Neversink Mountains, Witch’s Hat Pavilion and ruins of its glorious past

Neversink Mountain sits north of the city of Reading, Pennsylvania. Despite now the site of hiking trails is open to the public, it was once the site of a complex of exclusive hotels, multiple resorts and tourist attractions, and was originally inhabited by the Lenni Lenape, indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands, who lived in the United States and Canada. The name “Neversink” in fact derives from the Lenape word “navasink”, meaning literally “at the promontory”. Today, the mountain sits in solitude, and contains only the relics and ruins of its glorious past.…

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The insane, inconclusive truth behind Rat Kings, the grotesque tangled Super-Rodents

Recently, as of September 2017, a monstrous mess of a creature seems to be back in the popular consciousness, the so-called “Rat King”, literally “rats that get tied together by their tails”. And it didn’t pass quietly, thanks to a flock of science-writers all adopting the same question: “rat kings are real?” Historically, a Rattenkönig, later translated into English as rat king, and into French as roi des rats, is a collection of rats whose tails are intertwined and bound together. This alleged phenomenon is particularly associated with Germany but…

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Shabla Lighthouse: the oldest lighthouse on the balkan peninsular

We are along the Black Sea coast, where there is a place that enjoys keen interests from tourists even in winter. This is Shabla Municipality, in the northernmost section of the Bulgarian coastline, a territory that have become the winter getaway of dozens of endangered bird species, including the entire world population of the Red-breasted Goose. During the cold months, when seaside resorts shut down, Shabla Municipality welcomes coaches with foreign tourists armed with cameras, binoculars and every kind of equipment. However, before heading to the wetlands, they make a…

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Wicklow Head Lighthouse – Ireland

Wicklow Head, Ceann Chill Mhantáin in Irish, is a headland near the southeast edge of the town of Wicklow, approximately 3 kilometres from the centre of the town and one and a half hours drive to Dublin. Geographically, it is the easternmost point on the Irish mainland. Wicklow Head Lighthouse, has overlooked its scenic coastline, since 1781. It was the one of two lighthouses built on the headland on that year, and it originally had an eight-sided lantern for the light on top of it. The twin lighthouses were originally…

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The Protest Pig: a rare breed designed to be a living (and breathing) flag

Husum Red Pied, Rotbuntes Husumer in German, is a rare domestic pig breed popularly known as “the Danish Protest Pig” (German: Husumer Protestschwein and Danish: Husum protestsvin or danske protestsvin), because its whole reason for being was to imitate the country flag at a time when its actual flag could not be raised. Its story can be traced back to the mid 19th century when Denmark and Prussia went to war over control of the southern Jutland Peninsula, which today is part of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. At that…

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Valentia Lighthouse at Cromwell Point

Built on the site of a 17th century fort known as ‘Fleetwood’ Fort, one of two built on Valentia Island around this time, Valentia Island Lighthouse at Cromwell Point, Ireland, has stood against sea and invader for hundreds of years. A standing stone, dating back to the Bronze Age (3000-1200 BC) still marks the site at Cromwell Point where it was built and, still today, this gleaming white lighthouse on beautiful island looks out across some of the most spectacular sights along the Wild Atlantic Way. The outline of the…

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Al Naslaa: Saudi Arabia’s mysterious rock formation

There are many natural occurrences that might puzzle a traveler. One of them is Al Naslaa, a 4,000-year-old geological mystery, located in Tayma oasis, Saudi Arabia, a strange rock formation perfectly split down the middle with the precision of a laser beam. It is made up of two large sandstone boulders supported by a natural pedestal that appears much too small for its purpose. But what really draws people’s attention is the perfect split between the two boulders. The almost flawless split has inspired lots of speculation, and some suggesting…

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The owl of Cwm Cowlyd and the oldest animals in the world

In Welsh folklore the Owl of Cwm Cowlyd lived in the woods that once surrounded Llyn Cowlyd, the deepest lake in northern Wales, that lies in the Snowdonia National Park. Even if today the woods are gone, the legends live on in two tales that feature a search for the oldest and wisest animals in the world. In the first the owl is said to be among the oldest animals in the world, while in the second the owl is really the oldest. The first story is “Culhwch and Olwen”,…

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Rotomairewhenua: the clearest body of fresh water known to man

Rotomairewhenua, also known as the Blue Lake of New Zealand’s Nelson Lakes National Park, officially holds the title of the clearest lake in the world. Literally translated as the “land of peaceful waters”, Blue Lake is spring fed by the neighboring glacial Lake Constance, and its water passes through a natural debris damn formed a long time ago by a landslide. This debris acts as a natural filter that retains most of the particles suspended in the glacial water, making Blue Lake almost as clear as distilled water. New Zealand’s…

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The Wall of Hives: the “home of Chinese bees”

A near-vertical cliff wall in the mountains of Shennongjia Nature Reserve, China’s Hubei Province, is home to over 700 wooden boxes which make up one of the country’s last sanctuaries for native wild bees. Beekeeping has been carried out in China since at least the 2nd century AD, and about half of the world’s supply of honey comes from the Asian country but, sadly, over 80% of the native bee population is now extinct. The introduction of the European honey bee (Apis Mellifera) is considered the main cause of the…

