Julia: XplorMor Founder, Explorer, Photographer

Panum Crater Hike XplorMor Inc

Julia’s Xplorer Journals cover a wide array of topics from the 48 countries she has explored, including mysterious petroglyphs in the Darien Gap, alligators in Everglades National Park, hiking solo on The Lakes Trail in the High Sierras of Sequoia National Park, living as the only foreigner in a rural South Korean town, and being dropped by helicopter on Taku Glacier in the Juneau Ice-field. Most recently Julia traversed the Republic of Cuba to aid Biologists from the University of Georgia and Professors from the University of Havana with documenting Cuban insects.

As an avid outdoorswoman Julia’s photography, lectures and publications cover landscapes, wildlife, Peoples, monuments, and sites from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America to Europe, Russia and Asia. She aims to promote the preservation of our world, cultures, scientific and natural heritage through photography and written documentation.

To date her photos and collected data have been used for international map publications, journal articles, travel guides, ebooks, calendars and photographic archives including several supporting UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Her work inspires others from around the globe to get out there, photograph, explore more and share!

Julia’s Latest Xplorer Journals

  • Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail: A Hiker’s Promised Land

    North Fork Trail XplorMor Inc
    Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail in Inyo National Forest, California has it all: from spectacular views of 14+ lakes, 14,000 ft. mountain peaks, and access to the southernmost glacier in the United States and the largest in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Palisade Glacier. There are flowing rivers and waterfalls, rocky switchbacks, Golden Trout, Jeffrey and Lodgepole pines...
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  • Our Day with Mario in Zapata National Park, Cuba

    Zapata National Park, Cuba Julia ThomsenCopyright © XplorMor Inc. [Cienaga de Zapata National Park;Cienega Occidental de Zapata;Cuba;Cuba Beach;Cuba Entomology;Cuba Entomology Research Expedition 2015;Cuba Expedition;Cuba Matanzas;Cuba Peninsula de Zapata Playa Larga;Cuba Photo;Cuba Research;Cuba Rising;Cuba Zapata;Explore Cuba;Matanzas Province;Parque Nacional Peninsula de Zapata;Peninsula de Zapata;Playa Larga;Playa Larga Cuba;Ramsar site;Republic of Cuba;UN Biosphere;United Nations Biosphere Cuba;World Heritage Site;World Heritage Site 1801;XplorMor Cuba Entomology Research Expedition 2015;Zapata Peninsula;cuba insects;national park;zapata swamp]
    The Cuba We Are All Waiting to Experience continues in Zapata National Park, Cuba… Our new host, Dayami, used to work for Zapata National Park until her and her husband opened their casa to visitors. Now it’s full time at home. I pulled out my map and showed her where we planned to explore and […]
  • A Drive to Cuba’s Swamp Land Zapata

    Zapata Insects Julia ThomsenCopyright © XplorMor Inc. [Cienega Occidental de Zapata;Cuba;Cuba 2015;Cuba Entomology;Cuba Entomology Research Expedition 2015;Cuba Expedition;Cuba Expedition 2015;Cuba Matanzas;Cuba Peninsula de Zapata Playa Larga;Cuba Photo;Cuba Research;Cuba Rising;Cuba Zapata;Explore Cuba;Matanzas Province;Parque Nacional Peninsula de Zapata;Peninsula de Zapata;Playa Larga;Playa Larga Cuba;Republic of Cuba Photo;UN Biosphere;United Nations Biosphere Cuba;XplorMor;XplorMor Cuba;XplorMor Cuba Entomology Research Expedition 2015;XplorMor Republic of Cuba;Zapata Peninsula]
    The Cuba We Are All Waiting to Experience continues with A Drive to Cuba’s Swamp Land Zapata… How may I speak out? How does a blond white American girl know what’s right or wrong in this world? I am only able to judge based on my own life’s learning. From my time in Cuba, I […]
  • Exploring Havana Cuba

    Julia ThomsenCopyright © XplorMor Inc. [Cuba;Cuba 2015;Cuba Entomology;Cuba Entomology Research Expedition 2015;Cuba Expedition;Cuba Expedition 2015;Cuba Historic District;Cuba Old Town;Cuba Photo;Cuba Research;Cuba Rising;Explore Cuba;Habana;Habana Vieja;Havana;Havana Vieja;Old Havana;Old Havana Cuba;Republic of Cuba Photo;UNESCO;UNESCO World Heritage Site;United Nations Biosphere Cuba;World Heritage Site;XplorMor;XplorMor Cuba;XplorMor Cuba Entomology Research Expedition 2015;XplorMor Republic of Cuba]
    The Cuba We Are All Waiting to Experience continues with Exploring Havana Cuba… It’s hot and humid, and I’m sweating. My clothes are soaked, but I’m enjoying meandering through the streets of Havana, Cuba with its eclectic scenes of locals, salesmen of all kind, few tourists and wayward dogs and cats. This is not everyone’s […]
  • The Cuba We Are All Waiting to Experience, 3rd Excerpt

