A Panacea for those who miss snow in Second Life

Panacea, January 2021

As is often the way, the changing of the year sees a lot of people in the northern hemisphere turn their thoughts away from winter and towards the promise of spring. With region designers, this often means moving to replace the snowy looks they may have set out on their regions for the holiday period with something with more colour and the promise of warmth.

Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight – some regions can continue to offer snowy scenes well into February and perhaps March. However, as January does move to February and thoughts of spring bubble up even more, it can mean that those who do like walking through a snowy white blanket or celebrating falling snow or taking to ice skates or sleds and are starting to miss opportunities to do so – or who simply like to witness / photograph the scarecrow form of trees without leaves, standing with arms upraised -, MoonStone (Hecatolite) and Louise (Sallielouise) may have just the right Panacea.

Panacea, January 2021

Occupying a Homestead region, this is a setting that – for now – remains caught in the grip of winter, although the thaw is showing signs from gradually breaking through.

Laid out along an east-west orientation (don’t be fooled by the map tile, that is still awaiting post-Uplift update at the time of writing), this is a rugged place. The highlands sit predominantly to the west:  hills that while not high, are already showing signs of greening as the days lengthen and the air warms. The lower slopes, however, are still wreathed in snow, some of which are are under curtains of snow that is falling gently, testament to the fact that winds across the island are low.

Panacea, January 2021

As the land rolls down towards the eastern coast, so it is cut by water that almost splits it in two, it extends as far as the green-topped hills that form an open-ended ring around it. But is this a river that is flowing out from the hills – or an inlet of water that, having forcing its way around a little eastern island, found the line of least resistance to cut its way deep into the landscape?, as suggested by the water’s direction of flow within the semi-iced channel.

The land is also cut by a second channel reaching to the west side hills; however, it is still largely frozen, with two large tables of ice sitting against the step slopes of the hills holding it in. One of these appears thick enough to withstand a complete thaw: is is home to a wooden bench that would not be any fun to try and haul by up the precipitous slopes.

Panacea, January 2021

Scattered across the island are a number of buildings and structures. These include two cabins – a blocky one sitting up among the hills, and a more traditional steep-roofed one encompassing a single room, sitting on the north-east headland, close to the rocky coast  and accompanied by a small folly. A lighthouse sits on the little eastern island guarding the river mouth / inlet, and beyond it, on the south-east headland, a gazebo provides a covering for the local ice rink.

Elsewhere, cafés offer places to enjoy a warm drink, while paths and trails winding through the land and the hills, watched over by the local wildlife. Most of the latter are birds, waterfowl, turkeys, squirrels and deer – although you might want to keep a wary eye on the wolves and polar bears that reside here. None of them appear to be aggressive, but you never can tell!

Panacea, January 2021
A simple yet carefully detailed winter setting, with sleds available for those wanted to have a little fun whilst a box at the ice rink will provide skates, Panacea offers a photogenic visit, and is also suitable for those who have a wearable horse and would like a winter’s ride. In this it’s name might also be taken as a pointer to the region offering a chance to sooth whatever stresses you might be facing.

With thanks to Shawn Shakespeare for the tip.

SLurl Details

  • Pancea (Ember Vale, rated Adult)

 

A return to Armum in Second Life

Amrum, January 2021

In 2019,  we made our first visit to Amrum, the Homestead region presented for public enjoyment by Sunrise (Sunrise Avalanche) – see Amrum in Second Life. A lot has happened since then – most notably the fact that Armum has relocated, and has undergone at least one makeover. Back in 2019, our first visit to the region came at the suggestion of Shawn Shakespeare  (SkinnyNilla), so there is a certain serendipity in the fact a return visit in January 2021 also came after Shawn nudged me about it.

Sympathetic, charming, cosy and photogenic island…with many hideaways…time for feelings…dancing…time for two…waves..lonely beaches…riding….dreaming…meeting with friends…talking….

