When Nature Gives Us Back The Long Needed Energy

Nature gives us so much more than just fresh air and pretty flowers to look at. It gives us a chance to realize who we are and most how small most of our problems actually are when looking at them from another perspective. In nature, we can relax, get room to breathe, catch some sun…

Nature gives us so much more than just fresh air and pretty flowers to look at. It gives us a chance to realize who we are and most how small most of our problems actually are when looking at them from another perspective. In nature, we can relax, get room to breathe, catch some sun and vitamin D, and we can take the silence as an opportunity to be silent inside of ourselves.

Letting all the stressful thoughts from work, family, your partner, go. Trying to remember what is important in life and think of what we would like to have more in our daily life. Laugh more? Giving ourselves time outs to breathe deeply, calm our thoughts and recharge? Spending more time with family and friends and feel the love?

A Retreat is the perfect way to recharge your batteries. Enjoy a stay in the mountains, with fresh clear air to breathe every day, go hiking, spend a day at a mountain lake, eat well and healthy, sleep a lot and deeply and just relax. You will realize how tired you might be from all the stressful weeks at work and you in combination with the fresh air, you will even feel more like sleeping a lot. That's fine because we can recover through sleep and it improves our health.

When being outside you also get a chance to move. Not matter if you like to go hiking, do a bike tour, go skiing in winter or enjoy a long walk in the snow, it will make you feel better and it clears your mind.

There are several places all over the world that are just perfect when it comes to relaxing and recharging in the mountains. One of them is certainly Austria. They have beautiful mountains, great hotels, friendly staff and amazing food. You will also find Retreat Hotels as the “Hotel Goldener Berg” in Oberlech which puts a focus on health food, relaxing and also gives the chance to move as much as possible outside. The view is just gorgeous and you will feel relaxed once you arrive at this place.

There are of course several other great Retreat places which also are very specialized in taking care of your health.

Nature Retreats are great for business man as well. Having a change to get yourself through a digital detox with no phone or Wi-Fi would be just perfect to take a step back from the busy world. Together with a coach you can go outside and see the world with different eyes. For once it's not important what numbers you bring, but more important to think of who you are who you want to be in the future. Will you remember back home, to take a step back, to relax from time to time, to also put away your phone and computer to see the beauty of things around you?

Drone Use In The Marine and Yachting Environment

Introduction: Modern Drones are incredible machines that are capable of doing amazing things in the marine and yachting environment. They can be used to spot schools of fish, locate a mooring or open area in a marina to drop anchor, locate an assigned slip, preview an unspoiled beach or island, locate items or persons that…

Introduction:

Modern Drones are incredible machines that are capable of doing amazing things in the marine and yachting environment. They can be used to spot schools of fish, locate a mooring or open area in a marina to drop anchor, locate an assigned slip, preview an unspoiled beach or island, locate items or persons that dropped overboard, capture great video and still photos of the boat either at anchor or underway, or even drop safety or other equipment to remote locations.

However, Drones need to he handled differently when used in the terrestrial or land use environments, in addition to specific models that are better suited for the marina and yachting environments.

1: Types and Models of Drones

There are a number of issues that should be considered when selecting a Drone for this environment: DJI and Yuneec make a number of Drones capable of use in this environment. The Splash Drone is waterproof and makes a great Drone for this environment. GoPro and DJI have just introduced small new models that “fold” and fit in small backpacks and are capable of flying for 20+ minutes in 20+ knots of wind!

A: Size – consider how and where you will store your Drone aboard your yacht – on a bunk, in a storage locker, in the cockpit. The Drone should be stored in a safe location where guests and crew will not drop items on the Drone or knock or kick the Drone.

B: Flight Time – consider flight time and battery capacity. Small Drones may have less then 10 minutes flight time while larger Drones fly up to 25 minutes. For casual videos, 10 minutes flight time may be enough, however if you plan to use the Drone to locate schools of fish or remote moorings, then consider purchasing a Drone with longer flight times.

C: Camera- Many Drones come equipped with their own camera, while others are able to make use of external cameras like a Gopro or DSLR. Included cameras range from low resolution with images stored on a memory card while others are capable of 4K resolution (broadcast quality) and relaying live images via WIFI to a smart phone, tablet, or controller LCD screens. External cameras generally offer the owner more options and higher resolutions, but may not be fully integrated with the included controller system.

An example is the Yuneec Typhoon G set up to use the GoPro Hero3 or 4 4K cameras. This is a great set up capable of unusually stable video in most windy conditions. However, while the operator can see what the camera sees on the Typhoon controller LCD screen, the controller is not able to control any of the features of the GoPro camera- and the operator needs to activate the video record button on the GoPro prior to taking off and then can only shut off video recording after the Drone is retrieved. Integrated cameras usually can be controlled from the controller.

D: Ability to handle windy conditions – This is a significant issue that operators need to keep in mind when purchasing a Drone. Many of the small and older Drones, like an older Parrot AR Drone or a newer SYMA X5SW Drone lack many features and do not have the capability to stabilize flight when faced with more then 5-10 knots of wind. Additionally, these Drones do not have stabilized gimbled camera mounts to smooth out the wobble and gyrations in windy conditions. Larger Drones and Drones with better electronic systems and gimbled camera mounts have greater better wind video capabilities.

E: Retrievable – many small Drones do not have “home” capability and are difficult to land in any condition. Most new Drones have a highly developed “home” capability and are able to land back to their starting location automatically.

Most, if not all Drones today, utilize GPS. Other Drones use a hand-held or wrist mounted device so the Drone can “home in” on the controller or other device location. Newer Drones incorporated a combination of Optical Recognition and the GPS location of the controller. The latest DJI Drone has a down-looking camera that takes thousands of photos as it takes off and then compares the photos to the landing location. In my opinion, this is fantastic technology if you are using the Drone from a moving yacht or boat!

