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We will pick places to travel and learn as we explore.

Your Christmas package includes items to get us prepared.  I am sending sample money from around the world.  I included stamps from far away places.  I have given you a genuine passport cover but the passport inside is just for our own fun.  Each month or two I will send another box about travel to another unique place.  I will send a sticker stamp that you can add to your passport.  I will send photos you can put in an album.  This website will include some awesome links so I can share some of the coolest things I found.   

I want you to know the customs for eating and some of the types of foods people enjoy in these places.  I want you to have a feel for what it is like in the “tourist” spots but also the more rural areas where the “regular” people live.  I hope you can see the differences in how we live in the USA and how people live in other lands.  

I have an email that you can send information directly to me:  nannatrips@gmail.com.

Please let me know what your interests are.  I know that Elias loves Kung Fu.  I know that Damien loves cars.  I need to know more about what you like, Bri.   Let’s have a wonderful time together as we Explore our World together.

Love,

Nanna

The Great Barrier Reef – a Land and Sea in Flux.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest structure on Earth made by living things. About half the size of Texas, it can be seen from space. The barrier reef, in its present general form, has existed about 6,000 years. At one time it was sediment from a great mountain range and was not under water. The sea levels rose over thousands of years and covered it. A string of small sections of shallow (100 feet or less) land provided a perfect place for the reef to form.

The conditions needed to form the reef:

  1. a solid surface of sea floor that is not too deep (light needs to penetrate to the bottom)
  2. warm water
  3. movement of water sufficient to circulate oxygen well
  4. organisms that live and die, their skeletons remaining to be connected by algae producing limestone, providing a base for more organisms to grow and die……

The reef is constantly changing. Over 400 kinds of coral are found on the Great Barrier Reef. Coral are living organisms, polyps related to jelly fish. Algae provides the polyps with nutrients needed to create the limestone that gives the reef its foundation. Read this interesting page for information on Coral. Then watch this video for a glimpse into the beauty of the Reef. There are many great youtube videos to watch about the Reef and I challenge you to explore the variety available.  I found several time lapse videos that showed coral attacking one another in Coral Wars.

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One of the important concepts I learned while reading about the Reef is called Mutualism. (Source – the fisheriesblog)  Mutualism occurs when benefit is gained from different parties for living.  Examples include the sea anemone and the clown fish. In the movie “Finding Nemo” we saw Nemo, a clown fish, darting in and out of what looked like a plant, a sea anemone. The sea anemone has stinging tentacles that kill other small fish but the clown fish has a special protection from the sting. The clown fish can dart inside the anemone to get away from danger. In return the clown fish helps to keep the anemone clean. Another beneficial relationship is between the anemone and a crab. The anemone can attach itself to the back of a crab. By moving around more it has a better chance of catching food. The crab, in turn, is protected from predators that my be harmed by the stinging tentacles of the anemone. Mutualism is a concept that applies to more than living things on the coral reef.  Can you think other examples of mutualism?

I think it would be wonderful to dive on the reef and explore some of the islands that make up the Great Barrier Reef but I would especially like to sleep on a pontoon on the reef at night.  I can imagine us sitting on the deck watching the sunset and then seeing the star-filled sky.  We would look up to find the Southern Cross in the sky. aHR0cDovL3d3dy5zcGFjZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA1My83ODcvb3JpZ2luYWwvd2lkZV9zb3V0aGVybl9jcm9zc19yZWRmZXJuLmpwZw==

This photo of the Southern Cross was captured by Greg Redfern.

The pontoon would gently rock with the water movement and lull us to sleep as the creatures of the sea move below us.  The reef is different at night.  Some of the fish sleep, finding protection in different ways as predatory fish move looking for food. The Parrot Fish secretes a mucus protection around itself so it can sleep. (See one sleeping). Other fish bury themselves or hide in the coral to rest.

In the morning I think we would dive to see the reef as the sun penetrates the surface providing algae light, the essential element needed for life.  Photosynthesis is needed for the algae to live and it is the variety of different algae that give The Reef the beautiful array of colors.  We would want to see the living reef up close and while snorkeling is one way to view it, I would want to scuba dive so I could spend more time under water.  A person can’t just put on the scuba gear and begin diving though.  There are important things to learn first. I took scuba diving in college and that was a long time ago so we would all need to take some classes so we would be safe.

