Melting the Polar Ice – WIF Chicken Little Chronicles

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Things That

Would Happen

if the Polar Ice

Caps Melted

Hey! Ever lie awake at night, thinking about the meaning of life, exactly how much money you’ve got stashed away in your mattress… and then your mind wanders to what’s going on with the polar ice caps? We’re not surprised, there are many people – both sleepy and quite wide awake – who are giving this topic serious thought.

The polar ice caps are already melting, at quite a rapid speed. From 1979 to 2006, Greenland’s ice sheet had an increase of 30% in the melting rate. You can thank this melting for some of the truly odd and extreme weather we’ve seen, all over the world and perhaps right in your backyard. Whether you’ve had three feet of snow when you usually only get a couple of inches at most, or if you’re seeing temps like 100 degrees F when summer is most often in the 80s. The kids may be thrilled for snow days home from school, but the adults know something pretty odd is going on.

Some scientists say this will take 5,000 years to happen. Others estimate we will see the polar ice caps really start to melt by 2030. One thing is for certain: people are starting to sit up and pay attention to this topic, because it is no longer “just” a possibility – it is a strong likelihood to happen one day, whenever that might be.

Yes, we do want you to sleep soundly and regularly. You’ve got to protect all of that cash in your mattress after all! But we thought you should realize a few of the simple things that will happen, should our polar ice caps melt completely.

10. If the Ice Caps and Glaciers Melt, the Oceans Will Rise

No, this is not the typical high tide versus low tide you see when you go to the beach. Consider the oceans getting higher by 216 feet. To give you a sense of the size of that, the Mount Rushmore sculpture in the Black Hills of Keystone, South Dakota, with the four President’s faces sculpted into it is 465 feet high. So George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln would be about nose high in ocean water!

And if you live in a coastal area, well… let’s just say you’ll be much, much more than nose-deep. Say goodbye to that beach house you’ve been saving up for with that money in your mattress, because it’ll go the way of Atlantis.

9. Extreme Weather Will Continue and Get More Severe

If we do lose the ice caps, weather conditions in your area may become quite unpredictable. This is actually history repeating itself. In prehistoric times, harsh weather was one of the top reasons to cause the extinction of many species that used to roam the earth. No, not the guys who wore mullets – think more along the lines of dinosaurs.

Today people have many more resources than people did in centuries past to survive weather that can be extremely cold, hot, windy, or any other type of circumstance that may occur. We are fortunate to live in times with items such as solar energy, batteries, electricity, canned or other pre-packaged foods, medicine that can last for awhile, boats, planes, and other types of vehicles which can navigate over various terrains. But extreme weather still causes hundreds, and even thousands of casualties each year, and it would likely only get worse as the weather gets more extreme and violent.

8. Millions of People in the Arctic Will Have to Relocate

Scientists say that this could happen as early as 2030, which actually isn’t as far off as we might think. Heck, that’s only three World Cups away. Keep in mind this includes everyone who lives in Greenland, Alaska and Siberia. Many of these are coastal communities and they will simply vanish, with no ice there to help protect them from storms.

You could see a situation where upwards of four million people will need to relocate to flee the changing, extreme weather conditions. And that’s not even mentioning all those people on the more southern coasts we alluded to earlier. In short, the world is about to get a lot smarter if the ice caps melt.

7. The Ocean Ecosphere Will Become Unpredictable

Now, Arctic regions are already seeing an increase in the fish that are in the waters. Five Arctic nations have promised to not participate in unregulated fishing in international waters. Scientists say that the photosynthetic plankton that lives out in the ocean will take the place of the algae, which grew on ice.

So fish and sea mammals will have plenty of nutritious food to eat, so that’s good at least. It is expected, in fact, without ice that fish and sea mammal populations could increase by up to 70%. While some of you may be thinking about enjoying the low cost of a seafood meal – a lot more is at stake here.

6. Give Polar Bears a Big Kiss Goodbye

You can do the same for the seals and walruses that call the Arctic home, too. Because without the ice, they are going to starve to death. The US Fish and Wildlife Service listed polar bears as a “threatened” species in 2008. It is estimated that there are 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic in total, with about 2,000 of them actively living on the polar ice. That’s not too many, right?

But we can see that other Arctic animals will quickly be “threatened” or “extinct,” only to be seen in the rare and lucky zoo. So that’s… something, we suppose?

5. Regrowing Polar Ice Goes Way Beyond What Anyone Wants to Do

There may be a few of you responsible citizens who are reading this article and saying, “well, if we’re running out of this, why don’t we create more of it?” The scientists have already pitched that big idea and basically have struck out. The steps needed to limit the ice becoming warm are things that most people and countries simply don’t want to make the efforts to do. They would need to create large forests from land and then use high-tech technology to pull the carbon dioxide out of the air.

That would help to slow down the warming of the polar ice caps. To actually grow the ice caps, countries would need to do so much more. So if they are unwilling to take the steps to slow down the warming, it is clear that they won’t help to grow ice. You can put down your ice cube tray, we know you were really trying to help!

4. Enjoy Miami and Shanghai While They’re Here

As the polar ice caps melt, the beautiful coastal cities we know all around the world are going to change and some may even disappear. The shape of some countries may be quite different hundreds of years from now – than what you see today. Remember that whole “216 feet of rising water” thing we were talking about earlier? Yeah, this is where that comes into play. Most of Florida, New Orleans, and so many other cities around the world would eventually be underwater.

So now is the time to go visit those fantastic places you’ve always wanted to see, especially the ones that have an ocean view. When the polar ice caps melt, these cities may look quite different one day.

3. The Amazon Will be Bursting at the Seams

Admittedly, many today when they hear the word “Amazon” first think of shopping online. But long before you could click a mouse, there was the mighty and impressive Amazon River. If the polar ice caps melt, this river will be changed significantly and permanently.

The massive influx of new water around the world would conceivably flood the Amazon, pushing it well past its capacity. What is rather unique is that it actually would transform into a sea. The Amazon River would then cover quite a bit of Brazil’s landscape.

2. Deserts Would Become Much Larger

All around the globe, you’d see major growth to the world’s deserts. Yes, that means the ice caps melting would make some places even more dry. It sounds counter-intuitive but it’s true. Australia’s desert would cover most of the country.

So living in Australia would become quite different. Remember that some coastal cities in Australia will be lost, too. The southeastern part of Africa would become 100% desert. Terrain will change as the climates change, too.

1. This Isn’t Something Only the Arctic Should Worry About

Most of us would be dealing head-on with the polar ice cap “situation,” as a reality TV star might say. According to the Daily Mail, over 75% of the world’s people live at less than 300 feet above sea level, which sounds okay. It sounds like most of us would be safely out of harms way.

But keep in mind, the level of our oceans is expected to rise by more than 200 feet. Suddenly, if you’re living in Arkansas or Vermont, you may suddenly find yourself sitting on some beachfront property. Better start investing in Missouri farmland now… it could become a tropical paradise before too long!


Melting the Polar Ice –

WIF Chicken Little Chronicles

Bizarre Beach Barefoot Tour – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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Bizarre Beaches

From

Around the World

There’s nothing quite like a day at the beach filled with fun in the sun, sand and surf, but not all beaches are created equal. Some places have sparkling blue or green waters, while others have sand-filled, cloudy waves. Some shorelines are dangerous, filled with rocks and riptides, while others are shallow and lined with soft sand.