Another feature that newer Drones incorporated is object collision technology that allows the Drone to “see” and avoid ships sides, radar arches, and other structures that may interfere with the flight or landing.

2. Safe Use of a Drone aboard – A Drone is a robot that uses high powered motors to turn propellers – propellers that are capable of significant harm in the event that the Drone makes contact with the operator or guests aboard. Operators must be aware of who is near the Drone, both taking off and landing. Additionally, operators must avoid hitting radar arches, outriggers, flags, fly bridges and other yacht and ship structures. Operators must be sure to plan how they will use the Drone – from the bow, from the stern, from an open bridge or bridge top.

3. Safe Storage of A Drone Aboard – I highly recommend that a padded soft or hard case be used to transport and store a Drone aboard a yacht, boat or ship. Bringing a Drone aboard a yacht, boat or ship without storage protection is asking for damage to happen.

4. Maintenance of Your Drone While Aboard – Be sure to include a small tool kit with tools for use on a Drone: small pliers and screw drivers, small Allen wench set, spare screws, small wrench set, nuts and propeller locks, propeller removal tool, small pocket knife, zip ties, tape, terminal cleaning spray, silicon spray to protect your Drone from salt water and salt air, etc. A large fresh water spray bottle will be needed to wash off salt water in the event Your Drone goes swimming!

Be sure to add spare propellers – lots of them – spare landing feet, spare CHARGED batteries, 12V AND 110V battery, battery connect cables, spare controller batteries and / or controller charger and spare propeller guards.

5. Drone Limits While Pilot a Drone Over Water – The operator MUST be aware of their battery use and flying time of their Drone. Most controllers show the battery charge level of the Drone. At 50% level, I highly recommend that the operator initiate the return process for recovering the Drone or the Drone may go for a swim! Additionally, the operator should attach a stopwatch to the controller so that the operator is aware of the flight time.

Keep in mind, that while launching the Drone is reliably quick and easy, landing and retrieving the Drone can be very challenging and consume all of the remaining battery capacity.

6. Drone Batteries – most, if not all batteries used for Drones and their controllers are LIPO batteries and are subject to generating a great deal of heat and require very specific charging and storage techniques. LIPO batteries should be transported in special foil packages and definitely not in the Drone. Special chargers are required to charge LIPO batteries. Additionally, it may take up to 2 hours to recharge depleted batteries so the Drone operator should be sure primary and spare batteries are charged when the operator and Drone arrive aboard. The Operator should allow enough time to recharge the batteries after use. Operators should consider purchasing a multi-battery charger.

7. Use of Smart phones and tablets – Operators should practice how to link up the drone to their Smartphone and / or tablets of the Drones controller. Onboard a moving vessel is not the time to get acquainted with how the operators Drone works. It is especially important if the operator is using a GoPro camera since the operator will need to learn the WiFi “pairing” procedure so that the Drone, Controller and GoPro camera communicate.

A Screen Hood is a must have accessory for operating a Drone in bright sunlight! Operators should know how to attach the hood to the device and how to use the touch pad with the hood in place.

Operators should consider adding a lanyard attached to the controller – prevents losing the controller overboard and allows the operator to use both hands to work with the Drone during landing.

8. Use of Propeller Protector Guards – I highly recommend operators make use of propeller guards on their Drone. They are available from most manufacturers or from 3rd party vendors. Most simply snap in place, like the guards for the Yuneec Typhoon G, while others, like the propeller guards for the SYMA series, require very small Phillips head screws and screwdriver for attachment.

Not only will the guards prevent the Drone's propellers from harming guests and crew, but they also aid in avoiding the drone becoming tangled in sailboat standing and running rigging, fishing boat outriggers, radar arches, radio antennas and domes, navigation lights, and safety rails ! Propeller guards are a MUST HAVE accessory!

9. Drone recovery Strategies for Windy Conditions – Drones are difficult, if not impossible to safely land in windy conditions. In most cases, the operator either hits the “home” button and hopes for the best. Another technique is to line up the Drone overhead and “drop the Drone out of the sky” hoping it will land on the deck or cockpit.

An alternative technique is for the operator to “hover” the Drone within the operators reach and then the operator simply grab the landing gear and bring the Drone down. The operator should be sure to wear gloves as the operator could easily get a finger cut from the propellers.

Another technique is to attach a thin balanced line to the Drone so that when the Drone is close, the operator simply grabs the line and “pull down” the Drone.

New Drones include Optical Recognition cameras and software that should have the capability of landing the Drone in very windy conditions and onto a moving yacht or ship.

Keep in mind that in windy conditions or if you are operating on a moving yacht or even a passenger cruise ship, you may need to fly the Drone out in front of the yacht and ship and then let the Drone “drift” back into landing position while slowly bringing the Drone down to the deck. I witnessed a Drone operator trying to land his Drone on a cruise ship that was moving at 20+ knots. Instead of employing the above technique, the operator panicked because his Drone battery was running low (!!) and attempted to land the Drone by moving the Drone mid-ship and then flying the Drone sideways to land on the upper deck. The operator had absolutely no control trying to run sideways in 20+ knots of wind and totally destroyed his $ 4,000 drone when he crashed into the steel upper structure of the cruise ship!

Conclusion: Drones are magnificent tools for yachting or marine use, however, operators must be aware of their limits, set up procedures, safety, have the required tools and spare parts aboard to fully enjoy and make us of Drones incredible capabilities.

The Marble Halls of Oregon Underground

Serendipity is a wondrous thing – the discovery of something when one is not looking to discover it. Oregon Caves, in the southwestern part of the state, is a case in point. Elijah Davidson was out one day in 1874 deer hunting with his dog. After he brought down a deer, his dog used the…

Serendipity is a wondrous thing – the discovery of something when one is not looking to discover it. Oregon Caves, in the southwestern part of the state, is a case in point.

