travel experts

Chase In Lilliput - All That Introduction Stuff (1/2)

And here we are again with another update from Chase and his new giant. This one will actually be the last in this initial sequence of Chase finding the giant and deciding to keep him. After this I’ll jump around with other shorts, musings, etc. If you have ideas for the dorks to get into, you should definitely send them my way. :V

Keep up on Chase In Lilliput here

It didn’t take long for Jacob to notice Chase’s return. The giant eyes glanced his way at the sign of motion, and then Jacob perked up in surprise to see Chase returning so soon. Chase grinned and waved jauntily.

One giant hand pressed into the grass so Jacob could lean towards him and watch his progress. After figuring out how mellow Jacob actually was, that sight wasn’t scary at all. “That was fast,” he commented. “Everyone still panicking?”

“Kinda!” Chase called.

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The Mind Cage - Epilogue

Title: The Mind Cage
Summary: In another world, Stanford Pines places a metal plate in his skull far too soon. In another world, Bill Cipher is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Characters: Bill Cipher, Ford Pines, Stan Pines, Fiddleford McGucket
Rating: T
Click here for the first chapter, warnings and links to all chapters up so far.

A/N:  And here’s the epilogue - if you read the Journal, you’ll definitely know which scenario it’s based on!
(If you haven’t: it’s from a parallel reality where Stan left with Jornal 1 when told to, Ford reconnected with McGucket and together they made interdimensional travel possible without allowing Bill access to their world. Happy ending for everyone… except Stan, clearly. So I had to fix that.)


The Astonishing Anomalies of Gravity Falls

Fiddleford H. McGucket, PhD
Stanford F. Pines, PhD

– To Stanley Pines, without whom none of this would have seen the light of day.


Nikola Tesla once said that the history of science shows that theories are perishable; with every new truth that is revealed, we get a better understanding of Nature and our conceptions and views are modified.

Much of what is written in this paper defies what most believe to be real; research on the cause of these phenomena is still ongoing. Only by keeping an open mind on the scientific evidence presented in this work, and abandoning all preconceptions…


Stan had seen it coming from a mile away.

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anonymous asked:

(Pt. 1) So I've been thinking. In Episode 1, Yuuri performs Viktor's free skate in Hasetsu. And once the video is touched on, we see a few characters watching it. And I noticed, Yurio, Mila, Geogi, and Yakov were at the rink. And Viktor was at home on the couch. And he looked like he was in comfortable clothes. Which got me thinking... That was prior to Viktor announcing his retirement. And Viktor doesn't seem like the person to skip out on practice for no reason at all.

(Part 2) don’t get me wrong, the clips we see could be at different times. But it looked like Victor’s apartment was a bit dark, but there was still outside light. what if Victor was home sick. And not just a simple headache or head cold. No i’m talking about incredibly sick. Fever, aches, tiredness, dizziness, nausea, and possibly spending a better part of the previous night throwing up, maybe the rest of the day except for what we see. Could you make this a fic if it’s not too troubling?

Wow, my first two-part ask (I hope that I formatted this right)! And of course it’s not too much trouble! I’m happy to write it for you. Also, I’m aware that I’m all out of order with my requests, but Megan from @feelingalittlesick wanted some sick Victor, and I love her so here it is!

Victor’s dim, empty apartment looks like heaven after traveling for so long. He lets his bags drop with a heavy sigh, thoroughly exhausted from traveling. Makkachin, upon hearing her master’s arrival, comes bounding over to the front door. “Hey, girl,” Victor says cheerfully, scratching behind her ears and bending over to rub her belly when she rolls over. “You’ve been holding down the fort while I’ve been gone, huh?”

Georgi has been looking after her; Victor should probably thank him. And he needs to start planning for next season. But first… He drags himself to the kitchen, rummaging through the cabinets and the refrigerator. Of course. They’re all empty. Well, he has been away for awhile. He needs go grocery shopping. Maybe he can do that tomorrow. He could always order takeout, except that he’s not really hungry right now.

Heading towards the bathroom, Victor settles on just showering and going to bed. He can always go to the store in the morning. Casting a glance at his discarded luggage, he decides that that can wait as well.

He feels a bit strange, but it must just be the jet lag. The sore muscles, too, can be blamed on traveling; even first class seats will make you sore if you’re sitting in them for too long. He just needs to get some sleep, and readjust to being at home.

The shower is nice and soothing, and Victor finds himself almost falling asleep on his feet. Fortunately, his nose bumping the wet glass wakes him up, and shaking his head at his own foolishness, Victor finishes washing up. He’s reluctant to leave the cozy warmth of the steam-filled paradise, but as soon as he’s in bed he has no complaints. It’s a wonder to be back in his own bed, in his own home instead of a hotel room. Victor is asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.

