Take A Closer Look... Magnificent Photos Capture The Awe And Wonder Of Our Planet
By | December 28, 2018
A young woman poses in front of a tornado in Furnas County, Nebraska, 1989
Planet Earth is a truly remarkable and diverse place. We often take the power of Mother Nature for granted, but if you look closer you'll see that even your back yard can be full of wonder and unexpected beauty. In this collection of photographs, you will come to appreciate the strange places, unique geographic features, bizarre plants, and weird manmade structures that help to make the world a place of wonder and mystery.
Make sure you take your time with each picture as there is way more than meets the eye! Just be warned, with the majority of these images the photographer captured way more than expected. Rest assured however, everything you're about to see is unedited and real.
Are you ready to see for yourself?
No photoshop here … this young woman is really posing for a pic with a tornado. It was taken in Furnas County, Nebraska, in 1989 by Marilee Thomas of nearby Beaver City, Nebraska. In the foreground, we see Marilee’s daughter, Audra. In the background, roughly two miles away, a giant funnel cloud has touched down. Nebraska is located squarely in tornado alley, so the Thomas family is probably accustomed to twisters. Still, it seems awfully cavalier to be outside taking selfies with a tornado instead of seeking shelter. Thankfully, this storm didn't claim any lives.
Nature is scary.
This birch tree is proof that nature can be scary sometimes. It is also an example of face pareidolia. This is a term that psychologists have coined to describe the phenomenon of seeing human faces in common, everyday objects. Our brains are wired to recognize certain shapes and patterns, include the facial features of the human face. This birch tree is clearly not human. It looks as though is has been photoshops to make it appear to have hair, breasts, and arms, but the unaltered tree was most likely struck by lightning or broke off in a storm.
When a Graffiti Artist Sees a Sea Stone
Don’t be afraid to go in the water at Palolem Beach in South Goa, India. The shark you see won’t attack you. This frighteningly realistic painted rock jutting from the ocean is the masterpiece of American graffiti artist Jimmy Swift. An avid traveler, Swift has visited more than 90 countries on his travels and tried to create a lasting piece of art everywhere he goes. When he first visited Palolem Beach, he was inspired by the shape of this stone. It reminded him of one of his favorite movies, Jaws. With spray paint in hand, Swift turned the pointed rock into a great white shark. It is now a popular destination and selfie spot. Don’t try this at home … Swift was granted permission to legally engage in his graffiti art.
This stunning photo was taken in Patagonia, a geographical region at the south end of South America. It is an amazing land filled with towering peaks, pristine mountain lakes, glaciers, fjords, deserts, and coastal beaches. To say it is a place of diversity is an understatement. Encompassing parts of both Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a beautiful and wild place. Prior to the invasions of Europeans, Patagonia was home to many different groups of people, as diverse as the landscape of the area.
The Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota.
This is the giant stone face of Chief Crazy Horse, one of the only complete parts of the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. Located not too far from Mt. Rushmore, the mountain monument is a privately funded project that was commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, an elder in the Lakota tribe, to honor a Native American hero. This was not in response to the carving of four U.S. presidents on the face of Mt. Rushmore. Work on the Crazy Horse Memorial has been going on since 1948 and the statue is far from complete. When it is done, however, it will be the second tallest statue in the world.
A bird’s eye view of the magnificent Niagara Falls.
This bird’s eye view of Niagara Falls really gives you a clear view of how the power of water is eroding the bedrock. Located between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, the falls have been moving toward Lake Erie at an average rate of about three feet per year. In the past 12,000 years, the location of the falls has crept slowly to a point about seven miles from its previous location. The path of erosion is even more obvious when observed from above. The rate of erosion seems to be speeding up in the past two centuries. It may be close to five feet per year.
A breathtaking view of Cochem, Germany.
This picturesque German town looks like it is straight out of a fairytale. Cochem, located in the Rhineland district, is the second smallest district Germany and was settled in the year 886. Towering over the village is the Cochem Imperial Castle. Built in 1130, this castle played key roles in the history of the region. The former home of King Konrad III and sacked by the army of French King Louis XIV, the charming castle fell into disrepair and, in 1868, was purchased by a Berlin businessman. He painstakingly restored the castle to its former Gothic Revival glory. Today, the castle is owned by the city of Cochem.
