Jill’s Daily Devotional: The seed
All aboard! Get ready to be amazed by landscapes and history that you just can’t see by plane or car. Climb aboard a luxury railcar and get a front-row seat to witness breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies. Roll through the unspoiled wilds of Scotland or set eyes on storybook villages in Switzerland. Sit back and relax as we take you on a trip of a lifetime through the six most jaw-dropping train routes in the world.
This breathtaking train route will give you access to some of the most awe-inspiring views ever! Soak in an endless landscape of snow-capped mountain peaks as the Rocky Mountaineer takes you from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to Banff, Canada’s majestic national park. You will set out from the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver and weave alongside steep canyons ending up in the untamed wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. Along the way, you will be spoiled with first-class service, food, drinks, and scenery as luxury meets wilderness.
The only way to take in the Southern Alps of New Zealand is aboard the TranzAlpine, New Zealand’s jaw-dropping rail journey. Climb aboard and experience the South Island’s stunning natural landscape. Along this journey from Christchurch to Greymouth, you will witness epic vistas, voyage along the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River and wind through miles of native beech forest. The perfect stop along the way is Moana, which is set amid a remote mountain paradise midway between Arthur’s Pass and Greymouth, and home to the idyllic Lake Brunner. This trip will certainly be a journey of a lifetime.
Fans of the Harry Potter movies will be departing from Platform 9 ¾ for a magical trip to the Scottish Highlands. The West Highland Line is a brilliant way to experience Scotland’s western coast. You will set off from the bustling city of Glasgow and gently wind your way through verdant glens and serene lochs. After a trip through secluded heather moors, the train will pass Ben Nevis, the highest peak on the British Isles. If you would like a wee dram of Scotch, make sure to take a tour of the Ben Nevis Distillery and experience “Uisge beatha” – the water of life.
The Orient Express has been associated with both stylish adventures and the golden age of travel for more than a century and its celebrated route takes you between the two most exotic destinations in the world—Paris and Istanbul. After a brief hiatus, its most celebrated route is back! You can journey across Europe and into Turkey’s most famous city in a rolling realm of style and comfort. But you need to really plan this one out because it only makes the journey once a year. Once on board, you will be transported back in time as you explore a collection of romantic cities such as Paris, Budapest, Bucharest and Istanbul.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is arguably one of the world’s most amazing railway journey’s. It winds across a once secretive Russia, connecting east and west. This fabulous route runs from Moscow over the regal Urals, across the magnificent and endless plains and ends at the port city of Vladivostok. alongside the shores of Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake. Start your visit with a couple of days in Moscow and take in the grandeur of the Kremlin and see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armory Chamber. As you roll on west towards Vladivostok, a stop at Lake Baikal will leave you speechless as you stand on the shores of the crystal-clear waters of the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake. End your train trek taking in the still waters of the sea surrounding the historic city of Vladivostok.
The Glacier Express has to be on any list of greatest train journeys in the world. Express is a relative term on this awesome trip because the train is billed as the “slowest express train in the world.” The route takes you across 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels, up to the mile-high Oberalppass. Travel in comfort as you soak in the traditions and centuries-old Swiss culture. You will be given a front-row seat to the “window of the Alps” as you travel through the unspoiled natural beauty of a land rich in ancient, fragrant mountain forests, peaceful Alpine meadows, and roaring mountain rivers. Highlights of your journey will be a stop in St. Moritz and the alpine village of Zermatt where you can take in breathtaking views of the Matterhorn. Better practice your yodeling skills.
While we hope the world’s most important landmarks will remain for future generations to see firsthand, the sad fact is that many have already been destroyed, and countless others are at risk. Here’s a look at seven landmarks to visit before they’re gone forever.
Researchers have found that England’s famous White Cliffs of Dover have been eroding ten times fasterduring the last 150 years versus the 7,000 years before. In the past, the wide beaches in the area helped slow erosion of the iconic white cliffs. However, very little beach remains, accelerating the rate of erosion.
Visit Taiwan, where you’ll find Yehliu Geopark, home to fascinating rock formations. One of these is the iconic “Queen’s Head,” given the name due to its supposed resemblance to Queen Elizabeth I. However, erosion is threatening to behead the queen, who already has a crack at the base. Researchers are worried that the head could break off in the next five to ten years if something isn’t done. Yehliu has now placed guards around the rock to ensure no sabotage, and there are plans to reinforce the rock and continue monitoring erosion.
Stonehenge’s importance extends beyond the mysterious standing stones that are recognizable around the world. It is part of a larger World Heritage area with unexplored burial grounds, ancient settlements and potentially the key to unlocking the mystery as to why Stonehenge was built. Archaeologists are at war with the British Government, which plans to build a tunnel underneath the site, a move that threatens to potentially destroy important artifacts. Some critics are also extremely concerned that a tunnel could destabilize the neighboring ground and cause the stones to sink, shift or even fall over.