For better or worse, these 10 beaches are some of the most notable in the world. While most earned a place on the list due to their incredible beauty or unique offerings, a few belong here not because of how they look, but because they are notable for other reasons.

10. Papakolea: The Green Sand Beach in Hawaii

One of only four green sand beaches, the famous Papakolea beach is made up of a hollowed out volcanic cone that erupted over 50,000 year ago. The cone contained rich veins of a natural mineral called olivine, which when cut into gem form is a semi-precious stone called peridot. The eroded pieces of the olivine turn into sand too find to be sold as gemstones, but still vivid enough in color to shade the whole beach green.

Excited to visit? Well, that’s the one problem with this beach – getting there is a nightmare. To start with, you have to drive on a long, out of the way road and then you have to park 3 miles away from the beach and hike the remaining distance through rugged pastures that offer no signs to guide you towards your final destination. Once you get to the volcanic cone cliffs, you have to climb down the steep hills to actually access the beach itself and on the shore, only strong swimmers are advised to enter the sparkling blue water at all due to a strong undercurrent that sweeps people away with little warning. It should go without saying with a beach this far off the beaten path, but lifeguards are not posted here so should you encounter danger, you’ll be left on your own to handle it.

9. Kaihalulu: Hawaii’s Red Sand Beach

Hawaii seems to have beaches in just about all colors: white, gold, black, green, and even red. Like all beaches, the sand color at Hawaii’s Kaihalulu Beach is directly related to the rock and mineral content around the beach. In this case, like Papakolea, the rocks around the shore are actually remnants of a once-active volcano that has since been eroded into little more than a rocky cove. This volcanic cone happened to have a particularly high iron content, which appears a rusty red color when mixed with salt air and sea mist. The underwater wall of the volcanic cone creates a partial sea wall that ensures the water at the beach is fairly calm, making it a great place to snorkel. Even so, visitors are advised to exercise caution near the cove opening, where strong currents have been known to pull swimmers into the open ocean.

While the unique look of the beach is absolutely worth visiting, it’s worth noting that the sand itself is very coarse, so it is advisable to wear shoes even in the water in order to protect your feet. Also worth noting: the cove is one of only a handful of clothing optional beaches in Maui.

8. The Most Polluted Beach on Earth

When you hear about an uninhabited, remote island, you probably imagine a pristine paradise. But unfortunately, with all the plastic pollution in today’s oceans, when no one visits an island, it means no one is there to clean up the trash. And that’s exactly how Henderson Island, a 14 square mile island in the South Pacific sitting nearly 3,000 miles away from the nearest population center, is both one of the world’s only raised coral atolls unaffected by human contact and the most polluted island in the world.

In fact, the small island is home to over 38,000 pounds of plastic and a whopping 3,570 pieces of trash wash up on the shore every day. Of course, the problem isn’t just the lack of cleanup crews, but also the island’s unfortunate location right in the path of one of the biggest currents in the Pacific, the South Pacific Gyre. In other words, the perfect place to snag all the trash floating through the Pacific.

7. The Glass Beach of California

While Henderson Island shows how much damage trash can do to nature, Glass Beach near Fort Bragg shows that every now and again, nature finds incredible ways to repair itself. It all started after the famous San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Residents of nearby Fort Bragg found that almost all of their buildings were reduced to rubble. Before they tried to rebuild their city, they had to get rid of all the refuse from the earthquake. When burning the trash did no good, they decided to dump it into the ocean, thinking the currents would take the trash to sea forever. Only the debris didn’t go anywhere, and residents were now left with a seaside dump. Since the dump was already there, locals just took to tossing all their trash at the beach up until the mid-1960s, when the practice was made illegal.

Eventually, the currents did wash away much of the refuse and the government took away many of the larger items. Meanwhile, glass left at the beach was tumbled and smoothed away into small pieces of sea glass, which now are mixed in with tiny pebbles, creating the “sand” for this beautiful beach.

If you do visit, please note that as Glass Beach is part of the MacKerricher State Park, taking pieces of sea glass is illegal. Also, the water can be a bit rough, especially for young and inexperienced swimmers, so it’s probably best to stay on shore here.

6. Hot Water Beach in New Zealand

Unlike most beaches, the ocean itself isn’t a big attraction at New Zealand’s Hot Water Beach. Instead visitors come far and wide to enjoy the warm underground river that happens to flow right into the Pacific. Two hours before and after low tide, beachgoers can hit the hot water as it bubbles through the beach sand. One of the most common activities here is to dig a nice pool in the sand, essentially building a hot-spring spa. By the next tide, the pools will all be washed away, leaving a pristine patch of sand ready for the next batch of visitors eager to dig their own steamy, sandy bathtubs.

It is worth noting that Hot Water Beach is home to some very strong rip currents, so as refreshing as it may be to soak in the warm hot springs and then plunge in the cool ocean, it’s probably best to avoid that urge unless you’re a really strong swimmer or if there’s a lifeguard on duty.

5. The Swimming Pool Beach in Chile

Like the idea of the beach but don’t want to swim in the actual ocean? Then you’ll love the swimming pool at San Alfonso del Mar in Chile. The biggest pool in the world, this monstrosity stretches across nearly 20 acres of beachfront property, reaches depths of up to 115 feet and holds over 66 million gallons of constantly circulating, heated, and filtered seawater. It’s so big the resort even allows people to sail and canoe in it.

Best of all, its location allows you to take a stroll along the beach just between the natural ocean waves and the clean, filtered water of the pool. And the pool itself even has its own sandy beaches leading into it, ensuring you’ll always feel like you’re at the beach even when you’re within the confines of the world’s largest swimming pool.

4. Boulders: The South African Beach Ruled by Penguins

You’d be hard pressed to find another place on the entire globe where you can spend a nice day at the beach split between refreshing dips in the ocean and delightful walks to check out penguins in their native habitat. Boulders Beach is famous for its playful, tuxedoed residents, who are partially responsible for making this otherwise sleepy shoreline one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area.

Fortunately for both humans and penguins, the swimming area for both species are kept completely separate thanks to the natural rock formations that split the beach into a number of coves. The best viewing area for the birds is on a wooden boardwalk that keeps humans away from the protected animal habitat known as Foxy Beach. This means the penguins can feel safe in their home and that humans can swim and sunbathe without fear of running into an angry penguin with a razor sharp beak or stepping in the bird’s droppings.

3. The Irish Beach That Disappeared and Reappeared 30 Years Later

When visiting a sandy beach, it’s easy to take for granted that it won’t be around forever. Eventually the sea will wash away the sand and you’ll just be left with a rocky coast. Even those who know that beach sands can be washed away and carried off to other coasts probably still wouldn’t expect a beach to disappear… and then reappear only 33 years later. But that’s exactly what happened to the small beach beside the tiny Irish town of Dooagh on Achill Island.

In 1984, severe storms stripped the sand away from the shore, leaving little more than rock pools along the coast. But in May of this year, locals were happily surprised to see the beach covered in sand again after a series of high spring tides. The town once had a lively tourist industry based around the beach, so locals were pretty happy to see it return.

2. Maho in St. Martens

Most of the time, this world famous beach is just like any other beautiful Caribbean coastline, but Maho’s proximity to the airport is what made it famous. That’s because the Princess Juliana International Airport is right next door to the beach and it has a particularly short runway, so planes need to get as close as possible to the ground before hitting the official airport property – meaning the planes approach their final descent just above the beach.

