Friday, May 14, 2010

Oh, Goodness, It's CONTEST Time Again!

It's been a few months since my last contest so I think it's time for another! Unfortunately, I believe in hard work and I therefore do not just give things away for nothing like many blogs do. No, my giveaways are a little harder. Not much though. I hope. AND I've EDITED. So here's the new and easier version!

This week, you'll be competing to win one of five BEAUTIFUL New York City T-shirts. I'd post pictures but I'm lazy so, two are pretty classic "I heart NY"s, one has an apple, one has some other stuff, and so on. If you win, I'll offer pictures etc. For anyone who might live in NYC or already own a T-shirt or something, I'll consider digging through the prize closet for another decent prize. If you just don't heart NY, you're SOL. Sorry.

Okay, here's how to enter: I will post a bunch of clues that all point to one particular place. It can be anywhere in the world although it's more likely to be somewhere I've been. Not that that's especially helpful. You can have up to FOUR tries to guess the place. If you're sure of the answer, you can make the same guess up to four times. Make sense? The goal here is to be pretty easy so don't make fun at me if you think the answer is really obvious. If it's hard, I'm sorry. As with volcanoes, one never knows with these types of things. Here's how you earn each guess:

1. Just comment with your answer. First one's free.

2. Be a follower. I don't care if it's through Google, Facebook, RSS, or whatever. Up to you. I'll even accept Twitter for this one (I'm @travelrambler hint hint). Just let me know where you're following if it isn't obvious.

3 and 4. Broadcast. Post about this contest/giveaway on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever. Post once, get one entry. Post twice, get two. Post three times, get two. Sorry, no more than two.

After all that explanation, here are the clues. First hint, this has something to do with an upcoming post:

1. Although you may know that I am in the United States, you might be surprised if I told you in which state I'm located. I know I was when they told me.

2. I used to have an interesting job; I was kind of a bouncer. When I got the job, I replaced a guy named Clinton. (Full name: either Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton. Come on guys, approximately 30 seconds on Wikipedia--bad me--will give you the answer).

3. I met lots of people through my job including many of this blog owner's relatives (ancestors, really). Even though I'm retired now, lots of people visit me. They like my old stories.

4. One of my neighbors is a really (like really) famous woman who also happens to be, er, rather large. Make that incredibly large. In fact, I can't think of a larger woman.

5. I am a gateway.

6. I am a rock. I am an island.

I AM.......

Comment moderation is on for the duration of the contest which ends at 12:01 AM on WEDNESDAY, MAY 26. Happy guessing!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Snapshot: Leon Sinks

In an effort to post more often, I'm doing what I discussed here. I've decided to be a little cutesy and sort of name types of posts a little. So this is called "snapshots". PLEASE comment or something if you've got a better name. Thank you.

So here's my latest:

I lived for a short amount of time in Tallahassee, Florida. Although it's the capital, it's not what you'd call touristy as much of northern Florida isn't. Topographically, a lot of northern Florida isn't really what people generally think of when they think of Florida: there are lots of hills, pine trees, and, at least around Tallahassee, few of those endless, white, sandy beaches that grace "normal" Florida. And nothing even remotely Disneyfied--in fact, I don't even think there's a Disney store at the mall.

I've actually talked a little about this before so instead of writing endlessly about the amazing geography of Florida, I'll just briefly mention that there are a lot of sinkholes in the northern part of the state.

Just a few miles south of Tallahassee is a park called Leon Sinks. A short drive from Capital Circle, Tallahassee's ring road brings you to an easy to miss turn-off with a small sign pointing to Leon Sinks. Like many parks in the area, parking/visiting costs a few dollars but it's sort of honor system--no parking attendants. Technically you're supposed to put a hangy-thing on your rear-view mirror but I never saw anyone check for them. The park itself is pretty much right off the road--you're already in the wilderness.

Of the park itself, I remember a long walking trail that loops around offering a nice walk of maybe two or three miles. I think? Some of that is on wooden walkways because of the sinkholes and the fact that some of them are basically lakes or something. So anyway, the picture above is one of the water-filled sinkholes. It's not very large but I honestly have no idea how deep the water is. It's my understanding that the worn-away rock that essentially creates the sinkholes creates a vast network of caves and tunnels underground. I know I read about some exploring of those caves and I must look for details because it was interesting. Really.

