Category: Travel

Morning photo: Countryside …

Spring landscapes

The Lower Austrian landscape encompasses everything from wild beech forests and deep river canyons to manicured fields — not to mention acres and acres of vineyard, but that’s another story! Austrians are still getting used to the concept of national parks. Thayatal was founded in 2002, so some local visitors still don’t quite understand why the park managers simply leave downed trees on the ground. It’s considered a waste by some, and the park features signs explaining how it’s a deliberate effort to recreate landscapes where natural processes are left to function without much interference. In this small country, nearly every acre of land is spoken for, most of it outside towns and cities dedicated to agriculture, but slowly, resource managers are making some headway in restoring natural ecosystems in a few areas, to the benefit of native species.

Morning photo: Spring in Vienna

Downtown Wien …


It doesn’t take long for Vienna to wake from its winter sleep. Just as soon as temperatures get into the 50s and 60s and the sun peaks out a little, cafes set up their outside tables where people huddle around even if they still have to wear a winter coat. In the parks and town squares, flowering trees add splashes of color to the neighborhood scene, and ping pong enthusiasts can strike up a friendly game in the park near the Flakturm. But keep your umbrella handy because April showers are not uncommon in the Danube metropolis.

Travel: National parks celebrate centennial by offering free admission April 16-24

Special events planned throughout the year

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Rocky Mountain National Park pano. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The National Park Service is celebrating it’s 100th birthday this year, and visitors can join the party by taking advantage of free admission to all national parks from April 16 to April 24.

“We have an amazing variety of special events taking place during the centennial,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a press release. “Some commemorate our first hundred years, but many others look to the future, to the next 100 years, and will help connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates. It is through them that America’s lands and stories will be preserved and passed on to future generations,” Jarvis said. Continue reading “Travel: National parks celebrate centennial by offering free admission April 16-24”

Morning photo: Marillenblüte

Spring in the Wachau world heritage region

Nothing says spring like blooming fruit trees, and one of the most beautiful places to view this annual spring spectacle is in the Wachau region of Austria, along the Danube River between Krems and Melk. Perhaps best known for producing stellar crops of apricots — not to mention wine grapes, the Wachau is designated as a world heritage region for the values of its cultural landscape, including agriculture, ancient castles and villages and terraced vineyards that have been cultivated for centuries.

The area’s natural forests were cleared during the Stone Age, from which date famed relics like the Venus of Willendorf, a fertility figure shaped some 25,000 years ago. Around 800 AD, bishops from Salzburg and Bavaria started cultivating the hillsides for wine grapes, creating the present-day landscape pattern of vine terraces. Learn more about the region at UNESCO’s world heritage website.

Morning photo: Wien blüht!

Got blossoms?

In densely packed Vienna, open green spaces are cherished by residents and the city’s many parks and gardens are starting to come alive with spring blossoms. It’s easy to take trees for granted during the green days of summer, or in winter, when the branches are bare. But in spring, when they burst into their most colorful display, it’s time to stop and give thanks for the plants that help us survive on this planet. The city recognizes the environmental value of green spaces and actively works to encourage the creation of new gardens by offering subsidies for community gardens, green roofs and other activities that promote more plant life. You can find the best of Vienna’s gardens, and many other interesting tidbits of information about the city, with this online resource.

Will supersonic travel make a comeback?

 an artist’s concept of a possible Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-plane design. The award of a preliminary design contract is the first step towards the possible return of supersonic passenger travel – but this time quieter and more affordable. Credits: Lockheed Martin
An artist’s concept of a possible Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-plane design. The award of a preliminary design contract is the first step towards the possible return of supersonic passenger travel – but this time quieter and more affordable. Image courtesy Lockheed Martin.

NASA teams with Lockhead to develop faster-than-sound jet

Staff Report

World travelers itching for a faster ride may see their desire satisfied in the years to come. NASA announced this week that it’s budgeted about $20 million for developing a design for a new “low-boom” supersonic jet that could fly faster than the speed of sound (about 760 mph). Most existing passenger jets cruise along at about 570 mph.

The new NASA initiative is aimed at designing the first in a series of X-planes as part of the  New Aviation Horizons initiative, introduced in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. Continue reading “Will supersonic travel make a comeback?”

Morning photo: Skyward …

More #windowseat love!


A few more aerial views, just because looking at the world from above is so cool. The air was filled with a wintry haze during a recent flight to LA, but with a little editing I was able to bring out some of the detail in the Denver cityscape, and a black and white edit of the mountains helped sharpen the image a bit. It was also fun to see the giant jets at Heathrow all lined up, looking a bit like toy planes. Just a couple of hours later, our flight path took us along the mighty Danube for the approach to Vienna, spread out and gleaming in late winter sunshine.