5 Resolutions Every Avid Traveler Should Make for Earth Day

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Resolutions Every Avid Traveler Should Make for Earth Day

We know there are questions around travel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read our note here.

April 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! Since the annual event was first celebrated in 1970, people around the globe have participated by hosting environmental cleanup projects, planting trees, or speaking to lawmakers about how to protect the planet. But what about travel? “The Independent” reports that tourism is responsible for one-tenth of the planet’s carbon emissions. What can travelers do to decrease their carbon footprint and make their global excursions more eco-friendly? Here are five resolutions you can make for your next trip in honor of Earth Day.

Bring Your Own Water Bottle

Bring Your Own Water Bottle

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Staying hydrated when you travel is a must. It can help you battle jet lag and ward off illnesses while on the road. How you stay hydrated can have a big impact on the planet though. “The Guardian” reported in 2017 that people buy one million plastic bottles every minute. While the materials that make those bottles are mostly recyclable, fewer than half of the bottles get recycled and approximately 7% of them get used to make new bottles.

So what can you do to stay hydrated? Switch to a reusable water bottle. While you might have limited packing space, you can buy plastic, metal, or glass reusable water bottles with a carabiner clip on them. This will allow you to easily attach the bottle to your backpack, purse, or suitcase so that you have it wherever you go. You’ll find a lot of places to fill it up too. More public places are offering free water bottle refills to encourage the use of refillable containers.

Eat Local When You Can

Eat Local When You Can

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Trying new foods is part of the adventure to a new destination. What, how, and where you choose to eat, however, could have a negative impact on the planet. A study published by the University of Sheffield found that sweets, alcohol, and restaurant food were actually worse for the environment than meat consumption. Eating out contributes to an average of 0.8 tons of carbon in the environment each year, while meat consumption contributes an average of 0.3 tons.

While you’ll probably have to eat out when traveling, you can commit to making smarter choices about how you do it. First, ditch the fast-food chains. They typically have to ship in their food items from farther away, which increases the carbon footprint. Plus, most chains wrap their food in single-use items, which are bad for the environment. Choose to dine at restaurants that have a recycling policy and source their products locally as much as possible. Not only will you be making better choices for the environment, but you’ll also be eating more locally authentic meals. If you stay at an Airbnb or somewhere else with kitchen access, make some of your meals there too. You’ll cut down on waste and your travel costs.

Treat Your Hotel Like Home

Treat Your Hotel Like Home

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According to the United Nations (UN), the hotel industry is responsible for 1% of global carbon emissions. Things like energy consumption, water consumption, and single-use plastics are all major factors in how hotels are harming the planet. The UN is encouraging hotels around the world to adhere to guidelines that will help reduce their carbon emissions and waste.

How can travelers help? By treating their hotel like they would their own home. That means doing simple tasks like hanging up and reusing towels after a shower. While it used to be customary to get clean towels every day, hotels can cut out water and energy waste when guests choose to keep their towels for a few days. You should also turn off lights and air conditioning when you aren’t using them to keep the energy usage down in your room. These are small things you’d do in your own home, so continue to do them at your hotel. Also, don’t use the hotel’s shampoo and conditioner. Those single-use bottles get tossed into the trash — even if you only use a little bit of product.

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Use Public Transportation

Use Public Transportation

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When it comes to the environment, public transportation is a good thing. When you hop on a bus or a train, you minimize your carbon footprint — unlike when you use a personal car or a taxi. The “BBC” reports that using public transportation is the key to a cleaner environment. It gets people out of their cars and helps control climate change. The rapid growth of car usage is one of the main contributing factors to climate change.

Instead of renting a car on your next trip, head for the bus station. You’ll end up seeing a more authentic side of your vacation destination when you are traveling the way the locals do. Plus, it’s a lot more cost-effective for your travel budget. In most places, you can hop on a bus for a few dollars and travel without worrying about directions, gas prices, or where to park when you get there. Google Maps is a great source for helping you decipher bus routes.

Commit to Traveling Slowly

Commit to Traveling Slowly

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The element of travel that contributes the most to carbon emissions is traveling itself. “The New York Times” reports that the airline industry’s contribution to global emissions is growing faster than anyone expected — jumping 32% from 2013 to 2018. Concern over how much damage flights are doing to the planet have led to flight shaming, according to “Forbes.” Some activists are swearing off airline travel in favor of other methods. For the average traveler, however, flights are the only option for getting from point A to point B.

