Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No Tankers In BC Waters' Campaign

“Every year, nearly 100,000 gallons of oil end up in our oceans because of spills,” explains the video. “Notankers.ca started an initiative to ban tankers from Canada’s Pacific North Coast.”

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blackbeard’s Anchor Recovered

This isn’t a promotion for the new Pirates of the Caribbean film: An expedition off the coast of North Carolina has recovered the anchor from Blackbeard’s ship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge. The ship ran aground in shallow water in 1718 and was discovered in 1996. The 3,000-pound anchor was hauled up for study. The largest-yet exhibition of artifacts from the shipwreck will open at the North Carolina Maritime Museum on June 11.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Profiling 5 national parks in Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park. Photo: *christopher*

Alaska has more national parks than all the U.S. states on the Eastern Seaboard combined.
YOU’VE HEARD OF DENALI, and maybe Glacier Bay. But the rest are unheralded, underrated, and — as a result — free of crowds:

1. Denali National Park

Claim to fame: The tallest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley is more commonly known as Denali these days. Around the park, it’s generally referred to simply as “the mountain” — as in, “Can you see the mountain today?” (Hint: You probably can’t.)

Hikers dwarfed by nature in Denali National Park. Photo by Author.
Good to know: Denali is closed to cars. Park shuttles and tour buses rattle up and down the park’s lone road, and visitors with limited time can see a surprising amount of scenery and wildlife on a one-day ride out and back. But a far better option is to leave the road and hit the backcountry on foot.

Apart from a few short walks near the park entrance, Denali doesn’t bother with designated hiking trails; instead, visitors are encouraged to (respectfully) wander and camp wherever they please. Bring your bear barrel and a good quality terrain map before venturing into the wild.

Personal highlight: My first day in Denali involved cold, rain and fog, and nearly eight hours spent on a bus — but our brief rest stop at Polychrome Pass was utterly unforgettable, an instant addition to the “I’ve gotta get back here” list.

2. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Claim to fame: Sheer size. At a cool 13 million acres, Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest park in the U.S. system. Together with three adjoining parks — Southeast Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, British Columbia’s Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park and Yukon’s Kluane National Park — it’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Good to know: Wrangell-St. Elias is a rarity in the Alaskan NPS — a park you can drive right into. A rough road leads from Chitina, just outside park boundaries, into the tiny tourism town of McCarthy and its neighboring ghost town, Kennicott.

Kennicott, Alaska. Photo by Author.
A licensed operator runs guided glacier hikes and ice climbing excursions out of Kennicott, as well as really excellent tours of the historic Kennicott copper mill, a 13-storey wreck built into the side of the mountains above town.

Obviously, Wrangell-St. Elias has a lot of backcountry, but its unusual level of infrastructure and visitor support also makes it more newbie-friendly than most Alaskan parks.

Personal highlight: The tasting menu at McCarthy Lodge goes down in history as one of the greatest meals I’ve ever eaten, full stop. Fine dining in the depths of the Alaskan wilderness — who knew?

3. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Claim to fame: The Chilkoot Trail. This three-to-four-day hike (or epic one-day trail run) follows the route of the gold-seeking stampeders back in 1898, from sea level in the Alaskan panhandle up over the Chilkoot Pass into Canada. It’s sometimes physically demanding, but clearly marked, dotted with designated campsites, and jointly monitored by Parks Canada and NPS rangers.

Good to know: The Chilkoot season runs from mid-May to early September. Only a few dozen hikers are allowed over the summit each day, so it’s best to reserve a permit and campsites well in advance. Getting to and from the trail also requires some planning — the Chilkoot begins a few miles outside Skagway, on the Dyea Road, and ends at the edge of Bennett Lake, a few miles off the Klondike Highway. The touristy White Pass & Yukon Route railroad offers transportation back to Skagway; a cheaper option is to hike out to the highway along the train tracks and pick up a ride from there.

Personal highlight: Fry brownies in the cooking cabin at Happy Camp, after two days on the trail. Seriously, pack some of these suckers for your next multi-day hike. So worth it.

Day 3 on the Chilkoot Trail. Photo by Author.
4. Gates of the Arctic National Park

Claim to fame: One of the coolest park names in the U.S. system. The “gates” are two mountains, Frigid Crags and Boreal Mountain, that frame the Koyukuk River and form a massive gateway for visitors floating through.

