Category Archives: Places

Countdown to the Most Extreme Tides

The ocean’s tide is a powerful force that is controlled by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun. In some areas of the world, due to various factors, the tidal ranges are quite large. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, these are the most extreme tides in the world:

10. Cancale, France – Average Tidal Range: 27.8 feet

9. Banco Dirección, Magellan Strait, Chile – Average Tidal Range: 28.0 feet

8. Granville, France – Average Tidal Range: 28.2 feet

7. Koksoak River entrance, Hudson Bay, Greenland – Average Tidal Range: 28.5 feet

6. Río Gallegos (Reducción Beacon), Argentina – Average Tidal Range: 29.0 feet

5. Burnham, Parrett River, England – Average Tidal Range: 29.9 feet

4. Sunrise, Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet, Alaska, USA – Average Tidal Range: 30.3 feet

3. Port of Bristol (Avonmouth), England – Average Tidal Range: 31.5 feet

2. Leak Lake, Ungava Bay, Quebec, Canada – Average Tidal Range: 32.0 feet

And the winner is…

1. Burntcoat Head, Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada – Average Tidal Range: 38.4 feet

Hope you enjoyed the countdown. Come again for another installment of MotherNaturesPen.

(Note: I removed general area duplicates from the list in order to avoid having the top 10 be all Bay of Fundy.)

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World’s Largest Crystals

I just woke up from the aftermath of Christmas. Wrapping paper everywhere. Gifts covering my room. I found an iTunes gift card that I hadn’t seen the night before. My parents were watching TV in the living room. Oh, and there’s snow outside. First time for an Atlanta Christmas since 1882.

On TV, my parents were watching a National Geographic special on a cave in Mexico with what might be the world’s largest crystals. These things are massive!

The crystals are made out of gypsum (CaSO4 • 2H2O for you chemistry buffs!) and can are as big as 36 feet long! The cave is called Cueva de los Cristales (literally translated Cave of the Crystals) and was found in 2000 near Delicias in the region of Chihuahua. The crystals have been exposed by a modern mining company, which continues to pump water out of the cave. If pumping were to stop, water would once again fill the cave.

This cave honestly looks like something out of a science fiction movie or novel. Its amazing to me that Mother Nature can hold so many secrets that we don’t know about. We think we have canvassed every surface of this earth, but we are still only just beginning. Proof, once again, of Mother Nature’s awesome power!

Hope you enjoyed, and come back for the next installment of MotherNaturesPen.

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Top 7 National Parks You’ve Never Heard Of

1. Biscayne National Park – Homestead, Florida – When you travel to Miami, you probably have more on your mind that a national park, but if you can find a way to pull yourself out of bed after a wild night in South Beach, I suggest you venture out to Biscayne National Park to learn about and explore North America’s coral reef ecosystems.

2. Katmai National Park & Preserve – King Salmon, Alaska – Who says you have to go to Hawaii to see active volcanoes? Or perhaps you’ve already seen the ones in Hawaii and are ready for a new challenge? Katmai is home to 6 active volcanoes, and another 10 volcanoes that have not erupted in the last 250 years.

3. National Park of American Samoa – Pago Pago, American Samoa – While American Samoa isn’t exactly next door, it is a pristine area so far left pretty much untouched by Western civilization, particularly in the park. The sky is the limit in American Samoa, literally. To enjoy it, you have to fly there, and it’s well beyond Hawaii. Another plus is the opportunity to discover the wonders of the rich Samoan culture, which has fueled everything from the American tattoo culture to the National Football League!

4. Inyo National Forest – Bishop, California – While not technically a national park (being governed by the U.S. Forest Service, not the Natinoal Park Service), Inyo has something to share with all of us about Mother Nature that you may not have heard before unless you have taken a Botany class or two, like me. Believe it or not the oldest living on the planet is not a tortoise, its a tree, more specifically a bristlecone pine tree, even more specifically a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva). See, even their scientific name refers to them being really old. And the oldest of olds can be found in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of Inyo National Forest.

5. Great Basin National Park – Baker, Nevada – Once again, not nearly as famous as Las Vegas or Reno, Nevada’s Great Basin National Park offers something a little more special than some gambling and a drunken shotgun wedding! Great Basin’s name comes from the Great Basin, the large, dry, desolate region between the Sierra Nevada in California/Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. Interestingly, the park’s biggest attraction is found straight up. It’s the Milky Way in all its beauty, clearly visible without interference from any city lights!

6. Isle Royale National Park – Houghton, Michigan – Here’s a challenge: a national park accessible only by seaplane or boat. It’s not even actually located in Houghton, but that’s where the Ranger III, the NPS’s largest ferry boat to the park is located. Isle Royale is located closer to the Canadian shore than it is to the Michigan shore. And its remote location has only added to its pristine nature.

7. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve – Gustavus, Alaska – How many of y’all have seen a glacier in person? Glacier Bay is home not only to a slew of scientific teams exploring climate change but also to a wilderness sanctuary (both on land and in the water). If a trip to Alaska isn’t exactly your style, you can try a cruise! Most Alaskan cruises hit their northern peak of the trip at Glacier Bay.

Thanks for stopping by, and come back again for the next installment of MotherNaturesPen!

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Atlanta Weather Update

For those of you wanting a weather update for Atlanta: its a white-ish Christmas!

There’s some snow that’s coming down with the rain, but its not sticking. It’ll have to get colder for it to stick because the snow is just melting in the rain puddles. It might freeze overnight though, so it might be a white day after Christmas.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen rain and snow come down at the same time. Another mystery of Mother Nature’s awesome power!

Just remember to stay safe out there!

Come back for another installment of MotherNaturesPen.

4:30pm Update:
The rain/snow had turned into snow. Still not sticking. It’ll have to get even colder for that!

5:15pm Update:
Its officially sticking!! Well just on the grass!

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Across North Georgia

Today I have the pleasure of going to the North Georgia mountains, home of Brasstown Bald (the highest peak in Georgia), Stone Mountain (a ginormous granite outcrop that has a Confederate memorial carving and a killer laser light show), and Springer Mountain (the southern end of the Appalachian Trail). These parts are so beautiful. I recall a class trip in 4th grade to Rabun County, Ga. The mountains (really more like foothills) were covered with trees of every color. Looking out form the lodge, it was magnificently beautiful. As a lifelong vacationer of the Rocky Mountains, I understand the difference between the soaring peaks of the Rockies and the more rolling peaks of the Appalachians. But there is something to be said for mountains that are more foliage than freezing. In addition, the aesthetics of a mixture of the evergreens and the deciduous oaks, hickories, maples, etc. presents a unique aspect that lasts throughout the fall. If you’re looking for a beautiful scenic drive, consider North Georgia or the Smoky Mountains just north.

Here’s a list of places to visit in North Georgia:

1. Amicalola Falls – The tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi, and stunningly beautiful. There are several hiking trails around Amicalola as well, including a very popular 8.5 mile approach trail to Springer Mountain that begins at the Amicalola Falls Visitor Center. You can either walk the stairs to the top of the falls or walk a trail up to the top. Keep in mind the trail is definitely more challenging. If waterfalls are your thing, Tallulah Falls and Toccoa Falls are also worth checking out. Tallulah Falls is part of the Tallulah Gorge State Park, while Toccoa Falls is actually on the campus of a Christian college Toccoa Falls College. Don’t be nervous visiting, however. The falls is the college’s biggest attraction. Feel free to visit the gift shop in Gate Cottage as well.

2. Dahlonega – Home to Georgia’s gold rush. Dahlonega is filled with history and beauty at every turn. The dome of Georgia Capitol Building in Atlanta, Ga. is actually covered in Dahlonega gold. This is isn’t so much a nature visit as it is a historical visit, but there is still so much to be learned here. The feud between European settlers and Cherokees is at the heart of Dahlonega’s beginnings, and it was this feud that caused the famous Trail of Tears. Popular events include “Bear on the Square” in April and “Gold Rush Days” in October. If scenery is what you’re looking for, however, take a drive around Dahlonega and Lumpkin County. Not only is Dahlonega nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, it is also the heart of Georgia’s wine industry, with 5 vineyards nearby.

3. Helen – Helen, Ga. is an old logging town that decided to up its tourist appeal by recreating themselves as a town from the Bavarian Alps with coordinating architecture and decor. It’s a tourist town, filled with tourist shops and a number of good eateries. My favorite activity in Helen, however, is something that gets a little more back to nature: float down the Chattahoochee. There are a number of different companies that let you tube down the Chattahoochee River, and all of them are pretty good. I’ve used Helen Tubing Co. in the past because they also have a small waterpark, and you can buy a joint ticket that is good for both tubing and the waterpark. Just remember to grab a pole to push off rocks! My friends and I forgot to grab poles, and I had to pull us off the rocks if we got stuck, acquiring several large bruises in the process. Popular events in Helen include Oktoberfest (what’s a Bavarian-looking town without Oktoberfest?) and the annual hot air balloon race in June.

4. The Wildlife Sanctuary – The Wildlife Sanctuary in Ellijay, Ga. is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation center that has rescued and rehabilitated most of the major native species, including cougars, panthers, lynx, bobcats, black bears, and deer. The Wildlife Sanctuary offers both private and public tours at different times. It is a great way to see some of Georgia’s native wildlife without putting yourself in danger.

5. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway – What’s more scenic than something with scenic in the name? The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a must-see for anyone looking to see the sights in North Georgia. It begins in Blue Ridge, Ga. and continues on a 26-mile journey, stopping at McCaysville, Ga. to allow passengers to rest and explore downtown McCaysville and its sister town of Copperhill, Tn. They even have a special Christmas train that runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas each year!

Thanks for stopping by, and come on back for the next installment of MotherNaturesPen.

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