What else can I say about Leon Sinks and sinkholes? Although I clicked on this picture randomly, it's actually one of my favorites because of the way the sky is reflected in the water. Although it's possible to see alligators there, I never did and I'm not sure if I'm disappointed or not. Despite the threat of alligators, walking through the park was peaceful, serene, tranquil, and just about any other synonym you might think of. The light breeze ruffles the green leaves, the sun gently warms without beating down (except in the summer, I think), and, as far as I can tell, it's rarely crowded.

Warning, after all that happy, floaty talk, I'm about to sound insane. Maybe it's just me, but Leon Sinks and the places like it around northern Florida seem just the tiniest bit sinister. Part of it is that the Earth could literally, like, yawn up a gaping hole at pretty much any time. Not that it's likely (I hope) but it is possible. And while I think there are sinkhole/lakes with swimming and boating access, the lakes seem the tiniest bit bottomless-pitesque to me. I know they're not bottomless even if they are part of a major cave network. And Loch Ness which totally has sinister connotations and caves etc. scares me not at all. I just think it's awesome.

So, does anyone think the lake looks nice? Peaceful? Scary? Jekyll? Hyde? I just can't decide.

Next up: a contest, a post on New Jersey (yes, really), the rest of BSC in the USA, and Yosemite. Hopefully all this month. I'm working on being motivated.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Other Niagara Falls?

While I have lately been truly sucking at posting things, I haven't stopped thinking about things to post. Or having great and fabulous (read: pretty boring) adventures. So while I know I need to finish BSC in the USA and I really have to post about Yosemite, I figured better to just get a little something up on here, even if no one reads it.

In a recent conversation, I casually remarked that I wished I lived near a decent waterfall or two, since, you know, I absolutely love wateralls. I was indignantly informed (technically reminded) that one of the biggest or widest or most powerful waterfalls in New York is actually pretty close by. Maybe I knew that, but past viewings of the falls were unimpressive enough that seeing it (them?) didn't make much of an impact.

Suspense effectively built? I'm talking about Cohoes Falls, on the Mohawk River just before it dumps into the Hudson (remember the Hudson? I talked about that one). Just for fun, I decided to take a look at the Wikipedia page for Cohoes Falls (remember kids, never, ever cite Wikipedia. I'm going straight to hell for this) where I read that in the 18th century, Cohoes Falls were considered, in beauty, second only to Niagara. Bear in mind, Niagara Falls, beautiful or not, are extremely famous and visited simply for being waterfalls. Further "anaylsis" revealed that Cohoes is better than the American Falls but "not as good" as the Canadian Falls. Bloody Canadians, getting the good waterfall and the good town.

After reading important comparisons between Cohoes and Niagara, I realized it was time to go back to Cohoes Falls. Even though it's close to home and I've driven by countless times, I have much more vivid memories of Niagara Falls. I don't know, maybe it's the rainbow. Or the commercialness. Or the fact that the Canadian/Horseshoe Falls is actually kinda pretty. Cohoes, on the other hand, is really just a waterfall in a city, small viewing area, usually empty of people.

While the city isn't exactly on my way home from school/work, it isn't really out of the way either. So, one warm and sunny day, I felt the open road calling me away from my usual highway exit and into the city of Cohoes. As a city, Cohoes apparently used to be quite something; I'll call it the (former) Venice of New York (I'm guessing no one else ever did) because it used to be full of canals. At one time, Cohoes was a thriving industrial city, I think there were a lot of mills there, all powered by water. Cohoes also essentially has the end of the Erie Canal, you know the one with the mule named Sal, right?

So, anyway, my visit. The time was early spring, the water was high and the air warm and breezy. All very good things, especially the water since, at times, the falls runs almost dry. There's a theory that the name for the falls (and city) comes from the "potholes" that appear when the water is low. As you can imagine, this really isn't always the most stunning waterfall.

I parked on the street, right next to the little Cohoes Falls Park. A short walk led to the year-round viewing area; a closer walkway doesn't open until sometime this month, I think. Since it's close by, I may go back and check that out. My impression? Didn't change all that much from the last time I saw the falls. Sure, there was more water, I know it's higher than it looks (somewhere between 70 and 100 feet) and it looked kind of powerful. But honestly? It's not the most beautiful waterfall, not by a long shot. I have an upcoming post about a waterfall in the Adirondacks (I said I've been adventuring) that was much more exciting. Don't believe me? Check out the picture: