How to Start a Roadtrip in Australia

Australia is one the biggest countries in the world with nearly 3 million square miles of landmass alone. This enormous country makes the improbable combination of tropical rainforests, grassland, and vast dry deserts on a single island a possibility.

Most Australian cities line areas near the stunning coastlines and may be linked by limited and expensive transportation (after all, the distances covered are vast.) While it’s possible to fly between Sydney and Perth, or Brisbane and Darwin, you would get only a brief hint of the truly diverse landscapes encompassing a coast to coast journey.

Milky Way Australia

For these reasons and more, the only way to truly experience Australia is via road trip, already one of my absolute favourite ways to explore the world (thanks to my first road trips driving across Canada and the USA). Road trips are the ultimate freedom in travel. Choose your own hours, stops, destinations and explore the hard to reach places, all on your own time.  Continue reading

Extraordinary Places to Visit and Things to do in Colorado

There is no shortage of places to visit and things to do in Colorado. Dramatic wilderness and diverse terrain backed by the iconic Rocky Mountains are a staple of the Colorado image. Colorado’s namesake continues its blazing display of color beyond the towering snow capped peaks and mirrored lakes to lesser known destinations. Whether it’s adrenaline packed adventure or relaxing picturesque retreats that tickles your fancy, a Southern Colorado vacation rental will reveal unexpected wonders.

Iconic Colorado - Extraordinary Places to Visit and Things to do in Colorado

Iconic Colorado – Extraordinary Places to Visit and Things to do in Colorado

A Trail of Highlights and Things to do in Southern Colorado

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Fishing With Popcorn, Virginia, USA

Blue Ridge Parkway Overlook, Virginia, USA - Karina Noriega
Our wonderful couchsurfing host and good friend, Julio. -- Karina Noriega

Our wonderful couchsurfing host and good friend, Julio. — Karina Noriega

Our couch-surfing host, Julio, led us to the water’s edge outside his home-town in Virginia, introducing us to the rather bizarre local attraction at Smith Mountain Lake. A number of years prior, thousands of carp began migrating to the Smith Mountain Dock and Lodge when locals and tourists began feeding the fish rather unusual treats. Where my experience fishing in Ontario, (Canada) as a little girl always involved the use of specialized equipment like fishing lines and tackle, never in my life had I thought to use salted popcorn as bate. Why did my grandfather spend all that money on expensive lures when all he needed was Orville Redenbachers?

Fish fry, anyone? --SmithMountain Lake, Virgina -- Karina Noriega

Fish fry, anyone? –SmithMountain Lake, Virgina — Karina Noriega

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My Encounter With A Celebrity – Blue Ridge Parkway, USA

Falcor, the actor. Thanks to www.icanhascheezburger.com for reading my mind! This photo was too perfect to not share!

Falcor, the actor. Thanks to http://www.icanhascheezburger.com for reading my mind! This photo was too perfect to not share!

For those of us who were raised in the 80’s, the movie, “The NeverEnding Story” contains some iconic images that have been burned into our brains for life. For me, the heroine of this tale was Atreyu’s mighty Luck-Dragon, Falcor. I had countless dreams as a child where me and my white dragon-dog were soaring high in the clouds, fighting evil doers the world abound. Tell me he wouldn’t be the best pet ever?! Remember that scene at the end of the movie when he was chasing the bullies through an ally in New York? I can think of a few people I wouldn’t mind hunting down with a flying dragon. Can you?

I never really expected to find an actual live creature, who embodies all of my deep seated dragon fantasies, while road-trippin’ across the USA. I am happy to report that I had the pleasure of meeting a real Luck-Dragon in the flesh. As it turns out he doesn’t actually have the ability to fly and he is neither dog, nor dragon, but man, is he ever cute!

Entering the Blue Ridge Parkway: America's Favourite Drive. USA -- Karina Noriega

Entering the Blue Ridge Parkway: America’s Favourite Drive. USA — Karina Noriega

Karina and I were making our way through Virginia down the famous Blue-Ridge Parkway when we decided to follow a sign that lead us to a little alpaca farm called Peaceful Heart Alpacas. The owner Linda was kind enough to give us our own private tour of her property, and she even introduced us to a friend of hers who made my dreams come true. Continue reading

Hotter Than Hell – Death Valley, California

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California, USA -- Karina Noriega
The Devil’s Golf Course is a huge salt pan on the floor of Death Valley, located in the Mojave Desert. The area was once covered by Lake Manly and when the water evaporated all that remained behind was salt chalked full of minerals. Because the area now remains dry, the salt flat is subject to weathering and erosion processes which sculpt the salt into magnificent formations. Quite the sight to behold. Death Valley, California, USA -- Karina Noriega

The Devil’s Golf Course is a huge salt pan on the floor of Death Valley, located in the Mojave Desert. The area was once covered by Lake Manly and when the water evaporated all that remained behind was salt chalked full of minerals. Because the area now remains dry, the salt flat is subject to weathering and erosion processes which sculpt the salt into magnificent formations. Quite the sight to behold. Death Valley, California, USA — Karina Noriega

We arrived in California’s Death Valley National Park just in time to watch the blazing sun fade away behind the mounds of rock and sand. We opted to sleep in the car rather than pay for accommodations as we had done without issue for most of our five month road-trip across the USA. Our extensive experience traveling through deserts in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, had proven to us that the oppressive heat produced by the desert sun is always replaced by cool, comfortable air following dusk. We had yet to experience a desert which continues to roast its inhabitants the whole night through. The inferno formed in California’s infamous Death Valley produces record temperatures so high that it would leave Lucifer himself climbing the walls in search of an escape. It is located in Mohave Desert where the rain shadow produced by the Sierra Nevada mountains blocks all wind and weather systems from reaching the valley. This land is renowned for being the hottest place in the entire world and the driest in all of North America.

