I would rather be here now -- #3

1/31/2014 09:52:00 PM

Not long ago I was basking in reflected glory of the frozen almighty Narnia land. I drove on hazardous roads of sleet, long patches of snow in severe snow and rain storms, stepped on frozen lakes and streams in remote Alaska, Just to get a glimpse of that little divine ( read Northern Lights ). While I worked very hard. Nature didn't disappoint me either. But the heights of adventure - We almost killed ourselves on the Glen Highway because our car went in to a skid.

Now, at this moment, it just feels like I am exaggerating. - Honestly, I loved it all, reason being - In my case, adrenaline overcomes everything -. I also thought I had experienced the best snow of the season, and back home in New York it'll be just 10 days of snow during christmas just like I was told. How wrong I was. I had someone waiting to sweep me off my feet -

Well, Say Hello to Polar Vortex.

Last two months I have mostly spent indoor.  Never in my life I have spent these many days in - this dangerous cold - never. And it wasn't the swirls of Polar vortex alone that brought the thermometer down to -20, He was joined by winter storm Mr. Hercules and what not - I cant even remember their names. Bottom line This place has turned in to my longest running Antarctica boot camp.

So After seeing mountains of snow at the last frontier, and holy hills made by 13 inches of snowfall around my own house here, Why would I rather be at any place snow these season? Haven't I had enough of it already?

Nope & Here is why...

* "I would rather be here now" previous two installments here - 1 and 2*

1- *The Roof of Japan - Tateyama kurobe alpine route* and *Ice Truck Road Northwest Territories Canada*

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So As it might look like, either my google hit rate of search terms is pretty awesome, or the world is full of surprises. I am hitting a 20m tall snow wall. I have never heard of it, or seen such tall snow corridors before, obviously because I have not been to Roof of Japan Yet.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route is a 90km / 56miles long magnificent route from two cities Toyama and Omachi in North Japan. What's unique about this route in Japan alps is, that it traverses through the very dynamic scenery of Tateyama Mountain Range, part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park, beginning from 475MSL, reaching the altitude of 2450meters at the foot of Mt tateyama. the distance is covered using multiple modes such as train, cable car, ropeway, trolleybuses and of course walking. well you my visualize the craziness of this road hike trip here a little. Open during almost all season except winters, Its very popular amongst the hikers, I wonder How come I never laid my eyes on it before. But now that I have. I just cant wait to get there.

* Japan Guide to Alpen route*

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Ok so as fate would have it. I have been dreaming of Japan a way too much these days. But I was actually looking for only snow cycling or something similar on the internet then- Wild you may say. well guess what it was n't. This search led me straight to Ice Road trucking. You must have heard of the TV series, watched it perhaps. Well I hadn't, yet. (and thats why this series was born i.e. - IWRBHN )

So Alright, Ice road trucking  is one monumentally adventurous job for sure. but here is one for the little less-committed adventure for thrill-seekers like me. - Biking on the 120-mile winter road that connects Inuvik, a large town in the Mackenzie Delta of Canada’s Northwest Territories, with the village of Tuktoyaktuk, on the shore of the Arctic Ocean. This one wide road is frozen Mackenzie River, that is open from December to April , and wide enough to accommodate both truckers and cyclist.

The other one Yellowknife, NWT, and travels to the diamond mines a couple hundred miles north of it. This is where the the tv series begin. which later focussed on our very own Dalton highway in Alaska. This reminds me when I was sitting in coldfoot I was kinda hoping I would drive one of those toy ( Not really but very cute) trucks one day. Looks like next adventure would be cycling and trucking both.

*Transcripts of my previous Alaska Dalton - Glenn adventure*

And if I forgot to mention, You can see northern lights from Yellowknife and of course from Dalton as well. Any more reasons, you need?

2 - Cave of the Crystal : Naica Mine Chihuahua Mexico

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Okay Okay Enough of Ice Roads and Snow walls, Lets see some color other than blue and white, and travel a little down south. While I try learn more about this place, I am imagining myself going back to school and taking exams. well - both geography and world seemed much smaller and simpler in 10th grade - Don't you think?

From A route that leads to Diamond mine, Lets go to the one that yields silver. Here is a cave of perhaps world's most giant crystals, discovered only 15 years ago. the 50ft long and 5m thick gypsum / selenite crystals that yield both lead and silver are about half a million years old. if you're still not fascinated enough, then let me tell you, walking in this cave is no cake-walk.

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At about 120F temperature and humidity of 100 percent, walking in the cave might boil your blood and give you a heart stroke. Naica Mine is an active worksite though. and while, I read at many places that the cave is closed for public.  It is possible for tourists to arrange supervised access to the upper caverns, while the lower ones remains restricted to employees and scientists only.

