trails and wilderness to explore in Yellowstone and an equally abundant number of wildlife, but I personally did not feel the same urgency of self preservation that I get when venturing through the Rockies. That being said, for anyone looking to see some spectacular sites, Yellowstone is absolutely amazing. The park is excellently organized, trails around all the major attractions are either paved or wooden walkways have been created which let you get up close to the geothermal activity without having to fear falling into a pit of boiling death.
Below are various images from Yellowstone seismic attractions:
I wanted to start off with the geothermal sites first because to me that was the biggest draw to Yellowstone. I have not yet had the pleasure to visit a volcanic site even though I have been to Japan a few times. I was definitely not disappointed. It was however rather unfortunate that the prismatic pools and Old Faithful were not accessible due to half the park’s roads being closed off for maintenance. Well, to be fair, you could have still made the drive to them by way of an alternate route but it would have required an additional day which I did not have being on a tight schedule. This, of course, means that I will get the chance to go back and complete the trip sometime next summer.
Excluding the geothermal sites, Yellowstone has a lot more to offer. There are beautiful landscapes, amazing waterfalls, wildlife and something resembling a mini Grand Canyon. It was a pleasure to experience the vastness and grand architecture of mother nature.
Below are some photos from various other points of interest in Yellowstone:
New Orleans was quite the experience. I wasn’t going to go to this wonderful city but it turned out to be a wonderful compromise with my buddy who came along for the trip.
We stayed in the French Quarter which provided for great food, entertainment and street photography opportunities. I will start with the food first because the hype is definitely founded in the truth on this one. If you like seafood and Cajun spices you are going to have an amazing experience. I had a chance to try some of the local originals such as gator, red fish, cat fish, craw fish and some of the more usual stuff like prawns, oysters and the likes. I have to say, in terms of seafood, this is some of the best I tried anywhere. There wasn’t a single restaurant or diner that I entered where I left dissatisfied and craving for more.
The entertainment was fabulous. Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street were amazing! Each bar, club or lounge had a live band playing. I happen to love jazz, blues and rock which was usually what was playing at most of the places. At night, some of the clubs would be playing your typical RNB and Hiphop hits but for the most part, the experience was the most organic I have ever seen. The people were all chill and everyone was having a good time. The music was not just plentiful but really good. This didn’t just apply to the places that required a cover charge. There were plenty of street musician giving an equally good and sometimes better show for free (but you should tip them if you like their stuff). Its rather hard to put into words, but there is just something about this place. Out of all the party cities I have visited, the scene on this little strip in New Orleans was definitely my favorite. Other places like Vegas are quite synthetic/fake feeling (for good reason) and while cash still talks at the end of the day regardless of where you are, the French Quarter seemed human, welcoming and organic.
New Orleans is also a street photographers dream. I have tried to get into street photography but I am more of a nature/landscape kinda guy. The number of attractions, musicians and people from all walks and backgrounds will not leave a street photog wanting in this wonderful city. I have given it a good shot and below you will find some of the shots I took. Hope you enjoy.
Going to New Orleans and having (stupidly) rented a car also meant we could venture out into the swamps. The reason I said stupidly is because my bud and I didn’t know any better. You actually don’t require a rental in New Orleans. There are plently of street cars and shuttle services to get you around and most tours will even come to your hotel and pick you up for a an extra $15. Regardless, we ended up getting a car and we put it to use by driving ourselves through the city and to our swamp tours. It was the first time I had seen live gators jumping up several feet out of water. It was quite the experience. The tour took us on the river to various sites. The gators were, fortunately, still in the water as our guide had mentioned that they are usually in hibernation during this time of the year as the temperature drop. Apparently, gators can reduce their heart rate to 1 beat per minute which is insane. We also had a chance to see various birds, wild boar, and tons of insects which I could have done just as well without the knowledge of their existence. Speaking of insects, my bud and I decided to do a self guided tour around a swampy area (name eludes me). I got a couple shots around there until we saw dozens palm sized spiders hanging from various branches. At this point we decided it was probably a good idea to head back to town. Not knowing anything about these insects and not having told anyone about our destination for the day, we decided not to find out if they were poisonous or had acquired a taste for human flesh lol. If you are new to swamps like we were, I strongly recommend you take a few guided tours first before you venture out on your own. Its good to become familiar with what you can expect and how to handle yourself before venturing into the unknown.
Below are some shots from New Orleans and the surrounding swamp lands.
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions about the trip feel free to send me a message or leave a comment.