Unfortunately, his blissful rest isn’t the cure-all that he was hoping for. His muscles still ache, and his joints are stiffer than before. He’s also still exhausted, despite getting twice as much sleep as usual, and he’s strangely dizzy. He blames that on low blood sugar, and after another fruitless search through the kitchen, he drags himself out the door, Makkachin in tow.

The market is within easy walking distance, and Victor figures that it’s a good way to get some food for the apartment and let Makkachin get some exercise at the same time. Makkachin is ecstatic to be outside, and sniffs inquisitively at every rock and bush they pass. He smiles at the dog’s antics; the worst part of traveling, in his expert opinion, is not being able to take her with him. The morning is crisp and clear, not too cold or too warm. Perfect walking weather.

It’s not a very long trip to the market and back, but Victor is completely drained by the time he arrives home. He’s still a bit woozy, but strangely enough, he still doesn’t really have an appetite at all. He forces himself to nibble on some of the fruit he brought anyway. The dizziness abates a little, but doesn’t completely disappear.

Groceries put away, Victor wanders aimlessly around the apartment, looking for something to do. Makkachin follows closely on his heels as he unpacks his suitcase and reorients himself to his flat. Normally he wouldn’t bother to try to find something to do, and would just head to the skating rink, but Yakov had made it very clear that he didn’t want to see Victor until tomorrow (there might have been some threats involved). He settles on watching his past routines in an attempt to find some inspiration for his new routines. At some point during the afternoon, Victor dozes off mid-video, Makkachin curled up beside him.

A jolt of nausea forces him back to wakefulness. Victor sits bolt upright, one hand clapped to his mouth. Outside the windows, the sky is still pitch black. It must be the middle of the night. A bitter taste in the back of his mouth disrupts his train of thought and has him bolting for the bathroom.

He doesn’t quite make it to the toilet in time, and instead he’s forced to pause in front of the sink as the little bit of fruit he managed to choke down earlier forces its way back up his throat. Victor heaves violently into the sink, bringing up a wave of vomit that burns his esophagus and makes his eyes water.

There’s a small reprieve after he pukes which he seizes to situate himself in front of the toilet. What Victor had originally thought was jet lag had actually been the stomach flu, and he’s not about to be caught off guard again. The rest of the night passes painfully slowly, with Victor curled over the toilet, holding on for dear life and cursing his own existence. He didn’t think that he had anything left in his stomach to throw up, but he’s apparently wrong.

When he the vomiting finally stops, Victor is left curled up and shaking on the tile. Eventually, he pushes himself shakily to his feet and stumbles back over to the sink. He turns on the water to rinse the mess out, and rinses his mouth out. After a few cautious sips of water, he debates the merits of making the long trek back over to the couch.

The idea of relaxing into the comfortable cushions wins him over, and Victor painstakingly makes the journey back to the living room. He snags the trash can from the bathroom, in case of emergency.

The couch is beckoning to him, and he collapses onto it with a contented sigh. He closes his eyes for a moment, before a problem suddenly occurs to him: he’s freezing. And there aren’t any blankets within reach. Victor lets out a frustrated whine, and almost jumps when there’s a nudge at his hand. He opens his eyes to see Makkachin next to the sofa, looking at him imploringly. He pats the cushion next to him and she jumps up eagerly, settling next to him.

Warmth seeps into his frozen legs from the dog lying next to them, and Victor moans in relief. He pulls Makkachin so that she’s lying alongside him; her warmth is better than any blanket. Finally warm and relatively comfortable, he dozes off as the sun begins to peek over the horizon.

His restless sleep lasts for most of the morning, and Victor only wakes up when he hears his phone buzzing. He’d forgotten that he’d left it out here.

He enters his passcode and goes to his texts, expecting a “Where the hell are you?” from Yakov. Instead, there’s a link to a video from Yuri.

That’s unexpected. Frowning, he shoots a message to Yakov explaining the situation before opening the text from Yuri. “You’ve got to see this,” is the only text accompanying the mysterious link. “Cryptic,” Victor murmurs to himself, before hitting the play button.

As soon as he sees just who is starring in the video, Victor lets out a shocked gasp, his blue eyes going wide with astonishment. He’s transfixed, unable to take his eyes off the screen the entire time. Watching Yuuri skate is entrancing, and when the video ends, Victor immediately presses the replay button, determined to burn this into his memory forever. His mind is already swirling with ideas, plans to fly to Japan. Because this means that…

“My Yuuri,” Victor whispers. “I knew that you hadn’t forgotten me.”

How are gems able to travel the vast distances between star systems? Well, it looks like they just showed us how! The attention to detail in this show is remarkable. 

(explanation below)

The closest star to earth, besides the sun, is about 4.4 light years away, meaning that traveling at the speed of light, it would take 4.4 years to get there. The approximate diameter of our galaxy is 100,000 light years. According to known laws of physics, matter cannot travel faster than light. So how is Homeworld able to go around galaxy conquering so quickly?

