Conquering Mt Tauhara Taupo

Last week, I finally made the effort to climb the iconic Mt Tauhara, a dormant stratovolcano that looks over Taupo township. It is one of those walks I frequently hear others rave about, but I always got swayed by the stunning Lake Taupo and all you can do there on a beautiful day. This time it was not the height of summer, and another another amazing clear sunny day on the Lake, I figured it was a perfect day to go bush.

Mt Tauhara, is less than a 10 minute drive from Taupo town center, so a cheap taxi fare for those with no transport or ask your accommodation provider about options to get there. There is a carpark at the end of Mountain Rd, which comes off State Highway 5, and from there you follow the signs up the hill. It must be noted at this point, the entire track is across private land so respect the privilege as the sign states.

The first part of the walk is up a fairly steep ridge and already you start to appreciate the views this walk is going to give you. Carrying on past some water tanks you finally get to some bush cover and the real trek begins. I must admit the first part of this walk is steep and at times slippery underfoot. The temperature also changes once you get to the bushline, dropping a few degrees from the carpark temperature. But if you make it to the seat then again you will see some fantastic views from the mountain.

The seat marks the halfway point, and from here the walk did get a wee bit easier, but still was uphill. What I loved most about this part of the track was the bush cover, typical New Zealand native trees and undergrowth made the walk feel uniquely Kiwi – something my ex-pat Kiwi friend commented on too.

Once we reached the stream the surroundings became even more spectacular. Finally we got to hear the amazing birdlife in all their glory, tuis, wood pigeon, piwakawaka, wax eyes etc, all singing their hearts out above the bushline. This was about two thirds up the mountain and so worth the effort. The scenery changed here too, with moss covered trees reaching over us like a scene out of Lord of the Rings. We were feeling pretty exhausted at this point, but the birds cave us that little boost we needed to head to the top, and from here it actually was not too hard a climb.

And wow, what a sight greeted us at the top. At 1008 meters above sea level, we had the most magnificent views of the Central North Island. Mt Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe had their first dusting of snow and looked spectral behind Lake Taupo which itself was a sight to be seen with no cloud and no wind on this day. Turning around we could see White Island as clear as anything, and to the left Rotorua appeared to be buried under a layer of soft white cloud. It is hard not to use all the cliches for this view, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, it really was really awesome. We spent a long time just turning slowly taking it all in.

As we were warned, the temperature was chilly on the top of the mountain, and I could see why it often gets snow up there in winter. We walked to the rocky outcrop which was about 5 minutes along a narrow path, and here we got some fantastic shots hanging off the rocks. We were also treated to a special flyover by a keen helicopter pilot who was doing some kind of stunts around the mountain.

After nearly 45 minutes we finally headed down the track, this time the pace was double the speed given the steep gradient. We passed a few weary looking tourists heading up, andave them encouragement to keep going. You really do require a good level of fitness to conquer this Mountain and wear appropriate clothes and shoes for damp bush, muddy tracks and a cold blast on top. After the clear day there were noticeable changes of temperature on the walk, and the track would be very slippery after long wet periods.

Half way down we really started to notice our knee joints working hard, and we were reminded again again how steep the track really is. By the time we go to the ridge my legs were feeling like jelly and I was pleased we were near at the carpark. But boy was I glad that I had finally made the effort. This is a fantastic alternative to the Tongariro Crossing, and another stunning New Zealand day walk. I definitely will not be leaving it long till my next climb, and I will bring more friends and family too!

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian cruise lines are an increasingly common set of companies when it comes to the cruise line business. When thinking of cruise lines the obvious destinations are placed in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. There is though big business in Norwegian cruise lines.

An increasing number of people are booking cruises with Norwegian cruise lines in order to take in the beauty of Norway and other Scandinavian countries. The coast of Norway is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful coastlines to be found anywhere in the world. There is no better way to take in the wonders of the Norwegian fjords than from the deck of a boat run by one of the Norwegian cruise lines. A fjord is an impressive site from sea level, as it is a long and narrow bay of water enclosed as it is by steep cliffs on either side. The glacial activity that causes the fjord can be seen all around.