Good to know: Gates of the Arctic has no road access. Most visitors fly in on air taxis from Bettles, Coldfoot, or Kotzebue (itself a fly-in community); you can also hike in from the Dalton Highway, which runs parallel to the park’s eastern boundary. Once you’re in, you have most of the Brooks Range as your playground — but be sure to check out the NPS trip-planning guidelines for your own safety and for the safety of the local wildlife.

5. Glacier Bay National Park

Claim to fame: Calving glaciers and marine mammals.

Good to know: Glacier Bay is unusual among national parks in that most of its visitors arrive by sea. Full-size cruise ships poke their noses in on their way to or from nearby Juneau, tour boats run day trips to the park, private pleasure boats come and go as they please — and a fair number of visitors arrive via kayak, either on unsupported solo trips or on shorter guided excursions.

A kayaker at Glacier Bay National Park. Photo: Threat to Democracy
Gustavus is the nearest gateway town to Glacier Bay; it’s reachable by air (Alaska Airlines is the only big-name carrier to fly in, but several smaller companies and charters offer some competition) and water — this summer, the Alaska state ferry system will add Gustavus to its routes for the first time.

More options

You can also float the Yukon River in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, get up close with salmon-hunting grizzly bears at Katmai National Park’s Brooks Camp, visit the only World War II battlefields on North American soil at Aleutian World War II National Historic Area, wave hello to Russia from Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, and more.

For information on all of Alaska’s national park options, check out the Alaska NPS site.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011




After reaching the two poles in 1909 and 1911, Mt Everest in 1953 and the Seven Summits in 1986. What else is there to explore, or to conquer?
After over 30 expeditions in 100 countries explorer Johan Ernst Nilson started to plan his biggest adventure ever; a unique journey still undone and one of the most difficult adventure projects ever attempted; Pole2Pole!
The expedition starts with skis on the North Pole on the exact date of Peary’s discovery, April 6, and will then reach Greenland two months later. From Greenland Johan and his team will then continue 1000 km with dogsled
over Greenland where they will sail across the Arctic Ocean into Canada. From Canada the journey continues with bike across North America and South America through jungles, deserts and mountains into Patagonia.
After six month on the bike Johan and his team will travel to the coldest place on Earth; Antarctica. Johan and his team will then ski and kite for two months across the continent until they reach the other side of the planet; the South Pole. The odyssey will take approximately one year to accomplish and will be done Climate Neutral.
The team will use skis, kites, doglsed, solarpower, bikes and a sailboat to be able to travel between the two poles. Any distance that can´t be done without engine will be climate compensated. Between the poles Johan and the Pole2Pole team will visit charity organizations to cover the important work the organizations do for our world.
The Pole2Pole Expedition is the one journey left undone… Follow the adventure!
Since the early 19:th century, explorers have been trying to reach the polar regions and the ends of the world; The North Pole in the Arctic and the South Pole in Antarctica.
Explorers like Shackelton, Amundsen, Cook, Peary and Nansen all had the same dream and many vanished in their fight against nature. The first expedition to cross the Antarctic Circle was run by Cook, who circumnavigated Antarctica in 1772-75 without actually sighting it.
The first person to claim to have reached the Geographic North Pole was Robert Peary on the 6th of April 1909 and the first person on the South Pole was Amundsen on December 14th, 1911. 1909-1911 were the most important years in polar history. Now 100 years has past and the most spectacular of all adventures is still to be done; the journey from the North Pole all the way down across the globe to the South Pole.
During the one year long journey between the two poles, Johan and his team will produce an international TV documentary and a photo book based on the polar regions.
Training for polar expeditions can only be made in the polar regions, so in May 2009 Johan brought training to the extremes by doing a polar expedition 1500 kilometers across Greenland.