That ship appears to be creating an Alcubierre drive, one of the only theoretical propulsion methods capable of faster-than-light interstellar travel. I’m no expert, so correct me if I am wrong, but the physics behind it essentially are that it compresses the fabric of space in front of it and expands the space behind it, effectively meaning that the ship does not move at all, but rather rides on a ripple in the very fabric of reality. Matter cannot travel at speeds faster than light, but there is no limit to how fast space itself can expand. 

One proposed method for creating an Alcubierre drive is to create an artificial black hole in front of the ship to compress the spacetime in front of it. That is what they are doing here! Sorry for the long winded explanation; I get really excited when cartoons do their science right!

So there you have it, that is the level of technology Homeworld possesses. 

First Look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 5

Get ready for Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon, full of wild guest stars and weird stories.

There are big changes coming to Nickelodeon’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. For one thing, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Season 5 will be the final go around for the critical favorite. Hot on the heels of the announcement that the 3D series will give way to a brand new 2D animated series in 2018 comes the first details of the new season, which is going to challenge a lot of your assumptions about what a TMNT show could be.
For its fifth season, the show will be known as ‘Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, and it’s trading in its serialized approach for an anthology format that will put “the world’s most fearsome fighting team” in a variety of new situations. This season will take us back to the team’s early days, offer glimpses of their possible futures, and from the looks of the guest star list, will take them to even more unexpected places.

The show even has a brand new intro this time around, and it’s pretty badass. Fans of classic animated openings like Batman Beyond, Cowboy Bebop, and Venture Bros should take note.

Things kick off on March 19th, with “Scroll of the Demodragon,” which features none other than Mark Hamill guest starring as Kavaxas, “ a hotheaded dragon man with mystical powers, who partners with some of the Turtles’ worst foes to bring chaos to New York City.” Hamill will return as Kavaxas for three more episodes, as well.

  • “Scroll of the Demodragon” (Sunday, Mar. 19) - The Turtles believe they have defeated their old enemies, but they soon discover a new evil is rising.
  • The Forgotten Swordsman(Sunday, Mar. 26) - Karai searches for the Kuro Kabuto, claiming to be the rightful heir to the Foot Clan, when she encounters an old rival.
  • Heart of Evil” (Sunday, Apr. 2) - Donnie’s grudge against Don Vizioso threatens the Turtles’ mission.
  • End Times” (Sunday, Apr. 9) - The Turtles must defeat Kavaxas and prevent him from destroying the world.

And Mark Hamill is far from the only high profile guest star for this, and the others announced give you an indication of some of the unique places ‘Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ will take us this year. Chris Sarandon (The Princess Bride) will show up as Count Vlad Dracula (yes, you read that right); Graham McTavish (The Hobbit trilogy) as Savanti Romero, “an evil time master from the future”; Dana DeLorenzo (who is currently amazing on Starz’s Ash vs Evil Dead) as Esmeralda, “a kind and weary Romanian traveler with an expert knowledge of monsters”; Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Revenge) as Sumo Kuma, “a fierce and cunning Samurai commander”; and Nyambi Nyambi (Mike & Molly) as Verminator Rex, “the vicious leader of a gang.”

Deconstructing the PR Cycle

I got some comments on my Google hits post about how the 7 million (or 3.2 mullioned spending where you are) items meant that people were interested in Meghan.

It doesn’t mean that. The number is just counting posts about Meghan (including tweets by UFO Paranormal accounts and Footwearnews posts). it doesn’t say anything about how popular she is.

To get a sense of her popularity, we need to look at Google Trends (or IMbd’s StarMeter, which I don’t have access to right now).

Here’s her Google trend line since October 1st:

That big peak is late October/early November. It’s HUGE but you can see that she’s been kind of flatlining since. Interest in her has gone down a lot, although you can kind of discern a couple of “bumps” here and there.

I got curious and decided to figure out what caused the “bumps.” That was actually harder than I expected. The “increased interest” incidents were not what I thought they were.

For starters, that big bump isn’t, as I thought, when the relationship was outed. The big peak is actually the statement. That was what caused a big splash.

And the other peaks are either “dates” or pics with Harry (which I expected) or reports that she’s “met” members of the royal family. I did NOT expect the latter as we in the fandom have mostly dismissed these stories as totally fake. 

I was particularly struck by that “met Charles” peak in late October. I barely remember that article, but apparently it got a lot of attention when the relationship was outed.

So none of the “increased interest” bumps have to do with Meghan (not even the nudes!). They all have to do with either Harry or the rest of his family.

The other thing I noticed is that these “increased interest” bumps are rather, er, evenly spaced. We get two per month – one early in the month and the other in the middle – and the Harry one always precedes the family one. 

That’s when I got kind of suspicious.

The big November peak makes the graph hard to read, so I decided to zoom in and check out the trend line since December 1st. Here’s the graph, with the Harry dates and family meets (even the ones that didn’t move the needle much, like poor George’s) labeled.

