Friday, May 15, 2009
I'm excited to announce the publication of my first book titled Moon Utah Camping! The guidebook is published by Avalon Travel's Moon Handbooks and is part of their Moon Outdoor Series. Moon Utah Camping is a complete guide to camping in Utah and covers all the developed campgrounds in the state - including public campgrounds, private campgrounds and RV parks. Its also packed full of useful information about Utah's abundant recreational opportunities and national parks. If you're interested in camping anywhere in Utah, this book is the perfect place to start. The book sells for $17.95 and you can buy a signed copy of the the book here, directly from the author. Unsigned copies are available at book stores in Salt Lake and around the state of Utah. You'll also find it at outdoor stores like REI or through online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders.com, Books-a-million.com, IndieBound.org, and Powells.com.
Here's a short video/slideshow trailer for the book.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Searching for a completely different experience than the Utah winter, Sonja and I headed to Thailand for a 3 week climbing trip during the month of April. Below are some photos with extended captions from our trip.
This shot depicts the "Thailand climbing dream." White sand tropical beach, wildly overhanging and textured rock, nobody else in sight...of course the reality there is a lot more complicated. But this wall, called Low Tide Wall, was both secluded and deserted. The catch: it can only be reached and climbed on at low tide, because at high tide, it doesn't exist.
You can't get very far in Southern Thailand without taking one of these longtail boats. They've got a suped-up lawn mower engine on the back with a propeller extending into the water - which doubles as a power source and rudder. They're loud as hell and an environmental nightmare, but they're the way everyone and everything gets around.
This beach is Railey East, the "budget" beach on the Phra Nang Peninsula. The Phra Nang Peninsula is climbing central in Thailand. Its cut off from the Krabi mainland by a series of limestone cliffs (the same ones that are so cool to climb on) and has an island like feel. Everything must come and go by boat, which is a good and bad thing. The limited access reduces the number of tourists, but it also means there's lots of garbage and junk sitting around (or stashed in the jungle) because nobody wants to pay to have it hauled away. There are three beaches on the peninsula, Railey East, Railey West, and Tonsai Beach. These beaches are literally surrounded by climbing crags, so no matter where you stay, you're close to some excellent pocket pulling!
Here's a look back the other way at the laid back bars and restaurants lining the beach.
This is the Muai Thai Wall, which means Thai Boxing. When we first arrived, we were still on US time, so we'd get up at 5 AM and climb for about 4 hours before the crowds of climbers would show up with the Thai guiding companies at nine. By then we figured we'd earned breakfast.
Like many tropical countries, Thailand has two main seasons, a dry season, and a wet season. The dry season runs from December through May, with the monsoon unloading the rest of the year. While the rain only interfered with our climbing a couple days, it did seem like the rainy season had started a little early. This shot is of passing thunderstorm as it rolled towards the western horizon.
This is Sonja on lead feeling her way up Massage Secret at the 1,2,3 Wall.
After a week on the Phra Nang Peninsula, we packed up and headed to the Phi Phi Islands - tourist mania, and the birthplace of climbing in Thailand.
After a solid ten days of climbing we were ready for a rest day, so we went on a sunset snorkel tour out to Phi Phi Le. Phi Phi Le is preserved as a national park so there's no development on the island. It is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and is, in fact where the Hollywood flop, "The Beach" staring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed. The infamous tsunami in 2004 has since reshaped the beach a bit, throwing up lots of broken coral into the shallow tide pools, but otherwise it remains its stunning self. Phi Phi Le has the best snorkeling I've ever seen with incredible shallow reefs teeming with fish. The water is the perfect temperature and the visibility is excellent - the only bummer is the other people. Lots of 'em. And we were there in the low season.
Here's a look at the early morning calm
along the shoreline of Phi Phi Le from
the deck of a diveboat.
Thailand is famous for its all-night full moon beach parties. One of the key elements to any good full moon party (aside from copious consumption of booze and other substances) is the late night fireshow. The performers twirl kerosene fueled fireballs on the end of arm length chains leaving a trail of light in the darkness. This photo wasn't made on a full moon, but rather on an average night at a beach bar. When this performer spotted my hefty tri-pod and fancy camera, he excitedly asked me take his photo while he created a flower with his fire trails over the span of a four second exposure.
Just another world class sunset on a gorgeous beach...
Does this remind anyone of the Yellowstone in the 60's? While monkeys might not be as powerful and threatening as grizzly bears, its probably even dumber to feed them. Their bites carry rabies, which means at best a series of painful shots - in a third world hospital. We asked our snorkel guide if it was common for people to be bit, his answer: every day.
Northern Thailand is distinctly more Buddhist than southern Thailand, so after a couple weeks of climbing down south, we headed up to Chiang Mai to get a little more of a cultural experience. This is a beautiful old teak wood Buddhist Temple in the "Old City" of Chiang Mai. There's tons of history in Chiang Mai. This is where the original Thai people first settled after migrating south from China.
Chiang Mai is also a wonderful place to shop. The locals take street markets to the next level. There's a night market every night and on the weekends there's also a Saturday Market, Sunday Market and a Weekend Market in addition to all the small local food markets. The hill tribes who live north of the city make an impressive assortment of handicrafts.
We took a cooking class in Chiang Mai so we could try to replicate all the good meals we'd enjoyed while in country. After you cooked each dish, you ate it, so by the end of the day we felt like we were going to explode. Here's Sonja working on her green curry.
My favorite part of the cooking class was going to the local food market where our instructor showed us the local vegetables and ingredients to the classic Thai dishes. There was some crazy looking local food that I didn't try, and lots of lovely looking produce.
Think we have a lot options at American grocery stores? Check out all these different varietals of white rice!
Here we are receiving some instruction about Thai ginger...