TourWrist Brings New Views Of Old Places

TourWrist has one of the world’s largest collections of geo-located virtual tours, acquired from consumers and panoramic photographers. Different than two-dimensional photos and static-shot video, TourWrist real world panoramic images can greatly enhance travel-planning efforts by offering a different, more detailed view of places we might visit.

A free service, TourWrist delivers a 360-degree view of places we might travel with over 30,000 panoramic images. Using the TourWrist smartphone app to view, shoot, publish and share panoramas is easy too. TourWrist comes loaded with panoramic photography tools, back-end infrastructure and tour viewers.

“If you’ve ever played with Google Earth, you zoom in and get this sensation of being able to go anywhere – but eventually you stop going back because it doesn’t let you do anything,” explained on CoDesign. Tour Wrist CEO Charles Armstrong. “Our goal is to give you the opportunity to actually explore these places.”

Visiting the TourWrist website, we can choose to see the best/everything in categories such as hotels and resorts; arts and entertainment; dining and more. A panorama of a luxury yacht caught our attention and provides a good example of just what TourWrist is capable of. Clicking our way around the yacht took us from one panorama to another, giving about as complete of a tour as possible without really being there.

In that yacht tour, we were able to view in different directions and move forward and backward into the scene, much like Google Street View, something we would not have been able to do not long ago. “Our interface is always in a constant state of improvement,” says Armstrong.

[Photos Credit: Flickr user drocpso]

10 Ways To Experience Bizarre Natural Phenomena

To experience something out of the ordinary on your next trip, check out some of these bizarre natural phenomena.

Morning Glory Cloud, Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

While you can occasionally see a Morning Glory Cloud or roll cloud in other parts of the world, the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia is the only place it can be predicted and observed regularly. A Morning Glory Cloud can be up to 620 miles long, 1.2 miles high and is often only 330 to 660 feet off the ground. Additionally these clouds, which sometimes appear both solo and in groups, can move at speeds up to 37 miles per hour. While this phenomenon is not clearly understood, certain theories do exist, such as effects from mesoscale circulations linked with sea breezes that develop over the area and high humidly and pressure mixed with strong breezes. You can visit Buketown in Queensland for the best chance of witnessing the phenomenon.Experience The Phenomenon Of “Mystery Spots” In Mooresville, Indiana

For those who’ve never heard of mystery spots, there are areas all over the country that defy the laws of nature and physics. Water may flow up an incline, people are able to stand on walls and balls roll uphill. The most famous mystery spot is located in Santa Cruz, California, although many are skeptical of the authenticity of this pay-to-see attraction. To experience the phenomenon in nature, you can head to Mooresville, Indiana. Here you’ll find Gravity Hill, an unmarked hill that pulls your car upward instead of down. You can put your car in neutral and see what happens to test the mystery spot out for yourself. To get there, you’ll get off at Exit 59 from I-70. You’ll drive about a mile heading south before turning left onto Keller Hill Road. Head east about 4.5 miles until it ends, and near here is where you’ll find Gravity Hill.

Some other known mystery spots are located in Spook Hill, Florida, Marblehead, Ohio, Gold Hill, Oregon and Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.

Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights), Near North Pole

Aurora Borealis, or the northern lights, may be the most well known natural phenomenon that exists. This astronomical curiosity features shafts, swirls, arcs, rays and curtains of vibrant colors on the night sky, putting on an awe-inspiring neon light show. What you’re really seeing is the colliding of electrically charged particles from the sun as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. This occurs over the North Pole and South Pole.

While technically it’s possible to see the northern lights anywhere, it’s best to view them from areas closer to the poles, like northwest Canada, Alaska, Iceland, northern Scandanavia and northern Norway. Visit between the autumn equinox and spring equinox, or September 21 to March 21. It is also said that 2013 will be a peak year to view the lights.

Mosquito Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico

While there are a few instances of bioluminescent bays around the world, this one is the brightest one recorded by the Guinness Book Of World Records. Listed as a national natural landmark, the bizarre site glows a bright neon blue due to Pyrodinium bahamense, Dinoflagellates (dinos), living in the water. When these “dinos” touch another organism or are shaken they produce the burst of bright blue light that makes the water glow. Travelers have the opportunity to not just look at the bizarre bay, but also snorkel and kayak the waters.

Dead Sea, Jordan/Israel

Along the Jordan and Israeli borders you’ll find the Dead Sea. At 1,388 feet below sea level, its surface and shores are the Earth’s lowest elevation on land. The sea itself is 1,237 feet deep, making it the planet’s deepest hypersaline lake. What’s really amazing about this body of water, however, is how it allows people to effortlessly float, as shown above, due to the high salt content. Moreover, the salt and minerals from this water specifically provide a plethora of health benefits, like helping with arthritis, allergies, skin aging and psoriasis.

Spooklights, Various Locations

Spooklights are bizarre visual phenomena that are often mistaken for ghosts and UFOs. Most sightings happen at night, when people see globes of light in all colors, shapes and sizes. Some explanations for the occurrence include headlights, swamp gas, electrical discharges from tectonic forces, ghosts, aliens and hallucinations. Generally, the word spooklight refers to a bizarre case that occurred just west of Hornet, Missouri in an area known as “Devil’s Promenade.” However the phenomena, also known as Ghostlights and Earth Lights, can now be experienced regularly in certain areas all over the world, for example: the Paulding Light in Watersmeet Michigan, Mafra Lights in Marfa, Texas, St. Louis Spooklight in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the Min Min Lights in Australia.

