Norwegian Town Will Finally Get Sunlight During the Winter

Karl Martin Jakobsen, Visit Norway

Imagine what it would be like to never see the sun.

In the Norwegian town of Rjukan, that’s exactly what life is like six months out of the year. Located in a valley, because of the high mountains that surround the town, from September to March there is no sunlight. But this year, that will change.

At the end of October, the town will install three giant sun mirrors, in order to reflect sun into the town square, bringing sunlight in the middle of the winter for the first time to the town’s 3,000 inhabitants.The idea for a sun mirror was born a century ago when local businessman Sam Eyde had the idea to give access to the sun to his workers. While the sun mirror didn’t get constructed, a gondola was built to take Rjukan’s up to the top of the mountains where they could get some sunlight during the winter.

But now thanks to technology, Eyde’s original idea will become a reality, and the the sun mirrors will be launched on October 31, the exact day 100 years ago that the idea was presented in the local newspaper.

It’s Finally Easier to Get to Bhutan

Xioajun Deng, Flickr

Bhutan might be most well-known for its Gross National Happiness Index, but it’s also an excellent destination for any adventure-seeking traveler on the lookout for outdoor exploits.

Situated at the eastern end of the Himalayas, Bhutan isn’t the easiest place to get to, but with the launch of the country’s second airline, that could soon change. Up until now, the state-owned Drukair was the only airline available to the country, but tapping into the aviation infrastructure of next door neighbor Thailand, now the Bhutanese and travelers to Bhutan also have access to Bhutan Airlines.

Thanks to the new airline, there will be a daily flight between Bangkok and Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport.

This is good for the country whose new prime minister isn’t focusing on talking about happiness, but “reducing the obstacles to happiness.” Last year the country had 150,000 visitors, up a whole 60% from the previous year. With tourism as Bhutan’s main source of revenue, particularly thanks to the country’s Buddhist temples and monasteries as well as mountainous landscape, a second airline will help more people have easier access to the country.

The Government is Back Up and Running, and So Are the National Parks

Grand Canyon National Park, Flickr

Everyone rejoice: now that the shutdown is finally over, government employees can get back to work and the rest of us can go out and explore any National Park that we feel like. No sneaking around with the risk of getting fined, you can now travel as you wish.

While some National Parks found ways to open back up during the shutdown, thanks to a handful of states that opted to pay the federal government to keep their parks functioning, today the 400 some National Parks will open back up as the furlough for the 20,000 park employees ends.Beyond National Parks, monuments and memorials managed by the National Park Service will also open back up.

But you know what all this means? After over two weeks of shutdown, you may expect lines and plenty of tourists in the places you have been wanting to visit. But hey, at least they’re open.

The Grossest Coffee on the Planet?

davidd, Flickr

We’ve covered crazy high-end coffees before. One of the world’s most expensive coffees, kopi luwak, comes from Indonesia, where the beans are harvested from the feces of the wild civet. Apparently something amazing happens to the beans in the digestion process, or at least the coffee world would have us believe so.

Then there’s Black Ivory Coffee, which of course comes to us thanks to elephant dung. The elephants stomachs are apparently like a “natural slow cooker” for the beans.

But now there’s a new coffee contender on the block, and you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world. All you have to do is make your way to… you guessed it, Portlandia.

Just outside of Portland, Oregon in Estacada a man is dabbling in the effects of sending coffee beans through his own digestive system. That’s right everyone: human poop coffee.

If you’re not thoroughly grossed out to stop reading yet, you’ll be thrilled to know that there are plenty of people out there that want the stuff. Randy Goldman, a home coffee roaster, wanted to experiment with the “kopi luwak process,” advertising his beans on Craigslist. The story of course went viral – turns out people are into fecal coffee – and soon the demand outweighed the supply.

But fortunately some coffee bloggers got in on the game and documented the whole process, noting that the end result was “musky and fruit-forward,” but not really up there with the world’s best cups. Goldman agrees, noting that the fecal-coffee connection is less about the taste and more about the novel process that somehow helps with marketing. “I didn’t think it’d do much for the taste, but I see Kopi Luwak selling and selling and know that the consumer wants to drink shit. So be it.”

You’ll be hard-pressed to get some though: Goldman has over 40 people on his wait list for the next batch. Looks like you’ll just have to stick to the normal coffee shops of Portland instead.

Shutdown Won’t Stop Travel: Tourists Are Sneaking Into Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks

Stuart Seeger, Flickr

Not allowed to go where you want to on account of the government shutdown? That doesn’t pose a problem for some. Because hey, if you’ve traveled far to see a certain landmark, you’re going to do everything in your power to see it. Or at least that is the thought pattern of the people who have been sneaking into Grand Canyon National Park recently. May we remind you that such behavior is in fact illegal.

Nearly two dozen people have been issued citations for entering the park; you see the government and the National Parks can get shut down, but someone will still be employed to get you in trouble when you make an attempt at entering.Some of the people that snuck in were even attempting rim-to-rim hikes, obviously dangerous if there aren’t any rangers to go to if you find yourself in a questionable situation.

The Grand Canyon isn’t the only place people have been trespassing. In Zion National Park in Utah, 16 hikers jumped the fence in protest of the shutdown. And then there are the people that unwillingly break the rules, like the runner who says he was fined $100 for working out on a trail in Valley Forge National Historic Park. He had parked his car in a parking lot where there was no barrier or sign, but was fined anyway.

As for Grand Canyon National Park? Law enforcement officers are patrolling the area on the lookout for more trespassers. Consider yourself warned.