That’s a pattern right there.

I decided to check if Meg’s others “signature” articles were also on a pattern. Here’s the above graph with Meg’s pap walks inserted.

Yep, the pap walks come out in cycles too.

So that’s the pattern. She bumps up interest at the beginning of the cycle with a Harry date or pic, then she has a pap walk and a family meet rumor to keep the interest high. Then there’s another pap walk at the end of the month, which is also when we get the beauty/lifestyle articles and the “friends” articles. Then the cycle starts again with another Harry date or pic.

Sometimes the cycle breaks, as it did on the third week of March, when Megs missed her second monthly pap walk. Why, you ask? The Westminster attack happened on March 22nd. Skipping the pap walk was smart.

Overall, however, this is a very disciplined gang (except for Lainey who goes rogue once in a while) and they keep to their schedule come hell or high water. Remember that January 12 pap walk that got backdated to December and we all thought that was a mistake because Megs had to “be in London” for her Kate meet? It wasn’t. The pap walk was required by the schedule.

The pap walks are not the only things that are on cycle though. Here are the “date” articles (two per month, one at the beginning and one in the middle, like clockwork) and the essays. Note that the essay dates jump around. That’s because many (MLK, IWD, V-day) are linked to holidays. She always puts out one “big” one per month, however, pubs have their own schedule so sometimes she gets a smaller one at the end of the month (Game Changers in December and “freckles” in March)

The weirdest part of this is that even stuff that I assumed was bad luck (like the Toronto detour) or the tabs making mischief (old V-day article appearing on the press) or independently making stupid crap up (Norway, ”love cave” and “dino date”) is actually part of her pr cycle. She’s feeding ALL of this stuff to the tabs. ALL OF IT.

NONE of this is organic. It’s all a well-run pr machine.

Remember how we all think she’s being quiet on IG and not posting anymore? And everyone thinks that’s because KP told her to keep the social posts down?

Well, we’re all wrong.

Guess what? She puts out at least one IG post (on either her personal IG or the Tig) that gets pushed out to the press per cycle. Like the essays, the dates vary because they’re often linked to holidays, but there’s always at least one.

And those engagement rumors all from “friends” and “sources”? One per cycle, always at the end/start of the cycle to “hook” the audience into paying attention to the next cycle. 

These two may very well be having the romance of the century behind the scenes, but nothing we’ve seen is “real.” It’s all a pr construct. Relationships don’t fall into place like this. You don’t schedule your dates for the beginning of the month and meet a family member every month (on the second week of the month). You don’t suddenly decide to get engaged at the end of every month.

And, mind you, most of these articles allege that the date (or family meet) occurs either the previous day or a few days ago. They (except for the supposed Charles meet in October) don’t pretend to tell you about something that happened several weeks or months ago. They are all supposedly contemporaneous. 

“Supposedly” being the key word here.

You can spot the pattern with all of her stuff, the humanitarian articles (once a month), the “friends” articles (once a month), the “good with kids” articles (once a month), the merchandise pimping (one high-end time and one low-end item and she wears each item twice per cycle and then once on the previous/next cycle). Some articles are “perennials” and get pushed out every month (”style sisters” with Kate, IG pics of Cory’s apartment, food/travel expert). 

Same crap, different month.

So if you’re wondering why people talk about the pics being old or the stories being fake this is why. The whole thing is fake. ALL OF IT.

I didn’t add November because that statement spike makes the Google trend all wonky, but the same cycle appears in November. She’s been doing this since the very beginning.

This is why people are so bored and sick of her. The royal fandom is like Groundhog Day now. Everything gets recycled and repeated every single freaking month and none of it feels or sounds real.

And that’s one of the (many!) problems I have with Meghan. The whole point of the royals is that they’re not supposed to be a reality show with fake storylines and made up “characters” and events. They’re supposed to be real people with real duties that they carry out.

If I wanted fake meetings with the heir to the throne and made up dates with the spare, I’d watch the royals on E!

I met this Caribbean lady with around six streams of income, after coming here with absolutely nothing and working as a cleaner.. She now operates a restaurant, grocers and she rents out her property amongst other things. I also met an Afro-Brazilian lady who is a full time travel expert(this is hospitality central), she’s been here for six years and speaks five languages. Her life is fabulous and she is insanely carefree. Black girls winning. Leaving one’s comfort zone does wonders for many, it forces you to activate survival mode I guess.

Immigrants have never come to play with these heaux. Many of us owe it to our parents who could turn water into wine, picking us up from school whilst working on their degree at the same time. 

