Sunday, September 30, 2012

Semi-precious Gemstones - Properties and History

- a bright blue metamorphic rock, composed of minerals such as lazurite, sodalite, pyrite and calcite. The best quality lapis lazuli have a potent dark blue with small areas of white calcite and metallic pyrite.

Characteristics of the Gem- The intense dark blue stone is somewhat soft, 5.5 on Moh's scale. Luster is vitreous to oily and crystal structures vary depending on the mineral composition.
Holistic Properties- is for mind/body/soul connection to the higher spiritual self. Is said to lessen anxiety, create overall body/mind relaxation and changes darkness to light/ negative to positive, also called 'night stone'
Folklore- Known by the Romans as a strong aphrodisiac. In the Middle ages it was used to keep the arms and legs in good health and release the soul from envy, fear or error.
Sourcing- Afghanistan mines the best quality deep colored stones, also, lighter stones found in Chile, Russia and the US
History- In Renaissance paintings, the beautiful blue stone was ground up and put into the pigment ultramarine, which was used to paint sky, sea and anything blue. It's existence in trade is evident in the ancient city of Ur as early as 4th millennium B.C. Lapis Lazuli is also seen from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome in adornments for royal jewels and other amulets.
Topaz -from Sanskrit 'tapas', meaning fire.
Description- Topaz exists in an earthly palette. Deep golden yellow and pink have the highest value. Blue Topaz exists, with color enhancement through irradiation.
Characteristics of the Gem- Topaz has an orthorhombic crystal structure and rates 8 on Moh's scale. Topaz occasionally has tear-shaped cavities encompassing a gas bubble or varied immiscible liquids. Some have diamond-shaped cross-section attributes with striations running the length of the stone.
Holistic Properties- A formidable healing stone that encourages well-being. It attracts love, enables creativity and promotes self-expression. Topaz has medical benefits in easing insomnia, asthma and hemorrhages.
Folklore- The Greeks believed it made the wearer invisible when used in emergency. Topaz was used to banish enchantment and aided in correcting eyesight. Its esoteric and restorative attributes were controlled by the waxing and waning of the moon.

A Detailed Guide on the Aztec Civilization

Science and Technology

The Aztecs were a fairly advanced and powerful that could be compared to ancient Rome in terms of its level of technological sophistication. The Aztecs were not as sophisticated as their contemporaries in all areas of science and technology but they were very advanced in areas that they needed to be and did very well with what little they had and what the obstacles that they had to face. The Aztecs used many different technologies and their sophisticated knowledge of many sciences to try to regulate and better their daily lives.
The Aztecs used a combination of astronomy, canal building and highly developed agricultural science to plant the right plants at the right time in order to feed their empire. Astronomy was used to make calendars which would have determined the best time to begin to plant and harvest each food. Canal building and irrigation allowed the Aztecs to feed their plants rich riverbed soil by building island farms in the middle of rivers and canals, a farm of this variety was a Chinampa. Building farms in the middle of rivers allowed the Aztecs to quickly deliver goods to the nearest market. The Aztecs also built farms on slopes by building terraces from the soil, this also served to limit soil erosion. Due to the high demand for food that existed in the Aztec empire, slash and burn were also common methods of farming, this also lead to an ever increasing demand for land.
The societal progress of the Aztecs relied heavily on math to determine the best date to do certain things, the construction of buildings, canals, roads, taxes and even religious events. The Aztecs created 3 calendars each having significance in a different area of life; a ritual calendar, an annual and a long count calendar. Even though the ritual calendar was dedicated to religion, all of the calendars had some degree of religious value as Aztec society tied everything to religion.
As sophisticated as the Aztecs were they lacked some technologies that were available elsewhere and therefore had their own unique response to problems. The most shocking thing about Aztec technology is that there is a lack of the use the wheel and pack animals, to compensate the Aztecs had good roads, professional runners, many rest stops situated every 6-10 miles, river highways, many causeways and secure toll roads. Another unusual technological trait of this civilization was that metallurgy did not go very far beyond copper, tin, lead and jewellery gold and silver. To compensate for the limited knowledge in metallurgy they used obsidian in place of metal in many tools which required sharpness.
Medical innovations were extensive in the Aztec empire as it fought many battles very often. Medical innovations in the Aztec empire ranged from talk therapy and medicinal herbs to bone realignment surgery. Talk therapy was widely used to try to resolve psychological problems and is a fairly simple concept that is still used today. Due to the abundance of plants and herbs in the area of their control, the Aztecs had the opportunity to experiment on their medicinal purposes this lead to them having many treatments to many illnesses and problems that they knew of. In order to avoid any need for any such treatment the Aztecs practiced good sanitary practices such as brushing their teeth with fibrous roots and using washing their mouth with mild abrasives such as ash, this was supplemented by cleansing rituals. Surgery in the Aztec empire was rudimentary but it still performed some of its purpose such as setting bones via wooden nails.
All in all without the science and technology that the Aztecs had, they would not have been anywhere nearly as successful as they were as many different technologies and their sophisticated knowledge of many sciences were a key necessity in their attempt to try to regulate and better their daily lives. They beat every obstacle that they faced with the exception of a fatal misinterpretation coupled with a threat possessing both advanced weapons and unheard of illnesses.
Music, Art and Literature
Music played a large part of the Aztec life because it provided the Aztec people with enjoyment, passing on history and culture, as well as creating a spiritual connection with life. Music was a subject taught in Aztec schools and students would pick up instruments as early as when they 12 years old. Music was also seen by the tecuhtli as a way to demonstrate their wealth so they often had their own private band or musicians to play for them at home.
Most of the music was sacred hymns, which were to honor the dead rulers and gods. Sacred hymns were instructional because they transferred historical knowledge of the past rulers and cultural knowledge of the gods to the next generations. Sacred hymns were usually only sung at special occasions to honor the dead rulers or gods. Cantares was another genre of music and they were similar to the sacred hymns because they honored the dead and their noble actions. Cantares were also called ghost songs and sung in rituals or during battle. The Aztec also played happier songs that were not about the dead in their everyday life, such as songs of energy, love, and excitement.
The Aztec used a variety of instruments in their music. To the Aztec, percussion was the major section of their music. Drums made out of turtle shells, logs, or skin were played with hands or mallets. More often than not, drums were the only instrument in Aztec music especially in cantares, to lead the warriors into battle. Other forms of percussion used by the Aztec include rattles, filled with pebbles and shaken. For melody, there were very few instruments that the Aztec had. Most of Aztec melody comes from the flute or huilacapitztli and these are still popular in Central Mexico today. Horns and trumpets were rare but still present in Aztec music.

Confessions of a Limousine Mystic!