Sailing Stones, Death Valley, California

Located around Racetrack Playa in Death Valley you can find sailing stones, also known as moving rocks or sliding rocks. These names refer to a geological phenomenon where rocks move without any help from animals or humans along a level surface. The reason as to why this happens is still undecided, but trails left by the stones differ in direction and length, and even texture and design. Because the stones only move every two to three years, it may be hard to see one in action; however, you’ll be able to admire the natural sand art formed by this unusual phenomenon.

Naga Fireballs, Mekong River, Thailand/Laos

The Naga Fireballs is a phenomenon that has been occurring on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia for centuries. Most notably around the time when the Buddhist rains end in October, glowing balls of differing shapes and sizes rise up from the water and disappear. Some are just a few sparks while others are the size of basketballs. While the Mekong gets the most attention for the bizarre occurrence, other bodies of water near Phon Phisai town also experience naga fireballs. There are certain theories behind the phenomenon, like methane gas buildup, surface electricity discharging into a solution and even that the entire thing is a hoax caused by tracer fire from soldiers. If you ask a local villager, they’ll most likely tell you it’s Naga, the mythical snake living in the river. At this time, however, nothing has been proven.

Foxfire, Forests Around The World

Despite its name, foxfire is not hot, nor fire. Notes on this natural phenomenon have been documented since the times of Aristotle, who talked about a light that was cold to the touch. Foxfire is a bioluminescent fungus that sometimes appears on moist, decaying wood, occurring during wet seasons all over the world. For your best chance of seeing it for yourself, get away from any artificial light sources.

Rain Of Fish, Yoro, Honduras

Apparently, it really can rain animals. Each year around the first major rainfall in May through June, still-living fish pour down from the heavens onto one department in Honduras. The phenomenon is said to have been happening since the 1800s, and today is known as Festival de la Lluvia de Peces, or Festival of the Rain of Fishes, complete with a parade and carnival. While scientists are still unsure as to why this happens, certain explanations do exist. Some believe strong winds pick up the fish from the Atlantic and shower them down over Yoro, while others think heavy rains wash the fish up out of their natural habitat and leave them on land. Others cite back to Father Jose Manuel Subirana, a Catholic priest who visited Honduras in the mid-1800s, who prayed to God to feed the hungry people of the area and was granted a sustainable gift.

[Images via Mick Petroff, Shutterstock, Shutterstock, PD, Cas Liber]

Comedic team of ‘Portlandia’ set to create an off-beat Portland, Oregon, guidebook

Are you bored of the usual travel guidebooks aimed at everyday tourists? If you’re interested in Portland, Oregon, and would rather learn about funny, fictional places that could exist rather than the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Art Museum, you should put “PORTLANDIA: A Guide for Visitors” on your shopping list. Set to debut in November of 2012, the book is being created by the team who brought you the hit comedy series “Portlandia,” starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, which takes you on an off-beat tour of Portland while poking fun at the city.

“It will be written like a Fodor’s or Lonely Planet guidebook, but full of fake, made-up, humorous stuff that could easily exist in a place like Portland, but doesn’t,” explains Ben Greenberg, the executive editor of Grand Central Publishing who will be producing the book. “Everything will be a bit off.”

To get an idea of the team’s humor and what to expect, check out the clip above from “Portlandia” on the Independent Film Channel (IFC).

EuroCheapo launches budget travel guides for Switzerland

While Switzerland is not usually thought of as a budget-friendly destination, there are actually many worthwhile hotels, sights, and restaurants that won’t cost you a fortune. To help travelers navigate their way around this usually costly country, EuroCheapo has launched budget travel guides for the cities of Zurich and Geneva, marking their first Swiss guides on the site. These guides will not only feature accommodation recommendations and photographs from the editors themselves, but also insider tips on how to explore these cities without breaking the bank.

Says EuroCheapo’s founder and editor-in-chief, Tom Meyers, “While it’s certainly easy to overspend in Geneva and Zurich, our editors have uncovered many simple ways to make visiting more affordable. Both cities offer delightful inexpensive hotels that will keep your trip budget in check.”

EuroCheapo is a free budget travel guide for Europe. To check out the brand new Swiss guides as well as money-saving guides for other European cities, click here.

Trek the Colombian Andes in El Cocuy National Park with Mountain Madness

Acclaimed Seattle-based adventure travel company and guide service Mountain Madness debuts its newest trip on February 4th: an excursion to Colombia’s El Cocuy National Park. Although Colombia is often characterized as being mostly tropical jungle or coastline, the Andean Cordillera Oriental crosses a significant portion of the country. The El Cocuy trip will allow trekkers to explore glaciers, alpine lakes, and remote colonial villages.

Mountain Madness owner and president Mark Gunlogson has years of experience as a mountaineering guide all over the world, and the company is renowned for its reputable and distinctive trekking trips and alpine climbing schools, particularly in South America and the Himalayas. For this inaugural El Cocuy adventure, Gunglogson will lead five other trekkers and climbers as they “explore this area’s potential for adventure travel. The team hopes to dispel the myth of danger with travel in Colombia and open up a new, cutting-edge trip.”

Activities will include mountaineering, trekking, rock climbing, and cultural exchange, a Mountain Madness hallmark. Check out the company’s blog for dispatches from El Cocuy. Buena suerte, team!

Video: How to self-arrest with an ice ax