– from Arum’s About Land description

Amrum, January 2021

The current iteration of Armum contains a number of echoes of the version we visited just under two years ago: it retains its Adult region rating and the hint of BDSM activities (although not in a manner liable to put people off visiting), whilst the overall look of the setting retains the idyllic feel of a near-tropical region. Its open spaces means it remains welcoming to those who want to wear a horse and take a ride around the island.

The landing point lies towards the middle of the region and immediately reveals its sandy, open nature. The entire island is low-lying, the sand broken by scrub grasses, shrubs and relatively young Terminalia catappa, aka sea (or beach) almond. From the landing point, visitors are free to roam where they will.

Amrum, January 2021

The two main buildings on the island make for obvious destinations, each being a short walk from the landing point. The nerarer (and larger) is clearly visible to the north, and forms a large blockhouse style building. Flat-roofed and relatively high-ceilinged, its interior offers a cool relief from the outdoor warmth, the three rooms it provides simply furnished whilst still presenting a cosy retreat in which to enjoy the company of others, with further seating available on the outside deck that separates the house from a rectangular outdoor swimming pool.

To the south-east, the second house sits partially screened from the landing point by a line of sea almonds. It occupies roughly the same footprint as the first house, but offers more interior space that, thanks to the interior windows between the rooms, has a very open, airy feel. It is also somewhat more cosily furnished – although BDSM items form a more obvious part of is décor together with noticeably items and images.

Amrum, January 2021

This second house additionally shares the south-eastern end of the island with  a single-room cabin that sits as a sauna / bath house, whilst the shallow cove they both face makes for a little private beach bracketed by rocky outcrops extending into the water.

Further around the west side of the island, and again a short walk from the landing point, sits a trio of little beach houses that each offer a place to relax, while further still along the sweep of coastal sands and facing due west, sits another single-room cabin with an open deck for music and dancing sitting alongside it.

Amrum, January 2021

The buildings and decks are not the only places to sit;  there are numerous outdoor opportunities as well – beach chairs, hammocks, and off-shore folly on its own sand bank, blankets, and so on, some of which are watched over by the local sheep. All offer opportunities for people to relax and unwind within the island’s boundaries. There are also various details to be found, indoors and out, that further help retain Amrum’s reputation as a photogenic spot, with the entire setting nicely rounded-out by a suitable sound scape.

SLurl Details

  • Amrum (Secret Love, rated Adult)

An adventure in a Mad Wonderland in Second Life

Adventures In Mad Wonderland January 2021

It’s taken me a while to get to write about Adventures In Mad Wonderland, Jayden Mercury’s twist on Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s (aka Lewis Carroll) tales of Alice’s adventures. This is because, despite being a modest parcel covering just over 6,300 square metres, it is a setting that packs an awful lot into it – so much so that it is very easy to miss things in a simple walk through.

Using the theme of Alice’s adventures on which to build a setting within Second Life is not new; however, with Mad Wonderland, Jayden – assisted by Valarie Muffin Meow (Zalindah) – has created a unique take on things, as indicated by the location’s About Land description,  which invites us to follow the Adventure through the Storybook of an artist.

Adventures In Mad Wonderland January 2021

Thus, what we have here is a take on Dodgson / Carroll’s timeless tale is a series of scenes from the tales – and more – that frame the tale of an artist – perhaps someone charged with illustrating a version of the story – with “chapters” waiting to be found at various points within the parcel (mouseover and left-click to read them).

The story commences at the landing point, and the artist’s studio that resides there. This takes the form of a small shack sitting on a narrow stretch of coast.  Paintings are hanging on lines strung outside of the shack, whilst inside stands the artist’s easel and materials – although oddly, some of the latter appear to be paints for house decoration  rather than conventional oil or water colours. Subtle use of a sofa with a cascade of colour in its covering and a corner gathering of lights adds to the impression that this is an artist’s retreat. There is more here as a well, so be prepared to mouseover the objects you find within the shack and be prepared to  click on them.

