Sunday travel anthology

Calderas, Corfu and … cream cheese?

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Sunrise over the Danube River. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — In between fretting about Colorado River flows and reporting on the travails of endangered lynx and sage-grouse, it’s good to get out and see the world. It helps look at issues in a global context — and so many issues these days are global. Of course, not every story is environmental. Sometimes, travel comes down to the simple task of trying to find a Frisbee in Rome … Travel: Around the world with a Frisbee.

Searching for roots can give travel great meaning, and if it involves a bit of Cold War cloak and dagger and European history, so much the better … Travel: Cold War memories along the Danube.

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Leigh Wadden at the edge of the Wadden Sea, Texel Island, The Netherlands. bberwyn photo.

Or, you can search for the roots of your family name, perhaps linked somehow with one of the world’s great estuarine wetlands, inhabited by talking bumblebees … Travel: Mystery meat and talking bees on Texel.

Travel doesn’t necessarily require a passport. There are plenty of adventures to be had within a few hundred miles of anywhere, especially when you set out for the remote hinterlands north of the Grand Canyon with what you know is sketchy starter in your engine … Travel: Karma and climate change in the Southwest.

Little things can be the most memorable, like buying a big box of blueberries from a roadside vendor at a dusty, nowhere crossroads in Slovenia, then eating on the train while watching a blazing Adriatic sunset … A Balkan sampler: Blueberries and mopeds in Slovenia.

The lure of far-away places can reward with the unexpected. When you miss the ferry in Corfu — twice — you get to know a place a little better … Travel photo essay: World Heritage preserved in Albania.

And there’s probably nothing better than introducing your kids to the wonders of the world with a trip focused around one of the planet’s greatest sporting events … Travel: Father and son with World Cup fever.

Great Barrier reef at risk from energy development

Fracking near the Great Barrier Reef? Say it ain’t so …

Environmental groups sue to block financing plans by U.S. Export-Import Bank

By Summit Voice

Conservation activists are suing to block the U.S. Export-Import Bank to finance a natural gas operation near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The groups claim the plan violates the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, which implements U.S. obligations under the World Heritage Convention.

The legal challenge is an effort to bock nearly $3 billion in financing for two massive liquefied natural gas facilities that could threaten dugongs, sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles and numerous other protected marine species within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Continue reading

Xanadu, western Ghats added to World Heritage list

26 new sites inscribed in this year’s voting

The Lakes of Ounianga, in Chad, have been designated as a World Heritage site. Satellite photo courtesy NASA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — If you ever wondered what Xanadu, the western Ghats of India and the birthplace of Jesus have in common, think about it this way: All three are part of Earth’s shared natural and cultural heritage.

Last week, UNESCO recognized the gobal significance of all three sites, inscribing them on to the ever-growing list of world heritage sites along with 23 other locations around the world. The annual June voting helps spotlight renowned archaeological sites, natural wonders and historic treasures, often boosting preservation efforts and fostering local initiatives to increase sustainable tourism.

Colorado’s only world heritage site so far is Mesa Verde. Others in the U.S. include Redwoods National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, the Everglades and the Grand Canyon. No new U.S. sites were added this year, but the San Antonio missions were nominated and could be added to the list in the next few years, representing the important Spanish influence in the settlement of North America. Learn more about World Heritage sites in the U.S. at this National Park Service website. Continue reading

Morning photo: Neolithics

Building blocks …

A stone arch window in the wall of Ali Pasha's catle overlooks the Albanian city of Butrint.

SUMMIT COUNTY —Stone is such a fundamental part of the human experience that an entire age was named after it, coinciding with the emergence of Homo sapiens as tool-using animals.

Though we’re now living in the age of information and technology, we’re still surrounded by structures that were built of stone thousands of years ago — cathedrals, walls, spiritual sites — that will probably remain long after the last computer chip sizzles into oblivion.

At our worst, we use stone as a symbol of power and control; to imprison, enslave, and in the worst case, to kill our fellow man. It’s no wonder stone figures so prominently in some of the essential mythologies and religions of various cultures, from David and Goliath, Uluru  and Medusa, to the stone figures on Easter Island.

So how about a definition: The hard, solid, nonmetallic mineral matter of which rock is made, esp. as a building material.”

