Category Archives: U.S.A.


A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit Denver on business. In many ways, Denver is like a slightly smaller, American version of Calgary. Both are driven by the oil business, have mountains nearby, and even have similar structures for public transit.

The Denver City & County Building is one of the main landmarks of the Civic Center neighbourhood which is home to many government buildings, museums, and other attractions. Continue reading

Maui, Hawaii (2012 Visit)

This year, I had the opportunity to visit Maui. The weather and atmosphere were as beautiful and relaxing as I had imagined Hawaii would be. I became quite attached to the ocean views in restaurants along the shore and watching the colourful sunsets.

The pineapple (aka Maui Gold) is a staple in Hawaii. Maui farms pineapples for export, however the growing cost of production has dramatically reduced the number of farms on the island. Since pineapples are one of the few crops grown there, it is also one of the cheaper produce to buy. When shopping at a Safeway, it was common to see a bag of oranges for more than $10. A local told us she preferred eating out as opposed to making her own food, as it was cheaper.

The Banyan Tree is very significant in Maui as one of their historic sites in Lahaina centers around this tree. Here is a Banyan on a hike through Kipahulu. The tree has thick branches that reach out, perfect for those who enjoy tree climbing.

The climate in Maui varies throughout the island. Iao Park, where the above picture is taken, is in the mainland mountains is often overcast with drizzling showers (perfect to capture great photos).

The ocean is never far away in Maui. Few places on Earth are as far from other land as Maui is. The Hawaiian islands are almost halfway between Japan and San Francisco. Being far away from large cities in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I was able to vividly see distant stars on a stargazing cruise.

Unfortunately, when I visited Maui in April, it was near the end of the whale watching season. There weren’t that many whales left, but I did manage to capture a few pictures of the gentle giants.

The best I can discern from internet searches is that this a fiddlehead fern.

A visit to Hawaii isn’t complete without attending a luau. This party was accompanied with traditional dance and music, and an all you can eat Hawaiian buffet as the sun set. In this shot, you can see the beautiful mountains of Maui in the background as the lights set center stage.

They say that no two sunsets in Maui are ever the same. This was my view over a relaxing dinner.

San Francisco 2011 (2 of 2)

In this post, I share the remainder of my favourite photos from my 2011 visit to San Francisco. This includes many landmarks which you’ve probably seen many times over.

Fog nearly hides the Golden Gate Gate bridge in the distance. The bridge spans across two towers which sit atop old ferry ports. Ferries were the primary transportation between SF and Marin County before the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge in all of its glory without fog. To avoid collision with boats on foggy days, the hallmark red is used. Many Japanese bridges use a similar color for the same reason.

My second visit to Alcatraz! It’s amazing how San Francisco’s primary tourist attraction was left to sit in ruins for many years after closing as a prison. Besides its attraction as a prison, Alcatraz has may beautiful gardens. To make the island more like home, prison guard families would plant small gardens. This activity was even popular amongst the inmates. Since the terrain is rocky, soil has been imported from elsewhere.

Alcatraz Island is off in the distance as I pose by the lookouts.

Alcatraz Island is now the setting for a TV series. You can see the Pink Persian Carpet plant that covers the island. Many plants had died due to the harsh conditions on the island. However, the Persian Carpet was one of the plants that did thrive.

The famous crooked part of Lombard Street. This is clearly a tourist attraction. However, there are many less well known streets that run between houses that are closed off from traffic with beautiful gardens. It was mentioned by a tour guide that some streets are pedestrian only since they are too steep for cars.

The Painted Ladies are such beautiful homes. They are located next to Alamo Square park with amazing views of the city. Even without the fame from TV’s The Full House, I can imagine they would still be popular. Unfortunately, these row of homes must have privacy issues as almost all of their blinds are closed.

The sea lions near Pier 39 seem to love attention from tourists, at least when they’re not just laying around.

That’s all for San Francisco for now.

San Francisco 2011 (1 of 2)

It has taken me a long time to post these, but even a year later is better than never to post photos of my spring 2011 visit to San Francisco. This visit was my third and longest, and images of The City are still stuck in my mind. In my next couple posts, I will share some of favourite new photos of this city, adding to the ones I posted before.

Neiman Marcus is one of the many shopping destinations for tourists, and it provides a beautiful view of Union Square through its windows.

San Francisco’s streets are full of characters, and small shops everywhere. In each visit, I’ve found it quite enjoyable to just walk around with no particular destination in mind.

A sculpture outside the science centre in Golden Gate Park.

I caught a relaxing glimpse of a toad at the Aquarium on Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco is a city known for its hills and expensive real estate. This view is very familiar to tourists looking out from the Pier 39 area. Note that street cars comprise the primary transportation method to this area, not buses or subways (though the stops for those aren’t too far away either).

These houses seem to lean when making the very steep Telegraph Hill seem straight. There’s quite a dramatic difference between the left and right sides of the houses.

The Bay Bridge, palm trees, and old buildings make another unique street view. Palm trees are not native to SF. They have been shipped from elsewhere and quite expensively too. Each tree cost, on average, $3,000-10,000.

Coit Tower overlooks many of the city’s neighbourhoods, with the Bay Bridge again in the background. The weather looks fine here, though it was quite windy and cold during most of this visit for me. Some areas of San Francisco which I didn’t visit apparently have harsh microclimates with colder temperatures and less sunshine than other parts of the city.

Evening begins to fall as a cable car prepares for its run. Sadly, San Francisco has fewer cable cars than it used to, but it has successfully resisted attempts to remove them entirely over the years. The forward-thinking minds of decades ago noted that tourists visiting the city don’t come to ride the buses. Friedel Klussmann was the resident who led the protest to protect the cable cars as they were going to shut down. This is just one example of locals contributing to the city. Coit tower is another example, which was built at the request of Lillie Hitchcock Coit who left one third of her estate to the city.

My trip also took me to wine country in the Napa Valley which comprises hundreds of small wineries.

The tours covered every step of the wine making process, including wine tasting samples.

Please check back soon for more photos from my San Francisco visit.