Monday, March 28, 2016

Lauk's Nest

Created in 2005 by resident Laukosargas Svarog (who also designed the beautiful sim, Svarga), Lauk's Nest is located just north of the Snowlands of Sansara, but in much warmer climes. Constructed as Mayan temple ruins surrounded by a rain forest, this impressive, historic build sits on a large island (pictured below) in the wonderful Sea of Fables. While the build has changed hands many times since Lauk created it, it still retains a large portion of her original design, including some interesting attempts to script life. There are flowers which change color when bees land on them, beehives from which bees emerge several times a day to pollinate the flowers, and carnivorous plants and birds which occasionally eat the bees. In Svarga, which was designed in 2006, Lauk took this experiment a step further, creating clouds that rained and essentially a dynamic ecosystem in which plants grew and multiplied. Built in a time before sculpted or flexible prims were available, both Svarga and Lauk's Nest are marvelous examples of the beauty that can be created with the basic SL prim.

Eliana Zaytsev (pictured in front of the island map, below) took ownership in 2010, and has done her best to preserve Lauk's original vision. "I found that i was having a hard time figuring out what was original to Lauk's Nest and what was added after she sold it," remarked Eli. "I cannot believe it has been six years now that i have had it! I rented a home and took part in events here when I was new to Second Life. This will always feel like home." Touching the map at the landing point will provide visitors with a notecard containing information about the build and a listing of landmarks for the area. There are still three rentals on the land; contact Eli for more information if you are interested in living there.

Exploring on foot, there are plenty of things to see on the island. You can circle the entire island on a wooden walkway that hugs the mountain, winding your way up to the top. You can drum at the base of a giant tree, or find your way up above the drums to the original "nest". Investigate the inside of the pyramid, or relax in the hippo pool (pictured below), which is located at the top of the cascading set of waterfalls that flow down the moutainside. At the base of the mountain, you can find a cave, or walk along the water and observe the rumblings of the active volcano in nearby Orwood.

A two-level sunset treehouse overlooks the neighborhood area where you can find rental information as well as a small art gallery. There is a temporary dance floor at the landing point which can be rezzed and rented for small parties. But I think my favorite part of the build, perhaps because it was a place I visited during my first few days in Second Life, is the meditation circle, pictured below. Once an avatar enters the circle, the white particles appear, arching overhead. "I still love this place," exclaimed Eli, "and think it should never go away!" Visitors who are interested in helping to preserve this fascinating and historic build can leave a contribution at the landing point.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hoppin' Down the Bunny Trail

On this Easter morning, let's hop on over to Project Kapor for an egg hunt. Located on the eastern shore of two Sansara sims, Rosedale and Kapor, this sweet little build is covered in Spring flowers, rocky pathways, and, of course, Easter eggs! You can pick up the bunny avatar I'm wearing (pictured below) for free here at COCO. It comes with either grey or cinnamon fur (or grab both!) and a number of free or inexpensive clothing items are located nearby.

A rainbow arches over a waterfall that spans the two sims, and the rocky paths lead you over and through several tiny ponds. Surrounding the ponds, lollypop trees give a variety of flavored lollypops. There are floating balloons one can ride (see last photo, below), or you can catch a ride out into the waters of the Coastal Waterway on an inner tube (photo directly below).

But don't forget the Easter eggs! Most (tho' not all) of the eggs hidden throughout Project Kapor contain prizes: wearable Easter baskets, bunny ear headbands, tiny yellow chicks, and even your own version of the floating balloons. Before you leave, don't miss catching the balloon ride up into the small island lighthouse right offshore, as there are more Easter eggs at the top.

While you are looking around, enjoy this short (3 minute) Peter Cottontail cartoon released by UPA Animation Studios in the early 1950's (directed by Robert Cannon, animated by Robert Cannon and Grim Natwick).

Happy Hunting...and Happy Easter!

Friday, March 25, 2016

"Red Hot Mama, You're The One I Need"

In the center of the Volcanic Island Sims of Sansara sits the towering peak of Mt. G'al, the largest of the many volcanos in the area, and the one I've often heard referred to as the "fickle, palindromic goddess of Second Life". Before visiting, know that this volcano is deadly, and jumping into it will "kill" you and send you home. The landmark I've provided places you high on the outer cone (you can see me standing there in the photo below) but be careful not to lose your footing after you land!