A homeowner turned on his sprinklers before leaving to escape the Kansas wildfire. He returned home to this...
When this photo first started circulating on social media a few years back, it garnered a lot of attention. The claim was that a Kansas homeowner turned on his sprinkler system before fleeing a wildfire and returned afterwards to find that his house and yard were spared. But is this really what happened? Well, yes and no. The homeowner really did turn on the sprinklers as he was evacuating, but the yard had been well-watered for weeks before the wildfire so the lawn was saturated with water. The homeowner also learned that the local fire department was on the scene shortly after he and his family left their home. The firefighters battled back the flames to save the house. In the end, the home was spared and the sprinkler had something to do with it, but it wasn’t the entire story.
A maze of snow in Zakopane, Poland. Wow!
It is a winter wonderland in Zakopane Park near the Tatra National Park in Poland. That’s where you will find the world’s largest snow maze. Using the materials at hand – lots and lots of snow – the maze designers have built a massive labyrinth covering an area of nearly two square miles. The walls of the maze are a whopping 40-feet tall. At various points within the maze, guests will see ice sculptures and unique architectural features made of snow. Appropriately called Snowlandia, there is even a snow castle with a turret and hidden tunnels to help guests get totally lost in the frozen fun.
A ride through the Cherry Blossoms, Fukushima Japan
The climate in Fukushima, Japan, is ideal for growing cherries. Every spring, from mid-April through the end of May, the region is fairly bursting with pink, fragrant cherry blossoms. The trees are everywhere and the delicate blossoms make beautiful frames for the exquisite temples, structures, and natural features of the region. Did you know that the original cherry trees that lined the mall in Washington D.C. were a gift from the people of Japan and were meant to mimic the beautiful blossoms in Fukushima. The cherry blossoms are a living reminder of the friendship between the U.S. and Japan.
Taking it easy while enjoying the view in Amalfi, Italy.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast has been a playground of the rich and famous since the 18th century. It is easy to see why. The rugged coastline makes it as picturesque as it is isolated. Most people reach the region by yacht because there is only one road, the Amalfi Drive, leading into the area. There are 13 towns or villages along the Amalfi Coast, each one as quaint as the last. Visitors will see a perfect blend of historic churches and grand architecture with posh, modern hotels, upscale boutiques, and impressive eateries.
Beautiful view of a freshwater spring hidden among the pines in Michigan, USA.
Nestled in the pristine woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the state’s largest natural freshwater spring, Kitch-iti-Kipi. In the native Ojibwe language, the name translates to “big cold spring”, but it is also called the “Mirror of Heaven”. It is easy to see why. The turquoise water is crystal clear. Visitors can take the cable raft across the water and peer into the flowing spring. No motorized vehicles are permitted on the spring so the best vantage point is from the raft. Kitch-ipi-Kipi is one of the most popular natural attractions in the Upper Peninsula, along with Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls.
An aerial view of the Faroe Islands.
Rugged, sub-polar, and windswept, the Faroe Islands are otherworldly in their beauty. A self-governing entity of Denmark, the Faroe Islands are comprised of 18 rocky islands clustered together in the North Atlantic about midway between Norway and Iceland. Many of the islands are connected together by a series of tunnels, bridges, and causeways. There are ferries available, too. Although they are small and remote, the Faroe Islands enjoy a robust tourism industry. Visitors come to see the breathtaking cliffs, watch the seabird colonies, hike, and fish.
An amazing frozen waterfall in the alps of South Tyrol, Italy.
If you think waterfalls are cool in the summer, you should try visiting them in the winter. This one is located in the Alps in South Tryol, Italy. For most of the year, torrents of free-flowing water rushes over the rocky cliff. But deep in the winter, when temperatures plummet well below freezing for extended periods of time, the waterfall freezes in place. Adventurous climbers flock to the region for ice climbing, perhaps the most unusual way to experience the beauty of a waterfall, up close and personal.
An Autumn forest in Saxony, Germany.