Elijah Davidson was out one day in 1874 deer hunting with his dog. After he brought down a deer, his dog used the scent of a bear. The bear fled down a hole in the ground. To the hunter's consernation, his dog went down the hole after the bear. Now, what was he supposed to do? Let his dog get himself out of the jam or go in and try to rescue him. Not quite sure what he was going to do find, he went in after him with only matches for light and wounded up discovering the most wondrous cave in Oregon.

You can discover Oregon Caves for yourself by going on a tour at the 480-acre (194 hectare) Oregon Caves National Monument. Perhaps the first thing your tour guide will tell you about is how Elijah Davidson discovered these caves. The finish to the story of his initial discovery is that he ran out of matches while still in the cave. Fortunately, he followed an underground stream out and luckily his dog soon followed. A close call for both.

The entrance to the 44-degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees C.) cave is a locked door for which your tour guide has the key. One thing to remember about this cave is that it is still actively growing, so you should not touch any of the features. The oils on your skin stop growth of the cave decorations by preventing calcium carbonate from combining with the existing feature.

After passing the aptly named Grand Column, you enter Joaquin Miller's Chapel, one of the prettiest rooms in the system with its well-spaced columns. They are formed when a stalactite growing down from the ceiling joins a stalagmite growing up from the floor to form a single structure. These features grow at the rate of 1 millimeter (approximately 1/25 of an inch) per hundred years. Try figuring out how long it might have taken for the 12-inch (30 cm) diameter Grand Column to form – about 30,000 years!

But the largest room is still ahead. It's quite a sight to see and the guide turns off the lights, leaving only a candle lantern's light, which was as early as explorers of the cave saw it. No offense to modern electrical lighting, but a cave looks bigger and more mysterious by candlelight. No wonder this is called the Ghost Room. Then again, it is nice to have the option of seeing it both ways.

A room this large has a few surprises up its walls. Up a set of stairs, which are almost steep enough to qualify as a ladder, is a secret room that was one of the last significant rooms to be discovered. And your first impression of this small circular room is one of being overwhelmed. One of the first tour guides at these caves was Walter Burch, who discovered this room. It looks like dozens of marble parachutes are about to descend upon you. He thought the sight of all these shelves and columns was a wondrous sight and it's location tucked up and away from the main room led him to name it Paradise Lost. Walter Burch also discovered the Ghost Room five years earlier.

The terms geologists use for cave features help you determine what it is you're looking at during the tour. The original rock of the cave when it formed is called speleogen, as in what was generated when the cave came into existence. Features that build up over time on the original rock are called speleothems. This includes stalactites, which build from dripping mineral-laden water down from the ceiling; stalagmites, which grow upward from mineral-laden water dropping onto the ground, and columns, which form when these two features meet and continue growing. To help remember which is, remember that “c” for “ceiling” is in the word “stalactite” and “g” for the “ground” is in stalagmite.

There can also be a line of water dripping down along a wall and the minerals build out from the wall forming what is called cave draperies and angel wings.

An added attraction, if you want to call it that, is one the National Park Service found while reconstructing the trail. Because of it, they decided to reroute the trail to highlight the find. And what is this new feature? Fossils of ice-age black bear bones. In another part of the cave are the oldest Grizzly fossils in North America, and they were discovered at the end of 1997. There's a mystery for you. How did you get this far into the cave?

While you're thinking that one over, you might also want to think about how a Jaguar got into the Ghost Room and became fossilized. Its remains have also been found here. Well, geologists know that the cave had other openings in the past that have since been plugged up, so these unfortunate critters may have fallen down a now-hidden shaft into the cave.

You should encounter nothing quite so earth-shattering upon your return to the above-ground world. The monument does have three surface trails for your exploration, including a nature trail introducing you to the old-growth forests of the area. The Big Tree Trail leads you to the largest Douglas fir in Oregon.

Oregon Caves National Monument is amust-visit place for any nature enthusiast passing through southern Oregon.

If You Go

The cave tours are run by private concessionaire: Discovery Cave You'll need to be reasonably fit to go on a tour of the cave. Young children must be at least 42 inches (107 cm) tall and be able to pass a simple stair climbing test to go. Children can not be transported. The cave has more than 500 stairs, and only the first room of the cave is wheelchair accessible.

Cave tours fill up quickly, especially during the summer, so try to get there early. Except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the monument is open all year, with cave tours offered starting March 24th. Because of the threat of spreading white-nose syndrome, you should not be wearing anything that was previously worn in another cave. The hours when the tours start and end vary with the season, check the Oregon Caves website for the most current information.

The concessionaire also offers off-trail tours where you will get muddy, but get to see places the regular tour does not. There's also a candlelight cave tourso that visitors can see the cave the way the original explorers would've seen it. Both of these types of tours are offered only during the summer.

While you're waiting for your tour, you might want to stroll across the road to see the historic Oregon Caves Chateau, a 24-room 6-story hotel that was constructed from local materials in 1934. It's tucked into a waterfall glen with a trout pond.

Oregon Caves is 20 miles east of Cave Junction which is on US 199 between Grants Pass, Oregon and Crescent City, California, at the end of Oregon Highway 46. US 199 may be a bit challenging for longer rigs but it's a beautiful byway and a lovely reply from Interstate 5. Also known as the “Caves Highway,” Highway 46 gets narrow and winding its last 8 Miles. You'll have to get to the monument either in your tow vehicle, if you're in a trailer, or in your towed vehicleif you're in a motorhome.

There is no camping in the monument. The Siskiyou National Forest has nearby campgrounds. There are several private RV parks in nearby Cave Junction and Selma.

