St. Augustine of Hippo said “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. Even if you can’t afford to travel the whole globe, exploring a new place a couple of hours from where you live can be a thrilling experience. The holidays are a great time to travel and explore new places. Here are some of the best places to see during the holidays.
The Northern Lights are very beautiful and Tromso in Norway is one of the best places on the planet to see them. Look to the sky between 6pm till midnight. Aside from the Auroras, you can also go dog sledding, ride the mountain top cable car, and say that you’ve been to the North Pole (it’s actually the Arctic Circle) for Christmas.
You can’t build a snowman here, but the snow bird style winter in the city attracts many tourists during the holidays. The luxury stores, boutiques, and festive ambiance also does a good job of attracting visitors. If you’ve never been, head down to Third Street South for the traditional Christmas tree. There are also very beautiful window displays like the one at Marissa Collections, a department store located in the Old Naples Historic District. More shops can be found at Fifth Avenue South. When you get tired of shopping, don’t forget to check out Naples’ TUBA Christmas, a concert on Fifth Avenue South’s Sugden Plaza that features brass tubas, euphoniums, and baritones.
For a truly winter wonderland go to Lapland in Finland. The Urho Kekkonen National Park is just a 90-minute drive away from Helsinki and is a great place to visit. Experience a sleigh ride pulled by reindeer just like Santa, or you can go cross country skiing at the Saariselkä trails. For a unique experience, stay at the igloos at Hotel Kakslauttanen that are made from thermal glass so you can stay warm all night while watching the Northern Lights. You can also take 4-hour cruise on the Sampo, which served 26 years as an icebreaker.
Park City, Utah
If you want to see serious bling during the holidays, Park City in Utah is the place to go. The city holds the annual Electric Parade late November and locals light up their cars, bikes, trucks and crank up the holiday tunes as they parade down Main Street. Come during Christmas Eve to see St. Nick ski down the slopes to lead the torchlight parade. Check out the life sized gingerbread houses at Montage Deer Valley. January at Park City is the Sundance Festival which attracts the Hollywood crowd.
Listen to the bagpipes play Amazing Grace, watch fireworks illuminate the Palace of Holyroodhouse and take in a light show when you visit Edinburgh in Scotland during the holidays. If you can, stay at the Caledonian Hilton Edinburgh, which is Edinburgh’s answer to New York’s Times Square. For deliciously bewitching food, grab a bite at Witchery by the Castle and order the Loch Duart salmon and Gartmorn Farm duck – you won’t regret it.
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy And The Race To Space
People are looking to the stars again — even though they might just be looking for Elon Musk’s midnight-cherry Tesla Roadster that’s somewhere in orbit between Mars and the asteroid belt. The successful launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which sent that car on its potentially billion-year journey, has everyone scrambling to get their rocket program on the same level as SpaceX. What does the Falcon Heavy launch mean for the future of space travel and the possibility of a new space race?
The Falcon Heavy
On Feb. 6, Elon Musk and SpaceX celebrated the maiden voyage of the Falcon Heavy. This miracle of engineering was launched successfully at 3:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, powered by a whopping 27 Merlin engines — nine inches each of the side booster rockets, and nine more in the center core.
The two booster rockets successfully separated and landed almost simultaneously at Landing Zones 1 and 2 back at Cape Canaveral in a mind-blowing feat of synchronization — if you haven’t had a chance to watch the replay of this landing, you should. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
The third core, which was supposed to land on the autonomous droneship Of Course I Still Love You about 300 miles off the Florida coastline, didn’t fare as well. According to the post-launch press conference, the core didn’t have enough fuel to reignite all three of its engines for its final landing burn. It hit the water at about 300 miles per hour — hard enough to take out two of the engines on the droneship.
If the cameras on Of Course I Still Love You weren’t damaged in the crash, we may be in for some spectacular crash footage in the coming weeks.
It’s not a great loss, though — Space X wasn’t planning to reuse any of the cores from the Heavy’s maiden launch. The two Falcon 9 boosters that landed successfully are Block 4 style rockets — the ones that will be used for future Heavy launches will be Block 5.
