Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Winter Getaway to Belize

One of my favorite winter getaways is Belize. In particular I fell in love with Ambergris Caye - there was nothing I didn't like. 

 It is an eco-friendly bird and wildlife watcher's paradise and with the second largest coral barrier reef in the world is a great place to engage in one of my favorite activities - snorkeling. 

Numerous species of coral including this brain coral and of course colorful tropical fish. 

Brain Coral Coffee Mug
Brain Coral Coffee Mug by VickiSims
Create a unique personalize coffee mug from

We earned bragging rights snorkeling with sharks and rays Hol Chan Marine Preserve. 

The island is a few miles offshore from the mainland of Belize has a very relaxed retro feeling. No big chain hotels and no building taller than 3 stories.  Even in the town of San Pedro the main methods of transportation and the mostly sand streets are walking, boats, bikes and golf carts.  To get there you either board a water taxi or a small plane.   We arrived by plane on Tropic Air - the smallest plane I'd ever flown on.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Snowshoeing Trip to Big4 Ice Caves

Hank Checking out the Chimney from the Old Resort at Big4

We started off the New Year on one of our favorite dog-friendly snowshoeing trips to Big4 Ice Caves.  The Hike is located in Snohomish County off of the Mountain Loop Highway out of Granite Falls, WA.

Where are the Big4 Ice Caves?

We are early risers so we arrived at the end of the plowed road at the Deer Creek Campground at about 9:30 am on New Years Day.  And it was a good thing, too!  There were only a handful of other vehicles parked and we set off along the compact snow on the road and since there was no one around, Hank and Tim got some off-leash time to be silly in the snow.

We made good progress and within a couple of hours arrived at the Big 4 Picnic area and sat down to enjoy some lunch in the picnic shelter before heading up the trail to the ice caves.

Hank wore a backpack and carried in water for himself and Tim.

We were joined for lunch by some tame Steller's Jays hoping for a hand-out.

We leashed the dogs up before continuing up the trail to the ice caves.  The trail was well-worn compacted snow that was easy to follow but somewhat narrow.  We encountered several other people with dogs along the trail - all friendly and courteous about controlling/leashing their dogs when they encountered others.

On the way out, many more people had arrived and actually it was quite a zoo!  Lots of dogs, small children with sleds.  Not all of the people with dogs had them on leashes or even under good control and some people with children had obviously not taught them to be cautious about approaching dogs.  We had several children run up to pet the dogs without asking if it was ok or even showing any caution.  So it is a great dog-friendly snowshoeing trip destination, but my tip would be to get out early before the throngs of people arrive and I'm sure weekdays would be much better than New Years Day or a weekend.

Hank, Me and Tim at Big 4