The Watering Hole, Monday, June 2nd, 2014: “Travel Is So Broadening”

Let’s start off the week with a quick trip around the United States. Courtesy of The Weather Channel, here’s a state-by-state photo gallery of some of our country’s natural wonders. In alphabetical order, they range from:

Noccalula Falls in Alabama…
alabama noccalula falls
…to the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois…
…to Acadia National Park in Maine…
Otter-Cliff-Acadia National-Park-Maine
…to Niagara Falls in New York…
…to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota…
…to Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.
Old Faithful Geyser at Sunset, Yellowstone Natio

Whew! I think I need a vacation after that “quick trip”!

Open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, June 5, 2013: Take a Hike…or Not


One of the best hikes anywhere in the world is the hike to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. It’s an 18 mile round trip, going about a mile up and back down, passing soakingly close to two waterfalls. The last 500′ is like Batman & Robin as you pull yourself up cables, at close to 8’000 feet in elevation. Fortunately, there are 2×4 planks every 10′ or so where you can stop and catch your breath.

And, one of the more remarkable things about the hike is the folks on the trail that are heading down as you are heading up – – always full of encouragement.

For the past several years, one could only make the climb by getting an advance permit. And, of course, enterpreneurs quickly found out how to beat the system and lock up numerous tickets, to be sold later at a premium. But no more.

Twitter, The Zoo's Top Investigative Journalist

Twitter, The Zoo’s Top Investigative Journalist

THE ZOO just learned that all hikes to the top of Half Dome have been suspended indefinitely.

Top secret documents in the Obama Administration reveal that the granite monolith has been sold to China. According to transcontinental communications intercepted by anonymous hackers within the Interior Department, Half Dome will be covertly dismantled over the course of the next five years; taken apart in blocks weighing 5 metric tonnes each, and shipped to China to be reassembled in a yet to be disclosed location. Under the guise of restoring the landmark to its original appearance when first viewed by John Muir, a gigantic scaffold will be erected, blocking from view the activities of stonemasons and heavy equipment.

As part of the deal, Obama gets to wipe out our current debt to China, estimated to be slightly over $1 trillion. In another interesting twist, Disney Corporation has already signed on to build an exact replica of the landmark. One leaked email noted Disney already has experience in replicating mountains, having re-created the ever popular Matterhorn in its theme parks. Fragments of communcations between the Interior Department and officials at Disneyland indicate the entertainment giant will have the rights to create “The Half Dome Experience” – some sort of theme ride involving the re-created national treasure.

Republican leadership in Congress is already on board with the project, in spite of their natural tendency to oppose anything Obama proposes. Although some expressed outrage at the selling of the world-renowned landmark, others noted that the only people who enjoyed such a thing were naturalists and other progressives. One even went so far as to point out that the Republican Party split with progressives when it left Teddy Roosevelt, the first, and only, progressive Republican. It was he that created the National Park System in the first place. Other Republicans secretly admired Obama for his naked capitalism: profiting from selling a national treasure, while at the same time allowing an American Company to reap untold profits in the future from selling The Half Dome Experience Rides.

A translation of one cable from the Chinese Consulate appeared to gloat. “This is great! We sell junk to America, and we can buy her most precious treasures one at a time.” The cable went on to muse about buying Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls, before wondering how much it would cost to buy Old Faithful.




Where is your favorite vacation spot in the U.S.? — open thread

Is it the beaches you are attracted to?  Florida won the best beach award for 2008. The winner was Caladesi Island.  Caladesi Island is accessible only by private boat or via the Caladesi Connection ferry service.

Nature enthusiasts watch wildlife while hiking the three mile nature trail through the island´s interior or paddling a three mile kayak trail through the mangroves and bay.

Or is it our wonderful National Parks?  This video shows everything from the Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park in Montana, Grand Tetons in Wyoming, Great Basin in Nevada, Great Smoky Mountains, Haleakala in Hawaii, Joshua Tree in California, Katmai in Alaska and everything in between.  A wonderful by frotix.