Bizarre but Beautiful Pancake Rocks & Blowholes in New Zealand National Park

July 18th, 2014 Permalink

On the edge of the New Zealand’s Paparoa National Park, you can walk among bizarre rock formations, many that resemble stacks of pancakes. The Tasman Sea surges into undercut cavities, booms, and then seawater geysers shoot through blowholes, making the spectacular natural attraction of blowholes in Pancake Rocks a “must see” at high tide and/or storms. [45 Photos]

Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki

The west coast of New Zealand is famous for its unique natural attractions of “Pancake Rocks” and blowholes, making Dolomite Point in Punakaiki “a must see” when visiting the southern island’s coastal region. Photo #1 by Christian Mehlführer

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Wild beauty of America’s Everglades: Subtropical wilderness stuffed with wildlife

June 20th, 2014 Permalink

1.5 million acres in southern Florida, dubbed Everglades National Park in 1947, were inscribed by UNESCO in 1979, and then inscribed to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2010. The national park protects only the southern 20% of the original Everglades, yet it is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. Everglades National Park is also an international treasure as one of only three locations on the globe to appear on the three big lists: World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance. The diversity here of wildlife, nine Everglades ecosystems and changing habitats might blow your mind. The national park protects 800 species of land and water vertebrates, over 400 bird species, more than 275 species of fish and over 20 species of snakes. Here is a look at the wild beauty of America’s Everglades. [34 Photos]

American alligators in Everglades National Park as seen from Anhinga Trail

American alligators in Everglades National Park as seen from Anhinga Trail. Other popular areas for wildlife viewing — like alligators, wading birds, and other animals — include Shark Valley, the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm, and Eco Pond in the Flamingo area. Photo #1 by Miguel Vieira

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Dazzling Dunes and Lagoons in the Desert: Bizarre Beauty in Brazil [29 PICS]

June 7th, 2014 Permalink

In Brazil, there is an very unusual national park in the desert. While you might expect to see rolling white sand dunes, you would not expect to see the area dotted with lagoons created by rainwater. Here’s a look at those dunes and lagoons in Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. [29 Photos]

Lençois Maranhenses, the Paradise of the dunes

Lençois Maranhenses is called a desert, but it’s not really. Instead paradise lagoons are hidden among the rolling white dunes. Photo #1 by LCjournal

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Lovely Lenticular Clouds: 42 Incredible UFO Cloud Photos

May 22nd, 2014 Permalink

Some folks think lenticular clouds look like a stack of pancakes, but most people think they look like “saucer clouds.” These clouds are more dense, colder, than the surrounding air, so if the ambient weather doesn’t change then it just appears to hover without moving. It’s been said that these “lennies” are a possible explanation for some reported Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) sightings. If conditions are “just right,” lenticular clouds can form about anywhere. Yet this meteorological phenomenon most often appears over mountain peaks and extinct volcanoes. Even that has been dubbed “rare.” If you live in the “flat” lands, then it’s possible you’ve never witnessed an incredible UFO cloud. Photographers love to capture them, so thanks to their hard work, here are 42 fabulous photos of lovely lenticular clouds. [42 Photos]

Lenticular clouds hang steady over the sea ice in McMurdo Sound

Lenticular clouds hang steady over the sea ice in McMurdo Sound. But photographers don’t have to freeze in Antarctica to capture this dramatic meteorological phenomenon. Photo #1 by Deven Stross

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Terrific Tea Plantations [35 PICS]

May 14th, 2014 Permalink

If you drink tea, it’s probably not grown in America. If you live in the USA, then it’s a pretty safe bet that you don’t have a terrific view of a tea plantation. In fact, you probably have no view of a tea plantation — or “estate” — and that’s a pity cause it’s pretty. Grab yourself some tea, if you are so inclined, while you view these terrific tea plantations mixed with tea quotes and fact tidbits. [35 Photos]

BOH Tea Plantation, largest tea plantation in Malaysia and largest black tea manufacturer in Malaysia

BOH Tea Plantation located at Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia is also the largest tea plantation in Malaysia and the largest black tea manufacturer in Malaysia. Catherine Douzel said, “Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.” Yet Arthur Gray believed, “The spirit of the tea beverage is one of peace, comfort and refinement.” Photo #1 by Zaqqy J.

