Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lion Country Safari,Florida

If you want to feel like you're on an African Safari,then take a drive to the Lion Country Safari.Lion country safari located at West Palm Beach,Florida is one of the favorite attraction for kids.This open drive-thru safari is located approximately 20 miles West of Downtown West Palm Beach,approximately 59 miles north of downtown Ft. Lauderdale and approximately 78 miles north of Miami.

Safari opens at 9:30 and closes by 5:30. Visitors can purchase tickets and enter the safari in their own vehicle and drive at their own pace,slowly and carefully through approximately 5 miles of paved roads running through the fenced area where animals are kept. A CD is provided along with the ticket which provides a recorded narration.

Some animals such as giraffes, rhinoceroses,zebras,ostrich etc are allowed to roam freely, even crossing the road in front of vehicles. Others, such as lions, chimpanzees,elephants etc are segregated behind fences or water barriers.It was amazing to see an Ostrich as close as within a yard.The Ostrich started pecking the viper of my car.I guess it was interested in some insects.See the video below

For those that want to continue their fantastic reality day, the park also features a walk through exhibit. On display here you will find such things as snakes, turtles, alligators, macaws, monkeys and more!. After the titillating safari, free parking and more excitement awaits you. You can begin games, rides, shopping and more. Or you can sit and relax and have food from the restaurant which has all variety of food.

There is an animal theater where you are instructed about the animal and its habitat. After a wonderful and enlightening presentation you can have a question and answer session and learn more. We are not done.You Bet! You can take the Safari Queen on an authentic Jungle water safari, ride the paddle wheel boat carousel and then experience the touch of some animals at the petting zoo.Kids can play golf,water gun attached toy boats,play at the water play ground,enjoy merry-go-round,Ferris wheel and feed Giraffes :).They have a collection of bird eggs which include that of Ostrich,Emu,Sarus Crane etc. .That seems like a full day. “What if I wanted to stay a few days at the safari game preserve?” you may ask yourself. Well… there is always Safari Camping among the stars and surrounded by rivers, jungles and of course the wonderful exotic animals and birds. You read that right! You can stay and hear a lion roar at dawn or and elephant mightily trumpeting at dusk. They have an award winning KOA camp ground with heated swimming pool, a store, and all the hook ups for hassle free and relaxing stay. Call ahead and book a stay (don’t forget to ask about what discounts available) or just drive through for an enchanting day trip. Lion Country Safari is a classic, timeless adventure at every turn.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nutmeg – Money shedding trees...

Nutmeg trees are large evergreen tropical trees which grow average 12 Meters and can even grow up to 20 meters,based on the nutmeg type. Nutmeg is seed of the tree and weighs between 5g and 10g (0.2 and 0.4 oz) dried, while mace is the dried lacy reddish covering or aril of the seed.

The nutmeg tree is native to the Maluku (the Spice Islands) and is now cultivated in various parts of the world. Major nutmeg cultivation areas include Banda islands in Indonesia, Penang in Malaysia, Grenada in the Caribbean, and Kerala a southern state in India.

In 1512, Vasco de Gama reached Maluku, which is part of “spice islands”, belonging to Indonesia at present and claimed the islands for Portugal. To preserve their monopoly Portuguese and later the Dutch restricted the trees to the islands. They were cautious about keeping the seeds within the island. To protect against seed propagation, the Dutch even bathed the seeds in lime, which would prevent them from growing. However, birds carried the seeds and scattered it. When there was an abundant harvest, the Dutch even burned nutmeg to keep its supply under control. Despite the precautions, the French led by Pierre Poivre a French horticulturalist, smuggled nutmeg seeds to the island of Mauritius, near Madagascar. In 1796 the British took over the Maluku and spread the cultivation to other East Indian islands and then to the Caribbean, mainly Grenada. Nutmeg was so successful in Grenada it now calls itself the Nutmeg Island, designing its flag in the green, yellow and red colors of nutmeg and including a graphic image of nutmeg in one corner.Nutmeg has been a major foreign exchange earner for Grenada, accounting for 23 per cent share in European nutmeg market. It was the biggest exporter after Indonesia, which has 70 per cent market share in Europe.

