Bosque del Apache

This is a guest blog post by Barbara Ellen Sorensen

Several years ago, I traveled to Socorro, New Mexico, with my friends Scott and Mary Jean to watch the sandhill cranes and snow geese performing what I refer to as “inscribing the sky.” Located just off Interstate 25, Bosque del Apache is a National Wildlife Refuge halfway between Albuquerque and Las Cruces. We stayed in Socorro because it’s the town closest to the refuge. We also chose the least expensive place to sleep: the Econo Inn, for $50 a night. It was cheap, but clean and simple.

Mary Jean said that the birds form fine ribbons that thread the sky. I told her that using the word “ribbon” in conjunction with bird formations was overused. So for quite some time, we had a good-natured disagreement on the best way to describe the indescribable.

Scott, a wonderful photographer, had to be up at sunrise and present during sunset. This was fine by me. I had never seen a migration of thousands of birds, so during the three days we were there, I wasn’t even thinking about the chilly mornings and evenings. The first sunrise, I wrapped up quickly in wool sweaters and a down jacket and, coffee cup in hand, set out with Scott and Mary Jean to witness for myself this curiosity of nature.

At first, there was no sound, no movement in the briny marshes, but through the mist, barely visible, we could see all across the marshes and ponds, hundreds and hundreds of birds. They began to call out to one another and gradually the riotous clamor of their wings took hold of the morning air. First, the snow geese began to rise like tidal waves.

While a discernible had unsealed itself across the sky: shimmering of lapis blue mixed with incredible pink ceylon. The colors erupted through this dry desert landscape with such an chimerical force that I truly thought I was able to smell a saltiness somewhere — an allegiance of the brackish lagoon and briny tidal pools. There was only the dead and dying organic matter all around me, no sea at all.

Other wonders began to divulge themselves: rainbow cacti, tamarisk bulrushes, rust willows. The other winged creatures came too: roadrunners, coots, blue herons, blackbirds, pheasants. But none could compete with the configurations of snow geese and sandhill cranes; the emergency of their flight, and how they held one another up against a shift of wind, a flush of rain.

We stayed all day and far into the night. When the reservoir of sky suddenly grew dark, they still came, descending to the ponds. But not before they first crossed the white lantern moon, its stillness ravished by the black outline of bird bodies slashing downward in regimented formation. They were reckless in beauty. They were blind with instinct, nothing more. Bone followed bone; wing followed wing. They were always oblivious no matter what time of day we saw them. They were oblivious to changes of light and air as morning turned to afternoon, to evening, then to morning again. They were oblivious to the evening’s magnetism, its hidden constellations not yet birthed that we strained our necks in anticipation of seeing. This was truly, an experience I would never forget.


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Get Out Of The Car And Experience Soweto By Bike!

An African Experience

This is a guest blog post from Maria of Lebo’s Soweto Back Packers and Soweto Cycle Tour.

Get Out Of The Car And Experience Soweto By Bike!

Get Out Of The Car And Experience Soweto By Bike!

For something different and unusual a tour of Soweto and taste some African cultural life, truly this popular, eco-friendly and exciting township tour takes you around the streets of Soweto for an experience like you’ve never had before.

Our friendly local guides will spend half or full day with you as you cycle around the community, showing you the unique features of this interesting township, at the same time you get to experience the vibe of Soweto, eat that the local burger Kota, taste traditional beer at a shabeen sharing the experience with the local people. You will return home with a different perception of township life.

Some of the more interesting highlights that this interesting tour covers:

  • The Mzimhlope Men’s Hostel]
  • The Hector Pieterson Memorial
  • The famed Vilakazi Street
  • Nelson Mandela’s House
  • Arch Bishop Emirates Tutu house
  • A cycle trough the “Soweto Struggle route”

At the same time you will be able to experience some unusual tastes, such as you sample:

  • Cows head meat
  • Homemade ice lollies
  • Home brewed beer at the local shebeen (pub)
  • A burger “Kota” for your lunch

And to round off the tour a lovely cool drink at the Backpackers’ lodge.