There are still large, forested regions in Germany, including this one in Saxony. The deciduous trees, most commonly oaks, maples, and beech, show off their fall colors every autumn. The most famous forest in Germany, the Black Forest, is in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg in the Rhine Valley. The charming forest in this photo is in Saxony, which is on the border of Poland and the Czech Republic. Although it is one of the more populous states in Germany, there is still plenty of wilderness area remaining so residents and visitors can experience the splendor of the German countryside.
An impressive shot of South America from the ISS, in the background you can see the moon.
You can thank the International Space Station, or ISS, for this incredible photo. The ISS, the largest modular space station currently orbiting the Earth, is a collaborative, multinational facility involving the United States’ NASA, Russia’s Roscosmos, Europe’s ESA, Canada’s CSA, and Japan’s JAXA. The goal of the ISS is not to simply take stellar photographs like this one of the South American coast. It is also to conduct scientific research in such areas as physics, meteorology, astrobiology, and more. In its low-Earth orbit, the ISS can travel around the planet in 93 minutes. It makes about 15 and a half orbits per day, snapping photographs as it goes.
An insane perspective on how immense the Great Pyramid really is.
In this up-close-and-personal pic, you can see many of the more than 2.3 million large blocks of stone stacked together to form the Great Pyramid of Giza. As you can tell, the large blocks were not uniformly cut and shaped. The granite stones were quarried from Aswan, while the limestone came from Tura. The massive stones were transported down the Nile River to the construction site where workers pulled them up earthen ramps until they were in place. Researchers estimate that it took about 27 years to built the Great Pyramid which, at the time of its construction in the early 26th century BC, was the tallest man-made structure on Earth.
Aqua Dome in Tirol, Austria.
This exotic scene is not the set of a new James Cameron movie. It is a thermal spa and resort in Austria where guests can weightlessly float in a basin of brine, soak in the mineral-rich hot springs water, and enjoy a relaxing getaway in the European Alps. The Tyrol Langenfeld Aqua Dome is a unique place where guests can reconnect with nature via the numerous walking/hiking trails while they focus on their self-care. The resort’s architecture was designed to blend with the surrounding mountains and enhance the experience for the guests. In addition to the saunas and hot spring spas, guests can enjoy fabulous dining and all the modern amenities.
At the border of Sweden and Norway lies a snowmobile path over 1,000 miles long.
Leave it to the Scandinavians to create a snowmobile trail that is over a thousand miles long. This spectacularly snowy path snakes along the border between Norway and Sweden. It is a fun and challenging route for winter sports enthusiasts who love their snowmobiles. But, beware. There is a bit of a catch. In Sweden, anyone can snowmobile. In fact, snowmobiling for pleasure is a popular pastime. That’s not the case in Norway. This country has strict laws regulating who can ride a snowmobile. Basically, the only people who can hop on a snowmobile (legally) are people who need it for their employment. So, if you take to this breathtaking snowmobile trail, be sure to stay on course.
Baobab trees in Madagascar.
These odd-looking trees might look like they came straight out of a Dr. Suess book, but they are very real. These are baobab trees that are native to Madagascar, as well as a few places in Africa and Australia. Often call the “upside-down” trees, the baobab family of trees has eight known species. There are a few other oddities to note about the baobab trees. They have a large flower that opens so quickly that you can watch the movement in just a few seconds. Those large flowers remain open from dusk to dawn and, in time, produce a large fruit with rows of seeds that are shaped like kidneys. Those oversized trunks that you see are equipped to hold water, helping the tree survive through drought conditions.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
One of the biggest natural attractions in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are towering sea cliffs rising up from the Atlantic Ocean on the west side of the Emerald Isle. Located in County Clare not far from Galway, the Cliffs of Moher extend for about nine miles. At roughly the midway point, visitors will see O’Brien’s Tower, a round tower constructed of stones that was built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O’Brien. The Cliffs of Moher reach a maximum height of just over 700 feet just to the north of O’Brien’s Tower. It is estimated that nearly 1.5 million visitors come to the Cliffs of Moher each year.
