Category Archives: RTW #1

Photo: Sand Dunes in Sossusvlei, Namibia

Taken June 28, 2009

Before anyone accuses me, I swear this is not Photoshopped and this is actually what the sand dunes looked like.  Deep in the Namib desert, the oldest desert on the planet, the sand dunes can get up to 350 meters high which makes them the tallest in the world.  The dunes are so stark that the area is said to be a popular landmark for the astronauts in fact!

The amazing thing is how when driving here the sand just shows up in clumps on the ground as if a giant’s child dropped scoops from his sand pail until the dunes dominate the horizon.  How did it get here?  Amazingly from the Atlantic Ocean over 50km away- the mighty Orange River deposits so much land that a mere tributary created the second largest canyon in the world, which is deposited on the land and picked up by the wind.  Over time, some geologists have estimated tens of millions of years, the sand is deposited here.

A final interesting detail though is how in the winter (when this picture was taken) the direction of the wind changes so it comes off the mountains located leftward in this picture, so the sand dunes shift accordingly.  See how the dunes in the distance lean towards the right?  It’s because the wind blows the sand up the straight side of the dune over the crest and then finally settles on the far side due to the wind shade, giving the dune its normal shape.  In a few months the wind will change direction and the crests will face the opposite direction, ensuring that these dunes don’t move very much over time and can get so tall.

Oh, and the dunes are orange because of iron oxide, the same reason Mars is red.  But you knew that, right?

Photo: Painting Retouch, Royal Palace in Bangkok

Taken February 9, 2009

The Royal Palace in Bangkok is filled with amazing artwork like the mural above, but time and the extreme humidity can’t do good things to the paintings!  This artist was busy at work retouching the gold- you can see how much he’s done, and how much he still had to do…

Photo: Capri, Italy

Taken March 2009

This helpful advice is brought to you by the port authority on the island of Capri in Italy, proving that Engrish is not an exclusively Asian commodity.  Though I won’t make much fun of them because c’mon, it’s sensible advice!

Video: Zipline, Gibbon Experience, Laos

Not a photo today, but I would argue it’s way more awesome!  Last year while in Laos I went on The Gibbon Experience deep in the jungles of northern Laos, which basically involved hiking and ziplines and living in treehouses for a few days.  If you ever find yourself in that part of the world I highly recommend it!  You can read my full write-up of the Experience here, complete with the biggest accident I had on my rtw that somehow involved physics saving my life and my only experience with medical quackery.  Good times.

Photo of the Day: Leopard in Mala Mala, South Africa

Taken June 15, 2009

Because today is the long-anticipated start date of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the mascot is a leopard, here is a real live one chowing down on the last remnants of a baboon at Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa.  Not to be confused with the other time we saw a leopard chowing down at night!

For anyone interested I plan to cheer for Team USA this year- I am usually unpatriotic and cheer for anyone-but-the-US in international sporting on the grounds that we throw so much money at sports it’s a much greater achievement if someone from a small country wins, but this is arguably the one competition where we are the underdog!  Either way best of luck to South Africa in hosting, though I’ve no doubts that one of my favorite countries on the planet is capable of pulling off a spectacular job.

Photo of the Day: San Marino

My favorite microstate, San Marino is 24 square miles (61 square km) but still has a standing army. Being perched atop a looming mountain probably helps sovereignty as well.

What to Do, What to Do…

Welcome sign my brother and sister made for me when I returned to US soil

Ten months ago I finished my round the world trip, and nine months ago I started graduate school in physics.  To the surprise of no one it turns out graduate school in physics is hard, in particular when it comes to having to pass your qualifier, so a lot of my creative impulses were kept at bay for awhile.  But then two weeks ago I passed my qualifier (YAY!), meaning I am now actually eligible for an advanced degree and feel like I have copious amounts of free time.  Which translates into not so much free time so much as not feeling guilty I’m not brushing up on equations of motion during the free time, but it’s an important distinction.

CWRU Physics: Crushing Souls since 1881

During this year three important things happened- I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do with this blog, I got a Macbook Pro with lots of built-in media editing capabilities, and I noticed that even when I’m supposed to be super-busy I’m still traveling!  Not as extensively of course, but I’ve quietly set my toe in 13 states and four countries while no one was looking (and Washington DC, I never know where to list that guy) and will likely set foot in my sixth continent before the year is out (hint).  So lots of content, which is encouraging because the “background noise” this blog gets is incredibly high considering how little I’ve been doing lately, and let’s not forget the literally thousands of pictures from all around the world that no one except me has ever seen.

So this is what I propose- during the next x days the blog will be restructured more to the liking of a general travel/geek blog instead of one focused on a specific trip.  As usual on blogs, I will write things relating to what I find interesting, and you will like it or surf elsewhere.  But to keep you guys interested I will be introducing a Photo of the Day feature so there will be something new every day, which I am proposing to do because I can set it up so it’s not that huge a hassle and I finally worked out how to make WordPress behave when it comes to my photos (not sure why a lot weren’t showing up for awhile but I think I’ve brought them all back! and they’re bigger now and you can click on them for the full photo!).  And we’ll see where we go from there.

As always, feedback is encouraged and appreciated.  Particularly if you have a suggestion on what sort of photos you want to see- my archives go back to include 30 countries on five continents and for now at least I’m having fun making them pretty and such for public consumption.  Cheers!