Time Travel AUs
  • “You’re from the future and apparently I fucked up so bad that there’s a darker future and you’re here to make sure I don’t do that. also you’re a jerk but kinda cute??”
  • “I went back in time on accident but holy shit i always wanted to hang out in this decade also how do you know time travel exists?”
  • “You keep dying so I keep reversing time to save your life but you’re getting annoying since you say the same things over and over again. I’m really questioning why you were so interested in that squished tangerine on the store floor.”
  • “I’m from the early 1900s and I somehow invented a time machine and I accidentally ended up here help me get back please. wait you’re my great-grandchild?”
  • “You’re an expert time traveler and take people on tours through time but I’m scared of doing anything because holy shit have you read that short story A Sound Of Thunder? Mitt Romney could be elected if I accidentally step on a cockroach.”
  • “I’m a time traveler who has a bunch of friends from different time periods and I wanted one from the 2010s but you’re a history teacher and you think it’s interesting I know a lot of first-hand history. I don’t have the heart to tell you the truth because no one thought I was smart in my life.”
  • “I wanted to make a parallel universe where you fell in love with me because you’re a celebrity and I’ve had a huge crush on you since I was 25 but wait you were that quiet kid in the 8th grade who was too eager about Shakespeare?”
  • “Your time machine fell on my car and I’m going to be late for my job interview so you better let me use it to get there on time.”
How did Ford survive beyond the Portal?

Stanford Pines. Scientist. Paranormal researcher. Interdimensional traveler. Also expert in poor decisions who needs to be rescued on more or less an hourly basis.

We have scientific proof that Ford’s need for rescuing (or “distress quotient”) is so high that he breaks the scale, coming in at 142.85% (for reference, the next highest Pines Family Distress Quotient is Mabel at 17.95%). In fact, there are only two episodes in which Ford has a speaking role where he does not, at some point, need to be rescued. 

So how does a man whose mere existence raises his family’s mean distress quotient by over 20% manage to survive on his own in a hostile alien environment for thirty years? Who rescued him and made sure he ate and performed all the other functions his family and friends fulfilled once he finally made it back to Earth?

The answer is simple: an endless string of kindly alien moms.

Sure, he picked up some cool sci-fi equipment and more than a few survival skills, but he had those once he made it back to Gravity Falls, too, and that didn’t stop him from getting captured by nearly every supernatural being he met. He gets damselled a lot. It happens. But he needs someone to get him out. He’s pathetic and fluffy enough that a bunch of local aliens probably took pity on him, the way you might help out a bedraggled kitten.

So, shoutout to the probably hundreds of alien moms scattered across the dimensions who helped keep Ford alive long enough for Stan go get him back.

imagine space explorer shiro who crashes on an unknown planet with the holts. humans are much more evolved and are expert space travellers by then so they send out a hailer so someone could rescue them, hoping that somebody will. (not too advanced though because that’s not fun? i like the stasis kind of travelling they often do, like in the first alien.) anyway everything is new and not so much hostile and it’s all a desert until bam! they meet galra keith. keith first tries to fight them but eventually gets to kinda like them and he’s super curious about shiro because of course he is. 

anyway, galras are primitive on this planet and matt is super excited about being their first contact because it’s mutual since humans have never found another highly evolved alien specie. galras basically live like early humans with fire and little settlements, following herds they hunt and are just starting agriculture. shiro finds it pretty fascinating and tries to learn their language because he’s a diplomat. he teaches keith some english and japanese while keith returns with some galra. 

anyway soon enough shiro discovers some ancient facilities all lit up purple still with experiments in dried formol-like substance inside. apparently, galras fucked up their planet so bad they went back to being primitive and then idk. i just want cute galra keith being all amazed at shiro’s tech and being all O: at the fact shiro flew in the sky??


National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography, Dan Westergren, recently was On Assignment in Montana, photographing the local culture and stunning landscapes of the scenic state. Dan’s travels brought him to Yellowstone National Park and of course, the famous Old Faithful geyser. So, how do you make interesting photographs of a famous site? Dan sat down with us and shared his tips.

Nat Geo Travel: Old Faithful is photographed by thousands of photographers each year. How do you make a photo that stands out?

Dan Westergren: Some of the most difficult things to photograph are well known travel icons. People often think that if you want your picture to be recognizable, you should take a picture from the spot that everyone else does, right? Well, no, though it’s very hard to resist that temptation. Think differently.

I arrived at Old Faithful just a few minutes before it was scheduled to erupt. Without time to plan, I went to the expected spot. As the geyser erupted, I was disappointed because I couldn’t see the water shooting into the air. The boiling water instantly turned into a cloud of vapor, hiding the actual eruption. Then I recognized the huge cloud in front of me, and without even trying, just by paying attention, I made an unusual picture of Old Faithful from the ordinary photo spot.

N.G.T.: Within one day, you photographed very different lighting conditions. Walk us through the different scenes and how you decided to frame and make your pictures.

D.W.: After my first encounter with the famous photo op, I started walking around the Upper Geyser Basin, keeping in mind that Old Faithful erupts approximately every 90 minutes. I was photographing other park features, but also looking for something interesting to put in the foreground. As I wandered the basin, the weather drastically changed and a low contrast gloom descended over the whole area. Everything was white and I wondered if that was a color palette I could use to my advantage. When I happened upon a small clump of frost-encrusted trees, I knew I had my photo.