Missing WWII Sub Found in Florida Keys


Tim Taylor RV Tiburon Inc.(PRNewsFoto/RV Tiburon Inc., Tim Taylor)
RV TIBURON INC. DECK GUN Deck Gun from WWII Sub - one of hundreds taken by Exploration team.(PRNewsFoto/RV Tiburon Inc., Tim Taylor) KEY WEST, FL UNITED STATES
KEY WEST, Fla.May 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- An exploration team led by Tim Taylor aboard the expedition vessel "RV Tiburon" has located and documented the wreck of the WWII submarine USS R-12.
The R-12 was lost on June 12,1943 in 600 feet of water, sinking in less than 15 seconds.
She sank nearly 70 years ago taking 42 US servicemen to their deaths off the coast of the Florida Keys, USA. The reason for her loss remains unknown.
R-12 began its career as a World War I era sub that was re-commissioned for service in World War II. At the time of the sinking R-12 was engaged in war time patrol operations near Key West. Only two officers and 3 enlisted men survived the disaster that claimed 42 lives.
In making the discovery, the team deployed a state of the art autonomous underwater robot which collected first ever imagery of the remains of R-12. They are collaborating and sharing their findings with the US Navy.
RV Tiburon is launching an expedition in the Spring of 2012 to further investigate the possible causes of the sinking, and collect detailed archeological baseline data.
For press Queries please contact:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Raleigh couple spends 11 months navigating The Great Loop

Art Hubert of Raleigh sits at the helm of Magoo, the boat he and his wife Sandra used to cruise The Great Loop, a 6,200-mile waterway around eastern North America.         - COURTESY OF SANDRA HUBERT
Art Hubert of Raleigh sits at the helm of Magoo, the boat he and his wife Sandra used to cruise The Great Loop, a 6,200-mile waterway around eastern North America. - COURTESY OF SANDRA HUBERT

'We just decided we're going to live that dream'

For those who dream of leaving corporate life and cruising into retirement, Art and Sandra Hubert say go for it.
They would know. The Raleigh couple recently returned from a nearly yearlong voyage along The Great Loop, a 6,200-mile waterway around eastern North America, aboard their 36-foot trawler, Magoo.
The 11-month journey that spanned 17 states and two countries was the fulfillment of a longtime dream and years of planning. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but a breeze it was not.
"A lot of people think you go on a cruise and you lay there eating grapes and living the good life," Sandra said. "But I'll tell you, it's down and dirty."
They battled stormy seas, navigated 7-foot swells on Lake Michigan and worked to avoid alligators and snakes in Florida. But the two 63-year-olds pushed through and crossed this item off the Bucket List.
After months of taking courses and studying charts and guidebooks to prepare for their seafaring adventure, the Huberts left their Raleigh townhouse on May 10, 2010. They pushed off from the North Carolina coast - with 200 pounds of study materials, stored in plastic containers to keep them from getting wet.
"It's unbelievable, the planning and logistics," said Art, who had retired two months earlier from ElectriCities, where he was chief operating officer and an interim CEO.
Baby steps
As the journey began, Art and Sandra made a deal with themselves in case doubts crept in: Take baby steps. Stay the course for a while. If it was too hard, turn back. If not, keep going.
They always kept going.
"You either dream your life or live your dream," Art said. "We just decided we're going to live that dream."
For most of the voyage, it was just the two of them. During planned stops and side trips along the way, they met up with others, including their son and daughter and their spouses, who each joined the jaunt for about a week at a time.
They also made friends with other boaters who were sailing The Great Loop at the same time. Those relationships came in handy when one boat had to tie to another to anchor.
Because weather can make or break a Great Loop voyage, it's important to plan the trip for the right time of year. For example, it helps to make it across Lake Michigan and through Chicago before Labor Day to avoid bone-chilling cold. It's best to avoid Alabama during hurricane season, and it's good to be in Florida during the winter.
Might seem easy, but at 8 mph it can be a challenge. Thankfully, aside from a tense weather moment here and there, the conditions were near perfect for the Huberts.
They even spent their 42nd wedding anniversary tied to a barge on the Mississippi. Romantic? Plenty.
"You really know how to show a girl a good time," Sandra told Art.
'The last safe adventure'
A big part of the Loop's allure is that it allows people to experience America in a new way, said Janice Kromer, executive director of America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association, a Summerville, S.C.-based group with about 4,000 members worldwide, including the Huberts.
"Seeing America from the water is a different perspective than the 70 mph interstates," Kromer said.
Association officials estimate 150 members complete the loop each year, though they don't keep official numbers. It's a good option for folks who want a relatively risk-free adventure.
"It's probably the last safe adventure you can go on," Kromer said. "It's nothing compared to crossing the ocean. No place you go are you that far from land and help."
Euphoria and tension
The trip was full of memorable moments, but the Huberts say some will stick with them more than others.
The best part? Canada in the North Channel, without a doubt.
Art: "The water's crystal clear. You can see down 30 feet."
Sandra: "You get up in the morning and you look out on the land there and there's a bear eating breakfast with you."
The scariest part? Going through Little Detroit in Canada during a storm and attempting to pass through an opening about 100 yards wide while avoiding dangerous, hidden rocks.
"It was raining so hard you could hardly see in front of you," Art said.
Art radioed a sailboat on the other side to see if he wanted to pass through first.
"He said, 'No. You go on through. I want to see if you make this.'"
Don't put it off
These experiences, along with countless other challenges and breathtaking moments, made the cruise all the more rewarding.
"There were lots of points in the trip where we felt like this is more work and harder than we ever imagined," Sandra said. "At the end of the day, it feels good that you got through all these challenges. You feel a really wonderful sense of pride."
The voyage concluded on April 10, 2011 - exactly 11 months after it started.
The Huberts chronicled everything via a detailed blog of anecdotes and striking scenic photos from their time on the water. They gained a following among boating types and fellow Loopers. The blog has 15,000 hits and counting. Emails have come in from friends and strangers.
That following only reinforced the significance of their accomplishment, Sandra said.
"It just really hit me like a ton of bricks; I had tears," she said. "It hits us every time when we look at the blog ... and look at all the pictures. "It just brings everything back. ... It's hard to believe we really did the whole thing."
Both agree the adventure exceeded their expectations. But will they do it again?
Not likely.
"We've got a philosophy in life: We don't want to do anything twice," Art said. "I don't think we'd want to do that again."
They might do an amended, three-month version next year to hit some places they regret not including on their trip. But for now, it's time to get their land legs back - and plan land-based adventures.
For those pondering their own Great Loop adventure, or another of life's Bucket List-type journeys, the Huberts' approach is to jump right in.
"There's always a reason or excuse to wait a little while. Don't wait," Sandra said. "You don't know what's around the corner."