Plane watching is such a popular pastime at the beach that almost all of the local bars and restaurants have airport timetables so tourists can run to the shore in time to feel the rush of the engines push them towards the water. Aside from the obvious thrill of standing right below a landing plane, visitors are also rewarded with some strikingly awesome vacation photos. Unfortunately for thrill seekers, though, the most exciting landings are now a thing of the past as jumbo-jets no longer fly into this island airport.

1. The Florida Beach With the Softest, Coolest Sand on Earth

Consistently ranked as one of the top beaches in the US, what really makes Siesta Key famous isn’t its crystal clear water but its powdery white sand. While the sand from most beaches is made up of quartz, there’s something special about the quartz-based sand at this beach, most likely because it is both so pure (measuring it at around 99% crushed quartz) and ground up so fine. Scientists believe this particular quartz took millions of years to make its way from the Appalachian Mountains through rivers into the Gulf of Mexico, and eventually onto this Florida island.

The end result is almost pure white powder that doesn’t heat up in hot weather, leaving the beach comfortable to walk around on while barefoot under even the warmest summer sun.


Bizarre Beach Barefoot Tour –

WIF 10 Cent Travel

Conquering a New World – WIF Into History

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Why the Conquistadors

Were in

the New World

When Christopher Columbus arrived at Hispaniola (the island now split down the middle between Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he could hardly believe his eyes. With its extraordinary lushness and biodiversity, mighty rivers flowing with gold, and abundance of honey and spices, it was the embodiment of Heaven on Earth, Paradise, the Garden of Eden especially compared to back home.

Even the human inhabitants went about in the nude, with only leaves to cover their genitals. They were also unusually innocent, being entirely without greed. Appearing to lack any concept of property, they shared freely with their alien arrivals?and were overjoyed to receive old broken pottery fragments in return.

Columbus was astounded. If this wasn’t the biblical Garden, he wrote to the King and Queen of Spain, then it must be somewhere nearby. This wasn’t hyperbole either; he was absolutely certain of his claim: Some 5,000 years after God kicked us out, Man had found his way back to Eden.

His plan? To ruin it.

True to form, Columbus immediately set about plundering Hispaniola for its wealth. He built mines, military forts, cities, and farms no doubt devastating forests in the process. Worse, he enslaved the friendly natives to do it for him, threatening to send many back to Europe in chains.

Although he was eventually arrested by the Spanish for his appalling governance of the island, Columbus was far too powerful to lock up. In any case, it did nothing to change human nature. His treatment of the Tano people proved a horrifying portent of the conquest yet to come. Before long, thousands of Europeans followed him across the Atlantic, every one of them hungry for adventure, wealth, and prestige whatever the human cost.

What’s interesting is that while the conquistadors called this strange new continent the New World, they saw everything in terms of the old filtering their understanding and perceptions through Bible stories, classical myths, and outmoded maps and ideas.

Before he stuck a flag in the Garden of Eden, for example, Columbus thought that Cuba was Japan. He even made his crew take an oath on pain of a hundred lashes and having the tongue slit never to contradict his assertion, so insistent was he on imposing the old world on the new.

Likewise, when he came across Antillean manatees, he saw not an exciting new species to classify but a shoal of legendary mermaids (although he did concede they weren’t half as beautiful as in pictures).

Ferdinand Magellan also appealed to mythology when he called the Tehuelche (A’nikenk) of Patagonia giants. Sure, they may have been taller than average, but his encounter reads like a fairy tale: Seeing the first of them singing and dancing on the shore, he and his crew went up to greet them with gifts, cleverly tricking two of the giants into handcuffs and charting a course back to Europe?only for the specimens to die in terror en route.

According to Antonio Pigafetta, a scholar along for the ride, the giants had deep, booming voices and a fear of their own reflection; and they were so tall that even the tallest among the crew only came up to their waists. These giants were later depicted on maps of the New World, alongside mermaids, sea monsters, dragons, and UFOs even though Sir Francis Drake made it clear that they didn’t exist. Having gone looking for the giants himself, Drake concluded they must be a myth and suggested the Spaniards, who probably did not think that ever any English man would come hither to Patagonia to reprove them, had simply made the whole thing up.

But virtually all the conquistadors?Spanish or not were guilty of fanciful projections, imposing time-worn ideas on every square inch of new land, scrutinizing the wide open Western hemisphere through the old narrow lens of the past. Hence they didn’t see the natives as people, they saw them as savages and monsters; and they didn’t see the Aztecs as civilized but as a blasphemous affront to their God.

Basically, the conquistadors were in a world of their own and an often absurd one at that. For hundreds of years they interacted not so much with reality as with a mythological nowhere realm in which nothing was too extraordinary to believe.

El Dorado

In particular, the idea of rivers flowing with gold and other precious metals and gems became a tantalizing trope for the conquistadors?culminating most famously in their obsession with El Dorado.

Spanish for the golden or gilded one, El Dorado originally referred to a man, a fantastically wealthy ruler covered from head to toe in pure gold. The myth most likely originated with the Muisca tradition of crowning a new leader by covering his body in gold dust and rowing him to the middle of a sacred lake surrounded by fires and priests. For the Muisca, the alluringly shimmering metal was a symbol of spiritual power and their connection to the divine. But the conquistadors weren’t interested in ethnology; they were dazzled by the prospect of gold. Hence the legend of the gilded one quickly turned into a city, and the city became an obsession, inspiring boatloads of Europeans to find it.

Among the first to go looking, in 1529 and then again in 1531, was Ambrosius Ehinger, the ambitious German governor of Venezuela. He was aided in his search by hundreds of men including captured Indians and trailed by pigs and dogs. Together, they crossed marshes, rivers, and mountains deep into unknown territory. But in the end, having no qualms about killing or torturing the natives that he came across, Ehinger was slaughtered in return.

Later, in 1541, Gonzalo Pizarro and Francisco de Orellana mounted their own quest from Quito, enslaving natives along the way to help them carry their gear?only to meet with disaster in the end. The same happened to Pedro de Ursa, who was mutinied by his men in 1561.

Even Sir Walter Raleigh was taken in by the myth and twice went in search of the city. Scouring the highlands of Guiana, he ended up battling with the Spanish and losing his son in the process. When he finally returned to England in disgrace, by now an old man, he was beheaded by King James I.

Expeditions for El Dorado were hopelessly open-ended, called off only when they ran out of food (or men) to keep going. After all, they were chasing a mirage across a vast, uncharted continent so there was really no other end in sight. Of course, it didn’t help that any natives they interrogated barely understood what they were looking for, let alone where on Earth it might be, and usually just pointed to the next tribe with a shrug.

Ironically the conquistadors did actually find El Dorado, in one of the first places they looked. In 1536, Gonzalo Jiminez de Quesada conquered the Colombian Cundinamarca plateau, home of the Muisca, and drained their sacred lake. Naturally he found plenty of gold religious offerings from generations of priests and new leaders, but not nearly as much as he wanted. So the conquistadors took their search elsewhere, far from the origin of the myth, and continued to pursue El Dorado until at least 1800, when Alexander von Humboldt finally declared it a sham.

The Seven Cities of Gold

But El Dorado wasn’t the only golden city; there were said to be seven more.

Shipwrecked on an expedition to Florida in the late-1530s, two men (of only four survivors) found themselves wandering the wastes of New Mexico. One was the Franciscan friar and missionary Marcos de Niza and the other a North African slave by the name of Estevanico. Having already been captured by natives and escaped (perhaps explaining the distance they covered), they were keen to avoid any further contact until they reached the nearest safe haven.