To cut down on how much your flying habits are contributing to pollution, then simply slow down. Instead of hopping from destination to destination during your next two-week vacation, opt to spend the entire time in one place. If you still want to move around, look for overground transportation options like trains and buses. Slowing down your travel allows you to immerse yourself in the culture instead of rushing to complete a busy itinerary. You might find you actually end up getting more out of a slower schedule.

5 States Without Sales Tax

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5 States Without Sales Tax

Sales taxes account for 30.1 percent of overall revenue at the state level. Unlike income taxes, which are managed at the federal level, sales taxes are handled by each individual state, which means some states don’t impose sales taxes at all. Here are the only five states that currently have no sales tax.

Alaska

Alaska

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Alaska is one of only two U.S. states without sales or income taxes. But, while there is no sales tax at the state level, local governments throughout Alaska have the right to impose taxes at their own discretion, and there are some areas of Alaska where a sales tax is charged on certain items.

You’ll need to pay attention as you travel through the vast state, as the taxes can be somewhat unpredictable as you do. If you’re in Anchorage or Fairbanks, you’ll pay no sales tax; if you travel to Juneau, you’ll pay a five percent sales tax on any item you purchase.

Delaware

Delaware

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We’re jumping straight from the largest U.S. state to one of the smallest — Delaware is the second smallest state in the U.S., measuring in at just 96 miles long. Unlike Alaska, Delaware makes up for a lack of sales tax by imposing fairly high income taxes. In fact, this little state has the 17th highest income tax in the nation. Delaware also relies heavily on excise taxes, which are taxes imposed on specific types of goods, services, or activities. For example, while there is no general sales tax, there are taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, and gas.

One interesting facet of Delaware’s tax policy is its impact on the art scene. Art collectors and dealers often work here in order to avoid the high taxes imposed on art sales in other states. This appeal is part of what allows the state to continue not charging sales tax; businesses will often register in Delaware to avoid sales tax, meaning that the state gets a good amount of its revenue from corporate taxes instead.

Montana

Montana

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Montana may be nicknamed the Treasure State, but this moniker comes from its many mineral reserves, not from the money it rakes in from sales taxes. In fact, a significant portion of Montana’s tax receipts come from the taxes corporations need to pay when they mine in this state. The other biggest tax charge in Montana is income taxes.

Unlike most other states, individual jurisdictions in Montana cannot choose to collect sales taxes at their own discretion. Instead, Montana makes use of what is known as a resort and local option tax, which is a sales tax implemented in areas with a lot of tourist traffic but a low population. This type of tax, which affects lodging, restaurants, and recreational facilities, enables small towns to support large influxes of tourists without raising taxes for permanent residents. Only cities with populations of under 5,500 are allowed to use this tax — but given that Montana’s population density is just seven people per square mile, many areas meet this qualification.

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New Hampshire

New Hampshire

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Along with Alaska, New Hampshire is one of the two states with no sales or income tax. The majority of New Hampshire’s tax receipts come, instead, from its property taxes, which are the third highest in the country.

In addition to its high property taxes, New Hampshire makes heavy use of excise taxes. Like Montana, local governments in New Hampshire cannot choose to charge sales taxes. Instead, the state as a whole taxes beer, electricity, tobacco, and gasoline. There is also a nine percent sales tax that is always charged on restaurant bills, car rentals, and hotel lodging. In addition to all of this, New Hampshire charges a 10 percent timber tax for trees chopped down in the state — although Christmas trees, fruit trees, nursery stock, ornamental trees, and sugar orchards are all exempt from this particular tax. All of these taxes combined make up a large portion of New Hampshire’s revenue.

Oregon

Oregon

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Oregon is the most populous state on this list. Although it doesn’t charge a sales tax, Oregon does make use of excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and phone services. Local governments throughout the state also impose sales taxes in certain jurisdictions.

Despite its lack of statewide sales tax, Oregon does charge heavily in other areas. In fact, this state has the third highest income tax rate in the country, something it relies on to meet budgetary goals. This has led to Oregon being listed as one of the worst places to retire.

Oregon lawmakers aren’t actually all that happy about this tax situation. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, they have tried nine times to impose a sales tax — but all of these attempts were wildly unpopular among voters. Even one of the state’s most popular governors, Tom McCall, was unable to discuss a plan for imposing a sales tax without getting booed. Present day lawmakers are still trying to get a sales tax going in Oregon — but for now, this state remains sales-tax free.