For more information and to book a tour contact Maria at

Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers.
Tell: (011) 936-3444Cell: 074-3609085

www.sowetobackpackers.com

www.sowetobicycletours.com


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Normandy Guide for Shoppers: Shopping Where Locals Shop

 

Local Shopping at it’s Best

by Cynthia Taylor

Normandy Guide for Shoppers: Shopping Where Locals Shop

Normandy Guide for Shoppers: Shopping Where Locals Shop

A Normandy guide is a good place to find out much of the region and what to look for. Travel in France is an experience of a life time to people who have never experienced such an interesting variety of interesting places to see, it is rich in history, culture and places of interest.

The ambiance and as you travel along gives one a feeling of stepping back in time in some places, almost as if time has stood still. With cobbled stone villages, Normandy still has much of the “olde worldy; feel about it. Many of the building are half timbered giving a feeling of walking in history.

The modern world has not intruded to the extent that the surrounding country side has been replaced by modern technology to the exclusion of the little man. When traveling through different towns that surround Normandy and around one find many cottage industries that continue as the have done through out the ages.

Normandy is famed for its Calvados an apple brandy; why not get a taste by visiting some of the wine cellars. Traveling to Deauville you have to stop and visit one of the Calvados/cider tasting places, there are quite a few that are marked along the route. Wine is made from Apples not grapes, and even pears are used. Cider made in this region contains one third of the alcohol content of wine, it’s beautifully fizzy and is the perfect accompaniment to moules-frites (fries with mussels and local specialty).

Normandy Guide for Shoppers: Shopping Where Locals Shop

Normandy Guide for Shoppers: Shopping Where Locals Shop

If cheese is your interest, you’ve come to the right place. A shop called Oliver’s in Dieppe boasts a Variety of cheeses although the shop is tiny they have on offer 130 different varieties of cheeses, definitely you will find some that will tempt your palette. Well known is Camembert, some other interesting Norman cheeses with some beautiful sounding names are Petit Suisse, Pont l’Évêque, Neufchatel, Livarot, and Boursin.

Neufchatel Cheese has been made in the region of the same name for more than 1000 years, the cheese is available at most supermarkets in a heart shape, but getting it directly from the farmers is a whole lot more fun, the cheese itself is soft and incredibly creamy, with a white rind shaped into a heart.

Using a Normandy guide, you will find so much, from old towns, incredible sandy beaches, and the famed Mont-Saint-Michel.
Self catering rentals and Normandy vacation rental go hand in hand, Most of the towns and the villages have daily markets to visit, these markets offer such a large variety of fresh produce, from cheeses, patisserie, fruit that has been hand picked, vegetables that taste out of this world, the variety local meats are mouth watering, If you wish to savor the feel of Normandy then the markets are an excellent place to start, practice your rusty French, Apart from the famous cheeses and cider, incredible tasting home made jams, and a type of shortbread called Stables d’Asnelles are taste sensations not to be missed.

Your Normandy guide will help you walk in history, savoir many interesting foods and relax in the ambiance of countryside, farms villages and beautiful landscapes that are easy on the eye.


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The Golden Gate National Park offers Golden Memories

A Vacation of to Stir The Soul

by Cynthia Taylor

Golden Gate National Park

Golden Gate National Park – getaway.co.za

The Golden Gate National Park is a beautiful place to visit; it is situated at the foot hills of the Maluti Mountains. The park itself is to be found in the Northern Free State, it has 11,600 hectares of a very unique environment.  It has some of the most beautiful sandstone cliffs, and when the sun shines on them it gives a golden glow, hence why it was named Golden Gate. The timeless beauty of these sandstone cliffs will leave you in awe as you watch them majestically keep a visual watch over the parks rest camp.

The Ribbikkop is the highest peak in the park and you really need to see it at its best when it presents a beautiful tapestry of a variety of colours towards the evening hours.  It’s quite an amazing sight to see the colours change from reds to golds and purples, the sight will leave a lasting memory long after you have left the park. There are many unusual rock formations in different colours some russet, purple and ochre.  Wind and rain have sculptured them over thousands of years.

Below the cliffs and rock formations are some lovely indigenous trees, with green vegetation and wild flowers to add to the contrast of the background. There are some wonderful hiking trails for the backpacker. Be sure to go in twos or a group for safety.

On my visit to the park a few years ago I was blessed to have seen a variety of wild animals, it a beautiful sight to see a group of Springbok springing into the air and down again, these graceful creatures always make you smile. Zebra, Eland, Blesbok, wildebeest and Oribi, the ugly yet loveable to look at warthog, are some of the other interesting inhabitants of the vast acreage.  There are a variety of birds for the bird watcher, look out for the rare bearded Vulture, and you might be lucky to spot a rare bald Ibis, Ostriches, Black Eagles, waterbirds and Jackal Buzzards will delight you on your visit.