Your Guide to a Wildlife Jungle Safari in Nepal

Nepal's Amazing Ecosystem nurtures some of the most unique and rare species of Nature. The Terai region of Nepal which is a warm sub-tropical belt of the country is home to species like Royal Bengal tigers, rhinos, leopard's wild elephants, sloth bears, monkeys, crocodiles, and many deer species to Plus it has about 250 species…

Nepal's Amazing Ecosystem nurtures some of the most unique and rare species of Nature. The Terai region of Nepal which is a warm sub-tropical belt of the country is home to species like Royal Bengal tigers, rhinos, leopard's wild elephants, sloth bears, monkeys, crocodiles, and many deer species to Plus it has about 250 species of exotic birds both migratory and native.

The Terai region hosts the two main national parks aka Royal Chitwan and Bardia in Nepal. Both the above wildlife parks were established as part of the green eco conservation Policy of the Govt of Nepal in order to safeguard the animals falling under the endangered species categories and to protect the habitat they are part of. The National Parks are the most sought after places in Asia to which gives one a complete jungle experience.

Most of the Govt authorized tour operators offer trips that is inclusive of things like jungle activities & accommodation facilities along with transportation to and from the parks.

The Chitwan National Park
The Chitwan National Park has six main jungle resorts spread across its vast radius. These quiet resorts are the ideal place to enjoy the true safari experience of the Terai.

There are many jungle activities that one can take up from going on Nature walks to Bird watching etc which are one of the many ways of being part of the wild Nature while staying in the jungle. The resorts have separate cottage accommodations with attached bath or If one wants to have the “Indiana Jones” experience then one can opt for the well-furnished luxury tent camps to stay in. Canoeing on the Rapti or Narayani rivers makes for an adventurous river tour allowing one to witness the many different bird species of Chitwan. And if lucky one may even get to be close with the shy freshwater Gangatic dolphins that inhabit the rivers.

Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park is comparatively smaller than Chitwan, & it too is home to many exotic animal & bird species and it happens to be a peaceful but a wild environment in Terai region.

Bardia is also more remote and secluded when compared to Chitwan and that explains why the visitor count to this jungle is a bit less than those visiting Chitwan and so it has fewer resorts. All resorts are located along the private area of ​​the park and the jungle offers many nature treks and one can even go animal spotting by going on a jeep Safari or by taking up the famous “Elephant rides” of this Park.

The jungle is home to many endangered species including tigers, wild elephants, rhinoceros, swamp deer, blackbucks, gharial crocodiles, and marsh mugger crocodiles. Lastly here is a word of advice- it is preferred to travel by air to Barida rather than take up the 15 hours long road journey to reach Barida.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
This park came up to a wild life reserve in the year 1976, It is called Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and occupations a whooping 175 square kilometers of wildlife sanctuary which has a few hectars of wetlands.Located on the Eastern side of Nepal, its entry point is from the Mahindra Highway.

The reserve is a habitat for wild species such as the water buffalo (called arna), deer, nilgai, mugger crocodile, Ganges River Dolphin (also called the Gangetic Dolphin), and over 280 species of birds. Apart from the wild life species, the park also offers Environmental safety to a major part of the Sapta Koshi region, which happens to be an offshoot of the Ganges River flood plain.

Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
Located on the extreme south-west of the Terai is the Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. It is spread across a 305-sq km of forest cover. It is located at an altitude of 90-270 m.

The green vegetation covers a good 70% of the forest and the rest is full of grassland. Out of this total landmass of grassland, Suklaphanta area is notably the largest stretch of grassland of Nepal, that covers an area of ​​54 sq. km. Many mammalian species have been surveyed like Schaaf & Bell and the place is also a famous habitat for the swamp deer (s). The reserve is the breeding ground for Nepal's countless number of Bengal Floridians and the Hispanic hare.

Thus, the above Forest destination (s) is what defines “Wild Nepal” & one can hire an expert guide who can tell you the many things as regards the wildlife and vegetation that is distinct to the terai region of Nepal.

Reading the Clouds: Weather Watching

In California, late autumn usually means the door to Pacific storms starting swinging wide open, bringing snow to the high country. Regardless of where you live, weather affects your daily life, but it is especially important for people who spend time outdoors. Naturally, skiers and other winter-sports enthusiasts will be listening to the latest weather…

In California, late autumn usually means the door to Pacific storms starting swinging wide open, bringing snow to the high country. Regardless of where you live, weather affects your daily life, but it is especially important for people who spend time outdoors. Naturally, skiers and other winter-sports enthusiasts will be listening to the latest weather reports before they head to the high country. But once they are out gliding across the crystal blanket or hiking in potentially foul weather, they may not have a radio or television or reliable cell phone service available to check on that storm the forecaster said was coming.

However, approaching storms give hints of their impending arrival at least several hours ahead. The following aids can help decipher those clues:
“A Field Guide to the Atmosphere” by Vincent J. Shaefer and John A. Day (Houghton Mifflin).
As the title suggests, this book is about more than weather forecasting. As all the books in the Peterson Field Guide Series, its primary purpose is identification – in this case, clouds, rainbows, glories, haloes, and other atmospheric phenomena. For this, it has numerous drawings, plus 336 black-and-white and 32 color photographs.

Because the atmosphere is not just something to identify, but also is an ever-changing system to observe, the book devotes much space to discussing the processes at work in the ocean of air. It is as much for the skier who wonders how a high, icy cirrus cloud can give the sun a halo as it is for the backcountry snow camper who wants to know if he'll have to dig his way out of his tent the next morning .

“Weathering the Wilderness” by William E. Reifsnyder (Sierra Club Books).
The subtitle to this book is “The Sierra Club Guide to Practical Meteorology.” It is written with the outdoor recreationist in mind. The first part of the book is a basic course in the whys and wherefores of winds and storms. Of particular interest to the would-be forecaster is a table that shows how different weather conditions – pressure (for which you'll need an altimeter / barometer to measure) wind, clouds, precipitation, temperature, humidity, and visibility – change as frontal systems approach and pass. Incidentally the chapter on “Weather Hazards”, especially its discussion of wind chill, hypothermia, and avalanches should be of particular interest to the skier.

