The Mysterious Ball’s Pyramid

Ball’s Pyramid is one of the most interesting rock formations in the world.

It is a remnant of the lost continent of Zealandia and home to an almost extinct species of insect. 

The Mysteries of Ball’s Pyramid

According to Atlas Obscura, Ball’s Pyramid is one of the few remaining land formations above sea-level left on the micro-continent of Zealandia. Danny Collins with The Sun explains that Zealandia has all of the major characteristics of a continent, it’s just mostly underwater. Nevertheless, Ball’s Pyramid is actually the world’s tallest volcanic stack on the planet.

It was discovered by Lieutenant Henry Ball of the Royal Navy in 1788. For more than two centuries, it was believed to have no life. Atlas Obscura wrote that in 2001, scientists studying this huge volcanic spire discovered a colony of the Lord Howe Island stick insect that was long thought to have been extinct. Since this time, expeditions have gone back to the island to attempt to repopulate the species in captivity as discussed in this YouTube video on the Australian Museum channel. 

The Massive Peak of Ball’s Pyramid

Coming out of the Pacific Ocean seemingly out of nowhere, Ball’s Pyramid sticks up over 1,800 feet in the air. It is located 23 kilometers from Lord Howe Island. Climbing this volcanic remnant is no easy task. A rock-climbing club from Sydney, Australia was the first to climb Ball’s Pyramid in 1965 according to this YouTube video. Getting to the top is no easy task, making the expeditions to save the Lord Howe Island stick insect all the more difficult. 

The Eighth Continent

According to National Geographic, Zealandia broke away from Australia about 80 million years ago. Today, only seven percent of Zealandia is above sea level. In this seven percent are a number of islands and landmasses much like Ball’s Pyramid. You might recognize the name of Zealandia’s largest landmass, New Zealand. Indeed, the country of New Zealand is the largest area of this micro-continent that is above sea level. Part of what makes Zealandia so interesting is the unique peaks, like Ball’s Pyramid, that poke out of seemingly nowhere. They are, in actuality, part of a much more intriguing continental mass that many people don’t even know exists. 

Red Rocks Amphitheater: A Musician’s Dream Venue

Whether you’re a concert-goer or a nature enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of Red Rock Amphitheatre.

If not, get ready to explore one of the coolest outdoor theaters in the United States.

Visiting Red Rocks

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is part of the 738 acre Red Rocks Park located outside Denver, CO. Here, you can see a diverse environment of plants, animals, and the middle ground between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, giving you the best of both regions. You can even hike up to the amphitheatre. Red Rocks Amphitheatre itself is the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world, and it took more than 200 million years for the rocks that make up the amphitheatre to form. Many great artists from U2 to the Beatles have played in the geological phenomenon. 

The History of Red Rocks Amphitheatre

The theatre itself opened in 1941 and was made a National Historic Landmark in 2015. It can seat just over 9,500 people. Because Mother Nature designed the amphitheatre, it isn’t duplicated anywhere in the world. Consisting of two, 300-foot monoliths called Ship Rock and Creation Rock, this geologically formed outdoor theatre gives the perfect acoustic opportunity for performances. Sitting between these two towering red rocks allows visitors to stargaze at night and get a glimpse of prehistoric times during the day. It even gives the perfect view of the city of Denver.

It all started in the early 1900s when a man named John Brisben Walker dreamed of there one day being performers on a stage that would fit perfectly between the perfect acoustic surrounding of the rocks. He held concerts in a makeshift venue until he attracted the attention of the manager of Denver Parks, George Cramer. From there, the men convinced the city of Denver to buy the area from Walker and build upon his dream.

Denver architect Burnham Hoyt was commissioned to design the theatre under the direction that he would preserve the natural beauty of the park. Although the park was dedicated in 1941, it wasn’t until 1947 that the first annual Easter Sunrise Service took place, and it has attracted the best performers ever since.  

