G'day folks,

Colorful Native American paintings are hidden within this small cavern. 

Hidden along a narrow, steep, and windy road is a tiny piece of the Chumash Native American history preserved for visitors to view. The state park is small, and doesn’t look like much at first glance. But peek through the bars blocking the entrance to this cave, and you’ll discover striking traces of the past.

This little cave is filled with preserved art that was created long before Europeans settlers moved into California.


The colorful symbols are a bright contrast with the pale sandstone surface. Though the meaning of the images is unclear, it’s believed the artwork is related to Chumash cosmology. Though the exact age of the rock art is unknown, anthropologists estimate that the paintings were created in the 1600s, if not earlier.

The Chumash and Gabrielino-Tongva peoples were the first human inhabitants of the Channel Islands and Santa Monica Mountains areas in California. Some archaeological sites connected with the tribes and their ancestors date back as far as 15,000 years.

There is evidence that the settlers have known about this spot for years, as early migrants left their mark in the form of graffiti near the Indigenous artwork. Bars were installed over the entrance and the area was declared a state park to prevent further damage.





G'day folks,

 An abandoned hotel in the highlands of Bali is shrouded in stories of ghosts, curses, and corruption. 

Near the road from hard-partying Kuta to picturesque Lake Beratan, a massive luxury resort stretches languorously down a mountain ridgenot a particularly notable sight, but for the fact that this hotel sits dark and empty. Built in the 1990s and seemingly abandoned on the eve of its opening, the pristine modernity of this derelict building adds significantly to that giddy, something-bad-happened-here feeling that tantalizes ghost hunters and urban explorers alike. 


The Ghost Palace Hotelmore formally known as the PI Bedugul Taman Rekreasi Hotel and Resortlies overgrown with creepers, weeds, and legends. One story suggests that the real estate developer behind the project became cursed due to his corrupt business practices and subsequently went bankrupt. Another tells of a fully operational hotel filled with workers and guests, all of whom suddenly disappeared in one night, leaving specters and demons to stalk the hotel’s empty corridors. Other ghostly accounts chalk up the supernatural presence to the spirits of laborers worked to death in the construction of the hotel.

Bizarrely, the actual history of the Ghost Palace Hotel is somewhat difficult to verify, but the most likely scenario is that it was built starting in the early 1990s as an investment project of Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of former Indonesian President Suharto. Tommy went to prison in 2002, after being convicted of ordering the assassination of a judge on Indonesia’s Supreme Court who had previously found him guilty of corruption charges. Subsequently, construction of the hotel ground to a halt and has never restarted.

Now abandoned for over a decade, the building still bears the furnishings and fixtures of a hotel preparing to receive its first guests.

23 November 2022 - THE TOUGHEST JOB in INDONESIA





G'day folks,

Think you have a tough job? Try carrying 200 kilos through a cloud of sulfur down the side of a volcano. 

It is an American pastime to complain about one’s job. A bad boss, late hours, poor pay; there is always plenty to complain about. However even the worst office 9-5 in the U.S. is a cakewalk compared to being a sulfur miner on Kawah Ijen, an 8,660-foot active volcano in East Java, Indonesia, which bears a certain similarity to Dante’s vision of hell.

Working on the side of the active volcano in temperatures surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit, workers use metal poles to hack out chunks of elemental sulfur. Using ceramic pipes, they channel the gases which drain out as liquid red sulfur which then hardens into the yellow chunks the miners carry out. To do all this, the workers must stand near a live sulfur vent pouring out masses of the noxious, choking gas (the air carries H2SO4 and CaSO4, which are both toxic). The workers then load baskets with 150-200 pounds (68-91 kilos) of sulfur chunks and haul them up 200 meters to the crater rim, and then down three kilometers of traile and 1500 meters of elevation to the weighing station where the sulfur is sold to be used in vulcanizing rubber and bleaching sugar. The reward: around US$13 a day.


