Road of Death, Bolivia

Posted by batman on Feb 27th, 2010
2010
Feb 27

bolivia_road_01.jpg

The North Yungas Road in the Bolivian Andes has been officially declared as the “world’s most dangerous road” – for motorists! Mountain bike enthusiasts however, are cut from a different cloth, and it has become a favorite destination for downhill racing – now that has got to be a serious adrenalin rush!

It is just short of 70 km long and runs from La Paz to Coroico, descending over 3,500 metres and regular occurrences of 800 metre abysses and impossibly narrow hairpin curves. One wouldn’t expect a road leaving one of the highest cities on the planet to go uphill – but in fact it does – almost five kilometres above sea level, where even a normal internal combustion engine struggles to ‘breathe’.

bolivia_road_02.jpgOn average between 200 – 300 fatalities are recorded every year. This is freakish – that is (playing with statistics) – one person dying every 3 days! The route is littered with the remnants of many, many accidents, with many trucks and buses lying wrecked, at the bottom. They will probably never be recovered.

The buses and heavy trucks navigate this road, as this is the only route available in the area. Buses crowded with locals go in any weather, and try to beat the incoming traffic to the curves. One of the local road rules specifies that the downhill driver never has the right of way and must move to the outer edge of the road. This forces fast vehicles to stop so that passing can be negotiated safely.

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Because of the extreme dropoffs, single-lane width, and lack of guardrails, the road is extremely dangerous. Further still, rain and fog can make visibility precarious, the road surface muddy, and loosen rocks from the hillsides above. On July 24, 1983, a bus veered off the Yungas Road and into a canyon, killing more than 100 passengers in what is said to be Bolivia’s worst road accident.

bolivia_road_06.jpgHigh in the Andes, they are building a new road, a bypass to replace the old one. But this is Bolivia, and already it has been 20 years in the making. Who knows when it will be complete? Until it is, people will have to continue offering up their prayers, and taking their lives in their hands on the most dangerous road in the world.

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See also :

http://www.ssqq.com/archive/vinlin27b.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yungas_Road

http://www.gravitybolivia.com/view?page=27

http://worldmysteries9.blogspot.com/2009/02/bolivian-road-of-death.html

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Grand Canyon Skywalk

Posted by batman on Oct 15th, 2009
2009
Oct 15

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Extract from the Official Site

The Grand Canyon Skywalk is an architectural marvel. The Skywalk was completed in March 2007 after 2.5 years and 30 million dollars worth of hard work and engineering. This structure weighs an astonishing 1.571 million pounds, and was built to withstand an excess of 71 million pounds in weight on top of it. (That’s the equivalent of 71 fully-loaded 747 airliners piled one on top of the other!)

This amazing ability to withstand weight as well as the forces of nature is due to the Skywalk’s 2 inch thick steel frame which is designed specifically to flex in the heat, cold, and wind. This frame is anchored to the Grand Canyon by casens and micro piles measuring 46 feet down into the solid bedrock.

The specially-made German glass which forms the platform for our guests to walk the experience also plays a big part in the durability and beauty of Skywalk. Each of the 46 panes forming the walkway are constructed of 5-layers of glass bonded together and laminated, weighing in at 1,200 lbs a piece, and making the glass incredibly strong while still providing a crystal-clear view of the canyon below.

skywalk03.jpg

Extract from Wikipedia

The Skywalk protrudes 20 metres beyond the edge of the canyon. The walls and floor are built from glass 50.8 mm thick. The glass appears tinted on both edges; however, this is a protective cushioning for the glass. This running along the sides can be used as a sort of safe zone by nervous visitors. While the Skywalk is capable of holding 70 tons of weight (the equivalent of 800 people weighing 80 kg each), the permitted capacity is limited to 200 persons. Visitors are provided with shoe covers to protect them from slipping and to prevent the glass floor from being scratched.

Construction began in March 2004. It was rolled onto the edge of the canyon on March 7, 2007, after passing several days of testing to replicate weather, strength, and endurance conditions of its final destination. The structure was built to withstand up to 160 km/h winds and a magnitude 8 earthquake. Tuned mass dampers were used to minimize vibration from wind and pedestrians.