4 U.S. Cities With the Most Extreme Weather

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4 U.S. Cities With the Most Extreme Weather

Many U.S. cities experience extreme temperatures, sometimes changing as much as 50 or even 65 degrees in a day. The honor for the hottest place ever recorded in the U.S. goes to Death Valley, California, with a whopping temperature of 134° F recorded in 1913. You’ll find the coldest place in the U.S. in the tiny northern Alaska town of Prospect Creek — temps fell to -80° F in 1971. The following four cities can claim some of the largest temperature variations within a year.

Waterloo, Iowa

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The Midwest experiences some of the greatest temperature variations between winter and summer. In Waterloo, Iowa, you’ll see temperature differences averaging about 57.5 degrees. Winter temps average 10° F to 27° F and summer highs reach the mid-80s. Waterloo residences enjoy a recently revitalized downtown area along the Cedar River that includes a riverwalk trail, plaza, splash pad, amphitheater, DekHockey rink, shopping, dining, cultural entertainment and nightlife. You can tour the John Deere factory here, which builds large and small tractors, farm equipment, lawnmowers and more. Guided tours will take you through each step of the manufacturing process, from the first steel cut to the final product.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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Head to Sioux Falls, which sees annual temperature differences averaging 59 degrees. Winter temps range from 7° F to 26° F, with summers reaching comfortable highs in the low 80s. Named for the falls along the Big Sioux River that flow through the city, Sioux Falls is home to the U.S. Geological Survey’s EROS (Earth Resources Observation and Science) Data Center. In contrast to modern satellite-image processing, you’ll find ancient Native American ceremonial burial grounds dating back 1,600 years in the South Dakota town. If you happen to visit in late summer, you can attend one of the U.S.’s largest outdoor music festivals, the LifeLight Festival.

St. Cloud, Minnesota

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Minnesotans must become accustomed to extreme low temps in the winter, seeing some of the coldest temperatures of any place in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Fifteen of the top eighteen cities with the greatest temperature differences are found in Minnesota. Annual temperature variations average 61 degrees in St. Cloud, a small city in central Minnesota located at the junction of the Sauk and Mississippi rivers. St. Cloud residents experience average winter lows between 2° F and 18° F. By summer, temps increase to a comfortable 82° F. If you happen to visit during the warmer summer months, be sure to visit the beautiful Munsinger and Clemens Gardens, which overlook the Mississippi River.

Fargo, North Dakota

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Long before the 1996 blockbuster film Fargo hit cinemas, North Dakota’s largest city was famous for topping the list for the broadest annual temperature differences of any U.S. city — 63.8 degrees. Fargo residents must bundle up in January, with lows averaging around 0° F and highs only about 18° F. However, come July, residents are able to head out in shorts and t-shirts with highs in the low 80s. If you’re a fan of the movie, you can have your picture taken with the actual wood chipper used in the infamous murder scene at the Fargo Moorhead Visitor Center.

5 Lakes That Are Disappearing Before Our Eyes

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5 Lakes That Are Disappearing Before Our Eyes

Most people know that water is a precious resource. Between climate change and the needs of the world’s ever-growing population, water is vanishing more and more rapidly. Many bodies of water around the world aren’t what they once were. You may even be aware of water shortages in your area. And while some water sources are gradually diminishing, other cases are much more dramatic. The following are five lakes that are tragically disappearing before our eyes.

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The Dead Sea — Israel and Jordan

The Dead Sea — Israel and Jordan

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The Dead Sea is a remarkable place for many reasons. Tourists flock to the area because you can swim in the sea and float due to the salinity of the water. The salt and mineral-rich mud are known for their health benefits, another big draw. The Dead Sea is also the lowest place on Earth at 430.5 meters (or 1,412 feet) below sea level!

Unfortunately, the water level is decreasing by about a meter per year. The water loss is primarily due to the fact that one of its main water sources, the Jordan River, was dammed in the 1960s. As the population grows, water from this river goes to maintaining crops and supporting the human community in the region. And because of the tense political climate, the potential solution of creating a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea has been hard to implement. There’s still a lot of water left in the Dead Sea, but if you want to see this anomaly of nature and float in the water yourself, you might be smart to go sooner rather than later.