But something caught their eye.

Situated on the brow of a roundish hill, de Niza claimed, once he’d made it back to Mexico, was a very beautiful city, the best that I have seen in these parts.? In fact, it looked to be made out of gold. But when Estevanico got too close, he was killed by the native inhabitants and de Niza was forced to run.

It was an irresistible tale. For some, it meant only one thing: The long lost Cities of Gold had been found. Unlike El Dorado, however, these were from the folklore of Spain. When King Roderic lost Hispania to the Muslims in 711-712 AD, he is said to have sent seven of his bishops to found a new one. Sailing across the Atlantic to Antillia one of a number of early phantom islands that was probably the American mainland they each built a city to govern. And then they burned their ships and navigational equipment to ensure they could never go home.

Needless to say, if the legend was true and any of these cities remained, the gold would belong to the Spanish. In 1541, the conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado boldly retraced de Niza’s steps back to the site of the city, accompanied by hundreds of other men and backed by some hefty investments.

Unfortunately, it was only a pueblo, an adobe Zuni settlement that, to a distant observer at sunset, might look a little like it had a kind of glow. It definitely wasn’t made out of gold, though. Plus it had only five neighboring settlements?one short of the fabled seven in total.

The expedition had failed and its financial investors were ruined. It did, however, open up a route to the north, since de Coronado and his men pressed on all the way to Kansas before finally giving up on the search.

The Fountain of Youth

De Niza could hardly be blamed. He was primed to see fantastical things. After all, the shipwrecked expedition that stranded him in the desert in the first place had been in search of the Fountain of Youth a wild and ultimately ruinous goose chase led by Pnfilo de Narvez. Evidently, they’d all been taken in by a rumor about Juan Ponce de Len, who never really looked for the Fountain. Instead, the myth is thought to have been spread as a smear against Ponce de Len’s manhood his quest for eternal youth being a search for an impotence cure.

The Fountain was also mentioned by Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, a contemporary Spanish historian who seems to have believed it was real. In his Decades of the New World, he even gave rough directions:

Beyond Veragua the coast bends in a northerly direction, to a point opposite the Pillars of Hercules  Amongst these countries is an island  celebrated for a spring whose waters restore youth to old men.

This placed it somewhere in the Bay of Honduras, on the island of Boinca or Aganeo. Meanwhile, the Ponce de Len smear pointed more toward his own land of Florida. In truth, though, anyone looking for it, wherever they were, was always on the verge of its discovery. Because whenever the natives were asked for the whereabouts of this miraculous restorative spring, they would have just pointed to water.

The Amazons

Place names were another way for the conquistadors to impose their own version of reality onto the New World. Venezuela (Little Venice), for example, got its name because the stilt houses on Lake Maracaibo reminded Amerigo Vespucci of Venice (Venezia). And it was grouped with other proto-countries (like Colombia, from Columbus) under the Viceroyalty of New Granada, after the city in southern Spain. Indeed, all conquered territories in the New World were collectively branded New Spain.

The Amazon, meanwhile was named for the legendary Amazons, the ancient female warriors from Themiscyra in modern-day Turkey.

Why? Because the conquistadors imagined they lived there.

In 1542, having blustered through the rainforest for almost a year looking for El Dorado, Pizarro and de Orellana’s expedition was in shambles. They’d eaten all their pigs and many of their horses and dogs, and were now facing sickness, starvation, and death. They couldn’t ask the natives for help (on account of all the torture they’d put them through), but they could probably steal something to eat. Desperate not to die in the jungle, Pizarro sent de Orellana and 50 of his men along a wide open river they’d discovered, urging them to come back with food.

But they never did. Evidently the men were a little disgruntled with Pizarro and refused to return upriver to save him, especially from a fate that he probably deserved. (It?s unclear whether de Orellana was in agreement, but he made them all sign a declaration to say that he wasn’t and continued downriver regardless.)

On their meandering way to the sea, they continued to seek El Dorado and the natives kept shrugging their shoulders or more often bracing for attack, having had just about enough of the Spaniards and their conquest. In fact, as they pressed on, de Orellana and his men were shocked to find even women firing arrows from the river bank.

Surely these were no ordinary women, they thought; these women could fight! They were also nude, fair-skinned, and exceptionally skilled with a bow and arrow. They were nothing like the women they knew.

So they had to be the legendary Amazons.

De Orellana assumed their capital must be a few days inland and the riverside villages they passed were outlying vassal states. Of course, when he tortured natives for intel, they only confirmed his suspicions?saying just about anything to make him go away.

In any case, de Orellana and his men were in no mood to go trekking through the jungle in search of this mighty queendom, particularly if it meant certain death. So they sailed on to the Atlantic, returned to New Spain, and got royal backing to settle the region by force. Obviously they never found Amazonia, but they gave it the name all the same. Otherwise, it might have been called New Andalusia, after the region in southern Spain.

The Devil and Prester John

The conquistadors were obviously nuts; that much can be said for sure. But they were really just children at heart vicious, out-of-control, lunatic children, but children nevertheless.

Interestingly, many of their fruitless pursuits?be it for mythical warriors, immortality, untold wealth, or even Paradise itself can be traced to just one earlier myth: the legend of Prester John?s kingdom.

Sometime in the 1160s, long before anyone heard of the ?New World,? a mysterious letter arrived at the court of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus. Purporting to be from one Prester John, a descendant of the Three Magi, it described a vast and otherworldly empire with 72 tributary kingdoms and a strange assortment of inhabitants, including vampires and dog-headed men. It also had a Fountain of Youth, which Prester John claimed could revert anyone to the age of 32, no matter how old they were at the time. He himself had supposedly lived for more than half a millennia by drinking from its waters. There was also a tremendous river, filled with gold and precious gems, that flowed directly from the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, this being a Christian empire, it was entirely free of sin and its people had plenty to eat.

Pope Alexander III, seeing in Prester John a formidable ally for the Crusades, dispatched an envoy to seek out this land. At first, it was thought to be in India, then in Central Asia or possibly Africa. For a while, everyone assumed it was Abyssinia (Ethiopia), which was already a Christian country. Europeans even started addressing the Abyssinian ruler by the name of Prester John, despite his attempts to correct them. They also altered maps of the African kingdom to depict various elements from the letter, including Mount Amara, where Prester John?s sons were allegedly held in captivity.

The real location of his kingdom (if it had one) was never found, but there?s every reason to suspect the New World revived these old hopes.

Obviously, the natives weren’t Christians but neither were they thought to be evil?not entirely. Although Hernan Cort’s described one indigenous leader as a Satanic monster: huge, fat, with hands drenched in blood and blackened with smoke, and a striped black-red face with red mouth and teeth, spilling blood,? this wasn’t the general consensus. The Spanish preferred to see the natives as playthings of the Devil as opposed to the Devil himself, or in other words as souls crying out for salvation.

The existence of the Devil in the New World justified its conquest by the Spanish. So it came to be seen as the Devil’s playground, a New World in mockery of the old. It was the world turned upside down,world inverted by the Devil.

Hence the Aztecs were the inverse of the Israelites, as Satans chosen people against Gods. It wasn’t a New World so much as a black mirror for the old one, a bizarro realm where nothing was new, just darkly topsy-turvy.

This doesn’t excuse their behaviour, of course, but it explains the conquistador mindset.


