Sunday, September 29, 2013

10 Trips I Wish to Make

1. The Giant's Causeway ~ Antrim, Ireland & Fingal's Cave ~ Staffa, Scotland

The Giant's Causeway ~ Antrim, Ireland

Fingal's Cave ~ Staffa, Scotland

Some 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleogene period, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled rapidly, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillar-like structures, which are also fractured horizontally into "biscuits". In many cases the horizontal fracture has resulted in a bottom face that is convex while the upper face of the lower segment is concave, producing what are called "ball and socket" joints. The size of the columns is primarily determined by the speed at which lava from a volcanic eruption cools. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau which formed during the Paleogene period.

According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realizes that his foe is much bigger than him. Fionn's wife, Úna, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the 'baby,' he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal's Cave, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.

2. Bimini Road ~ Bahamas & Tessellated Pavement ~ Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania

Bimini Road ~ Bahamas

Tessellated Pavement ~ Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania

Occurring near sea coasts on flat rock which has broken into regular blocks, the effect is known as tessellated pavement for its resemblance to Roman mosaic floors (also called tessellated pavement). The pavement takes two forms. Depressions are known as pan formations, occurring when saltwater wears away the center portion of the stones into pools. The opposite effect is known as a loaf formation, when the edges of the stone are worn away leaving a rounded crown resembling rising bread. The Bimini Road is an example of tesselated pavement. However, some people believe it is a road left behind by the lost civilization of Atlantis. The isthmus connecting the Tasman Peninsula to Tasmania is covered in a pattern of tesselated pavement.

3. The Great Blue Hole ~ Belize

The Great Blue Hole is a large submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize. This site was made famous by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who declared it one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world. In 1971, he brought his ship, the Calypso, to the hole to chart its depths. Local myths maintain that the Great Blue Hole is bottomless, while other legends claim it holds terrifying sea monsters. These likely originated with the ancient Maya, who viewed sinkholes as sacred entryways to the underworld.

4. Stonehenge & Hadrian's Wall ~ England

Stonehenge, England

Hadrian's Wall, England

The breathtaking prehistoric monument located near Salisbury in the English county of Wiltshire stands as strong today as it did 3500 years ago. Documented as one of the most famous places in the world to visit, Stonehenge was built in three phases that consisting of over 30 million hours of labor. There are no written records as to why Stonehenge was built. There are many theories but no confirmations. Some theory it was a place of dying, while others theory it was a place of healing. Some reason Stonehenge was built for human sacrifice while others speculate it's all about astronomy.

Some think it is a solar calendar that predicted the sunrise, sunset, eclipse, moonsets and moonrise while others reckon it as a place for worship. The reasoning for Stonehenge remains a mystery. Some authors state the supernatural must have played a part in the construction of Stonehenge reasoning the stones were too heavy making impossible for anyone to move and carry therefore making Stonehenge a much bigger mystery. Whatever the reason, the circular landmark of large standing stones is a wonder to everyone as Stonehenge dates back as far as 3100 B.C. the estimated built time.

Hadrian's Wall stretches across the north of England from the west Cumbrian Roman coastal defences at Ravenglass, through Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport to Bowness-on-Solway, along Hadrian's Wall through Carlisle to Hexham in Northumberland and on to Newcastle upon Tyne, Wallsend and South Shields. Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification in Roman Britain, begun in AD 122 during the rule of emperor Hadrian. In addition to its military role, gates through the wall served as customs posts.

5. Yonaguni, Japan

The Yonaguni Monument is a massive underwater rock formation off the coast of Yonaguni, the southernmost of the Ryukyu Islands, in Japan. There is a debate about whether the site is completely natural, is a natural site that has been modified, or is a human-made artifact. For these reasons, the site is also known in Japanese as the "Yonaguni (Island) Submarine Ruins.

The sea off Yonaguni is a popular diving location during the winter months owing to its large population of hammerhead sharks. In 1987, while looking for a good place to observe the sharks, Kihachiro Aratake, a director of the Yonaguni-Cho Tourism Association, noticed some singular seabed formations resembling architectonic structures. Shortly thereafter, a group of scientists directed by Masaaki Kimura of the University of the Ryūkyūs visited the formations. The formation has since become a relatively popular attraction for divers in spite of the strong currents. In 1997, Japanese industrialist Yasuo Watanabe sponsored an informal expedition comprising writers John Anthony West and Graham Hancock, photographer Santha Faiia, geologist Robert Schoch, a few sport divers and instructors, and a shooting crew for Channel 4 and Discovery Channel. Another notable visitor was freediver Jacques Mayol, who wrote a book on his dives at Yonaguni.