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Abandoned Asylum: Horrors of Forest Haven [44 PICS]

May 2nd, 2014 Permalink

Once upon a time, the story of Forest Haven was happy and hopeful because the state-of-the-art D.C. Training School would help developmentally and mentally handicapped children and adults learn skills to help them survive in the real world instead of being institutionalized. That was 1925; the Forest Haven facilities grew to a compound with over 22 buildings spread over 250 acres. By 1991, the story of Forest Haven was a heartbreaking horror story as hundreds of residents died of abuse and neglect before the U.S. Justice Department forced the District of Columbia institution closed. “What we have here are quiet little murders,” explained a Justice Department expert witness in a 1994 article. “They’re killed one day at a time because people don’t pay attention and then no one finds out the real cause of death.” Before everything was said and done, Forest Haven ended up being one of the worst cases of criminal institutional abuse that the U.S. has ever seen. Oh the sickeningly sad stories the walls would tell you if only they could. Now, over 20 years later, this is the abandoned Forest Haven asylum. [44 Photos]

Left behind luggage at abandoned Forest Haven asylum

Left behind luggage at abandoned Forest Haven asylum. Like this luggage, patient records and sensitive information were all left behind. This place seems like the saddest version of Hotel California because mentally disabled children and adults were checked in, but could only check out by dying. Forest Haven history is dark and demented, full of epic abuses, criminal neglect and atrocities like rape. As we look at the abandoned asylum, let’s listen as if the walls could to talk about some the horrors of Forest Haven. Photo #1 by © Darryl Moran Photography

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Into the Caves: ‘The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek’ [35 PICS]

April 24th, 2014 Permalink

Amazing caves are located all over the globe, different types in a wide variety of sizes are waiting to be explored. Some folks call it caving, spelunking, or even potholing, but it’s all an adventure…at least until something goes wrong and then cavers are called in to rescue spelunkers. It’s been said that “the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” While in the mood to go caving, we cruised 500px for creative captures of caves with creative common licenses. Here are the cave photo treasures we found. [35 Photos]

Birds, sunlight and a temple inside Batu Caves in Malaysia

We searched for a “cave” and found a “Light of Hope.” Birds, sunlight and a temple inside Batu Caves in Malaysia. Batu Caves, a series of caves and cave temples, is a popular Hindu shrine and tourist attraction near Kuala Lumpur. “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek,” ~ quote by Joseph Campbell. Photo #1 by Danny Xeero

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45 Sizzling Snaps & Pictures of the Year: Smoking Hot Photo Contest in the Commons

April 17th, 2014 Permalink

A decade ago, there were not tons of terrific photos to choose from in the Commons, but photographers have really stepped up by licensing their photos so people can share them along with knowledge. While you may or may not agree with the 12 Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year winners, most everyone could agree the competition was smoking hot. Categories like animals, plants, people, panoramas, nature, space, architecture and even miscellaneous objects give us a chance to go globe hopping as we celebrate these 45 sizzling snaps. Congratulations winners and thank you to all photographers who make the Commons a fountain of beautiful knowledge! Why don’t you consider uploading your photos to the Commons and maybe we’ll see you listed as a winner next year? [45 Photos]

Wikimedia Picture of the Year 2013 winner, tungsten filament burning with a flame in the light bulb

1st place winner in the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year 2013 Contest. The photo description states, “The glass bulb of the lightbulb has been opened, causing the inert gas inside to escape. When turned on, the tungsten filament burns with a flame, due to oxygen entering the light bulb. The light bulb was screwed into a socket, which was replaced with the lamp base using image processing.” Photo #1 by Stefan Krause, Germany

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Beautiful Blood Red Moons: Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses [20 PICS]

April 12th, 2014 Permalink

April 15 is tax day in the USA, but don’t let that get you down. Instead, lift your eyes toward the heavens during the darkness and wee hours of the morning to view the first of four total lunar eclipses, spaced six full moons apart. Those four consecutive total lunar eclipses are called a tetrad. Christian Pastor John Hagee dubbed them “Blood Moons” denoting change for Israel; these total eclipses of the moon occur on Jewish holidays such a Passover in April 2014 and April 2015, and Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, in September 2014 and September 2015. Some folks are even claiming this series of blood-red moons is heralding the end is nigh. You’ve might have seen “blood red” moons before as the term has previously been applied to the coloring of Harvest moons. One thing that’s for sure, if you live in the USA, then you have a front row seat for a tetrad of lunar eclipses. Here’s a calculator to figure when you can see it from where you live. Here are some beautiful photos of blood red moons, aka total lunar eclipses. [20 Photos]