Conquering a New World –

WIF Into History

Highway to Hell – WIF Myth & Legend

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I-4 Dead Zone:

America’s Most

Haunted Highway

The Interstate 4 highway stretches over 132 miles through Florida, and is frequented daily by those on their way to work or visit friends, and certainly it’s a travel hub for those vacationing in the Sunshine State, perhaps on their way to Disney World.

While the I-4 is a very well-traveled highway, there’s one spot nicknamed the “Dead Zone” where people need to be especially careful. This quarter-mile stretch of the highway has been the location for many car accidents, electronic malfunctions, and even ghost sightings.

Why is this seemingly cursed spot on the highway so dangerous for drivers? Perhaps it’s because it was built over graves, and a disturbed grave site is the perfect recipe for strange things to happen. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence that so many people have crashed their vehicles there, although it’s a pretty frightening coincidence. The graves are under one of the eastbound lanes of the I-4, before you get to the south end of the St. Johns River Bridge, but we’ll let you decide whether it’s just a coincidence… or if there’s a more sinister aspect to the stories. Let’s take a look at the strange and eerie part of the Interstate 4 highway known as the Dead Zone…

The Dead Zone

Around the halfway point between Daytona and Orlando is a very dangerous spot for drivers. The Interstate 4 highway passes over the St. Johns River in Seminole County, and at the south end of the interstate bridge is a quarter-mile section known as the “Dead Zone.”

The Dead Zone is known for the exceptionally high amount of accidents that have happened there. Oddly enough, on the first day that the new Interstate 4 was opened, a tractor-trailer carrying frozen shrimp suddenly lost control and jackknifed directly above the disturbed graves of immigrants who had died from yellow fever.

While there isn’t an exact number, it is believed that anywhere from 1,500 to over 2,000 accidents have happened there since the opening of the highway in 1963. Unfortunately, many of those accidents resulted with death. In fact, around 440 accidents happened at that location between the 1999 and 2006. And in just a 24-month period between 1995 and 1997, there were a staggering 44 car accidents that resulted in 65 people being injured.

Many of the locals will not drive on the Dead Zone of the I-4, and instead take a much longer and more roundabout way to get to their destination.

The History Of The Location

In the years before the 1880s, the location was nothing but wilderness with a sand road that ended up at an area that was equipped with a hand-operated river ferry. Then in 1886, a railroad station was built and there was an attempt to begin a Roman Catholic colony named St. Joseph’s Colony. The owner of the land, Henry Sanford, thought that he could get some German immigrants to fill the colony. But after just four immigrant families moved there, Sanford’s efforts to establish a thriving Catholic colony ended.

One year later, there was an outbreak of yellow fever that claimed the lives of one immigrant family. There was so much fear that others would contract the fever that the four bodies were taken into the woods and burned. The priest who was also living in the colony had to go to Tampa to minister to yellow fever victims there, but unfortunately three days after arriving he also passed away from the fever. With the priest dead, there wasn’t anyone who could perform the last rites to the family of four who had passed away and they were buried without any ceremony.

By 1890, the colony had developed into a rural town named Lake Monroe. When a man named D.V. Warren bought the land north of the railroad, he cleared the area so he could do some farming, but he left the cemetery untouched. The graves looked like an island in the middle of the cultivated farmland and, over time, the names on the four wooden markers were erased by nature. Warren sold his land to Albert S. Hawkins in 1905.

Hawkins had leased his land to other farmers but he always asked them not to touch or mess with the burial site. However, one farmer ignored the warning and attempted to remove the wire fence that was around the graves. His house mysteriously burned down that exact day.

Hawkins had a home that was located at the edge of the field, and one day it burned down when he tried removing the rotting wooden markers for the graves. Since his wife was convinced that the fire was because of his tampering with the gravesite, Hawkins immediately replaced the markers.

However, after the Hawkins’ new house was built, they began experiencing strange things in their new home, especially with the children’s toys. A small rocking chair would begin rocking all by itself, and several toys would move on their own. Even his neighbors told him that they had seen strange lights around the gravesite at night. Perhaps this is why many of the locals nicknamed the area the “Field of the Dead.”

Another chilling event happened in the early 1950s when a young boy was disturbing the graves, and the following night he was killed by a drunk driver. The driver was never identified or caught.

Hurricanes And The I-4

The government bought the property in 1959 for the purpose of building Interstate 4. The four graves were supposed to be relocated to another area, but never were. The surveyors of the land decided that the graves were very old and “felt it was best, as well as beneficial to construction and time issues to ignore the graves and build over them.” One of the engineers was even quoted saying, “It’s not an ancient Indian burial ground, they’re just a few old bones.” Their choice not to relocate the graves would be one of the worst decisions they could ever make.

In September 1960, dirt was poured on top of the graves in order to raise up the highway. At the same time that the fill-dirt was being poured on the graves, a powerful storm named Hurricane Donna was hammering the southern region of Florida. The hurricane was on its way to the Gulf of Mexico but suddenly and unexpectedly changed course toward the exact location where the new interstate was being built. In fact, the eye of the hurricane passed directly over the gravesite at exactly midnight on the night of September 10, 1960. The damage from the storm delayed the construction of the highway for almost a month.

Then in 2004, another major storm named Hurricane Charley took almost the exact same route Hurricane Donna had. Hurricane Charley passed directly over the graves of the four deceased immigrants, and what’s even more eerie is that there was construction happening around the graves right before the hurricane passed over. It seemed as though something – or someone – didn’t want anyone disturbing the resting place of the four deceased immigrants. Researcher and author Charlie Carlson wrote a book called Strange Florida, and has talked about the hurricanes:

“Charley followed almost the same route as Donna. They referred to Charley as the ‘I-4 Hurricane.’ Strangely enough, there was construction going on around the graves. The land where the graves are was being disturbed again. It was almost like a repeat of Donna.”

There have also been a high number of tornadoes that have ripped through the area, following the route of the Interstate 4.

An Eerie Coincidence

It’s definitely a strange coincidence that two hurricanes seemingly made sure that they hit the exact location where the graves were being disturbed by construction, as well as the many tornadoes that have traveled up Interstate 4, as if there was some sort of force or magnet attracting them to the location. But there is another coincidence that is absolutely bone-chilling and deeply disturbing.

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that there were 44 car crashes that ended up injuring a total of 65 people between 1995 and 1997. If you take a moment to do the math, when you add up 44 and 65 you get a total of 109. In 1996, it had been exactly 109 years since the four members of the immigrant family died in 1887. Now that’s an incredibly eerie coincidence.

Paranormal Experiences

In addition to the countless car crashes, deadly tornadoes, and strong hurricanes, Interstate 4 is also known as the most haunted highway in America, especially in the quarter-mile Dead Zone.

There have been many strange occurrences and paranormal activity associated with the highway. One common claim is that cell phones, radios, and CBs stop working when people drive through the Dead Zone. Others have claimed to have heard static or the sound of children laughing coming from their electronics. They have also heard disembodied voices, such as a person asking “Who’s there?” or the simple question of “Why?” But when drivers respond through their devices, there is nobody on the other end to answer. Some people have even claimed to have heard the sounds of snarling or growling coming from their radios. What’s even more frightening is the fact that there are no cell phone or radio antennas in that area, so the strange sounds coming from electronic devices are a real mystery.

Some people have reported seeing ghost cars, shadow people, and ghostly apparitions of hitchhikers, as well as suddenly driving into thick fog that appears out of nowhere, and even feeling cold spots. Some have also witnessed unexplained balls of light that zig-zag above the road. Others have claimed to have seen the ghostly apparition of a young woman in a flowing white dress or nightgown. An even more disturbing allegation is that some drivers have claimed that an unseen force had taken over control of their vehicles.