6. Crater Lake, Oregon, United States of America

Crater Lake has inspired people for thousands of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It is a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom.

The Klamath tribe of Native Americans, who may have witnessed the collapse of Mount Mazama and the formation of Crater Lake, have long regarded the lake as a sacred site. Their legends tell of a battle between the sky god Skell and Llao, the god of the underworld. Mount Mazama was destroyed in the battle, creating Crater Lake. The Klamath people used Crater Lake in vision quests, which often involved climbing the caldera walls and other dangerous tasks. Those who were successful in such quests were often regarded as having more spiritual powers. The tribe still holds Crater Lake in high regard as a spiritual site.

7. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

There are three pyramids at Giza, each of which once had an adjoining mortuary temple. Attached to this temple would have been a covered causeway descending down to a valley temple, near the Nile. The 'great' pyramid itself is truly an astonishing work of engineering skill - for over four thousands years, until the modern era, it was the tallest building in the world.

The sides are oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass and the length of each side at the base is 755 feet. They rise at an angle of 51 52' to a height , originally, of 481 feet but nowadays 451 feet. It was constructed using around 2,300,000 limestone blocks, weighing, on average, 2.5 tons each. Although some weigh as much as 16 tons. Until recently, relatively speaking, it was cased in smooth limestone but this was plundered to build Cairo.

Is it conceivable that by bringing together so many people and giving them a common goal, that of making a mountain, a national identity is forged in their hearts. From Upper and Lower Egypt communities would have got to know each other and a common bond would have been manifest in the object of the pyramid. If this is true it is unique because all other forms of nationalism have grown out of war.

8. Mahendraparvata & Khajuraho, India

Mahendraparvata, India

Khajuraho, India

A lost medieval city that thrived on a mist-shrouded Cambodian mountain 1,200 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists using revolutionary airborne laser technology. Mahendraparvata, included temples hidden by jungle for centuries, many of which have not been looted. The city reportedly founded the Angkor Empire in 802 AD includes more than two dozen previously unrecorded temples and evidence of ancient canals, dykes and roads. The name Mahendraparvata means "Mountain of the Great Indra." Mahendraparvata is a reference to the sacred hill top site commonly known as "Phnom Kulen" today where Jayavarman II was consecrated as the first king of the Khmer Empire in 802. The name is attested in inscriptions on the Angkor-area Ak Yum temple.

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 385 miles southeast of New Delhi, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures. Between 950 and 1150, the Chandela monarchs built these temples when the Tantric tradition may have been accepted. In the days before the Mughal conquests, when boys lived in hermitages, following brahmacharya until they became men, they could learn about the world and prepare themselves to become householders through examining these sculptures and the worldly desires they depicted. Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could. They were pointed out to the English in the late 19th century when the jungles had taken a toll on the monuments. In the 19th century, British engineer T.S. Burt arrived in the area, followed by General Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham put Khajuraho on the world map when he explored the site on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and described what he found in glowing terms. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the "seven wonders" of India.

9. Chichén Itzá & Teotihuacán, Mexico

Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Teotihuacán, Mexico

Chichén Itzá, which means “at the mouth of the well of Itzá,“ is the 2nd most visited archeological site of Mexico today. The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichén Itzá which known as “El Castillo” (the castle), is one of the new seven wonders of the world. It is exactly 24 meters (74.8 feet) high considering the upper platform. Apart from the Kukulkan Pyramid, in Chichén Itzá there many other archaeological sites to visit, all carrying traces from Mayan Culture in many ways.

Chichén Itzá was the most cosmopolitan of Mayan capitals. During the few centuries that this city was at its height, the Mayan built temples with influences from Puuc, Toltec and Mixtecan architecture. An all over Mexicanization can be seen also in art and ceramics throughout Chichén Itzá, proving international trade and cultural exchange. The Itzaes, rulers of Chichén Itzá, were a Maya-speaking tribe from Central Mexico - the periphery of the Mayan realm.