There is a wonderful peace and quiet experienced while scuba diving.  The sound of your own breathing is calming as you move with the use of your scuba fins.  Big movements of the body aren’t necessary to move in the water and that is good as we would want to create as little disturbance as possible as we explore the reef.  We have to keep up with one another of course and it would challenging to “tell each” other about what we are seeing.  Not until we surface and climb out of the water would we be able to share our adventures.

There are dangers to the reef and its survival.  Scientists have found evidence of prior reefs under the current one that died long ago.  The current dangers are manmade and natural.  Because the reef is a reliant upon a delicate balance of living creatures it is important that this balance be maintained. A loss or over abundance of one type of organism can create a damage that can be irreversible.  One of the current threats is a type of Star Fish.  Here is an interesting article about new findings concerning this threat and our hope to assist in reversing damage occurring due to an overabundance of the Star Fish.

Other factors effecting the reef include sediment runoff from rivers entering the sea. This sediment can prevent adequate sun penetration of the water.  Temperature changes and water condition changes can also effect the balance of a reef and can begin to kill organisms, effecting the balance of the ecosystem. Bleaching is happening to part of the reef and scientists are worried that the Great Barrier Reef could become so damaged that it could be lost.  See this article to better understand this phenomenon and the triggers that could be causing it.

I am sure that our trip to the Great Barrier Reef would be one we would never forget.  What do think you would see and learn that you would want to share with your children some day?

 

 

Appreciating the Boomerang

I hope you liked the boomerang you received in your box this month.  I found a few YouTube videos that tell you how to throw one.  I liked this one.  I hope you can get your boomerang to come back to you.

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What makes a boomerang work?  I found an interesting article by Popular Science that addresses the physics of this.  Are you interesting in making one?  Here is a link to a video by Science Samurai showing how to make your own. Elias, I know you love science so I challenge you on this one.  Let me know if you make your own.  I would be mighty impressed.

I always like to find some fun facts about topics and here are a few:

**The oldest boomerang was found in Poland and is believed to be over 30,000 years old.  It was made from a Mammoth Tusk.

**The longest boomerang flight known was over 2 minutes.

**The largest returning boomerang is over 9 feet tip to tip.

The Boomerang, able to fly much farther than a spear, was originally used to bring down game while hunting. The Aborigines (original people) of Australia used them thousands of years ago.   Not all boomerangs are meant to return and they can be a variety of shapes and sizes. The early ones were made from roots, limbs, or bones. They were multipurpose, not just used for hunting.  I found one type that has a special hook on it meant to catch on the shield of the person you were fighting. After hooking onto the shield the fighter could swing behind the shield to attack.

Not all hunting techniques involved hitting the animal.  One technique involved throwing the boomerang over a flock of birds.  The birds, mistaking it for a bird-of-prey, would drop down into nets or toward waiting hunters.

Other uses include starting a fire by rubbing the boomerangs together. Some were used as clappers in music and dance. I read that they are Sonorus when struck together.  (I had to look that up:  –Definition of sonorous: having a sound that is deep, loud, and pleasant)

Today there are competitions built around the art/ sport of throwing.  The Boomerang Association of Australia has a great online newsletter.  Check it out. 

There are some boomerangs that are just too beautiful to throw.  You can find them for sale or in art museums.   Symbols are often included in the decoration and have meaning.  Here is an example of symbols used.

 

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I would like to decorate my own tool and make up symbols that are relevant to me.  Here is one I designed just for our trip.

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Landing in Australia

Watch this landing at Sydney’s Charles Kingsford- Smith Airport.  Seeing it from the air would build so much excitement for me.  Look at the way the land and water intertwine.  As you get closer you can see the beautiful beaches and boats off the coast.  I bet you couldn’t get your bathing suit on fast enough after getting off that 15 hour long flight!

 

 

It is Australia!

How could we not go to Australia!  We have been to several countries now that have been below the equator but this is the largest by far.  I hope you have located the country on your world map and have an appreciation for its SIZE.  Most of the population live near the coast as the inner part of this big country is primarily desert, a land often referred to as “The Outback”.  Of course it isn’t all beaches and desert; there are mountains and rain forests as well.

