Have Camera Will Travel


Yesterday I picked up my camera rig for the trip. I got an entry level Nikon D3100 and three lenses, 18-55mm, 55-200mm and a 70-300mm.

So I was up early this morning with nervous anticipation to try the new rig out. I went to the wilds of the Bonne Carre Spillway to see what I could find. I was looking forward to using the RAW picture format so I could take advantage of the digital darkroom software I have. I’m glad I did because I was plagued with low light conditions. I quikly found out that low light = high ISO’s, and slow shutter speeds. But this was great because it’s the kind of conditions I am going to encounter in the Andean Cloud Forest of Ecuador.

It was off to the races lierally as I was chased out of one location by an impassible road and an ominous thunderstorm. Then I raced the rain back to my next location. I spent two hours in the wilderness running from dog packs, dodging bullets, and snapping photos. I took 64 pictures in all.

Then it was back to the digital darkroom.

Birds Viewed: Red Wing Black Birds (Male and Female), White Ibis, White Heron, Great Blue Heron, Gray Kingbird (Added this one to the Life List), and a fly-by, by some ducks (Resident Mallards I think).


Here are my locations from the Spot GPS


Great Blue Heron


Red Wing Blackbird (Male and Female)


Gray Kingbird

Here is the link all the ones I proccesed in the digital darkroom.

or view all 18 items as a slideshow

The adventure begins in 7 days

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SOLAR Power Station


Here is my new SOLAR charging station. This battery pack will charge my iPhone up to 7 times. There is also a wall outlet charger too. But you can’t beat free electricity from the sun.

The adventure begins in 9 days.

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Why I’m Traveling To Ecuador (Part 2)



Ecuador has at least 22 peaks over 13,780 feet in height. Of the two cordilleras, the Cordillera Oriental is wider and generally higher, with peaks averaging over 13,123 feet. The Cordillera Occidental, however, contains the highest point in Ecuador, which is the Mount Chimborazo at 20,560 feet. Ecuador also contains the highest point on the equator, Mount Cayambe at 18,996 feet.


Ecuador has at least 30 peaks of volcanic origin, including six still active. These peaks, which vary in width from 50 to 80 miles, are located in the area of modern volcanism known as the Avenue of the Volcanoes. The most active volcano is Mount Sangay, 17,159 feet high. Although its last major outpouring of lava occurred in 1946, specialists consider Mount Sangay to be in a constant state of eruption because of fires and bubbling lava at its crater. Mount Cotopaxi, at 19,347 feet the highest active volcano in the world, last erupted in 1877 and is now listed as “steaming”. Its crater is 2,624 feet in diameter. In addition to the other damage caused by eruptions, volcanoes in the Sierra have melted snowcaps, which in turn generate massive mudslides and avalanches. Earth-quakes and tremors also are common in the region.

The adventure begins in 11 days.

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Find Me Spot

I received my new Spot Connect. I’ve been testing it out. There was a bit of a learning curve but I think I have it dialed in now. So click on the My Spot icon to the right to follow my every move in Ecuador and the Galapagos.

The adventure begins in 11 days

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Today’s smartphones provide a level of social connection far beyond what we imagined just a few years ago. But when you go beyond the reach of the grid, your smartphone needs the help of SPOT Connect to keep you in touch with friends, family, and emergency personnel.    Simply pair your smartphone with SPOT Connect, and get connected to a global satellite network that lets you send messages and GPS coordinates from virtually anywhere on the planet. Update Twitter and Facebook. Send email and text messages. Request non-emergency help from professional service providers. And in the case of a critical emergency, send an SOS message requesting emergency assistance.



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Why I’m Traveling To Ecuador (Part 1)

A Birder’s Paradise
No other country in the world has as many bird species in such a small land area. With a list of over 1,630 species, Ecuador ranks fourth in the world in bird diversity. Fourteen species are found only within the boundaries of Ecuador.
Moreover,  Ecuador holds  the world’s top two Endemic Bird Areas  (EBAs), the Choco  and Tumbesian, within a short  distance from each other.  Nowhere else  in the world are  such  distinct bird species in such  close  proximity. The Choco  is best  accessed from Quito and  in a one-week trip you can  see over 300 species. The main birding areas in the Choco  are  the Tandayapa Valley, Mindo Valley, Milpe Bird Reserve, Rio Silanche Bird Reserve and the Canande region of far Northwest Ecuador.
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The Doom And Gloom Of Travel To The Third World


Well, here it is. The official list of a thousand ways to get sick and die in a third world foreign country. First off I found this little tit bit of interest.

 It is not unusual for many travelers to incur mild stomach upsets or even diarrhea. The latter condition tends to diminish as immunity levels are built up and the stomach becomes accustomed to its new diet, in any case drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration such as mineral water and soft drinks, avoid milk and caffeine beverages as well as ice in your drinks if possible.

What? No coffee. Eeek. How will I survive?

