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    Monday
    Aug182014

    Ravenswood Pond

           In Menlo Park there is a dried-up salt marsh called Ravenswood Pond.  The stagnant pools and dessiccated streams contain mountains of salt crystals and the water is red due to the iron content.  It's a walk in the park compared to the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolvia, but if you've got two hours to kill while waiting for your brother to get out of a job interview in Menlo Park, and you don't want to waste your time at Facebook headquarters, head to Ravenswood Pond. 

    Tuesday
    Aug122014

    Greenland from Way Up

        From the window of a plane flying 30,000 thousand feet high in the daytime sky, the coast and interior landmass of Greenland is a fantastic sight to behold.  Upon the deep blue water, giant shelves of ice drift away into the sea and break apart like shattered glass.  The shallow bases of many icebergs are visible beneath the surface of the clear water, and the white ice contrasted against the blue water produces a brilliant turquoise hue.  On the coast, immense mountain-valley glaciers lay sculpted and carved by snowmelt rivers that slowly run across the frozen juggernauts and spill out into an ivory sea.  Lagoons of crystal blue water glisten upon the ice fields like gems, glowing like fluorescent coolant.  To the southwest, the land is stark and exposed – towering mountain islands rise up from jade seas, and the sediment from the summer rivers flows into clear water like dust.   

     

          Seeing Greenland by plane is quite a trip – right up there with lightning storms and forest fires.   If you want to read a beautiful and informative book about the arctic, check out the book Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez.  Also, Cormac McCarthy offers an incredible fictional passage about a polar hinterland in his monumental novel, Suttree

    Monday
    Aug042014

    The East Slovak Museum 

           The East Slovak Museum in Kosice, Slovakia features an impressive array of dead things.  It’s a space-age throwback of a museum, and possesses an eerie serenity on a quiet Saturday afternoon.   The taxidermy displays are most impressive, and due to the fact that the old lady who sells tickets sleeps at her desk half-way across the museum, and the security guard functions more like the guy from Weekend at Bernie’s, one can easily disregard the “do not touch” signs and climb aboard the taxidermy beasts, pretending you’ve teleported back to the land before time, to a bygone epoch where Neanderthal men rode dinosaurs and hunted wooly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers, and women wore sexy cheetah outfits and cooked and cleaned in the caves.  

     

    Sunday
    Aug032014

    The Natural History Museum of Lausanne

           The Natural History Museum of Lausanne is located on top of an enormous hill in the historic yet cutting-edge town of Lausanne, Switzerland.  When you walk into the museum, a sensation of being in a museum will sweep over you.  You can smell the dusty museum air – a musky scent akin to old and yellowed paperbacks, the residual cleaning product formerly applied to the ubiquitous large-tile floor, the formaldehyde fumes seeping out from the glass specimen preservation jars.  At the NHML you can find an extensive collection of stuffed birds, plasticized reptiles, and a great white shark.  They have fossils and full skeletons of mastodons, dinosaurs, and whales.  For your viewing pleasure there are preserved mammal organs, brains, and fetuses.  It’s a perfect place for a first date.

     

    Saturday
    Jul122014

    Iceland

         What follows is a short slideshow of photographs taken in Iceland.  The Golden Circle and South Coast are two areas that feature a small fraction of the myriad natural wonders found in Iceland, a relativity new (18 million years-old) land mass bubbling with geothermal activity, coursing with subterranean lava channels, and serving as a splitting point for the North American and Eurasian continental plates.  On the surface, vast expanses of terrariumesque, moss-covered volcanic rocks extend out to black sand beaches, the product of volcanic ash.  There are towering cinder cones covered in rich greens and sulfuric reds, dreamlands where geysers and mudpits spew steam and boiling water into the cold and windy air where billowing clouds morph and race across the bright blue sky, which simply dims during the course of the evening in the land of the midnight sun.  It is a marvelous place with wild colors, like one big dream, surpassing all expectations.