    Julia ThomsenCopyright © XplorMor Inc. [Cuba;Cuba 2015;Cuba Entomology;Cuba Entomology Research Expedition 2015;Cuba Expedition;Cuba Expedition 2015;Cuba Historic District;Cuba Old Town;Cuba Photo;Cuba Research;Cuba Rising;Explore Cuba;Habana;Habana Vieja;Havana;Havana Vieja;Old Havana;Old Havana Cuba;Republic of Cuba Photo;UNESCO;UNESCO World Heritage Site;United Nations Biosphere Cuba;World Heritage Site;XplorMor;XplorMor Cuba;XplorMor Cuba Entomology Research Expedition 2015;XplorMor Republic of Cuba]
    The Cuba We Are All Waiting to Experience (read from the start) continues… Don’t count on street signs at every corner, nor every street to be listed on your map. If you are lost, anyone will be willing to help you find your way. Just make sure it’s to your destination, not some place or […]
  • Good For the Cubans

    Julia Thomsen
    The Cuba We Are All Waiting to Experience continues… Good for the Cubans. Their written history, started by Christopher Columbus staking the island for Spain, has been wrought with claims of conquest from the Spanish to the French to the English and back to the Spanish. The United States even tried to buy Cuba twice […]
  • The Cuba We Are All Waiting to Experience

    Julia Thomsen
    Ninety miles and twelve minutes in a jet plane are all that separate the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba. I’ve come to call this “the longest twelve minutes” as to cross the divide is hours of effort, perseverance, waiting and patience, or in Spanish, paciencia. This is Cuba’s word. How do […]
  • Los Padres National Park: Pictographs Found at Piedra Blanca

    Piedra Blanca Petroglphys XplorMor Inc
    Success! Team XplorMor has hiked the Piedra Blanca Trail in Los Padres National Forest, located near the Ojai Valley in Southern California, numerous times to study its unusual rock formations, and to seek out the well hidden petroglyphs. On this last expedition we located them, and discovered three important points...
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  • Exploring Colonial America

    Colonial Williamsburg XplorMor Inc
    XplorMor Team has explored the historic Virginian towns of Colonial America on several occasions, experiencing lovely sunny days featuring reenactments of colonial events and sipping hot cider by small bonfires on wintry nights. No matter the time of year, visiting Colonial America is a memorable experience into the history and founding of the United States...
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  • Tucuti: Gateway to the Perilous Darien Gap

    Darien National Park XplorMor Inc
    As our expedition team finished breakfast, Vidal, a leader in the Tucuti community invited us to visit the town's school and observe the children at study in its classrooms. I was an English teacher in South Korea for a term, and Tucuti reminded me very much of the small town where I was located. I jumped at the offerand...
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  • Navigating the Impenetrable Darien Gap

    Darien National Park XplorMor Inc
    Leaving Puerto Quimba, Darien Province, Panama our expedition team traveled by motor boat along the Rio Turia passed Isla Mangle, and onto the river's southern fork, Rio Balsas, or "River of Rafts". Rio Balsas journeys through the heart of Darien Gap all the way to the Colombian border. Most settlements and villages in the Darien lie along its rivers as...
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  • Darien Gap Trek to the Monkey Stone, aka Yarre Mongara

    Puerto Quimba, Panama, Darien Gap, Darien Jungle, Jungle Trek, XplorMor, Julia's Xplorer Journal
    Mission: To cross unchartered terrain in the Darien Province from Puerto Quimba to Playa de Muerto in order to mark a new route through previously unexplored densely forested jungle lands, and to locate lost petroglyphs (ancient stone engravings or carvings), including the mysterious Yarre Mongara, or in English "Monkey Stone", first documented by world-renowned explorer, Robert Hyman, with...
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  • Sanctuary of the Monarch Butterfly

    Big Sur Expedition - Jan 2014 XplorMor Inc
    NOW is the time to visit Monarch Grove Sanctuary. According to the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History in Pacific Grove, California (also known as "Butterfly Town, USA"), the butterfly population is currently estimated at 14,000...
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  • Big Sur: California’s Meeting of Land & Sea

    Big Sur Expedition - Jan 2014 XplorMor Inc
    This may be where the phrase "California Beautiful" was coined, or at least it should be... Drive along California's Highway 1 for any distance past the sleepy beach town of Moro Rock and you quickly realize why the California Central Coast pulls thousands of visitors from around the world...
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  • Elephants of the Sea: Exploring Piedras Blancas Rookery

