Starling Travel

May 15, 2006

The New York Museum of Moving Image

Filed under: New York,Places To Visit,Tourist Attractions,Video — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Amanda Congdon toured The New York Museum of Moving Image in Queens, NY and posted this informative video about it.

Click here to see the video

This museum collects the physical equipment used to make movies, video games and such. While there is a room full of video cameras that might seem a little boring, there is also a collection of the props used in films like The Exorcist. They have many interactive exhibits where you can create your own movie, dub your voice into The Wizard of Oz, or play with a blue screen (it’s green, actually. shown above). If you are planning a trip to New York, there are so many museums and sites to see, but you’ll be rewarded if you try the Museum of Moving Image.

For More Information:

Where: The Museum of Moving Image 35 Avenue at 36 Street Astoria, NY 11106 Google Map Phone: (718) 784-4520

Wednesdays and Thursdays: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Fridays: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Free after 4:00 p.m.)
Saturdays and Sundays: 11:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Adults: $10.00
Senior Citizens, College Students with I.D.: $7.50
Children (5-18): $5.00
Members, Children under 5: Free

May 12, 2006

Swami’s Beach, CA: Video of a Sea Slug

Filed under: California,Video — Michael Moncur @ 5:00 am

Click Here To See The Video

One of the highlights of our visit to the Swami’s Beach tide pools was seeing sea slugs in action. They are so well camouflaged, I must have looked at them for ten minutes before I knew they were there. Here is a short collage of video clips I took with my digital camera. It may look like seaweed moving in the current, but trust me, there’s a sea slug in there. At the end you can see him turn his mouth toward the camera and begin to eat a leaf of seaweed.


May 11, 2006

Street Planning and Grid Systems

Filed under: Places To Visit,Travel,Utah — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

37Signals had an interesting conversation about city planning and how streets are set up:

Utah does have a unique method of naming their streets. I used to live on Bard Lane, which sounds poetic in a Shakespearean sort of way, but in reality, it was 1325 West. Not so poetic now, huh?

The SLC Temple via Google Maps

The numbering system stems from the Salt Lake City Temple. Like a piece of graph paper, the temple is (0,0) and all the numbers advance from there. North of the temple, the streets are named North Temple, 200 North, 300 North and so on. South of the temple, they are named South Temple, 200 South, 300 South and so on. East of the temple, they are named State Street, 200 East, 300 East, etc. West of the temple, they are named West Temple, 200 West, 300 West, etc.

So, when I lived at 8305 South Bard Lane (1325 West), I lived 8305 blocks south of the temple and 1325 blocks west of the temple. It’s a great system, even if you’re not LDS. After a few years of living here, you eventually forget that the founders of the town set up the temple as the center of the universe and just use the grid system to your advantage.

The grid system in Utah makes getting around the city a breeze. Next time you plan a visit to Salt Lake City (or any of the towns in Utah), take a moment to look at the map and understand the grid system. It will make your traveling much easier.

May 10, 2006

San Diego Wild Animal Park: Butterflies

Filed under: California,Photos — Michael Moncur @ 5:00 am

Every time we visit San Diego, we spend a day at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, a huge wildlife preserve 35 miles north of the Zoo. This park is like the opposite of a zoo—the animals are roaming through wide open spaces, while humans are confined to limited fenced areas.

Every year in spring they have thousands of butterflies in the Hidden Jungle, a large walk-through greenhouse. It’s certainly the most butterflies we’ve ever seen in one place—they even land on people. Here are a few of the many photos we took of these beautiful insects.

The annual Butterflies event ended May 7th. Be sure to catch it next year—it’s well worth waiting in line.

  • Address: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, CA
  • Park Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m

May 9, 2006

Springtime in Kensington, London

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Cherry Blossoms by Andrew at Treonauts 05-06-06Treonauts is a website that shows you how to use your Treo phone to its fullest. While demonstrating the camera on the Treo, he inadvertently created a beautiful tour of Kensington, London.

Remember, to you, your hometown is a boring place, but to everyone else in the world, it’s an interesting travel site. The more you talk about your hometown, the more people want to visit it, no matter how desolate it may seem to you.

May 8, 2006

iToors – Tour The City; Learn To Spell Later

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 9:27 am

iToors is a service that allows you to download MP3s to listen to about great cities. You can see their website here:

Their list of tours are limited:

North America New York, California

Europe Glasgow, London, Paris, Prague

When I clicked on California, I listened to the Santa Monica iToor. They talked about the city and how it attracted artists. I was expecting a walking tour where you start at a certain site and walk while you listen to the iToor. The audio track would point out important sites along the way.