Adventures In Mad Wonderland January 2021

The shack sets the tone for a visit: whilst walking the trail and exploring what it reveals, be sure to hover your mouse over anything that catches your eye, as it may contain the next chapter in the unfolding story of the artist. Such items vary in form, from a pen and notepad to the likes of multi-hued mushrooms – and some might be unexpected (“she said with a grin” – hint, hint!).

Also waiting to be found are obvious extracts from Alice’s journeys and other little vignettes. Chief among the former is a familiar tea party featuring a very Deppian Mad Hatter; one of the latter sits an an old piano, its wood faded by the Sun, a truncated quote from Alice In Wonderland chalked or painted onto the inside of its raised lid.

Adventures In Mad Wonderland January 2021

The end of the path is marked by wooden steps that rise to a white-walled castle that, with its angled towers, looks like something the Mad Hatter might build – or to look at it another way, a partially0inflated bouncy castle. Card guards outside of its gate suggest the Queen of Hearts may be waiting inside, as does the huge red heart on the wall above the gate. But is she? You’ll have to go inside and find out for yourself – particularly if you want to keep up with the unfolding story, as a chapter awaits discovery.

The castle may mark the end of the path from the artist’s studio – but it is not the end of the adventure. Those willing to look around carefully after exploring it might spot a little makeshift bridge leading to a shaded portal. Touch it, and it will carry you onward to the next stage of the story: a maze where more items await the touch of visitors, including one that will carry you even further, should you follow the familiar instruction to Drink Me when you find it.

Adventures In Mad Wonderland January 2021

I’m not going to give away all of the location’s secrets, but I will say that Mad Wonderland is a surprising and fun place to explore that taxes neither viewer nor mind, but does keep you engaged throughout. It is also one of those places I particularly appreciate within Second Life – the kind that demonstrate that you don’t actually need a full-sized region in  order to create something special either for yourself, or to share with others.

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Resting in Osta Nimosa in Second Life

Osta Nimosa – January 2021

For those who feel they’d like to escape all the continuing stresses of the physical world, but who don’t particularly want to spent time exploring and wandering, preferring instead to sit and chat or cuddle (or both), then artist Terrygold might have the answer.

Osta Nimosa is a quarter-region parcel sitting within a Full region utilising the private island LI bonus. Best known for her work as an artist – one whose work I’ve appreciated and long enjoyed writing about, here she presents a landscaped environment. Set out as an artificial archipelago sitting over sandy waters, it is bordered on two sides by open water, while the other two are denoted by a shallow ribbon of grass and sand that sits between the shallows and high cliffs.

Osta Nimosa – January 2021

Presented under the Solo Arte banner, the setting extends out over the water in a checker board of little square and rectangular islands, with more to be found in the sky overhead, including the Solo Arte Castle, sitting within a snowy setting at the time of my visit and which includes a table games room for those who fancy a little challenge.

The main landing point for the setting can be found on the ribbon of beach and grass, sitting alongside information boards and the teleport signs that link to all of the locations within the parcel.

Osta Nimosa – January 2021

The islands are reached can be reached in one of two ways: by taking the a canoe from the pier on the waterside of the landing point or by wading through the water and with the wooden steps that are provided with each island (flight is deactivated in the parcel, so I’m excluding this as an option).

Whilst regular in shape, these islands are anything but identical. Some are set as garden spaces, others as little corners in which to sit – such as having you own little bench where you can watch the Moon in a most unique way. Others are home to buildings of some description, each of which also has its unique characteristics.

Osta Nimosa – January 2021

For example, there is the Mr. Wolf bar – also one of the teleport destinations – which may not quite offer what you might expect from a bar; whilst the houses themselves offer the most unusual – and delightful settings within them. Furnished homes they most certainly are not, but they are charming / romantic (depending on which you access). There’s also a camp site watched over by cormorants, and another island offering a musical haven whilst one gives people the chance for a quite picnic.