Death Valley National Park, California
Death Valley National Park can be a beautiful yet inhospitable place. The park is located on the border of California and Nevada, east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Not only is it the largest national park in the contiguous United States, but it is the hottest, dries, and lowest of all the country’s national parks. Badwater Basin, located in the park, is 282 feet below sea level, making it the lowest spot in the United States and the second lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere. Death Valley is diverse. There are deserts, sand dunes, canyons, mountains, valleys, and salt flats.
Frozen Spider Web
In the winter of 2016, this photo circulated on social media, claiming it was a frozen spider web. People were amazed at the details and how perfectly frozen the web was. There was just one problem. This photo is fake. To be honest, it wasn’t created with the intent of tricking people. It was originally a picture of an ice sculpture created by Michael Kaloko of Kenya and Timo Koivisto of Finland to be entered in the Art Meets Ice competition at the Helsinki Zoo. But just because this photo is deceiving doesn’t mean that frozen spider webs don’t exist. They certainly do. However the delicate webs cannot sustain large build-ups of ice without breaking.
Gates of Heaven at Pura Lempuyang in Bali
Located in East Bali, the Gates of Heaven at Pura Lempuyang is one of the country’s more popular tourist attractions. One of the oldest temples in Bali, it is located on top of a mountain some 3800 feet above sea level. Getting to the site is not for the faint of heart. It requires climbing 1,700 steps to get to the peak. Once you get there, expect a line of tourists waiting to get the perfect Instagram photo. Visitors wait in a queue for their few moments alone with the Gates of Heaven.
Glacier Express is the most scenic train ride experience through the Swiss Alps
Since 1930, the Glacier Express, this stunning train, has connected two of the Swiss Alps’ biggest mountain resorts, St. Moritz and Zermatt. Don’t be fooled by the use of ‘express’ in the name. This isn’t a high-speed train designed to move people as quickly as possible from one point to another. Rather, it is an 8-hour-long journey that makes numerous stops along the way. In fact, it is jokingly referred to as one of the slowest trains on earth. But the scenery makes it all worth while. The Glacier Express goes over 291 bridges, like this one, and through more than 90 tunnels.
The quaint little village of Hallstatt, Austria.
Like a scene out of a Disney fairytale, the Austrian village of Hallstatt oozes charm and quaintness. Located along the shores of Lake Hallstatt in the mountainous Salzkammergut region, the village dates back to the 16th century. Much of the original whimsical appeal of the village has remained intact over the centuries. Today, it is a popular tourist destination. Visitors come to soak in the old-world charm of the picturesque village and to see the unique shops, cozy cafes, grand churches, and cobblestone streets.
Jasper National Park, Canada
This pristine photo was taken at Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. The 4,200-square mile park is located just north of Banff National Park and is home to the Columbia Icefield and the adjacent Athabasca Glacier. The glacier run-off feeds the mountain lakes with crystal clear water. Jasper National Park is a year-round destination. In the spring, summer, and fall, visitors enjoy kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and mountain biking, as well as camping, hiking, and fishing. In the winter, park visitors enjoy alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sled tours.
Lake Charlevoix in Michigan, the clearest frozen water you will ever see. Wow!
Sure, Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, but the state also boasts numerous smaller, inland lakes. This one is Lake Charlevoix. If you hold your left hand up to make a makeshift map of Michigan, Lake Charlevoix is located near the top of your ring finger. It is the third largest inland lake in the state with a surface area of more than 17,2000 acres. There are 56 miles of shoreline, and the lake has a maximum depth of 122 feet. One of the more startling features of the lake is the clarity of it. When the water freezes, it is almost like glass
Mahudand Lake Swat, Pakistan
Mahodand Lake, the ‘Lake of Fishes’, is located in Pakistan at the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains. Fed by melting glacier and natural springs, the lake is remote and isolated. It is only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles. That remoteness has kept the waters clear and the surrounding land in its native state. Alpine wildflowers, towering pines, and an abundance of wildlife. The lake is a mecca for fishing enthusiasts and campers and hikers enjoy the mountain wilderness.