Lake Poopó — Bolivia

Lake Poopó — Bolivia

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Lake Poopó is a tragic example of what can happen when humans divert too much water from a lake. This lake was once the second-largest lake in Bolivia, but now it’s all but completely dried up. Some stark aerial photos from NASA show the lake is virtually gone. This is a huge loss considering the lake saw highs of up to 3,000 square kilometers (1,200 square miles). Since the lake was always shallow, the locals are used to fluctuations in the size of the lake.

The current disappearance is not good news for the local communities that rely on the lake for fish. However, those who have been in the area for a long time have seen this before. The lake dried up entirely in 1994 because of drought and evaporation, and eventually replenished itself. So there is hope that the lake will fill back up, and the ecosystem will eventually rebuild. The rainy season in Bolivia is from December to March, so if the drought doesn’t drag on, the lake could potentially fill back up.

The Aral Sea — Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

The Aral Sea — Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

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This sea that lies on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan used to be the fourth-largest lake in the world, with only Lakes Superior, Victoria, and the Caspian Sea being larger. But when the water was diverted in the 1970s, the lake slowly began to dry up, and now only 10% of the water remains. The disappearance of the water is especially distressing for communities that used to live off of the fishing industry. The BBC describes the demise of this sea as “one of the most dramatic alterations of the Earth’s surface for centuries.”

A visual reminder of the death of this lake, perhaps for people who weren’t alive before the 1970s when the lake was full, are the stranded ships that accidentally ran ashore as the water levels dropped. The mud dried, and the landscape became a desert, with the boats as relics of what once was. People who used to farm and fish in the region have had to look for other means of income, and many have struggled to do so.

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Poyang Lake — China

Poyang Lake — China

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Poyang Lake was once China’s largest freshwater lake. The size has always been hard to define due to the fluctuations throughout the seasons. Now, however, Poyang Lake is nearly gone due to drought and the diversion of the Yangtze River. Unlike some of the other disappearing lakes, the former lake is now an eerie grassland instead of a desert. However, if the drought continues, the land could quickly turn to sand and dirt like we’ve seen in the Aral Sea.

Some aerial photos reveal bizarre paths in the grass from people cutting through the lake bed. The disappearance of the lake certainly affects the logistics of the surrounding cities and towns. For example, the city of Nanchang used to sit right on the water’s edge. Now the shoreline is over 15 miles away. And all this change has happened in just the last century. Animal activists are especially concerned about the impending extinction of a finless porpoise that mainly lives in Poyang Lake.

Lake Chad — Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon

Lake Chad — Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon

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Lake Chad in Africa is another story of a once-enormous lake shrinking because of irrigation, climate change, and a steadily-growing population. This African lake has shrunk by 90% since the 1960s and is the water source for 20 to 30 million people. Is there any hope for restoring its waters?

Some propose routing water from the Congo River. The main problem with that is that the river is over 2,400 kilometers away (1,500 miles), and the governments of the four countries who share the lake (Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon) are having a hard time coming to a consensus. Proponents of the plan suggest that if they can refill the lake, it would ease the crisis of nearly 11 million people in the region who need humanitarian aid to survive.

7 The Most-Visited Cities of the Decade

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 The Most-Visited Cities of the Decade

We live in a great era for travel, equipped with phones that can guide us through far away countries and abundant, affordable airfare. As our world changes, the planet’s big cities get even more exciting and accessible, becoming better vacation destinations every year. Here are the seven most visited cities of the last decade.

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7. New York City, United States

Aerial view of New York City metropolis showing skyscrapers and density, New York, USA
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The Big Apple is the most-visited city in America and in the entire Western Hemisphere. A haven for culture, art, fashion, and food, New York City is a destination for travelers from around the world and from within the United States.

A visit to New York could include a wide variety of activities, from visiting world-famous art galleries such as the MOMA and the Guggenheim to a stroll through Central Park or around Times Square. Nicknamed “the city that never sleeps,” New York offers a different adventure to everyone.

6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Aerial view of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia city skyline
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The capital of Malaysia is the first of many Asian cities in the top seven most-visited cities of the decade. Despite being the sixth-most-visited city in the world, Kuala Lumpur is still considered something of a hidden gem for vacationers.

In Kuala Lumpur you can visit architectural wonders such as the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, or take in a panoramic view of the city from the top of the Menara Kuala Lumpur. You can also see wildlife up close at the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve or the Aquaria KLCC.

