Saturday, June 20, 2009

An 'Expert' Asks A Question

One of our goals at Uncharted is to build a string of "local experts" from every little corner of the globe who can help you plan, sort out and otherwise prepare for your adventures as you're heading into their neck of the woods. As a resident of eastern Idaho nigh these 37 years, I'm supposed to be Uncharted's expert for this area. But even experts know when they're stumped.

Take the round object at the center of this photograph. Either I or my son took this photo while we were tromping around in the wilds of Hell's Half Acre, a 5,200-year-old lava flow west of Idaho Falls, Idaho, a site featured this week at I have no idea what this thing is. A fellow explorer suggests it might be an owl pellet, though it's a bit smaller and more brightly-colored than other owl pellets I've seen. For the curious, it's somewhere between the size of a nickel and a quarter, based on the wildflowers its by. To me, it looks like a bit of chewed corncob, though I'd be hard-pressed to say who chewed it and who decided to spit it out in such a remote location.

But like all the other Uncharted experts we have -- and those we hope to find over the years to come -- we're learning. We're exploring the little nooks and crannies that make our little slices of the world slices of heaven. We hope to learn more about the places were we live so we can help other see and appreciate the beauty of this earth and decide perhaps it is indeed better to be outside roaming than inside on the Xbox.

So come with us this week to Hell's Half Acre. More importantly, sign up yourself at, where you can share your local expertise.

And if anybody has any guesses as to what this mysterious object is, let us know.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Going for that Gothic Look

In Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Slartibartfast, planet designer extraordinaire, brags he won an award for designing the fjords of Norway. Assigned to design the continent of Africa for Earth Mark Two, Slartibartfast is disgusted because he won't be able to include fjords in a subtropical climate. He likes fjords, he explains, because they give a continent "a baroque feel."

Pity Slartibartfast. Had he dabbled in desert scenery, he might have discovered he enjoys the Gothic feel of the solid rock, the sheer cliffs and the massive arches of the Utah Desert.

Uncharted Explorer Xelashay certainly enjoys that Gothic look. This week she's taking us all on a journey through Utah's Coyote Gulch where with a mixture of wind, water and time, the gods or some obscure but self-satisfied planetary designer have been hard at work. Enjoy.