The next morning I went out into the sub-zero weather well before sunrise, hoping to get a sweet light photo of some bison. The sun was not cooperating, but did make a very brief appearance.  As the horizon started to glow and Old Faithful began erupting, I frantically looked around for something interesting to put between my camera and the bright spot on the horizon. I love the way this picture looks like some type of bomb has gone off in the eerie scene.

Finally, while waiting for my snow coach ride out of the park, people started to gather once again around the famous sight. Thinking it would be a shame to waste another opportunity to photograph the geyser, I walked away from the crowd, looking for something a little less common. When I saw this skier waiting to see the spectacle, I knew I had another unique photograph of Old Faithful.

N.G.T.: Spring or summer, which provides better opportunities to make unique photographs in Montana?

D.W.: I prefer difficult photographic situations, so I love shooting Yellowstone in winter. But, spring is probably better – it’s nice to be there without all the summer crowds.

N.G.T.: What’s the most surprising thing about photographing this famous geyser?

D.W.: I was surprised at how regimented the experience of viewing Old Faithful is, even in the winter. I would guess that 80% of the people who visit Yellowstone in the winter have the same exact experience. They ride a snowcoach in from West Yellowstone, watch Old Faithful erupt, eat lunch, then head out of the park. I would recommend spending the night there if possible. The crowds leave every afternoon, making for a very pleasant evening or early morning experience. 

See more of Dan’s photography and get more photo tips on Nat Geo Travel’s On Assignment blog.




These are the best US cities for starting over: DK Eyewitness Travel

Looking to wipe the slate clean and reinvent yourself in a new city? Los Angeles has been named the best city for living the swinging single life; Boulder, Colorado the best for lovers of the outdoors; and Cambridge, Massachusetts the best city for millennials. 

That's according to travel guide DK Eyewitness Travel, which released their picks for the 20 Best US Cities for Making a Fresh Start, this week. 

For the list, travel experts considered a slew of motivating factors that would compel people to uproot their lives and start afresh: better work-life balance, a love of the great outdoors, family life, and a dynamic art scene. 

“We all go through periods where we long for something new, whether a new job, a new hobby or a new locale, so we worked to compile those cities perfect for those looking for a change of pace and scenery,” said publishing director Georgina Dee in a statement. 

“Early in the year is always a great time to rediscover ourselves, including what we want to do and where we want to live. Our list includes a broad mix of mid-size towns, state capitals and big cities, each perfect in their own way for those seeking a fresh start." 

For overall quality of life, editors recommend Bellevue, Washington, home to high-paying jobs, beautiful natural surroundings, clean air, excellent schools and healthcare and little crime. 

The only trade-off? Lots of rain. 

For families looking to start anew, Plano, Texas is described as one of the most family-friendly cities in the US. 

And the unemployed are advised to check out Salt Lake City, which boasts the highest rate of job opportunities in the country. 

Here are the top 20 cities for starting over, according to DK Eyewitness: 

1. Fort Worth, Texas
2. Anchorage, Alaska
3. Raleigh, North Carolina
4. San Francisco, California
5. Salt Lake City, Utah
6. Atlanta, Georgia
7. Bellevue, Washington
8. Plano, Texas
9. Honolulu, Hawaii
10. Portland, Oregon
11. Oakland, California
12. Huntsville, Alabama
13. Cambridge, Massachusetts
14. Los Angeles, California
15. Boulder, Colorado
16. Provo, Utah
17. Denver, Colorado
18. Providence, Rhode Island
19. Seattle, Washington
20. Santa Barbara, California

Lesson 17 - Viking Crafts.

Note: [If you have not done so already, check out last week’s lesson. Visit “Viking History” on my blog to view all of the lessons.]

Komiði sæl og blessuð, vinir,

I have mentioned craft and production quite a bit now, as we have talked about Viking towns and commerce. The Vikings did not only trade things they stole, nor did they only have raw materials to offer. If not already convinced by their ships, the Vikings were tremendously skilled when it came to their art and crafts. However, as we will discuss next week, their art was more practical than the art of “great” civilizations. This lesson is essentially an introduction to the brief Art and Weaponry segment that we are now beginning.

1. Who Crafted?
2. Crafting as a Profession
3. Crafting like a “Viking”
4. Textiles

Who Crafted?

Even before towns, most people knew how to craft, at least to some extent. Items for everyday life were generally made in the home, which was, before towns, the major source for production. If not just at home, crafters would be local or traveling experts, either offering their service to farmsteads nearby or providing a sort of “wandering” service.

When I said everyone crafted, that included women. However, that does not mean it was free from gendered restrictions. Certain crafts were often associated with certain sexes. For example, woodworking and blacksmithing were viewed as male tasks, while weaving and textile production were female tasks. This trend is evident in burials, for the grave goods most often reflect this distinction. Textile production was very time consuming though, so it gave women a way to participate in production and in the “economy.”