It is because not just the fjords that attract people to make use of the Norwegian cruise lines, there are many other sites to be taken in. Pick the time of the year just right and a passenger can view the Midnight Sun or the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). The midnight sun is a phenomenon found within the Arctic Circle, and Antarctic. Norwegian cruise lines that take in places like Syalbard in Norway will experience daylight around the clock. Syalbard in fact is famous for having no night from the middle of April to the end of August.

Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, is nature's equivalent to a massive laser show and is a must for anyone on Norwegian cruise lines. You do have to be on the right cruise at the right time though as Aurora Borealis can normally only be seen from March to April or September to October. If you are lucky enough to be on one of the cruises, then you will be able to view a green or red light show.

There are plenty of other things to be taken in when going on ships with Norwegian cruise lines. Norway is full of interesting towns and villages including Oslo, Bergen and Tromso. Tromso is particularly interesting to visitors due to the presence for the large number of wooden houses to be found there. Tromso is also a place for World War II enthusiasts as the place where the Tirpitz battleship was sunk.

Roofing Contractors – Tips For Hiring a Roofing Contractor

Hiring a roofing contractor can be a challenge, as there are some people who claim to be professional roofers when simply not. Homeowners run into several problems when searching for roofers. These problems include the large amount of roofing contractors who are unlicensed and uninsured and roofers who were not trained properly. Many of these unqualified roofers seem skilled and competent and homeowners are misled into hiring them. For these homeowners, the end result is often a poorly installed roof.

Family and Friend Recommendations

Your family, friends and coworkers can be the best resource when searching for a roofer. If your friends or family were happy with a roofer, then chances are you will be, too. Spend time asking your friends and family questions about the roofing contractor they used. Include questions about whether the job completed on time; the cleanup was thorough; and whether the roofer agreed to come back for any necessary repairs.

References

References are extremely important when hiring a roofer. It's important to ask for references and to speak to the homeowners the roofer has worked for. Ask for the addresses of homes in your neighborhood where the roofer completed work. Drive by and get a first-hand look at the roof. A good roofing contractor will be proud of his work and should be willing to provide you with this information.

Online Resources

There are several reliable Web sites on the Internet that provide information on dependent contractors in your area. These sites have reviews of contractors and usually list only licensed roofers.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The Better Business Bureau is a good source for researching information about a specific roofing company. You can also do a search for roofers who are in good "A +" standing. You can search the BBB online or contact your local BBB branch office. If the roofer you are interested in had a complaint against him, find out the nature of the complaint and how it was resolved.

Proper Credentials

Almost every city and state require roofing contractors to have a license. Make sure your roofing contractor is licensed, insured or bonded if required in your area. Rofers should also have liability insurance and a workers' compensation certificate. Ask to see licenses and make sure they are valid.

Contract and Warranty

Be wary of a roofer who does not want to give you an estimate and or contract in writing. You should be provided with a detailed estimate, including the cost breakdown of supplies, number of layers to be removed and the shingle name and color. Also ask about shingle manufacturer's product line and the warranty for the products used. A timeline should also be included.

Additional Tips:

o Customer satisfaction – How important is customer satisfaction to you? A roofer who is pleasant to work with is a good sign that your contractor cares about what he is doing.

o Do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions.

o Conduct a search on the Internet of the name of the roofer and of the company. See if you find any questionable information.

o Never pay for the entire job up-front.

Four Different Baltimore Pro Football Teams Have Won Championships

Winning the championship is the primary goal of any football team, or any sports team at all really. There is only one reason to go out and play and that is to win the championship. A championship season is not only rewarding to the players that duke it out on the field, but also to the fans that root them on. Cities and regions should be very proud of their championship winning teams.