Tetrad Blood Red Moon, harbinger of end times

So you might have heard about the coming tetrad? This shot of a total lunar eclipse over a church and cross reminded us of the coming four consecutive total lunar eclipses. During such an eclipse, the moon can appear to be reddish in color. Some folks are calling them “Blood Moons,” others are quoting Biblical prophecy of when the moon turns blood red, a harbinger of end times. NASA says if you are in the USA, then you have a front row seat to view the 2014-2015 tetrad. Photo #1 by D. Wood

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Awe-inspiring Adventure in the Grove of Titans & Giant California Redwoods [40 PICS]

April 7th, 2014 Permalink

Nature is calling, come out and play; explore and have an awe-inspiring adventure among the giant California redwoods. Here among the fog and trees, sunlight peaks through in god-beams, or crepuscular rays. It’s said that tree-loving people travel from all over the world to visit Redwood National and State Parks, which include Redwood National Park, Del Norte Coast, Prairie Creek and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks. They are not the only California parks with impressive redwoods; Muir Woods National Monument is a sight everyone should see at least once. Yet many visitors to Jedediah Smith will never behold the ginormous redwoods known as the Grove of Titans; that’s because their location is a “secret” in order to protect the massive and ancient trees. [40 Photos]

The Unexplored adventure in the Redwoods

The Unexplored. Nature is calling to you, asking if you can come out and play under the ginormous redwoods. These redwoods have huge diameters and are almost impossibly tall, like nature-made skyscrapers, trees taller than the iconic Statue of Liberty, from the base of her pedestal to the tip of her torch. Some folks who walk among the giants claim that the adventure is awe-inspiring and changed their lives. As naturalist John Muir, known as Father of the National Parks, once said, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” Photo #1 by m24instudio

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Incredible Rocky Rainbow Vista Carved into the Valley of Fire [38 PICS]

March 28th, 2014 Permalink

Back when the dinosaurs walked the Earth, the Valley of Fire was forming. Time and the elements carved the fossilized sand into greats mazes of canyons, arches, ridges, domes, and valleys. Today, the Valley of Fire is a National Natural Landmark and the oldest state park in Nevada. This amazing and colorful wilderness in the Mojave Desert is only about an hour away from the bright city lights of Las Vegas; it comes highly recommended to experience. Sunlight striking the bright red rocks make the valley look like it’s on fire, but there are also layers of multicolored rocks in a “rainbow” of colors that stretch for many miles. Rainbow Vista is a breathtaking site to behold in the Valley of Fire. [38 Photos]

Amazing Rainbow Vista, rainbow of colored rocks at Valley of Fire during sunset

Amazing Rainbow Vista, rainbow of colored rocks at Valley of Fire during sunset. The Nevada State Park sign states, “Rainbow Vista: You are looking across 150 million years of time. The great maze of canyons, domes, towers, ridges and valleys before you are carved from sand deposited during the time when dinosaurs walked the earth. This is wild, virtually untouched wilderness. It is an ‘Adventure in Color’ for you to experience by car and on foot.” Photo #1 by LDELD

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Sacred Valley of the Incas: Salt, Stones & Secrets [42 PICS]

March 20th, 2014 Permalink

When you think about the Incas, does Machu Picchu come to mind? While that might be where your destination starts or ends in Peru, there is so much more to see in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, or El Valle Sagrado de los Incas. Look up along the Urubamba River and Valley to see Andes Mountain peaks stretching to a height of 20,000 feet. It is over these steep hillsides that the Incas managed to move massive stones without the help of the wheel. They had no iron tools to cut the stones, but still the pieces fit together so tightly that not even a knife blade can slide between them. The “how’s” are part of the secrets to which we might never know the answers. Huge circular terraces at Moray were thought to be where Incas conducted experimental agriculture. Carved into the mountains are also thousands of small salt ponds, Salineras de Maras, or Inca salt pans. All of this is located in the Peruvian Andes, with Cusco on one end and Machu Picchu on the other; this is the heartland of the Inca Empire. This is the Sacred Valley of the Incas. [42 PICS]

Las Salineras, Inca salt ponds

Inca salt ponds, Sacred Valley in Peru. The photographer wrote, “Indians mined salt slopes of the valley from pre-Inca times. Today, 700 to 800 families owning some 3600 basins are organized as a cooperative. The total annual production varies between 160 and 200 tons.” Photo #1 by David (Wanaku)

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