However, for those adventurous sorts among you, there is a way to enter the volcano and not die. Scan down into the lava until you spot the white platform and clear tube pictured below, and port onto the platform. Walk through the tube, and into the opening in the rock wall. Take a deep breath, be brave, and step into the large hole in front of you.

After falling, you will land in a cave filled with curious machinery (see photo below). Are the moles of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) using the volcano as a hidden power source? Crazy Mole seems to have left a few clues behind...

The area surrounding the volcano contains a number of strange and interesting builds, including three iconic floating islands tethered by great chains to the earth, an ancient infohub, a giant Atlas-like figure holding up a palace, a large fairy forest surrounded by waterfalls, a space shuttle crashed into the mountainside, lava goddesses (see photo below), an extremely fun UFO rezzing platform, and the Temple of L'ag ("FOR it is written in the lava, "Lag is Life" and so lag shall we"). Unsurprisingly, the region is very laggy, but still well worth a visit.

Historically, it appears, avatars have been sacrificed to this volcano goddess in order to reduce lag and other grid-wide issues. Some have even taken to sacrificing themselves! So, what do you think? Will you do your part for the health of the Grid? Of course you will. Be brave, stand strong, then take a flying leap into Mt. G'al!

"Red Hot Mama" by the Brox Sisters, 1924

Thursday, March 17, 2016

"Silver Fishes Through My Skin"

In the center of Sansara, near some of the oldest sims on the Grid, sits a small, charming island with underwater caverns beneath it. The Cave Rua Water Gardens, pictured below, were designed by Jemma Flora and are lovely to explore. Cleverly tucked under and around the island, the gardens feature a shipwreck, some picturesque ruins, and schools of colorful fish. Rez is on with a ten minute autoreturn if you wish to use the area with photography props.

Staying beneath the waves and following the path to the Southeast, the underwater gardens continue through some protected land to a large open area filled with jellyfish, brightly colored corals, schools of fish, and poses for mermaids. Here and there, you'll find that parts of the garden are available to purchase; sort of a living store area designed by Abby Dawson

While exploring, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of that mythical creature of land, sea, and sky, Ziki Questi, seen in the picture below wearing Alpha Tribe's "Golden Ammonites". (/me grins) Seriously tho', if you haven't visited Alpha Tribe's amazing store and sim, you should. It isn't Mainland but it's still worth a look. ;) Artist and designer Alpha Auer's creations can either be found inworld or in her marketplace store.

The island above the water gardens (photo below) is also worth a visit. Towering trees and well-placed boulders surround a sun-lit glade filled with dragonflies, flowering weeds and ferns, and provide a sense of privacy in an otherwise busy sim. Worn and weathered statuary are set amidst the trees, and couples can find a salsa dance near the ruins at the island's edge.

Underwater exploration is an awful lot of fun in Second Life, and this is a great place to start exploring. You can pick up a free mermaid tail on the marketplace here, and that same store has free breath bubbles. You can also find some free mole-created diving gear on Poseidon Island in the Sea of Fables. There's fixed landing point, but find your way down to the water's edge to the South to collect your gear.

One of my favorite pirate-girl/mermaids is SJ Tucker, who travels through Second Life as Sooj Foxclaw. This lovely Mainland spot reminded me of her, so as you prepare to explore the underwater mysteries, enjoy her delightful song, "Neptune". Happy diving!

"Years ago I came to you
down beneath your ripples
submitting to the mystery
of life beneath the waves."

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Moth Temple of Iris

At the center of the Inner Delta of Heterocera sits the impressive Moth Temple of Iris. The first telehub on that continent (and still an incredibly busy place today!) the Temple (pictured below) is a delicate but towering wooden structure designed by Xenon Linden. Almost all of the sims in Heterocera are named after species of moths; the continent itself is named for the sub-species of insect by which moths are categorized. You can find these lovely little creatures all over the Moth Temple, including fluttering around the lamps that line the boardwalk surrounding it at dusk.