Baltimore is a great football town and professional football has been present there in one form or another for more than 60 years. Many people do not know this, but four different professional football teams have won championships while representing the city of Baltimore.

The Baltimore Ravens – 2000
The last Baltimore team to win a league title in pro football was the team that currently represents the city in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens began as a franchise in 1996, having been active as the Cleveland Browns the previous year. They had a few tough years, but in 2000 everything came together behind a strong running game and an out of this world defense. They ended up defeating the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV.

The Baltimore Colts – 1958, 1959, and 1970
The Baltimore Colts won championships three times. In 1958, they defeated the New York Giants for the NFL title in what many would refer to as the greatest game ever played. After trailing most of the 1959 title game, the Colts would always score 24 unanswered points and defeat the Giants in a rematch of the previous year's championship game by the score of 31-16. The Colts won their third league title in 1970 when they beat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl V by the score of 27-17. Technically, the Colts have a fourth title as they were champions of the NFL in 1968, but went on to lose Super Bowl III to the New York Jets of the American Football League before the two leagues merged.

The Baltimore Stars – 1985
The Stars franchise had played the first two seasons of their time in the USFL in the city of Philadelphia. The team was moved to Baltimore for 1985 and because they were not as successful as they had been in the past, they were able to make it into the playoffs. The magic was still there though and they marched through the post season and would win the last championship game in USFL history by defeating the Oakland Invaders.

The Baltimore Stallions – 1995
The Canadian Football League expanded into the United States in the mid 1990's, and one of the cities that got a team was Baltimore. In 1995, their second season, the Baltimore Stallions not only won their division, but they became the first team based in America to win the Gray Cup as champions of the Canadian Football League. The team was gone the next year as they were moved to Montreal and renamed the Allouettes.

Gather the Rate Information From an International Moving Company

Time to move, but this time it is not around the corner from mom and dad, it is not across the country, it is across the ocean. The first thing you think about is how you are going to move your entire life to another country. You need to call an international moving company to gather rate information. You search the web, you call different companies. You find that it is going to be even more difficult to move overseas than you thought.

Each international moving company has very different rates to the same location. You realize that you can not even take your hair dryer with you. That is fine; it may be less expensive to obtain the necessary electrical equipment while you are in your destination country. Your computer, after all you would not have gotten this job if you had not been surfing the web late at night.

You search long and hard for the right adapters for your computer. Finally, that is settled. Your pets, oh goodness, are you going to be able to get your goldfish and hermit crab over there? They are your constant companions after all. You call the international moving company of your choice to see if they have any information.

You have decided that Goldy and Herman will be going to live at your brother's house. In addition, the washer, dryer, large flat screen television and other appliances will live in your brother's garage until you get back. Clothing, toiletries and other basic items will have to be sorted through.

Finally, the packet of information on making transatlantic moves arrives. You realize that you have forgotten to update your passport, immunizations, and several other key items. Panic sets in as you only have two weeks left to get it all together. You rush to the doctor, local federal office building and the post office.

Everything goes well until you get to the post office. You need to put a change of address in but have no idea where you will be living. So your mail will go to live at your brother's house as well.

Five days left until your big move. The international moving company calls and requests if you are packing your belongings or if they need to send packers in to help. You think for a moment and decide to pack things yourself. They offer to ship your car for you at a special rate so that you do not have to purchase transportation while there.

You consider it but outfitting your car to drive on the wrong side of the road will cost more than buying an inexpensive European car. So you decide against shipping your car. It goes to live at your brother's house.

The big day arrives. You have not packed a thing. Your new boss calls to tell you that they are providing a furnished flat, transportation and a line of credit to help you get started. You call the international moving company, confirm your final arrangements and grab your suitcase which is packed to get you through the first few days. The day has finally come and you are off.

