Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, Washington

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park and Wanapum Recreational Area are located in central region of Washington State, beside the Wanapum Lake reservoir on the Columbia River.

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is located atop the basalt cliff that line Wanapum Lake reservoir

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is located atop the basalt cliffs that line Wanapum Lake reservoir

The native Wanapum people carved over 300 petroglyphs into the basalt cliffs along this part of the Columbia River. About 60 were saved and relocated to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest interpretive centre when Wanapum Lake reservoir was constructed.

The native Wanapum people carved over 300 petroglyphs into the basalt cliffs along this part of the Columbia River. About 60 were saved and relocated to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest interpretive centre when Wanapum Lake reservoir was constructed.

Petrified wood was first discovered at what is now Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park in the 1930s. Specimens representing a remarkable number of different tree species (over 50) have been identified, but the park gets its name from the extremely rare occurrence of fossilised Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba).

They may look like ordinary rocks, but they're actually fossil trees

They may look like ordinary rocks, but they’re actually fossil trees

IMG_8059The trees preserved in the park lived during the Miocene geological period, about 15.5 million years ago. Although this part of Washington State is today a scrub-covered desert, during the Miocene it was a lush, damp forest.

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is today arid scrubland

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is today arid scrubland

The square frames beside the path indicate the presence of fossilised logs

The square frames beside the path indicate the presence of fossilised logs

Rich has found another one!

Rich has found another one!

Volcanic eruptions first buried this area of forest in ash, and then flows of basalt, protecting the tree remains during the petrification process. These protective layers were removed during a series of catastrophic floods at the end of the last ice age, between about 15,000 and 13,000 years ago.

IMG_8056Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park was officially designated a National Natural Landmark in 1965.

This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which this week is Weathered Wood.

Didn't notice this sign until after we'd been wandering around the desert!

Didn’t notice this sign until after we’d been wandering around the desert!

While you’re marvelling about rocks that used to be trees, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Venetian Greengrocers

Of all the cities I’ve been fortunate enough to visit, there’s no secret that Venice is by far my favourite. It’s a place like no other, and with so much to see and do. I could host a blog devoted solely to the uniquely beautiful Queen of the Adriatic.

Yet it’s easy to forget that Venice is more than just a travel destination. It’s also home to around 60,000 people. And these residents need the same services as those of us who live in more mundane places.

These services include the provision of everyday staples. Like fresh fruits and vegetables, for instance.

Scattered among the tourist souvenir stands are more practical vendors serving locals

Scattered among the tourist souvenir stands are more practical vendors serving locals

Fresh produce on sale at the Rialto Market, beside the famous Rialto Bridge

Fresh produce on sale at the Rialto Market, beside the famous Rialto Bridge

But in typical Venetian fashion, even something as ordinary as a greengrocer can appear extraordinary to us outsiders.

Simply by placing it on a boat.

Greengrocer on the Fondamenta Gherardini

Greengrocer on the Fondamenta Gherardini

Local Venetians need the basics be it summer...

Local Venetians need the basics, be it summer…

...Or winter

…Or winter

"...And here's your change, signore."

“…And here’s your change, signore.”

This post was inspired by the photo themes Fresh (from Jen of the Daily Post) and Float (from Sue of A Word In Your Ear).

Closed for the day, please come back tomorrow! - another greengrocer, this time on Fondamenta Sant'Anna

Closed for the day, please come back tomorrow!
- another greengrocer, this time on Fondamenta Sant’Anna

If you’re a wannabe Venetian like me, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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The Streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan from the air

Old San Juan from the air

This time two years ago I was in Puerto Rico for the first time. Since then, I’m lucky enough to have been back for a return visit. There’s so much I enjoy about the island, but without doubt my favourite spot is the historic heart of Old San Juan.

The road climbing El Campo del Morro up to Castillo San Felipe del Morro (or El Morro, for short)

The road climbing El Campo del Morro up to Castillo San Felipe del Morro (or El Morro, for short)

It's a long slog for someone as small as me!

