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Posted by Victor Crew on

The Baby Dragons of Postojna Cave, Slovenia

Just an hour southwest of Ljublijana, the capital of Slovenia, there is cave called Postojna which is so fast it has its own railway. Despite this, one of the primary attractions in the cave is something much smaller and something 100% unique to Postojna.

Baby dragons.

While Postojna is in modern times one of the most visited underground attractions in Europe, it has been known to locals since about 1213. We know this because of paintings and drawings left by early visitors. Tourists didn’t start arriving in any serious numbers until the last Holy Roman Emperor, Franz I of Austria, traveled there in 1818. Since the his visit about 35 million people have experienced Postojna’s natural wonders.

And it should come as no surprise as the first two miles of its 24 kilometer web of champers and tunnels has a small train to take visitors back and forth between portions of the cave.

The end of line for the train is a monstrous chamber called Congress Hall in which the Milan Symphony Orchestra played in the year 1930. The walking path the leads on past Congress Hall passes through six geological strata. It also crosses a bridge built by Russian prisoners in World War I that takes travelers over a chasm. The path continues on past gorges, slim stalactites, and flowstone curtains.

Some of the passages are as slim as one meter wide while traveling as much as 377 miles underground.

Despite all this, the main attraction seems to be having a face to face with some tiny, unusual creatures that are found only in the cave Postojna and nowhere else on the Earth.

Proteus anguinus, or Olms, are blind salamanders, only about 25 centimeters long. This particular breed never develops beyond their watery, juvenile phase. This is why most visitors experience their encounter with them via an man made aquarium swimming among the rocks.

Locals long ago named them baby dragons as they washed out of the cave if Postojna flooded and since dragons live in caves, they assumed these were the babies.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Victor Crew on

Holiday Travel Safety Tips

The first step is preparing your home. You can begin with basics like making sure all windows and doors are locked before you leave. A sticky note of reminders for last minute items like checking door locks can be placed on the door you are most likely to exit through to start your trip. Lights one timers, stopping your mail, and home security systems are all good measures to help protect your home.

However, the best protection against a home robbery is making it look like someone is around, especially if you plan on being gone for quite a while. If possible, have a trusted friend or family member spend some time at your home, let their vehicle be seen in the driveway. If you think it is going snow, scheduling a plow service while you are gone can help make it look like someone is home. Of course, the ideal in this regard would be someone trusted to house sit for you.

Getting your vehicle serviced, if you are driving, is a great place to start making sure the actual trip goes off without a hitch. Getting your tires checked is essential. If you are close to the time for an oil change you should probably get it. Also having fluids and belts checked is a good idea. Having an emergency kit with things like road flares, a first aid kit, blankets, maybe even some basic food (protein bars) and bottled water.

Even in populated areas extreme or sudden bad weather could make it difficult for one to drive to some place safe or for emergency vehicles to make it to you. You may also want to schedule cellphone check ins with someone at home and someone at your destination.

Giving yourself more time to get to your destination than you need, especially if there is only a single driver. For long trips, one would ideally want at least two legal drivers in the vehicle.

Stay safe!

 

Posted by Victor Crew on

National Parks See Explosion in Visitation

In August Yellowstone National park set a record of above 920,000 visitors for the month. In September they set another monthly number of recreational visits of 882,078 visitors. Most notably they set a record for annual recreational visits in 2021 at 4,472,982 recreational visits. This is a 32% increase over the same period in 2020. With a number like this it is as if the population of an entire state visited Yellowstone.

Even before the pandemic the park has never hit 4 million recreational visits this early in the year.

Officials stated they’d never seen such an increase in visitation in such a short period and assured the public that they will be taking steps, both long and short term, to ensure visitors and can enjoy the park while preserving the ecosystem.

Anyone involved in the National Park system whether by profession or recreation knows this visitation increase isn’t limited to just Yellowstone. Arches National Park in Utah had to close its gates to visitors numerous times during the summer because the facilities couldn’t handle more visitors.

Even now, a sign warns that parking lots at trailheads fill early, even before 9am. Their website still warns visitors that periods of non-admittance can last from 3-5 hours.

 

 

 

Posted by Victor Crew on

China Announces National Park System

China recently announced not a singular first national park, but a handful of national preservation areas meant to protect specific animal species, including pandas.

The total square mileage of protected land is about 88,800 and the regions include areas in northern Tibet all the way to the holiday island Hainan to the south.

It has been a long road to establishing national parks in China, the country has been working on an institutional system to protect its natural ecosystems since the first nature reserve established in 1956. Today there are more than 10,000 such reserves intended to protect biodiversity.

One problem has been that managing the reserves has been troublesome as different local authorities had responsibilities to protect the same sites, yet their jobs and boundaries were unclear. The establishment of a national park system seeks to remedy this.

Surely the adventurous are asking by now, will visitors be able to access these national parks?

For one, the aptly named Giant Panda National Park will be available to visitors and is already an area where many tourists come each year to see the pandas.

According to the official press releases 75% of the wild population of pandas live in the newly defined region of the national park which includes areas of three provinces, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu and includes four mountains, the Minshan, Qionglai, Daxiangling and Qinling. This area is the panda’s natural habitat.

The provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang will share the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, which is intended to protect the habitat of its namesake’s animals.

The afore mentioned Hainan Island is the home of China’s most well-preserved tropical rainforest and the only place in the world the black-crested gibbon lives. Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park will protect the environment and the rare gibbons who live there.

 

 

Posted by Victor Crew on

Universal Studios, Beijing, China to Open Soon

Dementors, Decepticons, Minions and Raptors are just a few of the fantasy encounters one can have at the new Universal Studios Resort, Beijing, China. It will fully open on 20 September 2021 after delays due to Covid.

It will include seven “themed” parks that will include 37 rides. The Beijing location will be the fifth Universal Studios theme park.

While it shares many of its popular attractions found at its sister sites in Los Angeles, Singapore, Osaka and Orlando. But it will also include some new attractions unique to the Beijing location including the the Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness.

Some park visitors who were invited to a soft opening for trial operations reported that some wait times could be high and that some of the most popular shows were almost impossible to get into.