Despite the spectacular failure of the center core, the launch itself was a complete success — pretty good for something Elon Musk was expecting to explode before it even made it off the launchpad. As Musk put it, “Crazy things can come true. When I see a rocket lift off, I see a thousand things that could not work, and it’s amazing when they do.”
Now that it’s off the ground and proven its viability as a reusable heavy lift option, the Falcon Heavy is much cheaper than any other currently available options. “At $90 million per launch, it’s the cheapest heavy lift option available,” said William Ostrove, a space industry analyst. “The Delta IV Heavy, for example, typically costs $350 million to $400 million per launch.”
The Future of SpaceX
Now that his Roadster is traversing the solar system, what is next for Elon Musk and SpaceX?
In the short term, the next big milestone for SpaceX and for the Falcon Heavy specifically is to get certified by the U.S. Air Force to carry secure and government payloads. The Falcon 9 received this certification back in 2015 and has since carried several military and classified payloads into their places in orbit. The next flight for the Falcon Heavy is scheduled for June for the Air Force — and depending on its outcome, it could be the flight that qualifies the Heavy for military and government contracts.
Next year, in addition to continuing to develop the Falcon Heavy, there are two more projects on SpaceX’s plate — Crew Dragon and the BFR.
Crew Dragon is an upgraded incarnation of the currently used Dragon capsule, but instead of just hauling cargo to the International Space Station autonomously, Crew Dragon will be outfitted for carrying astronauts into orbit and beyond.
This will likely become an essential part of the space program, or at least in getting America’s astronauts to space, especially with the current administration’s plan to defund the International Space Station by 2025 and hand it over to private investors, shifting that funding toward the goal of putting humans back on the Moon.
The BFR — short for Big F*****g Rocket — is designed for use a lot closer to home, at least to start. Once completed, the BFR will be even larger than the gargantuan Falcon Heavy. A BFR with a capsule could potentially turn a 12-hour airline flight into a 30-minute hop around the globe. It could also change the way we look at travel to the Moon, Mars and other planets, as well as facilitating asteroid mining to allow us as a species to take advantage of the resources in the rest of the solar system.
Experts estimate the BFR, once it’s off the ground, could turn space into a multi-trillion-dollar industry — currently, space travel is worth about $300 billion.
The New Space Race
The U.S. hasn’t really been in a “space race” since the 1960s, when we threw everything at the wall to see what would stick. This grand idea resulted in the Apollo program, and we sent men to the Moon for the first time. During his Falcon Heavy post-launch news conference, Elon Musk set forth a challenge: “We want a new space race. Space races are exciting.”
They most certainly are — and Musk isn’t the only billionaire with his eyes turned toward the stars. Jeff Bezos, the mind behind Amazon, is also throwing his hat into the ring, as is Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, Tory Bruno of the United Launch Alliance and the Sierra Nevada Corp.
Bezos’ entry into the space race is his company Blue Origin — he’s launched and landed his New Shepherd rocket multiple times, even before SpaceX managed a successful landing, though all his flights were suborbital. Bezos was planning on his first space tourism launches in 2017, but that fell through. Musk and Bezos regularly launch friendly barbs at one another on Twitter, but when it comes down to it, they each support the other’s endeavors.
Virgin Galactic, headed by Richard Branson, has been trying to make it into orbit for a while now, and has even started selling $250,000 tickets. Unfortunately, Virgin Galactic has hit a few roadblocks, namely the explosion of the space plane during a test flight in 2014 that killed the copilot of the flight.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) is the mind behind NASA’s Space Launch System and the Delta IV Heavy rockets. Bruno and Musk are butting heads on Twitter, but Musk isn’t worried. He’s actually said if ULA can launch a national security mission before 2023, he’ll eat his hat — with a side of mustard.
The Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) is one of the most exciting entrants in this space race. Their space plane, dubbed Dream Chaser, completed its first successful suborbital test flights in 2017 and recently landed a contract with NASA for an ISS resupply mission in 2020. Musk might have some stiff competition if SNC can manage to nail this launch.