One of the problems with improving the men’s situation is that they are all essentially freelance, with no direct employer, so the only safety standards are those the men impose on themselves, which are very few. The men generally work without (expensive) gas masks, despite the fact that prolonged exposure to the noxious fumes can cause respiratory problems similar to severe asthma. And that’s not to mention the sheer backbreaking nature of the work. One reason the men work in the mine, despite having a life expectancy of about 30, is that it pays marginally better than being a farmer.


There is a nearby crater lake, which from afar looks like it might be nice for a cool dip after a hard day of mining, but one would be seriously mistaken. The lake is a 90-degree pool of sulfuric acid in which nothing lives, and which would kill any that dared to swim in it. Birds have been reported to drop dead from the lake’s fumes and to fall into it if they fly overhead. There is no respite to be taken in the harsh volcanic world of Kawah Ijen.

Paradoxically, the unusually high sulfur concentrations that feed Kawah Ijen’s mining industry also result in brilliant blue flames that erupt from the volcano and flow lava-like down the mountain. The spectacular display, visible most nights, occurs when the volcano’s sulfuric gases reach the surface and ignite. Burning liquid sulfur creates the appearance of blue lava streaming down the mountainside. From a distance, Kawah Ijen appears not as an unforgiving workplace but as one more of nature’s odd and beautiful phenomena.





G'day folks,

This 4,000-foot-diameter hole is touted as "the most well known, best preserved meteorite crater on Earth." 

About 50,000 years ago, a meteorite came screaming from the sky and slammed into the Earth. The scar it left across the Arizona landscape is now a popular tourist attraction, complete with wreckage from daredevil pilots that flew too low.

While it’s known simply as “Meteor Crater” to most, scientists refer to it as “Barringer Crater” after Daniel Barringer, the man who first suggested that the giant hole was made by a flying space rock. Barringer was a mining engineer, and his business, Standard Iron Company, staked claim on the property. In 1903, along with his partner, mathematician and physicist Benjamin Chew Tilghman, Barringer conducted land surveys and collected documentation supporting his meteor theory. Despite his efforts, he was met with skepticism and disbelief from the scientific community.


Planetary science didn’t mature enough for geologists to swallow Barringer’s impact theory until the ’50s and ’60s. A discovery of the minerals coesite and stishovite, which only occur when quartz-bearing rocks are severely shocked by an instantaneous overpressure, supported all of Barringer’s findings. Unfortunately, Barringer died in 1929 and was never vindicated in life. Eugene M. Shoemaker, who discovered the minerals, was given credit as the man who uncovered the first unarguable proof of extraterrestrial impact. 

Those visiting the Meteor Crater should keep their eyes out for the plane wreckage said to still be visible after an ill-fated attempt in 1964 to buzz the crater’s rim, ending in a fiery crash that seriously injured a pair of commercial pilots. Both men survived, and the wreckage of the Cessna 150 was left in the crater, perhaps as a cautionary visual aid to other daredevils that found the geological oddity hard to resist.

22 November 2022 - TRIBUTE TO 'THE WALKING MAN'




G'day folks,

 Here is a touching tribute to a local hero who made sure his neighborhood stayed clean.  

Known in his neighborhood of Annapolis as “The Walking Man,” Carlester Smith helped keep West Street clean by picking up trash on his daily walks for many years and greeted all passersby. Annapolis artists painted a mural on the wall of Pinky’s West Street Liquors in his honor before he passed away in March of 2021.

For decades, Smith could be seen speedwalking along West Street in Annapolis, Maryland, earning some spending money by cleaning up trash and washing windows. He had many nicknames like “Buckwheat” and “Bag Man” but was mostly known as The Walking Man. For decades, he walked and cleaned West Street until severe arthritis stopped him, leaving him homebound. 


After a viral fundraiser for his home care, the beloved Walking Man would soon have another tribute from his neighbors.

Annapolis artist Comacell Brown, Jr. led a team to create a mural on the wall of Pinky’s West Street Liquors, where Smith would get sodas from any money he earned cleaning on his walks. This mural is a tribute to a local legend who gave his time and energy to his neighborhood.






G'day folks,

Welcome to a spectacular impact crater in the rugged heart of Central Australia. 