The 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most popular destinations, named for the dramatic limestone stacks seen along the coast. Despite the name, there are not 12 apostles visible. There were originally nine limestone stacks when Victoria Tourism christened them in the 1920s, and now there are only eight after erosion caused one to collapse. With continued erosion, experts estimate more limestone stacks are at risk of disappearing.
Unfortunately, the risk of disappearing is a reality for countless glaciers around the world. Juneau’s famed Mendenhall Glacier is melting at a rapid pace — over 9,000 feet in 100 years. Cameras were installed in 2007 and show that Mendenhall Glacier has retreated more than 1,830 feet — about one-third of a mile — in just eight years.
Petra is famous for sandstone buildings, like the iconic Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), that date back to the first century B.C. However, increased tourism and erosion are two factors taking their toll on the ancient site. Erosion has increased due to wind and rain, while site-management issues and structural instability also threaten Petra’s future. However, one of the biggest risks to Petra is the people who visit the site. Tourists leaning on or touching The Treasury have caused the surface to erode by 1.5 inches in only 10 years.
The shores of the Dead Sea are changing rather dramatically as it continues to shrink at a rather alarming rate. Experts estimate it could become a tiny pool by the middle of this century. On average, the sea levels are falling by as much as five feet per year. Some resorts and spas have been forced to close, while others that were once beachfront properties are taking visitors down to the shore by tractor train.
Before there were computers and cars, civilizations sailed by boats across the vast seas to far-away and unknown lands. Some sailing companies sought to colonize and to bring their advancements to more primitive people. Others, like the Vikings, left a wake of mayhem and ruin.
Viking raiders were known for pillaging and decimating settlements across the globe, but there came a time when these men of war decided to settle. It’s in these settlements that historians are able to uncover pieces of Viking history that show there was more to the seafaring warriors than is often depicted in mo
In Orkney, Scotland, a small wooden bucket and ladle sporting distinct decoration may be the most substantial evidence that Vikings not only had contact with outsiders before 793 but that they didn’t always rely on raids to obtain goods.
Found in Skei, the archeological find was uncovered in the grave of a Viking woman. Thought to have come from an Anglo-Saxon settlement, it’s believed the bucket and ladle could have been the product of trade for goods. Further evidence was found by antler expert Lyuba Smirnova, who discovered combs made of reindeer antler. The problem is that reindeer are not found in the Northern Isles but were commonplace in the Viking home of Norway.
A short way away from Oslo, Norway, archaeologist Dagfinn Skre uncovered an oddity linked to the Viking raiders that inhabited Kaupang. While the Scandinavian raiders were known to have small settlements, it was unusual for there to be entire towns devoted to Viking life. That’s what made Skre’s discovery of evidence of permanent buildings so unusual.
Stone foundations and postholes indicated that buildings were constructed to last throughout the winter. The notion of a Viking village is a stark contrast to the temporary tent-filled settlements they were best known for inhabiting.
Along with buildings, Skre also found evidence of trade. Glass pieces and broken pottery points to the Vikings having bartered for goods, though the site also showed that raiding parties had left behind some spoils of war.
In the 1960s, evidence that helped understand techniques the Vikings used to build their ships was located in Skuldelev in the Roskilde Fjord of Denmark. Five Viking ships were uncovered and dated back to the 11th century. While it was suggested that they were intentionally sunk to create a blockade along the inlet, the real excitement came with what the find revealed.
The discovery uncovered a great deal of information about how the Vikings built their ships. In fact, the five vessels revealed enough to allow the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum to recreate the smaller warship, a Skuldelev 5, using only Viking techniques. Using the original as a guide, the museum built the ship and moved on to start working on a replica of the larger Skuldelev 2.
A discovery on the island of Westray in Scotland may show that Viking raiding parties didn’t just pillage and kill for their own needs.
James Barrett, head of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, discovered what appeared to be an ancient garbage heap on the Orkney island. A period of erosion had uncovered the site, revealing a pile of shells and bone that were believed to indicate the arrival of a Viking tribe. The ninth- to tenth-century heap showed a distinct change from a diet of mammals to fish, a staple of the nomadic tribes.
An overabundance of seashells cut in a very specific ways led to the belief that the Vikings weren’t just eating the fish. They were drying and preserving it for trade with other settlers of the Orkney Islands.
Archaeologist Sarah Parcak led her team to Point Rosee in Newfoundland in search of evidence of Viking settlements that may not have even existed. Satellite imagery indicates the presence of manmade structures on the western tip of Newfoundland, some 400 miles southwest of where Vikings were originally believed to have settled in North America.