While state officials have blamed the exceptionally high amount of car accidents on congested traffic conditions, many people believe that the crashes are caused by restless spirits that are looking for revenge after their graves were disturbed.

There’s no doubt that there have been an unusually high number of car accidents on the I-4, and there are a lot of claims coming from people who have experienced strange and unexplained things in that area. Add in the fact that the Dead Zone is resting on top of four graves, and… well, it’s no surprise that this is the most haunted highway in America.


Highway to Hell –

WIF Myths & Legend

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Ocean – WIF Travel

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Sable Island:

The Graveyard

of the Atlantic

Sable Island is a small island located about 190 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This remote and very isolated location is one of the farthest offshore islands in Canada. Although it’s almost 200 miles from the mainland, it is still part of the Halifax Region.

The island is famously known for its hundreds of wild horses that inhabit the island, as well as several other animals and birds that make this place so unique. There is, however, a darker history that surrounds the island, specifically the hundreds of shipwrecks that have occurred there over the years. In fact, the island is eerily referred to as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

From the incredible wildlife that inhabits the island, to the French criminals who lived there centuries ago, to the horribly dangerous weather and hundreds of shipwrecks, this article will detail 10 of the most amazing facts about Sable Island.

10. The Location

The distant crescent-shaped sandbar is located almost 200 miles from Halifax in the Atlantic Ocean. Sable Island measures 26 miles long and is home to a considerable amount of wildlife, such as wild horses, seals, and numerous rare birds. In fact, the island is the world’s largest breeding colony for grey seals. The exceptionally strong plant life also attracts many insects that are found no other place on Earth.

The weather is highly unpredictable and the tides are continuously changing. There is much debate on whether Sable Island is, in fact, moving eastward. Some scientists believe that the western part of the island is washing away, while the eastern side of the island is gathering more sand. This makes the island appear as if it’s moving eastward; however, others argue that the island is not moving but it is actually getting smaller and could potentially one day disappear altogether.

9. First Settlers From The 1590s

In the 1590s, a Frenchman with quite a name – Troilus de Mesgouez, marquis de La Roche-Helgomarche, viceroy of New France – decided to harvest colonists for Sable Island to make money from fur and fish. He gathered criminals, vagabonds, and beggars from a French port and told them they would be going to an island where they would work for the colony. By the late 1590s, about 50-60 settlers, along with 10 soldiers, were living on Sable Island. They also had a storehouse.

The criminals, not surprisingly, committed crimes on an almost nightly basis, mostly by robbing each other. When the marquis, who had previously left to explore the mainland, tried returning to the island later that year, he couldn’t find it and ended up sailing back to France. While the settlers received living supplies annually, in 1602 they were cut off and had to fend for themselves. When a new supply ship arrived on the island in 1603, they discovered that only 11 of the settlers were still alive. They had resorted to murdering each other during that year alone on the island. The survivors returned to France, where King Henry IV rewarded them with silver coins. And the island, once again, became uninhabited by humans.

8. It’s Been Named A Canadian National Park

In December 2013, Sable Island was named Canada’s 43rd National Park. The island is home to a variety of animals and plant life. There are over 350 species of birds living on the island, with some listed as endangered. The world’s largest breeding colony of grey seals is found on Sable Island, not to mention the countless number of wild horses living there.

While there are nearly 200 different species of plants found there, there is oddly only one tree on the island – a small pine tree that stands at just three feet tall. The strong winds make it nearly impossible for trees to survive on the island, along with the fact that there isn’t much real soil found there.

There’s also plenty of history and cultural resources connected to the island, such as the many shipwrecks that have happened there. In fact, sometimes when the sand shifts, the remains from shipwrecks are found. Other important locations on the island include the life-saving stations, lighthouses, and telegraph poles.

7. The HMS Delight

In 1583 the HMS Delight, the first recorded shipwreck took place at Sable Island. The Delight was exploring the waters along with another ship named the HMS Squirrel when the commanders of each vessel got into a dispute about the safest course to sail their boats. Richard Clarke, who was the master of the Delight, agreed to obey Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s (the commander of the Squirrel) orders.

The HMS Delight, which was the larger of the two ships and carried the most supplies, ended up wrecking on one of Sable Island’s sandbars and sank. The HMS Squirrel was unable to rescue them as the water was too shallow to enter. The majority of Clarke’s crew members drowned and only 16 of them, along with Clarke himself, were able to get into a small boat and sailed the water for days, hoping for someone to rescue them. They were on the boat for a total of seven days when they finally reached the northern province of Newfoundland. Five days after that, a Basque whaling vessel found the men and rescued them.

6. The Merrimac – Not the Ironclad

The most recent shipwreck on Sable Island – and the first one since 1947 – happened on July 27, 1999, and it was that of the Merrimac. The 12-meter fiberglass yacht with an auxiliary engine was owned by Jean Rheault of Montreal, Quebec. At around 2:00 a.m., after the ship had wrecked, they got into a life raft but quickly realized they were just a few meters away from Sable Island. Once the three-man crew (including Rheault himself) had reached the island, natural gas exploration workers rescued them. The crew members flew to Halifax the following day.

Although Rheault hired a fisherman to try to recover the yacht, they were unable to retrieve it. After just six weeks, the remains of the yacht were nothing more than tiny fragments of fiberglass caused by the sand and strong waves crashing upon the wreckage. A portion of the yacht’s Dacron sail is now on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which is located in Halifax.

5. It’s Home To More Than 350 Species Of Birds

There are over 350 different species of birds living on Sable Island. It’s believed to be the only nesting place in the world for the Ipswich Sparrow. Also found on the island are 2,000 pairs of Herring Gulls, more than 2,500 pairs of terns, and over 500 pairs of Great Black-backed Gulls. Other birds include American Black Ducks, Semi-palmated Plovers, Red-breasted Mergansers, and sandpipers, just to name a few. In addition, there have been several migrant birds, along with exotic strays that have been found there.

There are three types of terns: Roseate, Common, and Arctic. While there are over 2,500 pairs of terns that live on the island, approximately 60% of them are Arctic Terns. The Roseate Terns are listed as an endangered species.

4. Horrible Weather Conditions

Sable Island is known to have extremely strong winds and a lot of fog. In fact, there is a daily average of at least one hour of fog on the island for about a third of the year (125 days). When the warm air from the Gulf Stream mixes in with the cool air from the Labrador Current, it creates fog throughout the island. It also has the strongest winds in the entire province of Nova Scotia. The temperatures, however, are not too severe, with the yearly average ranging between 26 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s believed that many of the shipwrecks that have happened on Sable Island were caused by the dangerous and severe weather. Prior to the more advanced modern day navigational equipment, the older instruments depended greatly on using the sun and the stars for navigation, making it impossible for the crew members to use when they reached the thick fog and clouds near the island — a perfect recipe for a shipwreck. In addition to the sometimes horrible weather conditions, Sable Island is also directly in the path of many storms (including hurricanes) that travel up the Atlantic Coast.

3. Human Population: One

We’ve talked about the high wildlife population on this remote island, but there is also one — and only one — person who lives there year-round. In fact, she’s been living there for over 40 years, by herself. Zoe Lucas, who is a 68-year-old scientist, first visited the island in 1971 when she was just 21 years of age and studying goldsmithing. While there are other workers and scientists who rotate shifts on the island, Lucas is the only permanent resident.