Nutmeg was introduced in India by the British in the 18th century. Viswashree, the nutmeg variety developed by scientists at the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR) in Kozhikode, is now a favorite with farmers in Indian states. Viswashree is in many ways unique since it is the only nutmeg variety in the world that has been developed by scientists.Authorities in Grenada, West Indies, invited IISR scientists to offer solutions to the crisis in the nutmeg sector there after Ivan, a hurricane, devastated nutmeg trees in large numbers. Nearly 90 percent of the nutmeg trees in Grenada were uprooted by the hurricane, precipitating a crisis in the country's economy.Though Viswashree may be the answer to Grenada's nutmeg problems, it would need the Indian Government's approval for growing this variety.

Like in any other filed, India is prospering to become the world's largest nutmeg producing nation.

Traditionally, small farmers have used "volunteer plants" as seedlings for planting. These seedlings have their origin from fallen seeds that have germinated and grown in and around the parent plant. The farmers may use seedlings at two stages of development, the young undeclared plants, plants which have not flowered, or the more mature declared plants, which have flowered and thus the sex could be identified. In the latter instance plants that produced female flowers and then fruits will be selected.The best practice before planting young nutmeg tree is to pre-establish shade.Plantain can commonly selected as the crop of choice to provide temporary shade for young nutmeg plants.

When the planting material is undeclared seedlings the common practice is to plant three seedlings at a planting site, 60 cm apart in the form of an equilateral triangle. The shade requirements for transplants are:

Up to 2 years 50% overhead shade plus ground shade
2 to 4 years 40% overhead shade plus ground shade
4 to 5 years 30% overhead shade plus ground shade
6 years 15% overhead shade plus ground shade
7 years and older No shade

Shade should be reduced gradually so as to minimize shock. At the first flowering usually at 4-7 years, the male plants are destroyed leaving one female per planting site. Some farmers may leave a few male trees in the field to encourage cross-pollination. This practice is declining. However, no studies have been reported that show the correlation between presence of male flowering trees and the quantity and quality of fruits and seeds that are produced by the female plant.

There is all to gether a different variety of nutmegs which grows in Myristica swamp area of western ghats in south India. The species is Myristica malabarica(kattujathi in malayalam).This is now in red list of threatened species.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Visit To Houston,Texas

Are you planning to travel to Houston?,Well if you are I thought I could let you know about some of the things that you might want to do or see while you are there.

To start with, let me tell you how to get there.If you are traveling by air there are two major airports and numerous smaller airports that you can fly into.

If you are flying commercially, though, the two major, international airports will likely be where you end up. George Bush International Airport (IAH) is commonly known by Houstonians as Houston Intercontinental and is located on the North side of town. If you are flying in from an international destination this is probably where you will land. This airport is huge and is served by most, if not all international airlines. Houston's other major airport, Houston Hobby Airport (HOU), is located just South of downtown Houston.Both airports have most of the car rental agencies located on or near the airport. Shuttles are available to take you to them if they are off site.You may have to get an International Drivers License before driving in US. Use this URL to read more about it

I you have never driven in the United States, remember the driver sits on the left and when you are on the road, the driver in the car approaching you will be on the inside of the lane. As with any trip of this nature you may want to get a guide to help you if you are unfamiliar. Most rental car agencies will have GPS available. If you don't know your way around this can be very helpful but be careful because it can put you in a bad part of town where crime is high. Ask around so you know where NOT to go as well! Houston is a very large place and it can be confusing finding your way around. Just like any other large city out there. The city and surrounding metro are covers a HUGE land area and driving distances from one part of town to another can be as much as 30 miles.

If you don't want to rent a car, you can either look for a Taxi or Limo available just outside of the baggage recovery areas at both airports..If you are looking for a more economical option then Supershuttle is there for you .SuperShuttle passengers share the ride with others going in their direction in one comfortable blue van.You have option to book Supershuttle in advance through their website

If you are a simple person who likes traveling in City buses, you can utilize the buses run by Metropolitan Transit Authority. City is well connected by metro buses. This is probably the of the cheapest options to get around.But you may have to learn the schedules and transfer points.You can get more information from the website.

The major highways connecting Houston are Interstate 45 ,Interstate 10 and there are two loops as well. The inner loop is known as Loop 610 and the outer loop is the Beltway 8 or Sam Houston Tollway. Beltway 8 is a toll road. There is a North-South Tollway also known as The Hardy Toll Road . HOV lanes are available for any vehicle with more than 1 occupant. I-45 Will take you to Dallas about 300 miles North or Galveston and the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles South. I-10 Will take you as far as the west coast in California or if you are East bound all the way to the east coast in Florida.