And here’s another, from Merriam-Webster online: 1: a concretion of earthy or mineral matter: a (1) : such a concretion of indeterminate size or shape (2) : rock b : a piece of rock for a specified function: as (1) : a building block (2) : a paving block (3) : a precious stone : gem (4) : gravestone (5) : grindstone (6) : whetstone (7) : a surface upon which a drawing, text, or design to be lithographed is drawn or transferred.

Today’s photo essay was prepared for the #FriFotos Twitter chat started by @EpsteinTravels. The weekly social media gathering features a different theme each week. It’s become one of the liveliest venues on the web, with hundreds of travelers and photographers sharing their interpretations of each week’s topic. I wasn’t sure how many stone-related photos I’d be able find in the archives that are worth posting, but in the end, there was quite a trove of interesting shots. Continue reading

Travel: New world heritage sites to be designated this month

Jamaican mountains, famed Jordan desert area on this year’s candidate list

Mount Rum in Wadi Rum, Jordan, stands at 1,734 meters above sea level. The mountain was named the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by Lawrence of Arabia. Wadi Rum is under consideration for designation as a World Heritage site. PHOTO VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Several countries are on deck to have prominent natural areas or historic and cultural sites designated with world heritage status for the first time ever.

Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains are on the list of candidates, as is Wadi Rum in Jordan and the Saloum Delta in Senegal, a national park with intertidal mangroves and savanna forest. Saloum Delta is is an important stop-over for migrating birds on the East Atlantic Flyway. Continue reading

Morning photo: The Blackberry trail

Cell phone cameras have come a long way

Autumn rains spurred a wildflower bloom at the start of the Mediterranean rainy season on the Greek Island of Corfu.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Scrolling through my Blackberry, I found a trove of photos that I’d nearly forgotten about. It’s quite amazing what a halfway decent phone camera can do, as long as the light is good.

That’s what my dad emphasized when he gave me my first camera when I was 12: “Make sure the sun is shining over the back of one of your shoulders,” he said.

I carried that Asahi Pentax Spotmatic everywhere for a few years, trying time exposures on city streets, looking for snowy scenes in the Taunus Mountains outside Frankfurt, and playing with the aperture to adjust the depth of field and find the sweet spot of the lens. Eventually I learned that you can break the rules sometimes and still get a good shot.

Most of these images were lightly post-processed in iPhoto, just to tone down some of the highlights and sharpen a few edges here and there. Continue reading

Morning photo: Cityscapes

Storybook towns …

A rainy night in downtown Corfu. Click on the photo to read about this colorful Greek Island, where the proto-traveler, Odysseus, nearly drowned, then drifted ashore with the help of Athena, and woke to the laughter of princess Nausica and her friends. King Alcinous gave him a boat to help him return to Ithaka. But Poseidon was angry at the Phaceans for helping Odysseus, so during the return voyage, he turned their boat to stone. Corfu also was a stop for Jason and the Argonauts. They narrowly avoided being trapped by the call of the Sirens, as Jason ordered Orpheus to sing for his crew so they could row the ship to safety. On Corfu, Jason married Medea, and they spent their wedding night in a cave, sleeping on the Golden Fleece. But the honeymoon turned stormy, when a tidal wave swept the Argo into the sands of North Africa.

SUMMIT COUNTY —Although most of my photography focuses on nature and landscapes, the Summit Voice travel files feature a decent selection of urban images, including rooftop scenes from the Balkans, and street food vendors in Boulder. So when the #FriFotos Twitter chat topic turned to “City Life,” I dusted off a few of those shots. Click here to check out a Paper.li compilation of the photos. Continue reading

U.S. updating candidate list for World Heritage status

Public comment period for listing process under way

White Sands National Monument has been on the candidate list for inclusion in the World Heritage system, but the paranoid black helicopter crowd opposed the designation.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. is updating its list of sites that could be considered for World Heritage status, and the process begins with a public comment period as the Interior Department considers whether to nominate current candidates to the international organization that makes the final call. At the same time, the public can also nominate new sites for inclusion on the candidate list.

Get detailed information on commenting at the Federal Register. Continue reading

Morning photo: Cityscapes

Where we live …

A twilight thunderstorm builds above the World Heritage city of Gjirokaster, Albania.

SUMMIT COUNTY — A few images from the archives featuring the built environment in a few European cities, including Gjirokaster, Albania, a World Heritage site. More pics after the break. Continue reading

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