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High Definition Image

View this extraordinary image of the Skywalk – 14,647 × 6,001 pixels, file size: 43.43 MB




References:

http://www.grandcanyonskywalk.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Canyon_Skywalk

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Grandcanyon_skywalk_hd.jpg


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Sailing Stones, Death Valley, California

Posted by batman on Jul 23rd, 2009
2009
Jul 23

Sailing Stones, Death Valley, CaliforniaDeep in the heart of the California desert lies one of the natural world’s most puzzling mysteries: the moving rocks of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley. These are not ordinary moving rocks that tumble down mountainsides in avalanches, are carried along riverbeds by flowing water, or are tossed aside by animals. These rocks, some as heavy as 700 pounds, are inexplicably transported across a virtually flat desert plain, leaving erratic trails in the hard mud behind them, some hundreds of yards long. They move by some mysterious force, and in the nine decades since we have known about them, no one has ever seen them move.

Sailing Stones, Death Valley, CaliforniaThe floor of the playa is dried, scorched mud which has broken into perfect little octagons and pentagons and mosaic. This is as “desert” as you can get in America. It’s as flat as flat can be. With rocks which seem to move on their own. They break off the hills you see in the background. Their tracks vary in length, going every which way from zig-zags to loops; some double back on themselves. Some travel only a few feet; others go for hundreds of yards, yet they can be right next to each other, and right next to some that don’t move at all.

These sailing stones, also referred to as sliding rocks or moving rocks, are assumed to slowly move across the surface of the playa, inferred from the long tracks behind them, without human or animal intervention. They have neither been seen nor filmed in motion and are not unique to The Racetrack. Similar rock travel patterns have been recorded in several other playas in the region but the number and length of travel grooves on The Racetrack are notable.

Racetrack stones only move once every two or three years and most tracks last for just three or four years. Stones with rough bottoms leave straight striated tracks while those with smooth bottoms wander. Stones sometimes turn over, exposing another edge to the ground and leaving a different-sized track in the stone’s wake.Sailing Stones, Death Valley, California

A balance of specific conditions are thought to be needed for stones to move:

  • A saturated yet non-flooded surface,
  • Thin layer of clay,
  • Very strong gusts as initiating force,
  • Strong sustained wind to keep stones going.

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Clingstone Mansion, Rhode Island

Posted by batman on Jul 23rd, 2009
2009
Jul 23

Clingstone Mansion, Rhode IslandClingstone, an unusual, 103-year-old mansion in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. The house was abandoned in the 1940’s until it was bought by Henry Wood in 1961 for $3,600.

Henry Wood, the owner, runs the house like a camp: all skilled workers welcome. The Jamestown Boatyard hauls the family’s boats and floating dock and stores them each winter in return for a week’s use of the house in the summer. Mr. Wood, a 79-year-old Boston architect, bought the house with his ex-wife Joan in 1961. It had been empty for two decades.

Clingstone had been built by a distant cousin, J.S. Lovering Wharton. Mr. Wharton worked with an artist, William Trost Richards, to create a house of picture windows with 23 rooms on three stories radiating off a vast central hall.Clingstone Mansion, Rhode Island

The house is maintained by an ingenious method: the Clingstone work weekend. Held every year around Memorial Day, it brings 70 or so friends and Clingstone lovers together to tackle jobs like washing all 65 of the windows. Anne Tait, who is married to Mr. Wood’s son Dan, refinished the kitchen floor on one of her first work weekends.

The total cost of the construction, which was completed in 1905, was $36,982.99. Today, the mansion which has 360-degree views of the bay offers a combination of grandiose opulence and rough beach house charm. The mansion itself is massive containing 23 room, including 10 bedrooms spread out over three floors.

Clingstone Mansion, Rhode Island

Clingstone Mansion, Rhode Island

Credits must go to http://mystic-places.blogspot.com, who have created a fantastic blog of mystical places – something that I’ve always wanted to do. They got there before me!

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Stonehenge, United Kingdom

Posted by batman on Jan 22nd, 2009
2009
Jan 22

stonehenge1.jpgThe stones we see today represent Stonehenge in ruin. Many of the original stones have fallen or been removed by previous generations for home construction or road repair. There has been serious damage to some of the smaller bluestones resulting from close visitor contact (prohibited since 1978).