The bulk of driving I do is called "air porters," which are really ferrying people to and from the airport and point-to-point destinations. I have been told Limousine operators don't like to be called a "driver," but really are Chauffeurs and truly it would not be fair or even accurate to confine a Chauffeurs role to just driving. It is, to the truly effervescent nature of the professional, an élan, and amongst ourselves, the fraternity of luxury transportation, a mobile esprit de corps.
I see it also as a keen observation of life's capsules, liberally experienced as "trailers." It is a rear view glance into the lives and commentaries of more generally, affluence and means.
Most of the people do not vibe of need and are often gregarious, warm and polite. Families are almost always easily expressive and revealing, you see the truth that economics tends to foster a different dynamics as parents and children interact often lovingly and appreciative of each other. Maybe these children are better behaved, with the frequency of "trips," their parents can afford to take them on and the quite comfortable, mostly affluent homes we take them to.
You don't get the sense anxieties have greatly invaded their lives or consciousness. It is comforting to me even, to glimpse at life as they appear to, in a reassuring way. It is altogether different from the actual lifestyle of a constantly on call, uneven existence of a Chauffeur.
Chauffeurs reside in an otherwise dimensionally altered way of being. Hours, even days pass continually, uncertain whether it is a Sunday or a Monday except by way of what is on your contract or "run."
It is really quite amazing how much efficiency and precision goes into the Limousine business. Oblivious to the uniniated, it cranks out productivity and ease for its clients. Behind the scenes, exudes a complexity of humanity and cooperation,..... Dispatchers, the operations side, eager salespeople and shop personnel, snuggled and flawed yet distinctly capable. Chauffeurs may drive this boat, but they are not the only inhabitants on that Island, strange Island that it is.
That is probably an nearly unacknowledged testament to the unique and peculiar skill set of the people that make up the limousine business and not just the drivers...excuse me, Chauffeurs...and then of course the clients are another storyline, but more on that later.
Glimpsing at it from the inside the whole operation evokes the impression of a highly organized, almost militarily disciplined, civilian action.
Sometimes though, the occurrences are rather odd and outside of what most people experience in the daily course of "going to work."
I talked to this one guy who told me he had slept in one of the vehicles, rather than going home. Sometimes the demands of the business put people either on call or in route and service for 17, 18 even 20 plus hours at a time. The idea of securing some rest in a limousine is a bizarre premise in itself. In its simple, desperate, last minute form... it is rather a primitive option.
I decided to try it myself one night and I can see how one can fall in between the place of too tired to drive home and before quickly upcoming new assignments.
It was in a word, "rugged." I had some Hispanic brother pound on the window of a stretch hummer at 5:15am to "wake me up," if you can call it that. It felt like for 5, 10 minutes or so I wasn't really on the ground. I was walking, but it felt like I was in a grown-up body taking baby steps or a colt trying to get my legs under me. My larger muscle groups in my legs and torso hadn't really bought into any physical functioning. There was consciousness, or some form of it, as I awoke deposited into an early morning stream of activity. The overhead lights were a substitute industrial Sun, if you will, and it truly felt like I was walking on the moon, imbalanced and gravity challenged.
Oddly I had accomplished my goal, though it took me several more hours of sleeping back in my bed to restore myself. Prolonged use, not really recommended. Side effects may be experienced.
Another concept to be considered is how one maintains a sense of higher perspective in forms of awareness. I'm not talking in an evangelistic sense, but how to come away intact with whatever disciplines and momentums that keep a person in balance. It may be simply a positive psychological perspective. Everything has tilted somewhat off axis, if by nothing else the oddity of hours. Then, there is of course, the proximity of the worldly vibrations for those that consider that.
I call myself the "limousine mystic" because it is a challenge to keep an "inner" perspective in an environment, which other than transporting people to the airport tends to fall on the party side of life.
Truthfully, most of people seen through the cornea of a Chauffeurs view have to be thought of, in an isolated context and consideration. Though, through experience, there is an often, " I've got my head in, this far.... up to the shoulders," departure into the looking glass of life. Self-revealing nature of the business that it is.

The Snake Catcher of Brockenhurst

A very pleasant and short drive from the beautiful and ancient town of Winchester in Hampshire, lies Brockenhurst, the largest of the New Forest villages. It is a place of immense charm; surrounded by forest, where ponies walk in the middle of its roads, where the driver passes through a ford and where a famous citizen once caught snakes and was reputed to be immune to their venom.
The name Brockenhurst is traditionally said to mean 'badger wood'. However it is more likely that the name means 'broken wooded hill' - broken in the sense of divided by the valleys and streams of the New Forest. The village is ancient. It was first recorded in the Domesday Book. In the twelfth century the Manor was held by Peter Spilman. In return, he had to provide litter for the King's bed and hay for his horse - when the King would visit on his frequent hunting trips to the Forest. The New Forest was cultivated as a Royal hunting ground since Norman times.
Many minor roads in the New Forest pass through a ford - most being dry for most of the year. The most famous of the fords is in Brockenhurst 'watersplash' at the western end of the main street, called Brookley Road. At the other end of Brookley Road, near the main-line station, you will find the New Forest Cycle Experience - a great way to explore the Forest. The village has two car parks. It is highly recommended that you park up and explore the village by foot or bicycle. At one of the car parks stands a brick plinth. Attached to it is a 'wheel plate', a great disc of cast iron which was used until 1915 by the local forge when fixing metal rims to wooden wagon wheels.
Heading south out of Brockenhurst you will find St Nicholas's Church. It is the oldest church in the Forest and is adorned by a beautiful Norman doorway. In the church yard you can wander about the many ancient headstones. If you do so, you'll come across a very surprising and yet poignant war cemetery for New Zealand soldiers. The neat rows of tombstones commemorate over one hundred soldiers who died in the nearby field hospital during World War I.
Also, to be found in the graveyard is the tomb of Harry Mills, better known as 'Brusher' Mills. His nickname came from his occupation of brushing Brockenhurst cricket pitch before a match to remove twigs and leaves and, no doubt, the droppings of the ponies and cattle who wandered about the roads. But his main claim to fame was that he made his living from catching snakes in the Forest. Apparently, it was said he was immune from the venom of the Adder - Britain's only poisonous snake. He prepared a primitive anti-snakebite serum from the snakes themselves, sending any spare specimens to London Zoo as food for secretary birds and other creatures that enjoyed dining on snakes. He also made a small income from 'rescuing' visitors from snakes that suddenly appeared amongst them. Whether visitors paid him in thanks for their rescue or for being entertained, we can only imagine.

To North Carolina's Nantahala Gorge With the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Misty clouds, rising from the dark green faces of the Great Smoky Mountains during the morning, appeared like smoke tendrils. The twelve-car train, wearing the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad's tuscan red and Rio Grande gold livery and pulled by an EMD GP-9 diesel locomotive, vibrated and clanged its bell atop the gravel-imbedded rails next to the gray, wooden Bryson City depot, as it prepared for its imminent, 44-mile, round-trip departure to Nantahala Gorge. Passengers, many of whom had dislodged from buses, inundated the tiny portico waiting area, lulled into a North Carolina mood by a guitar-strumming trio. I would make the journey in the MacNeill Club Car, number 536, today, attached to generator car 6118 and trailed by Silver Meteor dining car 8015. That journey, inextricably tired to these western North Carolina mountains, could trace its origins to the mid-1800s.
Although the ruggedly beautiful area had been rich in natural resources, such as timber, fertile soil, and minerals, the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, peeking at 6,000 feet, had rendered it isolated and inaccessible, with a rough, wagon-plied route its only connection with the rest of the state. After considerable efforts to persuade the state legislature of North Carolina to rectify this deficiency, it had agreed to subsidize the construction of track between Salisbury and Asheville in 1855, to be used by the Western North Carolina Railroad.
A smooth development period, spanning six years, had been thwarted in 1861 by the Civil War, at which time some 70 miles of rail had yet to be laid, but momentum had ultimately been regained 16 years later, when convict labor had been employed for the first time. Five hundred tracklayers had been subdivided into 150-men camps, each of which had been led by a captain, a foreman, and several guards.
An erroneous route survey, revealing that existing topography had been unsuitable for track, had required another decade to properly determine, and had been exacerbated by crude, hand tool usage and primitive rock removal methods, the rocks themselves expanded by fire-created heat and cracked after drenchings with cold water.
The rails, following Indian trails and cow paths, entailed an 891.5-foot elevation gain with an average two-percent grade, and passed through five tunnels, and the precarious route had hardly been forged with safety. Indeed, on March 11, 1879, the Swannanoa Tunnel, which had been being bored from both ends, had collapsed and instantly crushed 21 workers.
Murphy, already the eastern terminus of the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad, served the same purpose in 1891 when the tracks for the Western North Carolina's Murphy Branch had been laid, albeit six years later than planned, and traffic interchange between the two had been facilitated when the former had changed its gauge from narrow to standard. The 111 miles from Asheville had, for the first time, been connected by rail.
Despite the delays incurred by its construction, its crude method, topographical obstacles, rough roadbed, and lack of ballast had often caused derailments, a condition partially alleviated with the addition of culverts and abutments.
Rapidly becoming the lifeline to the communities lining it, it carried supplies, agricultural products, and timber, and connected with other, existing shortline railroads, such as the Alarka Valley, the Appalachian, the Carolina and Tennessee Southern, the B&B, the Smoky Mountain, the Ritter Lumber Company, the Sunburst, and the Tuckasegee Southeastern, but it had always been plagued by steep grades, sharp curves, low-capacity locomotives, and inferior maintenance.
Three years after its completion, the Southern Railway took control of it, and, in 1907, it had been reorganized as the "Murphy Division," with Bryson City serving as its headquarters. Its local businesses and industries, manufacturing pulpwood and pallets and selling propane, had heavily relied on rail transport to support their activities, routinely requiring feed, cross ties, lumber, and sand.
Improved road access, however, gradually replaced the need for the rails. In 1937, for instance, two daily trains had departed Murphy-a freight service at 0600 and a passenger run at 0800-but by 1944, only a single passenger train had plied the line, leaving Murphy at 0715 for Asheville and returning at 1415. Aside from offering increased western North Carolina access, road development had been necessitated by the opening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Diminishing timber resources, coupled with the completion of the nearby Fontana Dam, had finally resulted in the permanent discontinuation of passenger services on July 16, 1948. Thirty-two years later, in 1980, 2,239 freight car loads had plied the rails, yet by 1987, the number had dwindled to 817. During the last three years, by which time the railroad had been acquired by Norfolk Southern, regularly scheduled service, of no more than five cars, had only been maintained between Waynesville and Andrews, with stops in Murphy only sporadically made.
Maintenance costs, already high because of the 34 bridges connecting Dillsboro with Murphy and the excessive track curvature, had escalated without a commensurate increase in revenue, and in 1984, the Champion Paper Mill, long dependent on the line for its business, had converted its traditional pulpwood product to woodchips, packaged in a cube whose size had precluded its rail transport through the Dillsboro and Rhodo tunnels. Costs to either lower their roadbeds or increase their ceiling heights had been prohibitive, particularly for use by only a single company. As a result, the papermill had been forced to truck its products to Canton and Norfolk Southern, unable to stem its losses, had been forced to abandon the 67 miles of track between Dillsboro and Murphy in 1988.

Egypt - Land of Mystery

Dating back to the land before time, Egypt continues to be a land of mystery and intrigue. Egyptians are still farming and earning a living today much the same way they did in ancient Egypt almost ten thousand years ago.
Many are still seen today farming and tilling their crops, using irrigation water from the Nile River via the same irrigation canals that were used many generations ago. Not much seems to have changed in this ancient land. Viewing the ancient Egyptian pyramids and temples, it almost seems as though their civilization has digressed over time.
Observing the gigantic pyramids of Egypt and the modern day mud houses at the same time, one wonders how the same peoples could be responsible for constructing both types of edifices.
Buildings and homes built over 1500 years ago are very similar to the ones being constructed today, not much seems to have changed in this ancient land.
Standing high on the plain overlooking Cairo are the pyramids of Giza, of the nearly 70 pyramids of Egypt, these three are the most popular and well known. Reputed to be nearly 5,000 years old, but in all probability are much older than that, these three landmarks have been the topic of many books, movies, and legends over time. Nothing can prepare one for the first time they are seen "live" and in person. Rising nearly 300 feet above the plateau which is itself nearly 300 feet above the Nile River Valley, they are quite impressive. The pyramids can be seen while passing homes with no roofs, enabling fires to be built in the living rooms allowing the residents to keep warm during the cold Egyptian winter evenings.
Many legends and much speculation in Egyptian mythology surround the pyramids as to why they were built, as well as to how they were built. They have been described as being burial tombs for the pharaohs and Egyptian Gods, giant observatories, ceremonial sites where many ancient ritual were performed, as well as various other functions. Although it is my understanding that no one has ever been found buried in a pyramid, all of the other functions seem to make sense. The giant pyramid, or pyramid of Cheops (Khufu), is perfectly aligned to the four cardinal points of the earth, following and extending one line along the base, it would pass through Bethlehem, while another line would extend through Stonehedge. The various viewing points available line up perfectly with different constellations that were of importance to the ancient Egyptians.
Much has been written trying to explain how they were built, using pulleys, ramps, and thousands of workman to construct them, however not much of it makes sense. Being built on the highest ground for miles, It's hard to visualize how ramps could have been built, also, there would still be evidence of the ramps, being an extremely arid climate, structures and the evidence of structures last for thousands of years. The tremendous manpower needed to built the edifices would have been staggering, how do you move a stone, some of which weigh 40 tons and are as large as a train locomotive up a ramp 300 feet high?

Glenn Curtiss Day at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

Like a series of undulating waves rolling down the Hudson River Valley's west side, the Catskill Mountains, somehow losing momentum, yielded to the much lower Shawagunk, Schunnemunk, and Bear Mountain peaks, descending into the Palisades, threshold to Manhattan. A century ago, on May 29, 1910, Glenn Hammond Curtiss, navigating his frail, Albany Flier biplane, forged an aerial link along this route between Albany and New York.
Then in the midst of a legal battle with the Wright Brothers for allegedly using their patented wing-warping method for banking and thus forbidden to continue selling any of his own aircraft, Curtiss, sinking in the quicksand of bankruptcy, saw a single rope of salvation in the $10,000 Hudson-Fulton prize offered by Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, for the first person to fly from Manhattan to Albany, in either direction, with a maximum of two stops.
Although Curtiss never feared competition-in fact, he thrived on it-the intended course was the antithesis of his numerous previous flights: unlike these prior, controlled circuits and aerial demonstrations, the inter-city connection was fraught with significant obstacles, including unfamiliarity with the route, an overwater course, unknown wind and weather patterns, and height obstructions, aside from the fact that technology had been insufficiently mature-and fuel capacity simply insufficient-to permit a long-range aerial journey of 150 miles.
Nevertheless, perhaps desperate circumstances lead to desperate measures, and which of the two had been the more perilous was a matter of debate: the flight or his life.
One of the first solutions-to both-had been to design an aircraft which could transcend them after extensive research and analysis, entailing a ground-based trip along the Hudson River. Based upon its prevailing, northwesterly winds and relative lack of man-made obstructions, he decided to make the flight in a southerly direction, departing from Albany. Should he lose his engine immediately after take off, he had reasoned, his chances of a safe, emergency landing markedly improved in comparison to those offered by a New York departure.
The airplane intended to tackle the distance, appropriately named "Albany Flier," featured a bamboo pole frame; two canvas-covered wings; interplane ailerons; a dual, forward elevating plane; an open cockpit; a wooden propeller in pusher configuration; a tricycle undercarriage; and, in the event of a water landing, cork-filled pontoons. The engine was the most powerful Curtiss had ever designed.
Van Rennselaer Island, located on the southern edge of Albany, was a flat, obstructionless plain offering the most optimum conditions for take off, and the aircraft, transported in section-containing boxes, was assembled there several days before the actual event. Its exact day, however, had been subjected to winds and weather-and Curtiss's assessment of them. Resultantly, he targeted dawn because it usually brought the calmest conditions, but winds proved too formidable on three consecutive days until Sunday, May 29.
With the sky just opening its eyes to dawn, he equally opened his and concluded that the ideal conditions had presented themselves, subsequently traveling to the designated departure point by rail and changing into his flight gear in the makeshift tent he had erected at it. He later shared that the delays, culminating in the day's calm, clear conditions, led him to conclude, "it was now or never."
Starting his engine, performing a final check, and accelerating in the direction of the wind, as determined by the smoke rising from nearby factory stacks, he deflected the canard elevating surfaces and the Albany Flier surrendered to the air at 0702. For 1910, the journey had been the equivalent of today's global circumnavigation.
A white flag, raised from a warehouse, signaled the airplane's airborne status and alerted the New York Times-chartered train, carrying Curtiss's wife and members of his team, to commence its own flight-following movement on New York Central's east side Hudson River Line tracks.
Climbing to a 700-foot initial altitude, Curtiss cruised over the middle of the Hudson, as if it had been an open, blue road which led to Manhattan, later expressing, "I felt an immense sense of relief. The motor sounded like music."
Paralleling the train, the Albany Flier maintained about 50 mph in flawlessly-blue skies, but the primitive bird's lack of cockpit instrumentation forced Curtiss to sublimate senses to readings: speed was measured by the strength of the wind and altitude was an estimation of height above the ground.
The Poughkeepsie Bridge, hung across the river and located 87 miles from Albany, moved into view, roughly marking the journey's halfway point.
Bouncing on Camelot's open field at 0826, the Albany Flier decelerated at its first refueling stop, where prearranged gas and oil should have awaited it, but the flight's first hitch had materialized, with neither to be found.
Two New Jersey motorists driving their touring car on the nearby road offered to transfer eight gallons of gas and oil into spare cans and present them to Curtiss, who was now surrounded by hundreds of onlookers and his own team from the train, which had intermittently pulled on to a siding near Camelot.

Ethnic Indian Jewelery


The convention of embellishing herself has been the greatest charm for any woman on this earth. And Indian women are no exception to it. The tradition of Jewelery in India is a long affair of over 5000 years. Indian jewelery has become an inseparable part of an Indian woman's life. Known for its variety, elegance and intricate expertise, the jewelry of India has won over many hearts and has been a perennial source of inspiration for many. The art of adorning oneself is not restricted to women only. History is an evidence that even men love to adorn themselves with pieces of jewelery. Indian Jewelery is more than a mere ornament., the divinity and aesthetic essence is intact to it.
The tradition of jewelery making is not new to India but it was introduced and propagated long before. Since primitive times, the indigenous style of jewelry making has set the Indian Jewelery convention apart form others. The skillful artisans had taken inspiration from the objects around them and molded a trivial thing as seeds, feathers, leaves, berries, fruits, flowers, animal bones, claws and teeth into a beautiful ornament. Every possible thing around the human being was transmuted into a artistic creation to beautify him. Such jeweleries are even today worn by many. The excavations at Mohenjodaro and other sites of the Indus Valley civilization are an evidence to the rich legacy of hand made ornaments of that time.
Metals like gold, silver, brass, copper, ivory, precious and semi precious stones were skillfully transformed to exquisite jewelery pieces. Our much revered epics also give glimpses of their love for ornaments. Manusmiriti lays some obligations of goldsmith. With the commencement of the third century B.C. India had gained the status of being an exporter of gems and precious stones. History holds it that jewelery was not only meant for humans but the idols of Gods and Goddesses, ceremonial horses and elephants were even adorned with jeweleries of gold. 


Kings envied each other and always to get hold of possession of mold exquisite jeweleries. India was looked upon as a Golden bird for its massive treasure of gold, gems and stones. In those times, silver was the bulwark of Indian jewelery. Silver jewelery was considered more elegant and beautiful. Temples, and other splendid edifices encouraged different types of ornaments fragrant with sandalwood beads, the prayer beads and rudraksh. Jewelery was regarded as the most profitable investment as it could be easily converted into cash.

Smoking Through Vietnam

The mighty Minsk motorcycle is 100cc of pure 2-cycle muscle, a snarling beast ready to rip apart the toughest mountain roads while spreading a cloud of oil smoke that no mosquito can survive, a soviet area secret weapon known by few Americans. I had always wanted to romp through the hills on this machine and a trip through the north of Vietnam seemed just the ticket to celebrate my 63rd birthday. The best way to meet people anywhere is on a bike and the Minsk was sure to offer many opportunities.
Because contradicting rumors persist about the reliability of the Minsk, my son Rick decided to rent a Honda in case we got into trouble and needed a way to seek help. Motorcycle repair shops, although numerous Vietnam, don't always have the right parts. Although no longer built, the Minsk remains popular for its simplicity. It might be prone to breakdowns but no bike is more basic or easier to fix, as long as you can find the parts. And cheap? A mechanic will re-build the engine for about $60 and you can buy a rebuilt Minsk, new tires and all, for $350 in Hanoi.
Driving through Hanoi to get the Minsk out of town is rather similar to entering a demolition derby. Bikes emerge from everywhere and from every direction. Half the population in town owns a motorbike and they all seem to be on the streets at the same time and heading directly at you. There are highway rules and laws in the country but none are observed or enforced. Biking means every person for himself. The only difference between a red light and a green light is the color. Because the people are used to driving this way accidents are surprisingly few. No insurance is available or required and offended parties suffering bumped fenders and sprained knees work problems out on the spot.
Horns constantly blared as we drove from town, bikes, busses, trucks, and cars darting every which way. Truong, my Vietnamese friend, was happy to lead the way out of Hanoi since road signs are practically non-existent. The names of street signs change about every block and none of the roads run straight. Rick took the lead but was soon lost in traffic. He missed a basic rule when traveling in groups: stay with the person "behind" you. I was not sure where he went when I came to a Y in the road. We were going to spend the night in Ban Lac, a Thai village outside Mai Chau. No signs led to Mai Chau nor did any indicate highway 6, the route we were using for most of the trip.
I took a chance and veered to the right and entered the start of some beautiful country, flat land covered with various crops, dancing chickens, and grazing cows. Few water buffalos inhabit this part of the country and the cows are raised for milk and for beef. Water buffalo abound in the Villages in the mountains where they are used for work and play. The country is more severe there and the buffalos are a tougher than cows. They are also tough to eat, not just because of their rubbery meat but because they are not eaten until they practically die of old age.
Highway 6 forms the first part of what is known as the Northwest loupe that leads to the former French resort town of Sapa.
The Minsk putted along fine, a cloud of smoke rising from its exhaust. Since the oil and gas must be mixed by hand at a five percent ratio, Truong's only advice was to make sure the engine smoked. Forget about the ratio. If it did not smoke, add more oil. The 4-speed gearing is fairly low, another reason it is popular in the hill country.
Pleasant villages wallpapered the road, people busy trotting about with fresh goods, others coking and eating on the sidewalks. Temples of various religions are scattered throughout Vietnam. I stopped at several of the more elaborate ones for pictures and for a chance to sit in the shade to cool off. The heat is bad but it is the humidity that's tears at you, 95% and up.
Fishing boats crowded into a cove at Vu Ban on the Black River. On the bank of the river I talked with an old man who pointed out several objects of importance in the area. I had no idea what he was saying nor could he understand me. Please, thank you, and knowing how to ask for the toilet are about all I have ever learned in preparation for any travel anywhere. That small vocabulary has gotten me through most European countries including Russia. I much prefer the animation of sign and body language to make a point. I really believe such gyrations gets me more in touch with the people. The women and children in Vietnam find it especially amusing and we have had many a good laugh over my wide and exaggerated body and arm swings, sucking in my cheeks and pointing to my mouth to show I am hungry, pointing and scratching my head indicating I am lost, choking myself to show the price they are asking for a hat, etc. Various objects often figure in my antics and I a carry sets of chattering teeth in my pocket for when the occasion arises. Nothing says friendship like chattering teeth.
I ran into my son just outside Mai Chau. His Honda had broken down. I always carry nylon cord and I hooked his bike to the back of mine and pulled it to the next town. We had just started to catch the border of a typhoon and the rain came pouring down. It seems that every person on any route sells drinks and pho, a delicious noodle soup. While I worked on the bike a woman brought us tea and a bowls of soup. She refused to accept any payment for it, something I discovered several times on the trip. Twice I took the Honda to shops and both times the mechanics refused payment although they had worked on it for over an hour. Truong, explained their behavior. Because I was experiencing a difficult time, they did not wish to add to my problems. Decency and courtesy over profit. What a concept! I don't know how the motorbike shops make a living since people who go there usually need help.