It’s a long slog for someone as small as me!

The view Old San Juan from El Morro

The view Old San Juan from El Morro

Old San Juan Cemetery, with El Morro in the distance

Old San Juan Cemetery, with El Morro in the distance

Street of the dead

Street of the dead

Europeans have been living on the site now called Old San Juan for over half a millennia. In 1509, Juan Ponce de León founded the settlement, which was then simply called Puerto Rico. In 1521, it was renamed San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, which is a bit of a mouthful if you ask me. No doubt people were relieved when demolition began on parts of the city walls in 1897 to enable the expansion of the city, and they could start calling the original part Old San Juan.

A section of Old San Juan'c city walls

A section of Old San Juan’s city walls

San Juan Gate

San Juan Gate

San Juan Gate from the inside, which leads to...

San Juan Gate from the inside, which leads to…

...Caleta de San Juan

…Caleta de San Juan

Caleta de San Juan

Caleta de San Juan

Caleta de San Juan ends in a small park in front of...

Caleta de San Juan ends in a small park in front of…

...the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

…the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

Most of Old San Juan’s buildings date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries, including the two massive fortresses of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal (which deserve separate future postings of their own – watch this space!). As a consequence, it is considered the oldest settlement on Puerto Rico and one of the most ancient colonial cities in the New World.

Cuartel de Ballajá

Cuartel de Ballajá

Plaza del Quinto Centenario (Quincentennial Plaza) is home to...

Plaza del Quinto Centenario (Quincentennial Plaza) is home to…

...the rather odd Totem Telurico

…the rather odd Totem Telurico

Church of San Jose

Church of San Jose

Juan Ponce de León, founder of San Juan

Juan Ponce de León, founder of San Juan

The San Juan National Historic Site was defined in 1949. It was included on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1966, before being promoted to a National Historic Landmark District in 2013.

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Internationally, Old San Juan has been considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1983.

Parque de las Palomas (Pigeon Park) - wonder where it gets its name

Parque de las Palomas (Pigeon Park) – wonder where it gets its name

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Place de Armas

Plaza de Armas

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Cellphones have eliminated the original need for this building, which now serves as a cafe in Plaza de Armas

Cellphones have eliminated the original need for this building, which now serves as a cafe in Plaza de Armas

Plaza Salvador Brau

Plaza Salvador Brau

Approaching Castillo San Cristóbal

Approaching Castillo San Cristóbal

Plaza de Colón

Plaza de Colón

This post was inspired by this week’s Cee’s Which Way Challenge.

The streets of Old San Juan look wonderful at night

The streets of Old San Juan look wonderful at night

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Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

IMG_4554IMG_4555IMG_4556While you’re daydreaming about wandering down Old World streets in the New World, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

IMG_4716And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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As Sir Terry Passes, Jaspa’s Journey Is Reborn

Thursday was a sad-happy day for me.

Sir Terry PratchettMost writers are influenced and inspired by those that come before. Their literary heroes, if you like. And right at the top of the list for Rich is the immensely talented and successful British author Sir Terry Pratchett, who sadly died on Thursday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

So perhaps it’s fitting that on the same day Sir Terry shook hands with Death (one of the his most popular and likeable characters), Jaspa’s Journey, Rich’s series of travel-adventure novels about my exploits, got a new lease of life.

The original book in the Jaspa’s Journey series, The Great Migration, was first released by DreamCatcher Publishing in 2009. Unfortunately, after selling out two print runs and being named an award-winning finalist in USA Book News’ Best Books 2009, Jaspa’s Journey was put on hold when DreamCatcher’s owner passed away and the company closed.

Now, following several years in the wilderness, Jaspa’s Journey has finally found a new home at Speaking Volumes, a publishing house based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. On Thursday, Rich signed contracts that will not only bring The Great Migration back to print, but also the first two sequels: The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo.

