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New Mexico Adventures – Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Ghost Ranch and Bandelier

In Blog, Travel, U.S. by Tom Schmidt0 Comments

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Travel to New Mexico with Tom and Priscilla

New Mexico was a spur of the moment trip. A friend who had visited a year ago came back with gleaming eyes and charming description of her time there. The excitement was so contagious that a year later, we found ourselves on a plane heading for Albuquerque. The green and luscious landscape of the upper Midwest summer gave way to the southwestern landscape of brown sand, rocks and cactus. Adobe homes hinted at an unfamiliar culture that existed in New Mexico, and most buildings were of a brown hue that blended into the desert. The sharp color contrast from Chicago’s scenery was a hard reset for our minds.




Day 1 – Arrive to Albuquerque (ABQ) New Mexico – Time to Eat!

Our first stop was lunch at Tia Betty Blue’s, a small café that served simple New Mexican fare. The café appeared to be housed in a single-family home repurposed with a commercial kitchen and small dining area. Stepping inside the little space, we were greeted with a large board displaying the menu and were immediately stumped by the food options. Blue corn waffles? Green Chiles? Christmas sauce? These were all really unfamiliar to us. The friendly lady taking our order explained the options, and introduced us to “Christmas” which was New Mexican speak for a combination of Green and Red Chiles. Slightly wiser about New Mexican cuisine, we bravely ordered away, asking for Christmas on every dish. The food turned out to be refreshingly delicious, and we amazed ourselves by devouring the burrito bowl, blue corn waffles with soft poached eggs and omelet all in half hour. You could never have too much good food…

Albuquerque New Mexico – True SW Cusine at Tia Betty Blue’s




ABQ – Petroglyph National Monument

With our bellies full of corn and Chiles, we headed to the Petroglyph National Monument. To our surprise, we found that the areas dedicated to the monument were scattered right behind people’s homes, and the monument was a completely casual affair with few signs for where to go and what to look for. We walked around any path we could find, scrambled up rocks, dodging lizards, feeling like explorers on an archaeological mission. We did spot a good number of petroglyphs, which were ancient carvings of mostly human and animals on the rocks. And then we found ourselves scorched by the sun and were forced to seek shelter. Clearly, we were not used to the sunlight that New Mexico seemed to have an abundance of.

Exploring the Petroglyphs in New Mexico




Sandia Peak – Take a Flight On the Longest Tram in the U.S.

The next stop was Sandia Mountain, located just east of Albuquerque. We had initially planned to hike up the mountain, but the sun and our filling lunch wore those ambitions away, so we took the tram instead. The tram was reputedly the longest in the US, and the ride turned out to be a quite a fun experience in itself with some great views. As we zipped up the mountain, the tram operator described the geological landmarks, calling out the canyons and waterfalls that we would have otherwise missed trekking on the ground. The tram ride also made clear how tough the hike would have been by giving us occasional glimpses of a steep and narrow path zigzagging upwards. One thing we knew for sure, the tram ride guaranteed that we would make it to the peak.

The peak of Sandia sat at an altitude of 10,378’ with noticeably cooler air and exhilarating views. If you stood at the right spot, you could see Santa Fe in the far distant and Albuquerque on the other side. The views were unobstructed and expansive with mountains even taller than Sandia abound in the surroundings. Hiking along the crest, we headed towards Kiwanis Cabin, which was built as a refuge for long distance hikers. Although, according to the tram operator, the stone cabin had to be rebuilt a number of times because it was so prone to lightning strikes. Safety issues aside, the vista upon arriving at the stone cabin was equally, if not more, breathtaking. Beautiful deep blue sky coupled with seemingly endless desert and mountains. We stood still, breathing in the clean crisp air and soaking in the panorama until a gust of chilly wind hit us and storm clouds appeared. The benefit of being on high ground was the ability to see far ahead, which gave us plenty of time to head back towards the tram before the drenching rain came. The hike on Sandia was surprisingly easy for the altitude, and came with plenty of scenic views. We are avid hikers but not athletes, so in our humble opinion, hikes that were relatively easy on the body and rewarding for the mind offered the best value.