Monastery of Santa Rosa, Italy
The Monastero Santa Rosa is now a posh spa and resort with unsurpassed views of Italy’s Amalfi coast, but that is not the origin story of this Old-World structure. It was built in the 17th century as a monastery. The nuns living here were famous for baking decadent desserts and pastries. The monastery was once home to Sister Rosa Pandolfi, a member of the wealthy, noble Pontone de Scale family. When she arrived, the church of Santa Maria de Grado was in disrepair. She used her family’s wealth to fund restoration efforts with concluded in 1681.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
No visit to beautiful Portland, Oregon, is complete without a visit to Multnomah Falls, just outside the city in the Columbia River Gorge. The double waterfall and the picturesque bridge spanning it have become popular for photographers, Instagram influencers, and tourists. The falls are fed by underground springs on Larch Mountain and enhanced by spring runoffs and rainwater. Geologist put the age of the falls at about 15,000 years. The bridge, of course, is much newer. It was constructed in 1914.
Natural hot spring in Italy.
These cascading thermal springs are so unique and the water is so blue that you might think they are manmade, but they are totally natural. These are the Saturnia thermal hot springs, located in the Tuscany region of Italy. Italy is a hot bed of geothermal activity – remember Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Etna? That same geothermal activity heats a small, yet powerful stream that pushes the heated water flowing over the different levels. The water remains a constant 80-degrees. The best part…the Saturnia hot springs are totally free and open round the clock every day of the year.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.
This stunning Bavarian castle looks just how we imagined Prince Charming’s home to look. It is Neuschwanstein Castle, a beautiful fairytale castle nestled in the wooded hills of Germany on a rugged hill towering over the village of Hohenschangau. Work on the castle began in 1869 when King Ludwig II of Bavaria sought to build a personal retreat. In fact, he paid for the building out of his own personal fortune instead of using public funds. Unfortunately, King Ludwig died before he could move into his beautiful Romanesque and Gothic castle.
Nikola Tesla In his laboratory, c. 1899
Brilliant Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla attempted to develop a way to transmit electricity through the airwaves, much in the same way as radio ways are broadcast through the air. To experiment on this concept, Tesla built a high-altitude experimental station in Colorado Springs in 1899, the same year that this photograph was taken. He hoped to broadcast electricity from the top of Pikes Peak. Even though electricity was still in its infancy at the time, it was still known to be a dangerous force. Despite this, Tesla is shown in this photo sitting in his lab as his equipment is generating millions of volts of electricity.
One of the tallest trees in the world photographed after a snowstorm in Redwood National Park.
Redwood National and State Parks in California are a system of three parks, collectively containing about 45-percent of the world’s remaining coastal redwood trees. Redwood trees are the tallest and most massive trees on earth, as well as some of the oldest trees. The trees once covered much of the coastal regions, but deforestation threatened to wipe out the trees. The Save the Redwoods League was formed in 1918 to protect the mighty redwoods. Through their efforts, several parks were established, clear-cutting of the lumber was prohibited, and serious conservation efforts were incorporated.
Pulpit Rock, or Preikestolen, is a large, flat cliff that rises nearly 2,000 feet above Lysefjorden, Norway. The impressive cliff and sheer drop off make Preikestolen a popular natural tourist attraction. In fact, it has become one of Norway’s most visited natural attractions in recent years. Getting to the site can be challenging. There is a parking lot in Strand, a municipality south of the town of Jorpeland. From there, visitors can follow the trail to Pulpit Rock. The trail is just shy of two and a half miles and can be quite steep and rocky at times, and the elevation increases drastically. It is especially treacherous in the winter. A person of average fitness should expect to make the trek in between three and four hours.
Rock Layers at Bryce Canyon.
These unique features, located in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, are called hoodoos. They are sedimentary rocks, as you can see from the colorful layers, that are eroded into these unusual pinnacles via wind, water, and frost. The hoodoos are one of the more popular attractions within the park. Bryce Canyon, which is located near Zion National Park, was established as a national monument in 1923 before it was names a national park in 1928. Its close proximity to Zion, as well as the Grand Canyon, makes it a popular park for national parks enthusiasts.