A Tale of Two Mountains, Vegetation and a Festival in Athens

People living in or visiting Athens tend to feel overwhelmed by the concrete nature of the city. The Athenian apartment buildings make up much of the city, cramming in the over 4 million residents of this metropolis. Natural vegetation may be hard to find, yet a little north of the center is a green oasis waiting to surprise you.

Two mountains make up the highest part of the Attica basin. Standing at a height of 338 meters, are the Tourkovounia or Turkish Mountains. The mountains were given the name as a reminder of the siege of Athens by the Ottomans in 1456. Prior to that, the mountains were known as Wolf Mountains due to the many wolves that once roamed the area. In ancient mythology, it was believed to be the dwelling of the God Zeus from where he controlled the weather and sent his thunder and lightning into the world.

Amongst the many caves, steep rocky cliffs and boulders is the Attica Woods. Until the occupation of Greece in 1941, the mountains had a rich vegetation and wildlife. Much of it was destroyed due to human intervention, pollution and negligence. Restoration of the 230 acres of green space began in the 60s and well into the 70s. Over the years, the ecosystem was restored and became once again a natural habitat for Athenian wildlife, especially that of birds. There are about 95 species of birds, 26 of which reproduce locally. The vegetation includes plants that are typical of the local flora; such as low bushy plants, pine, cypress and olive trees. Since 2003, it became a protected green space and a natural escape for all Athenians to enjoy.

The mountains and the Attica Woods are now a center of education, amusement, athletics and quiet afternoon walks. Students can have a learning experience walking through the rich vegetation, athletes can jog along the many paths and visitors can go on picnics. There are volleyball and basketball courts as well as small soccer fields and tennis courts. In addition, the city of Athens has initiated an annual festival during the months of July and August which attracts thousands of people. The Athens Festival includes theater productions, live music shows, dance, children's theater as well as world-renounced artists. In an effort to make the events available to all citizens and visitors, most events have little or no entrance fees.

If you are renting an Athens apartment or an Athens studio in neighboring areas, such as Chalandri, Tourkovounia are definitely within view. During the Festival, there are buses from the center of Athens that can take you directly there. You can easily check the website for the schedule of activities and events and plan your trip accordingly.

The highlight of every visit to these mountains is found higher up the winding roads. As you make your way up, you will come upon a clearing that hosts a cafe waiting for you to lay back and rest. Further up, and you will come upon the most magnificent view of the city; 360 degrees. The contrast of the rich vegetation, human activity and the sprawling city below is breathtaking and must not be missed.

So for those who claim that Athens has no beauty, all they need to do is spend the day at the two mountains that separate eastern part of the city from the western part. They are sure to change their minds.

The Pole of Cold – Could You Live in the Coldest Place on Earth?

How would you manage living in a village with average January temperatures of -50C?

The valley of Oymyakon in northeast Russia is known as the 'Pole of Cold' and it is no wonder the village is the coldest permanently occupied settlement in the world. This is the lowest recorded temperature for any permanently inhabited location on Earth and the lowest temperature recorded in the Northern Hemisphere. This area truly experiences the 'Russian winter' as it is know around the world.

The village is located around 750 meters above sea level and the length of a day varies from 3 hours in December to 21 hours in the summer. And because its extreme cold temperatures in winters, in June, July and August temperatures over 30C are not uncommon. In August as the weather beings to change, the temperature can easily drop down to -15C or jump as high as 30C.

The Pole of Cold is located not far from Kolyma Highway (also known as the Road of Bones) which was made in the 1930's by Stalin's prisoners .. The road starts off from Yakutsk and heads off up to Magadan and surmounts three major mountain ranges, which in combination with other climatic factors create the unique climate of the area.

The village was, in the 1920s and 1930s, a stopover for reindeer herders who would water their flocks from the thermal spring. Ironically, Oymyakon actually means 'non-freezing water', but even alcohol freeze here.