As Unique as it is Historic

Red Rocks Amphitheatre has an incredible history. With its formation to its magical acoustics to the zany things that happen there during shows, the amphitheatre is quite a unique place. The Denver Post shared 75 little-known facts about Red Rocks Amphitheatre that are worth a look. Some of those include:

  • From the first show up until the end of 2016, there had been over 2,700 shows
  • You can see Denver’s airport, which is about 39 miles away, from the top row of the venue
  • The first observed occurrence of lighters in the air happened in 1944 when opera singer Regina Resnik asked the audience to light a match after the lights went out

Worth a Visit for a Show or the Beauty

If you’ve been looking for a place to visit that combines a love of music with a love of nature, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and the park it’s located in, are worth a stop. After all, you can’t go wrong seeing a place that was previously considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. 

Central Park Is Born A Star

Central Park, once known as Seneca Village, was the first landscaped park in the United States.

Built to establish a comparable setting to Paris and London, Central Park runs over 843 acres of land. 

HISTORY OF CENTRAL PARK

In 1853 the state legislature authorized the City of New York to implement eminent domain in order to acquire more than 700 acres of land. One of the largest settlements being a stable African American settlement known as Seneca Village. Leaving over 1600 residents uprooted from their homes, the park began the process of determining who would be in charge of the control over the upcoming park.

Ultimately, park commissioners were appointed and projects began with discussing the landscaping for the park. Over 20,000 engineers, gardeners, stone cutters and laborers were put on the job to reshape the land. Using gunpowder to remove large amounts of soil, the team planted over 270,000 trees. 

It wasn’t until the winter of 1859, six years later, that the park opened to the public. Thousands of New York families spent the winter season skating on what was once swamps across the newly landscaped land, making memories and bonding for years to come. Throughout the years, playgrounds have been built, a zoo has been established, along with athletic centers and museums. This has made Central Park a popular location for visiting families and friends from all over the world.

THINGS TO DO AROUND CENTRAL PARK

When visiting the nature designed park, you can find many activities to enjoy. From horse & carriage rides that allow you to enjoy as much of Central Park as you can to all kinds of sports. The park has 26 baseball fields! During the spring, enjoy the cherry blossoms and the beautiful green views of nature surrounding you.

The park even hosts concerts year round, allowing visitors to enjoy all kinds of popular entertainment. Enjoy a meal by the lake at The Loeb Boathouse when it’s time to eat, and catch sights of boats all across the water as you fill your taste buds with a variety of meats and vegetables.

With so much to do, it’s hard not to enjoy all of the events and liveliness of Central Park. 

Sources: 

History of Central Park – https://www.centralpark.com/visitor-info/park-history/overview/

Things to Do – https://www.centralpark.com/things-to-do

History Makes Ellis Island A Stamp

Opening in 1892 Ellis Island opened as an immigration station, only remaining open for 60 years.

Nonetheless, the short amount of time made history with allowing millions of immigrants to enter into the United States and make the country their home. 

ELLIS ISLAND MUSEUM

While the National Origins Act of 1924 ultimately put an end to mass immigration and acted as a staple in Ellis Island’s close in 1954, 2.3 million immigrants were able to pass through the operation and find a fresh start in the United States. 

In honor of Ellis Island and the historical impact it made, a museum opened up in the 1990’s in the main building of the station. From 1984 until opening in the 1990s restoration took place to ensure any traces of the history made there remained intact. You can now access the immigration records, as of 2001, allowing you to discover if your own ancestors passed through the immigration process while Ellis Island was an operating immigration station. 

Ellis Island’s museum offers 3 floors to explore and learn about the experience and stories from immigrants as they came through the station. During your visit, view the history through first-hand accounts and interactive exhibits that teach you about immigration from the time the station operated until the present day. 

While you explore, you may discover the hearing room, which was restored to mirror its looks from 1911. The room was often used for legal hearings to determine the status for potential immigrants. During busy seasons 50 to 100 hearings would go before the Board of Special Inquiry to hear the testimonies from the individuals. Not only does the museum showcase the immigration history, including the registration room, but you can also learn about the usage of the building during the time between Ellis Island ceasing to operate as a station and becoming a museum.