The second part concerns the general weather patterns of various regions across the United States and Canada, including the Sierra Nevada and it's typically mild, wet winters that produce good skiing conditions.

Pocket Weather Trends (Weather Trends Inc.)
This device is the handset of the three forecasting aids. It resembles a simple slide rule. A slide holder has 6 boxed areas on its face with photos and descriptions of different cloud types. Each box has eight compass directions. Each slide – one for each of several regions – has a black mark in the middle that is lined up next to the wind direction within the box that corresponds to the cloud type observed overhead. Then at two horizontal windows – one for November through April the other for May through October – the slide will show you the forecast for the next 12 – 36 hours.

These books are all available on Amazon.

In addition to books or charts, there are handmade weather instruments a recreationist can carry with them. Accurate measurements of weather conditions can take the guesswork out forecasting. Companies such as Kestrel, Ambient Weather, Speedtech, Weather Mate, and Davis Instruments make handheld devices that can measure temperature (current, maximum and minimum), pressure, elevation, wind speed, relative humidity, dew point, and other measures. Plus, they are all either water resistant or waterproof. These are available directly from the manufacturer, recreation stores, or online.

Nature’s Staircase and the Pygmy Forest

In the northern California coast, nature has created her own forest of bonsai trees. Instead of pots, she used iron cemented hardpan for containers. Instead of scissors for pruning, she stunted the trees with a highly acid, infertile soil and a layer of hardpan that holds too much water in the winter. Her tools were…

In the northern California coast, nature has created her own forest of bonsai trees. Instead of pots, she used iron cemented hardpan for containers. Instead of scissors for pruning, she stunted the trees with a highly acid, infertile soil and a layer of hardpan that holds too much water in the winter. Her tools were ocean waves, heavy rainfall, and uplifting caused by the grinding together of continental plates.

The story of the pygmy forest is part of a larger story of an ecological staircase. It's a story best told at the Jug Handle State Reserve, 2 miles south of Fort Bragg on State Route 1 in Mendocino County. Here a 2-1 / 2 mile nature trail leads visitors on a self-guided tour up nature's terraces from the seashore.

From the headlands of the first terrace, you can gaze down upon the ocean as it deposits sand and gravel on a future terrace. The earth has been steadily uplifting this coast. “What's so rare is that the land was uplifted flat, so you have soils that are a million years old,” says Teresa Sholars, Professor at the College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg. During this time, sea level has lowered and increased with advances and retreats of continental glaciers. As the sea lowers, it drops sediments on a level beach. As it rises, the sea pounds away at the now-higher beach that will have formed sea cliffs. Each of the five terraces along Jug Handle Creek is about 100 feet higher and 100,000 to 200,000 years older than the one below it.

On the lowest terrace, grasses and wildflowers like California poppy and coast lupine have enriched the old beach sediments. This coastal prairie is maintained by salt spray from the ocean that keeps trees at bay.

By the second terrace, the soils have nurtured coniferous forests. Then a leaching process called podzolization, common to coniferous rain forests, depletes the soil.

Rainwater draining slowly on the flat terraces picks up acids from falling needles and carries iron and alkaline minerals down through the soil, forming a hardpan.

“The acid soil and the hardpan are really creating the pygmy forest,” says Sholars. In fact, this soil is almost as acid is vinegar – the most acidic soil in the world.

By the third terrace, after 300,000 to 600,000 years of leaching, the contrast is startingling. As you walk through a luxuriant forest of towering redwoods and Douglas Firs, you'll see an incredible shrinking act by the trees around you; you've finally arrived at the pygmy forest.

Here the ground is an ill-clad dingy white, with little more than lichens and sparse leaf litter for clothing. Rarely found wild outside the pygmy forest, pygmy cypresses and bolander pines, along with the widespread bishop pine, eke out their livings in this depleted soil. Where the hardpan is less than a foot deep, a 2-foot high, half-inch diameter cypress may be a mature 80 to 100 years old. Other vegetation in the pygmy forest consists mainly of shrubs of the acid-loving heath family, including showy pink rhododendrons and huckleberries.

Another good place nearby to explore pygmy forests – especially with young children – is in Van Damme State Park. Here also a self-guided tour brochure provides interpretation along a short trail.

Perhaps the oddest thing about the pygmy forest is that it is a climax community. On the terraces, the process of ecological succession – the gradual replacement of one plant community by another – proceeding from grassland to pine forest to pygmy forest. But it ends there – with the pygmies. No other plant community will take its place as long as conditions stay as they are, the ecological staircase will bear its forests of bonsai trees through time.

The Great Basin’s Lehman Cave

“There are two kinds of rocks in Lehman Caves,” the park ranger told the group. “Headbangers and kneknockers. Watch for both when you're in there.” Then she led us through a heavy door and into a long concrete tunnel. The patter of our footsteps raced and collided along the tunnel's length. The placid, 50-degree Fahrenheit…

“There are two kinds of rocks in Lehman Caves,” the park ranger told the group. “Headbangers and kneknockers. Watch for both when you're in there.” Then she led us through a heavy door and into a long concrete tunnel. The patter of our footsteps raced and collided along the tunnel's length. The placid, 50-degree Fahrenheit (10-degrees Celsius) air chilled us as we passed through the door that completed the airlock, and we finally entered the subterranean labyrinth.

When the sun is setting, Great Basin National Park in east-central Nevada lies in the shadow of the Snake Range's Wheeler Peak, which, at 13,063 feet (3982 meters), is the highest point wholly within Nevada. Millions of years ago, magma intruded into the joint between the quartzite, constituting most of the Snake Range, and the limestone along the range's eastern flank. The magma's heat metamorphosed some of the limestone into marble. That was the crucial first step in the formation of the caves.