The park offers some wonderful game viewing, you can use your own vehicle or go on guided excursions, there are some wonderful night drives, the park also offers video shows and lectures during the school holiday periods. If you are interested in the environment then there are Environmental courses that vary from one to five days, you have such a wonderful opportunity with the perfect environment to learn so much more.

For the more active Tennis and Table Tennis will keep those muscles flexed.  Snooker for the less active but equally enjoyable, there is an excellent bowling green for the bowler. Horse Riding is another way to see much of the park’s beauty.

The park offers many interesting viewing points such as Generaalskop viewpoint, the Zuluhoek lookout point, the Drakensburg view point and the Oribi basin.  Each have their own perspective and will enthrall you with their natural beauty.

A guided walk through the Cathedral Cave is another attraction not to be missed, then complete your visit to the Vulture Restaurant while you reminisce about your interesting day.

The Golden National Park is well worth the journey to visit. I have some truly wonderful memories of my visit there.

Golden Gate National Park

Golden Gate National Park


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Forevertron an unusual experience

Photo by : Brian D'Ambrosio

Photo by : Brian D’Ambrosio

This is a guest blog post by Brian D’Ambrosio, I hope you enjoy the visit

 

 

Sauk County, Wisconsin

Destination: The Mythic Obsession of Dr. Evermore’s Kinetic Architecture

 

Photos: Brian D’Ambrosio

 

Commentary? Why bother? Is it part of a categorical genre or label? No such classification exists. Materials? How about carburetors, generators, brass copper, steel, early x-ray machines, scrapped vehicles, saw blades, oxidized pipe, theater speakers, river barges and rusty hamburger signs; to name just a few components. Is it a time travel machine or a rigorously sane ecological statement? Magnum opus or scatterbrained afterthought? On a reasoned level, it is the stockpiling of all the shapes, forms and mechanisms of the industrial age, with parts gathered from all over world. Capped by a copper-clad glass ball, the top section is a constructed space capsule.

Look hard and see it all:

Junk heaps of industry, contaminated plastics, reused industry surplus, rejected A-frame houses, historical artifacts, agricultural detritus, and utilitarian mechanical remnants, the brilliant discoveries that have altered the way that man influences the world. Peer out into sublime vastness of the solar system, imagine a tumble through the abyss of geological time, and one can not help but think, too, of how infinitesimal the moment of our own existence now appears.

To the fantastical soul, how futile seems the span of an individual life!Beauty is indeed in the metaphysical. And there are plenty both – marvelous beauty and freedom of interpretation – here at the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world. All you have to do is accept the scenic and historical integrity of the site, resist definition, let your thoughts synthesize, smile, and you will be just fine. After all, it is only a complex, futuristic assemblage to be used as a means to transport to the heavens that you are looking at. Nothing more, nothing less.

“Instead of imposing your interpretation, it’s best to leave it alone,” says Tom Every, aka Dr. Evermore, the progenitor of this artistic innovation. “I don’t impose my interpretation here, but I let others find their own interpretations. People that are stymied come here and pick up the brushes of energy. It’s a place to get the imagination and inspiration going, and what more can you really do for people than that?”

photo by : Brian D’Ambrosio

photo by : Brian D’Ambrosio

This is the good doctor’s world at Forevertron, a fascinating salvage of bits and pieces of machineries, bridging the industrial revolution to today’s computer-driven, de-industrialized dimensions; between fifty to one hundred years old, parts stand welded and bolted together for stability. Historical components include a pair of bipolar electrical dynamos constructed by Thomas Edison, in the late nineteenth century, and a decontamination chamber from the Apollo Space Mission. “These Edison bipolar dynamos have Tesla’s thought patterns on it, constructed around 1882. They came from the Ford Museum. With all designing and engineering, people stand on others’ shoulders to progress things.”

In a world seemingly without very much order, priority or focus, it is surprising perhaps, that Every can recall the true origins and exact functions of each piece of metal. He knows each bearing, grinder, shifter, cannibalized car, rusty winch, and block of iron; he claims there is a story behind each, a tale of hauling, a memory of turbulence, and a remembrance of what was. It seems that the eschatologist in Every revels in the doctrines concerning the final matters of steel, industry, and, ultimately, human existence and fate.

