Category Archives: Travel

Easy Tips for Environmentally Conscious Travel

The recent rage in ‘eco-tourism’, or traveling in ways that support the natural environment and local people, has made some folks nervous. They think they need to go to Costa Rica and save the sea turtles in order to qualify as ‘green’ travelers. Not true. While the more labor-intensive volunteer excursions are wonderful experiences for some, they’re not for everyone. Many people take vacations to relax and get away from the stresses of everyday life, and they don’t want to have to worry about the environment while they’re gone.

But lessening one’s environmental impact while traveling doesn’t have to involve a lot of exertion or self-sacrifice, and doing so can make you feel that you’re doing something to help while simultaneously kicking back on the beach. A report from the Green Hotels Association quotes a US Travel Data Center survey stating that 43 million American travelers are ‘ecologically concerned’. People care, they just don’t know what to do about it.

Green travel essentially means travel that is concerned with protecting the environment and the culture of the places one visits. This can be achieved in many ways, from the simple to the more complex. Some of the ways we can be greener travelers are mentioned below.

Before You Leave on Your Trip
Turn off or unplug all appliances in your home; some appliances can pull up to 40 watts per hour even if turned off.
Turn down the temperature of the thermostat and water heaters.
Temporarily interrupt your newspaper service or donate it to a local school.
Turn off your water connection.
While Traveling
Use electronic tickets for your airline flights.
Buy carbon emissions offsets from an organization like Sustainable Travel International. By paying a small extra fee when you travel by air, for example, the amount of carbons emissions caused by your flight (which can be equivalent to one person’s fuel use of an SUV for an entire month) can be offset with the organization’s contributing to sustainable energy in other areas, such as solar heating or wind power.
Opt for a hybrid rental car.
Choose a ‘green’ hotel or ecolodge. These are accommodations whose goals are to preserve the environment and reduce waste. Some of the best of these use 100% solar power for their hotels, automatically turn off lights and appliances when guests leave the rooms, have low-flow toilets and recycling bins in the rooms, use local organic products in their restaurants, and employ staff from the local community. The Independent Traveler website lists a ‘Top 10 Ecolodges and Green Hotels’.

Glendo State Park, Wyoming

Glendo State Park is a part of Wyoming’s popular state park system. Located along the I-25, a hundred miles north of Cheyenne, the park is in the southern part of the state. In this Buzzle article, we’ll take a look at some interesting facts about the Glendo State Park to understand why this state park is a popular destination for residents of Colorado and Wyoming.

Experience This!
Exploring the area around Glendo State Park might lead you to tipi rings and remains of the Spanish Diggings.
One of the best state parks in Wyoming, the Glendo State Park is essentially famous among water sport enthusiasts. Tourists looking for some adventurous recreation should definitely visit this park. Facilities include infrastructures for both day and night use. Known as one of the best boating parks in the U.S., it has provisions for complete marina services and fishing equipment.

Location
The park is located along Interstate 25, Exit 111. Glendo is only around 3 hours by car from Denver, making it easily accessible. Coloradoans can enjoy fishing, swimming, and other water-based recreational activities without traveling too far afield. The park has many campsites designed to accommodate both RVs and tents, so spending a weekend at Glendo is a popular weekend getaway choice. Wyoming natives also frequent Glendo State Park, and some have annual day-use passes.

The Wild West
Although the small town of Glendo is today mostly a hub for lake users, the town predates the state park by many years. Images of Glendo in the 1800s can be found online. In the area surrounding Glendo State Park, it is still possible to get a Wild West feeling. Cattle ranching and wheat cultivation are the primary economic activities in Platte County, Wyoming, and it’s possible to drive for miles on dirt roads in the area without seeing any people.

Sandy Beach
The most popular camping area at Glendo State Park is Sandy Beach. The natural white sand beach mimics an ocean beach experience and is a good area to sunbathe, play volleyball and other beach games, or build sand castles. Because this area is the only sand beach on the Glendo Reservoir, the two Sandy Beach camping areas are often the most crowded. Several RV and tent campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and others can be reserved in advance. Drinking water is available from several spigots, and there are handicap-accessible outhouses in the area. Information on the other camp areas is listed at the end of the article.

Concerning National Parks Today

National parks preserve the living wealth of our planet. However off late, they have been facing various problems and it is disappointing to know that it’s all due to the insensitive behavior of mankind. Let’s take a look at some of the top issues concerning national parks.