At one time, the climate of eastern Nevada was more humid than it is today and, consequentially, the water table was higher. Rainwater, which absorbs carbon dioxide from the air to form carbonic acid – the weak acid of soda pop – soaked into the ground and dissolved the marble. As the climate discharged, the water table dropped, and the trickling water emerged into vaulted rooms and passageways. Losing its carbon dioxide, the liquid deposited its burden of the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate) at the slower than snail's pace – an inch per century – to form soda straws, stalactite daggers, stalagmite stumps, mysterious shields, graceful draperies and columns resembling the ruins of ancient Greece. To keep the difference between cave features clear in your mind remember that the word “stalactites” has the letter “c” and this feature falls down from the ceiling, and the word for the other well-known feature “stalagmites” has the letter ” g “and comes up from the ground. So it's “c” for ceiling (stalactite) and “g” for ground (stalagmite).

Actually, stalactites turn out to be soda straws that became plugged up. Soda straws have mineral-laden water dripping down through the center and leaving behind rings of minerals that can extend great distances if left undisturbed, up to 30 feet (9 meters). If the end becomes plugged, however, water can start dripping down the outside of the straw leaving minerals on the outside of the straw that continue to grow in an outward direction, then becoming stalactites, as the former straw now starts to thicken.

Into the Gothic Palace

As the ranger led us past the cave's natural entrance and into the Gothic Palace, she paused to tell us about Absalom S. Lehman. The proprietor of a ranch on the eastern slopes of Wheeler Peak, Lehman discovered the cave in 1885. In that year, he guided 800 people through his rooms and passageways; visitors had to climb down ladders into the vertical entrance, using only candle lanterns for illumination, according to the ranger.

When our group was a little farther along the path, the ranger turned off the electric lights, leaving only a candle lantern as our light source. As she raised the lantern from the ground, haunting shadows shifted across the somehow enlarged chamber. “Can you imagine exploring the caves this way?” she asked. After the lights were switched back on, we continued our six-tenths of a mile (1 km) journey through the white complex of narrow, twisting passageways and voluminous chambers. Some corridors were like art galleries displaying their sculptures openly. Other corridors obscured their treasures in confounding folds.

The Wedding Chapel and Beyond

After the Gothic Palace, with its arching ceiling and tall columns, we reached the spacious Wedding Chapel, which was actually used for five wedding ceremonies in the 19th century. In the adjacent Music Room, early tour guides would produce musical notes by tapping on the stalactites with mallets. However, this practice was discontinued after some of the stalactites were found crumbling.

Up past wooden stairs, our group came upon the Tom-Tom Room, which has the most famous geological feature of Lehman Caves – saucer-shaped plates called shields or pallets, angled out from the walls. No one knows exactly how shields develop. They may form when water, under pressure, emerges through cracks in the walls to deposit thin films of calcite, creating numerous pairs of facing plates that seem to defy gravity. Gradually, water builds columns underneath many of these shields. They only occur in one percent of all known limestone caves; so Lehman Caves would be special if only for its abundance of shields.

Going past the Dragon's Den and the Queen's Chamber, the ranger reached the Lodge Room at the crossroads of the trail system in the caves. She described how Clarence T. Rhodes, the first custodian of the cave after it had become public property, had urged members of the Knights of Pythias and the Boy Scouts from nearby Ely, Nevada, to hold their meetings here. Since the government did not have any money in the state budget to pay him. Mr. Rhodes was entitled to any fees he might charge for admission and, therefore, had a vested interest in promoting the caves. Unfortunately for the Lodge Room, those visitors knocked down some of the ceiling formations to provide headroom, and the soot from their fires is still visible along the walls.

On through a tunnel, the ranger led us to the Inscription Room. A glance at the sooty letters and numbers on the ceiling and walls immediately told us the reason for the name. After pointing them out, the ranger shined her flashlight near the tunnel we had come through to show us a low crawl space. “This is the old way to get into this room,” she explained. With only an 18-inch (45 cm) clearance, the passage earned the name of Fat Man's Misery for those early visitors who made it through. To celebrate their quest, they marked the room with their initials or the date, the earliest of which is from the 1890's.

The plunking of water greeted us in the Cypress Swamp. Miniature gods of Mt. Olympus may have luxuriated in the delicate, rimstone-dicked pools along with a few curious, calcite creatures. The largest pool was named Lake Como, by Mrs. Rhodes after the famous lake in the Italian Alps.

The ranger saved the best for last. The Grand Palace offered us a gopher's-eye-view of orange carrot-like stalactites, beet-shaped stalagmites and other root-like shapes in this veritable garden of natural rock formations. On some columns, contorted stubs called helictites – looking as though someone had included wax beans – pointed every way, defying gravity.

The Parachute, the symbol of Lehman Caves, was frozen in time with its shield catching the air above dangling stalactite cords. We continued thinking heavenward on seeing the Angel's Wing, a vertical shield overflowing with a tapering column, and on passing by fluted columns called the Pearly Gates. The Glacier, composed of floodstone where water deposited calcite while running over a sloping wall, crept in from one end of the chamber. Elsewhere, lacy crystals of aragonite, another form of calcium carbonate, decorated the wall. On our way back through to the exit tunnel, we were again reminded that Nature's artful hand had graced Lehman Cave.

The Nature Trail

Outside the exit tunnel, a nature trail begins. By following it, you can learn more about the history of the park at the old cabin where Clarence Rhodes once lived, and get acquainted with the trees and shrubs of the park. Actually, the Snake Range gives you the opportunity to explore five different plant communities, representing the changes in vegetation from Mexico to Alaska. The first community, the upper Sonoran, named after Sonora, Mexico, surrounds Lehman Caves with piñons and junipers and extends down toward the Snake Valley.

By driving 12 miles (23 km) toward the Wheeler Peak Campground, you can see the rest of the life zones. The transition zone of ponderosa pines, white fir and mountain mahogany begins around the Lehman Creek Campground, which has the largest mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) in the world. Quaking aspens are here and on up the mountainside.