If you are going to drive in Houston, please bring tons of patience with you. People in Texas do not believe in signaling their intentions. If you see a turn signal it is purely accidental. :) Do not drive on the inside (left) lane unless you are doing a minimum of 75 MPH! Do not slow down at Yellow lights or you WILL BE rear ended. DO NOT HONK at other drivers as some Texans are known to carry guns in their vehicle.

All joking careful out there. There is a lot of road construction that is not properly marked and you could find yourself in a dangerous situation if going too fast and you encounter a city vehicle stopped in the lane in front of you unexpectedly.

Fog is another road hazard that you should be concerned with. Typically it is only a problem in the winter and spring but when it is present,slow down !!!

Flash flooding is another dangerous thing and can happen unexpectedly.Do not drive through water if you do not know how deep it is. People drown every year because they do this.

As far as your stay in Houston is concerned, you have n number of hotels in Houston.You can get rooms as cheap as $25 a night.Be cautious of what part of town these cheap rooms are in since they might be in high crime areas that are unsafe.Since Houston is so big you may want to find a place close to what you want to see.I was staying at Hedwig Village at the outskirts of the City.

There are many tourist attractions in Houston, which can thrill, delight, educate, or promote relaxation. Houston is the fourth largest city in the US, so activities can be found both for day and night. It’s unlikely you’ll find yourself bored visiting this city.

One of the main tourist attractions in Houston is the Houston Space Center, which through a variety of exhibits chronicles the history of the NASA Space Program. If you are interested in the stars and our space travels thus far, this is a perfect place to visit. There are theaters, tours, a gallery of astronauts, and terrific kid’s activities. You’ll find interest and adventure for the whole family at this museum. The Space Center is open seven days a week, and may have extended hours during the summer months. It may even have longer hours on holidays, but always check before you go to be sure all the exhibits are open.

If watching wildlife is your favorite thing to do, there are a number of tourist attractions in Houston or the surrounding area, which will definitely satisfy. The Downtown Aquarium features 400 different marine creatures, with a massive 150,000-gallon center aquarium. The Houston Zoo has over 4000 animals to visit, and the Armand Bayou Center in nearby Pasadena features 2500 acres of true Texas wildlife,native plants, and hiking opportunities.

Houston’s proximity to the water provides some wonderful activities. At the Port of Houston, you can take ferry rides, and watch ships dock and unload.

Houston is known as a patron of the arts, and the sheer number of museums certainly supports this title. You can visit museums of both contemporary and fine art. The Museum of Natural Science remains one of the delightful tourist attractions in Houston and a favorite of city residents. Numerous historical museums catalog the rise of the west, the growth of railroads, progress in health care, and the Holocaust. In all you can visit over 20 museums in Houston, which can take up quite a bit of time.

Hermann park is a major attraction at Houston. This park hosts a variety of attractions.A picnic area, a playground for children,golf course and jogging trail are among them.Hermann park railroad has a toy train ride which takes us through a scenic quick tour of the park The garden center at Hermann park is a meeting place for over 20 Houston area garden clubs. Outside the center are over 2,500 rose bushes in a variety of colors, and an international sculpture garden.Another attraction here is Museum of natural sciences. This museum is the fourth highly attended museum in US.You can enjoy the Wortham IMAX Theater, Cockrell Butterfly Center, the Burke-Baker Planetarium, or one of the permanent exhibits here.Houston zoo and Japanese garden are other major attractions here.Hermann park is reachable through Metro Rail. You need to get down at Museum District station.

You might wonder why you don’t see many people walking around in Houston? It’s because they are all underground :).A majority of the downtown office buildings are connected by underground tunnels, and in this underground tunnel system there are various shops, restaurants, banks, barbers…just about, well, anything you would find above ground. There are maps posted on the walls showing you the various routes you can take. The tunnel system is color-coded and is almost 7 miles connecting around 77 buildings. If you feel like you are lost, stay at the the tunnel loop, which connects all the tunnels.Other cities, notably Montreal, Toronto and Minneapolis, are renowned for their extensive tunnel and sky-way networks. But Houston may be alone in the extent and nature of its pedestrian circulation system of tunnels and sky-walks that become particularly popular on days like Aug. 12, 13 and 14 when temperatures hit 102 and 101, or tropical storm days which flood many streets.