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Tortoise Wing Green Tortoise Crawler Chronicle Tortoise Wing Fall 2007   

Welcome Message: Winter Getaways!

The Green Tortoise at Valley of the Gods

The end of summer means celebration at Green Tortoise! Not because of the upcoming holiday season, but for all of the friends and great adventures we had this past summer! Thanks for joining us. Actually, we are looking forward to the holidays too ... the holiday getaways that is! We have some great trips coming up, like our Thanksgiving Death Valley Loop and our Christmas and New Year's Baja Beach Daze. We also have a super deal on our annual Southern Migration;  $250* off the trip fare if you book between October 22 and October 26!  This amazing, 28 day, one way adventure to Cancun is the ultimate holiday expedition!  For your comfort, we are limiting the number of passengers to 28, so act soon and get your spot.  Right now on Sidestep.com, one way airfares from Cancun to San Francisco are cheap ($220)!  Want to travel to mainland Mexico but can't take a whole month off? The Southern Migration is designed so that you can fly in or out and experience just a bit of the trip. Call us for details! If you weren't able to travel with us this summer, check out one of these great trips for a fun and social way to spend the holidays.  Sign up for any one of the remaining 2007 adventure trips between October 22 and October 26 and you can trade in your partial Frequent Crawler points toward your trip! Call us for details.

Have you already got travel plans to finish up 2007? Keep us in mind for 2008 and start planning now by checking out our 2008 Trip Dates!

See you soon!
The Gang at Green Tortoise

PS - The photo above is of sunset (in the bus windows!) at Valley of the Gods and was taken by Hanny Strnadova.  If any of you have photos you would like to share from your summer adventures, we would love to see them! 

*This offer is valid on new bookings only.  You must book directly with Green Tortoise to get this discount.  This offer is not combinable with any other discount offer. 

 

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The Driver's Side

Check out these great trips to Baja with the Green Tortoise.
- Baja Beach Daze
  December 14 - December 23

December 21 - January 5, 2008

- Gold Coast Loop
 

January 12, 2008 - January 27, 2008

Meet Shaunna! Many of you know her from our fantastic Burning Man camp. When she's not working, she can often be found fishing motorcycling or diving. A true adventuress at heart, one of her favorite playgrounds is Baja.

My friends ask why I go every year: why I leave them to deal with the dreary winter, the cold, the wind, the rain? Then they don't speak to me for months after I answer their questions.

It is the magic, I say. At night the night sky holds more stars than any sky I ever seen before, and the moon hangs lower, brighter, bigger -- beckoning to me, reflected in my love's eyes ... It dances on the sea to the music of whale's calls, as I dance to the music of mariachis.

It's the sun on my skin, a touch-less massage of warmth, soothing away tired aches into a calm I have never known anywhere else, then driving me into the sea for an afternoon visit ... To that underwater mysterious world where I am a visitor -- watching weightless and silent holding my breath an instance longer hoping for another precious glimpse of the graceful creatures that inhabit here.

And mostly it's the lure of the unknown, the call of the adventure, the fact that the trip changes no matter how I try to duplicate it. Each trip has been different -- though it's the same road and same beaches that I visit, it's the same sun and moon and stars, it's the same Sea of Cortez ... it's always different; I see something new, feel something I've never felt before, experience something amazing ... It's the magic of the Baja.

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New Destinations: Pinnacles in 2008?

Over the years, many of you have suggested that we do more trips during the winter months in the United States.  Our main U.S. winter attraction is Death Valley National Park; featuring the otherworldly Zabriskie Point hike, hot spring soaks, and the possibility of sand boarding the famous dunes, this trip is a brilliant three-day sojourn into the colorful southern California desert region.

Would you like to see more short trips highlighting California's natural treasures? We are thinking about adding Pinnacles National Monument to our list of trips for 2008. The striking geologic formations at Pinnacles are actually the eroded remains of an ancient volcano, and the park boasts fantastic hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife watching. Pinnacles is a release site for the endangered California Condor. Would you take a weekend trip there with us?

Tell us what you think about the trip idea as well as about your own personal experiences at Pinnacles. Also, if you have other short trip suggestions, we would love to hear from you!

