You Can See New Mexico From Here

A View from the Super Top at Sandia Peak

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Where else can you see 9% of an entire state from one spot? On a clear day, that would be New Mexico, viewed from Sandia Peak. We were lucky to visit on such a gorgeous day since we saw far beyond from all sides.

Located just east of Albuquerque, Sandia Peak provides one of the most amazing views in the United States. New Mexico is famous for its beautiful mesas and desert landscapes; here’s your chance to see them. The best way to the top is through the Sandia Peak Tramway, a nearly three-mile (roomy) cable car trip up the slope that provides magnificent views above and below along the way. The Tramway brings you to a viewing platform over 10,000 feet up. It can be a little chilly at that altitude–even on hot summer days–so bring a sweater.

Enough with words. This post is better conveyed through pictures. Notice the cool cloud formations. Enjoy!

More about Sandia Peak
Sandia Peak Tramway information

Halfway to the Moon

Learn to Take Stunning Pictures of the Moon with a Smartphone and Backyard Telescope

This is a lot of fun. Here at UW, we enjoy playing around with technology without spending a lot of money. A couple years ago we figured out a cool and cheap way to take stunning pictures of the moon. Two things are needed: a smartphone and a telescope. The caveat? Well, it takes a lot of time, patience, and tries to get that one shot that’s just right. But on a warm summer night when there’s a bright moon and nothing better to do….why not?

Here’s our proven method

  1. Get a cheap backyard telescope. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy; we picked up ours for $20 at a garage sale. It may not be able to give you the planets, but any telescope should be able to give you a clear view of the moon. NOTE: for best results, use a telescope with an upright eyepiece (that forms a right angle with the telescope). This design allows easy access between phone and lens.
  2. Wait for a night when the moon is really bright and the skies are clear, then bring it outside, put in the best eyepiece available, and place your smartphone’s camera lens right up to the eyepiece, but there should be no contact between the two. If done right, the moon should come into focus on your screen, and look something like this…

    We actually took this. No joke, we promise! We enhanced it a little bit.
  3. Stabilize the shot if the autofocus doesn’t do it for you. This is the tricky part. It’s best if your phone’s camera has an autofocus feature, but you’ll probably need to manually adjust it anyway by tapping the screen periodically. It might sound easy, but depending on the phone and the telescope, you may have to take the time to carefully adjust the distance between the camera lens and the eyepiece. Also, as you’re doing that, don’t forget that the moon is constantly moving in the night sky. You’ll have to adjust the telescope periodically as the moon will move out of view every couple of minutes.
  4. Have fun! Take as many pictures as you can; you can weed out the bad and blurry ones later. Go crazy and run your best photos through filters to make it look sharper, brighter, or change the moon’s color like we did.

Have fun and good luck. Check out our gallery below!

As Soon As You Arrive in Utah, Stop Here!

Hidden Gem Has a Whole New Meaning with This Place

Special thanks to Utah Department of Transportation for their cooperation on this article

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You see a sign that says “view area” after driving all day. You’re tired, and maybe you think “I’ll pass…still gotta long way to go.” We’ll admit that even we do that sometimes, but those viewing areas tucked away on the side of the road–or the side roads–can turn out to be the best free views you can find on your all-American road trip.

We’ll always be grateful for deciding to stop at Harley Dome View Area in Eastern Utah that one evening.

Located just 3.5 miles west of the Utah-Colorado border along I-70 (see map), Harley dome gives you an up-close view of the West’s jagged yet amazing landscape. Look carefully and you can watch hawks fly around. Then take the winding path up to the main attraction: a panoramic view of the Wild West. Words cannot describe this place, but pictures can.

Don’t miss this opportunity; Utah is a beautiful state. The evidence begins the moment you arrive.

Island Hopping In Croatia

Have You Been to Paradise Yet?

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Why has Croatia become such a hot destination in recent years? Its Old World charm, friendly people, and unique buildings are a start. But its natural beauty–including beaches–is hard to find anywhere else.