SpaceX might be the first one out of the gate, but they’re not the only game in town anymore — and that’s exactly how Elon Musk wants it. “I think it’s going to encourage other companies and countries to say, ‘Hey, if SpaceX, which is a commercial company, and it can do this and nobody paid for the Falcon Heavy, it was paid with internal funds,’ then they could do it too. So I think it’s going to encourage other countries and companies to raise their sights and say, ‘We can do bigger and better,’ which is great,” Musk said at the post-launch press conference.
The Falcon Heavy launch was history in the making, and being able to witness this launch is an amazing feeling. You can expect SpaceX to continue to push forward in their quest to find new and innovative ways to explore the solar system, but they’re not the only company we need to watch anymore — they’re just the only ones with rockets in the air. Elon Musk may have provided the spark to start this new space race, but he’ll have to come up with some amazing innovations to stay on top!
And if this launch has taught us anything, it’s that we need to keep looking at the stars — and believe crazy things can happen.
Adventure Assist Travel Journal Is A Must Have For Trips
A twist to the classic notebook, Adventure Assist is a modern travel journal perfect for the before and afters of your trip. Mapping out your trip and keeping memories the old school way. Jot down the most important details of the trip as you are planning so you are ready once the time comes. Create a list of things to remember or missions to complete. Be ready for the accomplished feeling you get when you physically cross these things off your list. Keep quotes of silly things that happened along the way. Relive doodles of the funny dog you saw or the breathtaking view from the end of your hike.
The notebook was created by two adventure seekers, Jake Pritchard and April Onebane. Both studied abroad and have a passion for traveling with a purpose. Their mission is to “ better connect travelers to their destinations by inspiring authentic and purposeful travel experiences through streamlining planning and organization.” With that mission in mind, the Adventure Assist notebook was created. A heavy duty notebook with strong covers and thick sheets made to withstand the suitcases, backpacks and adventures it will be a part of.
Broken down into seven section, the notebook helps travelers organize and keep track of the basic necessities when traveling. The sections starts with “packing” and moves onto “to-do”, “transportation”, “accommodations”, “calendar”, “contacts” and “journal” with journal being the largest section. Each section is divided as an easily identifiable tab to quickly navigate to the section.
The first tab in Adventure Assist, Packing, tells you to “list adventure gear, regional specific clothing, travel documents and entertainment essentials for your journey.” With four pages to list what you are packing, you definitely won’t miss a thing or over pack. A couple of things we would recommend: S-hooks, ziplock bags, mini-tripod.
Next, To-Do, is 10 pages, each page broken down into two sections. Each section is broken down into boxes: destination, attractions, activities, food and drinks. What are some things you want to do, see and eat at the destination? You will have an endless list of things you want to do on your next adventure but writing down the top 10 will help you keep track of the most important. Keep a smaller list for a higher chance of accomplishment while pulling from your bigger list when you run out. Nothing digital will ever replace the satisfying feeling of physically crossing something off of your Do-To list.
Transportation and Accomodations
Where are you staying each night? When time do you have to get there, get out and who do contact if you have a question. Necessary, if not the most important, information of every trip. Now that you know where you are staying, how are you getting there? Getting around in big cities is easy if the language is one you speak and the technology available is similar back home. The difficult but somewhat exciting times when you are visiting somewhere completely different than what you are used to, transportation will not be so easy. You may need to catch a ferry, jitney…donkey?! Keep track of what time departure and arrival is and any additional notes like how many stops until your destination.
Calendar and Contacts
The calendar section provides blank monthly calendar views for you to see your month at a glance. There is a column for notes where you could draw a map key, like emojis, and add the keys to your calendar. Contacts – great for noting who the people from each destination to call in case of emergencies. We have so many contacts in our phones we don’t remember. When a panic situation happens, you have the information you need. In a more likely situation, you lose your phone or it runs out of battery. Now you have the contact information and can borrow someone’s phone.
This is where you log your memories and experiences. The reason you are traveling in the first place. Write, draw, sketch, whatever you want in this section. Anything that will bring back the best memories from your journey when you discover this notebook on your shelf when you are 80. Instax or Polaroid would be perfect for this section. The two envelopes on each end of the notebook are great for storing tickets, airport stamp tickets, napkins with doodles on them or anything else relatively flat.