5. Singapore

Aerial view of skyscrapers in Singapore
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Considered one of the safest destinations for tourists in Asia, the island city-state of Singapore is the fifth-most-visited city in the world. Singapore is a very wealthy city, and you can see it in the impressive public works projects that are reinventing this center of futurism. Take a stroll through Gardens by the Bay to see some of the most beautiful arrangements of natural fauna, lights, and architecture that can be found anywhere in the world.

4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Aerial view of Dubai Palm Jumeirah island with skyscrapers and blue waters
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Another modern city with iconic buildings and one that has seen many public improvements completed over the last 10 years, Dubai is the world’s fourth-most-visited city.

In Dubai you can find some of the wonders of the architectural world, such as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It is also home to some of the best theme parks, with attractions featuring Disney and Marvel characters. Currently under construction is what will be the largest water park in the world when it opens in 2020.

3. London, United Kingdom

Aerial cityscape view of London and the River Thames
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In constant competition for the number-two spot of most visited places for a given time period are London and Paris. And while London received a boost from hosting the Olympics early in the decade, Paris managed to surpass it in the end, making London the third-most-visited city of the decade.

As a center of western civilization, London has tons of things to take in on a visit. You can see some of the most iconic structures in the world, such as the Big Ben clock tower or the Tower Bridge. You can also explore history at the British Museum, which has one of the best collections of ancient artifacts in the world.

2. Paris, France

Aerial view of Paris at sunset with Eiffel Tower in the center
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As one of the most prized vacation destinations on the planet, Paris secures the number two spot on the list of most-visited cities in the last 10 years.

World famous attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, which holds some of the most important art ever created, draws millions of visitors to the French capital every year. In addition to a world-renowned culinary scene and vibrant nightlife, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the City of Lights.

1. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok city at sunset, over looking Taksin Bridge
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The most-visited city of the 2010s is Bangkok. The capital of Thailand draws almost 2 million more visitors per year than Paris, receiving a boon from the large number of Chinese travelers who flock to it.

The city has many opulent shrines and ancient temples that you can explore. It also has a vibrant nightlife and is the entry point for the dense Thai jungle, a popular vacation destination.

6 Things You Never Knew About Mount Rushmore

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6 Things You Never Knew About Mount Rushmore

Western South Dakota isn’t lacking in incredible sights. There are the Badlands and the Needles of the Black Hills, and those are just the starters. But the highlight of any trip to this land of Native American history and odd rock outcroppings is a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial where giant carved heads of four former presidents keep vigil.

The majestic sculpture celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2016, though its stony faces remain much the same as they did when its construction was completed in 1941. The 60-foot-high granite monument features the towering head portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Here are a few things about Mount Rushmore you might not know.

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Presidential Images Were Not the First Choice

Presidential Images Were Not the First Choice

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Mount Rushmore was the brainchild of South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson who was moved to memorialize and carve iconic historical figures into a mountainside. He wanted to promote tourism to a region of the state that was otherwise mostly ignored and came up with the idea of the massive project in 1923. Robinson’s initial plans did not include the political figures admired at the monument today.

Robinson thought a carved tribute featuring Western heroes such as Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Lakota leader Chief Red Cloud was the perfect choice for the location. He enlisted the help of renowned American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who convinced him the monument would be better received if it had a more national focus. They settled on four presidents who they felt best represented the country.

It Was Built Using a Lot of Dynamite

It Was Built Using a Lot of Dynamite

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Visitors to Mount Rushmore stand in awe of its grandeur and scale. Little do they know of the enormity of Robinson and Borglum’s pet undertaking in real-time. The project employed over 400 men and took fourteen years to complete. Most of the men were miners who had come to South Dakota in search of the promised gold in the Black Hills.

An incredible 450,000 tons of rock had to be removed for the project. It was decided the best way to do this was with dynamite, so 90 percent of the monument was carved in this way. Once the blasting was completed, the finer details of the sculpture were attended to. This entailed lowering finishers down the 500-foot face of the mountainside in bosun chairs. It was dangerous work, yet thankfully, no one was seriously injured or killed.

It Has Been Known by Several Names

It Has Been Known by Several Names

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The mountain containing the carving has been known by several different names throughout the years. The Sioux called it Six Grandfathers after the earth, sky, and four cardinal directions. American settlers in the area referred to it as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, or Keystone Cliffs. It wasn’t until 1930 that the beloved icon became officially named and recognized as Mount Rushmore.