Sandia Mountain, 10,378’ – Just outside of Albuquerque New Mexico




Day 2 – Exploring the “Old Town” area in Albuquerque New Mexico

We spent the next morning leisurely strolling in the Old Town neighborhood of Albuquerque. Old Town was centered around a plaza, with San Felipe De Neri Church on one side, and a ring of charming adobe shops on the other sides. We were told that locals avoided this area due to some tourist-trap characteristics, but as outsiders, the historical San Felipe De Neri Church was still worthy of visiting. The Church was quiet that day, with a few tourists in the front yard snapping photos, and a few venturing inside.

A lively melody drifted over from the plaza, and we followed the music to find an ensemble of men and women playing harps and various guitars, and singing in Spanish. A small group of people had gathered around the band, clapping to the lovely cheerful music. Check out the video!

We wandered around the shops and found some charming alleyways with delightful little shops on both sides. The shops included some small galleries with intriguing and affordable local art, niche boutique stores selling local honey, handmade soaps and other curiously curated collections of wares.



Albuquerque New Mexico – Around Town with Tom and Priscilla



new mexico

Tent Rocks National Monument – New Mexico Hiking with Tom and Priscilla

Tent Rocks was a national monument with unique conical rock formations. We saw pictures online that piqued our curiosity, and right away, we knew we had to hike the trails no matter how tough it was going to be. Tent Rocks was also conveniently located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, making it a good detour as we headed towards Santa Fe.

Hiking Trail at Tent Rocks National Monument

new mexico

At the entrance to Tent Rocks. The trail winding through the brush on the way up.


The trail started off on flat and dry sandy ground, but it soon turned into massive rock walls on both sides, technically described as a slot canyon. Parched-looking trees with gnarled roots attempted to trip us as we navigated the canyon.
We squeezed through tight sections of the slot canyon and scrambled over large rocks in our path. The views in front of us seem to magically morph with each step forward, culminating at the summit with vistas that were literally heart stopping. At the summit, we could see the tops of the strange conical rocks, juxtaposed with desert land as far as the eye could see. The view that had inspired us to visit was right in front of us, but more vivid, and with much more depth, breadth, color and even a palpable sense of danger that we would step slightly off the path and slide down into the canyon below. The scenery was absolutely phenomenal. And, the hike was surprisingly manageable to boot. The elderly who completed the hike could attest to that.

Slot Canyon at Tent Rocks National Monument

In the slot canyon a human can barely fit in between the carved rocks.

View up the expanse of carved rocks in the Slot Canyon of Tent Rocks NM.

A little size comparison…  It may be slighty distored from my wide angle lens, but it’s an imposing atmosphere.


With the sun setting, we hiked back down to the slot canyon and back to the open desert. Along the short loop path at the base of the canyon, there were a number of smaller conical rocks that jutted out here and there, and even an ancient man made cave that had probably sheltered a few people in its heyday.
Tent Rocks was a lot more majestic and surreal than the pictures that brought us there. It was certainly well worth the detour to visit.

At the Top of Tent Rocks National Monument



schmidt-photo-new-mexico-albuquerque-tom-priscilla_2109

Tom and Priscilla Explore the Mysterious Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch was located in Abiquiu, and was owned by the Presbyterian Church who ran it as an education and retreat center. We had chanced upon this obscure place while looking into popular hiking trails in the state. Interestingly, Georgia O’Keefe had lived here, and the beautiful layered rocky canyon had inspired and influenced her art.

There was barely anyone around when we arrived at the ranch, and it appeared mostly deserted, if not abandoned. We found the office to register ourselves, grabbed a map, and started off on the Chimney Rock hiking trail. We soon found ourselves completely alone, the ranch far behind us. The hike was strangely quiet, except for the sound of our footsteps as we put one foot after another, slowly ascending the steep hill. As we trudged forward, a massive cliff face loomed in front of us, and it felt so close as though we could touch it with our hands outstretched. But, in between us was an abyss, made dark and intimidating by the cliffs that closed in around it. Our voices echoed as we hollered. Uncontrollably, the fear of slipping and falling circulated in our minds as we clambered upwards on a ledge. Thankfully, the trail flattened out to a path on the ridge of a hill, providing beautiful views in all directions. The trail ended as the hill dropped off into a vertical cliff, and right across, was the aptly named Chimney Rocks, which jutted out against a backdrop of desert and hills with azure sky.