Unfortunately, the Santa Monica iToor just talked about the city. They did include addresses so you could visit the places that they are talking about, but these audio files aren’t walking tours. They’re more for people who are trapped at home and wish they could travel somewhere, but don’t know where to go. Instead of acting like a tour guide in your iPod, they are like the Travel Channel in your iPod.

Maybe that’s why they spelled tour wrong…

Via: Shiny Shiny: iToors – City tours for your iPod

May 5, 2006

Echoplex Park Goes To Las Vegas

Filed under: Nevada,Travel,Video — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Schlomo Rabinowitz went to Las Vegas and stayed at the New York New York hotel. He got footage of the casino. Every time I’ve tried to take pictures or video in ANY casino, they have stopped me. Good job getting all that “forbidden” footage!

Click here to see the video

He doesn’t seem to enjoy the Vegas experience quite as much as I do. I love the New York New York hotel. He kept asking what burrough he was in. I wanted to scream at the screen, “You’re in Central Park!” I guess he doesn’t like the imaginary version of New York quite as much as the real one.

May 4, 2006

Swami’s Beach, CA: Tide Pool Watching

Filed under: California,Places To Visit,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 12:50 pm

I didn’t know tide pools were anything but interactive spots at Sea World and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You know… you go to the aquarium and the tide pool is the spot where they let you touch the starfish and sea cucumbers, right?


Our friends live in Cardiff By The Sea and they were eager to tell us about the joys of tide pools. They are spots on the ocean that hold water even at low tide. Sea creatures hide out in them until the tide comes back. You can actually go into the REAL world and see local sea life. What you see depends on where you are looking. We didn’t see any starfish, but we saw enough wildlife to truly understand the joy of watching the ocean.

We went to Swami’s Beach in Encinitas, California. Here’s the view from the top of the stairs.

Swamis Beach by Michael Moncur 04-24-06

When we got closer, these rocky areas were to the north of the staircase.

Tide Pools at Swamis Beach by Laura Moncur 04-24-06

On the stairs, the city of Encinitas had posted this sign about the wildlife that we might be able to see.

Marine Life Refuge by Laura Moncur 04-24-06

Some of the wildlife isn’t lucky enough to find a tide pool. They become easy targets for birds.

Unlucky by Laura Moncur 04-24-06

Here are some good examples of tide pools. Look for areas that are like holes in the ground that hold water while the tide is low.

Tide Pool by Michael Moncur 04-24-06

You can look over the side of ledges also.

Tide Pool by Michael Moncur 04-24-06

There was a sort of shimmer to the water. I don’t know if it was some sort of polution or a local ore. It felt like the water was filled with gold.

This shore crab didn’t make it through low tide. He became a dinner for a bird before we left the beach.

Crab by Laura Moncur 04-24-06

We saw so many anemones. Some of them were exposed by the low tide and dried up quickly. These two were safely hidden in the tide pools.

Anemone by Laura Moncur 04-24-06

Anemone by Laura Moncur 04-24-06

There were many hermit crabs and other shellfish.

Hermit Crab by Laura Moncur 04-24-06

Wavy Top Shell by Laura Moncur 04-24-06

Clam by Laura Moncur 04-24-06

Mike was much better at spotting animals than I was. He found this octopus. His head was about two inches long, but if he had spread out his legs, he would have been about seven or eight inches long. He was very shy and hid under the rocky ledge when my shadow passed over the tide pool.

Octopus by Michael Moncur 04-24-06

Octopus by Michael Moncur 04-24-06

The most excellent find was the sea slugs. They were at least eight inches long and four inches in diameter. They moved slowly under the water, eating the seaweed surrounding and hiding them.

Sea Slug by Michael Moncur 04-24-06

Our trip to the tide pools at Swami’s Beach was an enjoyable and relaxing couple of hours in a busy week. I can’t wait to go back to California to do this again.

For a how-to guide on tide pool watching, see this entry:

Swami’s Beach, Encinitas, California: Google Map (taken at high tide, so you can’t see the tide pools)

Beach Parking: 5am – 10pm
Beach Use: 4am – 2am
No dogs, alcohol, or glass allowed
Lifeguard Towers Open: 10am – 6pm during the Summer Season (late June to Labor Day)
For more information: 760-633-2740

May 3, 2006

How-To Guide For Tide Pools

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Tide pools are areas where you can see sea life at low tide. Depending on the area, you can see a wide variety of wildlife in the water that you wouldn’t be able to see normally. Because the sea life is trapped when the tide is low, they are very shy. It takes some patience to spot them, but once you do, you feel like the world has opened up its diary and showed you its secrets.