The mountain was actually named after New York attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who passed through on his way back from a business trip. When he found out the mountain had no official designation, he thought it would be a good idea to name it after him. The wealthy investor eventually got his way.

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Mount Rushmore Is a Controversial Monument

Mount Rushmore Is a Controversial Monument

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The Lakota Sioux were promised an area that included the Black Hills in perpetuity by the U.S. government in the Treaty of 1868, but forever only lasted until gold was discovered in the 1870s. The land was subsequently taken back by force, adding to the ongoing conflicts of the time between the government and the Plains Indians. In South Dakota specifically, the Battle of Wounded Knee was a grievous defeat for the Native Americans.

The Sioux still consider the Black Hills area as sacred ground. To some, the monument represents the oppression faced by the Native Americans. Visitors to South Dakota can pay homage to the history of the area by also visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial, a still-in-progress sculpture that, once completed, will be the world’s largest sculpture at 641 feet long and 563 feet tall.

The Monument Once Had Its Own Baseball Team

The Monument Once Had Its Own Baseball Team

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Gutzon Borglum’s son Lincoln, who also worked on the project, was a big baseball fan. He socialized with the daily workers by talking baseball and sharing friendly banter while keeping up with the scores on the radio. Their common love for the sport prompted the Borglums to organize an amateur team. Workers became vetted for their ability to handle a baseball bat as well as a jackhammer.

The local community enthusiastically cheered the newly-formed baseball team called the Rushmore Drillers. The team was good enough to make it to the semi-finals of the State Amateur Baseball Tournament in the late 1930s. Even though they placed third, Borglum hosted both the Drillers and their opponents at his home for dinner and more sports talk. The team disbanded when work on the monument was completed.

It Has a Secret Room

It Has a Secret Room

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Borglum wanted to add a secret room behind the monument where important documents and historical memorabilia could be stored. The so-called Hall of Records would be accessed by an 800-foot granite staircase with a giant bronze eagle over the door leading to the secret room.

Only part of the tunnel had been blasted when the funds ran out in 1939. The idea of a Hall of Records dwindled following Borglum’s death in 1941 and the official declaration of the monument’s completion. It was rejuvenated again in 1998 when the National Park Service finished what was started long ago and installed Mount Rushmore’s best-known secret. Items of interest continue to be placed there for future discovery.

6 States That Get the Least Snow

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6 States That Get the Least Snow

If you love the sun and warmth, you are probably looking to avoid snow on your vacations at all costs. To secure the best odds of avoiding a chilly snowfall, consider planning a trip to one of the states below. These states receive the least amount of snow each year.

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Georgia

Georgia

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How much snow Georgia sees depends on what area you visit. Some locations in northern Georgia can see up to as much as three inches of snow each year. If avoiding snow is your goal, you are better off sticking to central and southern Georgia, where less than an inch of snow a year is the norm. The higher snow totals in northern Georgia are due to the Northeastern mountain region.

Mississippi

Mississippi

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If avoiding snow is your goal, many areas of Mississippi are bound to deliver. The Gulf Coast and southern regions of Mississippi all see an average of half an inch of snow or less each year. Central Mississippi is most likely to get less than an inch of snow, but northern Mississippi can occasionally get up to two inches.

The Gulf Coast of Mississippi is a popular vacation destination. The winter months offer high temperatures in the 60s. Cities throughout the Gulf Coast, such as Biloxi and Gulfport, offer a variety of holiday events throughout the winter months. Are you a country music fan? Consider checking out Martina McBride’s The Joy of Christmas tour that kicks off in Coastal Mississippi each year.

Another great winter event in coastal Mississippi is Mardi Gras. While the event may be more commonly associated with Louisiana, Mardi Gras has a 300-year history on the Gulf Coast. There are numerous Mardi Gras events that take place beginning in January and into February.

Alabama

Alabama

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The Alabama Gulf Coast and southern Alabama are a great escape from winter flurries. Most cities in these regions average .2 inches or less of snow a year. When it comes to Mother Nature, however, surprises are always possible. Some cities in Alabama have seen record snowfall amounts of over 13 inches.

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Where is the largest ghost town in the world?