From air pollution to habitat loss; national parks face a number of serious issues that affect their survival. These problems are difficult to address, because most of them are uncontrollable. However, it is important we take a few concrete steps to combat the problem. Now, most of the problems listed below are caused by the insensitive behavior of humans. No doubt the statutory purpose of a national park is to conserve and enhance the cultural heritage of the area along with providing opportunities to the public at large to enjoy and understand the natural beauty, but mankind tends to take it for granted. There are millions of people who visit the national park every year; which helps in raising funds for the park, however along with it; visitors also bring in problems like that of soil erosion, traffic congestion, assessing areas they are not allowed and so on. Some other problems like that of climate change and the reduction of polar ice due to global warming also have an adverse effect on wildlife.

Threats Concerning National Parks

National parks attract huge crowds as these areas give them an opportunity for open air recreation and take in the scenic beauty which is preserved and enhanced by the authorities. However, most visitors fail to realize the importance of keeping the parks clean. Many tourists leave behind water bottles and other scraps of litter, which is posing to be a grave problem these days. Visitors should be penalized for this act of theirs. Moreover, national parks also face the problem of being understaffed. Hence, it becomes difficult to pay heed to the cleaning issues of the national parks with limited staff.

The growing vegetation profoundly enhances the beauty of national parks. However, the millions of unnatural footprints (read visitors) trampling on the vegetation damages the park’s landscape. Agreed, all this is a part of natural decay, but by accessing the number of visitors per day and by rescheduling the system, we might be successful in stopping the vegetation damage and also prevent soil erosion by overuse. Off-road vehicles (ATV’s) are also responsible for deteriorating the vegetation and causing soil erosion.

After a hectic week, visitors look at national parks as a recreational place. However, they hardly realize that their recreational machines like mountain biking, motor boats and jet skiing they use, can interfere with the nesting of birds and gravely affect their migration pattern. The several road trips that take place within these national parks affect the road conditions as well. Of course repairs are undertaken but it takes time, and funds are needed to set things right.

The Benjamin Franklin National

In the United States, National Memorial is a designation for a protected area, that commemorates a historical event or a person. Located in the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial is a tribute to the great inventor and philosopher, and most importantly, one of the founding fathers of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin is considered one of the greatest citizens of the United States for his contribution towards the American revolution. He helped to write a part of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which contain some of the basic ideas that form the foundation of the United States federal government. Benjamin Franklin was a genius, renowned for several scientific discoveries, including the theories regarding electricity. The National Memorial tries to preserve the memories of this great statesman as well as the historic events in his life.
Interesting Facts about the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial
» The Franklin Institute, where the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial is located, is one of the oldest science museums in the United States. The National Memorial is mainly famous for the huge and awe-inspiring statue of Franklin, seated on a pedestal made of white Seravezza marble, imported from Italy.
»The colossal statue of Benjamin Franklin is 20 feet (6.1 m) tall and weighs 30 tons, while the pedestal on which the statue is positioned weighs 92 tons. The statue is the centerpiece of the memorial hall, which was designed by John T. Windrim, an American architect.

» The memorial hall was opened in 1938, and its structure is inspired by the Roman Pantheon. The rotunda is 82 feet in height, width, and length, and its domed ceiling weighs about 1600 tons.
» The statue of Benjamin Franklin was sculpted by James Earle Fraser. It took him almost 5 years (1906 to 1911) to complete the construction.
» The walls, floors, ceilings, pilasters, and the columns of the memorial hall are made of rare marbles. These marbles are imported from Italy, France, and Portugal.
» In 1972, the National Memorial got designated as the official National Memorial of Benjamin Franklin by the United States Congress. Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller formally dedicated the memorial on April 2, 1976.
» Unlike other national memorials, the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial is not included in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Instead, it is affiliated to the National Park Service, just like the Franklin Institute.
» The memorial is owned and maintained by the Franklin Institute, which receives grants through the Department of the Interior. Grants are usually given for the maintenance and addition of exhibits to the memorial.
» In 2008, the memorial was renovated. A multimedia presentation about Franklin was installed, along with latest LED lighting and improved acoustics. The total cost of the refurbishment was about $3.8 million.

Paragliding

Well, that’s true. Humans, however, have found alternatives to wings in many forms, one of them being paragliding. It is one of the adventure sports which has been enjoyed and loved by people for years. This activity is not only famous for adventure but is also well-known for its injuries and accidents. Though the rate of accidents has decreased to a large extent there are still many possibilities of getting hurt while performing this activity. Rate of injury decreases with experience. But to begin with, a person needs to follow proper guidelines in terms of safety.