Sandy Layers in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, and Cancun might get a lot of the attention but the beautiful beaches on Mexico’s Oaxacan coast are worth a look. These sandy beaches are paradise on earth. The lush, green mountains hugging the coast provide stunning backdrops to the quaint villages and beach towns that dot the coast. Oaxaca is less crowded and less touristy that other parts of Mexico. Here you will find unspoiled beaches, tropical rainforests, and authentic Mexican cuisine. Because it is on the Pacific coast, the sunsets at Oaxaca are unprecedented.
Sorvagsvatn, the lake above the ocean, Faroe Islands.
Leitisvatn, the largest lake in the Faroe Islands, looks as though it is hanging above the ocean. That’s because it is! It is located in a bowl-like depression on a rocky cliff that holds the freshwater in place and prevents it from pouring over the edge into the North Atlantic. There is a small waterfall, Bosdalafosur, which drains some of the lake water, but the two-mile long lake retains most of its water. Photos like this one of Leitisvatn are deceiving. The cliff face in front of the lake is about 131 feet above the ocean’s surface, but the taller cliffs on either side give the illusion that it is much higher than it really is.
Testing cars on the roof of the Fiat factory in 1929
How about a little rooftop racing? When the Fiat factory was built in 1923 in Turin, Italy’s Ligotto district, the design included the addition of a rooftop race track, shown here in this photo from 1929. The design of the factory called of an assembly line to start on the ground floor and snake its way through the building, ending on the top level. The now fully assembled cars could then be tested on the race track. Once they passed the test, they were driven down a spiral ramp to the main floor showroom. The factory closed its doors in 1982. Today, the space has been repurposed into a convention center, hotel, shopping center, art gallery, theater, and restaurant district.
The 600 year old “Death Stairs” of Peru. Wow!
This staircase is not for the faint of heart. The “death stairs,” as they are called, were carved more than five centuries ago by the ancient Incas to reach to the top of Huayna Picchu. Yes, they are as steep, treacherous, and difficult as they appear. The steps ascend more than 600 feet up the side of the mountain at a 60-degree slope. On one side is a damp and slippery rock face. On the other side is a drop off plunging several hundred feet straight down into the Urubamba River. If you think the climb up is grueling, you should try the climb down. It is so steep each person has to take it one step at a time and hold on with both hands. Despite its intimidating name, however, no tourist have fallen from the steps or died.
The beauty of Maldives
The Republic of Maldives, a collection of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean that has become a mecca for beach lovers. Located to the southwest of India and Sri Lanka, the Maldives are the tip tops of submerged mountains that are just barely above sea level. The water here is a crystal-clear turquoise, and the beaches are made of pristine white sand. Numerous resorts have popped on in the Maldives, including several featuring these cool-looking over-water bungalows. Visitors are lulled to sleep by the sound of the gentle waves and wave in the morning ready to dive into the tranquil water.
The end of the world.
Although this looks like the very edge of the world, these cliffs are the Great Australian Bight, located off the central and western parts of mainland Australia’s southern coast. By definition, as ‘bight’ is a coastline that is curved and recessed. According to this photo, the Great Australian Bight fits the bill. This region is diverse. Some parts of the bight have giant sand dunes and are sparsely vegetated. Others are wooded or filled with coastal vegetation. Since the undulating shape is key to defining a bight, it is important to look at the bays and inlets that are formed by the waves cutting into the limestone.
The Highlands, Scotland
The Scottish Highland are ruggedly beautiful with stately pines, clear lakes, and endless skies. Few people call the Scottish Highlands their home so much the land is untamed and undeveloped. The few homes and buildings, like this one, blend into the environment. Like much of Scotland, you will find these quaint stone walls everywhere you look. Did you know that the Highlands are Scotland’s largest whiskey production region? From Orkney to the Outer Hebrides, the region has more than forty whiskey distilleries.
The last frontier is transformed into a peaceful paradise when dressed in snow white.
The tall, jagged Canadian Rockies look stunning when dressed in winter white. In Alberta and British Columbia in particular are known for the beautiful mountains, untouched forests, trickling streams, and placid lakes. Winter is a great time to visit the Canadian Rockies. The blanket of snow gives the region a clean, fresh appearance. It is also ideal for winter sports lovers. The Canadian Rockies boasts some of the finest downhill and cross-country skiing in Canada. In addition, there are snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and hiking trails that offer visitors a whole different view of the region.