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Louisiana

Louisiana

Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock

Average snowfall throughout Louisiana is an inch or less, making this a consistently snow-free destination. Winter highs are likely to hover in the mid-60s. In addition to its temperate climate, Louisiana has one impressive draw for winter traveling: Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras has been openly celebrated in New Orleans since the 1730s. The Mardi Gras traditions began in France and then spread to French colonies. It was brought to New Orleans by a French–Canadian explorer in 1702. The traditions and celebrations have slowly grown overtime to become what New Orleanians call the “Greatest Free Show on Earth.”

The Carnival season begins on January 6, or King’s Day, kicking off a long stretch of celebrations and events. The date of Fat Tuesday changes every year and is always the day before Ash Wednesday. Bacchus and Endymion are two of the biggest parades of the season and happen the weekend before Fat Tuesday.

Florida

Florida

Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock

Summing up the average snowfall in Florida is pretty straightforward: none. In fact, it has only snowed in Florida 16 times in the entire 21st century. The reason snow is rarely seen in Florida is because the temperatures don’t drop low enough. The average high is in the mid-60s. The consistent weather and lack of winter precipitation make Florida a great destination for vacationing. In fact, Florida is the number one destination in the United States for Canadian transplants, and one in four residents in Florida are seniors.

Florida is home to a number of attractions that make it a desirable vacation destination. One of the most well-known is Disney World, and some of the winter months are the least busy at the park. Consider planning a trip in early to mid-December or January to mid-February. If you are looking for something a bit different, consider a visit to the Kennedy Space Center or Everglades National Park.

Hawaii

Hawaii

Credit: Shane Myers Photography/ Shutterstock 

Much like Florida, Hawaii’s average yearly snowfall is non-existent. It also boasts highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 60s. Weather like this should certainly make you consider saying aloha to Hawaii in the winter months. The only place you are likely to see snow in Hawaii is at the top of the state’s three tallest volcanoes.

The hardest decision about a winter trip to Hawaii is likely to be which island to visit. One big draw for Hawaii in the winter is surfing, with many popular competitions taking place along the North Shore in Oahu. Kauai, the Big Island, and Maui also offer great surfing opportunities in the winter months. If you are looking to avoid rain, consider visiting Oahu’s Waikiki Beach, Kihei on Maui, or Kona on the Big Island. These beaches are traditionally the driest during the winter season. No matter which island you choose, it is likely to be a pleasant tropical getaway in the midst of winter.

White Island volcano eruption: One dead, others missing in New Zealand

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

White Island volcano eruption: One dead, others missing in New Zealand

A photo from the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences showing the eruption Monday.

(CNN)At least one person has died and an unknown number are missing after a volcano on New Zealand’s popular White Island tourist destination erupted Monday.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, New Zealand National Operation Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims said the fatality was a person who had already been evacuated from the island.
Tims said that there could be more than 20 people still on the island who had not been heard from since the eruption.
“At this stage it is too dangerous for police and rescue services to go on to the island… the island is currently covered in ash and volcanic material,” he said.
Tims said in a statement that fewer than 50 people were believed to have been on the island at the time of the eruption and about 23 had already been evacuated.
“Emergency services are working to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including rescue staff,” the police statement said.
About 20 tourists from the nearby cruise ship Ovation of the Seas were on White Island at the time of the eruption, New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive officer Kevin O’Sullivan told CNN.
“Our hope is that everyone will be recovered quickly and unharmed,” he said. The Ovation of The Seas is one of the largest cruise vessels in the world, according to operators Royal Caribbean.
Images of a crater on the island from cameras run by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences appear to show a group of people inside the smoking center just minutes before the eruption.
Speaking at an earlier press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was too early to say how bad the injuries were but added it was her understanding that a number of those affected were tourists.
Speaking to CNN-affiliate Radio New Zealand, St. John Ambulance said that up to 20 people are believed to have been injured in the eruption, adding that a mobile triage unit was on its way.
Tourist Michael Schade and his family had been on the volcano just 20 minutes before it erupted. They were waiting on a boat, about to leave, when the eruption occurred.
Schade took videos of the ride leaving the island, showing giant plumes of thick black smoke as the boat quickly departed.
“Boat ride home … was indescribable,” Schade wrote on Twitter. “Those are some of the people (our) boat picked up. Praying for them and their recovery. Woman my mom tended to was in critical condition but seemed strong by the end.”
Photos from New Zealand’s official geological hazard information site Geonet showed a huge plume of white smoke rising above the island on Monday afternoon, local time.
“Whakaari/White Island is erupting. More information soon,” announced GeoNet in a notice on their official Twitter.
Injured from White Island volcanic eruption are ferried into waiting ambulances in Whakatane, New Zealand, Monday.