The area surrounding the temple is owned by Prokofy Neva's Second Life Public Land Preserve, and is a resident-designed infohub modeled on a fishing village, created by builder Jessica Ornitz. The boardwalks of the infohub are lined by charming huts, which, according to Prokofy, contain "freebies, dollarbies, things to explore, meditation, games, etc. There is also a little tutorial about how to start a business in SL. I try to have my sims being sort of 'second tier' tutorials after the basic newbie stuff that they have on Caledon." Wandering around, visitors can find a great deal of information which will be especially helpful to new residents: hints on reducing lag, tips on how to stop animations, even some very cool random LM generators to help you find new places to explore. There is a set of free moth wings hanging from a lamppost (the ones which were used in Osprey Therian's memorial), and if you look for the red moth lanterns hanging from the lampposts near the wings, they are also free.

Build is on in part of the infohub, so I capitalized on the moth theme and rezzed one of my very favorite vehicles, the Lepidoptera, pictured above and below.This fabulous flying machine, modeled after a James Gurney illustration and created by resident bunnys Fride, is free on the marketplace here. It can handle a pilot and 11 passengers, and is incredibly easy to fly. A wonderful way to take in the sights around the Moth Temple...and on the Moth Continent of Heterocera!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bay City - Hairy Hippo Fun Land

On the westside of Bay City, on the shores of the Davis gulf, sits Hairy Hippo Fun Land. This amusement park, built in 2012,  spans two entire sims, Oaks Bluffs and Weston — three if you add in the aquarium on the northwest corner of the park. And so let's start there, at the gates to the aquarium. Enter through the gates, go down a short walk, then venture into the watery tunnel in front of you (pictured below). Through the glass walls of the tunnel you may be able to spot a mermole or two, those curious creatures native to Mainland SL, including the waters surrounding Bay City.

After you exit the tunnel, walk straight up the hill to the aquarium. You'll spy an old steampunk submarine on display and a small, round building. Inside the building are several unusual sea creatures on exhibit, all of which you can feed. There is one other building on the grounds, and in between the two are wooden platforms from which you can look down into various holding ponds. If you prefer, a second glass tunnel at the bottom of the hill lets you observe the aquarium's inhabitants more closely.

Once you're finished exploring the aquarium, go back down the hill to find a path that leads to the Lollercoaster. Click on the sign to call a car, and don't forget to go into mouselook for a realistic ride!

At the main entrance to the amusement park, you will see two of the park's namesake hippos, plus a bright pink sign announcing "The Hippo Food Challenge." Click on the sign, and you'll receive a HUD and instructions to "Explore Hairy Hippo Fun Land, snacking on anything and everything that crosses your path! Enjoy the scariest rides with a full belly! Try not to get sick too often!" Apparently those who survive this challenge win a prize, but I have to confess that I didn't attempt it. I did, however, play some of the many carnival games located around the park, and won a stuffed mole! (See picture below.)

The park contains several fun rides besides the Lollercoaster, including a bouncy castle, a ferris wheel, a merry go round, bumper cars, a parachute jump and a teacup ride. There is a small penny arcade with fortune telling machines and two very cool mutoscopes: "The Box" and "Le Train". Visitors can enjoy 7Seas fishing with custom prizes from any of the piers, or grab a free balloon from the booths that line Rte. 66. Along the shore of the Davis Gulf there are inner tubes you can float in, and maybe you'll even spot Jonah the whale in the water!

So what's with the hippos, anyway? Apparently, hippos are the unofficial mascot of Second Life, and can be found in many places all over the Grid. There is a giant underwater hippo statue in the Mare Secundus, a much smaller statue in the Second Life Historical Museum, and there is even a hippo easter egg in SL browsers (press CTRL, ALT, SHIFT then hit the H key). Apparently, to see a group of hippopotamuses in your dream suggests that you need to escape from the daily grind and relax. (Shouldn't that be "hippopotami"?) So escape your daily grind, bring along a friend or two, and relax at Hairy Hippo Fun Land!

Friday, March 11, 2016

"Bay City Brew - It's Something In The Water"

As happens every year near St. Patrick's Day, the waters in and around Daley Bay have been dyed a brilliant green by the water treatment plant technicians of the Linden Department of Public Works in Bay City. 

This is a nod to a first life tradition during which the Chicago River has been dyed green for that city's St. Patrick's Day parade for over 50 years. David Matthews of DNAInfo reported today that "...the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers since 1961 have poured a secret solution, that's actually orange, into the city's main tributary to give it a glowing emerald hue. The river-dyeing tradition began after parade chairman Stephen Bailey noticed a special dye city officials used to detect waste in the river changed the water to a perfect emerald green, according to Chicago magazine." So the green dye was originally poured into the river to detect crap! Did I mention that the source of the green water in Bay City is the Bay City Department of Sanitation's Pumping Station Number 1?

