A Fun-Loving Guide to the Natural World for Kids and Adults

360 Panoramas


Doing a little exploration on the web, Rebecca and I stumbled across a site that allows you to see 360 degree panoramas of all sorts of interesting places — from Mount Everest to the tomb of Ramses IV. Using your mouse, you can look all around you (don’t forget to look up!), and you can even visit the moon.

We’re not techno-phobes — we can appreciate all these new advances in technology — but in our minds, at least, there is no replacement for actually getting outside and breathing the air, starting a campfire (even if the smoke keeps getting in your eyes), or climbing a real, live tree.

Perhaps we’re being old-fashioned, but there’s that whole Zen thing about taking a single breath and really EXPERIENCING it. We’ll still do our share of virtual exploration (Google Earth is fun!), but somehow just taking a walk with the dogs is a lot more amazing.

Hopefully, as a species, we’ll never settle for getting all of our experiences ‘virtually’. Sometimes it seems that that’s the way we’re headed! We have faith, however, that there is something in the human heart that will always yearn for the feel of wind, of rain, of that subtle thrill when you’re sitting in a tree and the wind rocks it just enough to invoke a little fear.

We’d love to hear your perspective on this subject! Are these new virtual tools positive or negative? Will we be able to use them wisely? You can see another entry we wrote on this topic here.

6 Responses to “360 Panoramas”

  1. I am completely with you on this. Over the years, I’ve experienced a few moments when the sights and smells and sounds of a particular place I found myself combined into a “magical moment” – laying atop a boulder at the summit of Lost Mine Peak in Big Bend and hearing nothing but the wind and the distant call of a raven far overhead, sitting in my tent at Pinyon Flats in the Santa Rosa Mountains and hearing the massive, gusting winds flowing down the canyon walls at night, standing at the base of Iguazu Falls with the mist blasting against me. These moments cannot be recreated by any means other than being there – even my memories pale in comparison to the feeling I had at the time. I’ve learned to look for these moments, and when I realize they’re happening to stop what I’m doing, block out all thought from my mind, and immerse myself in the moment for as long as I can. I’ll still have a little fun with these new gadgets and technologies, but only to the degree that they help me get out there and find these special places for real.

  2. Absolutely, Ted. Your words conjure up incredible feelings for us as we imagine being at the top of Lost Mine Peak, but those are just thoughts in our heads. To really be there . . .

    What you brought up about memory is also very profound. It’s so easy to imagine that we can think back and ‘re-capture’ an experience, but memories are also thoughts in our heads, and to have the insight to stop and EXPERIENCE is a great gift.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Kenton and Rebecca

  3. Nice thing, our imaginations. But for me, I need to smell that coffee, spy the eagle and feel the river water as it slips by on its way to…I look at all this virtual stuff as a poke in the eye to realize there is more to explore. It’s like looking at a picture of yummy chocolate, you can look and look, but in the end—you gotta have you some!

    This electronic temptress stuff is like the glossy brochures of times gone by. It spurns me on, realizing how much I have yet to see and touch and smell and—I like that.

    As always, thank you for reminding me to get out there!

  4. I agree with Ted, if I think back I can recall many adventures that just had to be experienced to be worthwhile. I recall camping in Iowa…. what started out as a gorgeous day, gave way to some vicious storms…we sat up all night, me at one end of the tent holding a pole, and my husband at the entrance to the tent holding a pole; doing our best to keep the tent upright, while we were both soaked to the bone, and laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
    The joy of watching a rainstorm roll in and the excitement that the thunder brings, as each rumble seems to reach some inner part of your being and makes your heart skip a beat. Has to be seen and heard to be appreciated.

    Sitting in the woods and watching a turkey as he struts for his lady friend. Listening to birds, and trying to identify them by voice alone ( I fail miserably, but I love to try). Hiking through the woods on a crisp fall day, smelling the leaves and the fragrance that only fall can bring.

    So many joyous experiences, that simply cannot be had on any virtual plane. Technology serves a purpose….it allows us to share experiences, and learn about places yet untried. None of us should rely on it for life experiences though! Get out and live….that is my motto.

  5. Hello MObugs41!

    What’s interesting to us is that your words invoke such powerful mental experiences for us — your wonderful description of your tent adventure is similar to one of our own, and we were transported back to our own memory. If you had used a movie or photos to try to communicate that experience, we would have been trying to get the experience in a different way — it’s difficult to explain, but it seems that plain old words are somehow more pure, and have more power to invoke feelings. Maybe we’re off-base and the right combination of images and music could have a similar effect, but our first thought is that if we’re not going to have an actual experience, then reading would be our second choice — it allows us to fill in so many spaces in our own minds, and seems to create a richer story than when it’s fed to us with all the virtual details. It would be interested to read someone’s account of being on the top of Everest and to compare it to the experience of seeing the 360 panorama. Definitely something to explore a little more . . .

  6. Hello Jay!

    Great thoughts! That’s a very inspiring way to think of using these technological tools to enrich our lives — just today we saw a video of a manta swimming, and thought to ourselves — we want to see that in real life! It adds new dimensions of adventure, even if we never actually see one in the wild. At least it might inspire a quest!

    Thanks for the great take on this — it’s interesting to see an author’s take, who uses words like magic to create new experiences for us. Like we wrote to MObugs41, words would be our second choice if we couldn’t have an actual experience. They seem to have a power by virtue of what they DON’T give us.

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