This 3-mile-wide bowl in the middle of the vast flatness of Central Australia is a an unexpected sight. More than 140 million years ago, a comet or asteroid hit the surface of the earth in the Red Centre, creating a giant impact crater. Travelling the unsealed Mareenie Loop from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon, you can see the remnants of what must have been a jolt of unimaginable scale.


The Gosse Bluff crater (also called Gosses Bluff) is an impressive sight from afar. It is best seen from Tylers Pass, on Namatjira Drive. Once inside the crater, its size and shape lose their effects. Erosion over the years has reduced its range not only horizontally but also vertically. Today, the crater’s 3-mile diameter is significantly smaller than the original size, and the hole is less deep.


Nonetheless, this site has an important cultural significance for the local Aboriginal people. Located within the Tnorala Conservation Reserve, the bluff is a registered sacred site but its traditional owners, the Arrernte people, accept visitors. There are two marked paths that bring the visitors to get a closer look at the crater’s surface and some vantage points. 






G'day folks,

This large lake in Central Australia contains an estimated 600 million tons of salt. 

Just 50 kilometers north of Uluru (Ayers Rock) lies the largest salt lake in Australia’s Northern Territory: Lake Amadeus.

The 180-kilometer long and 10-kilometer wide dry lake shines like a white beacon amongst the red dirt. Lake Amadeus is located in the Amadeus basin, which is filled with erosion material from the Petermann Orogeny, a geological event that lifted and folded the earth’s crust millions of years ago.


Lake Amadeus contains an estimated 600 million tons of salt. When rain falls in sufficient quantity it becomes part of a vast flowing drainage system that connects to the Finke River, one of the oldest rivers in the world. From there it flows for 750 kilometers from its headwater in the Northern Territory’s MacDonnell Ranges, down into Lake Eyre in outback South Australia.

In the Pitjantjatjara language this lake and the nearby Lake Neale are known as pantu, or “salt lakes.” The land where these bodies of water are located is covered by the Katiti and Petermann Aboriginal Land Trusts.

Sand dunes hide the lake from view while on the main road (Lasseter’s Highway), so the best viewing point is opposite the Mount Connor Lookout, approximately 20 kilometers east of Curtin Springs. Cross the road and climb the sand dunes and the salt lake appears like a mirage. 






G'day folks,

Welcome to an ancient impact crater on the outskirts of Pretoria. 

Tswaing, meaning “place of salt” in the Setswana language, is an ancient impact crater outside the metropolis of Pretoria in South Africa’s Gauteng province. The Tswaing Crater formed some 220,000 years ago when a giant meteorite slammed into the Earth, creating a half-mile-wide crater and destroying all vegetation within a 25-mile radius.

Today, a blind salt lake lies at the bottom of the crater, and the area is surrounded by dense tree growth. This natural wonder is a feature in the region that even a fair amount of locals aren’t unaware of. Yet it is clear that early humans in the area knew of the crater site. Stone Age implements and pottery have been discovered at the crater rim, where deposits of salt were collected by these early inhabitants from the lake at the bottom of the hole.


In the early 20th century, salt and soda ash were mined commercially from the crater lake. The mining went on for nearly 50 years, lasting until the 1950s. The remains of these activities are still present as ruins around the crater. At the center of the crater lake, you can see the remains of several boreholes from the drilling that helped confirm the meteoric origin of the crater.


The Tswaing Crater now lies within a protected reserve, with several hiking trails leading up to the crater rim and down to the lake. 





- SPAIN  -

G'day folks,

Welcome to the remnants of the rich history of fish-salting in this ancient Mediterranean port town. 

During the Roman era, the port of Mazarrón was an invaluable source of both fish and salt, with a seemingly infinite supply. The town was also centrally located among the trade routes in the western Mediterranean. As a result, fish salting was a major enterprise during the 4th and 5th centuries, serving as the single most important source of income for locals.  

Today, the remnants of Puerto de Mazarrón’s past as a fish salting hub can be found all over this increasingly popular tourist destination, if you know where to look.