Astoundingly, around 500 Siberian people make their homes in this seemingly uninhabitable environment, mainly engaged in traditional occupations such as reindeer herding, hunting and fishing. In the last few years, another small, specialized industry has emerged here, tourism.

Every year in March a traditional Russian festival is held in the Pole of Cold, the coldest place on earth. It unites experienced travelers and locals who can be regarded as true explorers of the World. Even Santa Claus, of Lapland, and Russian Ded Moroz, of Veliky Ustug, have visited and founded their residences here. These fabulous heroes meet their colleague Chyskhaan (the Lord of Frost) who is considered the Pole of Cold host.

During the festival, you visitors witness vivid celebrations showcasing the traditional costumes, music and dance of the indigenous Evens people as well as reindeer racing, ice fishing, dog sleding and native cuisine.

The place is worth visiting! It is something to do at least once in a life-time. Those people who have been to this place can be called "True subjugators of Earth". Visiting Oymyakon in winter is arguably one of the most Russian things to do in Russia.

Tour America's Largest Canyon By Train

For a true Western experience and a unique way to visit America's Grand Canyon, travelers should board the Grand Canyon Railway for an exciting trip to the nation's largest canyon and take a step back into a time when rails were the grand way to travel.

Utilizing vintage locomotives the GCR takes thousands of visitors each year from Williams, Arizona into America's grandest of canyons.

The engines and cars have all been painstakingly restored to provide a true "step back in time" ambiance for travelers who can experience an old-fashioned train robbery as well as entertaining strolling musicians.

The original railroad lines was built in 1901 and provides travelers a 130-mile round trip tour with five levels or classes of service – coach, first, dome, luxury parlor and luxury dome with prices ranged from $ 68 – $ 179 per person.

Those in coach class will enjoy riding in streamliner-era coaches with bench-style seating in classic air-conditioned 1950's cars having large windows.

First class provides over-sized, reclining seats, huge windows and servings of fruit, pastries, coffee and juice.

Riding in dome class enables the traveler to have panoramic views inside vintage glass-enclosed stream-liner cars along with snacks and sparkling wine.

In the luxury parlor you will find lounge-style comforts, private cash bar and rear platform access. The parlor has plush seating, large windows, snacks and sparkling wine.

A new level of service is the luxury dome which combines views in the observation dome and the opulence of the parlor class.

Prior to and following the tour, guests also have the opportunity of staying in the 3-diamond Grand Canyon Railway Hotel that is reminiscent of the century-old train depot that housed the original hotel.

In addition to several room grades, visitors will find numerous amenities and dining.
The large Grand Canyon Railway RV Park is also part of the railway property and includes 8 "buddy" sites, 51 back-sites, 65 pull-through sites, complete services with laundry facilities, convenience store, pet resort, playground, sports courts , wireless internet and shuttle service to the depot.

Visitors will find a picnic pavilion, fitness trail, cafe gift shop, depot gift shop, swimming pool, fitness room and a wild west show.

There are several travel packages to the rim and some can be customized to include an inner-canyon day tour, river floating and drive-through of the wildlife park.

For a true excitment make your next adventure a tour via train.

Property Management, Colorado Springs, CO Might Be Necessary

There are many reasons why you might need property management. Colorado Springs, Co does present some unique circumstances in this regard. With the nearby location of Peterson Air Force Base, Fort Carson, Schriever Air Force Base and the United States Air Force Academy, relocations and deployments are common to our residents. Many times our serving military members have purchased a home when stationed here, and the subsequent move requires them to find tenants to rent their home instead of selling their home outright.

Although renting a house looks like a great idea, it is important to understand why you would choose to hire out property management. Colorado Springs experiences a large amount of flux as the military members move from station to station. By using a property management company, you can avoid some of the pitfalls of trying to manage your home and the issues that might arise from another part of the country – or even overseas.