Higher up the steep, twisting road, near the Peak overlook, the Canadian life zone begins, with Douglas fir and Englemann spruce predominating. From the overlook, craggy Mount Jefferson Davis is to the left and Wheeler Peak is to the right.

In a sense, you're near the Hudson Bay by the time you make it to the Wheeler Peak Campground at about 10,000 feet (3048 meters). Limber pine, Engelmann spruce, and aspens shade the campsites. A trail system leads you to timberline, the highest margin of the Hudsonian zone, where an interpretive trail shows you the oldest living things on the planet – bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva). The oldest bristlecone, at almost 5,000 years, grew on the slopes of Wheeler Peak before being cut down in 1964.

It was named Prometheus by locales, whoave individual trees names including Buddha and Socrates. The story has it that a geographer studying Ice Age features tried to take a core sample of Prometheus in order to find its age. When the core sample boring tool broke, he resisted to cut it down, with the Forest Service's permission. It was only afterwards when he countered the rings that he realized he had cut down the oldest known tree on Earth. It was later determined to be 4862 years old. Older bristlecone pines have been measured over the years since, but for a time, Prometheus held the record.

Lastly, the Arctic-Alpine zone extends up to the summit of Wheeler Peak, attainable by ascending 2,600 feet up a strenuous four-mile (6.5 km) trail. Little grows in this zone, except lichens, mosses, some hardy wildflowers and grasses in protected places.

On the way up to the campground, turn at an interpretive trail that tells the story of early gold mining in the area. To facilitate placer mining, the Osceola Placer Mining Company constructed a 30-mile (48 km) long ditch from Lehman Creek around the mountains in the early 1880's. Their most notable find was a 24-pound (10.9 kg) nugget. The trail leads out to some of the remains of this project.

Another interpretive trail lies along the dirt road to the Baker Creek Campground. The Forest Service has laid out a trail of rock art made by the native culture pre-dating the present-day Paiute, Goshute and Shoshone tribes.

The best rock art in eastern Nevada, though, is the sculptures that Nature itself created in Lehman Caves.

Resources

To get Great Basin National Park, drive about 68 miles (110 km) east from Ely, Nevada, along combined US Routes 6 and 50 to their junction with State Route 487, then south to Baker and, finally, west along Route 488. Cave tours, which last an hour for the Lodge Room tour to an hour and a half for the Grand Palace tour, cost $ 8 and $ 10, respectively for adults, or $ 4 and $ 5 respectively for children 5 – 15 years old and seniors, but are free for children under 5 for the Lodge Room tour. Children under 5 are not allowed on the Grand Palace tour. Today, a paved path and tunnels make spelunking skills unnecessary but it still helps to have some level of fitness for these tours.

The park has five developed campgrounds and seven primitive campsites. The town of Baker has a motel and two private campgrounds, while additional accommodations are available in the cities of Ely in Nevada and Milford and Delta in Utah. Trails lead through these forests, to mountain peaks and to lakes and creeks of the Snake Range. The visitor center is outside the park in the town of Baker, so you can check on getting a campsite while arranging for your cave tour before you arrive at the park itself. For more information, write to Great Basin National Park, 100 Great Basin National Park, Baker, NV 89311 or call (775) 234-7331.

The Great Basin National Park website is at: www.nps.gov/grba . Cave tour reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov .

5 Reasons for Cooking Outdoors

Why should you consider cooking outdoors as part of your lifestyle? There are many reasons why one should consider having outdoor cooking every now and then. Here are five great benefits from outdoor cooking: 1. Outdoor cooking is a stress reliever. How can we say so? Well, when you are cooking outside and having the…

Why should you consider cooking outdoors as part of your lifestyle? There are many reasons why one should consider having outdoor cooking every now and then. Here are five great benefits from outdoor cooking:

1. Outdoor cooking is a stress reliever. How can we say so? Well, when you are cooking outside and having the company of your friends or relatives while enjoying some wine or beer, would you not feel relaxed, at ease and felt like the world is just a background? Surely, I do! Having the people who you cherish and trust as company while cooking and eating outdoors and enjoying the nature, the sunset or the stars above is certainly an excellent way to remove stress.

2. Cooking outdoors means healthy living. We are all conscious of our food intake especially when it comes to meats. Grilling outdoors is a healthy way of cooking foods. Unwanted fatty oils of the meat are discharged off the meat, which means calories are reduced, but nutrients like riboflavin and thiamine are maintained. We also do not use butter when we grill meats which means healthy food! Veggies that are grilled are also more nutritious, especially those which are low in water content. Aside from being healthy and nutritious, the utmost part is that the food tastes finger-licking good!

3. Cooking outside is practical. How? Cooking indoors makes the house warmer and this could lead to air conditioners inside the house working overtime which also leads to larger electric bills. To avoid such bills, especially in the summertime, outdoor cooking is the best option! Outdoor kitchens can be used as an entertaining area when celebrations arrise. No need to have reservations at a hotel banquet hall and no need to worry about the possible mess inside your house if a party is held outdoors.

4. Outdoor cooking is entertaining. I mean, would you not take the opportunity to show off your cooking skills when friends and family are at your home? The best way to do that is when you have your outdoor kitchen complete with a wood-burning pizza oven! When you are outside socializing with family and friends, you do not want to be left out on the latest happenings just because you are inside your house cooking while everyone is having fun outside. Cooking in an outdoor oven is an excellent choice for togetherness!

5. Outdoor cooking is valuable. Every penny you invest in your outdoor kitchen is worth it. The real estate value of your home increases because of having this trendy outdoor kitchen for outdoor cooking. When you invest in first class outdoor kitchen appliances, you certainly invest wisely! Having the best outdoor kitchen accessory typically means investing in stainless steel grills and island components. Stainless steel is considered an “all-season steel” because it lasts much longer and does not rust despite the weather conditions it must survive.

Where should you put your investments? Definitely on something that would give you a better way of living! You and your family deserve a life that embraces laughter, cherished moments, and healthy living! You can find all that and more in an outdoor kitchen and entertaining area.