While it would seem that living on an island all alone would be terribly boring, Lucas claims that she’s never lonely and spends her time studying the ecology. She lives in a wooden house that’s settled within the sand dunes, and she has supplies flown in every two weeks. She’s found many strange things that have washed ashore, but the oddest one was a fake leg. While many of us couldn’t imagine living in solitude on a remote island, it’s obvious that Lucas really enjoys it, or else she wouldn’t have stayed there for over four decades.

2. It’s Nicknamed the “Graveyard Of The Atlantic”

With severe weather hiding the island from sight because of dangerous storms, large waves, and thick fog, it’s not surprising that many ships have crashed there. Since 1583, more than 350 shipwrecks have been recorded on Sable Island, which is why it has been given the ominous nickname of the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

One of the reasons so many ships have wrecked in that area is that it’s a very rich fishing ground, as well as being directly on the shipping path between North America and Europe, so a lot of boats pass by there every year.

In 1801, the first lifesaving station was developed on the island and by 1895 there were a total of five stations. This project was referred to as the “Humane Establishment.” There were two lighthouses on the island, where someone would always keep watch during the nights. There were also shelters in place where survivors from shipwrecks could go to keep warm and eat. However, after 11 years without any reports of shipwrecks, the Humane Establishment ended in 1958.

1. Wild Horses

When most people think of Sable Island, their first thought is usually of the many wild horses that inhabit the island. While there isn’t an exact count of the number of horses living on the island, it’s believed that there could be up to 400.

While some people assume that the horses ended up on the island by swimming there from one of the shipwrecks, historians believe that they were put on the island on purpose in the 18th century. In the 1750s or 1760s, a Boston merchant and ship-owner named Thomas Hancock transported Acadians to American colonies during their expulsion from Nova Scotia. He also brought horses, cows, hogs, goats, and sheep with him. In the end, it was only the horses that were able to survive on the island, and it’s believed that the horses today are the descendants from those introduced there centuries ago.

And when you consider the horses live on the remote island and have never had any veterinary care or antibiotics, it’s amazing that these animals have survived for centuries on their own.


The Graveyard of the Atlantic Ocean –

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Crazy Railroad Tracks – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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Crazy Railroad Tracks

Around

the World

While we don’t think of them in the same way as cars or even commercial airplanes, trains are a staple mode of transportation and may be the very definition of the “standard routine” at times, being guided by rails. Yet rail and train construction is often anything but standard or routine, and is sometimes hatched from the brains of ultra-creative and – at times – desperate engineers.

We’ve already told you about bizarre locomotives themselves, so in this account we’re going to get into some of the crazier railroads from around the world…

10. Hindenburgdamm, Germany

Rail and sea travel might seem to be worlds apart, but when trains appear to run across the waves on a narrow causeway, the role of a ferry may be replaced by the capabilities of a train. The island of Sylt, off the coast of Germany, is not accessible by either roads or ferries. Instead, the method of traveling and, most significantly, of bringing cars to and from the popular island destination consists of what might best be called a sea train.

Locomotives pulling railcars stacked with personal vehicles travel between Sylt and Schleswig-Holstein on mainland Germany just barely above the waves on rails laid upon a precarious-looking causeway called the Hindenburgdamm that crosses almost 7 miles of water. The causeway is solid but exceptionally narrow, and also has very little height above sea level. The shallow waters in between the mainland and the island of Sylt made the creation of this remarkable alternative to the more typical means of transporting vehicles to an island by boat possible. Around 100 trains per day travel between the island and the mainland, half of those carrying cars and trucks.

9. Rail Transit No. 2, China

Chongqing, in China’s Sichuan Province, is a populated area where spicy food is popular and urban residential, commercial, and transportation space is at a great premium. So much so, in fact, that when the planned construction of Rail Transit No. 2 Line in Chongqing was set to go forward an apartment building was right in the way of the track slated to be built. While such a defined problem might baffle some designers and planners, a remarkable planning compromise was reached that balanced the competing transportation and residential needs.

Lacking an alternative route for the railway and not wanting to take the drastic step of demolishing the building, transit planners and engineers concocted a successful plan that removed several suites and passed the elevated train track right through the apartment building. While not easy, taking the approach of routing the railway through the building was still more feasible than trying other paths, given the little available space. The apartment still houses most of its original inhabitants, who apparently don’t mind a monorail barreling through their place once in awhile. Care to maintain the structural integrity of the building through the tunnel-like modifications combines with the quiet and efficient railway system to make the building livable, and surprisingly without significant noise or disturbance to residents.

8. Gisborne Airport Railway Crossing

Planes, trains, and… wait, planes and trains together? Yes. New Zealand is not the largest nation on Earth, and the competition for flat land that can be used for purposes dependent on flat land (especially, for example, an airport) is significant in certain areas. In a dramatic example of space sharing in transportation infrastructure, a railway intersects with a runway. On New Zealand’s North Island, thePalmerston North – Gisborne Railway Line crosses the runway of the Gisborne Airport.

Any mistake by a pilot or an engineer could potentially cause a plane to crash right into a train crossing the middle of the runway at right angles, but not to worry: schedules are carefully coordinated. Still, a locomotive steaming across a runway may shock the eyes of the unprepared. The railway is busy throughout the day and into the night, according to scheduled train routes. In contrast, the runway is only in operation to handle air traffic between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. During the day when both are in full use, it is a job and of itself to coordinate the arrival and departure of aircraft with the seemingly out-of-place trains that cross the runway. Aircraft and trains both stop for each other.

7. Gotthard Tunnel Route

Northern and Southern Europe may be geographically different and set apart by massive Alpine peaks towering above sloping forests and fields, but the remarkable Gotthard Tunnel solves the problem by tunneling directly through the mountains, connecting Europe on either side of the imposing Swiss Alps by going right under especially difficult sections. The tunnel is the longest railway tunnel in the world at 35 miles in length, greatly reducing the need for truck traffic. The tunnel is also not only the longest railway tunnel existing on the planet, it is also the deepest under the surface.

At its greatest point of depth, the remarkable tunnel is 1.42 miles below the mountainous surface above as it carries trains in the subterranean desolation. Replacing the traffic of a million trucks that have been transporting goods every year, the twin-bored tunnel links the municipality of Erstfeld, with its German language name and located towards Switzerland’s north, with the south of Switzerland municipality of Bodio, closer to the Italian border and with a corresponding Italian name – examples of Switzerland’s linguistic diversity. The tunnel route was opened in a ceremony that involved hundreds of passengers getting the opportunity to ride the train in each direction.

6. Maeklong Railway Market

Playing on train tracks is not recommended, but the Maeklong Railway Market in Bangkok, Thailand takes things one step further. You see, not only do people gather around the tracks, but an entire marketplace is set up and dismantled daily. When the market is open, stalls are erected and goods are sold… right on the tracks upon which trains will soon arrive. Each time trains are scheduled throughout the day, items and people are moved hastily off the track, before the trains come through. Paying attention to the time is certainly a matter of survival in this particular set up.

The scale and complexity of the market in its cumulative sum makes its dismantlement seem immensely challenging. But it is the coordinated effort of multiple vendors working together that also makes it possible for the entire set up to be moved out of the way of oncoming trains when the need arises. Close attention is duly paid to the schedule of the train despite the apparent distraction of the busy selling conditions and throngs of market visitors. As the tracks are cleared according to train schedules, disaster is consistently averted.

