Tag Archives: Travel

USA, Arizona, Flagstaff – Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

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(see my other Location related posts) – While on our 2019 Road Trip my wife and I took the time to drive up to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This is not in Flagstaff, Arizona but is only about 15 miles or 30 minutes north of the city (take U.S. 89 north for 12 miles (19km), turn right on the Sunset Crater – Wupatki Loop road and continue 2 miles (3km) to the visitor center).

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Sunset Crater is about 900 years old, yet it is still the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau. The cinder cone (shown above) of the crater now stands about 1000 feet above what was once just meadows and forest. As you can see in the photo above there is still a great deal of cinder from the volcano strewn about.

As you can see as well, there is still evidence of lava flow that resulted from the volcano.

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While there has been some regrowth in the past 900 years, the soil itself resists in many places. The parking lot at the base of the crater offers a few hiking paths. Some paved, but others wander over the rough terrain offering a closer view of the crater and the existing flora.

The day we visited the crater access to the park was free (National Parks has a few free days per year). Normally there is a $25 per vehicle charge. This was not as impressive as the Meteor Crater, but still worth the time to visit.


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USA, Nevada, Henderson – Hot n Juicy Crawfish

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(Read my other Food related posts) – We recently drove through Henderson, NV on our 2019 Road Trip. My wife and her brother love Hot n Juicy Crawfish. I have been there three times now and I enjoy their fried shrimp. My wife and her brother prefer ordering mildly cajun season boiled shrimp by the pound and digging in with both hands.

While they operate several different locations (13 at the time I write this post), I have only visited the Henderson, NV site at 9560 S. Eastern Ave. Henderson, NV 89123.

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As I mentioned before, I like their fried shrimp and their cajun fries.

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My wife and her brother also tried the regular Calamari and enjoyed that as an appetizer.

We have all enjoyed being a Hot n Juicy customer. If you like seafood, particularly spicy seafood, you will want to give Hot n Juicy a try.


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USA, Arizona, Winslow – Meteor Crater Natural Landmark

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While we were driving on our 2019 Road Trip to Henderson, NV to visit family we passed by Meteor Crater Natural Landmark just east of Flagstaff, AZ (Meteor Crater Enterprises, Inc., Interstate 40, Exit 233, Winslow, AZ 86047 USA). We were in no hurry so we took the time to visit. As you can see from the aerial photo above, the crater is quite large.

IMG_0884The meteorite that created the crater 50,000 years ago is estimated to have weighed 300,000 tons and was traveling at a speed of 26,000 miles per hour when it hit the Earth. The meteorite exploded with the force of 2 ½ million tons of TNT. In the photo above you can see the largest found fragment of the mostly iron meteorite.

IMG_0876The resulting crater was 3/4 of a mile (about 1 kilometer) wide and 750 feet deep. Over the intervening 50,000 years, the crater has filled in some so that it is now only 550 feet deep.

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To give you some perspective of the size, they have placed a 6′ astronaut figure (because the astronauts headed to the Moon trained here) and a 4′ x 6′ US flag at the base of the crater. They are placed inside the red circle in the photo above.

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Of course, you can’t see them with the naked eye. Even in the close up above you can’t see them.

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I had to use one of the prepositioned telescopes at the visitor center observation deck to see them. With a little effort, I captured a photo with my iPhone. That does put the distance in perspective!

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There is a nice visitor center (far right) with a film and museum on the edge of the crater. You can also see in the photo above how the rim of the crater is raised almost 150′ above the level of the ground. This is because the meteorite buried itself into the ground before exploding. That explosion pushed the edge of the crater up as well as spreading millions of small meteorite bits around the area.

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We were also on a short guided (man in yellow) tour that went about a quarter of a mile west along the north rim of the crater.

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We thought that this side trip was well worth the expense (Adults: $18.00, Seniors (60+):  $16.00, Juniors: (age 6 to 17) $9.00, Non-Active Duty U.S. Military/Veterans (with I.D.): $9.00) and time.


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USA, Texas, Round Rock – Fogueira Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse

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(See my other posts related to Round Rock  and Food ) – I had dinner this evening at the Fogueira Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse located at 2000 South IH-35, Suite D1, Round Rock, Texas 78681. This is the third Brazilian Steakhouse I have dined at this year, though the first in Texas. I have to say that the food was excellent!

You first get to go to their salad bar. There are many selections to choose from. It is self serve and you can return as often as you like, but you really need to leave plenty of room for the meat!

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As soon as you are ready for the main course, you flip over a small card at your seat at the table. When the waiters see you have a ‘green’ card they stop at your table to see if you want a portion of the meat they are serving. You have several choices. Per their website:

Our 15 cuts of meat, consisting of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and sausage, will be carved and served to guest’s desired temperature by a gaucho – trained Brazilian chef, on a large skewer. The service and carving of the meats are initiated by each individual guest using a red and green sided card.