We will have our digital photos, videos, social media accounts to look back at. But the feeling from something handwritten or hand drawn is much more powerful and memory provoking than anything digital. Adventure Assist is personal and once you start writing, you won’t want to stop.
Lo & Sons Introduces The Hanover Deluxe Tech Backpack
Every techie entrepreneur needs a backpack equipped to handle a variety of gadgets, devices, and other miscellaneous travel items. Whether you are going on a short business trip or just need something to hold your laptop, the Hanover Deluxe provides the necessary versatility. The tech backpack is lightweight and ideal for traveling.
The Deluxe is an upgrade from the original Hanover and now has more storage space, which is good for fitting in a larger laptop. The original Hanover could fit a 13” laptop, while the deluxe can accommodate up to 15”. The Deluxe can be used by men and women and is perfect for everyday traveling, or even to be used as a spacious carry-on bag during a flight. The original Hanover weighed in at 1.75lbs and the Deluxe weighs in at only 2.2lbs but has a lot more storage space. If you decide to use the Deluxe as a carry-on during a flight the unique minimalist design can not only store all of your travel necessities, but can also fit comfortably under most airline seats.
Lo & Sons definitely hit the mark with the creation of the Hanover Deluxe. Similar to the original, the deluxe is also eco-friendly. The bag is made from recycled poly which, in a nutshell, is a highly resistant form of polyester made from recycled plastic water bottles. The poly is reinforced in a way that it prevents any unnecessary tears or rips that can occur from excessive travel or commuting. The process to making the bag is simple, yet effective and is part of their greater mission to protect the environment. The plastic bottles are collected, then they are washed and cut into small pieces. The plastic is melted and woven into fabric, and then turned into the Hanover travel backpack. Not only is the bag durable, it is spacious, lightweight, and convenient for commuters and consistent travelers.
Lo & Sons is dedicated to keeping the environment clean by removing plastic bottles that are clogging up landfills at an alarming rate. Recycled poly is a fairly new fabric which has given new life to plastic bottles. The goal is to take those plastic bottles and turn them into fabric in order to lengthen the lifespan of Polyethylene Terephthalate (often known as PET), and ultimately contribute to cleaning up the Earth. Lo & Sons is using the initiative to not only create products that are eco-friendly but to also purify some of the destinations that their customers will travel to with these backpacks. Recycling plastic makes a long term difference in ways such as producing less greenhouse gas emissions, keeping animals safe by having less plastic in the ocean, and keeping landfills clear.
Though the Hanover Deluxe incorporates some new and useful features, they kept some of the features from the original. The Hanover Deluxe still has padded shoulder straps, easy to use storage pockets for water bottles and such, a key leash to keep track of your keys, and removable inserts for easy storage. The Lo & Sons website even has a new cool feature that lets you look at different heights of people to see how the bag will look according to your particular body frame. Some of the changes include outer pockets that are easy to access using one hand (perfect for people rushing to catch a train, bus, etc). The new insert in the front compartment is now gray and see-through so that you can easily view the things that you’ve packed.
The Hanover Deluxe boasts a more organizational design than the original due to the complexity of the compartments that it has. The tech backpack now has removable pouches for your items, and are easy to remove to pack for the work week. The pouches in the front are more organized than the original and include a zippable compartment for smaller items that you may need but don’t want to forget. The tech backpack is engineered where the zippers can be opened using one hand. So, if you have your hands full you can easily reach and grab your water bottle or umbrella. The zippers were also woven together in a secure fashion so that they will endure constant traveling.
The Hanover Deluxe retails for $148.00 and is available through Lo & Sons official website. If you are looking for an affordable, durable, and eco-friendly tech friendly backpack, the Hanover Deluxe is perfect! Supporting the long term mission that Lo & Sons has to clean up the Earth is not only admirable, but also solves a big problem. Recycling plastic creates less gas emissions which leads to less waste in the environment and conserves natural resources. Not only is this bag convenient for traveling, but is spacious enough to fit all of your tech related equipment and even light clothes and accessories. The backpack is a great gift for the entrepreneurs in your life who are always on the go, and need a lightweight source to transport all of their precious devices.
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