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Let's Celebrate Earth Day

Thursday, Apr 22 2021 by

It’s Earth Day! Let’s celebrate our planet and work to protect it for the future by taking an environmentally-friendly, virtual tour of some of the most beautiful, breathtaking, and unique places on the planet.

Sequoia National Park

In central California, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are home to some of the world’s oldest, and biggest, trees. These sequoia trees, related to the redwoods of northern California, can grow to 250 feet high and 30 feet wide.

The forests are large, cavernous, and quiet. It feel almost hallowed, being among some of the oldest living things on earth. These trees need to be seen to understand their size and massive presence. There are many options to visit the area, you can take a day trip or plan a longer trip, camping or staying in nearby hotels as you take in the remarkable beauty of the large forests.

General Sherman (StreetView)
General Sherman

Amazon River Basin

It wouldn’t be a fitting review of the Earth’s wonders if we didn’t include the Amazon, the world’s second longest river, and largest by volume. It stretches from western South America in Peru, across all of Brazil, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

The river, and the surrounding rain forest, are some of the most important lands on the planet. More than three million animal species and 2,500 tree varieties spread across the land. The region provides about 20 percent of the world’s clean water, produces 20 percent of the earth’s clean air, and is the most important carbon sink.

Adventurous travelers can take a guided cruise along the river, or stay in a jungle lodge in the Amazon rain forest. Make sure you pick one that is sustainable and treats the native people, plants, and animals with respect and  consideration.

Amazon River (StreetView)
Amazon River

Mount Danxia, China

As the second largest country on earth, China is certainly going to have some breathtaking sights, and the Danxia range in Guangdong tops the list. Mount Danxia was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, as part of the overall land form.

The colorful sandstone and conglomerate rocks have been worn in unusual and uneven fashion, leaving jutting columns, interesting holes, and gorgeous naturally-occurring rainbow rock forms. With places named Red Cliff, Sleeping Beauty, and Father Stone, you can tell the place is a unique and breathtaking place to visit.

Mount Danxia (StreetView)
Mount Danxia

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

One of the largest waterfalls in the world, the amazing Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is a truly remarkable site to behold. Rainbows from the massive mist are visible constantly, and during full moons, you can even see a “moonbow”!

More than a mile wide and 354 feet deep, it is a global tourist attraction. There’s a “Devil’s Pond” right near the edge of the falls where brave visitors can take a dip in the Zimbabwe River right at the point of no return.

Visitors often come to the falls as part of a safari, but be sure to plan at least a day or two to take in this most memorable natural wonder.

Victoria Falls (StreetView)
Victoria Falls

Bora Bora

Bora Bora is a small group of islands in the Pacific Ocean that make up part of French Polynesia. The islands formed from now-extinct volcanoes, and jut out of the ocean to more than 2,000 feet high. At the center of the islands is a lagoon created by the volcanoes, which is always calm, peaceful, and breathtakingly beautiful.

The green plant-covered mountains create a stunning contrast to the crystal blue water and brilliant white sand beaches that many consider to be the most beautiful place in the world.

People who visit Bora Bora plan a trip of relaxation in luxury hotels designed to integrate the beauty of the island into every feature of the rooms, stretch out on the gorgeous beaches, and spend lots of time SCUBA diving or snorkeling in the unequaled blue waters. But visitors need to make sure their activity on the island doesn’t negatively impact the island, preventing it from being appreciated for years to come.

Hilton Bora Bora Nui (StreetView)
Hilton Bora Bora Nui

These are just some of the many, many beautiful places around the world. But, you don’t have travel across deserts, mighty rivers, or great mountains to appreciate our planet. Today, and every day, you can step outside, appreciate the world around you, and vow to do something to preserve it for yourself and the future. Happy Earth Day!


Deep Dive into History: The Sinking of the Titanic

Thursday, Apr 15 2021 by

Everyone has seen the movie and knows the story about the sinking of the Titanic, but few know the details about the ship’s creation and journey before it hit the fateful iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean on April 14, 1912.

Construction in Belfast, Ireland

The ship was dreamed up as the world’s largest ship, a luxury liner to move people between Europe and the United States in style. It was commissioned by the White Star Line of Britain, and built in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

When the Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic were built, no slips were big enough to build them. The ship was plagued by tragedy from the start, as eight men died during construction, which took nearly five years and cost $400 million in today’s dollars.

For years after the tragedy, Belfast did little to acknowledge the amazing ship or the tragedy of its sinking. However, the shipbuilding area was redeveloped as part of the city coming to terms with its history, and was turned into an area called Titanic Quarter.

Site of the slipways where Titanic and Olympic were built (Google Maps)
Site of the slipways where Titanic and Olympic were built

Titanic Belfast Memorial

Shortly after the sinking, the people of Belfast raised funds to erect a memorial to the souls who perished on the ship. The memorial was moved in time for the centennial commemoration of the tragedy to the Titanic Memorial Garden. It includes the names of 22 men who perished on the ship.

Titanic Memorial (Belfast) (StreetView)
Titanic Memorial (Belfast)

Titanic Belfast Monument

After decades of downplaying the ties Belfast had to the doomed ship, the city opened a monument to the ship on the centennial of its sinking on the site of the old shipyard where the Titanic was built.

The monument building has more than 130,000 square feet of floor space covered with galleries, community facilities, and stories related to the construction and sinking of the ship.

'Titanic Belfast' by Todd Architects (StreetView)
'Titanic Belfast' by Todd Architects

Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland

The Titanic left its origin point in Southhampton, England on April 10, and made a few stops before heading into the Atlantic Ocean. It first sailed across the English Channel to Cherbourg, France. They picked up a few hundred passengers, and then sailed to Queenstown, now Cobh, in Ireland.

Here, the ship took on 123 more passengers. The Titanic then set sail for New York City on April 11. There is a memorial in the city to the tragedy, which lists the names of the passengers from Queensland; 79 perished and 44 were saved.

RMS Titanic memorial in Cobh (StreetView)
RMS Titanic memorial in Cobh

Wreckage in the Atlantic Ocean

Four days into the journey, the Titanic began to receive warnings from other ships that large icebergs were sighted in the area. That evening, the ship hit an iceberg and began to sink. No more than two hours and forty minutes later, the ship had gone down.

Of the 2,224 passengers and crew on board, only 338 survived. More than two thirds perished by drowning or going down with the ship. The ship remained unmolested at the bottom of the ocean for more than 70 years.

In 1985, the ship was recovered by an expedition, and since then, renewed interest in the Titanic and the people who were on her maiden voyage has increased significantly.

Titanic location (Google Maps)
Titanic location

Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Right away, efforts to gather the dead and provide them proper burials was undertaken by the ship line. While many people were buried at sea, at least 209 bodies were taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Those bodies who made it to Halifax were buried in cemeteries around the city.

Fairview Cemetery (StreetView)
Fairview Cemetery

More than 100 passengers were buried at Fairview Cemetery in a special section dedicated to the sunken ship. About one third of the bodies were not identified, and their markers have only their number and the date of the sinking.

There is a touching memorial to the “unknown child” who was later identified by DNA to be an 19-month old child who died along with his entire family.

RMS Titanic Victim's Graves (StreetView)
RMS Titanic Victim's Graves

“Unsinkable” Molly Brown

The Titanic was billed as a luxury cruise liner, but the ship was also used to ferry immigrants and laborers to the United States. In fact, the majority of passengers were second and third class passengers. Shockingly, the majority of those who survived were first class passengers. The disparity in survival caused an international uproar, and the insufficient amount of lifeboats led to international regulations that provided for safer shipping and emergency procedures.

One passenger who survived, and added fame and interest to the event was Molly Brown, a self-made millionaire and philanthropist. She worked to help people evacuate the sinking ship, and eventually got into a lifeboat. She attempted to get the lifeboat captain to pick up survivors, but he refused for safety reasons.

Once the rescue ship RMS Carpathia made it to port in New York City, Molly Brown was given the nickname “Unsinkable Molly Brown”. This moniker stuck with her her entire life, and she was memorialized in a play, movie, and as a character in the 1997 film Titanic.

Molly Brown ("The Unsinkable Molly Brown") House (Birds Eye)
Molly Brown ("The Unsinkable Molly Brown") House

These are just a few sites related to the tragic sinking of the Titanic. Even though it was more than 100 years ago, the event still resonates with many people. While many people died in the tragedy, it did have positive impacts on shipping travel. Regulations about lifeboat safety, evacuation protocols, and other safety measures are now a routine part of ship travel, saving countless lives over the years.


Kim and Kanye: The End of an Era

Saturday, Apr 10 2021 by

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have been a celebrity power couple for nearly a decade. Nicknamed “Kimye,” they have been together since April 2012. But on February 19, 2021, Kim filed for divorce.

Let’s take a look at their story, including some of their homes, and places that were special to them.

First Home Together in Bel Air, CA

Kim and Kanye were friends for about a decade before becoming a couple in 2012. In 2013, the couple bought an $11 million home in a gated Bel Air community.

