White on white landscape in Norway’s Lofoten Islands
I’m currently in the middle of a week long photo workshop in Norway’s Lofoten Islands. I visited this spot back in October and truly loved it. It’s a winter wonderland in late February. I wanted to share this cloud lapse video I made so you could get a sense of the beauty of this special Scandinavian spot.
Arctic Cloud Lapse
I booked this week long photo workshop through Iceland Photo Tours, a company I had a great experience with in 2015. This tour is being led by Stian Klo, a Norwegian native who has major photo game. Photographer Shane Wheel is also helping with this workshop.
This landscape was the inspiration for the movie Frozen
I am definitely outside my comfort zone with extra gear, parkas, and toting multiple tripods. We’ll see if my photos come out great.
If you’re looking for things to do in Venice, Italy taking a day trip to one of the nearby islands is a must. The colorful island of Burano, known for it’s brightly painted houses and fine lace is an excellent choice.
Burano has a few well regarded restaurants, making it a great destination for lunch time excursion.
The only way to reach Burano is by boat. I traveled with friends on a private water taxi arranged by the concierge at Bauer il Palazzo which got us to Burano in about 35 minutes. Water taxi is very fun way to travel!
Time lapse of water taxi ride from Venice to Burano
We had a fabulous lunch at Trattoria da Romano, which came highly recommended to us by an American who is an Italian scholar and part-time resident. Booking reservations ahead of time is a must.
Burano has only 2,800 full time residents, most of whom work in the fishing industry. When you come here, you’re coming for seafood! We ate our meal family style, with sardines and branzino for the table.
My friends contemplating the menu at Trattoria da Romano
The highlight of the meal was the seafood risotto, which will please any foodie. I am not normally a fan of dishes that include squid ink, but the seafood risotto won me over. I’ve been dreaming about it since tasting it for myself.
Seafood Risotto at Trattoria da Ramano
We ordered both the Bourdain-approved seafood risotto, as well as the traditional risotto. While not much to look at, both were seriously next level. The seafood risotto was black but not overly so. It was so good, we contemplated ordering another round for the table.
Sardines for lunch at Trattoria da Romano
The spaghetti with clams was also quite flavorful and perfectly al dente.
Spaghetti with clams
We also heard great things about Gatto Nero Restaurant, but we did not dine there ourselves.
Picture of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards on the wall at Trattoria da Romano
Be sure to check out the photographs on the wall near the bathrooms at Trattoria da Romano. They are a fascinating look at the history of this family owned restaurant and it’s guests.
I have a fondness for desert landscapes and love to visit Joshua Tree National Park during the winter. The weather is pleasant and the park never seems too crowded. I find it particularly peaceful to get up before dawn to watch the sunrise.
I shot this time lapse video on my iPhone 7 plus at Joshua Tree National Park
On my most recent trip, I had my two labs with me. Since activities with dogs are limited in the park, I stayed in Palm Springs at the pet friendly Ace Hotel Palm Springs. The Ace Hotel also two dedicated Tesla chargers, which made this road trip easy since since I drive a Tesla.
If you’re heading to Joshua Tree National Park from Palm Springs, I suggest coming in through the West Entrance. Each morning I drove towards Hidden Valley, Barker Dam, and Keys Ranch until I found a spot I wanted to watch the sunrise.
Here comes the desert sun
If you are driving from Palm Springs, and want to watch the sunrise, allow at least 90 before sunrise to drive to the West Entrance of the park and find a spot to watch and set up your equipment. It can get windy at times, and you might want to use a tripod.
Colors change dramatically just after dawn in Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree has been a favorite spot of mine to just chill. After photographing the sunrise, it’s nice to explore the cholla cactus garden, an easy quarter mile loop with a dense population of cholla cactus.
Sunrise panorama shot on my iPhone 7 plus
Pet owners should note that activities with dogs are limited and animals must be leashed at all times. You can check out what activities you can do with your dog in Joshua Tree National Park here.
The last super moon of 2016 seen through a Joshua Tree
My trip occurred during the last supermoon of 2016, so that made both the sunrise and moon interesting to photograph.
Warm skies in Joshua Tree
After exploring the park for a few hours after sunrise, I like to head to the funky Joshua Tree Saloon for breakfast. The service is friendly and the place is packed after 7:30 with climbers and desert dwellers. They make a mean Bloody Mary, and the potato pancakes are quite tasty.
Morning walk through the cholla cactus garden
If you head to the Joshua Tree Saloon, don’t miss the vintage photo of Johnny Cash near the front door.
Rocky landscape at Joshua Tree National Park
Morning in the desert at Joshua Tree National Park
I’m a big fan of National Parks and Joshua Tree is the one I am most comfortable exploring on my own. It’s pretty user friendly.
Funky roadside Joshua tree
If you’re visiting Palm Springs, Palm Desert, or the Coachella Valley, I’d definitely recommend spending a morning exploring the surreal desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. It’s one of those special places in California that has a “vibe.”