Some of the problems that might come up if you are without local property management include:

  • Not knowing how many people are living in your home
  • Improper care of your lawn and exterior of your home
  • Plumbing issues
  • Electrical issues
  • Nuisance to your neighbors and / or homeowner's association
  • Illegal activities on your property

These are only a sampling of issues. Your home here in view of Pike's Peak is a substantial investment. If you choose to rent your property but can not be in the area to assess the ongoing condition on a regular basis, you place your investment at a very high risk.

Here, in Colorado Springs, we value our military – perhaps more than other communities. In order to rest securely in the care of your property, you should seriously consider the cost-benefit of hiring experts in property management. Colorado Springs, Co is the place you call home.

The World's Most Beautiful National Parks

National Parks are one of the top adventures.

Yellow Stone:
Yellowstone National Park being 3,500-sq.-mile, is a wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. The park spreads into parts of Montana. It features dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, hot springs and gushing geysers, including its most famous. It's also home to hundreds of animal species, wolves, bison, elk and antelope.

Grand Canyon:
Grand Canyon National Park is home to much of the huge Grand Canyon, with its layered bands of red rock revealing millions of years of environmental history. Views include Mather Point, Yavapai Observation Station and architect Mary Colter's Lookout Studio.

Yosemite:
Yosemite National Park is in California's Sierra Nevada foothills. It's famous for its giant, ancient sequoia trees, and for Tunnel View, the iconic vista of high Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. In Yosemite Village are shops, restaurants, lodging, the Yosemite Museum and the Ansel Adams Gallery.

Kruger:
Kruger National Park, in South Africa, is one of Africa's largest game assets. Its high thickness of wild animals includes the Big 5: lions, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. Other mammals make their home here, as do diverse bird species such as vultures, eagles and storks. Mountains, and tropical forests are all part of the countryside.

Torres del Paine:
Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile's Patagonia area, is known for it's rising mountains, bright blue icebergs that slice from glaciers and golden pampas (grasslands) that housing rare wildlife such as llama-like guanacos. Some of its greatest iconic sites are the 3 granite towers from which the park takes its name and the peaks called Cuernos del Paine.

Serengeti:
Serengeti National Park is known for its huge annual migration of wildebeest and zebra. Seeking new meadow, the mobs move north from their background grounds in the grassy southern plains. Numerous cross the marshy western corridor of crocodile-infested Grumeti River. Others turn northeast to the Lobo Hills, home to black eagles. Black rhinos live the granite outcrops of the Moru Kopjes.

Fiordland:
Fiordland National Park is in the southwest of New Zealand's South Island. It's known for the glacier-carved fiords of Uncertain sounds. A beach forest trail on the sandy Milford shore proposals views of soaring Miter Peak. Attached, the craggy Earl Mountains are reflected in the smooth surface of Mirror Lakes. On the Cleddau River, the Chasm Walk passes over bridges with views of powerful waterfalls.

Zion:
Zion National Park is a southwest Utah nature reserve illustrious by Zion Canyon's steep red cliffs. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive scratches through its main section, leading to forest tracks along the Virgin River. The river streams to the Emerald Pools, which have waterfalls and a droopy garden. Also along the river, partly through deep chasms, is Zion Narrows wading hike.

Lakes National Park being 295-sq.-km, is a forest reserve in central Croatia. It's recognized for a chain of 16 terraced lakes, combined by waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. Walkways and hiking trails breeze around and across the water, and an electric boat links the 12 upper and 4 minor lakes. The later are the site of Veliki Slap, a 78 meters tall waterfall.

Glacier:
Glacier National Park being 1,583-sq.-miles, is a wilderness area in Montana's Rocky Mountains, with glacier-carved peaks and valleys running to the Canadian border. It's traversed by the mountainous. Amongst additional 700 miles of mountaineering trails, it has a route to attractive Hidden Lake. It has the activities of backpacking, cycling and camping. Diverse wildlife ranges from mountain goats to grizzly bears.