    Big Sur Expedition - Jan 2014 XplorMor Inc
    From last week's find of petroglyphs near the Piedra Blanca rock formations, we head to the rocky Pacific Ocean shore of Piedras Blancas Rookery. Friends of the Elephant Seal explains the area best: the "Northern Elephant Seal, Mirounga angustirostris, is an extraordinary marine mammal. It spends eight to ten months a year in the open ocean, diving 1000 to 5000 feet deep for periods of fifteen minutes to two hours, and...
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  • Devils and Rainbows in Inyo National Forest, California

    Inyo National Forest, Rainbow Falls XplorMor Inc
    In October, just skirting the US Government shutdown, the XplorMor Team ventured to Rainbow Falls and Devil's Postpile in Inyo National Forest, near Mammoth Lakes, California. Both are easy hikes through high mountain country. The trail winds near the San Joaquin River, and offers wildlife sightings (we saw several deer and many birds) and panoramic views of the High Sierra Nevada Mountains...
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  • Nature’s Gold: An Autumn Hike into Lundy Canyon

    Lundy Falls (person for height) XplorMor Inc
    Lundy Canyon Trail follows Lundy Canyon into the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Inyo National Forest, California. The trail winds through Aspen Groves which offer spectacular colors in the Fall. The best time to see autumn is late September to mid-October when the Aspen leaves turn an incredible bright yellow. Nature's Gold...
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  • Panum Crater: A Hidden Gem in Inyo National Forest

    Panum Crater Hike XplorMor Inc
    Panum Crater is a hidden gem, literally. Located adjacent to Mono Lake in north-eastern California, off Mono Lake Basin Road, or Highway 120 East, Panum Crater is a geological wonder with giant shards of obsidian (the largest I've ever seen) and contrasting rough chunks of pumice (pick one up to feel its weight). The other-worldly crater is worth the short hike; it's as though you step...
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  • Kayaking to the Mono Lake Tufas

    Kayak Excursion on Mono Lake XplorMor Inc
    Kayaking on Mono Lake, California was one of the best expeditions we coordinated this year. The day was early October, blue skies with enough clouds to offer interest and no wind, making for glassy, reflective waters, and a day to remember! Mono Lake, situated in a 700 square-mile valley off Highway 395 just south of Lee Vining town in Mono County, California, is one of the oldest...
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  • Bodie Ghost Town Relics of a Booming Wild West

    Bodie Ghost Town XplorMor Inc
    Bodie Ghost Town is a time capsule to its "boom time" days, with beds made, tables set, lessons still written on the school chalk board, and cars parked in the driveways. The town lies in silent wait for its former inhabitants that will not return. It's as though the citizens of Bodie, gathered little belongings, and took off in the middle of the night, leaving even the clocks...
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  • Glacier Lodge: A Gem of the Sierras

    North Fork Trail XplorMor Inc
    Glacier Lodge, as described by its owner, is a gem of the Sierras. Tucked away in Big Pine Canyon, next to Big Pine Creek, the little wood cabins of Glacier Lodge offer respite after a long day of hiking on the trails in neighboring Inyo National Forest. The rustic charm is evident as soon as you wind up the drive to check in at the main office cabin. There's...
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  • Petroglyphs at Fossil Falls

    Fossil Falls XplorMor Inc
    While driving on the 395 headed to Mono Lake and Inyo National Forest in California, an XplorMor Team member noticed the sign for Fossil Falls near a giant red cinder cone to the right off the highway. The team member quickly googled for more info as I turned the car off the highway and onto the dirt road. The Internet said we'd find a trail and interesting rock formations at...
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  • Shutout but not Shutdown

    Lundy Canyon Trail XplorMor Inc
    The planned XplorMor photo-expedition to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was thwarted by the U.S. Government shutdown. We had to think quickly as we were already en route to the parks. Thanks to Starbucks and WiFi, we soon discovered another option: Mono Lake and other California State and Local Parks...
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  • Coral Castle, Florida’s Mysterious Stonehenge

    XplorMor Team recently ventured to Coral Castle, Florida's Mysterious Stonehenge, also known as Florida's "Great Pyramid". The Castle is further described as being built out of the same sentiment as India's Taj Mahal: love. But in this instance, the love was very much unrequited. And the said castle, was not so much a castle as it is a very large artistic stone creation...
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  • Morikami Japanese Gardens, a Cultural Treasure in South Florida

    Morikami Japanese Gardens, Florida, Boca Raton, XplorMor
    XplorMor Team found a hidden treasure in South Florida! Morikami Japanese Gardens and Museum is a cultural gem situated in the community of Delray, Florida. Busy, bustling streets surrounding the park only help to intensify the surprise and wonder when first entering its gardens. There is a small entrance fee, or for the enthusiast, various levels of annual membership may be purchased. Either way, it's worth it...
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  • The Only Everglades