Throughout the museum, you’ll find major documentation on the processes immigrants went through during the years it operated as an immigration station and many leaps to history. You’ll learn the foundations that led to many of our ancestors becoming a stepping stone in the United States. 

Nock. Draw. Loose. The Sport of Archery

Once a method of hunting prey for food, the bow and arrow date back to Paleolithic times.

With the onset of firearms in the 17th and 18th centuries, archery became outdated. Revived for sporting activities, archery is once again finding its place in hunting, as well.

Archery Through the Ages

Some of the earliest arrowheads found, coupled with ancient pictographs, reveal the invention of the bow and arrow to have come in Africa some 65,000 – 71,000 years ago. As man began to migrate and explore new territory, there is no evidence they took their weapons with them until some 40,000 years later when traveling to Asia, India, Australia, and Europe.

Arrow shafts have been found in Europe dating back some 12,000 years ago, while fragments of a bow dating from 11,000 years ago were found in an archaeological site in northern Germany. Other accounts show bows being found in a Denmark site dating back possibly further, somewhere between 20,000-9,500 BC. In North America, it is believed that Native Americans began using the bow and arrow around 500 AD for hunting, with it later also evolving into a weapon of war.

Archery as Sport

The sport of archery became popular in Egypt during the 18th dynasty period, between 1567 – 1320 BC. Records reveal early archery tournaments in China during the Chou dynasty from 1027 to 256 BC.

In more modern times, archery began its history in the Olympic Games in 1900. While performed through the early 20th century, it saw an absence of more than 50 years following 1920 until 1972. Today’s Olympics offer competition for men and women as individuals and teams. Individual Gold Medalists from the US include John Williams in 1972, Darrell Pace in 1976 and 1984, Jay Barrs in 1980, and Justin Huish in 1996. The last men’s team to earn Gold was in 1996.

Two US women have struck Gold in the sport of archery, too, Doreen Wilbur in 1972 and Luann Ryon in 1976. No US women’s team has earned Gold since the sport’s resurgence, although the 1988 team did take the Bronze.

Today’s Bow and Arrow

Beyond the competition of shooting at a standard target, in the US, archery is seeing a comeback as a method for hunting. Each state has its own specific rules for hunting with a bow and arrow, and the season may vary from the regular hunting season.

Today, the sport of archery is taught throughout the country, through local 4-H clubs, some schools, and various other sporting clubs. Private archery lessons are available most anywhere. Local competitions are abundant and archery is a part of the Shooting Sports competition through National 4-H.

If you have an interest in archery, check with your local chamber of commerce or your city’s department of parks and recreation to see what may be available in your area.

Become a Member of a Live Studio Audience

If you are wanting to see a television show taping in person, there are only two places in the country to do it – Los Angeles and New York.

While many shows in the past used to not only allow, but sought out live audiences, those times are dwindling. Today, only talk shows, game shows, talent shows, and a few reality shows have them.

A Short History of the Studio Audience

Studio audiences date back to pre-television during the days of radio. Why the studio audience? They wanted the live response to the stories being told and the interaction between hosts and guests. The most common and appreciated reactions were laughing and cheering, but gasps and sighs were also welcome.

With the onset of television, the studio audience remained. I Love Lucy was the first TV show to be filmed in front of a live audience. At the time, director Desi Arnaz in coordination with cinematographer Karl Freund worked out a way to shoot comedy using multiple cameras to capture different angles of the performance. This allowed for audience reaction and for the actors to feed off their audience much like in the theatre. The concept continues today in the few sitcoms that still utilize a live audience.

Today’s Shows That Continue With a Live Audience

In New York, various talk shows have studio audiences including The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The View, Good Morning America, Today, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The most-prized live audience show is Saturday Night Live. Early morning shows are much easier to get tickets for than the tapings of nighttime shows. Visit the website of the broadcast network to find out how to obtain tickets, which are generally free.