Basic Checklist for Sterndrive Maintenance

It does not take a huge amount of time to carry out regular maintenance of a Sterndrive, and if you keep to a regular maintenance routine, it will extend the life of the engine, improve performance, and it will save you money on serving and spare parts. General maintenance procedures for a Sterndrive, such as…

It does not take a huge amount of time to carry out regular maintenance of a Sterndrive, and if you keep to a regular maintenance routine, it will extend the life of the engine, improve performance, and it will save you money on serving and spare parts.

General maintenance procedures for a Sterndrive, such as inspection, cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment, is reliably straightforward to do. If you have to do more complex maintenance tasks, you would need to refer to the manufacturer's instructions, or to a specialist, Sterndrive spare parts with videos website, but here's a checklist of the basic maintenance tasks that you should perform on a regular basis.

Check fluid levels regularly

One of the simplest preventative maintenance checks that you can do is to check the fluid levels regularly. If you check the Sterndrive and engine lubricants regularly, you will be able to identify problems before they become serious. If you ever see milky white fluid on a dip-stick, for example, that means that water is getting into the system and that is a problem that should be looked into straight away.

Lubricate

There are a number of points on a Sterndrive that need lubricating regularly. The most important of these are the tilt and trim mechanism, the drive shaft, and the gimbal housing. Regular lubrication will reduce the friction in these points, so it will reduce wear and tear, and will help prevent corrosion.

Inspect the belts and hoses

Inspect hoses and belts regularly and look for any signs of corrosion on clamps, or wear on the hoses and belts. If you do see any sign of trouble with belts and hoses, it's a good idea to replace them immediately, because a belt that slips or a burst hose could leave you stranded. It's also advisable to always carry spares with you.

Flush Out the Raw Water Cooling Circuit

Drain and flush the raw water cooling unit regularly, especially if you use your boat in salt water.

Change the lubricant in the engine and stern drive

Acids that are produced by combustion and other contaminates can soon build up in lubricants, which is why it is advisable to change the engine and stern drive lubricants on a regular basis. As well as the corrosive damage that contaminated lubricants can cause, contaminates will also reduce the lubricating properties of lubricants.

Check and fully charge the batteries

The one thing that drains the batteries on a boat the most is the starter motor, and without that you could be stranded, so keep the batteries fully charged and well-maintained.

Check and replace the fuel filters

Most boats have more than one fuel filter, which should all be checked on a regular basis and the filter elements should be replaced when needed.

Carrying out regular maintenance of a Sterndrive engine is not dissimilar to that needed for a car. The difference is, however, if you do not take good care a marine engine, you will not be left stranded at the side of the road you will be left stranded out on the water, which can be a lot more serious.

If you are unsure about maintenance, or you need some help and advice, you could have your engine professionally maintained, or you can find some very helpful guides and maintenance videos on specialist Sterndrive repair parts and service video websites.

Where to Find OMC Repair Parts and Service Videos

When Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) filed for bankruptcy in December 2000, it left many people wondering where they would be able to get OMC parts. Fortunately, a number of suppliers have stepped in to fill the void and you can now get replacement OMC parts and some suppliers provide detailed OMC service videos as well.…

When Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) filed for bankruptcy in December 2000, it left many people wondering where they would be able to get OMC parts. Fortunately, a number of suppliers have stepped in to fill the void and you can now get replacement OMC parts and some suppliers provide detailed OMC service videos as well.

What happened to OMC?

Outboard Marine Corporation was a multibillion corporation that was the manufacturer of the Evinrude, Johnson and Gale outboard motors and that also owned multiple boat manufacturers, including Javelin, Lowe Boats and Chris Craft.

The company was formed in 1929 when the Elto Outdoor Motor Company merged with Lockwood-Ash Motor Company, but the company did not start using the name OMC until 1956.

Based in Waukegan, Illinois, OMC became the largest manufacturer of outboard motors in the world and they were the second largest manufacturer of powerboats. Particularly famous for its brand names of Johnson and Evinrude outboard motors and Chris-Craft and Grumman Powerboats, OMC began to struggle in the late 1980s, partly as a result of fierce competition from their arch-rival Brunswick Corporation.

It was a series of events, however, beginning in the late 1970s, which was eventually culminated in the demise of OMC.

The first thing to hit OMC was questions being raised with regards to the impact that the company was having on the environment. This first began with accusation in 1976 that the company polluted Waukegan Harbor, which led to OMC being forced to fund a trust responsible for the cleaning up of the lake. Problems for OMC then began to mount in 1980 when sales plummeted after the Department of Energy, in response to fuel shortages, suggesting that boating would be banned on weekends.

In the late 1980s, the boat market reached its peak and then took a rapid nosedive. OMC continued to purchase boat companies in an attempt to maintain demand of its outboard engines and it continued to launch new models, such as Evinrude Spitfire and the Johnson Silver-Star series, but the company continued to lose money.

Ultimately, with the company in financial turmoil, facing stiff competition in Europe from Japanese competitors, and having to release new models in order to comply with new, tougher, EPA guidelines, OMC began to make a series of layoffs and plant closures that spelled the beginning of the end for the company.

OMC filed for bankruptcy in December 2000, and the Johnson and Evinrude brands were bought by Bombardier Recreational Products. The boat division of OMC was purchased by Genmar Holdings of Minnesota.

Where to get help repairing and maintaining OMC motors

When OMC closed, there were concerns about how boat owners would be able to continue to maintain and repair their OMC outboard motors, where they would get OMC repair parts from, and how they would be able to source OMC Service Videos and guides. However, with so many OMC motors in circulation, it was not long before independent suppliers and boating enthusiasts started to put their own OMC service and repair videos online and OMC parts became available. It is those suppliers that are now the best place to source OMC aftermarket Sterndrive repair parts and videos.