The pumping station in Daley Bay (pictured below, yellow and blue building, center) is directly across the street from the Bay City Brewery, and is the source of the brewing water supply. No stranger to bright green water, us! You can even float in a large beer tub of the stuff inside the Brewery. Founded by Ever Dreamscape in 2012 and designed by Ivan Suen, the Brewery is Bay City's "original questionably safe adult beverage and industrial process". We supply beer (and root beer for the kids!) throughout the City, and serve as the site of the annual Oktoberfest celebration.
So come on down, grab a beer, and take a gander at the green waters of Daley Bay. After all, as our logo states, "Bay City Brew - It's Something In The Water!" 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bay City - "The City by the Bay"

Originally designed by the "moles" of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW), Bay City opened its doors to residents in the spring of 2008. A themed city with double-prim land, it has been described as embodying "the American urban experience, between 1940 and 1965, perhaps best typified by Chicago circa 1950 and marked by a distinct deco influence." There were originally 22 sims in the Bay City on the main grid, and 20 on the teen grid. With the integration of the teen grid in 2012, the two parts of Bay City were united, and four additional sims were added. A map of the city, created by Marianne McCann for SL9B, is shown below. 

I've had a hard time starting a blog post about Bay City, but I'm not sure if that is because there is so much in the City, or because it is a place that I consider home. Maybe it's a bit of both, so this will likely just be an "intro post". I first heard of Bay City at an SLB exhibit. Shortly after that, I was invited to an event there, and I found that the Bay City community certainly does like their events! Every Thursday, there is a Rumble where we race everything from cars (see photo below, left) to boats to airplanes...with the occasional broomstick or ufo race thrown in for variety. The first Tuesday of every month is Espresso Yourself night at The Pen, a beatnik hangout. On the fairgrounds, Mole Day is held each February 2nd, an anniversary event is held every May, and a tree lighting and auction each December. The Bay City Alliance meets every Tuesday at the Community Center to plan these events, discuss city happenings, and make decisions regarding the community. 

Also at the community center, visitors can find maps, a guide to the city, learn a bit of history, and new Bay City residents can pick up free textures and Art Deco-themed prefabs in order to fit in with the theme of the area. To learn more about the history of the City, the newly-opened Bay City History Pavilion is a great place to start. I own several places in the City, and would certainly welcome all visitors: a firehouse in Dennis, a police station in Edgartown (see if you can find the secret way to escape from one of the jail cells!), Club Sandwich in Sandwich, and the Bay City Brewery (photo below) in Argos. I also edit the Bay City Post from the ETv building in Dennis. When I'm not editing copy or hanging out at the Brewery, I like to fish for mermoles (picture above, right) at Hairy Hippo Funland, an amusement park which will likely be the topic of my next blog post on Bay City. 

Bay City isn't all closely-packed buildings; there are also some lovely park areas such as the Davis Gulf lighthouse, pictured below. At the far right of that picture you can see the start of a canal entering the city. Bay City has an extensive system of canals with water trolleys traveling through each of them. (Transportation in the city is likely to be a post of its own, too.) 

While the events are fun, the transportation systems are impressive, the builds are great, and having twice the prim allotment upon which to build isn't too shabby either...the best part of Bay City is the community. Come by and wander around (visit the Community Center for a map and some landmarks to start with, or use the ones in this blog post!) or join us for one of our many fun events. It's a friendly place, the fabulous City by the Bay. Get to know us and find out for yourself why so many people think that Bay City is the best city on the Grid! 

Friday, March 4, 2016

"Hands me the ticket, smiles and whispers 'good luck'"

When was the last time you visited an amusement park? Wouldn't it be fun to ride the rides, eat some cotton candy, and maybe win your girl a prize at the arcade? Well, on the other side of Jeogeot from the Space Base, off the northwestern coast, is a tiny island which serves at a gateway to the Pyri FunFair. The island itself contains nothing but a lighthouse, a few sparse palm trees, and an old boathouse on a dock. Walk to the end of the dock, where a sign gives visitors recommended WL settings and instructions on how to rez a boat. Get in, and you are on your way to the fair!