Teotihuacán was massive, one of the first great cities of the Western Hemisphere. And its origins are a mystery. It was built by hand more than a thousand years before the swooping arrival of the Nahuatl-speaking Aztec in central Mexico. But it was the Aztec, descending on the abandoned site, no doubt falling awestruck by what they saw, who gave it a name: Teotihuacán. A famed archaeological site located fewer than 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Mexico City, Teotihuacán reached its zenith between 100 B.C. and A.D. 650. It covered 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) and supported a population of a hundred thousand.

The construction of Teotihuacán, "the place where men become gods," was attributed to the Quinametzin Giants. Legend has it that the Quinametzin, a race of giants, populated the world during the previous era and whose survivors were hidden in those days. "The Quinametzin were created during the era of the “Sun of Rain” and its ruler was Tlaloc. His rule ended when Quetzalcóatl made ​​“rain fire” and the Quinametzin burned to death." At the arrival of the Spaniards, the Tlaxcaltecas said that they fought against the last Quinametzin before their arrival. This "giant" that in their mythology constructed Cholula and Teotihuacán, resembles the Maya God Itzamná, “the god that could fly.”

10. Delphi ~ Mount Parnassus, Greece & Rome, Italy

Delphi ~ Mount Parnassus, Greece

Rome, Italy

Delphi became the site of a major temple to Phoebus Apollo, as well as the Pythian Games and the famous prehistoric oracle. Even in Roman times, hundreds of votive statues remained, described by Pliny the Younger and seen by Pausanias. Carved into the temple were three phrases: "know thyself," "nothing in excess," and "make a pledge and mischief is nigh." In ancient times, the origin of these phrases was attributed to one or more of the Seven Sages of Greece. Occupation of the site at Delphi can be traced back to the Neolithic period with extensive occupation and use beginning in the Mycenaean period (1600–1100 BC). Most of the ruins that survive today date from the most intense period of activity at the site in the 6th century BC: Temple of Apollo' Amphictyonic Council; the reconstructed Treasury of Athens, built to commemorate their victory at the Battle of Marathon; the theatre at Delphi; the Tholos at the base of Mount Parnassus; Athena Pronaia Sanctuary at Delphi; the mountain-top stadium at Delphi; Altar of the Chians; Stoa of the Athenians; Sibyl rock; Gymnasium; Stadium; Hippodrome; Polygonal wall; Castalian spring; and Athletic statues.

There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from approximately 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. Evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to about 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. While some archaeologists argue that Rome was indeed founded in the middle of the 8th century BC (the date of the tradition), the date is subject to controversy. However, the power of the well known tale of Rome's legendary foundation tends to deflect attention from its actual, and much more ancient, origins.

Traditional stories handed down by the ancient Romans themselves explain the earliest history of their city in terms of legend and myth. The most familiar of these myths, and perhaps the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who were suckled by a she-wolf. They decided to build a city, but after an argument, Romulus killed his brother. According to the Roman annalists, this happened on 21 April 753 BC. This legend had to be reconciled with a dual tradition, set earlier in time, that had the Trojan refugee Aeneas escape to Italy and found the line of Romans through his son Iulus, the namesake of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. This was accomplished by the Roman poet Virgil in the first century BC.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chattanooga, Tennessee 2013

During the second week of July, Dylan and I joined my mother, stepfather, nieces, and a friend of my eldest niece to take a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. My aunt, cousins, uncles, and grandmother all live in the area. My mother and stepfather had asked not only our family but his family to join them in celebrating their nuptials. They had chosen the Chattanooga area because my grandmother's health prevents her from being able to travel on long trips.

Because I was to ride with my mother, stepfather, and the kids, I had to travel from Abilene, Texas to Santa Fe, Texas a couple of days earlier. Dyl and I stopped in Clyde to gather my youngest niece, and we went on our way. Dyl is currently driving with a permit, and this trip was the perfect opportunity for him to get in some driving time and gain much needed driving experience. I am proud to say that he did very well, and all of us made it to Santa Fe safely. The day after arriving in the Santa Fe/Galveston area, we moved on toward Galveston to catch up with my sister and nephew and to take pictures.

On July 11th, we all piled up in the minivan and headed east. The trip was wild, as it rained all the way to Tennessee, and we found ourselves lost in Birmingham, Alabama. The wrong turn was quickly corrected, and we arrived at the hotel late in the evening. Throughout the night several more family members arrived at the hotel.