Ghost Ranch Chimney Rock Hike – New Mexico Tour

We headed back the way we came, and magically, the view in the opposite direction was different but just as beautiful. The same abyss that had unnerved us was now a friendly gorge where we took a break by the ledge and threw rocks into. Maybe the light changed our perspectives, or maybe our minds were playing tricks on us, but it was as though we were hiking a different path back to the ranch.

schmidt-photo-new-mexico-albuquerque-tom-priscilla_2101

With an hour left to sunset, we picked a shorter hike, which led us by some abandoned shacks before ending at a wall of plaques that stood in front of a butte that rose majestically. The memorial was dedicated to people who loved Ghost Ranch and who had passed. Animals were welcomed too, as evidenced by a cracked urn with a paw print that sat on top of the wall, long emptied of its contents. Eerie silence enveloped us.

As the sun began to set, we strolled back to the ranch, passing more mesas and butte, and hikes that we were not able to embark on this trip. The ranch had come to life a little. Two children were climbing up small trees picking apples, some were sitting on benches in the middle of an open field, gazing out towards the hills, and others were walking around leisurely.

The experience at Ghost Ranch was hard to describe. The ranch and canyons were starkly silent, devoid of almost any other sensory stimulation besides the vividly colored layered rocks with different hues of red, and the deep blue sky. The cliffs felt so close, yet so untouchable. The peace that came with being alone, the mind focused only on putting one foot in front of the other, and the physical sensation of sand and rocks crunching beneath the feet, and heart pumping in the chest. We felt emotions as diverse as exhilaration and deep fear simultaneously, feelings so complex and mysterious for words. The rawness and beauty of the landscape could only be best experienced by being there.

Ghost Ranch at Sunset – New Mexico Tour



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Santa Fe – Artsy City Adventure – Tom and Priscilla

Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico. At 7,198′, it is at a higher altitude than Albuquerque, and is the highest capital city in the US. Recent travel literature on Santa Fe had been pretty negative, with grumbles about the high concentration of retirees from all over that made the city a staid place for the young, and the authentic cultural experience that had since turned into a kitschy tourist destination. But was that true? We were going to find out for ourselves.
We headed straight to the well-known Santa Fe Plaza. Right on one end of the Plaza was the iconic Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The other side of the plaza was the equally iconic Palace of the Governors where Native Americans sat displaying their wares by the sidewalk. Both these places made up the majority of photos that one could find on Santa Fe.

Coincidentally, it was also the day of the arts and crafts market. A large number of booths were set up in the Plaza, with artists selling everything from gigantic garden accessories to honey to jewelry. Having been around art fairs in the Midwest, where such fairs were on a much smaller scale with a much smaller variety of art, the Santa Fe art market was really a breath of fresh air for us. We wandered around, sampling New Mexico honey from a friendly person who called everyone “Amigo,” we played with large metal animal-like statues, and browsed the various potteries and paintings on display.

Around the plaza, there were shops selling the usual tourist trinkets, but there were also a few intriguing stores that had fossils, custom handmade hats, products completely made of recycled cork, and countless jewelry stores.




Canyon Road Santa Fe – New Mexico Tour

Heading east of the plaza, we ventured down Canyon Road, known for the fine art galleries that lined the streets. The galleries were situated in historical pueblo homes that had been retrofitted with museum-like white walls, crisp white light, and plenty of wall space for paintings. Some of the outdoor spaces displayed massive sculptures and statues.

Santa Fe Arts – Canyon Road District




Hyde Memorial State Park Hiking Trail – Outside of Santa Fe


There was never a day without some form of hiking on our trip. We headed to Hyde Memorial State Park, 15 minutes drive from the Plaza, and jumped on the Circle Trail. It was a short three-mile hike that looped back to where we started, but it was not a hike for the unprepared. The hike warmly welcomed us with an extremely steep 1000’ increase in altitude in a short one mile, which meant we were walking upwards at what felt like a 45 degree incline. Huffing and puffing, we took many short breaks throughout the first mile. Wherever we stopped, we got peeks of Santa Fe through the trees. We breathed a sigh of relief as the hill finally flattened out at the peak, and found a bench to catch our breaths. As we gazed at the endless rolling hills ahead of us, it dawned on us that we would be faced with a steep 1000’ decline in altitude in a short one mile to get back to where we started. Sure enough, the easy flattened path ended, and began a precipitous descent back. We were gripping onto tree branches, trying to stop ourselves from slipping and landing on our behinds as little rocks rolled beneath our feet. The hike was certainly an amazingly intense workout for such a short distance.