Construction
In its day, the construction of Stonehenge was an impressive engineering feat, requiring commitment, time and vast amounts of manual labor. In its first phase, Stonehenge was a large earthwork; a bank and ditch arrangement called a henge, constructed approximately 5,000 years ago. It is believed that the ditch was dug with tools made from the antlers of red deer and, possibly, wood. The underlying chalk was loosened with picks and shoveled with the shoulderblades of cattle. It was then loaded into baskets and carried away. Modern experiments have shown that these tools were more than equal to the great task of earth digging and moving.

The Bluestones
About 2,000 BC, the first stone circle (which is now the inner circle), comprised of small bluestones, was set up, but abandoned before completion. The stones used in that first circle are believed to be from the Prescelly Mountains, located roughly 240 miles away, at the southwestern tip of Wales. The bluestones weigh up to 4 tons each and about 80 stones were used, in all. Given the distance they had to travel, this presented quite a transportation problem.

Modern theories speculate that the stones were dragged by roller and sledge from the inland mountains to the headwaters of Milford Haven. There they were loaded onto rafts, barges or boats and sailed along the south coast of Wales, then up the Rivers Avon and Frome to a point near present-day Frome in Somerset. From this point, so the theory goes, the stones were hauled overland, again, to a place near Warminster in Wiltshire, approximately 6 miles away. From there, it’s back into the pool for a slow float down the River Wylye to Salisbury, then up the Salisbury Avon to West Amesbury, leaving only a short 2 mile drag from West Amesbury to the Stonehenge site.

Construction of the Outer Ring
The giant sarsen stones (which form the outer circle), weigh as much as 50 tons each. To transport them from the Marlborough Downs, roughly 20 miles to the north, is a problem of even greater magnitude than that of moving the bluestones. Most of the way, the going is relatively easy, but at the steepest part of the route, at Redhorn Hill, modern work studies estimate that at least 600 men would have been needed just to get each stone past this obstacle.

Once on site, a sarsen stone was prepared to accommodate stone lintels along its top surface. It was then dragged until the end was over the opening of the hole. Great levers were inserted under the stone and it was raised until gravity made it slide into the hole. At this point, the stone stood on about a 30° angle from the ground. Ropes were attached to the top and teams of men pulled from the other side to raise it into the full upright position. It was secured by filling the hole at its base with small, round packing stones. At this point, the lintels were lowered into place and secured vertically by mortice and tenon joints and horizontally by tongue and groove joints. Stonehenge was probably finally completed around 1500 BC.

Who Built Stonehenge?
The question of who built Stonehenge is largely unanswered, even today. The monument’s construction has been attributed to many ancient peoples throughout the years, but the most captivating and enduring attribution has been to the Druids (altho since shown to be erroneous). The best guess seems to be that the Stonehenge site was begun by the people of the late Neolithic period (around 3000 BC) and carried forward by people from a new economy which was arising at this time. These “new” people, called Beaker Folk because of their use of pottery drinking vessels, began to use metal implements and to live in a more communal fashion than their ancestors.

Present Day Stonehenge
Situated in a vast plain, surrounded by hundreds of round barrows, or burial mounds, the Stonehenge site is truly impressive, and all the more so, the closer you approach. It is a place where much human effort was expended for a purpose we can only guess at. Some people see it as a place steeped in magic and mystery, some as a place where their imaginations of the past can be fired and others hold it to be a sacred place. But whatever viewpoint is brought to it and whatever its original purpose was, it should be treated as the ancients treated it, as a place of honor .

The modern age has not been altogether kind to Stonehenge, despite the lip service it pays to the preservation of heritage sites. There is a major highway running no more than 100 yards away from the stones, and a commercial circus has sprung up around it, complete with parking lots, gift shops and ice cream stands. The organization, English Heritage, is committed to righting these wrongs, and in the coming years, we may get to see Stonehenge in the setting for which it was originally created. Despite all its dilapidation and the encroachment of the modern world, Stonehenge, today, is an awe-inspiring sight, and no travel itinerary around Britain should omit it.

Other Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge

http://www.stonehenge.co.uk/

Content credits : http://www.britannia.com

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