The house had 10,000 square feet when the couple bought it, but they turned it into a 14,000 square foot Italian-styled mansion. They added a gym, indoor and outdoor pools, bowling alley, and a makeup salon, critical for a celebrity famous for being beautiful.

The couple sold the house in 2017, for about $18 million!

Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's House (Former) (Google Maps)
Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's House (Former)

Oracle Park, San Francisco, CA

Later in 2013, Kanye proposed to Kim in the most over the top way imaginable. At AT&T Park (now Oracle Park) in San Francisco, he hired a full orchestra, and even had their families rush the field after she said yes. The rock was pretty hard to turn down–a 15 carat diamond ring!

The San Francisco Giants play at the field, and it’s used for other sporting events and concerts. The park opened in 2000. It sits on San Francisco Bay, making it a little chilly even in the summer, so if you come to see the Giants play, don’t forget your jacket!

Oracle Park (Google Maps)
Oracle Park

Forte di Belvedere, Italy

Kim and Kanye were married at Forte di Belvedere in Florence, Italy, in May 2014. The fort was built in the 1590s The couple paid about $300,000 to rent the facility, and pulled out all the stops for the event. They had brightly colored horses, large feather decorations, entire walls of flowers and other elaborate details for the exclusive ceremony.

In spite of the huge costs associated with the wedding, the couple actually made money on the venture, as they sold exclusive rights to images and stories from the big day.

Forte di Belvedere (Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Wedding Location) (StreetView)
Forte di Belvedere (Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Wedding Location)

Castlemartyr,County Cork, Ireland

After their extravagant wedding, the couple honeymooned at Castlemartyr, a 17th century castle in County Cork, Ireland. The five star hotel is on 220 acres, with a mix of gardens, wild growth, and other castles that date back to the 12th century.

The couple stayed in the presidential suite, which has a beautiful bedroom, living room with a grand piano, and a bathroom that includes its own sauna! The anteroom is large enough to hold a party, and there’s even an elevator from the kitchen to bring food directly to the suite.

Castlemartyr (Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Honeymoon Location) (Bing Maps)
Castlemartyr (Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Honeymoon Location)

Kim and Kanye’s House in Hidden Hills, CA

In 2013, the couple bought a $20 million mansion in Hidden Hills. The massive home on three acres immediately underwent seven years of renovations, totaling another $20 million.

When it was finished, the home has vineyard, mature trees, and gorgeous landscaped lawns. The home has a minimalist design, overseen by Kanye, who calls it a “futuristic monastery”. They own at least two neighboring residences, totaling at least seven acres.

It is reported that Kim will retain the home when the couple officially splits.

Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's House (Google Maps)
Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's House

Kanye’s Ranch in Cody, WY

In spite of being a hip hop mogul, Kanye has always had a side that craved space, quiet, and peace. He channeled that energy into a massive ranching endeavor outside Cody, Wyoming. He spent $14 million on a ranch that has a restaurant, a saloon, horses, barns, and even a shooting range.

The Kardashian-West family spent much of their free time here in the last several months, riding horses, hiking, and riding around their property on ATVs. It was a welcome change from their LA lifestyle.

Kanye West's Ranch (Google Maps)
Kanye West's Ranch

Kany’e Second Ranch in Cody, WY

Like everything else Kanye does, his ranching endeavors are extreme. He ended up buying a second ranch less than 100 miles away, for $15 million.

This 7,000 acre property was intended for some intense construction projects. In late 2020, he submitted plans to the building department to build a 52,000 square foot mansion, two 10,000 square foot underground garages, two lake houses, and a new septic system. He also wanted to build an amphitheater, but had permitting issues. With the pending divorce, a lot of these plans are now on hold.

Kanye West's Ranch (Google Maps)
Kanye West's Ranch

Federal Correctional Facility, Aliceville, AL

In the last few years, Kim has developed a significant interest in criminal justice reform, and has started a four-year apprenticeship to become an attorney.

She petitioning former President Trump to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother who had been sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. In June 2018, Alice was released from the federal correctional facility in Aliceville, Alabama. In 2020, President Trump officially pardoned her.

Castle Oliver (Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Honeymoon Location) (Bing Maps)
Castle Oliver (Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Honeymoon Location)

Some report that Kim’s focus on criminal justice reform, Kanye’s campaign for president in 2020, and some of his other endeavors may have caused strife in their marriage. After working for months on their relationship, it was reported on February 21, 2021, that Kim had filed for divorce.

Hopefully, the family will find a way to make things work, whether it’s together or apart.


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Friday, April 23, 2021

Showing 1 of 1 maps submitted on 2021-04-23:

PZL TS-11 Iskra
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By Fab

Thursday, April 22, 2021

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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Rihanna's House
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Monday, April 19, 2021

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