We didn’t think Santa Fe was that kitschy of a tourist destination. Yes, there were many retirees, and the population seemed to be on the older end. But for us, the different landscape and culture was intriguing and eye opening. Perhaps it was mostly because we were not exposed to the Southwestern culture, but we certainly had a great time learning about it.

Santa Fe Hiking – Tom and Priscilla Explore Hyde Memorial State Park




New Mexico Trip Reflections

On our last day in Santa Fe, excitement seemed to have left the city. Everywhere was quiet. The Plaza, where the Art and Craft market was the day before, was empty and no one was around. Overnight, Santa Fe had turned into an ordinary small town.
We headed back to Albuquerque, and similarly, the city had also become lifeless. We stopped by the Old Town neighborhood, and found the area to be deserted, except for people working in the stores. We then ventured to a popular local coffee shop, Deep Space Coffee, to kill some time before our flight. The coffee shop was situated in a street of characterless buildings with architecture and atmosphere that were reminiscent of Midwestern small towns, where time and world had left the towns behind. We struck up a conversation with a local, and he inadvertently gave us a little insight into the New Mexico culture by saying, “It is so cheap to live here, so we travel to fun places with the money we saved.”

The comment, along with the lifelessness of the cities, highlighted a sliver of reality of everyday life in New Mexico – the poverty, the decrepitude and the lack of magic from the locals’ perspectives. New Mexico was after all, one of the poorest states in the US. The fleeting scenes of Native American reservations and pueblos, some with kilns in the yards most likely for making potteries that tourists happily lugged home. But mostly, the barrenness of the homes that hinted at possible struggles the dwellers were facing. Not to forget, the Native Americans who sat near the plazas of Santa Fe and Albuquerque and even Bandelier National Monument, silently watching tourists examining their wares. What was happening in their lives?

Despite all that, New Mexico was an intensely beautiful place. We had wonderful memories of the hikes, the breathtaking landscape and of the many friendly people we came across. We could not bear to say bye to New Mexico, constantly staring out of the plane windows to look at the mountains and desert. The view on the flight back was also ruggedly picturesque. Harsh, dry mountains, some dusted with snow, and remote small towns with barely any visible road that led to them. Slowly, the brown landscape gave way to farmlands, and then to bigger towns, and finally Chicago appeared.

Back at home, our eyes were glowing, and our minds rejuvenated. We couldn’t help but talk about the trip with such enthusiasm that perhaps, we could inspire someone else to take a spur of the moment trip to this enchanted high desert in the mountains.



Travel Journal – Priscilla Schmidt  @pristye 
Images – Tom Schmidt  @tomschmidtphoto



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Pondicherry India – City of Amazing Colors – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

In Asia, Blog, Travel by Tom Schmidt0 Comments

We had an amazing afternoon in Pondicherry as our final stop on our voyage South in India. The city has a uniquely European and cosmopolitan feel with an abundance of history tucked in every corner. Take a walk through the town with us as we explore Pondicherry!

Travel with Tom and Priscilla to Pondicherry India


Travel Journal – Priscilla Schmidt  @pristye 
Images – Tom Schmidt  @tomschmidtphoto



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Mahabalipuram Underwater City, India – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

In Asia, Blog, Travel by Tom Schmidt0 Comments

Driving in India is always an adventure and the first few minutes in the car will surely confirm that you are not in Illinois anymore. Our friends Anusha and Barath had arranged for a driver for us and for good reason, because the Indian style of driving is absolutely best left to the professionals. Once out the city and on the Indian “highway” you will notice that no one drives on their side of the road because there is always a need to pass something or other. Maybe because the roads are shared modes of transit including cars, trucks, busses, cows, dogs and humans. My brother the safety guy would have blown a gasket with the regular “close calls” of near death on the road.

Mahabalipuram Underwater City, India 33 Tom Schmidt Photo

Tom Schmidt Photo Mahabalipuram Underwater City, India 08

But we made it alive to the first stop on our South Indian tour: Mahabalipuram, The Underwater City. As we got the area there were a number of people that approached the car wanting to give us a personal tour of the area. We felt that it may be a scam, but found one man that agreed to a somewhat reasonable rate so we agreed, parked the car and went for a walk around the area to learn about the Underwater city of Mahabalipuram. The story goes something like this: A King built the great monuments, then the sand covered it long ago, and then a number of years ago it was dug up and is still there today. The sculptures and and structures are quite cool and VERY OLD.