Here is a how-to guide for people who have never been tide pooling:

  • Find a location: Some areas are better than others. In order to find the good places, I used Google. I typed “tide pool San Diego” and found directions to a beach within walking distance of my hotel. If I hadn’t looked it up, however, I would have been looking in the completely wrong place and wouldn’t have found anything interesting at the same beach. Fortunately, there are so many people interested in this that they have posted tide pool locations all around the world. If you are near the ocean, someone has logged the local tide pools. All you need to do is find the directions to the right location.

  • Find the time for low tide: If you show up at the beach at the wrong time, you won’t be able to see anything. You need to know when low tide is in order to see the tide pools. This was more information I found using Google, using the search, “low tide tables.” Salt Water Tides has a comprehensive list for the United States. Low tide happens twice a day, so choose a time that works with your schedule. It’s also better when the low tide is lower—tide tables list the lowest the water gets, negative numbers are the best.

  • Teva - Womens - Hurricane IIPrepare for tide pooling: You’ll want to bring a camera, sunscreen and a hat. You should wear shoes with a good tread because the area is slippery. If you are willing to get a little wet, then surf shoes are the best. Otherwise, hiking sandals or tennis shoes are good.

  • Arrive one hour before low tide: All the coolest spots will still be under water at that time, but arriving one hour before the “big show” gives you enough time to find good spots. Remember, the tide tables are just estimates, so giving yourself plenty of time just ensures that you’ll be able to enjoy yourself.

  • Look for areas that are still under water: This is the hardest part of tide pooling is finding the spots where the wildlife is hiding. Look for “holes” under the water that will still have water even when the tide finishes going all the way out. That’s what the starfish, octopii and sea slugs are looking for: a place that will still be wet, even when the ocean is low. Here is a picture of one of the tide pools Mike and I found on our tide pool expedition:

Tide Pool at Swami\'s Beach San Diego, CA 04-24-06

  • Be patient and watch for movement: These animals are trying to survive during the two hours of the day that they are most vulnerable, so they are VERY difficult to see. You need to sit still and watch everything under the water. What you will see will vary depending on the part of the world where you’re watching, but there is always something there, hiding. You just need to sit around long enough to notice it.

  • Soft Touch: If you disturb the tide pool, every living thing in there is going to hide and stay as still as possible so you don’t notice them. Poking around in the water is just going to ruin your experience, so leave the animals alone. Additionally, prying the animals off the rocks can kill them. If you do want to touch, a soft, one-finger touch is the most you should do. You’re here to enjoy nature, not destroy it.

  • Walk carefully: It’s best for the animals to stay in the areas that are not underwater. That way you don’t scare or hurt them. Additionally, remember that you are walking on a part of the ocean that’s usually underwater, so there may be unlucky wildlife that didn’t make it to the tide pool under your feet. Step carefully.

  • Keep your eye on the ocean: The tide goes out and the tide comes in. You only have a couple hours to watch the wildlife before the tide pools go back under water. Don’t let it surprise you. You are walking on a slippery area and it only takes a small wave to knock you over. Don’t lose your expensive camera to the salty water just because you didn’t pay attention to the ocean.

Watching wildlife in the ocean’s tide pools is a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours. More importantly, it’s a free activity that will provide you with an opportunity to see nature in all its glory.

The following websites have some tips and information about tide pools:

Click here to see what Mike and I saw at Swami’s Beach in San Diego, California on our tide pool expedition:

May 2, 2006

Barstow, CA: Calico Ghost Town

Filed under: California,Places To Visit,Tourist Attractions — Laura Moncur @ 12:50 pm

Calico Ghost TownNine miles north of Barstow, California the signs on the side of the road point to Calico Ghost Town. Twenty miles north of Barstow, Mike started asking me if we could go to the ghost town.

“Why do you want to go there?” I asked him.

“You can take pictures of broken things.”

“It’s not going to be like a real ghost town.”

“How do you know?”

“Because real ghost towns don’t have billboards.”

“I still want to see it.”

So, we took the exit and drove out to the “ghost town.” Instead of abandoned buildings, Calico Ghost Town was more like Frontierland at Disneyland. The signs said it all:

“Enjoy the Music and Gunfights”

“Shops, Attractions, Food and Gifts”

“$6.00 Adult. $3 Youth. Children under 5 Free!”

Just to drive into the Calico Ghost Town, it would have cost us twelve bucks. We turned the car around and headed back to I-15. Disneyland and the real Frontierland was waiting for us.

Calico Ghost Town Google Map

Calico Ghost Town – Official Website

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