Their meat selections include:

  • Picanha – their signature cut, prime part of top sirloin. Comes with 2 additional flavors of Spicy and Garlic.
  • Filet Mignon- Tasty cut of tenderloin. Also served wrapped in bacon.
  • Rib Eye- Richly marbled steak seasoned with fajita.
  • Costela – Juicy beef ribs, rubbed with rock salt, slow roasted to bring forward natural flavors
  • Fraldinha – Flavorful cut of bottom sirloin.
  • Cordeiro- Succulent lamb chops and tender leg of lamb.
  • Frango – Beer-marinated chicken legs and juicy chicken breasts wrapped in bacon.
  • Costela de Porco – Pork ribs, seasoned and cooked to perfection.
  • Lombo de Porco – Pork tenderloin coated with parmesan cheese.
  • Linguica – Savory pork sausage.

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Tables are also served with bowls of garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, hot cheese breads, farofa, crispy polentas, and rice and beans. Waiters keep coming by with meats until you give up and turn your card over to red. If you need a short break, just turn your card over to red for a while, then back to green when you are ready for more.

Prices are $34.95 for weekday lunch and $49.95 for dinner any night. A salad bar only option is available for $26.95 and $31.50 for lunch and dinner respectively as well.

A number of very tasty desserts ($8 – $12) are available, though they are not included in the dinner meal price.

I can say with certainty that I will be going back!


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[Photos are from the Fogueira Gaúcha website and Facebook page]

USA, Nevada, Henderson – Rodizio Grill

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(See my other Food posts) – I recently went with a group of the family to the Rodizio Grill in Henderson, NV. This is one location in a chain and it is a Brazilian Steakhouse or Churrascaria. The first restaurant in the chain opened in 1995. There are currently 21 locations in the chain, with a 22nd in development. Unfortunately, there are none in the Austin, TX area yet. The location we visited is located at 1300 W Sunset Rd, #2950, Henderson, NV 89014.

 

 

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Like most Brazilian Steakhouses, the Rodizio Grill has an extensive salad bar, in addition, there are over a dozen rotisserie-grille meats & signature items served right at your table by ‘Rodizio gauchos’. You can view the extent of their selections with their online menu.

We all thought the food very good. TripAdvisor rates this restaurant as 4.5/5, while Yelp rates it at 4.5/5 also. You can choose to just eat at the salad bar ($19.99 for lunch, $21.99 for dinner) or have the full meat selection along with the salad bar ($26.99 for lunch, $36.99 for dinner). We chose the full selection at dinner and it was well worth it. After your meal is over, you get to pick (if you have any room left) from their selection of desserts. A desert comes with your meal.

This is a restaurant I would recommend, but make sure you that you arrive hungry! With all of the food at the salad bar, then the ‘gauchos’ coming by your table every few minutes you will certainly leave stuffed.


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Singapore, Singapore – Soufflé Restaurant

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(See my other Food posts) – A couple of weeks ago we went to a French restaurant here in Singapore, Soufflé. The restaurant is located at 5 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089591.

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Soufflé is not a very large place and as you would expect from the name, it specializes in preparing a variety of soufflés. I had an order of Soupe à l’Oignon (Classic French onion soup with grantinated cheese toasts) then a Roquefort Cheese (Freshly baked soufflé – with a hearty portion of Roquefort cheese) and a Mixed green salad lightly dressed with French vinaigrette as my dinner. I liked all of those choices. The others in our party tried a wide variety of items and they enjoyed them all. You can look over their full menu if you like. 

Then came the dessert soufflés. There are eight different “Sweet Soufflés” on the menu:

  1. Grand Marnier et Oranges Confites (Freshly baked soufflé with a generous dousing of Grand Marnier and candied orange Additional shot of Grand Marnier)
  2. A la Chartreuse (Freshly baked souffé with a generous dousing of Chartreuse; the popular French digestif made with over 100 plants and flowers)
  3. Valrhona Chocolat Noir et Glace Vanille (Freshly baked soufflé with Valrhona dark chocolate and vanilla ice cream)
  4. Framboises et Glace Vanille (Freshly baked soft soufflé with raspberries and vanilla ice cream)
  5. Caramel Beurre Salé, Glace Caramel (Freshly baked soufflé with salted caramel and salted caramel ice cream)
  6. Speculoos, Crème Speculoos (Freshly baked soufflé with speculoos spiced shortcrust biscuits accompanied by a speculoos cream)
  7. Soufflé Glacé Citron Vert (A tall fluffy zesty lime iced soufflé)
  8. Soufflé Glacé Fruits Confits (A tall fluffy iced soufflé laced with colorful candied fruit

 

There were six of us in the dinner party, so being the ‘crazy Americans’ that we are we ordered two of each! Well, actually three of the chocolate soufflé.

Out of this delicious list, I liked the chocolate, caramel, and lime soufflés the best. I got too involved in the enjoying the soufflés so I did not get photos of them all. As you can see though, they all look good.

I have to say that I much prefer eating at a restaurant with a good steak. This was an interesting dinner though and it was great to sample all of their dessert soufflés. If you like French cooking or soufflés, then you will enjoy this restaurant.