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Build starts on Alaskan Research Ship

Last month the keel laying ceremony for the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) R/V Sikuliaq, took place at the Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.

The vessel is owned by the National Science Foundation and will be home ported in Alaska, at University of Alaska’s Seward Marine Center. The LOA is 261.5ft, maximum beam 52.0ft, draft is 19.5ft and loaded displacement is 4,065 long tons. She has a maximum speed of 14 kn in calm water.

Several challenges had to be overcome in the design of the propulsion system for this research ship. A low noise and cavitation free propeller blade operation at tow load speeds yet also the ability of operating in ice near 2.5 feet thick was an important part of the propulsion specification. This is essential to enable sensitive measurements and listening devices to be used for mammal and fish research.

A twin propeller diesel electric propulsion system was chosen, featuring Wärtsilä steerable pods with pulling propellers of sufficient strength for operation in polar ice conditions as well as incorporating a very low radiated underwater noise signature.

A pulse width modulation frequency converter runs two Siemens 2,462 kW, 900 rpm, 690V, 60Hz, main propulsion motors driving each pod. Electric power on board is supplied by two MTU 16V4000 gensets of 1,750 kW plus two MTU 12V4000 gensets of 1310 kW. In addition, there is an emergency MTU 335 kW genset. For manoevring there is one Tees White Gill, T30R40 bow thruster of 686 kW.

Completion date for the vessel is April 2013 and following acceptance, will leave the Great Lakes via the St Lawrence Seaway, head southward, through the Panama Canal and arrive in her home port of Seward during the summer of 2014, becoming operational later that year.
Caption: The R/V Sikuliaq Alaska Region Research Vessel. The design is based on science mission
requirements developed by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System community.

Image credit: Marinette Marine Corporation

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tim Taylor on last leg of kayaking marathon

Tim Taylor is looking forward to finishing his circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Tim Taylor is looking forward to finishing his circumnavigation of New Zealand. Photo / Supplied.

As Tauranga kayaker Tim Taylor nears the City of Sails on the last leg of his solo circumnavigation of New Zealand, his mind is on what it will feel like to complete this mammoth feat.

Mr Taylor, 24, left Tauranga on November 27 in a bid to make history with the first complete solo circumnavigation of New Zealand by sea kayak.

To date he has paddled 4470km of the 5500km journey. He's spent 91 days paddling and 76 days stuck on shore waiting out bad weather or rough seas.