We’d like to thank one of our readers, Nicholas, for sending us his travel story (and photos) about Croatia, including and especially a place called Brač Island. Found off Croatia’s southern coast, Brač is beautiful. Don’t just take our word for it though; read Nicholas’s account below…

It’s well known that Croatia is a nautical haven with favorable winds and currents, which allow sailors to comfortably cruise through the Adriatic Sea. The islands and coastal towns are replete with sheltered harbors so that tourists may dock their boats and enjoy the local flavors of the Croatian cities.

Everyone who decides to go sailing in Croatia must make a stop at the island of Hvar to enjoy the sunshine and the lavender fields. Same goes for the island of Brač – which is better known as home to the horn-shaped beach of Zlatni Rat. Another popular sailing destination is Kornati National Park, a collection of islands, islets, and reefs surrounded by turquoise blue water and adorned with pristine flora.

Taking an Adriatic voyage is a perfect way to go island hopping (Croatia counts more than 1000 islands!) and experience the different facets of this colorful and welcoming country.

Thank you again, Nicholas, for sending this our way! We always like hearing from our readers. If you have a travel story you’d like to share with UndiscoveredWanderings for publication, please visit our Share Your Travels page to learn more. Reader contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

A Sunken Ship Reborn

This Ship Has a Story to Tell

Click icon to view map. Detailed directions and parking instructions in Stockholm can be found here.

We would like to thank one of our readers, Melissa, for sending us photos of the Vasa from her recent trip to Sweden. We enjoy hearing from our readers, and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible. We would also like to thank the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) of Stockholm for assisting UndiscoveredWanderings with this article.

The Vasa, a sunken ship raised from its watery grave centuries after it met its untimely demise, is one of the most popular attractions in Scandinavia, but virtually unknown in America. We certainly weren’t aware of it until we received this postcard from our friend, Melissa, addressed to UWanderings’s Founder/Editor:

Intrigued, We Set Out to Learn More
The year is 1628. The Vasa was a grand spectacle, complete with two decks of cannons, 10 sails, and beautiful artwork and carvings. The pride of the Swedish Navy; the might of Scandinavia. The ship was a force to be reckoned with. At least it would have been if it ever made it to sea. The ship, it turned out, was top-heavy and very much overloaded. There were plenty of warning signs to indicate design flaws during its construction 400 years ago—including the yet-to-be-completed ship’s dangerous rocking—but political pressure of the day demanded the biggest and most intimidating ship, so such concerns were overruled or simply ignored.

The Vasa at its current home, the Vasamuseet, still drying out.

On its maiden voyage, less than a mile out of dock in Stockholm Harbor, the Vasa keeled over and sank. It was a complete disaster that was keenly visible to the watchful public that day, plus a major diplomatic embarrassment. King Gustav II Adolf was not pleased, even though he approved the ship’s design in the first place. Investigations ensued, but no one officially took the blame once concluded. Perhaps the powers that be would rather have forgotten this whole failure altogether.

And so the Vasa sat, beneath the murky, cold Swedish waters for over three centuries, until a major salvage operation in 1961 brought the world’s attention to this relic of the past, reintroducing it to a brand new, welcoming public. The cold waters actually helped to preserve its hull, but its journey was far from over. Preserving the Vasa’s waterlogged wood required constant spraying of polyethylene glycol; otherwise the wood would quickly dry out and fall apart.

Archival footage of Vasa’s 1961 salvage operation, courtesy Vasamuseet YouTube channel.

Vasa was moved to its current home, the Vasa Museum (or Vasamuseet, in the original Swedish) in 1990, the story of which is an interesting read.  The Vasa is still under restoration since the polyethylene glycol continues to slowly dry, and will for many years to come. We hope to have the opportunity to visit the Vasa someday ourselves; it’s truly remarkable. Here’s a complete visual timeline of the Vasa’s journey. For more information on the other exhibitions at the Vasa Museum, click here.

Vasa Museum official website