Glass Eyes, Diamonds And Other Strange Things Travelers Leave Behind

The Weirdest Things Left Behind on Planes

Most passengers don’t even wait for the seat belt light to go off before jumping up from their seats and getting ready to disembark the plane, so it’s no surprise that in the hurry belongings often get left behind.

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You’re probably imagining that most of the forgotten items involve things commonly stowed in the seat back compartment, such as passports, books and cell phones — and you wouldn’t be wrong. But it seems many of our fellow travelers are also flying with some pretty strange cargo, at least according to a study by booking site Skyscanner, which rounded up the most bizarre things left behind by passengers on planes.

Some of the oddities forgotten on flights include underwear, handcuffs and bags of diamonds — all the kinds of things that would certainly have you questioning who you’re sitting next to. Animals also made the list, with parrots, frogs, falcons and even eggs forgotten by their owners. Other items we’re not sure how the owners walked off without include prosthetic legs and glass eyes.

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However planes aren’t the only place where travelers experience forgetfulness. Airport security is an all too easy spot to misplace belongings and while many fliers forget their belts and keys, others leave behind false teeth, wigs and adult toys. London City Airport said these made the list of strangest things left in the terminal, along with an artificial skull, signed blank check book and yet another bag of diamonds.

Hotels have also seen their fair share of wacky objects forgotten in rooms, including a showjumping horse, a life size cardboard cutout of a comedian and a wok (apparently the guest had filled the toilet with charcoal in the hopes of turning it into a barbeque).

New Website Reunites Hotel Guests With Lost Possessions

Have you ever settled into your seat on an airplane only to be struck with the realization that you’ve left something valuable in your hotel room? If so, you’re not alone in experiencing that sinking feeling. Each year, thousands of hotel guests leave behind everything from toys to ipad chargers to wedding rings – and getting them back (if they ever do) often involves many fruitless phone calls and emails.

However, a new Internet portal is helping to reunite lost items with their owners. Chargerback works by allowing hotels to upload a description of whatever it is they’ve found when clearing out a guest’s room. Guests can also log onto the site and enter information about their missing possessions. If there’s a match, the website alerts the guest who can either go and pick up the item themselves or opt to have it shipped to them for an average cost of $10-13.The website officially launched today but already around 30 hotels in the U.S. have gotten onboard. The company behind the initiative believes there’s a need for this kind of service and says their research has shown that around a third of adults surveyed had lost an item valued at more than $150 when away from home. Chargerback told USA Today it is considering expanding the lost and found service to include other locales such as airplanes and rental cars.

[Photo credit: gorbould]

Volunteers needed to explore Atlantis

Helike, Atlantis
Want to spend next summer excavating the lost ruins of Atlantis? Well, you can! There are only two catches–it may not be Atlantis, and you won’t get to ride in a UFO.

Wide-eyed crystal clutchers need not apply. This is real science and is far more interesting than New Age fantasy.

Archaeologists excavating the once-lost ancient city of Helike in Greece, are looking for volunteers this summer. The city is located in the Peloponnese, the peninsula in southwestern Greece that’s home to Corinth and Sparta. Inhabited from the Bronze Age onwards, it was thought lost after a massive earthquake in the winter of 373/372 B.C. supposedly sloughed it into the sea. All that was left were a few vague stories and the occasional statue trawled up in fishermen’s nets.

Helike, AtlantisSome scholars theorize Helike’s demise may have led to the legend of Atlantis, the famous lost kingdom that also sank into the sea. Others claim a more likely inspiration for Atlantis was Thera, also known as Santorini, an Aegean island that experienced a massive volcanic explosion in the mid second millennium BC that blew away most of its land and may have disrupted the nearby Minoan civilization.

In 2000 and 2001, a Greek team found Helike and discovered that it hadn’t sunk into the sea, but rather got submerged under an inland lagoon that later silted over. Not nearly as romantic, but nostalgia’s loss is our gain. Evidence of over three thousand years of habitation have been found. Intriguingly, excavators found a settlement dating to c.2600-2300 BC that may also have been submerged after an earthquake.

The city was dedicated to Poseidon Helikonios, god of the sea and the earthquakes. The citizens even put the god on their coinage. Considering that their entire city was destroyed by an earthquake and water, it appears their faith was misplaced.

Volunteers are needed for this summer’s excavations. You don’t need any prior experience and you’ll be trained in archaeological tasks like excavation, mapping, and lab work. If you’d rather dig somewhere else, there are hundreds of archaeological excavations around the world needing your help this summer. This list of links will get your started in your search.

Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Check the Helike Project website for more photos of this amazing site.

Nature Valley kicks off 2011 Preserve the Parks campaign

Nature Valley begins the 2011 Preserve the Parks CampaignAs we’ve mentioned on several occasions recently, Saturday kicked off National Parks Week here in the U.S. To help celebrate, Nature Valley, in conjunction with the National Parks Conservation Association, launched their 2011 Preserve the Parks campaign in the beautiful desert near Joshua Tree in California.

Nature Valley started the campaign last year after their customers expressed how much they loved the national parks. In 2010, the Preserve the Parks program raised $400,000 for the NPCA, with those funds going directly to protect national parks from a variety of threats. The 2011 edition of Preserve the Parks hopes to raise even more money, while also taking a more direct, active role in the preservation of these fantastic natural spaces.

This year, Preserve the Parks has a charismatic and charming spokesman to help spread the word about the campaign. Josh Holloway, who played Sawyer on the television show Lost, is an avid outdoorsman who also happens to love America’s national parks. He was on hand for the kickoff event this past weekend to not only help get the festivities underway, but to also get a little dirty too. Holloway joined a host of volunteers who went to work building trails and helping to protect the habitat of desert tortoises that inhabit the region around Joshua Tree.I had the opportunity to chat with Josh on several occasions throughout the day and came away quite impressed. This isn’t the case of a celebrity spokesperson slapping their name on a project and paying lip service to it. Josh truly does have a love for the outdoors and was eager to lend a hand in the actual physical work of the day. For most of the morning he had a shovel, rake, or other tool in his hand, and was doing his part alongside the rest of the volunteers who were there to take part in a restoration project.

Nature Valley beings 2011 Preserve the Parks campaignDespite the warm weather (temperatures approached 95 degrees Fahrenheit) the Nature Valley event drew an impressive turnout from volunteers. After a brief orientation about the area, including instructions on how to avoid stepping on a tortoise den, we were off on a mile long hike to the various work sites. Once there, we broke into teams that took on a variety of projects that included clearing trails of plants and other debris to more clearly define where to walk, as well as restructuring part of the landscape to allow water to flow naturally, without causing undue erosion. These simple efforts can go a long way toward protecting the area and ensuring that those who visit it can pass through without endangering the creatures that live there.

Nature Valley has a number of other similar events planned for the summer ahead, when the program will really kick into high gear. Those events will take place in Yellowstone, Acadia, Biscayne and several other national parks. Details on those events has yet to be completed, but you can watch the Preserve the Parks website for details on when they’ll be occurring and how you might be able to join in.

National Parks Week is a time that is dedicated to celebrating the spectacular natural beauty that exists inside America’s wilderness wonderlands. It is also a great time to acknowledge some of the threats that face the parks, such as environmental concerns, land management issues, lack of funding, and more. Organizations like Nature Valley and the NPCA recognize the importance of the parks on American culture and are working hard to protect them for future generations to enjoy as well. Programs such as the Preserve the Parks campaign are a perfect model of how businesses, non-profits, and grassroots activists can all work together to improve and protect the parks.

Nature Valley launches Preserve the Parks campaign
This trip was payed for by Nature Valley, but the ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.

Road trip truth: women are far more likely than men to ask for directions

You’re on a road trip. Somehow, your directions fall short, and you find yourself not being able to find yourself. Getting lost is no fun, and it’s even worse when you know – you just know – you’re close. So, the moment of truth arrives: do you stop and ask for directions or poke around a little longer?

Well, we all know how this movie ends: women stop to ask for directions, and men resist that step until the bitter end. Sure, it’s a sexist stance, but we’ve all been there, right?

If you were ready to question your beliefs, don’t bother. According to a study by British car insurance company Sheila’s Wheels, the average man behind the wheel will drive an extra 276 miles a year because of getting lost, while the average women will only trek an extra 256. And, it gets worse. Twenty-six percent of the men surveyed wait at least 30 minutes before stopping to ask, and 12 percent will never even get to this step.
ABC News reports:

“Our research not only reveals that men aren’t quite as confident behind the wheel as they make out when it comes to navigation but also that women are in control when it comes to modern motoring,” noted Jacky Brown of Sheilas’ Wheels.

Seventy-four percent of women have no problem pulling over and asking for directions, the study finds, with 37 percent doing so as soon as they realize there’s a problem (only 30 percent of men do this).

[photo by me and the sysop via Flickr]