Tribals of Jharkhand, India

Introduction: Jharkhand is a newly created state in Indian and it was carved out of the southern part of Bihar on 15th November 2000. The word "Jharkhand" is originated from original tribal language, which means land of Jungles. Jharkhand is considered as a rich state because of it minerals.
History: Jharkhand is separated from Bihar in 2000 but the movement started in early 1900s and since then the demand of separate state was alive. The good tribal rulers rule the area and are known as the Munda Raja. Munda raja are still existing in this region. During the Mughal Empire, the Jharkhand region was known as "Kukara" region. This area came under British after 1765 and known as "Jharkhand". For more historical information on tribals of Jharkhand, India, please visit []
FLORA ADN FAUNA: Jharkhand state has a very rich variety of flora and fauna and the most famous is "Betla National Park" declared as "Project Tiger Reserves" in 1974. The Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary is very similar to Betla National Park of Palamu.One Zoological Garden is also located about 16 km from Ranchi.
DEMOGRAPHICS AND TRIBALS: Jharkhand has a population of around 26.90 million, the sex ratio in Jharkhand is 941 females to 1000 males. The tribals population is around 28%.Jharkhand state has been a home to a variety of tribal communities since time. Jharkhand has 32 primitive tribal groups. These are Munda, santhal, Oraon , Gond, Kol, kanwar, Savar, Asur, Baiga, Banjara, Bathudi, Bedia, Binjhia, Birhor, Birjia, Chero, Chick-Baraik, Gorait, Ho, Karmali, Kharwar, Khond, Kisan, Kora, Korwa, Lohra, Mahli, Mal-Paharia, Parhaiya, Sauria-Paharia and Bhumij.
SARHUL: Sarhul is celebrated during spring season and the Shaal trees get new leaves. It is a worship of the village deity who is considered to be the protector of the tribes. People sing and dance a lot when the sprouting. The deities are worshipped with shaal flowers. These shaal flowers represents the brotherhood and friendship among villagers and Pahan the priest, distributes shaal flowers to every villager. Then the Prasad is distributed among villagers. The Prasad id a rice made wine called Handia
KARAM: This festival is a worship of KARAM devta, the god of power, youth and youthfulness.Karam festivals is held on the 11th day of the phases of moon in Bhadra month. The groups of young villagers go to jungle and collect wood, fruits and flowers. These are required during the Puja of KARAM God. During this entire period people sing and dance in groups. The entire valley seems to be dancing with the drumbeats. This is one of the rare example of such a vital and vibrant youth festival in Jharkhand's Tribal area. At the same time, the unmarried young tribal girls celebrate the Jawa festival, which has its own kind of songs and dance. This is held mainly for the expectation of good fertility and better household. The unmarried girls decorate a small basket with germinating seeds. It is believed that the worship for good germination of the grains would increase the fertility. The girls offer green melons to the Karam deity as a symbol of 'son' which reveals the primitive expectation of human being, i.e grains and children. The entire tribal area of Jaharkhand becomes tipsy during this time.
TUSU PARAB OR MAKAR: This festival is mostly seen in the area between Bundu, Tamar and Raidih area of jaharkhand. This belt has a great history during India's independence movement. TUSU is a harvest festival held during the winter in the last day of Poush month. It is also for the unmarried girls. Girls decorate a wooden/ bamboo frame with coloured paper and then gift it to the nearby hilly river. Although there is no documented history available on this festival but it has huge collection of scintillating songs full of life and taste. These songs reflect the simplicity and innocence of tribal people.
HAL PUNHYA: HAL PUNHYA is a festival which begins with the fall of winter. The first day of Magh month, known as "Akhain Jatra" or "Hal Punhya", considered as the beginning of ploughing. The farmers, to symbolize this auspicious morning plough two and half circles of their agricultural land this day is also considered as the symbol of good fortune.
BHAGTA PARAB: This festival comes between the period of spring and summer. Among the tribal people of Jharkhand this festival is best known as the worship of Budha Baba. People fast during the day and carry the bathing Pahan the priest, to the tribal mandir called Sarana Mandir. The Pahan sometimes called Laya, gets out of the pond, the devotees make a chain, locking their thighs with each other and come forward to offer their bare chest to Laya for walk over. After worship in the evening, devotees take part in dynamic and vigorous Chhau Dance wit lots of gymnastic actions and masks. The next day is full of primitive sports of bravery. The devotees pierce hooks on skin and get tied at one end of a long horizontal wooden pole, which is hanging on the top of a vertical Shal wood pole. The height goes up to 40 feet. The other end of the pole which is connected with a rope, pulled around the pole by the people and the tied devotee display the breath-taking dance in the sky. This festivals is more popular in the Tamar region of Jharkhand.
ROHIN: This festival is perhaps the first festival of Jharkhand. It is a festival of sowing seeds in the field. Farmers starts sowing seeds from this day but there is no dance or song like other tribal festivals but just a few rituals. There are some other festivals like Rajsawala Ambavati and Chitgomha are also celebrated with Rohin.

