To say that 2017 has been an ‘eventful’ year for the travel industry would be something of an understatement. Hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires have wreaked chaos across much of North America, and in the papers the headlines have been huge and often horrifying.
Whilst it’s important to acknowledge the enormous impact of the year’s events; to maintain a least a shred of sanity we must all remember to take a step back every once in a while to appreciate the small and wonderful things that can go unheard amidst the screaming noise of shock and disaster that dominates our newsfeeds.
Let’s wrap up 2017 with a smile- read on for our round-up of the year’s quirkiest and less celebrated travel news…
The (Brief) Resurrection of the Los Angeles Angel’s Flight Funicular
Sinai and Olivet- the two orange cars that comprise the world’s shortest railway, resumed operations on their ‘short-but-steep’ 298-foot route in August this year.
Climbing a heart-rate raising 33% gradient, the Angel’s Flight funicular- originally opened in 1901 to carry wealthy residents between their homes atop Bunker Hill, and the downtown area, has a history blighted by numerous breakdowns and closures.
How fitting then, that the 2017 grand opening was swiftly followed by closure just 4 days later after one of the Teflon rollers that allow the cars run along their tracks cracked, and began to fall apart under the weight of the passenger-ladened cars.
Happily however, the roller has since been replaced and the Angel’s Flight has continued smooth operations for the remainder of the year…and hopefully for many more to come.
Around the World in 78 days…by Bicycle !
British endurance athlete Mark Beaumont broke the record for travelling around the world by bike, arriving back in Paris in September after covering 18,000 miles in 78 days, 14 hours and 14 minutes.
Beaumont had set himself the goal of 80 days, in salute to French writer Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, but smashed his own target by cycling 16 hours a day through 16 countries.
His circumnavigation began back in July, with the first stage taking him through Europe to Russia and Mongolia, and ending in Beijing. Next was Australia and New Zealand, followed by stage three, beginning in Anchorage, Alaska, and finishing in Halifax, Nova Scotia. For the final leg, Beaumont flew to Lisbon, Portugal, before pedalling north back to Paris.
Despite breaking the world record by a whopping 45 days, his daughter remained unimpressed, commenting, “He’s taken quite a long time, hasn’t he?”.
Flights in Victoria, BC Disrupted by Kite-flying Enthusiast
A high-flying kite in Victoria’s inner harbour caused a headache for air-traffic control in early December, who deemed the colourful box kite a risk to seaplanes landing and taking off from the harbour. Incoming aircraft were subsequently re-routed as Victoria Police raced to track down the culprit.
Police say the kite was flying about 300 metres in the air and it took some time to track down the man flying it. Neil Parman- a kite-enthusiast with dreams of someday breaking the Guinness World Record altitude of 4,878.54 metres for a single string kite- was eventually located across the water, having chosen to take advantage of the kite-flying opportunity presented by a suitable grassy expanse he had spotted from the Tim Horton’s in which he was enjoying a coffee.
Transport Canada is still investigating whether Parman could be charged and fined following the incident. In the meanwhile, police request that kite enthusiasts and others should use common sense when enjoying their hobby, and should take steps to ensure kites and drones don’t fly too high in a city, especially when there is an active airport nearby where planes and helicopters land.
Unofficial Florida Flamingo Museum Recognised as Official Largest Flamingo Collection
Cindy Dunlow’s extension flamingo museum has just about every type of flamingo you could possibly imagine…except for the real thing. From posters and Lego models, to pinatas and even head-wear, her impressive collection of 865 items (and counting!) contains more flamingo-inspired objects than any regular human could possibly dream up.
This unique collection began life in the 1960’s and grew quickly, with new additions sourced from second-hand shops in and around Florida. Today, the museum’s numerous inhabitants make the frame shop in which they are housed- CD Frames in Ocala, Florida- probably also the most vibrant (and pink) frame shop around.
Dunslow’s title of ‘World’s Largest Pink Flamingo-themed Collection’- presented by the Guinness Book of World Records in May 2017, looks to be safe at least for the time being; with enthusiastic visitors arriving daily with new items to add the menagerie.
Instagram Account Dedicated to Wacky Hotel Carpets goes Viral
Dallas dad Bill Young became an overnight sensation after his daughter Jill tweeted in November: “All I Want For Christmas is for my Dad’s hotel carpet Instagram to go viral.” The good people of Twitter duly responded and within 3 days, @myhotelcarpet’s follower count jumped from 86 to over 400K.
Young- a corporate pilot- has clocked up a good number of hotel nights over the course of his career, and took up photography as a way to document his travels. Sounds usual enough, the subject of his images though? Less so; @myhotelcarpet features the weird, wonderful and downright bizarre floor coverings adorning hotels from Tokyo to LA.
As it turns out, Young’s feed- which initially began as a joke and a means of staying connected to friends’ and family back home- actually shows some serious artistry and has genuinely captured the imagination of his legions of new fans.
Adventurous Eaters Granted Free Entry to Georgia Theme Park
Earlier this month visitors willing to gobble up a roasted cricket were given free admission to Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta, Georgia.
In a promotional campaign to advertise their upcoming spring attraction MEGABUGS!, Wild Adventures awarded a T-Shirt and free entry to the first 100 guests to complete the challenge.
The exhibit- set to open in March 2018- will include giant replicas of insects including a 15-foot (4.5-meter) dragonfly, a 26-foot (8-meter) hissing cockroach and a 50-foot (15-meter) millipede.
The world is full of curiosities and there’s no better way to discover the quirky and weird than through travel.
Need a hand planning your next trip? The experts at Ridebooker make organising ground transportation easy and, with routes all across North America, we’ve got lots of options for your next trip.
Happy New Year everybody, and may your 2018 be full of wandering and wonder!