Giant inflatable santa on the roof of this year’s RoboLights display
If you are going to be in Southern California during the holidays and are looking for an outside-the-box holiday experience, consider heading to Palm Springs to see artist Kenny Irwin Jr’s 32nd year of RoboLights, an upcycled holiday lights display unlike any other.
Robo reindeer outside the RoboLights display
Palm Springs artist Kenny Irwin, Jr.’s more is more aesthetic has been putting on an increasing complex mixed media holiday lights art installation at his father’s home since he was 12. Now in it’s 32nd year, RoboLights is truly something to behold.
Video of the RoboLights reindeer
Visiting RoboLights is like walking through a surreal winter wonderland.
Surreal winter wonderland at RoboLights
Built on the outdoor property of the artist’s father’s home, the greeter outside RoboLights told us the display has over 4 Acres of lights. It’s wildly impressive in a Watts Towers meets Willy Wonka sort of way. Sculptures are made from repurposed toilets and mannequins, and old dog crates re-worked into Sci-Fi art containing giant spiders, all bedecked with holiday lights.
Sleigh pulled by team of jackalope
Visiting RoboLights, I felt I was walking through a surreal winter wonderland. Some of the sculptures seemed better suited for a haunted house or dystopian futuristic film set than a holiday light show but that’s what makes RoboLights so interesting.
Left: Upside down Santa Clause Right: Bunny driving a sleigh straight out of Mad Max
I spoke with some locals who visit RoboLights every year and asked them how much the display changes from year to year. They guessed about 30%– sometimes new elements like color schemes or themes get introduced, or the layout changes.
Video of one of the displays of lights at the 2016 RoboLights
This year’s addition of an inflatables on the roof, including a Santa and a Godzilla with a candy cane, bit of an uproar. The City of Palm Springs attempted to close down this year’s RoboLights citing safety concerns but the artist prevailed in court last week and the city was denied a restraining order that would only allow residents of the property and contractors to access the robotics and light displays.
Walls of dolls and fairy lights at RoboLights
RoboLights is open to the public and accepts donations ($5 is recommended).
Dangling mannequin installation at RoboLights
Sensory overload comes with the territory and some of the subject matter is non-traditional enough that I think adults will enjoy RoboLights more than children with more traditional expectations.
Mannequins on display at RoboLights
One of the more light hearted sculptures at RoboLights
Christmas trees at RoboLights
Dog crate sculpture at the 2016 RoboLights
Artist Kenny Irwin Jr. has really gone above and beyond and RoboLights is unlike any other holiday lights display I’ve ever seen. If you’re in the Palm Springs area, I’d recommend checking it out. The display runs through January 1, 2017.
Dystopian holiday spirit on display at RoboLights
tunnel of lights at RoboLights
Opening hours for RoboLight are from 4-9:30 pm but the display is capacity controlled. If you don’t want to wait in line, consider getting to the outdoor light show when they open.
RoboLights exterior is hard to miss
ROBOLIGHTS is OPEN to the public from Thanksgiving to January 1st 4:00-9:30PM
The installation – free to the public, but donations are suggested to help defray costs.
1077 E Granvia Valmonte
Palm Springs, California
(Located in a very residential part of Palm Springs, RoboLights is in/around the 1077 Property).
Hotel pools are a huge draw for guests. #PoolPorn is a real thing. There are pools with lazy rivers and water slides for children. There are pools that overlook dramatic scenery. Some have swim-up bars. But the infinity pool at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti in Tanzania might be the most amazing hotel pool I’ve ever seen. Because it features swim-up bar for elephants and zebras instead of the human guests.
Time lapse of the watering hole at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in the Serengeti
The Four Seasons Safari lodge pool overlooks a watering hole which is heavily used by herds of elephants and zebras and other wildlife in the area, much to the delight of guests who can watch the action from their lounge chairs or while in the water.
The lazy man’s safari– complete with bathrobe at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge
There is separation in elevation so that guests swimming in the pool have a great vantage point but are still at a safe distance from the enormous animals.
Infinity pool overlooking an elephant at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge
The pool and the surrounding area, including an outdoor restaurant, make for the ultimate lazy person’s safari. Many of the hotel rooms and suites also have views of the watering hole action from their windows or balconies.
A thirsty herd of elephants headed towards the watering hole
The watering hole action is busiest during the dry season, when water is more scarce in the plains of the Serengeti.
Zebras and elephants sharing the watering hole
While herds of zebras and elephants would use the watering hole at the same time, they did not mix. The zebras stuck together and so did the elephants.
A fawn non-plussed by the action at the watering hole
Pool porn is a competitive thing in the luxury hotel industry, and the Four Seasons Safari Lodge has gone seriously next level with it’s watering hole next to the pool design.
A local elephant taking a dip
The watering hole is man made, but is more popular than the natural watering hole on the ground that can only be viewed from a few high end suites.
Infinity pool + elephants = win
The hotel’s restaurant has seating outside near the pool, so guests can enjoy the view and poolside safari action throughout their stay. The friendly waitstaff has no problem bringing a cocktail to your lounge chair if you’d like to sip on a gin & tonic while watching the wildlife. It’s the ultimate passive safari for a day you need a break from the bumpy roads of Serengeti National Park.