Thursday, January 31, 2013

This Day in History - January 31


Nauru, World's Smallest Island Nation, Gains Independence
January 31, 1968
Annexed by Germany in 1888, controlled by Great Britain since World War I, occupied by Japan during World War II, and administered by Australia until the late 1960s, the tiny, phosphate-rich island of Nauru flourished in the years following its independence—boasting the highest per-capita income enjoyed by any sovereign state in the world during the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, after the island exhausted its primary phosphate reserves, living conditions deteriorated. To earn income, the government resorted to unusual measures—from briefly becoming a tax haven and illegal money laundering centre to accepting aid from the Australian government in exchange for housing a Nauru detention center.  From December 2005 to September 2006, Nauru became partially isolated from the outside world when Air Nauru, the only airline with service to the island, ceased to operate. The only outside access to Nauru was then by ocean-going ships. The airline restarted operations with monetary aid from the Republic of China.  Today, it has a 90 percent unemployment rate, and much of the island is uninhabitable. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

 SGang Gwaay (Canada)
Anyone visited these "tough to reach" UNESCO World Heritage Sites: SGang Gwaay (Canada), Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles), Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site (Marshall Islands), East Rennell (Solomon Islands), Macquarie Island (Australia), Subantarctic Islands (New Zealand), Papah’naumoku’kea (US), Herd and McDondald Islands (Australia), Complex of Koguryo Tombs (North Korea), Gough and Inaccessible Islands (United Kingdom), Henderson Island (United Kingdom) and Surtsey (Iceland)?

The number of the above sites that I've visited: 0.  How about you?

For more go here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

State Fact: California

Photo by Cynthia Dial
California - Its economy is so large that if it were a country, it would rank seventh in the entire world (at least for the moment).

Monday, January 28, 2013

Insider's California

San Diego's annual PGA tournament was weather delayed, causing the final round to be played today, Monday, January 28. 
Here's a peek of the fun.

Torrey Pines' South Course

 Goodyear blimp hovering above #18

 Hang gliders added to the picturesque environs

Golfer Phil Mickelson (center) conferring with his caddie

Tiger Woods (right) and caddie (left)
28.  Here's a peek of the fun.


"If you don't know where you're going, any road will lead you there."

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Photo by Cynthia Dial 
With the exception of Antarctica, all continents are wider in the north than in the south.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Today, January 23, in History

Principality of Liechtenstein Is Created (1719)

Occupying 62 square miles (160 sq km) between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein was formed when the Austrian family of the same name purchased the lordships of Schellenberg and Vaduz in the Holy Roman Empire. It became fully independent in 1866. Today, the tiny mountainous country has no airport, no military, and very little crime. It is best known for its financial industry but is also a leading producer of sausage casings and false teeth.

Door County, Wisconsin

When I announced my plans to visit Door County, I was asked two questions. Where, then, why? To answer the first - Door County is situated at the northern tip of Wisconsin's mid-state peninsula jutting northward and is bordered by the waters of Green Bay to the west and Lake Michigan to the east. To answer the second I think a little story is necessary.  To check out my TravelSquire article, go here.