Among the first significant signs of Viking habitation found further inland were the remains of a hearth and piles of charcoal and bog iron. On the outskirts of the dig site, surrounding the hearth, was a turf wall that Vikings were known for constructing.
The new discoveries in Point Rosee suggest that Vikings didn’t just stop briefly in the tip of North America and may have occupied the land for longer than originally thought.
Viking history is known for bloodshed and ruthlessness. However, the more that’s uncovered about Viking culture, the more it appears that their way of life wasn’t just pillaging and sacking settlements wherever they landed.
George Washington. Thomas Jefferson. Teddy Roosevelt. Abraham Lincoln.
Those four 60-foot tall faces look out over the South Dakota Black Hills and draw almost 3 million visitors every year. But why are they even there? It turns out that behind the gargantuan granite relief is a complicated and surprising history.
The discovery of gold in the 1870s prompted hordes of white settlers to invade the area, which was supposed to be sovereign territory of the Sioux Indians. New towns and new roads popped up, but it didn’t take long for the gold to go bust.
That left much of the burgeoning population struggling to make ends meet. In the 1920s, local historian Doane Robinson conceived a wild idea to carve a monument to American history in the side of a mountain. He started raising funds for his vision, which would become a roadside attraction and provide a boost to the local area. Turns out he was quite right about that.
One of the darker aspects of Mount Rushmore history is the fact that the sculptor Robinson hired was involved in some racist organizations. Gutzon Borglum was approached for the job while working on a similar project, Stone Mountain near Atlanta. That monument features heroes of the Confederacy and was financially backed by the local Ku Klux Klan. According to the Smithsonian Institute, Borglum grew close to the Klan, even becoming pen pals with the Grand Wizard.
Still, Borglum ended up in a dispute with the local Klansmen and was fired from the project after finishing only the head of Robert E. Lee. Borglum ended up smashing his models with an ax and leaving Georgia for good to start work on Mount Rushmore. Stone Mountain’s backers sandblasted Borglum’s work away and Stone Mountain was later finished by two different sculptors.
It turns out carving giant faces into a granite mountain is harder than it sounds. According to the original plans for the monument, the four presidents were supposed to be depicted from the waist up. There were also plans to carve depictions of the Louisiana Purchase, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. At one point, they were even going to add a bust of Susan B. Anthony, but there wasn’t room for a fifth face.
This all proved way too difficult, and Borglum died in 1941 before the project could be finished. Lincoln Borglum, Gutzon’s son, took over the project, but after one season and a few finishing touches, he decided it was good enough—even if Abraham Lincoln was still missing an ear.
It isn’t quite like the ending of “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” but there is, in fact, a hidden room behind Abraham Lincoln’s face.
It was originally intended to be a Hall of Records, which would have housed important documents from American history. Like much of Mount Rushmore, it was never fully finished.
In the late 1990s, a repository was constructed inside the partially completed chamber. Copies of text and records that Borglum had wanted to include in the original hall were placed in the repository to preserve them for perpetuity. The chamber is inaccessible to tourists.
The Lakota Sioux called the mountain The Six Grandfathers, and sometimes Cougar Mountain. White settlers to the area took to calling it Slaughterhouse Rock, among other names.
Then one day in 1885, New York lawyer Charles Rushmore was on a hunting trip and asked one of his guides what the mountain was called. While versions of the story vary, either the guide or Rushmore made the joke that they should just call it Mount Rushmore. After that, there was no going back. The locals started calling it Mount Rushmore, and the name was officially recognized by the United States in 1930.
Rushmore would eventually become the monument’s biggest donor, contributing $5,000 towards its construction fund.
In 1868, the United States signed a treaty with the Lakota people giving them the Black Hills for perpetuity. Of course, when General Custer’s expedition discovered gold, the treaty was completely ignored and resulted in the Great Sioux War of 1876.
On June 6, 1971, activists from the American Indian Movement scaled the monument and occupied the site. Armed with baseball bats, they set up camp and demanded the U.S. government honor the original treaty and return the land to the Lakota people. Park rangers called in the National Guard. After more than 12 hours the soldiers broke up the camp, arresting several of the protestors. The charges were later dropped.
Surprisingly enough, there were no reported deaths during the construction of Mount Rushmore.
That’s quite the feat considering construction took place over 14 years and involved 400 workers. Workers had to climb more than 500 steps each day to reach the site. The work was plenty dangerous, with workers using dynamite to blast more than 500,000 tons of stone and others dangling from ropes to carve features using jackhammers.
However, many workers died later on from silicosis, including the chief carver Lou Del Bianco. Silicosis is caused by inhaling silica dust and causes severe scarring and inflammation to lung tissue.