Arriving on the opposite shore, your boat will deposit you on a much more decrepit dock than the one where you started. Avoid falling through the holes in the dock and try not to step on the scurrying critters, then head up the rocky path into the mountains. The path is steep and winding, lit by lanterns, disembodied eyes, and the occasional ghost or two. One starts to get the impression that this is not your typical amusement park. The strange tree positioned by the Funfair gate (photo below) just adds to that impression. But, we can smell the popcorn and hear the sounds of a carnival, so in through the gate we go!

The fair itself appears mostly abandoned, but there are games that look rather inviting. Click on any of the booths for multiple prizes, including cotton candy, carnival hats and t-shirts, a variety of different bears, and even a wearable Naughty Mole bear (complete with crop! - see photo, left, below). You can also sit at the fortune teller's booth and get your fortune. Here's mine:

     Madame Fortune whispers: Your fortune is...
     Madame Fortune whispers: You will not lose any inventory today.

After receiving your fortune, walk over to the ticket booth to secure your ticket to the Tunnel of Love. You'll have to step out of the way of a few rats to get there, but they're mostly harmless. (Let me tell you a secret about these LDPW rats, which can be found all over the Mainland — you can sit on them and ride them! Try it sometime.) Make sure to wear your ticket, take a seat, and into the Tunnel you go.

The ride ends unexpectedly, and deposits you in a cavern below the fair. Scattered throughout this main cavern you can find maps, books which contain clues to treasure, and supply containers which will give you things like hand-held lanterns, water, and even an aptly-named "Large Explorer's Hat" (photo above, right). Branching off of the main cavern you'll find a number of other rooms and a network of caverns below you (several levels worth!), but beware — although many things you click on will give you clues, supplies or treasure, an equal number will cause you to "die" and be ported home. You might encounter spiders, worms that feed on lost inventory, poisonous mushrooms, or pools of lava. But if you are brave and lucky, you might also find ancient treasure, the elusive creature known as the Shyoo-roth, and eventually, the Prim of Life (photo below). 

As adventures go, I died way too often during this one for my own liking, but your mileage may vary. In his disclaimer from the original announcement of the Funfair's opening, head mole Michael Linden stated, "The management holds no responsibility for any faulty rides, and residents partake in all activities at their own risk. Height restrictions may apply, and some rides are not for the faint hearted!"  

So enter at your own risk, buckle up, head into the Tunnel of Love, and enjoy the adventures which hide below the Pyri Funfair. 

"Which path to take?
Will you find rewards or strife?
My friend, you're getting closer to the Great Prim of Life!"

Thursday, March 3, 2016

"And there's something bright, travelling fast..."

Jeogeot, also known as the Korean continent, was third to be created after Sansara and Heterocera. It sits isolated in the southwest of the grid, not connected to any other continents. Off the Northeasternmost corner of Jeogeot is a small island known as the Mos Ainsley Space Base, sometimes referred to as Jeogeot's moon. It's this moon which we shall be exploring today.

The sim is composed of one large land mass in the shape of a moon crater (see photo above). Wandering around the base, there are several areas where you can grab a space suit and coveralls - look for the large vaults, third photo, center. They are for system avatars only, but this is vintage SL, don't be so fussy! ;) Or, you can certainly wear your own suit, as I am doing in the large greenhouse in the photo below. 

The base is sparsely furnished, but a great backdrop for taking photos. Rez is on with a five-minute autoreturn for either photo props (Ziki and I hung out in a cryo-chamber I rezzed while I blogged this) or if you'd like to rez your own spacecraft. But before you get suited up and journey off the moon base, see if you can find the captured alien hidden there. (That alien is not quite as cute as the one in my hand in the photo, below right, but it's worth seeing).

If you don't happen to own your own spacecraft, you're still in luck, because hovering over the Space Base is a shuttlecraft (photo below). Click on the "Recall Shuttle" button here, and wait as the large craft descends in front of you. After you sit, you can choose to open the hangar doors by clicking on the shuttle controls, then press "page up", and you're off! You can even bring passengers along for a unique way of exploring Jeogeot. (The shuttle will auto return when you stand.)

There is even a travel video encouraging visitors to come to the Space Base. So what are you waiting for? Explore the base, then grab a shuttle to explore the continent. I'll play you some Kate Bush while you do.