His journey is about 80 per cent complete - he has less than 1100km to go and expects to paddle into Tauranga in about a month.

His support team, parents Paul and Lyn Taylor, have been following their son around the country. Lyn said her son was looking forward to the end of the trip.

"I saw him last weekend when he was in Kawhia.

"I took his nana over and he's in a really good frame of mind. Even though the weather's held him back a bit, he really wants to finish and he knows it's close."

Mr Taylor paddled from Port Waikato to Piha this week and was greeted by a local surf lifesaving crew, as well as TV3. He attempted this leg earlier in the week, however rough conditions saw him turn back and wait for the sea to settle.

When Mrs Taylor spoke to Piha surf lifesavers on Thursday morning, they told her the conditions were "close to perfect" and Mr Taylor would have no trouble with the usually-large swell.

On his blog, Mr Taylor said: "I'm really looking forward to getting this thing finished, but there's still a ways to go yet so I hope you all enjoy the last leg of my trip as much as I do."

Mr Taylor is paddling anti-clockwise around New Zealand to make the most of tidal flows.

On a good day, he could cover as much as 100km, if he was lucky enough to have ideal tail-wind conditions, his father said.

He averaged a little over 6km per hour.

Cellphone coverage around the remote areas of the South Island was limited but he used a satellite telephone to keep in contact. He also has a GPS SPOT device which monitors and updates his journey.

He has an emergency locator beacon and wears a lifejacket as he paddles his 5.4m Mission Eco Bezhig kayak.

Follow Mr Taylor's progress at www.nzkayaker.com

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Engineering pilots fly prototype amphibian aircraft over Alaska


Reminiscent of old military PBY’s and their offshoots, the Grumman Goose and Grumman Widgeon, the composite twin-engine flying boat style amphibian aircraft called the “GweDuck” flys over Lena Point before landing on May 2, 2011 in Juneau, Alaska. New and improved is always used when marketing the latest adventure, boat, car, or dream destination. However, when those four items are wrapped into one flying apparatus, you have the Gweduck, a composite twin-engine flying boat-style amphibian aircraft. (AP Photo/The Juneau Empire, Michael Penn)

Pilot Ross Mahon, right, gets a ride to shore by Tom Carson after landing a boat style amphibian aircraft called the “GweDuck” in the waters of Auke Bay on May 2, 2011 in Juneau, Alaska. New and improved is always used when marketing the latest adventure, boat, car, or dream destination. However, when those four items are wrapped into one flying apparatus, you have the Gweduck, a composite twin-engine flying boat-style amphibian aircraft. (AP Photo/The Juneau Empire, Michael Penn)