Photo by Cynthia Dial

Monday, January 21, 2013

News Antarctica

Photo by Cynthia Dial

British explorer embarks on Antarctica adventure

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — It's a six-month expedition in almost constant darkness, in the coldest place on the planet, with no chance of rescue if things go wrong. British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes calls it one of the last remaining polar challenges: crossing Antarctica during the region's winter.
Against the backdrop of Cape Town's majestic Table Mountain, Fiennes, 68, and his five-member team left the South African port city on Monday, January 7, 2013, aboard a South African polar vessel, the SA Agulhas, for what they have dubbed "The Coldest Journey."
After reaching the southernmost continent, the expedition will begin its journey via the South Pole on March 21, traversing nearly 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) in a place, beautiful and forbidding, where temperatures often dip as low as minus 70 Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit).
Or colder. Antarctica has recorded the lowest temperature anywhere on the planet — a shocking minus 89.2 Celsius (minus 128.56 Fahrenheit).
The trip is particularly hazardous because no aircraft can travel inland in the winter due to the darkness and risk that fuel will freeze, meaning there is virtually no chance of a search and rescue operation if disaster strikes.
Even Fiennes, who has spent a lifetime embracing peril, is circumspect.
"I usually look forward to expeditions, but there is such a big degree of uncertainty with this one that looking forward to it is probably not the exact right word," Fiennes said, according to the website of SABC, South Africa's state broadcaster.
"Some people will say it is irresponsible to go unless you know everything, in which case the Americans would never have gotten to the moon. If humans are going for something new, then unfortunately there are bound to be some gray areas," Fiennes said.
According to Fiennes' website, British authorities had not previously granted permits for winter expeditions in Antarctica because they were seen as too dangerous. Satellite and other communications technology will allow the team to communicate with the outside world and to provide updates on its progress.
Fiennes and his team will have high-tech gear, including battery-operated heating mechanisms in their clothing and special breathing apparatus. They will use modified, 20-ton tractors to transport sledges with mounted living quarters and fuel that is designed not to freeze in the extreme temperatures. They will also have radars that can detect crevasses.
Anton Bowring, the expedition co-leader who is traveling on the polar ship but not joining Fiennes on the ice, said the modifications to clothing and equipment for the polar trip made it comparable with preparations for a flight into space.
"Psychologically, the conditions are similar," he told South Africa's Sunday Times. "Once they set off and the winter sets in, they are on their own. You can't get an evacuation if someone gets appendicitis or frost bite. There is nothing you can do about it."
Spencer Smirl, a Canadian mechanic who will travel all the way with Fiennes, surfed the waves and got a sunburn during his break in Cape Town. In a blog posting Sunday, he described his excitement at facing the "deep freeze" in the weeks ahead.
"As much as I can anticipate I will be very seasick, I can't wait to see what the extreme violence the southern ocean can provide," he wrote. "It will be a very new experience for me. One that I don't think I will ever forget."
Expedition organizers plan to raise $10 million for a charity that seeks to prevent blindness. Team members also hope to conduct research aimed at understanding the effect of climate change on the poles. Their project has taken years to plan.
If all goes well and they complete their journey as scheduled around Sept. 21, they will still have to camp out and wait until January 2014 to head back to Britain. Only then, when temperatures are comparatively warmer, will their polar vessel be able to reach them.
Fiennes has compiled a long list of achievements over the decades, many involving the Antarctic and Arctic regions. He became the oldest Briton to summit Mount Everest in 2009. He is missing parts of his fingers on his left hand because of frostbite that he suffered on a North Pole expedition more than a decade ago.
According to the "Coldest Journey" website, expedition patron Prince Charles wished Fiennes and his team "God speed and every possible good fortune in this wonderful, dotty adventure."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Insider's California

In Indian Wells watching the Desert's great Italian trio, Michael, Tony and Larry performing at Frank's Place.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Insider's California

Italian night at Melvyn's in Palm Springs listening to Tony DiGerlando and Gooch.

Insider's California

Humana Challenge (aka Bob Hope Desert Classic) is place to be in Palm Desert.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Travia - Mexico City

Mexico City has the highest elevation and is oldest city in North America.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


The world's largest bell (200 tons) is the Czar Bell, on view inside Moscow's Kremlin. Broken during casting and has never been rung.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Elvis Presley's Birthday January 8

Photo by Cynthia Dial

In honor of what would be Elvis' 78th birthday today, here's a photo of a red jewel encrusted auto taken while on the streets of Memphis. Maybe Elvis is still around. Just saying . . .

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Photo by Cynthia Dial
El Camino Real (Spanish for The Royal Road) refers to the historic 600-mile California Mission Trail which connected the state's 21 missions. Modern El Camino Real was one of CA's first state highways. Given the lack of standardized road signs at the time, it was decided to place distinctive bells along the route, which remain today.