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Iceland has some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. In fact, it seems everywhere you turn there are stunning falls of varied types such as plunge, horsetail, multi-step, segmented, punchbowl and cascade waterfalls. With frequent rain and snow and large glaciers, Iceland provides an ideal setting for falls. As snow and ice melt in summer, the volcanic and basalt Iceland is alive with magnificent and mighty waterfalls that would stun you. Winter waterfalls are sometimes frozen with an aurora borealis overhead . . . also gorgeous while looking unbelievably cold. Here are 25 different Iceland waterfalls.

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In 1942, as part of the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government created a top ‘Secret Town’ aka ”The Atomic City’ now called Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The government bought up about 68,000 acres of land and about 1,000 Tennessee families were given two weeks or less to vacate. All the while, other secret towns were created elsewhere in the US as part of the race to create an atomic weapon. These photos are a flashback into World War II and a treasure trove of Oak Ridge period history. Through these pictures we can peer into the past, previously shrouded in secrecy, into the atomic city where the Little Boy bomb was created before the Enola Gay dropped it on Hiroshima. It’s a story that involves Soviet atomic spies, espionage, compartmentalization to guard secrets, and government billboards encouraging secrecy among Oak Ridge workers. Atoms For Peace Traveling Exhibit in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1957. But once upon a time, for years, both the atomic research and the facility in Oak Ridge were shrouded in secrecy. The government created this ‘Secret Town’ aka ‘The Atomic City’ as part of the Manhattan Project. In fact, Oak Ridge was the Manhattan District Headquarters. Oak Ridge National Lab, which is now home to ultra-fast and powerful supercomputer Titan, has digitized photo archives, making this photo essay possible.

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Tasmania, the “Island of Inspiration,” is home to one of the last large areas of temperate wilderness in the world. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area covers about 20% of Tasmania and is one of the largest conservation areas in Australia. About 3.4 million acres make up the Tasmanian Wilderness and it includes Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Hartz Mountains National Park, Mole Creek Karst National Park, Southwest National Park, Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Central Plateau Conservation and Protected Areas, Devils Gullet State Reserve and South East Mutton Bird Islet. That network of six national parks and three reserves are the wild, green, and rugged Tasmanian Wilderness. It is one of the last true untamed wilderness areas remaining on Earth and has it all for nature lovers such as dense woods, lakes, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, steep gorges that underwent severe glaciation and caves. The Great Wilderness of Tasmania is beloved by hikers, climbers, bushwalkers, cavers, rafters and any other adventuresome souls

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If you don’t live near an ocean or urban aquarium or even a zoo, then you might not have seen many seahorses and seadragons to realize how stunning these tiny sea creatures are. With a long face like a horse, they have an almost mythical appearance, but are far from immortal as none of the seahorse family are strong swimmers and they often die during storms. They excel at camouflage and many can change colors to hide themselves in their natural underwater surroundings. There are declining numbers as these creatures are used in Asian herbal medicines. Bizarrely, for seahorses, leafy and weedy sea dragons and even pipefish — a relative — males are responsible for childbearing. Here are some fun facts and sensational shots of these tiny “sea monsters” that are truly spectacular!

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A river in Columbia is beautifully exotic and home to a natural phenomenon that earned it many complimentary names like ‘the river that ran away from paradise.’ You can only visit the Caño Cristales river from July to December. Within that time frame is a shorter period when the conditions are perfect to cause blooms in the water that showcase a ‘liquid rainbow’ of ‘yellow, green, blue, black, and especially the red of the Macarenia clavigera.’ During the rest of the year, the water looks like any other river, surrounded by fantastic rock formations that are so steep they are said to hide away the view of numerous waterfalls and natural swimming holes. The rock formations look remarkably similar to Moon Valley in beautiful Brazil, but Rio Caño Cristales has been bestowed with many titles such as “The River of Five Colors,” “The Liquid Rainbow”, “the river that ran away from paradise,” and even “The Most Beautiful River in the World.”

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Out in the middle of a hot, dry Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan, along the ancient Silk Road, Soviet-era scientists found a cavern of natural gas and started drilling. But the drill hit another pocket in the cavern, right before the ground collapsed, and the entire drilling rig disappeared into the huge Darvaza Gas Crater. Then poisonous gas started to pour out. So what did the scientists decide to do in order to avoid a potential environmental disaster? Burn it off. Genius! That was in 1971, but the flaming natural gas crater is still burning 42 years later. The locals dubbed it, “The Door to Hell.” Derweze can also be spelled Darvaza and that translates to “gate,” so it is sometimes referred to as “Hell’s Gate” or the “Gates of Hell.” The Door to Hell in the nighttime. The crater goes down to a depth of about 66 feet (20 m).

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Fall seems to officially be here, based the feverish pace of squirrels preparing for winter. When we went out and about to enjoy autumn, there was one constant other than the beautiful foliage changing colors, and that was the squirrels gathering acorns and other nuts. Everywhere we went, the squirrels were acting squirrelly, running around with nuts in their mouths, performing ninja-like gymnastics in tree branches, or digging to hide their winter stash. There are about 285 species of squirrels and the antics of these furry cute critters are fun to watch and to photograph.

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So then we considered man-made haunted trails that people purposefully visit to be spooked for Halloween . . . but there are other times when a person is totally alone in some eerie forest that seems a bit enchanted. When the woods seem scary, it could be because you let your imagination run wild. It might be local folklore about a foggy forest, or a moody mist attached to legends and claims that the woods are haunted. How we interpret a setting may be our state of mind at the time, but artists of all kinds have taken to the forest for inspiration. J.R.R. Tolkien used Puzzlewood as his mystical, magical muse that inspired him to create the fabled forests of Middle-earth within The Lord of the Rings. In our Fall Fantasy post, we quoted Vincent Van Gogh as saying, ‘Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more.’ Perhaps to truly enjoy these pictures, you may need to think of it like an art game….for each picture, imagine if you were all alone in these woods. We were curious what made the streak of fear strike the hearts of photographers who are out alone in the forest. All of these photos were tagged with words like spooky, dark, scary, foggy, or haunted; on any other day, and different state of mind, these might be interpreted as sweet alone time in nature. But tap into your inner artist and let your imagination run wild to “see” what the photographers saw when these “enchanted” woods seemed “haunted” or “spooky” or just flat-out Brothers Grimm scary.

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