The contracts are signed

The contracts are signed

And if that wasn’t already enough, Rich has also committed Jaspa’s Journey 4 through 10 to Speaking Volumes!

With Terry Pratchett’s passing, Thursday March 12th, 2015, will forever be a sad day for me. But it also represents the day Jaspa’s Journey broke through a symbolic wall and into a brighter day.

The future is looking Fantastic! Watch this space.

At the Post Office

At the Post Office

This post was inspired by the photo themes Wall (from Cheri of the Daily Post), Fantastic (from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?) and Brighten Up Your Day (from Nancy of Nancy Merrill Photography).

Janet was a bit shy, but the contracts are now on their way to New Mexico!

Janet was a bit shy, but the contracts are now on their way to New Mexico!

If you too were a fan of Sir Terry Pratchett, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

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Caught Unawares by the Hawaiian Surf

I know I’ve posted this photo before, most recently in Kauai, Hawaii’s Garden Island, which kick-started my overview series on the five Hawaiian islands I’ve been lucky enough to visit.

But when I saw that the theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week was Catching People Unaware, it just seemed too perfect to resist! I hope you approve.

IMG_6346This photo was one of those “Just one more step backwards” moments. It was taken on Lumaha’i Beach, on Kauai’s fabulous north shore.

If a walk along a Hawaiian beach sounds like your sort of relaxing, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Why Utah?

“Why on Earth are you going to Utah?”

I got asked that question, in one form or another, so many times before I visited there a couple of years back. My response was always, “Why not?”

Let me get something straight:

I.     Love.     Utah!

IMG_9756In fact, Utah was on my Bucket List twice. Firstly, because Sue, Rich and I (successfully)set ourselves the target of visiting every state in the Union by New Years Eve of 2013. By that reckoning, Utah was state #46.

The second reason for Utah being on my Bucket List is simply because it’s Utah. And I’ve always wanted to go there!

01 Arches NPAdmittedly, if your idea of a fun vacation revolves around beaches and nightlife, then Utah probably isn’t your dream destination. But for anyone who loves the Great Outdoors, Utah’s the place to be! I mean, how could anyone who’s ever seen a John Wayne movie not want to go there?

View from Brian Head

View from Brian Head

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Grafton ghost town, near Zion

Grafton ghost town, near Zion

Being the Beehive State, Utah’s State colours are black and yellow. Personally, I think it should be orange. After all, its endless desert landscapes contain every shade from amber to vermillion. Especially at sunrise and sunset.

Monument Valley straddles the border with Arizona

Monument Valley straddles the border with Arizona

Monument Valley: even the night is tinged with orange out here in the desert

Monument Valley: even the night is tinged with orange out here in the desert

Monument Valley at sunrise

Monument Valley at sunrise

And the graceful intricacy of the some of the erosional features has to be seen to be believed. Particularly at Arches and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

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Next time I'll make sure I have enough time to hike to Delicate Arch

Next time I’ll make sure I have enough time to hike to Delicate Arch

Skyline Arch, Arches National Park

Skyline Arch, Arches National Park

Broken Arch, Arches National Park

Broken Arch, Arches National Park

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

The Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

The Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

Another view of the Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

Another view of the Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

Heading down into the Amphitheatre among the hoodoos, Bryce Canyon National Park

Heading down into the Amphitheatre among the hoodoos, Bryce Canyon National Park

Redwoods and hoodoos, the Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

Redwoods and hoodoos, the Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

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With some pals in the bottom of the Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

With some pals in the bottom of the Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

The steep way back out of the Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

The steep way back out of the Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park

Natural Bridge, Bryce Canyon National Park

Natural Bridge, Bryce Canyon National Park

Utah used to be on my Bucket List as a place I wanted to go to. But since I’ve been there, that’s all changed. These days Utah is still on my Bucket List, but as a place I want to go back to! Because there’s still so much I want to see there.

