Is your teacher a daredevil? In 1901, for her 63rd birthday, Annie Taylor, a teacher, was the first person to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She survived with only a small cut on her head. A housecat was sent over the falls two days before in the same barrel to make sure the barrel worked ok. The cat also had a head injury, but was ok otherwise. After the journey, Annie Taylor told the press: “If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat…. I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall”. No one asked the cat what it thought of the trip, but I would expect a lot of meows were heard! One fifth of all the fresh water in the world lies in the four Upper Great Lakes-Michigan, Huron, Superior and Erie. All that water empties into the Niagara River and eventually flows over the falls. Purrs, Gulliver
I’m the King of the Mountain! I got to cross the Continental Divide, where rivers on the west flow to the Pacific Ocean, and rivers on the east flow to the Atlantic Ocean. The Blackfeet tribes originally settled Glacier National Park, and still consider this place sacred to this day. They call it “The Backbone of the World”. I took a bus on the Going to the Sun Road to Lake McDonald, and saw glaciers. A glacier forms when more snow falls each winter than melts the next summer. The addition of snow above presses down on the layers below, and makes them into ice. This ice will move down a mountain, making peaks, canyons and valleys. It is a beautiful place!
I met a sweet young kitten in Paris which is the City of Lights and Love. I took her around the famous sites including a romantic evening tour of the Eiffel Tower, one of the most recognizable monuments in the world. Named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Statue of Liberty, it was built to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution. It took over 2 years to build which was actually really quickly for a structure that high. It went up so fast because it was all pre-cut girders, riveted together like a giant erector set. The Tower was introduced to the public during the 1889 World’s Fair. There are 3 levels open to the public with antennas for communication above the visitor’s platforms.
We climbed as high as we could to see the entire city of Paris! My sweet kitten meowed with pleasure and licked my whiskers. I am in love! Purrs, Gulliver
Brrr! It is chilly and rainy here in Seattle, and I have just finished lunch at a restaurant that moves in a circle, so you get a different view of the city all through your meal! It is the SkyCity Restaurant on the Space Needle, which was built for the World’s Fair in 1962. The restaurant is 500 feet up, almost the top of the Needle. At the very top is a blinking light to warn airplanes away, and 14 lightning rods to send the lightning to the ground during a storm. Part way down the Needle is an observation deck where you can see the city below and the mountains and Pacific Ocean in the distance. I was very glad it had elevators, and I didn’t have to climb the 848 steps to the observation tower! The Space Needle is a very special landmark, and one of the highlights of my trip to Seattle! Purrs, Gulliver
Ready for a geology lesson? Geology is the study of the earth and how it was formed. Mt. Lassen is an active volcano which was born about 27,000 years ago. Scientists believe that with a lot of eruptions of lava, the volcano rose and reached its current height of over 10,000 feet in just a few years. The most recent eruption was just about 100 years ago starting in May 1914 and lasting until 1921. Because Mt Lassen is unique, it became a national park in 1916. Today visitors go hiking to Bumpass Hell, a stinky, noisy area in the park named after explorer Kendall Bumpass, who severely burned his leg after breaking through a thin crust of earth into a boiling pool. I saw the earth belch mud, steam that smelled of sulfur, and bubbling springs too hot to dip a paw into! Other parts of the park have beautiful forests and sparkling lakes which I enjoyed very much. Purrs, Gulliver
I was visiting Yosemite National Park and heard a legend from a local Native American tribe which explained how parts of Yosemite were created. Here is the story. Many, many years ago, a Native American couple lived in the desert around Mono Lake, California. Learning about the beautiful Valley of Ahwahnee, they decided to go there and make it their home. Along the way, the couple began to argue. The wife wanted to go back, the husband refused. They argued so loudly, the Creator grew angry and turned the two into stone. The husband became North Dome and the wife became Half Dome, two large rocks in what is now Yosemite National Park. The wife felt bad about the quarrel and the rock she became began to cry, creating Mirror Lake. In the local Paiute language she is known as T’ssikakka or Tissayack. Purrs, Gulliver
Jellyfish have drifted along the ocean currants for millions of years, even before dinosaurs lived on the Earth. Some big, some tiny, they are jewels of the ocean. Jellies have no bones or brains, but they have tentacles below their body which have thousands of stinging cells to kill their prey. They eat fish, shrimp, crabs and sometimes other jellyfish! The Chinese have fished for jellyfish for over 1,700 years. The jellies are considered a delicacy and are used in Chinese medicine. Jellyfish are also eaten in Japan and Korea. Some people say they are chewy like a rubber band, and lacks flavor. Sea turtles like the taste of them though, and eat them often. Purrs, Gulliver
I am at a balloon festival in Turkey! Not all of Turkey looks like this landscape; I thought for a while that this must be what the moon looks like up close! The stone is from very old volcano ash and is called tuff, which is soft and easily carved. What is really interesting is that there are whole cities underneath the ground that people built 2,400 years ago to escape wars and raids from outsiders. Tunnels linked the cities just like a road would above ground, and there could be as many as eight stories of rooms going down into the earth. Now, some of those places are museums, some have been turned into hotels and some are still home to local people! Above ground, the wind and water have carved the tuff into magical shapes like cones, needles and bowls. We had fun imagining a fantasy world populated by aliens living among the rocks. What would they look like, what would they wear, and how would they communicate with each other – talking, reading minds, hand gestures? I hope they would be friendly to cats! Purrs, Gulliver
This week I met some long distance travelers in Pacific Grove, California. The Monarch butterflies come over 800 miles south from British Columbia, Canada to spend the winter near the coast where it is warmer and there is no snow. The butterflies can travel between 50 and 100 miles a day. They float like a bird with the wind pushing them instead of using their wings all day long. They sleep in the leaves of trees, snuggled close together for warmth. After the winter is over, they will have babies who will fly up to Canada to where their parents once lived. Butterflies in the middle of Canada fly all the way to Mexico to spend their winters there. Purrs, Gulliver
Did you know cattle can walk up a flight of stairs, but once there, they can’t walk back down? Their knees just don’t bend the right way, so they have to use a ramp. The first cattle in the Americas arrived with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. Cow is the name for adult female cattle. Male cattle are bulls. Young cattle are called calves. In addition to butter and cream, foods like ice cream, cheese, yogurt, whipped cream and cottage cheese can all made from milk. To make all that food, cows eat about 40 pounds of grass or hay and drink about a bathtub full of water every day. Not only that, they have four stomachs. They must like to eat as much as I do!