Some Important Paragliding Tips

A parachute like canopy is required for the purpose of paragliding; and with the help of wind and gravity the person can keep sailing for a long time. But the take off and landing are considered to be the most difficult parts and thus cause the maximum number of accidents. Hence one needs to be trained before going for a glide. Following are some of the tips which if you keep in mind, can help you do this job perfectly and safely.
The best thing to begin with is to find out a good instructor who can teach you how to paraglide safely and perfectly. He should be a USHGA (United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association) Certified Basic or Advanced Paragliding Instructor or he must have done an equivalent course in the field of paragliding. Do not just start training without checking his experience and skill as these types of training can be dangerous.
You need to have the right equipment to fly. This will include wings, harness, variometer, radio and global positioning system, etc. You can consult your instructor for detailed information about the equipment and take his advice before buying any of them.
The next most important thing is the weather. You should never go for paragliding when it is raining or under any other bad weather conditions. It can be very dangerous. Never fly when the wind measures more than 25-30 mph speed-wise.
Look for the place where you will be practicing. If you are required to run on a slope to take off then observe it properly and speak to your instructor for any doubts. The slope should not be more than 15 degrees as more slope will create problems in controlling the balance. Find and clear up the obstructions so as to avoid accidents at the time of take off.
The landing site should be clear and accessible as most accidents are observed at the time of landing.
Do not forget to take all the safety gear in order to be safe at all times. Helmets are compulsory as a head injury can be fatal.

The Amazing History of Rock Climbing

Today, rock climbing is recognized as a sport where a participant has to climb a natural steep rocky formation or man-made rock walls. Rock climbing tests the agility and strength of the participant. A rock climber has to strike a balance between his body weight and his mental strength. This is a dangerous sport and one should have proper training and knowledge before making an attempt.
Historical Overview of Rock Climbing
Although initially rock climbing may have been taken up as a hobby, there are many evidences regarding the existence of climbing in earlier times. Take a look at a few historical instances.
One historical evidence is a Chinese watercolor belonging to 400 BC that depicts men climbing rocks.
In the 12th century, native Americans who lived in southwest Anasazi, had carved steps and drilled holes to hold post on the steep cliffs in Chaco Canyon.
In 1492, Antoine de Ville climbed Mont Aiguille, a rock tower in south of France. He used various skilled techniques to achieve this mission. Later, these same techniques were used to siege castles.
In 1695, ropes were used to climb rocks. It was first used by Martin of Scotland to climb St. Kilda.
Towards the close of the 18th century, Mont Blanc was ascended and it is said that the modern history of rock climbing and mountaineering started thereon.
During the 16th and the 17th century, rock climbing was considered part of Alpine mountaineering and rescue operations. It is only in the 19th century that it came to be recognized as a sporting activity.

Rock or mountain climbing became popular in many European countries during the late 19th century. The first European country to give importance to this activity was Germany.
In 1903, around five hundred enthusiasts climbed Elbe Sandstone Mountains. It was during this time, many clubs were formed.In England, around the same time, solo climbing was seen as a sport. Many solo climbers mounted complex and difficult cliff formations. Initially, there were no formal clubs for the rock climbers. However, people would meet informally in a common place to share and discuss their climbing experiences and also exchanged notes on climbing techniques.
Dolomite Mountains of Italy became the third greatest European rock climbing zone after a seventeen-year-old German student from Munich succeeded in climbing these dangerous mountains all by himself.
It became a separate sports activity in the United States in 1950s. Several mountaineering techniques were also used.
Various new techniques and styles were introduced as part of changes to this sport. The enthusiasm of rock climbers has transformed it from a hobby to a sport.
A new trend is indoor rock climbing many clubs in developed countries have facilities to install artificial rock ranges and cliffs as simulation landscape. Indoor climbing eliminates the risks of outdoor climbing and also provides an unforgettable experience to those residing in places where there are no natural cliffs.

The Bungle Bungles

Did you know that the Bungle Bungles is a mountain range in Australia? Well, here are some interesting facts about this unique geographical wonder.

Believe It or Not!
The Bungle Bungles remained undetected until the 1980s! It was discovered in 1983 by a film crew from Perth.
Bungle Bungles is located 80 km away from the Great Northern Highway in the Kimberley region. Sounds quite accessible, isn’t it? However, it went undetected because one had to cross a slow dirt track before they could reach the park. This 80-km stretch is fairly inaccessible, which is the reason nobody had ventured close to the park.

