Thursday, October 11, 2012

Daredevil stuntman tightrope walks into history: Nik Wallenda becomes first person to cross right over Niagara Falls

Daredevil Nik Wallenda became the first person to walk on a tightrope across the Niagara Falls, taking steady, measured steps on Friday night for 1,800 feet across the mist-fogged brink of the roaring falls. Though tethered to the wire to prevent falling to nearly certain death, he still contended with wind, water and an unfamiliar wire as he walked all the way from the U.S. to Canada. The daring acrobat set off around 10.15 to whoops and cheers from the huge crowd at the atmospheric event, and arrived on the other side of the Falls within half an hour. Afterwards, he said he accomplished the feat through 'a lot of praying, that's for sure. But, you know, it's all about the concentration, the focus, and the training.' The seventh-generation member of the famed Flying Wallendas had long dreamed of pulling off the stunt, never before attempted. Other daredevils have wire-walked over the Niagara River but farther downstream and not since 1896.

'This is what dreams are made of, people,' Mr Wallenda said shortly after he began walking the wire. He took steady, measured steps amid the rushing mist over the falls as an estimated crowd of 125,000 people on the Canadian side and 4,000 on the American side watched. Along the way, he calmly prayed aloud.After he made it to the Canadian side of the falls, Mr Wallenda said that at one point in the middle of the stunt, he thought about his great-grandfather and the walks he had taken: 'That's what this is all about, paying tribute to my ancestors, and my hero, Karl Wallenda.'

A festive crowd started to gather on both sides of the border on Friday afternoon, spreading blankets and setting up folding chairs under picture-perfect blue skies and summer-like temperatures.'We're here on a lark. We're looking for an adventure,' said Carole Halls, who with her husband pulled their nine- and 11-year-old kids out of school early to stake out space on a grassy slope across from where Mr Wallenda finished his walk on the Canadian side.Ms Halls, of Oakville, Ontario, was all in favor of the tether, Mr Wallenda's one safeguard, designed to keep him out of the water if he falls.'I think we have enough gore on TV,' she said.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The crooked forest: Fantasy woodland that could have come straight from a fairytale

The crooked forest: Fantasy woodland that could have come straight from a fairytale

With their trunks all bent the northward, these trees look like something straight out of one of the more uncomfortable fairy tales. Surrounded by a larger forest of straight growing pine trees near Gryfino, north-west Poland, this grove of curved trees - dubbed the 'Crooked Forest' - is a mystery. The curved pines, of which there are about 400, were planted around 1930. They were allowed to grow for seven to ten years before being held down in what is thought to have been some kind of human mechanical intervention. Speculation as to what the trees may have been intended for ranges from use in making bent-wood furniture, the ribs for boat hulls or yokes for ox-drawn plows. However, before they could be harvested, the outbreak of the Second World War interrupted the plans of whoever was growing and tending the grove, leaving their plans a mystery.

Quick march! Farmer stops traffic taking his 5,000 ducks for a walk to the local pond

Quick march! Farmer stops traffic taking his 5,000 ducks for a walk to the local pond

A Chinese farmer caused chaos on the roads when he ducked out to feed his flock of 5,000. Hong brought streets in the eastern city of Taizhou to a standstill when, accompanied by a colleague, he took his animals to a pond. Armed with nothing but a cane, he guided his feathered friends three quarters of a mile as part of an annual tradition in Zhejiang province.And he claims that not one of the ducks was lost in transition during the tricky duck migration manoeuvre. Taizhou lies 190 miles south of Shanghai and has a population of almost 6million people.


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