    J. Dickinson State Park XplorMor Inc
    The only everglades in the world are Florida's Everglades. Knowing this point puts a different perspective on realizing the effects metropolitan man has had on them over the last century. Much has been bulldozed and built upon. The ecosystem is also effected by the man-made segregation of its waterways for highway builds and water usage...
  • Out in the Field: Exploring the Florida Everglades

    Everglades and Naples XplorMor Inc
    We are in the field exploring and photographing more... please visit XplorMor on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or Pinterest for current whereabouts, images, events and musings. Watch slideshows and read more on Xplor Florida...
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  • XplorMor on the Wild Side with Wildlife Photography from our Expeditions

    Dinner Island Wildlife Refuge, Florida XplorMor Inc
    While on expeditions, the XplorMor team enjoys spotting and observing wildlife in natural habitats. It's an exciting feeling to be walking along a trail, and catch a movement with the corner of your eye, only find a rare snake slithering in the grasses or an endangered American Crocodile chewing on a fish or the tiniest of caterpillars hanging on a leaf prick you with its stingers while your...
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  • Adventure in Panama: Exploration of a Central American Country

    Casco Viejo XplorMor Inc
    XplorMor is on a research and exploration adventure in Panama. The Team is trekking and photographing various areas of the country, including trekking across remote terrain in the Darien Jungle to search for petroglyphs, touring cloud forests and coffee plantations of Boquete, boating, hiking and snorkeling through Bastimentos National Marine Park near Bocas del Toro, and discovering history and...
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  • XplorMor in Your Own Backyard: Start by Drawing a Circle

    Bird xplorMor Inc
    To continue the discussion of travelling around your own backyard, I‘ve gathered some steps that may be helpful in getting you out there. It seems to me that the best way to start exploring in your local area is by deciding on a distance you are willing to travel (20 miles, 80 miles, etc). Then, draw a circle out from your own backyard using a protractor and map, or go online...
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  • XplorMor in Your Own Backyard

    Lake Casitas, Ojai Valley, xplormor
    As budgets are tight these days, travel is unfortunately crossed off the list for many. However, travel doesn’t mean you have to find yourself sipping a cocktail on a white sand beach in Tahiti, rather your own hometown or region may offer a welcomed retreat or day-get-away . My posts are about far off places, yet I am exploring these places while living in them...
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  • South Korea: Squid Drying Under the Sun

    Bali to Bangkok by Robert Varney XplorMor Inc
    Some years ago I packed my bags, boarded a plane with a visa to work in South Korea for a year, and took a leap of faith. I didn’t speak the language. I didn’t know anyone in the town where I was headed. I’d eaten Korean food in Los Angeles on numerous occasions and liked it. But, really I had no idea what to expect entering a culture so different from my own, and no idea how that journey...
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  • Sequoia Lakes Trail: On the Edge, Literally

    Lakes Trail, Sequoia, National Park, Sequoia National Park, XplorMor, Trail, Hiking
    Picture standing on a trail no more than two feet wide that was created by blasting a granite face, then consider the wall on one side is fairly smooth with nothing to hold on to, and the other side leads to a 2000 foot drop into a desolate rocky valley below. Add an unexpected layer of snow which has spent several days melting and compacting, and melting a little more and compacting a little more… forming a wonderfully slippery surface...
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  • Amazing Hike to Mendenhall Glacier

    West Mendenhall Glacier Trail, Mendenhall Glacier, Mendenhall Lake, Tongass National Forest, Alaska, Juneau, USA, hiking, hiking trail, mountains, vista, view point, survery marker, glacier, lake, terrain, crampons, glacier hiking, ice cave, blue ice cave, glacier cave
    I recently heard a movie quote that made me think of this trek to Mendenhall Glacier. It was two pirates speaking about drinking from the cup of life, and how the opportunity was turned down. The first pirate said, "You could have lived for ever." And the response he received: "But better to not know which moment may be your last... every morsel of your entire being alive to the infinite mystery of it all. I have no say in it... Savvy?" I couldn't agree more....
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  • Mendenhall Glacier Trek and Mother Nature’s Sculptures

    Mendenhall Glacier Trek XplorMor Inc
    I’m going to lead into the Mendenhall Glacier Trek with a hefty warning, as the sign at the trail head reads: “Use at your own risk.” This is relatively the case for any location, but out on the ice, near a calving glacier, it is especially true. I proceeded...
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  • My Life is Based on a True Story, and so XplorMor begins…

    Taku Glacier XplorMor Inc
    Today a friend unknowingly posted a wonderful apropos quote from Razzle Dazzle's Blog on FaceBook: Devote yourself to an idea. Go make it happen. Struggle on it. Overcome your fears. Smile. Don't forget: this is your dream...
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From Julia’s Photo Archives