Aboriginal people in Australia come from the population that arrived nearly 50,000 years ago. Today the Aboriginal people make up less than 3% of the population of Australia. That is 3% of approximately the 20 million who live in Australia.

If you look at Australia compared to the USA you will see that they are nearly the same size. Yet, Australia’s entire population is about the number of people who live in Florida.

One of the really awesome things about Australia is that there are animals there that are unique to the country.  Nearly 80% of the animal types found there are only naturally found  in Australia.  We will have to get to know a few of those!

Please join me back here regularly to learn more!

Love,

Nanna

Spanish – a Multi-colored Language

In Chile, the primary language you will hear is Spanish. But not all Spanish sounds the same.  I love this video giving a description of many of the Spanish accents we can hear in the world.  She doesn’t even try to speak Spanish as the Chileans do, I think because it is just too hard.  My daughter-in-law is from Chile and I remember the first time I listened to her speak with her cousin.  The words came FAST, like a river rapid pouring over a waterfall.

 

Side note:   I went to Chile once and was amazed at how relaxing it is to move in a country where I couldn’t understand the signs or the conversations around me.  I would have thought it would have made me anxious and perhaps it would have if I hadn’t been someone who could guide me.  We don’t realize how hard our brains are working to take in the information around us all day.  When I couldn’t understand the language my brain tuned out the signs, the advertisements, and the conversations.  It allowed me to focus on the colors, the expressions, and the architecture and geography of the world around me instead.

 

Next Country Boxes went out today!

Hey guys!  I dropped in to see UPS today and had them box your items and send them out.  I ran out of ink for my printer this morning and couldn’t print your photos from ………X.  I sent those by email to you so you will have them to look at.  I will send the printed photos for your photo album soon.  This will probably be a short month with this country as we are a little behind in our travels.  I will have to be faithful in getting up early to post information so I can get the next box out quickly.  Thank goodness it is still summer and the light is with us longer.  That makes it all the easier.  I think of you all as I look up information.  I want the posts to be interesting and different from what you would get elsewhere.  Lots of love to you all!  Nanna.

Chile – Along the Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe shaped area of our planet in the Pacific Basin where 90% of earthquakes occur and over 80% of the world’s volcanoes are located.  Chile has over 500 potentially active volcanoes in an area 1/13 the size of the USA which has less than two hundred.  Most of our volcanoes are located in Alaska but one of the most active volcanoes on earth is in Hawaii.

Volcanoes occur when hot magma, melted mantle from inside our planet, and gases  work their way up to the earth’s surface. When the magma spews onto the surface it is called lava. Volcanoes usually occur where earthquakes occur.  Earthquakes occur when sections (plates) of the earth move against other sections or plates. Imagine two decks of playing cards pushed together and as they meet some cards are pushed up and some are pushed down.  The plates of the earth meet and effect one another. This effect result in earthquakes. The Ring of Fire is named for the high level of effects created by the meeting of these tectonic plates.

I found this video of an eruption caught by people visiting a nearby volcano.  I liked this video because you get a chance to see the lovely area around the eruptions prior to the event.  It made me see what visiting this part of Chile would be like.

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Hydrothermal fields are areas where sea water that has entered the fissures or cracks of the earth becomes heated and then spews from the earth.  This can occur on land and in the bottom of the ocean, just as volcanoes can (watch this video of a volcano erupting at the bottom of the sea).  Chile has a major hydrothermal field high in the Andes mountains called the El Tatio.  This is a major tourist attraction. If we were sitting there at sunrise we would see the plumes of steam rising from the earth toward the sky forming smoky columns. This happens on a regular basis due to the accumulation of pressure followed by a release. Take a look at this video to get a look at this area of the Atacama Desert.

Volcanoes and earthquakes are examples of how our earth is always changing. The land is always moving. Mountains are forming. Some of the newest mountains are the tallest. Some of the older ones look much smaller than they were at one time. Hot Springs Mountain is part of the Ouachita Mountain Range, a very old mountain range.. Erosion over the years has made them much less commanding than they once were when they looked more like the Rocky Mountains. The Andes Mountains in Chile are HUGE and are fairly young, only 10 to 6 million years old. In comparison, the Ouachita mountains are 500 to 290 million years old.