5. Katoomba Scenic World Railway

Australia may be thought of as a land of flat terrain and desert, but it is worth remembering that while that impression may be true across much of the Australian landscape, there is topographical variation. The Blue Mountains of New South Wales are not only noteworthy natural features but also home to an incredible railway system that forms a tourist attraction. Remarkable as the world’s steepest funicular railway and the steepest passenger-carrying rail system worldwide, the Katoomba Scenic World Railway was originally built in the late 1800s and has a rich history, given its construction to aid in transportation aspects of mining operations.

Funicular indicates that the railway operates with the assistance of cable traction, pulling cars up the steep inclines that would otherwise pose an insurmountable challenge to rail travel. With tracks positioned at 52 degrees, which is a 128% incline, the incredibly steep railway now sees modern vehicles operating as an attraction for daring rail travelers. The railway offers spectacular views of mountain, forest, and cliff formations as it traverses difficult terrain. In one particularly hair-raising section, the railway drops 1,017 feet as it travels through a tunnel in the side of a mountain cliff.

4. Tren-a-las Nubes, Argentina

The Andes are known as exceptional geographical formations that offer some of the most ambitious mountaineering routes on the planet. Translating to “Train to the Clouds,” Tren-a-las Nubes in Argentina rises just over 13,779 feet above sea level. Passing through numerous spectacular landscape types and climate zones, the train traverses arid lowlands, rocky precipices, and high elevation landscapes where the air is thin enough to potentially create challenges for those not accustomed to the height. And speaking of that height: onboard oxygen is available in case of medical symptoms due to the exceptional height reached on the journey.

Construction of the incredible railway route began in the year 1921 under a plan to connect Northern Argentina to Chilean lands by reaching across the Andes. As the tracks cover variations between peaks and immense valleys, the differences are leveled out by carefully constructed trestles equipped with an incredible array of beams, abruptly transitioning into railway track, skirting slope edges with sufficient clearance made in the rocks. Typical track may seem to be the exception rather than the norm in such parts of the route. While the train to the clouds reaches astonishing heights, the name actually refers to clouds of steam from the locomotive hovering in the cold air rather than any natural clouds that may be encountered on the route.

3. Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The highest railway in the world, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway reaches the exceptional height of a little more than 16,640 feet at its highest point, while its average height is still exceptional at nearly 14,764 feet. The railway passes through the world’s highest elevated railway tunnel, with sections of the track experiencing severe freezing conditions. The route contains a number of record-holding elements in the track layout, including the most lengthy plateau tunnel on the planet at Kunlun Mountain, extending 5,531 feet, while the Fenghuoshan Tunnel is at the top of world records for the tunnel that is at the highest elevation, being built at 16,092.52 feet.

The railway is recognized as a Chinese engineering feat of great significance, standing out with many ingenious and challenging engineering solutions given the vast distances involved in the route, remote locations, and the need to build sections of the track on frozen soil that never thaws. The thinness of the air at the higher elevation along the route has presented challenges not only to passengers, but significantly affected construction workers to the point where oxygen facilities were set up. Passengers fill out a health declaration and are also supplied with personal oxygen masks, while train windows filter excess UV rays.

2. Mauritania Railway, Sahara Desert

Yes, there is a train running through shifting sands and shimmering heat. At 437 miles in length, the Mauritania Railway braves the blistering isolation of the Sahara. The seemingly endless trains running from desert to coast along this route, the national railway of the sizable, Sahara desert-dominated African country of Mauritania, are the longest freight trains in the world at 1.5 miles in length. The route is used to transport iron ore vast distances across the desert to port locations, where it is shipped.

Given that the nation is almost entirely stark and desolate desert, iron ore export plays a crucial role in the economic survival of the country. While the trains are mostly intended to carry freight, passengers can hitch a ride on the trains, either opting to ride for free in the hoppers or to pay a small fee to travel on available benches. But if the train were to break down in the extreme heat of the Sahara, the results could be disastrous for travelers. The risks of the adventure on the desert tracks include extreme sandstorms brought about by the harsh desert winds and easily disturbed fine sands that characterize the desert landscape.

1. Dawlish Railway Station, Exeter to Plymouth Line

Trains on the beach, a seawall station, and sea cliff tunnels. That’s a lot to combine together in a railway route, and sometimes, the cause of an awful lot of trouble due to collapsing tracks. An example of particularly notable and extreme railway line construction that has left much to be desired, the Dawlish Railway Station in southern England and the railway tracks to and from the areas close to the station have at times been fraught with problems. The challenges have included the collapse of a track section after being partially washed away by the waves caused by extreme weather.

The spectacular appearance of the beach-side station and nearby tracks stands out, seemingly being out of place due to the station being right on the seawall, allowing salt spray to easily wash over the tracks. The sight of trains in a view-scape where one might expect beached or moored ships adds great interest and creates fantastic photography opportunities. Adding to the drama of the exceptionally challenging rail route, the track travels through tunnels bored into challenging sea cliffs just to the south of the station, creating a contrast between track running through the closed seaside tunnels, and track laid along open seawalls.


Crazy Railroad Tracks –

WIF 10 Cent Travel

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 104

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 104

…“My cousin Hilbert from Sandwich Illinois is a crop-duster,” proof that Eddie D. is getting back to his old self…

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With Fanny away in Florida, Constance Caraway respectfully skips the Tolentine performance in favor of a well-being check at the home of Eddie Dombroski. She has taken personal responsibility for putting the man in harms way. An experienced private eye should have guessed that Eddie would want to be the one to rescue his wife, even though they were only playing a hunch and he normally followed orders to the letter.

Edie Dombroski has been so gracious in the face of this family crisis. She is a gritty city woman, loving on the inside with an urban-tested exterior. Her husband had been mugged in the past, had his share of fender benders and even had a hand in stopping a bank robbery, but he had never taken a bullet to his midsection or his left shoulder.

“Do you need a spleen?” is one of the questions Eddie has for his post-op caretakers. His other was more of a commentary, “Lucky for me I’m a righty; I can steer, shift gears, the whole ball-of- wax.”

“You won’t be driving any time soon Edward Francis,” Edie lays down the law. “Miss Caraway has given us $1000 dollars so you/we can make it to spring.”

Constance’s care extends to her pocketbook.

“Don’t forget about that color television she bought us. I bet we’re the first on the block to have one,” he brags, “and it has a record player too!”

“You can see I’ll have my hands full,” she casts a lamenting gaze Constance’s way. “Guess who has to change the channels? Edie this, Edie that, Edie I could use a snack…..”

“I cannot help you with that Mrs. Dombroski; though I did keep the receipt from Goldblatt’s Department Store?”

“Oh no you don’t missy!”

“I need to get going,” she checks her Timex wristwatch, “I’ve got to meet a friend at Meigs Field.”

“Fanny?”

“No, she’s back in Tallahassee on another case.”

“Meigs? That’s that new runway on the lake, but it’s only for private planes.”

“My friend has a BeechCraft Bonanza.”

“Does this flyboy have a name?”

“Ace Bannion.”

“And my name is Clark Kent.” Not Elvis or Gene Kelly.

“Well Clark, I’ll bring Ace around for a visit while he’s in town.”

Eddie's Cousins-001“My cousin Hilbert from Sandwich is a crop-duster, no airports needed for him. I mean to tell you, when he comes home for lunch he just flies right up to his back door.”

Proof that Eddie is getting back to his old self.

“Sandwich? I have relatives in Bologna!”

Constance is always herself.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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