All I'd say is What a place to get a heart attack in ;) ( No offense )

3 - Land of the fire and Ice

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From down under lets go a little up in the sky and glance over at this incredible view of Iceland volcanic rivers. So you've heard Iceland is a photographers delight. So you have heard you can view Northern lights from there. So you have heard of some of the best geothermal spa i.e. hot springs of Iceland, but the volcanos and the rivers? for an aerial photography lover, these views are just icing on the cake.

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As less is the information, the Internet right now, is flooded with these photographs of volcanic rivers, specially the ones shot by Russian photographer Andre Ermolaev. Unlike everything else in this article, I saw these images about 2 years back when I was researching about Iceland and I was stunned by the beauty. He has shot them in almost every possible combinations of patterns and lines.. but that doesn't change the fact  that - for every pair of new eyes, the view is new - I so want to shoot these myself and a long trip to the land of fire and ice, is definitely on the cards. Can't Help. Can I?

*More aerial beauty from Iceland*

4 - Lake Natron and Lake Retba

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Oh I hope you dint think I'd bring you back to the surface this soon.  We have two more awesome places to visit before we land, and the wonders of the world are no less exciting. The first in the pair of these two salt lakes, is Lake natron in Tanjania near Kenya border. The lake might as well be knows as mummification lake, but I read a little and figured its not really true. Its a shallow alkaline lake with 10.5 high pH value, and huge deposits of sodium carbonate i.e. enough to burn the skin. well you can call it ammonia lake ( Its really not though, I'll come back to that next)  the color is deep red due to salt loving organisms and algae.

Lake Natron - Image Credit

When I first saw this Lake yesterday It reminded me of Alviso wetland in Bay Area San francisco. I managed to take a few shots of salt ponds Last year when I was landing in San Fran. This one though looks sort of similar but with little extreme features, actually extreme enough to let media popularize it as Medusa.

Lake Natron's alkaline waters support a thriving ecosystem of salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, flamingos and other wetland birds, tilapia and the algae on which large flocks of flamingos feed. However, The serenity of Lake Natron — and its flamingo population — are threatened by a proposed hydroelectric power plant on the Ewaso Ngiro River, the main river feeding the lake. As isolated as the lake is (it wasn't even discovered by Europeans until 1954), there are no protections in place for the lake or its threatened flamingo population.

I can only pray that authority does the best for the environment, save this creation of nature, and Not only I but many could see it too.

The last paragraph courtesy livescience - > *Here is an interesting article to aid your knowledge about this place and also breaks the myth created by the media*

Lake Retba Senegal - Image Credit

Promise you can take a dip or atleast float in this one. The Lake Retba also called the pink lake of Senegal or lac Rose, is pink due to Dunaliella salina algae, and is high on salt content, just like the dead sea of Jordan.  The lake is about 18 miles from the capital Dakar. Unlike Natron, which has no one to care about, here about 3000 salt miners extract the salts from the lake and sell it in the entire region. All I can say is. good way to save the wonder of the world.

5 - The river of Five colors : Caño Cristales, Columbia

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And that bring us to final place in the list today. This is the most beautiful river in the world.
well, you can see for yourself.

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Caño Cristales is a Colombian river located in the Serrania de la Macarena, province of Meta.
Approximately 100km long and 20 meters wide, the river that run to the east, flowing into the Guayabero river, is mostly famous as “The river of five colors,”  or “the liquid rainbow” due to its vibrant colors such as yellow, green, blue, black, and red, which is due to Macarenia clavigera, a unique species of river plant, at the bottom of the river which gives it its unique appearance and shades of brilliant pink and red.

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Though this happens only during for a special period of a few weeks from September through to November when the temperature is just about right. during this period,  the water level drops enough for the sun to warm the moss and algae on the river's bottom, and this warmth leads to an explosive growth of blooms. It is offset by splotches of yellow and green sand, blue water, and a thousand shades in between.

Traveling to the river is not easy as one must fly to the small town of La Macarena and trek through unmarked trails into the national park from there. But that is not tough enough to stop me or is it?

Now you know where I'd be this october... ;)

Hope you enjoyed and were inspired by this installment of "I would rather be here now"  I had a blast writing and researching them and honestly I cant wait to visit these locations myself.

See you on the trail.
Until next time.

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  1. yeah lots of day dreaming happening now.

    1. Ha ha.. That header image is a daydreaming resultant as well... So nothing new.
      But this post is not about day dreaming its about discovering new places,
      If you never know, you never plan.

      But Let me tell you, A "no dreams night", and Day Dreaming is really good for health. ;)

  2. i agree. actually i am half asleep. that was meant for me. :-)


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