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Sammy's Choice:  Equinox at Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza - Maya Dream Weeks - Green Tortoise
2008 "Maya Dream Weeks" Adventures!
- Yucatan Explorer
  March 9 - March 15
- Caribbean Cruiser
  March 16 - March 22
- Jungle Boogie
  March 23 - March 29
- La Ruta Maya
  March 9 - March 22
- Tropical Trek
  March 16 - March 29
- The Whole Enchilada
  March 9 - March 29
You can visit El Castillo, too. Check out our Maya Dream Weeks, one-, two-, or three weeks.

Two weeks ago, I looked at my calendar and noticed it was the autumnal equinox, September 21. Exactly six months prior I was traveling through the Yucatan Peninsula with Green Tortoise and we were in Chichen Itza for the vernal equinox.

We arrived at sunrise.  Even at that early hour the line to get in was massive. Fortunately, our sleeper coach, Venus, made it easy to arrive at dawn and we were near the very front of the queue. After paying our entrance and walking through a shrubby shaded area, the view opened up onto a vast green lawn. Before us was the ancient stone pyramid, ‘El Castillo', the center piece of the site and also the spot of the afternoon's festivities. You see, whereas I needed a paper calendar to inform me that it was the equinox, the Maya had advanced astronomical knowledge. The 78 foot tall pyramid is actually a solar calendar by which the Maya would gauge when to plant their crops and conduct other ceremonies. The structure was designed so that twice yearly, on the equinoxes, the shadow of a feathered serpent making a descent from the heavens is cast alongside El Castillo as the sun goes down. The serpent represents Kukulkan, the ancient giver of life.

As the day progressed, more people arrived to witness the spectacle. Almost everyone was dressed in white. Some people strolled around while others relaxed on the grass, chatting and laughing. Still others would walk up to El Castillo and lay back on the pyramid, the stones touching their skin, to capture a bit of the temple's “energy”. I don't know about energy from the pyramid but the energy of the crowd was kinetic and very real. As dusk approached the excited chatter of thousands was transformed into a delighted laugh as it started to rain, providing some relief from the day's heat. Giant, crystal drops fell like blessings from the sky, and when the clouds parted, there was the serpent! I will never forget that day! Thank you, Green Tortoise!

Submitted anonymously by one of our 2007 Maya Dream Weeks passengers. 

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From our Friends at Flying Kiwi: Hike World Famous Glaciers in New Zealand

New Zealand Glacier - Flying Kiwi - Green Tortoise

Discovering the frozen World of New Zealand's stunning glaciers is a true once in a lifetime experience. You can try graded glacier trips at both Fox and Franz Josef and they accommodate every level of fitness and experience. You might also want to try one of the scenic flights and helicopter excursions to enjoy views from the air and touchdown on pristine ice.

Other sites to check out for more information on hiking the glaciers:

http://www.doc.govt.nz/templates/
PlaceProfile.aspx?id=35231

http://www.doc.govt.nz/templates/
PlaceProfile.aspx?id=35222

http://www.tourism.net.nz/region/west-coast/attractions-and-activities/
adventure/glacier-hiking-and-ice-climbing/

Sign up for any trip with Flying Kiwi, tell 'em Green Tortoise sent you and you get a 15% discount.

Glacier Facts:
- The mighty Fox Glacier is the largest and longest of the magnificent West Coast glaciers.
- It is remarkable in that it ends in temperate rainforest, 250 meters above sea level and a mere twelve kilometers from the sea.
- There are more 3,000m (10,000ft) peaks at the head of the Fox Glacier, than in any other valley in New Zealand.
- The Fox Glacier, like all glaciers, advances and retreats. Evidence of the latest surge forward can be seen in the bulging lower ice fall.
- The high peaks, snowfields and glaciers of Te Waipounamu (the South Island ) Southern Alps Alpine Scene are of great significance to Maori who named the glacier Te Moeka o Tuawe. This name derived from a tupuna (ancestor) Tu Awe who fell to his death while exploring the area. The bed of Te Moeka o Tuawe became his moeka (final resting place). It is said that when his lover Hine Hukatere wept, the bed of the valley filled with her everlasting tears of ice.

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The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he comes to see.
- GK Chesterton

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