Monday, April 25, 2011

Tour Eiffel

In the summer of 2009, Chris Woodall and I headed to Europe to spend some time in Paris and in Berlin. You can read more about those travels here.

Of course, one of big tourist-y things we just had to do was do the Eiffel Tower.
The elevators don't take you all the way to the top. I'm glad. They were awfully cramped and I suspect the amount of passengers on board regularly exceeds the recommended weight limit.
We got plenty of pictures of Paris from the top but my favorite pictures are of the tower from the ground below.
The Eiffel Tower is named for its designer, Gustave Eiffel.
Original hydraulic pump for the lifts -
During our trip, Chris and I perfected the art of arriving at the larger attractions just before sunset so that we could get day shots, sunset shots, and night shots. We are so awesome!
The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair.
The entire structure weighs approximately 10,000 tonnes.
About 50 - 60 tonnes of paint are applied to the tower every year to protect it from rust.
The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world.
Millennium Lights - Something tourists just seem to pee their pants about.
The Millennium Lights were installed for the Millennium Celebration on New Year's Eve in 1999. They were such a hit that they became a nightly event. They flash for ten minutes every hour.

Views of France from the tip top to be posted in the future...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pedernales Falls, Blanco County, Texas

In April 2008 I explored some of the Texas Hill Country with a group of geology students during my undergraduate studies. The trip was fast and rugged so I only brought my dinky point-and-shoot. Here's some of what I experienced of Pedernales Falls State Park.
Swimming is no longer permitted in this area of the park because flash floods can occur with no warning. These photos are taken during extremely low flow. Imagine this entire area with all of those tiny little people completely flooded with rapid-moving currents from the Pedernales River down that long slope...
Edwards Plateau terrain. Check out that long slope -
I can't believe I have a picture of these pants before they had a bunch of holes in them! Notice the sand I'm sitting in. This is part of the river's sediment load that got trapped in the hole as water flowed over the area. The quartzose and feldspathic sands come from Precambrian gneiss and granite upstream.
Crinoid (sea lily) stem fossils (Click to enlarge) -
The park lies on the Llano Uplift which is composed mostly of Precambrian granite. (Think Enchanted Rock.) The formations you see in these pictures, however, are limestone.
I wanted so badly to sneak in there!
That's what I wanna know!!
A beautiful place to sit out and take in the sun -
Artesian Spring
Like I said, the trip was fast and rugged. I didn't get to see much else in the park but I plan to go back some day and get some photos with a real camera...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Powerscourt Gardens - Wicklow, Ireland

During Spring Break of 2009, my friend Tiffany and I decided to take a trip to either San Franciso or Ireland. Ireland was cheaper. On our trip, Tiffany had the idea to visit Powerscourt Gardens. I had never heard of it, but agreed to go. I'm glad because it's a pretty awesome place!

My favorite thing to do was walk through rock-walled paths and look at the mosses and ferns growing on the rock surfaces.

I wish this was my secret garden!

I love seeing buildings peak out above plant growth.

Some ivy and such growing on the building walls -

Art. Do you recognize it? It's a copy of the Laocoon Group. The original is housed at the Vatican and was unearthed in Rome in 1506. The original dates back to the time of Christ.
Apparently, Michelangelo was a huge fan.




Wicklow Mountains...
Another view...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Les Catacombes, Paris

I've been reading Jeff Lindsay's Dexter books the last few weeks so Les Catacombes seemed like an appropriate place to post.
You have been warned!

There is still time to hit the back button. We're heading to a very dark place.
At the end of the Eighteenth Century, quarry tunnels beneath Paris were used to finally dispose of bodies exhumed from Paris cemeteries. The city had decided to quit burying the dead within city limits due to mass overcrowding of cemeteries and the terrible state of sanitation in the city.
The official name for the catacombs is l'Ossuaire Municipal.
These bones were transferred to these quarry tunnels between 1786 and 1789.
The catacombs contain the remains of about six million Parisians.
Wall of the Crypt of the Sepulchral Lamp -
The length of the walking tour is about 2 kilometers.
It takes about 45 minutes to get through the tunnels.
The bones are very neatly stacked/organized in some places -
The well at the end of the tunnel.
Back when the city was overcrowding with dead bodies covered with lime in mass graves, its primary source of water was from nearby wells. Eeew.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Aillwee Cave, Ballyvaughan, County Clare, Ireland

One of my favorite things to do that I don't do nearly often enough is visit caves and caverns. Here is a virtual tour of Aillwee Cave in Ireland -
The Brown Bear (Ursos arctos) has been extinct in Ireland for over one thousand years.

Rhinolophus hipposideros, the lesser horseshoe bat, one of the smallest bats in the world. Can you see him there in the center of the photo? (Click to enlarge.)

A large calcite formation dubbed the "Great Cascade."


Drip, drip, drip...

The biologist in me hates that they use artificial light in these caves because it causes bacteria, fungus, and plant life to grow in places they would not occur under natural conditions. (See that greenish spot near the top of the photo?) The photographer in me, on the other hand, is excited to take these excellent shots without having to use flash.

Long, little fall...

Along the wall of the blast tunnel. I like little mineral inclusions in rock like these.

This was an Australian couple that we actually ran into twice. We stood next to them at the St. Patrick's parade in Dublin and then saw them two days later on the other side of the country at Aillwee Cave! It really is a small world!!!

Lichen on a rock outside.

The Burren Birds of Prey Centre is right next to Aillwee Cave. We didn't go in, but here are some pretties that were out in the parking lot. (These are not birds of prey.)