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Featuring worldwide places known for their art, sculptures, monuments, landmarks, travel articles

Archive for March, 2009

Mount Rushmore

Posted in Sculptures & Monuments, United States  by admin on March 27th, 2009

In 1927, workmen with lively nicknames like “Whiskey Art”, “Palooka”, and “Hoot” quit their regular jobs. They were among the 400 people invited to create Mount Rushmore, a massive mountainside carving of four United States presidents in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The work would be on-and-off labor lasting fourteen years.

Mount Rushmore was conceived by the South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson in 1923. He had learned of a similar project underway in the southern US. Just east of Atlanta, the sculptor Gutzon Borglum had been commissioned to carve into Stone Mountain the likeness of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and a column of soldiers. The historian thought a similar undertaking by Borglum could draw tourists’ dollars to the Black Hills region.

To help maximize tourism interest, Borglum suggested that South Dakota choose a theme of national significance. The men settled upon the first 150 years of United States history, with four presidents being selected to represent the nation’s development. These include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Collectively, these men symbolized the country’s founding, expansion, and unity. The project received approval from Congress and President Calvin Coolidge.

As the project began in 1927, Lakota Sioux people and their supporters opposed the undertaking. Traditionally, they had called the mountain Six Grandfathers Mountain and traveled it for spiritual journeys. Following the Black Hills War of 1876-1877, the Treaty of Fort Laramie granted the land to the Lakota in perpetuity. Now, the land had again been taken. Furthermore, the creation of 60-foot faces of United States presidents, symbols of their oppression, would forever mar the sacred landscape. The fact that Borglum was a Ku Klux Klan member added to the insult! Six Grandfathers was first informally called Mount Rushmore during an 1885 expedition. Charles Rushmore, a wealthy New York lawyer and prospector, suggested giving the mountain his name. However, it was also known to white Americans as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs.

The United States Board of Geographic Names officially named Mount Rushmore in 1930. Borglum chose this particular mountain for two reasons. First, its face met with sunlight for most of the day. Second, it was composed of smooth granite. The rock would be conducive to carving, and the material erodes very slowly (about an inch every 10,000 years). Nonetheless, over fourteen years of labor the faces suffered minor cracks. Fractures were sealed with pegmatite and are evident in lighter streaks on the presidents’ foreheads.

As the project went on, some people continued to question what the faces were symbolizing, and whether the monument should be considered racist given the history of US expansion through native lands. In 1937, before the project was finished, a bill in US Congress proposed adding the face of Susan B. Anthony, a symbol for civil rights. However, federal funds were ultimately refused.
Members of the American Indian Movement occupied the monument in 1971. The Lakota holy man John Fire Lame Deer said that the protestors formed a symbolic shroud over the presidents’ faces, “which shall remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled”. (A monument to the Native American leader Crazy Horse, first proposed in 1939, is being constructed eight miles away. It is also controversial.) Of some solace to opponents is that the monument, already six stories tall, was intended to be much larger but lacked funding. The original project cost just under $1 million
during the Great Depression. (The largest single donation came from Charles Rushmore
himself, who gave $5,000.) Borglum had hoped to depict the presidents from head to waist. The artist also intended to chisel an expansive panel in the shape of the Louisiana Purchase. This would include gilded words commemorating founding documents and territorial expansion; imagine the golden 8-foot tall letters “U. S. Constitution” carved into a mountainside. Instead, similar information is now engraved on porcelain panels inside a vault installed behind the faces in 1998. The engravings include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents, and a history of the United States.

A 1998 update to the Visitor Center cost $58 million. The renovation added the porcelain panels, expanded visitor parking, and created a Lincoln Borglum Museum.

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Alaska Cruise

Posted in Cruise Travel  by admin on March 20th, 2009

Have a Break, Have Thrill and Excitement with Alaska Cruise

People of the present age are preoccupied with their respective endeavors. They want to keep up with the fast pace of the contemporary life. They often end up fatigued. They take no time to relax. They sacrifice even their precious sleeping time until their body gives in to dizziness and cramps.

Many times, they skip meals or eat in a rush. They are always armed with alarm clocks, appointment pads, or planner calendars to keep their feet on the go. Don’t they know that keeping up to the fast rhythm of life without a break could pin them to the sick bed, or worse, to the grave? Mental and physical fatigue accumulated but ignored through the years and could make one ill.

Wait! Work, work, work. Doesn’t it sound too much? Why not give yourself a break?

Life need not to be lived at a fast pace. After all, life is better enjoyed when regular retreats are squeezed into the rigors of one’s job or chosen endeavor.

You can do plenty of relaxation activities during your spare time. If you are planning to make it more exciting and fun, Alaska could be the best choice for you. It is just a matter of taking a thrill and sight-seeing of the wonders of the world at once.

Alaska cruise is divided into three various categories of packages. Each of the packages will render you an enchanting experience that you find only in Alaska. These are the following:

• Alaska Inland Cruise – you will have the chance to visit all the inland wonders that can be situated within the vicinity of Alaska. You will surely be captivated with icebergs and glaciers.

• Alaska Day Cruise – here, you will have a clearer view of the entire of Alaska. From the name of the package itself, you will be toured on a day cruise. You can have a face top face with a huge wall of ice in Alaska.

• Alaska Celebrity Cruise – this is the so-called first class cruise in Alaska. You will also experience more royalty treatment with the celebrity cruise. On the other hand, this is the most expensive among all Alaskan cruises.

The usual attractions that cruisers love about Alaska are the humpback whales, sailing Fjords and glaciers. You can have an actual view of these depending on the package that you have chosen.

In addition, nothing can also be compared to the magic of Alaska cruises. This is the only place where you can find mystery of ice and wildlife. You also have the opportunity of go on sailing with the ice.

The package that you prefer will also determine the length of your stay in Alaska. Usually, most of the cruisers choose to have the seven-day cruise. This is enough time for you to explore the entire cruising points of Alaska if you will maximize your time. However, the length of your stay can also be extended to as long as 14 days or the two-week cruise.

You have the privileged to choose the size of the ship where you can be most comfortable. Sometimes, it is more preferable to ride inside on smaller ships with lesser number of capacities of passengers. You can have closer look to the view.

Unlike the bigger ships with almost more than a thousand of passengers, it is harder or you to go out of the crowd, make a nearer look, and even touch on the glaciers, larger ship has also more luxurious amenities while the smaller ship can bring you into thrill because of its incomparable speed.

You grab the chance of choosing the best package. Find the best package that will hit your needs. Therefore, Alaska Cruise is offering amazing trips with helicopter and then you will land on the glaciers. If you want to keep yourself in an adventure, you can also take a walk on the glaciers.

You can never compare your experience with Alaska cruise. Unlike in other cruises that you have before where you had a single regret with your expenses during the cruise, well in Alaska it will all be fun for you.

What are you waiting for? Leave all your worries in life and enjoy Alaska Cruise!

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Hong Kong – A Stroll Through Kowloon Park

Posted in Worldwide Travel Destinations  by admin on March 6th, 2009

Hong Kong, like New York is a concrete island. Also like Manhattan, Hong Kong has built a ‘Central Park’ as an oasis in the middle of the bustling metropolis – Kowloon Park.

Once a British military base, the park offers over 13 hectares (33 acres) of greenery, sculpture, swimming pools and quiet gardens and buildings. There’s even a large piazza for concerts gracing the park. Visitors to Hong Kong could easily spend a weekend vacation in Kowloon and still not see it all.

For those who want to relax in an active way, the park provides several athletic facilities. For younger kids there are two playgrounds with supplied equipment and the bruise-proof floor helps parents’ minds rest easy. Kids will love The Discovery Playground, reconstructed from some of the old British fort components, including cannon.

Older ‘kids’ of all ages can enjoy soccer, handball or take a ride along one of the many bike paths. The Sports Centre features regular events and anyone can have a game of squash or basketball.

For those who like their physical activity a little more serene there are still dozens of choices. A simple walk down the lane among the greenery is an option in many parts of the park. Birdwatching is an often enjoyed activity along the way. Bird Lake hosts a variety of species and the aviary holds nearly forty local waterfowl types.

Tai Chi is a common activity in Kowloon Park, often with advanced masters leading a group of regulars and drop-ins from the local stock exchange who want to relieve a little stress. Guests are welcome to join in.

For purely mental exercise there are numerous tables in Banyan Court with chess games always in progress. Visitors can watch quietly or test their skill against one of the elder experts who frequent the park.

Just walking along to see the sights is a pleasant combination of physical and mental exercise. The many sculpture in Sculpture Park provide a mini-outdoor museum. The multi-colored bird sculpture spiraling around the fountain is a particular favorite of the locals. One of the more unusual offerings is the large totem pole, a gift from Canada.

Any of the Chinese gardens will delight fans of botanical gardens. Woven throughout the park, they offer a variety of local plant and flower species. Set off among them are several ponds, including the delightful turtle pond holding several who happily while away the day in the cool shade and clear water.

If you feel like emulating the turtles, there’s a public swimming pool in Kowloon Park that’s open to locals and tourists alike. A swim is often a good way to get information about Hong Kong that isn’t in the tour guides from a friendly resident.

But visitors don’t need to feel pressured to do anything. Just sitting in one of the many quiet nooks, reading or merely soaking in the surroundings is a commonly enjoyed pastime in Kowloon Park.

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