Friday, March 27, 2009

The Most Dangerous Tourist Attraction in the World - Anymore Bright Ideas Out There...?

I'm always looking for good travel ideas.

Awhile back, I received an email from my cousin. Attached to the email were some pretty wild pictures of a "hiking" trail.

I remembered one picture where the "trail" was a narrow ledge of toothpick-like planks of wood clinging precariously to a sheer rock cliff.

Another picture was of Chinese-like folks climbing up another sheer cliff using a rickety old rope ladder.

This couldn't be right, I thought. It looked way too dangerous...

I concluded that the pix must have been photoshopped. So, I filed the email and forgot about it.

That was until I discovered this Youtube clip (on the Adventure Blog):

Crazy, eh?

I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my cousin for second guessing the validity of her photos.

If I'm ever in the neighbourhood, I'll certainly give Hua Shan a try. Ok, I'll do it!

If you have a good travel idea (places to see, peoples to meet, things to do, etc.), give me shout on the comments...much appreciated.

Ideas don't necessarily have to be crazy wild but just brilliant.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In the Shadow of the Moon and More Arctocephalus pusillus but not necessarily in that order...

capecross fur seals arctocephalus pusillus
Did I mention that a peculiar pungent "seal" odour emanates from the beaches of Cape Cross?
capecross fur seals arctocephalus pusillus
...and the Cape is noisy as all hell?

Cape Cross Fur Seal Factoids of the Day: Adult male Cape Fur Seals are 2–2.3 m long and average 247 kg in weight. Adult females are 1.2–1.6 cm long and weigh an average of 57 kg. At birth they weigh around 6 kg.

Movie Review: In the Shadow of the Moon

"My father was born shortly after the Wright Brothers. He could barely believe that I went to the Moon. But my son, Tom, was five. And he didn't think it was any big deal." -
Charlie Duke, Astronaut (Apollo 16).

In the Shadow of the Moon is an amazing documentary about greatest adventure of all time, America's quest to fly men to the moon in the 1960's.

The film footage taken during the missions provided the obligatory brilliant, breathtaking, powerful imagery. The slow motion footage of the Saturn V rocket lifting off the launch pad and the earth rising as the command module came around the moon are set to an appropriately dramatic soundtrack.

However, the power of In the Shadow of the Moon came from the narration provided by astronauts of the Apollo moon programme. The men were indeed part of an exclusive club and they knew it.

After all these years (some were octagenarians at the time of productions), their memories were crystal clear. Surprisingly, I found their recollections elegantly succinct, direct, powerfully evocative, and deeply personal. You could tell they were still profoundly affected by their adventures as younger men.

Remember, these guys were hardcore military types, made of "the real stuff", test pilot cool beyond all recognition back in the day. Yet they , especially Michael Collins (Apollo 11) and Alan Bean (Apollo 12), came across as eloquent, witty, down-to-earth human.

I sat through the two hour film. At the end all I could think of was "wow". I gotta go. Not necessarily into outer space but on another crazy terrestrial-bound expedition of my own.

As I looked up at the moon tonight, it was hard to imagine that it's been nearly 40 years since Neil Armstrong stepped on the lunar surface for the first time. Whole generations of people now have no idea of this golden age of space exploration: a time of vision and bold dreams.

Whether or not you remember or even existed during this Apollo age I wholeheartedly recommend signing this one outta the library...

Rating: five overdue fines out of five.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dammit! Yes, We Can!

Are you a procrastinator, like I? Or, are the current economic times getting you down? Or, do find yourself looking for motivation to get through another day?

Have a look at this compendium of the greatest stump speeches in Hollywood history. You'll be glad you did...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cape Fur Seals and Bloody Placentae on the Beaches Cape Cross Namibia...

Wow, I actually had a request, from a special reader from Oregon, for pictures of the bloody placentae of Cape Fur Seals. Who am I to deny such curiosity for the natural world?
cape cross fur seal placenta namibia
This placenta looks pretty fresh. Like I said, if you want to walk these parts, what your step!
cape cross fur seal placenta namibia
This placenta looks a couple of days old.

Cape Fur Seal Factoid of the Day: The gestation period for Cape Fur Seals is 51 weeks (including a 3 month delay in implantation!!) - IUCN 2008 Red List.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

More Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus and Mixed Reviews...

Arctocephalus pusillius cape cross namibia
Another cute photo of Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus. It was birthing season when Ahmed and I made it to Cape Cross, Namibia. Those black furry lumps in the foreground are the pups. Difficult to miss and easy to step on (in fact, there were many squished pup carcasses lying about, victims of clumsy adults no less). Lots of blood soaked placentae littering the bleach, as well.

Man, it's been brutally cold the last few days. I walked over to the library today to pick up a couple of dvds I had on hold. Walking was an unwise choice of transportation. I lost most of the feeling in my face. Walking into the nasty wind, I soon rendered my eyelids unfoldable.

Talking about dvds, this is good time to give you, my loyal readers, fellow shut-in Calgarians, a couple of dvd movie choices to watch while huddled in our cold, dank homes around the flames of our flickering oil lamps.

Be Kind Rewind.

Must say there's been a shortage of creative films coming out of Hollywood lately (actually, for a long time).

Be Kind Rewind maybe that breath of fresh celluloid that we're all looking for.

Be Kind, Rewind stars Mike(played by rapper Mos Def). He's stuck running his uncle's video store. Everything is running smoothly until his jackass friend Jerry (played by Jack Black), a walking human super magnet, erases the entire collection of VHS tapes.

All hell breaks loose when they start to remake or swede (yep, a term named after the Scandinavian country) movie titles on demand, starting with a hilarious 20 minute version of the 80's classic Ghost Busters.

An interesting and imaginative plot coupled with good performances by Mr. Def and Jack Black makes this a good choice.

Rating: 4 library overdue notices out of 5.

10,000 BC.


I must admit that I walked out the living room after 40 minutes of play time. I was thinking of asking the library for a refund.

The film was a horrid conglomeration of Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings, and Jurassic Park.

The plot line started with perfectly fluent English speaking humanoids (with heavy Russian accents) hunkered down in mountain top huts, degenerated into a scene with a barbarian princess being abducted by fully armoured, sword-wielding men riding giant horses, ended with scantily clad cave men tracking the princess up and down glacier capped mountains... I think I threw in the towel when the velociraptors a la Jurassic Park made an appearance.

Normally, in a film like this I give the producers some creative license but 10,000 was incredibly bad.

Don't bother this one 'cause it was fit for the pit...

Rating: zero library overdue fines outta five aka 40 minutes I can't get back.