Exposure to health risks will vary climatically as well as within Ecuador wildlife and vegetation. For example the lowland tropical provinces house different health hazards in comparison to the high land areas, where the main risks will be more related to water, food or altitude sickness.Never eat from street vendors stalls due to contamination of the handlers or street pollution from passing vehicles or drink the local water unless you have purification tablets, preferably iodine based.Use bottled water when possible as the iodine taste can be overpowering. Also, always wash and clean fruits thoroughly before eating as well as your washing and drying your hands on clean hand towels or paper tissues.

I guess street meat is off the list of things to try!

Buy filtered or bottled water only in Ecuador as it is not safe to drink the local water. If you have to drink the water, boil it first and use also for washing vegetables and fruits if no filtered water is unavailable. Water-purifying tablets are not recommended as the hepatitis virus may remain. If you do buy tablets at least ensure they have iodine solution in them, 4 drops can make a liter of water. Also, avoid iced drinks if possible as this is a further risk to catching disease.

O.K., Don’t drink the water. I get it!

The major vaccinations recommended for Latin America travel to combat diseases are as follows: Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Malaria, Tetanus, Poliomyelitis, Infectious Hepatitis, & Rabies in the Oriente and jungle areas or other epidemics that may have recently sprung up such as Meningitis

I’m covered on most of these except Rabies. I just have to beware of rabid bats in the jungle!

Intestinal worms are frequent in the system when eating foods in other countries, yogurt has live bio-cultures in its make up and is a recommended food to help clear these parasites. The hookworm condition can be caught by not wearing sandals or flip flops on beaches and infested terrain so make sure you don’t allow these worms to enmesh and bury themselves into your feet by wearing at least minimum foot protection.

Intestinal worms? Ewww… No thank you. Don’t want those. I’ll have to eat lots of yogurt and wear shoes all the time.

Leptospirosis occurs through bacteria’s in the urine of rodents. Be careful if you have suffered any new cuts or scratches. Exposure occurs through either fresh water or moist earth contact.

I hope I don’t end up in a leper colonie for the rest of my life. Do they still have those?

Dengue Fever. There is no remedy for this fever but the same procedures for protection as explained under the malaria section apply as this is also carried by Mosquitos, the specific variety is known as Aedes aegypti. Although it is not common in Ecuador (Esmeraldas was the only Province with outbreaks) and totals only 3% In Latin America of the worlds total area, if you catch the fever it may take a full month to recover although signs of recovery are often made after a few days. The main symptoms are body pains through muscular swelling and high temperatures which may be accompanied by pink rashes which spreads to the facial areas. Take plenty of rest and pain killers when appropriate if you catch this disease.

I’ll just have to not get bitten. I’ll be the guy walking through the jungle with a mosquito net suit and a suit case full of bug spray.

All in all I have done my homework and feel that I am prepared for the adventure of a life time. So stay tuned it’s going to be a fun ride.

The adventure begins in 13 days!

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Typhoid Mary



I started my Typhoid oral vaccine week long regiment today. One pill every other day for 7 days. Can’t eat 2 hours before or 1 hour after. But I did get a cool wrist band in Typhoid orange. I didn’t know the orange wrist bands were for Typhoid. Learn something new every day. I just hope this stuff doesn’t make me sick.

17 days till the adventure begins.

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The Yellow Fever Conundrum


After my Dr. visit on Monday. I got two shots. A Hep. A and a Td or Tdap (Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis). I had a Yellow Fever vaccination in 1982 when I was in the military. So it appears those are good for life. The problem is that I remember getting the shot but I have no proof. I sent off a request for Government records but that could take 90 days. So do I just spend the $140 on a shot I don’t need, or do I just go and hope there is no Yellow Fever outbreak and they let me back in the USA without a Yellow Fever certificate. The guide says we will not be going into any yellow fever areas and that there is no certificate required for travel. So I guess I will save the $140 on the yellow fever shot and go back and get the $135 MMR (Mumps, Measles, and Rubella) which I need.

I also have to start a week long Typhoid oral vaccine. I pill every other day for a week. Then I have two more prescriptions to get filled. One is Malarone an oral Malaria medicine and the other is Z-pak (Azithromycin) an antibiotic to be taken in case of severe diarrhea. I hope I don’t need that one.

I also got a two hour lesson on about 6 other mosquito born diseases that there are no vaccines for and no cures. Then there are the food born nasty’s. Don’t drink the water unless it’s bottled or boiled. Don’t eat any raw fruits or vegetables unless you can peel them yourself.

I would like to thank the people at the Tulane University Travel Clinic for educating me and asnwering all my questions. I feel that I have a much better change of not getting sick now.

The adventure begins in 20 days.


Malaria Map Of Ecuador

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Preparing For Ecuador And The Galapagos Islands

The passport is ready to be stamped. I get my shots on Monday. Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hep. A, etc.. Backpack is ready to be packed and away we go. Stay tuned for updates!

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