Crafting as a Profession

Once towns emerged in Scandinavia, crafting gravitated towards a new center. This center moved from the household and into the town, thus providing a spot for year-round production, rather than part-time or even seasonal work. Yet, even those who travelled represented the motion towards crafting as a profession. The Mästermyr Chest from Gotland, Sweden provides interesting insight into the traveling craftsman:

The chest dates to around the year 900 and features a wide variety of tools. It was truly an essential kit for a craftsman. It does not only indicate that these craftsman were traveling, but also gives some potential insight into the types of crafts that these Scandinavians partook in.

Crafting like a “Viking”

So, what did they craft? Well, when they weren’t carving intricate art onto ships and axes, they utilized a variety of materials in order to create pretty “basic” items. By basic, I mean that these items were not typically luxurious, rather they would be used for everyday purposes. Yet, production was still sophisticated, making use of imported materials to use in production. Some crafts, especially amber, was highly desired in regions south of Germany. Here are some of the materials they used to craft with:

Iron (…forges and metal pits were on the outskirts of towns, and so metals were most often provided from outside the center of production.)
Gold (…not manufactured in Scandinavia. Gold was often important and them melted so that they could mold it into other objects. Gold was rare, of course, and used for decoration.)
Beads (…this was a big craft, along with glass, which often was used to make beads.)
Glass (…this was a specialist craft, not just anyone did glasswork. There were various types: Russian Carnelian, Rock Crystal-imported, and Amber-locally available.)


Textiles normally do not survive, since they easily break down over time. They are usually only found in two particular situations: metal attachments and anaerobic environments. For reasons I am not going into, metal actually helps prevent a textile from fully “decomposing.” This can be observed in Birka graves. Brooches and swords often helped preserve the clothing of women and men alike. Though, such preservation would still be poor at best. As for anaerobic environments, these are special conditions that help preservation. Thick clay as well as boggy land help seal objects from the elements that cause them to break apart. This can be observed with bog bodies and even the Oseburg ship itself.

Textiles were often lavishly decorated. One such example, that we actually have  been able to “reproduce” is the tapestries of Oseburg. I have posted about this in the past (literally only after two weeks of starting this blog). You can view that post here (Oseburg Tapestry Post). At the very least, you will see what it was thought to look like.

Textiles reflected the long-distant trade networks that formed alongside towns. The Birka graves show textiles from China, Syria, and even Arabia. Nordic textile styles actually take on some inspiration from foreign styles as well. As a result of their growing internationality, textiles also conveyed status. Textiles, especially women’s clothing, was often enhanced with precious metals, beads, gems, and dyes. There was even selective breeding to produce whiter, brighter wool. 


As I stated previously, this is only the beginning of “Viking” crafts. Crafts in medieval Scandinavia were more focused on the creation for useful items, yet, as towns and international trade began to flourish, crafts began to convey a new kind of status: command of resources and networks. This, of course, was not entirely new, but definitely on an expanding level. Next week we shall talk about proper “Viking” art styles as we make our way into weaponry and raids.

Skál og ferð vel.

Next Week’s Lesson: Lesson 18 - Viking Art: Decorating Useful Objects.

Sources and Notations:

[Gen.] Jennifer Dukes-Knight, “Crafts, Art, and Weaponry,” Lecture, Viking History, University of South Florida, 2015. || I had little extra input to make this lesson, so there are clearly a lack of notations this time. If there is any aspect of this lesson that you would like more detail, send me an ask and I shall research it for you.

[Fig 1.] Image of the Mästermyr Chest, provided by the Swedish History Museum via Flickr. (link)

[Fig 2.] This image depicts a more wealthy medieval Scandinavian woman’s attire: an apron dress with brooches and beads. (link)

Mother's Day-Inspired Vacations For Moms of Every Stage And Travel Style

With Mother’s Day around the corner, travel experts have compiled a list of vacation destinations for moms at every stage, be it Nassau for moms with little ones, or Palm Springs for moms who are in their golden years.

Husbands and kids looking to treat the moms in their lives with a vacation may want to check out a list of travel ideas compiled by experts at Cheapflights, which offers travel ideas for moms of every age, and every travel style, be it the thrill-seeker, food-lover or gallery-goer.

Here are some highlights:

Mom with young kids: Nassau, Paradise Island

Along with offering mom a sun-soaked, beach holiday, the town of Nassau offers family-friendly activities like the interactive Pirates of Nassau Museum, Aquaventure, which offers 20 different swimming areas, and forts like Fort Charlotte and Fort Montagu. Happy brood guarantees mom’s happy mood.

Mom and teenage kids: Belize

With the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belize offers an incredible underwater experience. On land, both moms and teens with short attention spans can visit the country’s many wildlife sanctuaries and ancient Mayan ruins, sign up for zip lining in the jungle and river tubing in the Cayo District caves.