Most active cone volcano

The White Island or Whakaari volcano is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano according to the GeoNet website. It has been built up by more than 150,000 years of volcanic activity.
A cone volcano is the most immediately recognizable mountain-shaped variety, as opposed to shield volcanoes or calderas which are far more flat in shape.
A volcanic ash advisory was issued at 2:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET Sunday) by MetService, New Zealand’s meteorological service. New Zealand Police called for people in the affected ashfall areas to stay indoors.
The Volcanic Alert Level was raised to 4 shortly after the eruption, and the Aviation Color code is orange, according to GeoNet. Two hours later it was lowered to level 3, due to “diminished” activity in the area of the volcano.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said the eruption occurring at White Island is “hazardous in the immediate vicinity of the volcano” and that the agency is assessing the situation with scientific advisers to determine the severity of the threat.
Whakaari/White Island is dubbed “one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes” on a White Island Tours website, which offers ocean cruises near the island and a guided tour depending on the status of the varying volcanic alert levels.
According to the GeoNet website, more than 10,000 people visit the island every year.

China: Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Yang Jian
Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Ti Gong

About 1,000 citizens take part in a walking event on Saturday in Changning District.

About 1,000 citizens took part in a walking event on Saturday to visit historical streets and buildings along a 15 km route in Changning District.

Participants set off from Zhongshan Park in early morning and walked along the newly opened waterfront of Suzhou Creek near the East China University of Political Science and Law.

They were then guided to visit the historical Xinhua and Yuyuan roads along with the garden villas and former residences of celebrities on both roads.

The organizer of the micro-tourism event encouraged participants to pose with the historic buildings and scan the QR codes on each of the structures to learn their history and stories.

The route has been well designed to include the newly opened riverside attractions, old-time villas and historic sites related to the history of Shanghai and Communist Party of China, according to the organizer.

Over 20 heritage sites are open to the public in Changning where early CPC members and reformists carried out secret activities. They include an exhibition hall about revolutionary history in Changning on Yuyuan Road, which once served as the editorial department for an early key CPC publication titled Bolshevik.

People can also visit the former residences of missile and space scientist Qian Xuesen (1911-2009), writer, translator and scholar Shi Zhecun (1905-2003) as well as New Zealand-born writer Rewi Alley (1897-1987), who came to Shanghai in 1927 and was later involved in China’s revolution and reconstruction, in the tour.

The 1.5 kilometers of Xinhua Road between Huaihai Road W. and Yan’an Road W., built in 1925, also features a dozen heritage villas and former homes of dignitaries, such as American missionary Gilbert Reid.

A visit to the Columbia Circle compound is recommended to the participants. The site, owned by the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products on Yan’an Road W. near Panyu Road, has been converted into a complex with offices and shopping. Three historical structures — Columbia Country Club, the Navy Club and a villa built for Dr Sun Yat-sen’s son Sun Ke — are being preserved.

The event is part of a 100 km walking event in Shanghai this year. Similar walking activities have been held in other districts and will be organized across the city.

Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Ti Gong

About 1,000 citizens took part in a walking event on Saturday to visit historical streets and buildings along a 15km route in Changning District.

Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Ti Gong

Visitors to Hong Kong drop 43.7% on year in October

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Visitors to Hong Kong drop 43.7% on year in October

Xinhua

The number of visitors to Hong Kong dropped 43.7 percent year on year to 3.31 million in October, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

The decline has been widening since July as tourism took the major brunt of social unrest. In the first 10 months, the number of visitors went down by 4.7 percent from a year ago.

The HKTB attributed the sharper fall in the last month to continued violent incidents and a high base a year ago, when the number of visitors was boosted by the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

In October, visitors from the Chinese mainland, accounting for about 76 percent of the total, slumped 45.9 percent year on year. US and Japanese visitors fell by 38.2 percent and 44.9 percent from a year ago, respectively.

The dropping visitor number has forced major carriers to adjust their strategy.

Hong Kong Airlines said in a statement Friday that it will suspend services to Vancouver, Ho Chi Minh City and Tianjin since February to focus on operating other priority routes under the challenging business environment caused by the ongoing social unrest.

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