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Folklore and magic of crows and ravens

Both crows and ravens have appeared in a number of different mythologies throughout the ages. In some cases, these black-feathered birds are considered an omen of bad tidings, but in others, they may represent a message from the Divine. But, above all, they have long been synonym of doom and devastation as they destroy crops, devour corpses, act as emissaries for soothsayers and gods, and are closely linked to human fortunes. But not only, as they have long plagued farmers and gardeners by devouring their freshly planted seeds. An old…

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Loop Head Lighthouse | Ireland

Loop Head Lighthouse (Irish: Ceann Léime, meaning “leap head”) is perched right at the end of Loop Head Peninsula in stunning West Clare, Ireland. It is the major landmark on the northern shore of the Shannon River. Weather permitting, from here you’ll enjoy fantastic views south as far as the Blasket Islands and north to the Twelve Pins in Connemara, along the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s also the perfect place to spot whales, dolphins and seals from, while the rock ledges and caves of the dramatic cliffs are home to…

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The river that turns On and Off: the spring that breaths!

Just east of Afton town, at the foot of a rocky mountain in Wyoming, lies one of the world’s most mysterious natural wonders: an Intermittent Spring (otherwise known as the Periodic Spring) that intermittently stops and starts flowing again around every 15 minutes. Only a few rhythmic springs exist in the world (another being the famed Gihon Spring in Jerusalem), and Intermittent Spring in Swift Creek canyon is the largest of them all. As its name suggests, this peculiar spring flows intermittently. Here you’ll see a large quantity of water…

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Te Wairoa Buried Village: a Maori village obliterated by an 1886 volcanic eruption.

Located 24 kilometres south-east of Rotorua, Tarawera is a curious-looking mountain, with several large domes and a broad, flat top. This distinctive profile formed during eruptions around 1314 AD. However, early Māori and the Europeans who arrived in the 1800s did not realise that it was an active volcano and, in June 1886, it came to life in a violent one-day eruption – the deadliest in the history of New Zealand settlement. When Mount Tarawera erupted, the surrounding countryside was completely remade. The eruption killed over 100 people and created…

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Point Sur Lightstation: one of the oldest and most remote lighthouses in California

Point Sur Lightstation is a lighthouse at Point Sur, California, 135 miles (217 km) south of San Francisco, on the 110-meter-tall rock at the head of the point. The view there is breathtaking. The Lighthouse is perched up on a huge rock and surrounded by water on three sides, with shimmering views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of the oldest and most remote lighthouses in California, a beacon for ships navigating some of the most treacherous waters of the California coast. Already early navigators took note of the prominent…

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Last full weekend of August: International Bat Night

Bats have many places in literature and history, and serve roles dark but not only, depending on where you find them. Probably their most common association is with vampires, but there is also the fun-loving bat from Ferngully (Batty Coda) along with a host of other characters from literature and cinema. However, “real” bats have an important role to play in our eco-system, and some of them are becoming endangered. International Bat Night encourages us to learn more about this mostly nocturnal creature, and It takes place each year during…

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St John’s Point – the tallest onshore lighthouse on the Irish coast

If you are in Ireland, you can’t miss St John’s Point Lighthouse in gorgeous County Down. Its strikingly tall tower is marked with vibrant bands of yellow and black that distinguish it from other lighthouses. St. John’s Point, Rinn Eoin in Irish, is a cape at the southern tip of the Lecale peninsula of County Down Northern Ireland, separating Dundrum Bay from Killough Harbour, which forms its northern extremity. The cape is mostly surrounded by the Irish Sea and derives its name from a now ruined church dedicated to Saint…

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Hoshizuna-no-Hama: Japan’s amazing star sand beach

Hoshizuna-no-Hama, literally translate as “Sand in the Shape of a Star”, is a small but charming Japanese beach famous for its star-shaped tiny grains of sand. Located on Irimote, the second-largest island in Okinawa prefecture, it doesn’t look too different than the hundreds of other beaches in the Japanese archipelago, at least at first glance, but a closer inspection reveals that many of the sand grains have a very curious shape: a five or six-tipped star. Actually the stars are not grains of sand, but microscopic, now empty exoskeletons of…

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Sturgeon Moon: August’s full moon

As we already know, in ancient times, it was common to track the changing seasons by following the lunar month rather than the solar year, which the 12 months in our modern calendar are based on. For millennia, people across Europe, as well as Native American tribes, named the months after features they associated with the Northern Hemisphere seasons, and many of these names are very similar or identical. Today, we use many of these ancient month names as Full Moon names. A common explanation is that Colonial Americans adopted…

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Devil’s Bath: New Zealand’s green sulphur pond

New Zealand’s Wai-O-Tapu volcanic area offers a number of roiling, bubbling geothermal sights, but possibly the most intriguing is one of its most calm! Know as Devil’s Bath, it is a bright green pond full of sulfur-infused stink water. The pool sits in a slight depression likely created from a massive eruption from underground. It is well out of reach of visiting curious, but can be seen clearly from above. The bright green water gets its color from deposits of sulphur that rise to the surface and float on top,…

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The Well of Barhout: Yemen’s mysterious Well of Hell

In the arid wastes of eastern Yemen lies a fascinating natural wonder called the Well of Barhout. Shrouded in mystery and folklore, this “million and millions” years old large hole in the ground said to be God’s most hated spot on Earth. Those who live near the hole believe anything that comes close to the “Hell Pit” will be sucked in without escape. According to a Yemeni legend, “extinct tongues fizz on cold nights” there, a reference to what might be lurking inside the hole. Located in the eponymous valley,…

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Here is Brazil’s Unique “Coca Cola Lake”!