The national park, although famous by the name of Bungle Bungles, is actually known as Purnululu National Park. The word ‘Purnululu’, from which the park derives its name, means sandstone in the language of the local Kija aboriginals. The name Bungle Bungles is the name given to the range of rounded rock formations of sandstone, that are lined with alternate black and orange stripes.
Fascinating Facts about the Bungle Bungles
The Bungle Bungles, located in Western Australia, is one of the most famous and fascinating geographical landmarks of the region. This Buzzle article brings to you some amazing facts about this mountain range, along with some general information about the park. So, let’s get started.
➦ The Bungle Bungles was formed more than 350 million years ago, during the Devonian period. The gradual weathering and erosion of the sandstone rock led to the formation of cliffs.
➦ The orange and black stripes that are seen on the rocks are due to orange silica and black lichen. The dark bands are of permeable rock, which allow water to seep through, leading to a thick and dense growth of algae, while the orange bands get their color from oxidized iron compounds.

➦ The ranges are home to many endemic species of flora and fauna, including some species of wallabies and beautiful palm trees.
➦ Thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans in Australia, the aboriginals had settled in the region that is now known as the Purnululu National Park.

Bungle Bungles Range
➦ The total area covered by the dome-shaped ranges of the Bungle Bungles, which rise from the bottom of the Piccaninny Gorge, is close to 450 square kilometers.

➦ You can stumble upon ancient aboriginal cave paintings in the caves and mountain caverns.
➦ The Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungles ranges were declared a World Heritage site in July 2003.
➦ The Kimberley region, where the park is located, is the world’s single largest source of diamonds.

View of Sunlight on the Ranges
➦ Interestingly, these rock formations appear to glow at dusk.
➦ More number of people take an aerial tour of the park than those who choose to travel by land.
➦ The ‘National Park’ status was granted to the park in 1987.
➦ The average height of the rock formations is 200-300 meters. However, climbing is strictly prohibited.

The Acadia National Park

Situated on the rough and rugged Maine coast, the Acadia National Park in Maine is a glorious haven for all those who want to experience nature at its best. The pristine beauty of the park, where the sea, mountains, woodlands, lakes, ponds, and wildlife all come together for a grand spectacle, attracts thousands of visitors every year. The sculpted granite hilltops, the beauty of the fall foliage, the breathtaking view of the rocky coast of Maine, and the miles of historic carriage trails are some of the best attractions of this park.

Apart from its scenic beauty, the Acadia National Park also boasts of a rich human history, thanks to native Americans, early European settlers, and artists. Attracted by the beauty of this place, many affluent people of the century have flocked to these islands in search of recreational and social activities. Till date, it continues to be one of the most visited national parks east of Mississippi. Here are some interesting facts about Acadia National Park.
History of the Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park Map
● The first people to inhabit Mount Desert Island in the Acadia National Park were the Wabanaki.

● A Frenchman, Samuel de Champlain, who led an expedition that landed on Mount Desert Island in 1604, named these islands as ‘Isles des Monts Désert’.

● Many of the socially prominent families, such as the Rockefellers, built lavish summer cottages in Acadia. It was due to their private donations of the land that the beauty of Mount Desert Island and the national park remains preserved till date.

● In 1901, Charles W. Eliot, president of Harvard University, formed a public land trust to protect the island from uncontrolled development. Its creation was also strongly supported by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

● On July 8, 1916, 6,000 acres of land was set aside by President Woodrow Wilson for the ‘Sieur de Monts National Monument’.

● In 1919, President Wilson signed an act establishing the Lafayette National Park, which was later renamed Acadia National Park in 1929.
● It became the first national park east of the Mississippi.
● The man credited with establishing and conserving this national park was George B. Dorr, the national park’s first superintendent. An affluent person, who hailed from a highly regarded Boston family, George Dorr spent 43 years trying to protect and preserve Acadia for public use.

● In 1947, a major fire broke out on Mount Desert Island, burning for 10 days and destroying more than 17,000 acres of land, which also included a number of upscale summer cottages.

National Parks are Important to Us

A trip or two to a national park with family and friends is always an enhancing and enriching experience. Glance through this Buzzle post to learn why the national parks are important and valuable to us.

Quick Fact
A National park was conceptualized in 1832 by George Catlin, an amateur artist who, on a trip to the Dakotas, was worried about the encroachment on forests and sites of the indigenous people. He proposed that these areas could be protected by certain government policies.
Many of us remember our first visit to a national park – it was, for most of us, with our parents or during a school tour. No matter how young we were when we first visited one of these places of scenic beauty and natural tranquility, its memories never cease to exist from our minds. The various wild animals, plants, flowers, and awe-inspiring landscapes, which we may have seen as children, always tend to remind us that nature has more things in store than we may think.