We didn’t want to overheat our engine so we only ran the air-conditioning intermittently. Basically we endured the heat until one of us begged the other to be released from the torture chamber. Death Valley, California, USA -- Karina Noriega

We didn’t want to overheat our engine so we only ran the air-conditioning intermittently. Basically we endured the heat until one of us begged the other to be released from the torture chamber. Death Valley, California, USA — Karina Noriega

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Travel Partners From Hell -Charleston, South Carolina, USA

So there I sat, unhappily crammed in the backseat of a toaster-like sedan with three medium to large sized odorous mutts, all of whom were tremendously excited about their pending car ride. I contemplated asking their owner how much RedBull he had given his dogs before unleashing them on my lap, but I resisted my urge for sarcasm. The dogs bounced happily from window to window, scratching my legs all to hell, while periodically slobbering on my face. In my books pain, doggy breath, all combined with unwanted kisses, are the perfect recipe for disaster. However, Karina and I were both ecstatic to have been offered a lift to our desired destination, so there was no room for complaints. Obviously the dogs did not sense my overwhelming distain for their species and in all fairness, they did reserve their seats before us so technically, they had first dibs on the window seat.

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Speedy Gonzales

It’s important to not take yourself too seriously. We have learned that lesson to the point of illness this week.

April and I are beginning our journey back to health after two weeks of working on the set of a feature film. We have learned so much in such a short and overwhelming period of time. It was not the experience that we drove across the country for, to say the least, but the lessons learned will certainly make for an interesting article in the near future.

In the meantime, please enjoy another ‘ridiculous film’ by April Beresford. (Not to be confused by our more professional, informative, educational or at least inspiring travel film. Found here –> Films

“I’m glad I did it. I’m glad it’s over.” ~ April Beresford

Another ridiculous film by April Beresford for www.karinasextraordinarylife.com Continue reading

Yellowstone National Park – A Film

Yellowstone National Park, USA - Karina Noriega

There are few places in the world that consistently score very high on everyone’s ‘must see’ list. This kind of hype can create slippery slopes of disappointment when the site doesn’t live up to the craze. Thankfully, this is in no way applicable to the splendor of Yellowstone National Park. This extraordinary place is beyond the words and photographs you may have seen before. It has easily shot to the top of my list of truthfully shocking and impressive natural wonders.

Proclaimed the very first national park in the world, this enormous geographical phenomenon in the Northwestern area of the United States protects remarkable natural and geothermal features as well as abundant wildlife. It is a fully living ecosystem in full colour resplendence that bubbles and explodes.

It is an experience for all your senses.

Beyond the alien landscape shooting smoke stack and high pressured geysers into the sky, Yellowstone needs to be heard. The powers of the earth working here bubble gently. Others explode like a jetliner. The rumbling resonates in your chest and at your feet. The scents of the forests and the sulfuric emissions continually remind you of the versatility of this planet. Despite the temptations of thick curdling mud pots, crystal clear ponds, and rainbow colored streams, please do resist the urge to test the waters. At more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, it could the last thing you ever feel.

~ An Extraordinary Story by Karina Noriega ~

Without further ado, our extraordinary film! 🙂

*Travel Tips

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Road Kill

April made me a hilarious road kill compilation to cheer me up. I get way too sad when I see wildlife discarded as highway junk on the side of the road.

The clip is so funny I had to share with everyone 🙂

Want to see some real live wildlife encounters? Check this one out:

https://karinasextraordinarylife.com/2014/09/25/wild-encounters/

Show your support by sharing, liking, commenting and subscribing 🙂

Wild Encounters – Encounters in California, USA

Fern Canyon, Redwood State Park, California, USA - Karina Noriega

There’s this game that we play. It started on our very first road trip when we drove across Canada. 10,000km is a long way you see. *(We are at 20,000km across and back in the U.S!) So the way it goes is that every time you see an animal crossing sign you have to put up one of the corresponding charades signs that we made up. It’s our superstitious way of protecting ourselves (& the wildlife)- our explanation is that as long as we always do it then we eliminate the chance of a collision. It’s really just a silly game, like all the other stupid things we do when engaging on these long distance adventures and so far, it has worked like a charm.
Not for a second has it taken away from our wildlife viewing experience though. Without ever leaving the safety of our Tank, we have seen:

Elk Target, Redwood State Park, California, USA - Karina Noriega

Elk Target, Redwood State Park, California, USA – Karina Noriega

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