JUNEAU, Alaska — New and improved is always used when marketing the latest adventure, boat, car, or dream destination. However, when those four items are wrapped into one flying apparatus, you have the Gweduck, a composite twin-engine flying boat-style amphibian aircraft that splashed out of a rain cloud in a stream of sunlight and softly plopped down in Auke Bay on Monday.
"We named it Gweduck because all the good water bird names were already taken," pilot Ross Mahon said. "And geoduck clams are pretty important in the Pacific Northwest."
Gweduck is an alternate spelling for that clam.
Mahon is a principal partner along with Ben Ellison in Ellison-Mahon Aircraft, an American aircraft development company located in the Seattle area.
"Ben and I were just kicking tires at an airport," Mahon said. "And decided maybe what the world needed was a fiberglass Widgeon. We needed to find a fun new project."
Company designers began studying amphibious aircraft in the early 1990s and settled on a twin-engine configuration similar to the Grumman Widgeon, which first flew in 1940.
The Widgeon had flaws such as uneven takeoff characteristics called "porposing," and corrosion caused by spray through the propellers.
By 2006 the company built a composite-material prototype they based at Renton Airport and used at nearby Lake Washington for water testing.
"The main motivation was to make a Widgeon in composite," Mahon said. "So it doesn't leak or corrode when sitting in the water. It is a much lower maintenance. It also has a lot of engineering elements like a new airfoil, a modernized hull design, so it is easier for pilots to operate and goes faster and farther."
The designers borrowed on the name of the shellfish that is indigenous to the Pacific Northwest and the first flight occurred on May 2, 2009. Since then the Gweduck has flown from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska, twice, and all points nationwide and in between.
The plane was designed to stir the nostalgia in the most seasoned pilot and the three who rotated behind the throttles on last week's trip to the Anchorage Air Show and subsequent stop for burgers in front of Tom and Cheri Carson's beach front home are Mahon, Jim Schoeggl and Jim Knutson.
Mahon first flew with as a youth in his father's seaplane, then soloed at age 16 in gliders up and down the coast. His father, Brian, was an engineer for Boeing.
Knutson also flew since childhood.
They call themselves janitors, pilots, and whatever else is needed.
"I am the flight attendant," Knutson laughed as the three ate burgers on the beach with local pilots. "I will fly the next one we build."
Knutson is a retired Delta Airlines pilot and Schoeggl retired early from Microsoft before he got his pilot's license.
The Gweduck is the first of what the group hopes to market and sell as a kit, albeit a pretty expensive one, in the experimental aircraft category that can be built in garages or for recreational use.
"Can't really say about prices right now," Mahon said. "We are currently partnering with another firm that will help us develop the kit and looking for a launch partner. It will probably be the cost of, say, a new big 60-foot boat. We want to find a customer who is excited, who will share our enthusiasm for the plane."
Kit builders will have to have some technical aptitude, but Gweduck designers can assist in certain aspects. Federal regulations, however, do not allow them to sell factory-built planes.
The Gweduck is reminiscent of old military PBYs and their offshoots, the Grumman Goose and Grumman Widgeon. The plane has the same wingspan as a Goose but is 20 percent bigger than a Widgeon and cheaper to run.
The plane seats 6 to 8 people in two-abreast seating.
It is roughly 35 feet long with a 52-foot wingspan and tip floats that retract in flight position and or extend when landing in the water. Gross weight is 6,000 pounds, empty weight 4,200 pounds, and the high-wing design has two 300HP Lycoming IO-540 engines mounted on the wing leading edge that will power a trip of 2,000 miles at 135 knots on a full tank and lift it off a water runway of about 1,000 feet.
As the Gweduck bobbed softly up and down, tied to the Carson's marker buoy in the waters of Favorite Channel and Auke Bay, two sea lions swam close to investigate.
"You did close the door, right?" Knutson asked Mahon.
As laughter echoed through the campfire's glow, the trio rowed back out to the Gweduck, lifted off the water, and banked quietly into the sunset towards the solid tarmac of Juneau International Airport. Wheels folded down, the Gweduck landed like a dream.
"I could never sleep well in a boat," Schoeggl said.
"You would if we landed in Hawaii," Mahon said of the proposed trip the Gweduck may next undertake.

100 facts for 100 years of Machu Picchu: Fact 23

A man dressed in Incan attire rehearses for the 100th anniversary celebration.
A man dressed in Incan attire rehearses for the 100th anniversary celebration. (Aurelio Alejo / AFP / Getty Images)

In July, Machu Picchu, Peru's biggest tourist attraction, will mark its 100th anniversary of rediscovery. Hiram Bingham III, a Yale professor, came upon the vine-covered ruins on July 24, 1911. Here, then, as we lead up to the century mark, are 100-plus facts about Machu Picchu, its country, its history and its players. We will post one each day for the next 100 days.

23. Aguas Calientes, which has grown haphazardly as tourist crowds have grown, offers accommodations, some basic and others more luxurious, and is the starting point for the ascent (by bus, if you wish) to the Incan citadel.

22. The train deposits you at Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu (which you'll see spelled as Machupijchu).

21. In March and April, however, train travelers have been taking a bus from the Wanchaq Station in the Cuzco area, to Ollantaytambo and then taking the train to Aguas Calientes because of maintenance projects with the line.

20.Depending on the level of luxury you desire, your train trip to Machu Picchu could cost as little as $96 from Cuzco (for the Expedition train). It's $142 for the VistaDome and $668 for the Hiram Bingham.

19. You have three choices of train travel to Machu Picchu: the Expedition, or backpacker train (basic), the VistaDome train (which has lots of windows, but if it's warm outside, you may feel as though you are baking in a terrarium) and the Hiram Bingham, a luxury train operated by Orient Express.

18. Most visitors take the narrow-gauge train to Machu Picchu from the Cuzco area (usually departing from the Poroy station).

17. The five days' journey from Cuzco refers to hiking to Machu Picchu, which you can still do today on the Incan Trail, a three- to six-day trip that requires good stamina.