The graceful, if scary, curves of The Hogsback (aka Heebeejeebee Highway) on Scenic Route 12

The graceful, if scary, curves of The Hogsback (aka Heebeejeebee Highway) on Scenic Route 12

Spooky Canyon, Grand Escalante National Monument

Spooky Canyon, Grand Escalante National Monument

Spooky Canyon

Spooky Canyon

Storm brewing over Grand Escalante

Storm brewing over Grand Escalante

Hopefully this post will convince you that Utah deserves a place on your Bucket List, too.

Lake Powell

Lake Powell

I think Red Canyon should be renamed, Orange Canyon!

I think Red Canyon should be renamed, Orange Canyon!

This post was inspired by the photo themes Orange you glad it’s photo challenge time? (from Michelle of the Daily Post), Graceful (from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?) and Intricate (from Sue of A Word In Your Ear). It’s based on an article I originally posted as a featured blogger on Bucket List Publications in 2013.

Monument Valley sunriseIf Utah is your kind of place, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Driving A Dog Sled In Mont-Tremblant

In the intro to my Old Faithful post a couple of weeks ago, I revealed I was snowmobiling in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, at the time. As it turned out, snowmobiling was just one of the modes of transport we got to experience while we were there…

IMG_2180We also got to travel by gondola (the aerial kind, not the boat)…

IMG_2206We went snowshoeing, to get a bit of exercise…

IMG_2154But by far the most fun form of transportation we got to experience was dog sledding!

Our morning with Alaskan Adventure (located just outside Arundel, QC) started with introductions, as we escorted the dogs out to their sleds. Their welcome was so genuine and full of energy, it was clear they couldn’t wait to be off!

Rich getting a cuddle (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Rich getting a cuddle (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Sue getting a kiss (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Sue getting a kiss (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Then came the biggest surprise of the day… we weren’t just riding in the sleighs, we were going to get to drive them ourselves! (Well, the human members of our party were, Gravee and I are a little too small for that sort of thing!)

Although our fantastic guides gave constant instructions and advice, we were on our own aboard the sled. It was an incredible experience to barrel through the falling snow, just us and the dogs enthusiastically pulling us.

Look at that concentration! (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Look at that concentration! (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

This is so much fun! (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

This is so much fun! (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Heading up the hill (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Heading up the hill (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Like something from a Jack London novel (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Like something from a Jack London novel (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Looks like Rich does this every day, doesn't it?! (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Looks like Rich does this every day, doesn’t it?! (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

I can only imagine how much more fun it must have been for Rich and Sue, as they took turns controlling the sled, encouraging our lead dogs with cries of, “Allez up-up-up, Bella! Good dog, Boum-Boum!”

Sue's turn! (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

Sue’s turn! (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

I got this (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

I got this (photo by Alaskan Adventure)

My view of the adventure

My view of the adventure

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At the end of the run, we got to thank our pups with treats, before showering them with tummy rubs in their living compound.

Thanking Boum-Boum and Bella

Thanking Boum-Boum and Bella

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Treat time for Winona and Toundra

Treat time for Winona and Toundra

As I understand, most dog sledding operations are a little nervous about letting guests interact with their dogs, for fear of an incident. But Annette, Sonia and Maxim positively encouraged us to get close to their dogs, many of whom are rescues. This unexpected intimacy made the experience all the more memorable.

Sue giving Patches some love

Sue giving Patches some love

Jeff and Kathleen with Nemo, one of Alaskan Adventures current litter of puppies

Jeff and Kathleen with Nemo, one of Alaskan Adventures current litter of puppies

Mallory's a bit shy

Mallory’s a bit shy

Unalaq isn't!

Unalaq isn’t!

And Wakiza wants to dance

And Wakiza wants to dance

A big thank you to all at Alaskan Adventure for a wonderful morning, especially our canine companions: Puce & Nayak, Winona & Toundra, and our lead dogs, Bella & Boum-Boum.

IMG_6072This post was inspired by this week’s Cee’s Which Way Challenge.

If driving your own dog sled team sounds like fun, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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