A National park is essentially a protected area, either owned or declared by the government of a country. Every country in the world has a number of such areas reserved as national parks, and interestingly, some of them also appear as natural heritage sites in the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The areas of national parks are protected to safeguard the natural environment, wherein the local, indigenous species of plants and animals dwell and thrive. They also protect and preserve certain landscapes, which hold a special significance for a particular region or for the country.
Importance of National Parks
National parks are important to us for more reasons than one. Some of them include the following:

Protection of Wildlife

We share our planet with a variety of plant and animal species, which collectively constitute the Earth’s biodiversity. Their survival for a longer period of time is ensured when their natural habitats are safeguarded. National parks provide them with existential security. Moreover, these are numerous species of plants and animals, which are extremely rare and cannot survive at all, if they are taken out of their original, natural habitats. In such cases, they often dwindle in population, thus becoming endangered and/or become extinct altogether. National parks help safeguard and conserve such rare and indigenous species, thus securing the biodiversity of that region.
Protection of Landforms

National parks are reserved/protected areas which, more often than not, encompass beautiful landforms such as snow-capped mountains, desert dunes, sandy beaches, foggy rainforests, river cliffs and gorges, and so on. The more they are exposed to human interference, the more they are prone to damage and destruction. National parks ensure sound, pollution-free environment, with minimum human intervention, controlled by legal statutes. This aids to safeguard the landforms and other places of scenic beauty, which may be a highlight of a particular region or country.

To Go Ice Climbing in the US

Ice climbing probably is the Mad Hatter among all extreme sports; anyone who’s tried it will surely vouch for this statement. Just imagine, this sport involves scaling a vertical cliff covered in slippery ice with nothing more than a couple of axes and a pair of crampons―and all of this is to be done in the biting cold.

Not many would be game for a monstrosity like ice climbing, but there are a few out-of-this-world people out there who get their kicks from it. With those people in mind, here’s a list of the most amazing places to go ice climbing in the US.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire, with its prolonged winters and short summers, is an ideal destination for ice climbing. The center of activity in this state is the Frankenstein Cliff. With its several crag-style ice routes, this remains a popular haunt for ice climbers.

If you’re looking for something that’s even scarier, look no further than Cannon Cliff, which carries quite the brutal reputation for ice climbing.

Mt. Washington is considered to be a hallowed climb within this sport. The mountain’s unpredictable weather is legendary; there are several tragedies that stand testimony of this fact. Nevertheless, the peak continues to lure both, alpine and ice climbers. NE Climbs has all the lowdown on ice climbing in the New England region.

Colorado
Come winter, and Colorado’s famous rock climbing sites get inundated with ice climbers. This unfailingly happens, each year, as Colorado’s harsh winter causes most of its water bodies to freeze.

Ouray is the state capital when it comes to ice climbing. The Ouray Ice Park holds the distinction of being the world’s first ice park, with around 10,000 climbers using it annually. More than 200 routes have been identified and mapped, making way for easy access. The climbing season is December to March, and the annual Ouray Ice Festival takes place every January, which attracts climbers and gear manufacturers from all over the world.

The San Juan mountains in the vicinity are also a hotbed of activity for ice climbers. The San Juan Mountain Guides provide beginners with safety equipment and basic training.

Alaska
For ice climbers, the state of Alaska indeed is the Last Frontier, and quite literally. Thanks to its proximity to the Arctic, the state’s climate is very conducive to an extreme sport like this. In fact, Alaska Iceclimbers has a dedicated website for the convenience of fellow enthusiasts.

Valdez, in southcentral Alaska has welcomed ice climbers ever since the early 1970s. The list of ice climbs around Valdez includes
Mineral Creek
Solomon Gulch
Hole in the Wall
Keystone Canyon
Bear Creek
17 Mile Wall
Sheep Creek
19 Mile Wall
Vermont
The cliffs of Mount Pisgah that overlook Vermont’s Lake Willoughby are certainly not meant for the faint of heart. During peak season, the sheer face of the cliff has more than 40 different routes, some of which rising beyond 600 feet. Beginners are advised to stay away from this site, returning only when they’ve compiled several expeditions of their own.

This area is known among ice climbers as ‘The Lake’, and is considered by many to be one of the toughest to scale. The Vermont Outdoor Guide Association has detailed information regarding routes, equipment rentals, and instructors.