The archaeological museum in Mazarrón houses some of the most important hidden history of the area, but is itself difficult to locate due to the lack of signage. The Roman Fish Salting Factory and Archaeological Museum (Factoría Romana de Salazones y Museo Arqueológico) sits on the preserved remains of some of the ancient structures used in the process of salting fish and in the manufacture of garum, a fermented fish sauce used as a condiment. 

Of course, the museum does feature exhibits other than those from the fish salting era, such as a panorama showing off the archaeological heritage of Mazarrón. But the real stars of the display are the salting basins and tanks, carved from solid rock, where the fish were macerated and fermented in salt, as well as the numerous amphorae used to store the goods available to sell and trade.


Another important remnant of Mazarrón’s fish salting history appears further north on the port. The remains of a Roman village, La Villa del Alamillo (also called Lomo del Alamillo) illustrates the importance of fish salting to the community on a more domestic scale, a glimpse into both residential and industrial life in the ancient era.

The village was originally founded in the second half of the first century AD and was abandoned at the end of the second century. It was once thriving with many single family houses with outdoor salt workshops. At the site you can see six large, deep holes where fish salting and garum manufacturing took place from the comfort of home.

It may be hard to tell from the looks of it today that Mazarrón played such an essential role in the ancient fish salting and trade business, but keen eyes reveal the hidden history of a lifestyle now mostly forgotten. 





G'day folks,

Crawl down an abandoned mine shaft in the south of Spain and then descended further still via a narrow staircase and you’ll find yourself in a magical world: a cavern filled with human-sized, sparkling crystals. This is the Pulpí geode, the second-largest known geode in the world.

The Pulpí geode sits 164 feet below Mina Rica, a silver mine on the coast of Almería that was abandoned in the 1960s. The natural wonder lying below the mine was discovered by geologists in 1999, and it took another 20 years before it was opened to the public.


Visitors who make the descent are greeted by walls covered with crystals, some close to seven feet long and so clear you can almost see through them. The geode formed from minerals in the cave, including gypsum and celestine. The process has been a very long one—at least 60,000 years—and it is still not fully understood by experts. Geologists also expect to find even more geodes as they dig deeper into the mine and surrounding areas.






G'day folks,

Mysterious craters may have been home to an ancient cult. 

Kaali, on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, is the site of the last giant meteorite impact to occur in a densely populated region. The landscape that the collision left in its aftermath has been the subject of many mythological tales and may have been home to a mysterious ancient cult.

About 7,500 years ago, a huge rock from space came hurtling toward the Earth. Several kilometers above the Earth’s surface, the meteorite broke into pieces from the pressure and heat of the atmosphere. The resulting chunks collided into Saaremaa with the force of a small nuclear bomb, wreaking havoc on the landscape and possibly claiming numerous victims.

The explosion left nine total craters, now known as the Kaali Meteorite Crater Field. Some of these craters are quite small: one measures only twelve meters across and one meter deep. But the most interesting of the group is the largest crater, a gently sloping bowl filled with stagnant, murky water.


Simply known as Kaali crater, the largest crater (which measures 110 meters across) is believed to have been a sacred site for many centuries, in part due to its cosmic origin. Surrounding Kaali crater are the remains of an immense stone wall from the Late Bronze Age, stronger than any similar structures in the region and providing clues to the crater’s use by ancient peoples.

Archaeologists believe it is possible that the wall served as a stronghold for an ancient cult settlement. As evidenced by the unusually large quantity of animal bones found within the wall’s borders, the Kaali crater lake was not only a watering place but also a place of sacrifice. While it is known that Estonians have made live offerings in the past (for good harvests and other reasons), one curious aspect of the site’s animal remains is that some date back only to the 1600s, long after the Church forbade such rituals.


Some even believe that ancient offerings still remain undiscovered at the bottom of the six-meter-deep Kaali lake. However, deposits of oak trees in the water have prevented scientists from probing beyond four meters below the surface. Whatever the case may be, Kaali is a site of indisputable importance, historically and scientifically speaking.

The experience doesn’t end at the crater field. There is even a Kaali Meteor Museum and Hotel—in case you want to stay for another day among ancient cult ruins and the evidence of terrifying destruction.