Photo Of The Day: What’s In Your Bag?

What’s in your bag? Mine contains my laptop, several notebooks, a folder with tickets and research notes and a beat-up middling digital camera. Flickr user nan palmero‘s bag, as you can see above, is rather more technologically with it.

There’s nothing I like more than nerdy connoisseurship. (If you’d like an item-by-item run down of these objects, check out the photographer’s own site.) I love it so much that I chose an image from the same photographer whose work I featured in last Friday’s Photo of the Day.

Upload your best images to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. We choose our favorites from the bunch as Photos of the Day.

[Image: Flickr | nan palmero]

Lower Gas Prices No Match For $1 Bus Ride

Current gas prices are coming in lower than anticipated for this year’s summer travel season. In the short term that’s good. Looking forward, alternative forms of generating energy through clean renewable solutions are being developed but may be years away. Looking back, one method of transportation that has served us well in the past is being used right now on an increasing scale, saving travelers millions. was the first city-to-city, express bus company with fares from $1. Launched in April 2006 and using UK-style double-decker buses, Megabus has become one of the largest intercity express bus service providers in North America, transporting more than 18 million travelers.

“Megabus is an express city-to-city service that offers affordable pricing, the ease of booking on the Internet, with center-city location pickup and drop-off points,” Coach USA President and COO Dale Moser said in the San Angelo Standard-Times.

In addition to affordable fares, Megabus offers customers state-of-the-art buses with free Wi-Fi, power outlets and restrooms, all in an environmentally friendly way.

Starting June 19, Megabus is expanding to Texas and the southern United States. Residents of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas, can now travel to cities as far away as New Orleans for as low as $1.” has rapidly become the travel option of choice for millions of people and today we’re excited to bring our unique travel option to Texas and the southern United States,” said Moser. “As Americans continue to look for ways to stretch their income, we look forward to providing safe, convenient and affordable travel to the millions of residents in the South.”

During the first week of sales all tickets will be no more than $1 – including 10,000 free seats. Visit for additional information about the service, schedules, arrival and departure times and fares.

[Flickr photo by gorgeouxness]

U.S. Department of the Interior considering new nominees for UNESCO World Heritage sites

The U.S. Department of the Interior is in the process of considering a number of new sites for possible nomination for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list. That list, which currently features 936 properties from across the globe, recognizes some of the most culturally significant and naturally beautiful locations on our planet. Many of those locations, such as Machu Picchu in Peru and the Great Pyramids of Giza, also happen to be popular destinations for travelers.

Among the sites in the U.S. that are being considered for nomination are the San Antonio Missions in Texas which played a major role in the early exploration and settlement of that region. The missions trace their history back to 1690 and continue to have a cultural and religious impact on San Antonio to this day. Additionally, the four missions that make up the National Historical Park remain excellent examples of early-American architecture as well.

In total there are 13 sites being evaluated for submission to UNESCO including George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. Of those, nine fall under the heading of “cultural” sites while the remaining four are in the “natural” category. To view the entire list click here.

The list is now open for public comment giving us all the opportunity to weigh in on the choices that are under consideration. The Department of the Interior says it will take into account those pubic comments, along with the recommendations from the Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage, when making their final decision.

Once that process is complete the nominations will be submitted and it will be up to UNESCO to add these sites to its very prestigious list.

SeaWorld San Antonio announces Aquatica Texas

SeaWorld recently announced plans to build another Aquatica water park. More than just a traditional water park, SeaWorld San Antonio’s new Aquatica Texas will include thrilling water slides, serene rivers, a large sandy beach area, and animal encounters.

Among the new water rides, Stingray Rapids sounds the most interesting. The 5 seat raft ride is described as the only one of its kind in the World. It will feature twists and turns with an underground grotto and where guests will see with tropical fish and stingrays. Another stand out may be Wahalla Wave a family raft ride with a zero-gravity wall providing riders a roller coaster-like sense of weightlessness. Aquatica Texas is scheduled to open in May 2012.

National Parks Gem: San Antonio Missions

The U.S. national parks system certainly isn’t lacking in fantastic destinations for summer escapes. From Yellowstone to Yosemite, there are enough natural and historical wonders to delight and enthrall travelers of all ages. But there are also a number of lesser known parks that are worth visiting as well, offering up their own unique experiences and lasting memories.

Take for example the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Located deep in the heart of Texas, the park is home to four Spanish missions, the first of which was built in 1690, more than 85 years before the United States started down the path to independence. Those missions were originally built to bring Christianity to the local population and prepare them to eventually become Spanish citizens, and they were used for decades in a variety of capacities, even after Spain and Mexico abandoned their claims on the territory.

Located within the park are Mission Espada, Mission Concepción, Mission San José, and Mission San Juan Capistrano. Each has been preserved to one degree or another, and each offers an intriguing look at a chapter in early-American history that is very different from the Colonial Era settings found in the New England states. Visitors can stroll the grounds, discovering what life in, and around the missions, was like in the 18th and 19th centuries, while admiring the historical architecture as well.The missions have played a vital role in the San Antonio community for centuries delivering a religious and cultural impact on the residents that continues even to this day. But they have also proven to be an economic boon as well, as a recent study by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has discovered. According to the study, for every federal dollar invested in the park, $20 in local economic activity is generated. In 2009 for example, $8.2 million in funds from the Park Service, and its local partners, was invested in the park, which created $98.8 million in revenue for the surrounding community and directly impacted more than a 1100 local jobs.

Despite this indelible legacy however, the Missions are facing some challenges to their future. In that same report, the NPCA recommended seven initiatives that if enacted, would help preserve the missions for future generations, while also increasing the economic impact of the park even further. Those recommendations included building a new park headquarters to help enrich the visitors experience, linking the park to the nearby San Antonio river via trails to further connect it to the community, and developing new cultural demonstrations to further immerse visitors in the historical setting. You can read the full NPCA report and recommendations by clicking here.

Like so many of the national parks in the United State, San Antonio Missions is a unique experience unlike any other. It truly is one park that needs to be visited to be fully appreciated. It is a great historical destination that is often overlooked, but when you’re passing through central Texas, take a little time away from the Riverwalk to enjoy a walk of a different kind. One that takes you back through history in a fascinating and unique setting.

[Photo Credit: Liveon001 via WikiMedia]