The medieval Eltz Castle located in Wierschem, Germany, has been owned and occupied by the same family for over 850 years, 33 generations to be exact.
Located in Moselle, Germany, Eltz Castle has been owned and occupied by members of the same family, the Eltz family, since the 12th century. In fact, about 33 generations of the family have called Eltz Castle home. That alone makes Eltz Castle unique, but it also unusual because it is one of only three castles in the Eifel region of Germany that remained untouched in wars. Eltz Castle has stayed intact and had not needed to be rebuilt or repaired. The main part of the castle is eight stories tall with eight towers. These towers soar to over 100 feet tall. There are more than 100 rooms in the main castle and more in the surrounding structures.
The skeleton of a pilot is found still seated in the cockpit of an underwater plane crash. Wow!
Somethings are not what they seem. When this photo first circulated on social media, it was said to show a WWII pilot and his co-pilot, still strapped in their seats, in the underwater wreckage of a plane crash. The two occupants have been reduced to skeletal form. The truth is, the skeletons are fakes, and so is the plane wreck. This scene is found in Poland at the ORKA diving center. Folks learning to scuba dive can swim down to this faux plane wreck. It is good practice. It is highly doubtful that, if this were a true WWII plane wreck, the skeletal remains would not be in such good condition. The skulls would not still be in the helmets and the hands would not still be on the gears. The bodies would probably be a pile of bones.
The sky over Alaska, 1990
It is no wonder that the flag of the state of Alaska have several stars on it. The flag features the Big Dipper constellation, as well as the North Star. As you can see from this photo, taken in 1990, the wide, open skies of Alaska are ideal for star gazing. Some parts of Alaska are quite remote. This isolation allowed for a drastic reduction in light pollution that is common in cities and urban area. The stars can be viewed more easily in a totally dark night sky. The person in this photo isn’t laying on the ground to make a snow angel. It looks like he is trying to fill his eyesight with as many of the stars as possible.
The Thinking Tree - An ancient olive tree in Puglia, Italy.
In Ginosa, Puglia, Italy, you will find a very old olive tree that has become a tourist attraction. It is called The Thinking Tree. It is not a huge stretch of the imagination to see a face growing in the truck of the tree. The knots and bumps of tree’s bark seems to form eyes and a nose. This is a totally natural phenomenon. The wise-looking old face looks pensive. Because of this, old olive tree is known as The Thinking Tree.
These water lilies in Japan
Although it is native to Guyana and parts of tropical South America. The giant water lilies in this photograph grow in a lush park in Japan. These water lilies are Victoria amazonica, and it is the second largest type of lily pads. And the lily pads are impressively large. They can be as big as ten feet in diameter. The stalks can be nearly two feet around. The flowers of the lily pad are about 16 inches in diameter. As tempting as it is, however, don’t try to sit on one of the lily pads. They cannot hold your weight.
This grizzly bear has the best view...
This grizzly bear has a view that people dream of seeing. Grizzlies are nicknamed the ‘Kings of the North’ and for good reason. They are an apex predator at the top of their food chain. They are 400 to 700-pounds of pure muscle with ferocious claws and teeth added on for good measure. Some of the United States’ most popular national parks, like Yellowstone and Denali, are home to grizzlies. Visitors come for the majestic mountain views but they have to remember to share the space with the native wildlife. Fatalities from grizzly bear attacks are rare – only about one per year on average – but that doesn’t mean you should go looking for trouble.
This incredible door was built by the hand of a viking craftsman in Stillingfleet over 900 years ago and is still being used today.
This handcrafted Viking door, found on St. Helen’s Church in Stillingfleet, was build sometime in the 10th century. The church, however, wasn’t built until two centuries later. The building was retrofitted to include this magnificent door. It has since moved again, this time to inside the church to protect it from the elements. Look closely and you will dragons’ heads and two figures thought to represent Adam and Eve. Adam is depicted reaching for something near a circle of nails. Scholars believe the nails once held the Tree of Knowledge and that Adam was reaching for an apple from the tree. Also shown on the door is a Viking longboat with a dragon head on its bow.