“You can’t reverse our impact or what we made things for,”says Every. “I don’t believe junking iron and steel. I am for showing what the consequence of humans on the planet has been, not expunging it. I see trouble in what we are building nowadays. Because there is no real integrity, just short-term patterns. I did three hundred and fifty major wrecking jobs, and I sure can tell the difference in construction materials used then and now. “

If all goes accordingly, the centerpiece component called the Gravitron – a monumental sculpture weighing roughly three hundred tons and standing one-hundred twenty feet wide, sixty feet deep, fifty feet high – will contract the doctor down in preparation for space travel, and the ‘Celestial Listening Ear’ should permit him to broadcast extraterrestrial observations to those on earth.

“All the elements and thoughts patterns of electricity and time travel are involved here,” says Every. “There is a reality, progression, and integrity of touching electricity and time, and this is the product of that. I am most into energy flowing, and I have nothing but respect for it.”

The Gravitron, which took three years to put together, consists predominately of circular metal components – wrought iron, copper, brass and stainless steel are the most evident. Its principal central section is a kinetic bank of generators, thrusters and other electromagnetic power sources.

Dispersed in proximity to the Forevertron are fanciful pieces that reveal themselves perfectly suited to the good-bye bonanza of Dr. Evermore’s separation from earth. The most lovable group of peripheral figures is the Bird Band, a coterie of figures pieced together from brass bedposts, old tools and other hardware, pipe fittings, bike brakes, survey markers, gasoline nozzles, facsimile laser guns, and a full complement of working musical instruments. One is comprised of Haitian steel drums and another has chimes that form an old church hanging on its back. Just where it is that the doctor will end up once he is blasted off is anyone’s guess, but at least some facts exist as to where and how this man came to be.

Being Doctor Evermore

An outspoken man of Cockney descent, Every appears intimidating, but in actuality he is a warmhearted, friendly eccentric who could gab for hours about his work – and energy force. Born in 1938, country kid Tom O. Every was enthralled by scrap, steel and junk. Traveling by bicycle through the quiet streets of Brooklyn, Wisconsin, he sought out unusual objects to turn into useful gadgetry. This childhood fascination with such materials led to a career in industrial wreckage.

As a salvage man, Every traveled to factories and industrial sites dismantling obsolete machinery, and he soon shifted from wrecker of shambles to preserver of clutter, hoarding odd shapes and forms that he felt would soon somehow disappear from the landscape, such as tank ends with interesting rivets or brewery furnaces.

He sorted and saved as many unusual components as space and energy allowed, by his estimate about a thousand tons. About this time, he renounced his old ideas and business plans, becoming reborn as Dr. Evermore, and through this new identity, he built Forevertron.

“I had to become Dr. Evermore back in 1983,” says Every. “I was bothered by all that I saw in the world; I wanted to perpetuate myself back into the heavens on this magnetic lightning force field.”

The mission of Forevertron, its mantra, the title of Doctor Evermore and the alter ego’s artistic credence – they are part of the entertaining language and educational life force of what has become the world’s biggest, most visually balanced kinetic sculpture – twenty-five years rooted in the invaluable spirit of restless exploration and perceptive gathering.

Ultimately, pushed against this steely reserve of earthly time and its transience, Every, 71, like many of us, dreams of posterity. His weathered face shows the many years of toiling outdoors and his raspy voice leads one to assume that he used to chain-smoke the cigars that he now only chews on. Strands of gray and white hair stick out behind his full-brim hat. Despite this gruff exterior, Every’s passion for art is fresh and innocuous. He does not hunger for fame or for utility, but hopes for a lasting monument, and, in the interim, a secure place on earth to illustrate his energies, and to muse over the question of extinction, the march of time, and man’s place in the universe. And to, well, just live like a young boy enthralled by metal.

“This is the place for playing around and to have fun without the bullshit of life interfering,” smiles Every. “It’s like a disease here because all I see are positive things. I have a set amount of time here to do the best that I can, and I am happy with each new load of stuff I can use. “

Choice Chitchat: Tom Every’s sculpture garden is located on Highway 12, five miles south of Baraboo, Wisconsin. No admission fee is charged, and most days from late spring to late fall you may find Dr. Evermore in the center of Forevertron, reading, writing, drawing, or just thinking, hours varying. The garden sits behind Delaney’s Salvage, the perfect compliment for artistic eccentricity.