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A World Within a World: Singapore’s Unusual Biodomes

I enjoyed reading this blog and wanted to share it. I have not had the opportunity to visit these biodomes yet myself, but I will definitely have them on my list when I return to Singapore next year.

K.L. Kranes

Mirror rabits flower domeIn one world, Alice ponders a giant mushroom inside an arid wonderland. Two rabbits mirror each other with claws up as if fighting their own reflections. The scent of flowers fills the air.

In the lost world next door, a skyscraper sized waterfall beats against the ground. Mystical sculptures hide within a tangle of exotic plants. The paleolithic era of giant plants and vines weaves up a mountain.

These are the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, two separate worlds encased in a half- moons of glass on the edge of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Both magical and beautiful biodomes evoke an ancient, organic sensation nestled in with fairy tale and science fiction. Upon entering each world, it is as if you’ve been transported to an experimental outpost on Mars built by people with an interesting sense of humor.

The Flower Dome

purple flower, flower domeApproximately mid-way through our trip to Singapore…

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Singapore, Singapore – Black Tap

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Food – A good friend here in Singapore recommended the Black Tap restaurant. We have now been there twice and have really enjoyed it. The Black Tap is located in the Marina Bay Sands Mall. Officially the address is 2 BAYFRONT AVE, SINGAPORE 018972. I didn’t realize it when I was there that the Black Tap is a chain of restaurants out of New York City.

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The Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino are shown above, with the Mall spread out at its base. The Black Tap is actually located at the near end of the Mall (building with the curved roof) shown in the photo above.

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It is one of the many shops and restaurants in the Mall. Notice at the bottom of the photo above you can see the ‘canal’ that goes through the center of this section of the Mall. It is complete with gondolas that you can purchase rides on.

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Exploring the Mall alone is worth a trip to the Marina Bay Sands.

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But we had come to the Mall specifically to dine. I chose the Steak Au Poivre Burger (a Blue Cheese Burger) with fries. It was very good.

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My wife had the Baja Grilled Chicken Sandwich with fries, which she enjoyed. While these, and the other items on the menu, were good, they were not why we visited the Black Tap.

The Black Tap also specializes in Crazyshake Milkshakes. If memory serves me, we ordered the Cookies ‘N Cream Supreme Oreo Shake (vanilla frosted rim with crushed Oreos topped with a ‘cookies ’n cream’ sandwich, crumbled oreo, whipped cream & chocolate drizzle) and the Sweet N’ Salty Peanut Butter Shake (chocolate frosted rim with chocolate gems & PB cups topped with a sugar daddy, pretzel rods, chocolate covered pretzel, whipped cream & chocolate drizzle). These are just two of the eight shake masterpieces that are available.

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We were lucky to have a seat where we could look over to where the shakes were being made. What better entertainment! Dining at the Black Tap is an experience I am sure I will repeat and I recommend it to anyone.


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Singapore, Singapore – Hard Rock Cafe

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Food – A few days back I took the two-mile walk to one of the local Hard Rock Cafe‘s here in Singapore. This one is located at 50 Cuscaden Road, #02-01, HPL House, Singapore 249724. There is nothing really unique about this location, but I find visiting a Hard Rock Cafe while traveling is like taking a little step back home to the States. Sometimes it is comforting to see food just the way you are used to seeing it.

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This location is pretty large and is set up for live music.

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It even has an upstairs with more room for seating. I visited in the early afternoon, so there were not many other customers. I suspect that the place is much more crowded in the evenings and especially on weekend evenings.

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While they have a nice menu, I kept my order simple opting for the cheeseburger and fries. It was a very good lunch!


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Weirdest Place on Earth and Its Ghosts (More Singapore Travel Adventures)

I enjoyed reading this interesting article on a part of Singapore I had not heard of. I see that Haw Par Villa is closed now for repairs, but will open 3/1/19. When I return to Singapore after the Christmas Holidays in the US I will have to plan a visit to it. It only looks to be about 4 miles from where I am living.

I am glad that I could ReBlog this post.

K.L. Kranes

Tiger balm. Chinese folklore. Decaying statues. What’s not to love about Haw Par Villa in Singapore? (Maybe the ghosts?)

Warning, this blog contains what could be some disturbing pictures for younger readers. No joke. Don’t let the references to Disneyland fool you. There are no sweet, happy endings at Haw Par Villa, only moral lessons featured often in very graphic, violent stories. Oh, and there are ghosts. You’ve been warned.

Welcome to Haw Par Villa – A Little Bit Violent, A Little Bit Sexist, A LOT of Weird

There are so many ways to describe Haw Par Villa.

Imagine a type of Disneyland built by two Chinese immigrants channeling Tim Burton then abandoned 50 years ago.

If you prefer architecture or art, I could describe it as reminiscent of Antoni Gaudí and Salvador Dalí with a touch of Stephen King.

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However I choose to mentally draw that picture, the bottom line is that…

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