This is real, Spring at Tumpak Sewu Waterfall, East Java Province, Indonesia
This scene looks like it is straight out of science fiction movie, but it is a real place. It is located in East Java, Indonesia. Tumpak Sewa is a multi-tiered series of waterfalls in the shadow of an active volcano, Semeru, which is the highest mountain in Java. The Glidik River originates on the volcano and supplies the water for the Tumpak Sewu waterfalls with cascade over crescent cliff. This location has become a hot tourist destination in the country. A recently constructed visitor center makes the spot more accessible, although it is still a challenging hike to get to the falls.
This photo from Gaza looks like actual hell on earth.
The Gaza Strip, a Palestine enclave, is a place of turmoil. Located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the area is bordered by Egypt and Israel. The Israeli territory splits the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and both Israel and Palestine have laid claim to land in the region. It has been witness to military invasions, bombings, political unrest, and more. This photo gives a good visual of the chaos of life in the region.
To date, we have explored less than 5% of earth’s oceans.
It is true that we know more about the surface of the Moon than we do about what lies beneath our own oceans. The vast oceans of Earth remain the last places to explore but doing so presents quite the challenge. Even in pressurized submarines, humans are just not built to handle the extreme pressures of the deep oceans. Scientists can send down robotic cameras to allow us to see what is on the ocean’s floors but we have still only explored a small portion of the seas.
Waterton Park, Alberta, Canada.
Alberta is a place of diverse geography and visitors can get a sampling of it all at Waterton Lakes National Park. There are both prairies and mountain peaks, crystal-clear streams filled with colorful pebbles, and cascading waterfalls. Waterton Lakes National Park is located in Alberta’s southwest corner and butts up to Glacier National Park in Montana. It was established in 1895 and is Canada’s fourth largest national park. It was named to honor Charles Waterton, a conservationist and naturalist.
What an interesting view...
This strange-looking place is the Neskowin Ghost Forest, located along Oregon’s coast. The stumps of 2,000-year-old Sitka spruce trees jut up from the ocean. Geologists believe that an earthquake strike in the distant past and drastically changed the coastal region. Land that was covered in trees was abruptly lowered to sea level or below. The standing stumps petrified in the sea spray leaving the remnants of the once-dense forest behind, looking like a ghost of its former self.
Xiaozhai Tiankeng, also known as “The Heavenly Pit”, is the world’s deepest sinkhole.
The Heavenly Pit, or Xiaozhai Tiankeng, is the deepest sinkhole in the world. It measured between 1,677 and 2,172 feet deep with steep, vertical walls. It was created by water from a nearby river that seeped into the limestone and carved out the cavity over time. At some point in history, the cavity collapsed to reveal the sinkhole. The Heavenly Pit is found in China in the Fengiie County of Chongquing Municipality. The sinkhole has created its own ecosystem and is home to some rare animals, such as the Chinese giant salamander.
Yedigöller Milli Parkı, Bolu - TURKEY
This beautiful site is in the Yedigoller National Park in the northern part of Bolu Province, Turkey. The name translated to ‘seven lakes’. It is named that because the park features seven lakes that were each formed by landslides and earthquakes. The park is renowned for its plant life, as you can see here. Established in 1965, the Yedigoller National Park attracts nature-lovers from across the world who come to see the standing beech, oaks, hornbeam, elm, and hazel nut trees, as well as the roe deer, brown bears, red foxes, lynxes, and wolves that make their homes in the park.
An eerily frozen lighthouse on Lake Erie.
The Great Lakes are actually vast inland freshwater seas rather than merely lakes. They play a key role in shipping and transportation, therefore a network of lighthouses were built long ago to guide sailors through the waters. Located in the upper Midwest, the Great Lakes are also prone to severe weather, harsh winds, and frigid temperatures. When that combination hits, structures close to shore, like this Lake Erie lighthouse, get a coating of lake spray that instantly freezes to encase the building in ice. It is dangerous, but also beautiful.