16. Hiram Bingham wrote in Harper's Monthly in 1913: "It seemed almost incredible that this city [Machu Picchu], only five days' journey from Cuzco, should have remained so long undescribed and comparatively unknown."

15.Cuzco, with a population of about 300,000, is the gateway to Machu Picchu, but don't let the word "gateway" confuse you: Machu Picchu is 50 miles beyond Cuzco NEAR the town of Aguas Calientes, far below the Incan ruins.

14. The symptoms of altitude sickness don't generally present until you're at 8,000 feet. Depending on which yardstick you use, Machu Picchu may be less than that (or more). Some say it's at 7,100 feet; others say 9,000. Bottom line: Cut yourself a little slack.

13. To help cope with the altitude, make sure you don't get dehydrated and avoid drinking alcohol.

12. Some hotels provide oxygen for visitors; others offer coca tea, and it's not unusual to find packets of coca leaves for sale. These can be chewed and are said to help relieve altitude issues. And yes, cocaine is produced from the leaves, but the amount of the alkaloid you'd ingest from the tea or chewing the leaves is small.

11. Among the problems AMS can cause (if you're coming from sea-level California, be aware of this): headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue and/or nausea or vomiting. Consult a doctor before you go if you think you may have a problem. Symptoms usually disappear in four days, but in some cases, AMS may be fatal.

10. At 11,150 feet,  Cuzco requires acclimation. Some people develop altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness, or AMS.

9. Cuzco, sometimes spelled Cusco, means "navel" or "center" of the Earth. It certainly was the center of Inca civilization high in the Andes Mountains.

8. Legend has it that Manco Capac, the son of the sun god, and Mama Ocllo, daughter of the moon, established the seat of what would become an empire at Cuzco in the 11th or 12th century.

7. Much of what we know -- or think we know -- about the Inca society is hazy and often mixes fact with myth.

6. Because the Incas had no written language system (or one that we have yet figured out), the spellings of original words vary widely. Inca, for example, may be spelled Inka, Ygna or Inga.

5. The Incas, who created incredible architecture and political systems, had no known written system of language, although some scientists suggest khipu may also have served that function.

4. The Inca used khipu (spelled "quipu" in Spanish), a series of knots that functioned as a sort of counting system.

3. About half the population of Peru is Quechua, a South American Indian group. The group's native tongue is also called Quechua. A dialect of that language was spoken by the Incas.

2. Peru shares borders with five countries: Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia.

1. At 496,218 square miles, Peru, in western South America, is about the size of three Californias. California, however, has about 8 million more residents than Peru.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Robotic ‘Seagliders’ Make First Plunge Into Antarctic Waters

Robots mounted with sensors could be the key to better understanding global climate change—assuming they don’t vanish into the deep ocean.
That’s what Walker O. Smith Jr., a professor of marine science at the College of William and Mary, says after serving on the first research team to send robotic submarines deep into Antarctica’s Ross Sea. In November, he and his colleagues took two sensor-packed robot submarines, known as “seagliders,” and released them from an ice shelf near the South Pole.
The researchers struggled to find a suitable spot to launch the devices, though. Mr. Smith had expected to find larger patches of open water at that time of year, but instead ice ruled, and they were forced to improvise. They set one loose in a small patch of water, after consulting with some penguin researchers in the area who convinced them that the currents there would not sweep their robot under the ice.
“It was kind of a crapshoot, and I don’t know how to play craps,” said Mr. Smith, recounting the launch. “But we won.”
The seaglider did get swept under the ice at first, but it was able to propel itself back into the open water. Both devices ended up spending weeks at sea—plunging to collect readings on sea temperature, salinity, oxygen levels, and other factors, and occasionally surfacing to beam back the data. One robot did 760 dives and the other managed 970.
Seagliders are part of a revolution in oceanography, which has long relied on ships to roam the seas to collect data. These small devices, measuring about six feet long, have an autonomous computer-control system that can decide when to dive to collect data and when to surface to beam data back to researchers. They are cheaper than ships (each of the seagliders used in Antarctica costs about $150,000) and can go deeper than most manned research vessels (the seagliders can dive more than 3,200 feet). That means scientists can now collect more data from the ocean than ever before and use it to build more-detailed models of how complex ocean systems function.
Mr. Smith hopes the data they collected will help lead to new discoveries—but they have only begun to crunch the numbers. And he expects bigger advances once the technology becomes cheaper and more widespread.
“If we had gliders in a lot of areas of the oceans,” he said, “we could get a very robust data set to see how climate change is affecting various areas.”

