Tag Archives: amijones

No Other Place Like Zion

Sometimes the best adventures begin on a whim, making a spur-of-the-moment decision, to pack your bags and hit the road. Over last Memorial Day weekend, I had the fantastic pleasure of exploring Zion National Park with a new found friend that was visiting the States from Africa. A bit skeptical about the experience, knowing how busy the park would be, I got some valuable tips from a colleague that has spent a lot of time guiding and wandering the park. Here are a few tips I would share with you:

Hike the Narrows. If you plan to do this, be sure to check if it is open yet. There are two ways to hike the Narrows. From the top down and from the bottom half-way up and back. It all depends and the depth of the water and whether or not you can make it through certain parts of the canyon. It’s worth a stop by the Zion Adventure Company, located right outside the park in Springdale, to gauge what the river is like. They also have neoprene rentals which come highly recommended if you have a hard time with being in cold water. You will be in the river most of the day with limited sunshine. We wore our shorts and warm tops with tennis shoes and keen sandals and acclimated quite quickly.

YOU MUST, get as early as start as possible. Hop on the first shuttle up to the trailhead. You will not regret it. We were in the water by 7am and were so happy we did. There were many stretches we nearly had the canyon to ourselves. The later in the day, the hike gets packed with people, I mean packed.

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Virgin River, Narrows, Zion National Park © Ami Jones
Virgin River, Narrows, Zion National Park © Ami Jones
Virgin River, Narrows, Zion National Park © Ami Jones
Virgin River, Narrows, Zion National Park © Ami Jones

Where to find a campsite? We were given a great tip by a local that worked at the Adventure shop to camp just outside of Rockville. If you are heading out of the park, take a left on Bridge Rd. where you will cross a bridge over a small river. Take this road until it dead ends then hang a left up the hill. We found a perfect spot with incredible views. Yes, we still had neighbors, which was to be expected with the holiday weekend. 

Campsite, Rockville, Utah © Ami Jones
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Campsite, Rockville, Utah © Jeff Trollip
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Campsite, Rockville, Utah © Jeff Trollip

Do the Canyon Overlook Trail. This is an easy hike with high rewards. The trailhead is just after you exit the tunnel in the park, you can park on the right, cross the street and hit the trail.

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Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion National Park, Utah © Jeff Trollip
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Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion National Park, Utah © Jeff Trollip

Looking for a place to cool off we asked a park ranger the nearest area to access to water. He gave us the insider tip to check out the Pine Creek Pools. This is not so well-known and we ended up having the waterfall and pools to ourselves for about an hour mid-day. It’s a short hike that you can access shortly after the Zion National Park entrance on Hwy 9 (via Springdale). About a mile past the entrance, the road will turn right and you’ll cross the Virgin River and pass Floor of the Valley Rd. Drive straight to the switch backs. The 1st (right) turn crosses Pine Cr., and at the 3rd (right) turn, there is a pull-off (inside of the corner). Stop here (you’re about 2.5 miles from the park entrance.) Cross the road going north. Follow the trail; It’s less than 50 yards off the road.

Pine Creek Pools, Zion National Park © Ami Jones

There is absolutely no place on earth like Zion. This was truly a trip that will never be forgotten! While trekking up the Virgin River on our hike through the Narrows we kept saying we wish we new a geologist that could explain what we were seeing. That night, at our campsite, it just so happened, that a geologist from Norway who had been conducting research amongst the many parks in Utah had set-up camp right next to us. We soon were chatting about the region and he confirmed there is truly no place like it on earth. So, be sure to add ZNP to the bucket list and take these handy-dandy tips with you!


Street Art of São Paulo

São Paulo is easily revered as one of the best cities in the world for street art. Many well-known graffiti artists hail from this region, which not only have their pieces adorned throughout S.P., but worldwide. Artists, such as, Onesto,  Kobra, Alex Senna, Zezão, and the twins, prominently known as Os Gemeos have bedecked the walls of SP with their artistry. The colorful hues that transcend through the city have transformed it into a walking outdoor museum. There is vibrancy around nearly every corner, always leaving more to be found and explored. Be sure to visit Vila Madalena, Beco de Batman and São Paulo’s historic center to find some of these brilliantly hued pieces.