In LA, there is a bit more opportunity for studio audience tickets. Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Conan, and The Ellen Show are all taped in various studios from Burbank to Studio City to Culver City. So are game shows such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, and audience participation shows such as The Price is Right and Let’s Make a Deal. Again, you should visit the network’s website to learn how to obtain tickets.

It is more difficult to get tickets for Dancing with the Stars, or The Voice, and yet harder still Big Brother eviction shows, and finales of Survivor. But if you have an interest, you should always try.

A Few Things to Consider

Tapings of any show can be lengthy. Game shows often tape more than one show at a time. Possible audience members should wear comfortable shoes, have eaten ahead of time, and made use of the bathroom facilities. Recording devices of any kind are not allowed and would be safest left at home. In an audience that may be seen on-air, well-dressed people generally get the best seats. Because of the hot, bright lights for filming, most studios are quite cold, so you may want to bring a sweater or jacket no matter the weather outside.

Being part of a studio audience is an opportunity that shouldn’t be forgone when afforded. What now is an unusual experience is becoming less and less available. Be sure to explore the possibilities before you travel to LA or New York.

What You Need to Know to Visit The Big Almaty Lake

It is a beautiful fall morning in the mountains.

The day is warming up nicely as your taxi deposits you at the mouth of the trail. Energized by the lingering effects of the traditional sweet coffee you had at breakfast, you start your hike. Rounding the bend, the vision in front of you takes your breath away: the intense turquoise blue of Big Almaty Lake.

How to Get There

Your story begins when you visit this picturesque alpine lake located just outside of the Kazakhstan city of Almaty in the Ili-Alatau National Park. Both nature enthusiasts and Instagrammers alike flock to the site to photograph the intense hues of the reservoir that serves as its namesake city’s water supply. To get there, have the hotel arrange a taxi or use the Yandex app to schedule your own.

Things to Know

Planning ahead will make your trip much more comfortable and drama free. Some things you will want to consider:

  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes appropriate for hiking up and down mountain terrain
  • Bring your passport in case you are stopped at a security checkpoint
  • Pack snacks and water as there are no concessions in the park
  • No swimming is allowed
  • You may need an International Driving Permit if you choose to drive yourself

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, trails leading to the Kyrgyzstan border have been closed, but many others are open to adventurers. A short hike from the lake reveals a fantastic waterfall. Pack a picnic if you’d like to spend more time on the mountain.

Safety and Security

Travel in Kazakhstan is generally safe. However, like any city in the world, travelers can be targeted by thieves. Use common sense security measures such as keeping your valuables out of sight and refraining from walking alone after dark. 

Learn about Space at the Baikonur Cosmodrome

If you’re interested in space, visiting the Baikonur Cosmodrome deserves a spot on your travel bucket list.

Since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011, American astronauts head to space from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. 

History of the Baikonur Cosmodrome

While the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is now known among space enthusiasts as one of the most-used launch sites for sending astronauts, cosmonauts, and supplies to the International Space Station, it has a far more complicated past. During the Cold War era, Soviets used the location for testing a variety of missiles. At the height of the Space Race, Russian cosmonauts used the site in their attempts to land a man on the moon before the American astronauts. 

Since the end of the American space shuttle program in 2011, American astronauts have begun to use Baikonur as their primary launch point, as it is located closer to the equator than any other reasonable option. Although they are no longer able to launch shuttles out of nearby Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA still communicates with American astronauts aboard Russian Soyuz rockets and the International Space Station from mission control in Houston, Texas.   

Visiting the Baikonur Cosmodrome

While all travelers with valid documents to enter Kazakhstan may visit the city of Baikonur, tourists can only visit the Cosmodrome as part of a guided tour. Many tours need to be booked several months in advance, and they can last for several days. Visitors will be able to see several museums filled with space artifacts, learn about the history of the Russian space program and its recent collaboration with NASA, tour other parts of Baikonur, and possibly even watch a live Soyuz launch.