Have you ever dreamed of swimming in a lake of Coca Cola? Well, in Brazil you can actually do! The Mata Estrela, a great Atlantic rainforest reserve located in Formosa Bay in the State of Rio Grande do Norte, nestles an interesting Lake. Its name is Araraquara, but soon it started being called “Coca-Cola” due to the colour of the water that is similar to the popular soft drink. The water has the same dark hue, but very different ingredients and no carbonation. Instead of caramel, the water of this…

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Neptuni Åkrar: a Swedish fossil-rich cobble beach that holds Viking graves, cairns, and other remains.

We are along the Northwest coast of the island of Öland, Sweden. Located in Borgholm Municipality along the Kalmar Strait, north of the village of Byxelkrok, lies Neptuni Åkrar, Swedish for “Neptune’s Fields,” a vast shingle beach dotted with unusual limestone rock formations and close to a Viking-era burial ground. The cobble stones of Neptuni Åkrar result from stones left during the last ice age, which eroded down to their present shape by the waves over the centuries, and they are interspersed with fossils from Trilobites and Brachiopods. During summer,…

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Cono de Arita: Argentina’s mysterious natural pyramid

Near the south border of Salar de Arizaro, the sixth largest salt flat on earth and the second largest in Argentina, 70 km from the village of Tolar Grande, lies one of the world’s most mysterious natural formations, an almost perfect cone, it rises unexpectedly in the middle of the salt pan. This is Cono de Arita, so perfectly shaped that it appears man-made, that looms majestically 122 meters above the Salar. Its name comes from the Aymara language where Arita means “sharp”. In fact, all through the early twentieth…

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August 3: National Watermelon Day

Mark Twain said: “When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.” Well, this American literary hero understood the serious deliciousness of this fruit (or vegetable?), and, hopefully, after reading this article, you do, too. National Watermelon Day on August 3 recognizes the refreshing summertime fruit and, since it is 92% water, it is very satisfying in the summer heat. In fact, in the Kalahari desert (in Southern Africa), where they are called tsamma, watermelons are one of the main sources of water during the dry, hot season.…

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Cape Disappointment Light: the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast

The Cape Disappointment Light is a lighthouse on Cape Disappointment near the mouth of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington. Starting as a small stream at the base of the Canadian Rockies, the Columbia travels more than 1,200 miles, merging with various rivers and streams, until it meets the Pacific Ocean. Its force flowing into the sea creates one of the most treacherous bars in the world as evidenced by the 234 identified ships that stranded, sank, or burned near its mouth between 1725 and 1961. On…

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Lammas: welcoming the harvest

We are in the middle of the dog days of summer, when the gardens are full of beautiful flowers, the fields are full of grain, and the harvest is approaching. The hot days of August are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Corn has been planted, tended, harvested and consumed for millennia, and so it’s no wonder that there are myths about the magical properties of this grain.…

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Lake Toyoni: Japan’s Naturally Heart-Shaped Lake

Nestled in a remote area of Hokkaido island, surrounded by lush forest on all sides and untouched by human civilization, Lake Toyoni (豊似湖) is a hidden gem among Japan’s many tourism attractions. It is a freshwater lake at about 260 m elevation in Erimo town located in the southeastern distriction of Tomakomai city. Up until a few years ago, it was virtually unknown to most Japanese, but a popular television commercial featuring an aerial view of the heart-shaped natural wonder turned it into a popular tourist spot virtually overnight. Of…

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The Spirit of the Grain Fields

Harvest is the most important time of the agricultural calendar. Not only in past, the fortunes of farms, families, and even entire communities were tied to its outcome. And thus, unsurprisingly, harvest has developed its variety of deities, traditions, and superstitions which are found in almost every farming culture worldwide. Ever since the first farmers planted their crops over 10,000 years ago, people have had an anxious wait for summer. Will there be enough hot weather to ripen the corn? Will an unlucky spell rot the grain in the fields?…

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Porphyry Island – Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior

Just east of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior’s northern shore, Canada, lies the volcanic Black Bay Peninsula that separates Black Bay and Nipigon Bay, and consists of over 300 distinct lava flows. Porphyry Island is the last in a chain of islands that stretch southwest from the peninsula and is named for the island’s igneous rock, known as porphyry, that contains quartz and feldspar crystals. Another unique peculiarity of the island is the presence of the so-called devil’s club, a shrub with a spiny stem and large leaves. Porphyry Island…

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