Below are a few of my favorites.

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Great White North: Searching for the Perfect Shot

Preparing for the big trip to the Great White North, I sought out a wealth of advice on how to get the perfect picture of white on white, polar bears up close, ptarmigan in motion… what camera to use.. what settings… Being an amateur photographer with not much money to spend on a new camera and limited time, I packed up my IPhone, my 6 year old Canon point and shoot and a loaner from work, a newer Sony point and shoot. Here I’d like to share my favorite wildlife shots, enjoy!


Must See Winterpeg

Who would have thought that somewhere near the middle of Canada in the balmy province of Manitoba there would be a gem of a city that some may reference, maybe due to its record low temps or also being known as the coldest major city in Canada I would find… Winterpeg!

If you ever find yourself making your way through the city here are just a couple of my favorites…

Canadian Museum of Human Rights: the first museum worldwide solely dedicated to the celebration of human rights, architecturally stunning, and probably the best view of the city from its Tower of Hope. Allow yourself lots of time to meander.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Winnipeg. 2014.
Aaron Cohen. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Winnipeg. 2014.

Fergies Fish’n Chips: talk a stroll down by The Forks on the river and snag up one of the city’s oldest and most well-known traditional portions of fish’n chips. You know you’re eating well when the long time locals find themselves here.

Thermëa: a Nordik spa experience that is truly like heaven on earth. I will quickly breakdown your first hour or so at the spa… change into an oversized robe and slippers, heat up from the cold in a hot suana, plunge in the polar pool to fluch toxins, hot steam in a eucalytpus scented steam room, lavendar scented salt scrub shower and rinse, heated meditation rooms with music and hot tea and… repeat 2 more times. Then relax in the hot or with a cup of tea by the outdoor fire. All for $50CAD or $37USD. Need ask more?


Thermea, courtesy of Momstown Winnipeg


Manitoba Museum: take a deeper look at Manitoba history. Well worth the guided tour to learn more about survival in the north, the Hudson Bay Co. and much more.

With lots more to do, see and eat in Winterpeg make sure to enjoy these favorites!




A Journey of a Lifetime: The Great White North

I remember a time, lying on the floor of my father’s home office, curiously skimming the bright gold-colored spines of his neatly arranged National Geographic collection, “…Peru Mummies, Bombay, US National Parks, Arctic, Lichens…” and running my fingers across images of far away people, lands and species that I only dreamt existed. I knew, one day, there would be a day, I would see such things with my own eyes.

Many years and many moments of transition later, I sat in the front row of one of my favorite college courses, “Sustainable Tourism”. That day we spoke at length about a small town in the Arctic north, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. People from all over travel to this isolated corner of the world, in search of spotting one of the most powerful and beautiful creatures that still exist. Yep you guessed it, the polar bear. That day I felt all the images etched in my memory from thumbing through those pages race back into my direct, clear, view. I knew that day not only would I bear witness to this magnificent animal but I would be a part of something, something bigger.

Time went on… I continued travel and work in the southern hemisphere. Then as some would say. the stars aligned. My time with my work in Brazil felt as if it was nearing a close. Within days from returning home from the south I came across a new job opportunity and nearly 8 weeks and numerous interviews later, I landed a position with my dream company, Natural Habitat Adventures. As luck would have it, working operations on the “Polar Bear team”. Starting my new job smack dab in the middle of the 6-week polar bear season in Churchill and hopeful I would have the opportunity to travel that season, in just a couple of weeks I found myself boarding a plane to embark on an a long waited and thought about experience of a lifetime… all of the hard work, perseverance and determination paid off.

It is interesting finding yourself in a dreamlike, surreal, euphoric state living out what you thought may be the impossible, walking through the scenes of what were once only childhood dreams. Staring out the window of yet another airplane window brimming with the anticipation and excitement of what is to come, this time, the Great White North.

Stay tuned for more of the “Great White North”… Would love it if your shared your moments!