Careers in Space

Although the American space shuttle program does not exist at this time, Americans may still pursue careers as astronauts with NASA. However, those chosen to travel to space will need to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, for the foreseeable future.  

Students interested in working as astronauts, at mission control, or in other positions at NASA should take rigorous courses, attend space camps, and prioritize grades as early as possible. Very few prospective astronauts are accepted, virtually all of them go far above and beyond minimum requirements, and many have pilot or military experience. 

Visiting the Baikonur Cosmodrome introduces tourists to the latest in space travel, what lies beyond Earth, and what the future of space travel may hold. 

Take an Online Course to Boost Your Skillset

Online courses make it easier than ever to learn about anything that interests you.

Whether you’re looking to start a new career or simply take a course for fun, there are plenty of options available to help you find the perfect course!

History of Online Courses

Distance learning, the precursor to online courses, has been around for over 170 years. While these British students certainly did not have access to the Internet, they did have the ability to complete assignments through the mail, which was an early form of learning without having to physically attend a class. The earliest form of what we now know as online learning was the University of Illinois Intranet, which was started in 1960. Only students had access to this type of communication, and it was a forerunner to the public Internet that would be created nine years later.

What Can I Learn from Online Courses?

Online courses make it possible to learn about anything you want from the comfort of your own home. Learning about business and computer skills can increase your employability, watching videos about cooking, photography, parenting, or playing a musical instrument can enrich your life, and studying psychology and science can help you learn more about the world around you. No matter what you’re interested in, there are likely dozens of online courses available to feed your mind!

How Can I Take an Online Course?

Most colleges currently offer some form of online learning. In some cases, it is possible to earn your entire degree online from a school that is across the country or even on another continent.

Online learners can also take single courses directly through schools or through Coursera, an online course program that connects learners to real college courses at a much lower price. Many Coursera courses are available in a series of around five courses, and completing this series gives learners the opportunity to earn fully-accredited certificates that can be helpful in their careers. Financial aid is often available.   

Other sites, such as Skillshare, can be accessed for a relatively low monthly subscription fee. While many of these courses are taught by regular people, rather than professors, Skillshare is a low-cost way to increase your skill set or pursue a new hobby. Skillshare courses do not offer certificates, but they provide an inexpensive way to learn to start your own business, learn new skills that can give you an advantage in the workplace, or simply increase your knowledge of something that interests you. 

No matter what type of course you’re interested in or what your goals of taking an online course are, there’s sure to be an online course that is a perfect match for you! 

Stroll Among the Treetops at the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Most hikes through the woods happen on the ground, but walking across the Capilano Suspension Bridge gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of the Capilano River and one of West Vancouver’s most expansive forests. 

History of the Capilano Suspension Bridge

The Capilano Suspension Bridge, one of Vancouver’s best-kept secrets, was built by George Grant Mackay in 1889. Mackay never intended for his bridge to become a tourist attraction, as it was originally built to be enjoyed by his friends.

However, after the property surrounding the bridge was sold and its structure was updated several times, the version of the bridge that exists today became a popular place for visitors to Vancouver to enjoy the scenery in 1956.

Visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge

The current Capilano Suspension Bridge is surrounded by other, newer tourist attractions, such as the Treetop Adventures Canopy Walk and the Cliffwalk. These structures work together to give visitors to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park multiple views of the natural beauty that is found in the surrounding forest. 

While the park can be an excellent attraction for families, parents should know that strollers are not permitted on any of the bridges, and they should never allow children on the bridges alone. While reasonable safety guards are provided, parents should always supervise children to prevent reckless play that could lead to falls or other injuries.

Visitors to the Vancouver area can take a free shuttle or public transit to the park from various locations around downtown Vancouver. Tourists to Vancouver can visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge at any time of year, but it is especially popular when it is decorated with hundreds of lights between November and January. 

Exploring the Capilano Suspension Bridge is an exciting way for visitors to West Vancouver to connect with natural beauty. Make plans to visit this awe-inspiring park the next time you’re in Vancouver today!