Thursday, May 5, 2011

CAPTAINS PLOT 'ONE SIMPLE QUESTION' - a changing lifestyle

Captain Teresa Carey, a graduate of Kalkaska High School, steers her 27-foot sail boat. This summer she plans to film a two-person voyage to Iceberg Alley with co-captain Ben Eriksen. (Photo special to The Leader)
It seems like each month a new gadget hits the market — BluRay, Kinect, iPads. Despite all of the new technology, however, some people are choosing a simpler approach.

Others, like Captain Teresa Carey, discovered simplicity out of necessity. For her, what started as a desire to live at sea has turned into a lifestyle she enjoys and embraces.

This summer, Carey, a graduate of Kalkaska High School, will tape her simple life at sea for the documentary “One Simple Question.”

Carey started downsizing in 2008 when she decided to quit her job and move onto her 27-foot sailboat. She had to simplify to fit on the boat, so she decided to chronicle her adventures on a blog, “Sailing Simplicity.”

“When I did that, I really didn’t know what I was speaking about,” Carey admitted. “I became more knowledgeable about it than I expected. I learned about the philosophy and history of volunteer simplicity and its connection with past and current events.”

Through her experiences, Carey became an unexpected spokesperson for the lifestyle.

“That was the most surprising part of the process,” she said. “I didn’t really intend that when I started, but it’s exciting to share my experiences with other people who are also excited about simplicity.”

One person with whom she shared her experiences was Captain Ben Eriksen. They met in 2008 when Carey contacted him about buying his boat.

“He thought it was unique that I was the only female who inquired about it,” Carey said. “He kept emailing me, even though I bought another boat. We met, and we’ve been sailing together ever since.”

The couple has since taken several sailing trips together, and at Thanksgiving last year, they started planning another trip. This time, however, they wanted to do more than just sail together.

They decided to help others gain a better understanding of sailing, as well as simplicity.

“It’s not beautiful sunsets and Jimmy Buffet music,” Carey said. “We want to show what it’s really like to live on a small sailboat. We also want to show the value of simplicity, and the happiness found in seeking out that sort of lifestyle.

“Ben and I have been interested in film for a while,” she said. “In January, we decided to make one. We created the concept for the film, made a website, and people started getting interested.”

The film is “One Simple Question.” The duo plans to sail around Newfoundland to find an uncharted iceberg in Iceberg Alley. A videographer will travel with them to record the event. They are working with two production companies, Doctrine Creative and Reach Within, to create the documentary.

Though Carey and Eriksen often sail separately on their trips, they will join forces for the film on Eriksen’s 28-foot Bristol Channel Cutter, “Elizabeth.”

“It’s more affordable and safer to have everyone on one boat,” Carey said. “Ben and I are pretty independent sailors. We’re both captains. This will be our first extended trip together, so it will make the film more interesting.”

The route is planned and the production companies are ready, but Carey said they are stilling waiting on one major component for the trip — funding. On April 10 they launched a Kickstarter Fundraiser.

Using the Kickstarter website, they set a goal of 32 days to raise $8,000. Their deadline is May 12. If they don’t meet their goal, the site will not collect the pledged money. “With Kickstarter it’s an all-or-nothing campaign,” Casey said.

The pair has already appeared in Annapolis to promote their work, and they’re scheduled to be on Long Island on May 5. On May 17, Carey will talk about their adventure at the TED Conference in Traverse City.

Carey has high hopes for their film, so she and Ericksen are working hard to raise the final $2,300. Their ultimate goal is to create a film that will inspire people to question the ways they live, and seek out simpler ways to accomplish their goals. Even if that doesn’t happen, a seed has already been planted.

“The most rewarding part of this experience so far has been seeing people get involved and get interested,” Carey said. “They are joining the conversation on Facebook, making donations, and volunteering. They’re learning while they’re getting involved.”

For more information, or to donate to the campaign, visit www.simplequestionmovie.com or www.sailingsimplicity.com

Contact Karin Beery at kvbwrites@gmail.com.