Mom and 20-something kids: Barcelona, Spain

The kids are older now, and can appreciate art and culture on the same level as mom. For the ultimate bonding trip, consider Barcelona, experts suggest, which offers stunning architecture, rich culture, memorable food and wine experiences and beaches. Must-visits include La Rambla, La Boqueria market, and Park Guell.

Mom in her Golden Years: Palm Springs, California

Experts describe Palm Springs as a good bonding destination with older moms. Easy to explore on foot, the desert oasis will appeal to moms who appreciate modern architecture, art, good food, and boutique shopping, all along palm tree-lined streets at a relaxed pace.

Boys and Good Books

We figure boys and books go ridiculously well together so we have paired up our current favorite boys with our current favorite delicious books!  

1. Six of Crows - Luke Evans

Dark, stylish and debonair, we think Luke Evans is the perfect match for Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Very much like our antagonist-we-love-to-love Kaz Brekker, Luke is devilishly handsome and we’re sure he’s got more than a few tricks up his sleeve. With that dark and brooding stare, we’ll let him pick our pockets(and then some) any day.

2. 13 Days of Midnight - Tom Hiddleston

Tom is turning his mischievous charms to darker tides in the upcoming film, Crimson Peak. Brimming with wit and silent demons, Tom can easily pull off the curious role of Luke Manchett from the dark 13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt and probably teach those ghosts a lesson too.

3. Wolf by Wolf - Kit Harrington

Wolf calls to wolf and Kit Harrington certainly has the mane for it! If rumour is to be true, Kit will have no problem ‘blending in’ among the rabble of Hitler’s regime that has taken hold in the eerie alternate world spectacle Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin. With the addition of our protagonist’s wolf tattoos, the similarities are just too uncanny.

4. The Novice - Matthew Lewis

Matthew definitely didn’t exactly have affinity for spells during his time in Hogwarts but he sure had the courage. This makes him our perfect match for The Novice by Taran Matharu. He’ll slot right in at the Vocans Academy and we think he’ll do much better with demons and mana without the need for all that wand nonsense.

5. The Hit - Sam Claiflin

Sam Claiflin is very much a ‘boy next door’ type so he’s the perfect fit to represent our book The Hit by Allen Zadoff. Boy Nobody drifts from school to school, eliminating targets and moving on. With Sam’s incredible sexy and innocent character he’d make for a perfect undercover agent and no doubt he could put the incredible skills he’s learned from The Hunger Games to good use too!

6. The Memory Hit - Bradley Cooper

A whole different kind of hit here now. Bradley Cooper is the kind of man who looks like he makes bad choices frequently but always has a good time doing it. And with his past experience with perceptive drugs in films like Limitless, he’s the perfect candidate for The Memory Hit by Carla Spradbery. We think he’d have a few things to say about Nostalgex and its effects but those striking eyes and near perfect locks give us a whole different kind of high.

7. The Lost and the Found - Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict can definitely work a mystery so there’s no other book perfect for our dashing detective than the fantastic The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke. Thirteen years after Laurel Logan’s disappearance, a young woman appears in Logan’s old garden holding the teddy bear that Laurel was last seen with. Is this really Laurel who disappeared all those years ago? Or is there something more sinister behind it? With Benedict on the case, this book’s dark secrets will soon be unravelled.

8. Witch Hunter - Chris Pratt

A wayward traveler and an expert raptor tamer, Chris Pratt’s skills know no bounds. So he’ll have no problem taking on the magical prowess of witches, wizards and sorcerers in the medieval witch fantasy Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker.  Elizabeth hunts down those who dabble in witchcraft and brings them to justice; until she is accused of being a witch herself and thrown into prison. Striking a deal with the most powerful wizard in Anglia, she must find the dark wizard who laid a deadly curse on him in order to win her freedom. Even with Chris’s cheeky smile we reckon evil might suit him. Endless action, wit and dark wizardry await you in this epic new series.

9. The DUFF - Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum is incredibly well known as a ladies man, especially after his huge hit Magic Mike. It seems only right that Mr. Channing would be the equivalent of our Wesley from Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF. Bianca is witty, cynical and definitely not attracted to high school jock Wesley…or is she? We’ve got to admit, he is rather dashing and impossibly hard to resist but how could  we get over being called a DUFF? We suspect staring into those gorgeous green eyes might help.

10. Crow Moon - Ian Somerhalder

Danny of Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow wears his heart on his sleeve and jumps from one girl to the next whilst living in the idyllic lands of Green World. Most of his thoughts are about sex, drinking and generally not caring. Just like our smouldering Somerhalder here. After Red World increases its attacks on Green World, Danny finds himself at the center of war discovering forces he had no idea existed. With Ian’s more than capable knowledge of the supernatural world, we’re sure both he and Danny will survive to live another day.