Return of the Blog

It’s been a while since I updated the blog with my latest adventures. I’m happy to announce the blog will be back in action starting next week.

There will be posts about a very Texas Fourth of July, a One-Day Walking Tour of London, and a Cycling Tour of Goa, India plus much more.

While I’m working on the latest updates, feel free to look back at some of the most popular posts on the blog from the last few years:

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Pyramiden, Spitsbergen — An abandoned Russian mining town, population: 2.

grace-cathedral-UN-muralGrace Cathedral, San Francisco — Classic architecture with a modern message.

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Christchurch, New Zealand — Art-rich restoration after a devastating earthquake.

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Gliding — Free falling over Central Texas.

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Castle Rock, Antarctica — Hiking in one of the most remote places in the world.

East Antarctic Science

Dragons might not actually be real, but there’s still a lot of impressive (and real this time!) new research coming out. I mentioned weather thwarted the work I was scheduled to do in Antarctica this past season. It’s not all that unexpected when it comes to operating in Antarctica, but luckily our group typically manages to beat the odds in order to collect a lot of data.

Although this season was a downer, the science continues back in Texas. About two weeks ago, a member of our team got some pretty substantial press about a recently published paper which I’ll try to describe here. Our work this past season was expected to contribute more observations to allow for a future extension of this study (in addition to lots more information for other science).

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10 Years of International Travel

For the first time in my young life, it’s time to renew my passport. Hard to believe it’s been that long. In one sense,  it’s a reminder of how times have changed. 10 years ago wasn’t the first time I travelled outside the U.S., but back in those days you didn’t need anything at all to go from the U.S. to Canada as a kid in the backseat. All the same, it’s fun to think that 10 years ago was the first time I travelled overseas to a new country.

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After so many years of safeguarding my passport, it’s weird to be dropping it in the mail and hoping for the best to get a renewal. But I won’t complain about the relatively simple process. I’m realizing for the first time just how expensive passports are, though. There are a lot of reasons why only 46% of Americans have a passport, but the cost is a valid one for many. At $165 for a new passport and $140 for a renewal, I can see why even those Americans living along our borders may not have gotten around to that quick jaunt to Mexico or Canada.

At the very least the process is relatively painless. Renewals can be done through the mail and passport photos are available at a lot of post offices and pharmacies these days. This may be the end of a chapter, but I’m looking forward to beating my current record of 6 international visits per 10 years next time around.

Photos Discovered from the Ross Sea Party Expedition, 1915

Last month, 99-year-old photo negatives were discovered in Scott’s Hut near Cape Evans on Ross Island in Antarctica. Ross Island is also the location of McMurdo Station and Discovery Hut, which I visited and posted about a little over a year ago. Some of you may have seen this story when it hit the news last month, but I thought it was worth bringing up again because it’s just so amazing.

The photos were recovered by conservators with the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust (NZAHT) who are currently working on preserving 4 expedition huts in Antarctica which were originally built for early exploration of the continent by people like Earnest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott. As you can see in my Discovery Hut post, despite the harsh environment in Antarctica, the cold lends to preservation even after 100 years. My visit to Discovery Hut was before any of the restoration work had begun, and the condition of the items inside — from clothes to pots and pans to cans of food — was remarkable, even without conservation efforts.

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