Olduvai Gorge: Experience the Cradle of Mankind

The Cradle of Mankind is an important prehistoric site in Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge. If like me you're intrigued by the story of the evolution of mankind, Olduvai Gorge, a designated World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979 for its outstanding ecological and geological value, is the one place on earth steeped in layers of prehistoric finds dating as far back as 2.6 million years. A steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley, the Olduvai Gorge stretches through eastern Africa and has been instrumental in furthering understanding of early human evolution. This article will look at the evolution of humankind and what you can expect to see in a touristic setting.
Wilhelm Kattwinkel, a German entomologist, whilst chasing a fancy butterfly in the green wilds of Tanganyika, tumbled off a rocky ledge and found himself in an anthropologist's dream world: an erosion-created rift with layer after layer of fossils, bones and ancient artifacts. The find was named Olduvai Gorge, derived from the Masaai word Oldupai, which is the local name of the wild sisal plant that grows in the area. The name Olduvai was ultimately adopted as the official name in 2005. Pioneered by Louis and Mary Leakey, excavation began in 1931 and continued into the 21st century.
As a tourist, you will be visiting a site that millions of years ago, was a large lake, the sides of which were covered with layers of volcanic ash. 500,000 years ago, seismic activity diverted a nearby stream which, over time, cut into the sediments to expose seven layers in the walls of the gorge. These layers revealed tools from 2.6 million years ago; bones of primitive huminid forms (not of modern humans); evidence of elephant consumption, based on a nearly complete skeleton of extinct Elephas Recki on bed six along with stone tools such as choppers and flakes, and large numbers of smaller animals found with it clearly identify this particular area (FLK North) as an early butchering site. Beds three and four have produced Acheulean tools and fossil bones from over 600,000 years ago. The amount of history embedded in these layers of rock captures the imagination and provides a glimpse at the evolution of humankind.
If only for the thrill of walking along the footpaths of these immensely important discoveries, the Olduvai Gorge experience is likely to fulfill your desire to experience the historical evolution of man. There is a museum on site; lodges and camping sites in the vicinity; and organized tours of the area available to the tourist. Consult your tour operator to plan an unforgettable trip to the Olduvai Gorge and for detailed information on how to make the most of your safari. Tanzania's northern circuit is usually quite busy, especially during high season, so it is always advisable to plan your trip considerably ahead of time. Reading about how we humans evolved from the history books is one thing, but actually setting foot on the grounds our forbears trod and through which they evolved to what we are today is quite another. A tour of the great Olduvai Gorge is the one place on earth where generations of our evolution safely embedded.

Horse Pack Trips and Trail Rides in Alberta, Canada

Experiencing nature by taking a horse pack trip through the stunning scenery of the Canadian mountains can be a soul-searching, fun, and unique experience.
Horse pack riding adventure trips offer many alternatives with regard to comfort level and daily activities. A typical horse pack trip includes daily trail rides that are led by an experienced guide but some may offer the freedom for some independent riding. Guests may take day trips and return the same camp each night; others may move from location to location during the vacation utilizing teams of horses and covered wagons. A common element of horse pack trips is mixing the trail rides with other nature activities such as fishing, canoeing, or hiking on foot.
Accommodations on horse pack trips can range from the very rugged to the posh. To get the real essence of an outdoor ranching or riding adventure, visitors may want to sleep in primitive tents in a sleeping bag on a cot. Visitors are often required to bring their own sleeping gear and personal essentials while the stable hands and organizers supply the rest. Most packages include all meals made with ingredients reflective of the old west.

Vacationing In The Smoky Mountains

You may know what a beautiful place the Great Smoky Mountains are, but did you know that they are one of the most visited vacation and recreation areas in the entire United States?
More than 9 million people visit The Great Smoky Mountains National Park every year and one of the most popular destinations inside the park is Cades Cove. Cades Cove gives visitors a glimpse back in time to what it was like for the very earlier settlers of the Appalachian Mountains livinig in the wilderness and facing hostile elements. To experience the Cove, you can take your car, bicycle or even hike around the 10 mile loop road that encircles the valley. Make sure you arrive early in the morning or just at dusk to get your best chance at catching a glimpse of the diverse wildlife that lives in the Cove.
If hiking is your fancy, then you will be right at home in the Smoky Mountains. With more then 850 miles of mild, moderate and strenuous trails within the park boundaries, there is a hike for everyone. One of the most popular hikes is the Chimney Tops trail. It is a mildly strenuous 4 mile round trip up to an incredible view of the surrounding mountain ranges. The last 50 yards or so is fairly steep, but the view is certainly worth the effort.
Of course to enjoy all this fun you will need a place to stay on your vacation. The park offers several primitive campgrounds for the more adventurous at heart and a few places for RV's, trailers and pop-ups, but one of the more popular accommodations in the Smoky Mountains is a log cabin rental.
There are literally thousands of cabin rentals throughout the Smoky Mountains and in and around Sevier County, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Townsend, Wears Valley and other more remote areas. With cabins ranging in size from 1 bedroom to 20 bedrooms and everything from ultra luxury cabins to more primitive accommodations, you are sure to find a place that suits your style and budget with no problem.
When you are through enjoying the recreation and accommodations that the Smokies have to offer, you might just enjoy the fun, dining, shopping and excitement offered in the cities of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the surrounding towns. Stroll the streets of Gatlinburg some afternoon or evening and enjoy great gift, jewelry, candy and coffee shops and you don't want to miss some of the attractions such as Ripley's Believe It or Not or the Ober Gatlinburg Ski resort. Pigeon Forge offers larger fun filled theme parks like Dollywood and the town is also known for its abundance of outlet malls. So if you love to bargain shop on your vacation, Pigeon Forge is the place to do it.
Sevier County is home to Gatlinburg And Pigeon Forge and these are the two main towns that serve as home base for vacationers that venture into the Smoky Mountains. All throughout Sevier County there are an endless array of things to partake in as you enjoy a Smoky Mountain vacation.

Packwood, Washington: Vacation Idea for Outdoor Enthusiasts Packwood, Washington: Vacation Idea for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Do you want to win the lottery in the fastest way possible? Do you have a lottery strategy? Even if you do not have a lottery strategy, it is not as difficult winning the lottery as you might think. If you are asking, "how to win at the lottery", what you need to know are the mistakes to avoid and what you can do to increase your winning lottery chances.
Here are 6 strategies and tips which will greatly increase your chances of winning the lottery. If you follow these strategies, you will see your winnings results soar!
Tip #1: Play More Tickets
It is not enough to buy only one ticket or even 5 lines in a game. In each game, you have to use more lines. Can you still apply this strategy if you are on a budget? Yes, you can save up and wait till you can afford to play more tickets in one game.
If you are asking "how to win at the lottery", this strategy is one of the best you can use to win at the lottery game.
Tip #2: Play To Get Regular Wins Instead Of Going For The Big Jackpot Win
Do you find that you are not getting regular wins? One reason could be that you are playing too many different games. If you play too few numbers in each game, your chances of getting regular wins are not going to improve.
There are many strategies which you can follow to win the lottery game. However if you play 5 different games with a few tickets in each game, then you cannot expect to get a quick result.
How to win at the lottery? The secret to winning the lottery is to concentrate on one game only, and focusing the lottery strategy on it.
Tip #3: Persist And Keep Going
Persist and keep at your game. The successful player stays at playing the game when everyone else is giving up.
Tip #4: Spend More Than A Few Tickets
Buying the ticket is a prerequisite to get in the game. Playing the lottery is like going to a baseball game. If you don't buy the ticket, how do you get into the stadium? You have to get in the game and play often.
Tip #5: Set Daring Goals
How to win at the lottery and keep yourself going? Set big hairy audacious goals (BHAG - for short).
Plan for your dream vacation, new house or luxurious gifts which you will shower upon your family and friends. BHAGs keep you enthusiastic and motivate you to keep going.
Tip #6: Try Not To Depend On The Lottery Shop's Quick Pick Tickets
Nowadays you can find a lot of information on the internet. Why play the lottery by playing in the dark? This is a primitive way of playing the lottery which does not improve your winning chances at all.
To increase your winning chances, your best bet is to get a proven lotto winning system which has been showing results consistently and received many good testimonials from users. Focus your lottery strategy with this system and use it on your lotto game. If you are asking, "how to win at the lottery", applying these 6 tips in conjunction with a proven lotto system will propel your lottery winning chances.

A Tourist Guide to Western North Carolina

1. Asheville
Western North Carolina is topographically the most diverse part of the state and therefore offers one of the richest travel experiences. Asheville, some 125 miles from Charlotte, is the area's gateway.
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, at the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers, it had been settled in 1794 by John Barton, who had originally named it "Morristown" after Robert Morris, a financier of the American Revolution, but it had been later changed to honor Governor Samuel Ashe. With the 1880 arrival of the Western North Carolina Railroad, it had developed as a livestock and tobacco market, and is today the economic and recreational center for western North Carolina and a tourism base for the area's Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee Indian culture.
Second only to Miami in art deco architecture, Asheville offers several interesting sights.
The Basilica of St. Lawrence, for example-jointly developed by Spanish architect Rafael Gustavia and Richard Sharp Smith-is a Spanish Renaissance design in brick and tile with a self-supporting dome and Catalan-style vaulting. It had been completed in 1908.
The early life of Thomas Wolfe, Asheville's famous novelist, can be gleaned from a tour of the 29-room Queen Anne-style house in which he had grown up. It is now a designated state historic site.
Nucleus of the arts, Asheville is the cultivation point of painters, sculptures, and potters, who perfect their crafts in the Riverside Arts District.
Asheville's-and all of North Carolina's-most famous and most visited sight, however, is Biltmore Estate. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt and landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted (of New York's Central Park fame), the 255-room, French Renaissance chateau, having required a five-year construction period during the height of the Gilded Age and some 1,000 workers, had been the result of George Washington Vanderbilt's trips to the area in the early-1880s and his decision to have a summer residence, reminiscent of the chateaux's lining France's Loire Valley, built there. It is today the US's largest private residence and is still partly used for that purpose by Vanderbilt descendants.
The Vanderbilts, one of the country's wealthiest and most prominent families headed by Cornelius Vanderbilt, had amassed their wealth through railroads, corporations, and philanthropic activities. Passing the torch to the second generation, headed by William Henry Vanderbilt, he had been able to perpetuate his success, while William Henry himself had fathered the third generation, having four sons. George Washington Vanderbilt, one of them, had been the least active in developing the family's business.
Opening Biltmore House on Christmas Eve in 1895, he had engaged in scientific farming, stock breeding, and forestry, and brought his bride, Edith Stuyvessant Dresser, there, three years later. His only daughter, Cornelia, had been born in the house in 1900, and thirty years later, it had been opened to the public.
The massive house, accessible by both escorted and unescorted tours, offers a glimpse into this century-old, opulent lifestyle. The entrance hall, portal to this era, had been the same access point used by the Vanderbilts and their guests and leads round the glass-roofed winter garden. Perhaps the most grandiose room on the ground floor is the banquet hall. Stretching seven stories to the wooden ceiling, it features huge tables, three massive fireplaces, Flemish tapestries from the 1500s, and a 1916 Skinner pipe organ mounted on its own loft. It had been the location of the estate's parties, galas, and affairs.
The private sitting and bedrooms of George and Edith Vanderbilt are located on the second floor, although, of particular note, is the Louis XV bedroom, location of Cornelia's birth and the subsequent birth of her own two sons.
Most of the servants' bedrooms are located on the fourth floor.
The house's basement, location of additional servant bedrooms, features several kitchens and pantries and the recreational facilities, inclusive of a gymnasium, a 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool, and one of the country's first private residence bowling alleys.
Sitting on 8,000 acres of land, Biltmore Estate features several other facilities of interest.
Fronted by a grass esplanade inspired by the gardens of the 17th-century Chateau de Vaux-le-Viconte in Melun, France, it features Italian, shrub, walled, spring, and azalea gardens, and a full conservatory.
Self-guided tours of the Biltmore Winery can be made, followed by a visit to the extensive wine and delicacy gift shop, while the nearby River Bend Farm, once the center of the estate's farming community, is comprised of a barn, a farmyard, and the Kitchen Garden, where its "field-to-table" program items are grown, before being used in the dishes served in all of its restaurants. Aside from this produce and its wines, the dairy division of Biltmore produces its own ice cream.
Adjacent to the Biltmore Estate entrance is historic Biltmore Village. Also co-designed by building architect Richard M. Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and constructed between 1897 and 1905, it had been intended as a picturesque residential prelude to Biltmore Estate itself with a fan-shaped layout leading to the church, the railroad depot, and the estate's entrance, its focal points. Its cottages had first been occupied in 1900.

A Tourist's Guide to the Natural Sights of Oregon

Nature, the predominant element around which life in Oregon revolves, results in the state's topographical diversity and rugged, natural beauty, and dictates the experiences the tourist is likely to have.
The 362 mile long coast, for instance, comprised of rain forests, sand dunes, black sand beaches, and unique rock formations, is splintered by some dozen rivers, which flow into the Pacific. The spine of the Coast Range and the Klamath Mountains provides a westerly skeleton, while the Columbia River defines the border between Washington and Oregon in the north. The Cascade Mountains, black basalt formations densely carpeted with thick, green forests and capped with snow covered volcanoes, cradle alpine lakes and a national park, and extend form Mt. Hood in the north to Hayden Mountain in the south, serving to separate the western half of the state with its central high desert plateau. In the northeast, the 10,000-foot Wallowa Mountains invert themselves into 6,600-foot-deep Hells Canyon, the world's deepest river carved gorge.
Abundant vineyards produce an array of excellent wines, while locally grown marrion berries figure in Oregon cooking, along with the bounty of the land's fruits and vegetables and the rivers' salmon.
Columbia River Gorge
Formed by volcanic activity and both basalt lava and glacial floods, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, spanning 80 miles from Troutdale in the west to the Dalles in the east, and encompassing 292,000 acres on both the Washington and Oregon sides, had been created by Congress in 1986. The Columbia River itself, at 1,243 miles in length, is the second largest such artery in the continental United States and the only nearly sea level passage through the mountain range stretching between Canada and Mexico. Originating in British Columbia, it flows through the mountains, before turning south and finally west where it releases 250,000 cubic feet of water per second into the Pacific. Topographically featuring Douglas fir, hemlock, and western red cedar in the west, the gorge transforms into drier pine forest and grassland in the east.
Its primary Native American residents, the "Watlala," who had been more commonly known as the "Cascades," had lived on both sides of the river between Cascade Locks and Sandy River, using it for sustenance and trade by fishing for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and eel. The land provided berries and roots and the nearby mountains facilitated hunting for deer and elk. Living in structures made of cedar planks, the Watlala seasonally traveled down the river to fish and gather plant foods, such as "wapato" and "camas," in cedar carved canoes, while wood and mountain sheep horns had provided the raw materials for tools, bowls, and pots. Wrap twined baskets sported intricate decorations of nature, people, and animals.
Controlling the portage round Cascade Falls, which had been too treacherous for canoe or boat passage, they collected tolls in the form of traded goods in exchange for access.
The Watlala signed Willamette Valley Treaty ceded their southern bank of the Columbia River to the US in 1855, and they had subsequently been relocated to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation two years later.
Of the gorge's numerous waterfalls, Multnomah Falls, plummeting almost 620 feet from its origin on Larch Mountain, constitutes the second-highest year-round waterfall in the US. "Multnomah," translating as "those closer to the water," with "water" referring to the Columbia River itself, cascades down a cliff in which five flows of Yakima basalt are visible, and its spray, freezing in early-winter and melting in late-spring, causes the rock over which it travels to crack and break away. The falls are accessed by several hiking trails.
The adjacent, Cascadian style, natural stone Multnomah Falls Lodge, designed by architect Albert E. Doyle in 1925 to serve travelers arriving by car, train, or steamboat, sits on land donated by the Oregon and Washington Railroad and Navigation Company to the city of Portland. The lodge's east end, which includes the later added Forest Service Visitor's Center in 1929, had preceded its post war remodeling and 1946 reopening. On April 22, 1981, the lodge, along with the first 1.1 miles of its Larch Mountain trail, had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the day facility sports two second floor, fireplace and stone dining rooms overlooking the falls and the Columbia River. An extensive gift shop is located on the main level.
The Columbia River Interpretive Center, located across the Columbia River spanned, erector set appearing Bridge of the Gods in Stevenson, Washington, provides snapshots of life in the area in a modern, two level museum, with exhibits such as a horse drawn buckboard from 1890, a wooden fish wheel, a 1921 log carrying Mack truck, an 1895 Corliss steam engine used to drive saw carriages and conveyors in a Cascade Locks lumber mill, hand crafted canoes, and a 1917 Curtiss JN-4 Jenny biplane, which had facilitated local transportation.
Further east, and back on the Oregon side, the Columbia Gorge Hotel, built on a scenic cliff overlooking the Columbia River, is a stately, neo-Morish structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the US Department of Interior unofficially dubbed the "Waldorff of the West." Constructed in 1921 by timber tycoon Simon Benson as a tribute to America's post-war prosperity, it had hosted social and political dignitaries, presidents such as Coolidge and Roosevelt, movie stars like Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino, and musicians from the Big Bands, having played an integral role during the Roaring Twenties when Model T Fords had traveled the roads and steamers had plied the rivers. Voted one of the world's top 500 hotels by Conde Nast magazine, the hotel, sitting on meticulously manicured, tiny waterfall dotted grounds, features an elegant, chandelier and fireplace adorned lobby and restaurant.

Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Celebrates Its New York Aviation Roots

"Our next aircraft-because it's New York State Aviation Day-is the Curtiss Model D Pusher, built right here in Hammondsport, New York," announced Jim Hare on that hot, August 12, 2012, day, as the yellow biplane taxied across the lightly wind-swept grass field beneath a canvas brushed with dabs of cumulous at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.
Recounting his numerous contributions, Jim concluded, "Glenn Curtiss-New York State's aviation hero!"
Yet, it was on this day that the aerodrome showcased many of New York's aviation contributions, celebrating roots that ultimately became its own.
"The relevance of this weekend is to showcase that portion of our collection which pays homage to New York State," said Neill Herman, Old Rhinebeck's Air Show President. "From Lindbergh's famous transatlantic flight to the contributions of Curtiss, New York-being a big trade capital at the time-played a major role as a hub of aviation development. Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is a focal point of tourism for New York State and we have a particular interest in showcasing New York's contributions."
Many of these "contributions," however, can be gleaned from the aircraft displayed in its museum buildings located across Norton Road from the airfield and up the hill.
The Thomas Model E Pusher, for instance, is one of them. Suspended from the ceiling of the Pioneer Building, this century-old design, sporting its fabric-covered sesqui biplane wings, dual-wheeled undercarriage, aft-mounted wooden propeller, and forward-protruding spruce skids appears as if it were making an approach to the movie set of Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.
Brainchild of W. T. Thomas, an Englishman who had emigrated to the US and established his own aircraft company in Bath, New York, with his brother, Oliver, it offers features that are traceable to those of Curtiss, with which he had initial experience in Hammondsport. Experimenting with his own Curtiss-like machine in 1908, W. T. Thomas produced the Model E Pusher during the winter of 1909 to 1910, and, piloted by Walter Johnson, it partook of exhibitions in 1911. A refined version appeared the following year, only a decade after the Wright Brothers had first flown at Kitty Hawk.
According to the sign under the aircraft in the Pioneer Building, "This aircraft is one of 12 manufactured by W. T. Thomas, Bath, New York. It was his second design and in November of 1912 an aircraft of this type established the two-place world's endurance record, flying for three hours, 52 minutes."
It hardly began that way.
"The Pusher was a gift from Owen Billman," said Jim Hare. "It was found in a barn up in central New York (and was once owned by pioneer pilot Earl Frits). The wings were being used to protect tomato plants from the cold."
Cole Palen, having been endowed with that elusively-defined ability to take the remaining atom of an airframe and transform it into a full-fledged flying machine, proceeded to do so with the Model E, repackaging scraps, parts, and pieces into a vehicle that would later take him aloft in his official "aircraft factory" normally designated a "living room."
But, part of that sixth sense hinged upon authenticity and nothing could have ensured it more than a personal visit with its builder, W. T. Thomas himself, who by then had been residing in Florida.
"He actually met Thomas in Florida and went down with Mike Lockhart, the first aerodrome kid here," continued Jim.
Beyond Cole's expectations, he was given access to Thomas's personal files, whose xeroxed copies enabled him to reproduce the airplane in Rhinebeck with redundant accuracy.
Yet, because of his insistence upon authenticity, the aircraft which took shape clearly reflected its Curtiss control-inspired lineage, itself powered by a 90-hp Curtiss OX-5 engine.
"(It was) an awkward machine to fly... because its controls did not follow the standard system," according to Gordon Bainbridge in his book, The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome (Exposition Press, 1977), and caused one "to reverse one's trained flight reflexes to control the ship." A wheel-mounted rocking post, for instance, actuated the dual-tailed rudders, while an aileron-connected seat enabled the pilot to bank. The throttle took the form of a foot pedal.
Although the wheel's forward and aft movement deflected the elevator and therefore provided the only semblance of conventional control, it resulted in "Cole confusion," according to Bainbridge, as he continually made the right inputs into the wrong controls and sustained two damage-producing, repair-requiring mishaps before he successfully surmounted the sky in another of his hand-to-air transformations.
After 15 minutes aloft, the Thomas Pusher announced its approach through the "throb of (its) laboring engine," again according to Bainbridge. "The sight was awe-inspiring as the sun danced momentarily on the great expanse of the biplane's varnished wings, and, as if etched against the clouds, the primitive craft... land(ed) like some huge predatory bird out of the past."
Although Cole had shared the construction and test flying process with his team of Palen Passion Followers, he had been particularly secretive about its purpose, which he initially only revealed as a flight from the aerodrome to New York.