Brian D’Ambrosio – Courtesy Brian D’Ambrosio

Brian D’Ambrosio – Courtesy Brian D’Ambrosio

Brian D’Ambrosio is a writer/editor living in Missoula, MT and Madison, WI. His profiles of art, humanity, and nature, as well as his travel and destination road trip pieces have been published in local, regional, and national publications.
Visit his website : http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/briand13


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South Africa A Land Of Contrasts And Wonderful Safari’s

A Magical Journey Through South Africa

by Cynthia Taylor

A Magical Journey Through South Africa

A Magical Journey Through South Africa

Travel in South Africa is a wonderfully rewarding, exciting and at times awesome.  There are so many wonderful places to see and the wild life, the fauna and flora is well worth the effort.

When planning your South African Safari you need to take some things into consideration, depending on what you expect from your safari choose  your seasons wisely to suit your choice of Safari, do you want lush country side then chose to visit after the rainy season, but if you want to see the wild game easily then choose the winter months to visit the game parks, Winter in South Africa is from usually from May to September and depending on where  you wish to view animals, October and September are also good viewing periods in various game parks. Do research of the area you wish to visit is important.

Your choice of Safari will also depend if you wish to ‘go it alone’ or book a pre-planned safari, or you could choose a company that specializes in organizing safaris to suit your individual needs, and your budget.

Game Reserves and Private Game Parks

There are many large game reserves as well as private game parks that can enhance your experience greatly.  The most well known is the Kruger National Park, this game reserve has much to offer with everything from excellent accommodation to suit all budgets and plenty of game to view on game drives, but be aware the Kruger National Park and other private game parks such as Sabi Sand and the Timbavati.  The Kruger National Park is a very large park and you might have to drive for miles before seeing game. It’s advisable to make use of the expert guides that are available, they have vast storehouses of knowledge between them and they will know the best places to view game in any given season.

cybercapetown.com

cybercapetown.com

On an African Safari you need to be flexible, the game do not work to an itinerary, so you might be woken up early to view the sunrise, as well as wildlife viewing, followed by a large breakfast.  Another good time you will be called to view game is late afternoon and finish off with a good dinner. Midday is time for relaxing, swimming, a nap after your early call and be ready for the next drive out. Or if you are energetic then take a nature walk.  You must also be aware that midday is the hottest time of the day so take the necessary precautions, wear a hat, use sun screen and wear sensible clothing.

Timbavati Home of The White Lion

thesouthafricaguide.com Timbavati home of the white lion

thesouthafricaguide.com Timbavati home of the white lion

Other famous game parts are the umfolozi/hluhluwe game reserves, and Phinda.  St Lucia, Drakensberg world heritage, all in Kwa Zulu/Natal. One of the advantages of Safari’s in South Africa are the many malaria free game lodges that offer plenty of game as well is the ‘big five’, these game parks are ideal for family safari’s.  Africa has many places that are high risk malaria areas, so if you would prefer not to risk getting malaria despite all precautions then visit South Africa’s malaria free game parks. Western, Northern and Eastern Cape, Addo National Park and Shamwari,  the Garden Route, North West province and parts of the Limpopo province all offer malaria free game lodges like Madikwe and Welgevonden.

Apart from Game viewing South Africa also offers wonderful subtropical beaches, incredible isolated deserts, tribal villages, bush wilderness, abundant birdlife, bushman art, excellent world class wines and visits to wine lands with tours of how wines are made to wine tasting.

Prior to planning your South African Safari, it’s a good idea to do some research; the internet has many excellent websites that offer incredible ideas on safaris to suit many people’s needs. Read some travel books and guides to give you an idea of what to expect and experience on a South African Safari.

Budgeting is important

travel2southafrica.net

travel2southafrica.net

Decide on your budget, this is important when deciding on what type of safari you would like to go on. You can find ultra luxurious safaris and some cheaper safaris that are less about luxury and more about getting the feel of Africa.  Only you can determine your budget and how fit you are to understand a more rigorous safari.

Most people wish to see the big five, but don’t overlook the many other wonderful wild life that is available, South Africa has 299 different species of Mammals, abundant bird life, interesting insect life and much more, most of the game parks have expert guides who can show you the best of South Africa’s wonderful wild life.


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