Tom Schmidt Photo Mahabalipuram Underwater City, India 26

Travel with Tom and Priscilla to Mahabalipuram, India

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First Snow in Buffalo Grove – Pictures by Tom Schmidt

In Blog, Chicago Post, U.S. by Tom Schmidt0 Comments


In Chicago it snows.

Winter has always been the most dreaded season for us. The harsh cold wind that pierces through even the thickest and toughest of winter coats, the sharp air that sucks the moisture out of everything and anything, and just the sheer coldness that drives us to hide in our insulated dwellings, safely away from the chilling claws of winter.

Yet, there is magic in the first snow. The dancing snowflakes blanket the land, transforming everything they touch, giving beauty to even the most mundane of landscapes such as the suburb we live in.
What better time to take a stroll and enjoy the silent and mesmerizing snowy day?

Enjoy the first Snow in Chicago with Tom and Priscilla.

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Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

In Blog, Travel, U.S. by Tom Schmidt0 Comments

With the first real summer holiday coming up fast, we wanted to find a spot to camp outdoors at a drive-able distance from Chicago… So we were off to Tahquamenon located on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
And you ask why the UP of Michigan of all places to visit? Well we haven’t been there yet and Tahquamenon is the largest waterfall East of the Mississippi!

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog


Tahquamenon Falls – July 4th weekend 2016


We stuffed our little red Toyota Corolla FULL with a tent, ground pads, sleeping bags and food, and began our road trip to the UP.

The drive from Chicago is about 8 hours, and the route hugs Lake Michigan all the way. We passed through the great Midwestern cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay before entering the UP where the terrain changes to gentle hills and endless forests.

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

On the drive up I was recalling my college days at the University of Michigan and the people I had met from throughout the state. When you ask these locals about some Michigan geography or their hometown, Michigan folks instinctively pull up their left hand, point to a location on the back of their hand, and that is where they are from. The Michigan state looks roughly looks like a mitten and this hand trick is as common as the Michigan apples. Somehow, The Upper Peninsula has always been left out of this neat little trick as though it is some unknown place. Truthfully, having lived in Michigan for four years while in college, I don’t actually know much about the UP except that there are trees everywhere.


Itinerary:

Day 1

  • Drive to campsite from Chicago Burbs

Day 2

  • Hike Tahquamenon Trail – starting from Lower Falls, ending at Upper Falls
  • Upper Falls retail area

Day 3

  • Drive home to Chicago Burbs

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

As we arrived at the Tahquamenon Lower Falls campsite, smoke was wafting from campfires and the air was filled with the sweet smells of grilled meats. Evergreen trees dotted the campground to provide just a little privacy for each campsite.

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

On the first evening in the UP, we found a well-maintained path hidden at the edge of the campground that took us through a forest right to a great view of the Tahquamenon Lower Falls. The Lower Falls is the smaller of the Tahquamenon falls in terms of volume and height. It consists of a series of modest waterfalls that open up to a shallow lake surrounded by pine trees with an island in the center. You can jump in a canoe, or you can join the locals and swim and wade your way to the island. Nearby, a well-stocked souvenir store serves as a pleasant distraction for snacks (we got the soft-serve ice cream!) and uniquely UP merchandise.

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

Bright and early the next day, we fixed a classic campground breakfast of gooey eggs and potatoes and prepared to hike the Tahquamenon trail. Starting from the Lower Falls, we joined a surprisingly large crowd of parents with kids in tow and couples in flip flops to hike towards the Upper Falls. The trail was well maintained, but I would probably not set out in flip flops… The trail was certainly busy, and especially so on a holiday weekend, but pleasant nonetheless.

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

The Tahquamenon trail was pretty in an unassuming way. We were constantly accompanied by the seemingly unmoving Tahquamenon River, which was stained a dark yellow from tannins that seep in from the surrounding trees. Look closely and you could see turtles catching some sun, or discover a scenic corner to take photos. Rustic, and maybe handmade, bridges peppered the trail.

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog
After three hours of hiking, a wide paved path appeared and sounds of people chatting could be heard through the trees. Sure enough, once the forest clears, groups of people dressed in their best Fourth of July garb appeared. Somehow they appeared that they had not been hiking for the last few hours like us… Then the signs appeared for our hiking destination, the Upper Falls, and then souvenir stores, restaurants, and a parking lot! The Upper Falls with all of its beauty is quite built-out as a tourist destination.