Saturday, several of us met in an effort to plan the excursion we would be making the next day. One of my stepfather's sisters suggested that we all meet up at The Terminal, a brewhouse next to the Chattanooga train station. Here we met up with my cousin and his children. The staff was patient with the large group, half of which were children. The food at The Terminal was wonderful, and the decor was extraordinary.

The Terminal Brewhouse

After the nuptials in Ringgold, Georgia, the wedding party and family met up at Mom's Italian Villa for the reception dinner. While waiting for our scheduled time to eat, we all relaxed on the corner, and I took this opportunity to fire off a few shots of the family.

Kenny, Micah, & Jacqualine

Kylan; and Scott & Monica

Dylan & David Scott

Ace & David; and Zoe

After dinner and cake, we all walked a block down to the Chattanooga Train Station. This place is absolutely amazing. Outdoors, there is a beautiful rose garden and the famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo which I did not have time to photograph, but inside the terminal was absolutely beautiful.

Interior of the Chattanooga train terminal

While we waited for the group to meet back up together, I took this opportunity to snap even more pictures of the family.

Allyssa and Cherish

Allyssa & Sage; and Dylan & Adam

Once we saw the sites in around the train station, we took a bus over to the Art District of Chattanooga. Here, I was able to grab a perfect shot of the Mellow Mushroom and I photographed the fountain before trekking off toward the fine arts museum, which was closed for the day.

Mellow Mushroom; Koi Pond; Dyl & the extra long stairway

dog statue; Aliyah playing the bongos; Allyssa

Cherish; Hunter Museum of American Art; and Allyssa

Zig Zag Sidewalk; Tennessee River; and Walking Bridge

Chattanooga Art District; and Train Trestle

Sage; Dyl, Kylan, Allysssa, & Cherish;
and sculpture in front of Hunter Museum of American Art

horse of branches; and Dyl & horse of branches

View from Hunter Museum of American Art

glass bridge; Chattanooga River Market; and sculpture

Although the Art museum was closed, there was still plenty for us to see and do. During our visit, we were able to view many of the arts created by local artists, as there was an arts festival. While waiting for the bus to arrive, we were serenaded by a local musician. He sang "Zoey Jane," a Staind cover. He was actually quite good. Soon after the bus ride back to the other side of Chattanooga, we were all exhausted and ready to call it a night.

Aliyah, Aunt Kathie, Tony, & Hunter; and singer at bus station by art district

The next day, we traveled to Georgia where we visited the Chickamauga Battlefield. It is hard to believe that such a horrific battle took place in this lush green and serene battlefield. Due to the rainy weather and my lack of waterproof equipment for my digital camera, I was not able to fire off many shots of the terrain and museum.

Dyl at the Chickamauga Battlefield; and a green tree, which I rarely get to see

flower garden at the Battle of Chickamauga Battlefield

flower garden; painting of the Battle of Chickamauga

From there, we went back to Chattanooga and drove up the twisting road curving around Lookout Mountain. Atop the mountain, we found Point Park. The view was absolutely amazing, and the kids had a blast hanging over the edge of the cliffs. Their antics did nothing to slow the quickening of my heart each time the children moved close to the edge.

Dyl, Lyssa, Cherish, Josh, Cody, Gary, & Mom at Point Park; and Lyssa, Dyl, & Cherish
at Point Park


Point Park

Tennessee River at Moccasin Bend

Allyssa & Cherish; and monument at Lookout Mountain

Allyssa & Dyl at Lookout Mountain

Moccasin Bend

Hikers at Lookout Mountain; and Lyssa at Lookout Mountain

The storm clouds rolled in, and we were all drenched with rain. We all grabbed a bite to eat at Mojo Burrito, which was delicious, but definitely not Mexican food. My stepfather's children went their separate ways, and the rest of us went on to Cleveland, Tennessee, where my grandmother lives. I enjoyed visiting my grandmother and wish that I could spend more time with her. Grandma and Baby David got to meet one another, and he was quite content in her arms. Dyl was very excited to see Grandma again, as he has grown close to her over the last several years.

David Scott & Grandma; Scott, Ace, & Monica; David Scott & Grandma

David Scott

Grandma & Dyl

The next day, we traveled back to Santa Fe, and Dyl and I made our way back home.