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

Following the mass of tourists, we came upon a deck with the Upper Falls in full view. The water cascaded loudly over the cliff, but amazingly, it immediately arranges itself into a peaceful river to continue its journey. Even with the throngs of people around, you get a sense of being alone with the waterfall as it makes its way across the cliffs and through the forest before disappearing into Whitefish Bay.

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

After a few moments at the deck, we worked our way towards the retail areas, and found the stores to be bursting with tourists. The wait was almost two hours at the brewery (a local whispered to us, “You are not missing out!”) and empty seats were scarce. Not wanting to be caught hiking past sunset, we grabbed a quick snack, and headed out to find the next trailhead.

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

Unfortunately, other trails were not well marked and no one working at the Upper Falls’ site knew the trails well. We stumbled upon a trail in a far corner of the parking lot but the path was not well trodden and mosquitoes were plentiful. After a brave ten-minute foray into the woods, we gave up and headed back out of the woods to the better maintained Tahquamenon trail to make our way back to the Lower Falls.

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

We ended our trip the next day with breakfast amongst the forest, and left the bustling campground for home. There is still more to explore in the UP, but for now, I have learned more than I ever did in all my college years spent in the mitten state. The UP may not have grandiose landscape, but it is full of rustic beauty simmering with quiet resilience. We will certainly visit again for another weekend escape from Chicago.


Travel Journal 

Priscilla Schmidt : @pristye

Images

Tom Schmidt :  schmidtphoto.com @tomschmidtphoto


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One Night at The Dune Eco India – Oasis on the Indian Ocean – Tom Schmidt Editorial Photos

In Asia, Blog, Editorial, Photography, Projects, Travel by Tom Schmidt


Priscilla had found the Eco Village Resort as a pretty well rated place to stay, but at $40 bucks a night, I was let’s just say a bit skeptical… Wow was I wrong! This is true paradise that feels as if you have been dropped onto another planet of beauty and lifestyle.

To find the Eco Village, you turn off the paved highway to a pothole ridden dirt road passing by a few less attractive residences… Then you pass through a large gate to circle drive and gravel parking lot to check in. At this point you still don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into… “Alright let’s try it out” and we parted with our driver for the night and jumped aboard the mini-van fully equipped with a tiger painting.

Bumpty bump on into the resort along a small one lane dirt path lined with palm trees and mini cottages with thatch roofs. We were really into the village now! As we approached our lodge, the “Flex House” as it is named, was magnificent little rustic cottage with an other worldly feel. Pop open the padlock and enter to a spacious room with a boxed-in bed, high ceiling that exposed the natural roof, and totally cool translucent walls with flower photos printed on them. Wow.

We only had one night here, so we were off right away to explore the property. Exotic trees and plants fill every view as we walked through the property at sunset. It was amazing, each “house” on the property was unique and had an authentically different experience. Some had outdoor showers, one was built high above the rest to give the ultimate view of the Indian ocean, and all had a feeling of true India. As we explored the area, we found the farm on site with a number of cows and fresh vegetables. The village was developed to be generally self-sustaining, minus the beers and a few other modern conveniences.

One of my most vivid memories from this stay were the sounds. Our lodging was located just off the beach from the Indian Ocean and the sound of the waves breaking set the baseline for the atmosphere. Then early in the morning, the temple just outside of the village began with chants that remind you that you are definitely not in Illinois any more. Check out this video for a snippet of sound from the early morning hours.


Travel Journal – Priscilla Schmidt  @pristye 
Images – Tom Schmidt  @tomschmidtphoto



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“Street View” Chennai India – Tom Schmidt Photographer

In Asia, Blog, Editorial, Travel by Tom Schmidt

We went to the faraway place called India… It is a completely different world for this Midwestern boy. We visited in 2015 to attend a friend’s wedding in Chennai and then had a few days for exploring. The weather proved to be quite challenging during our visit with torrential downpours and flooding. When Chennai floods, it really floods! Then the clouds parted for some amazing blue sky as we began our voyage south. Check out a few images and videos from our first day around Chennai!

Tom and Priscilla Visit Chennai, India


Travel Journal – Priscilla Schmidt  @pristye 
Images – Tom Schmidt  @tomschmidtphoto



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