Osta Nimosa – January 2021

There’s a lot of detail to be found here  – as may have already been guessed from my comments above. There’s the cats that bring a little life to the outdoor café, the boats that offer further places to sit and cuddle a board walk garden and a little coastal camp site, all waiting to be found.

All of this adds up to a charming location for a visit and in which to spend time, one that works under a range of spring / summer environment settings, and which shouldn’t be missed by anyone who – at the risk of repeating myself- wants to escape the stresses of the physical world, or who wishes to have a little quiet time with their loved one(s) or friends.

Osta Nimosa – January 2021

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Re-visiting David Rumsey in Second Life

David Rumsey Maps

A January 12th, 2021 Destination Guide blog post by Linden Lab reminded me that it has been seven-and-a-half years since my first – and up until now, only – visit to the remarkable David Rumsey Maps in Second Life (see: If maps are your thing, Rumsey’s the king!). A length of time that marks a return visit as long overdue, so I decided to jump over and renew my own acquaintance with the four-region facility.

As both the Linden blog post and my own post from 2013 note, David Rumsey Maps in Second Life is a direct annexe to the David Rumsey Map Collection. This an on-line collection of more than 150,000 maps with a focus on rare 16th through 21st century maps of North and South America, but which includes maps of Asia, Africa, Europe  and Oceania. The collection stretches back over 30 years, with a programme to digitise them all commencing in 1996.

The collection’s website is powered by LUNA, one of the world’s leading digital asset management tools, one that is used world-wide around educational, research and science institutions. In particular, the software allows visitors to the website to view multiple maps from different time periods side-by-side and also to create and curate their own collections of maps from the library, according to their interest / requirements.

David Rumsey amid items of his map, atlas and globe collection, circa 1996. Credit: David Rumsey Collection

This ability to interact with the collection was expanded in 2008, when the Rumsey collection realised Second Life could be a unique environment by which people could visit and interacts with elements of their collection in a unique manner, and their presence in Second Life has been periodically updated since then.

The core of the facility comprises a visitor centre and a 4-region terrain elevation map of Yosemite Park dating from the 1880s, and which visitors are free to fly over / down town and walk across (to see it all, you should set your draw distance to at least 512m). Around the outer edges of the four regions – which are arranged in a square – is a series of panels – up to 50 on a side – displaying individual maps that can be studied by taking a walk around the boundaries, together with a 3D view across the Grand Canyon amidst the panels on one side.

David Rumsey Maps

Within the visitor centre are more maps – forty of which are available to collect at no charge – and several of what should be interactive elements – map viewers, a media recording of a presentation by David Rumsey himself, etc. Unfortunately, on my return visit, none of these would respond to being touched, nor would the large world map directly outside of the visitor centre, which is designed to allow you to rez a pin on your physical world location and place it on the map with a message of up to 140 characters.

Two skywalks extend from this map platform, each one displaying a ribbon map that can be walked. The first – and longer of these – is featured in the Second Life blog post. It is a reproduction of a map of the Tōkaidō road (“”eastern sea route”), the most important of the five great trade routes linking Edo (as Tokyo was then known) to other major Japanese centres of commerce – in this case, Kyoto on the east coast of Honshū. The second ribbon map,on the shorter skywalk  (which connects to the outer map walk) is a reproduction of a map from the late 1800s showing steamboat routes on the Mississippi.

We built the 4 {regions} in 2008 and have continued to update them since then. One of the things that fascinated me early on was the potential to “walk” on the historic maps and fly around them in SL. The Yosemite map which forms the floor of the site was built with a full elevation model so that it is accurate and in scale. The map is the first truly accurate map of the Yosemite Valley made by U.S. Army topographers in 1883.

– David Rumsey, via Linden Lab

David Rumsey Maps

While flying is not required to see all the maps, it is needed to see the two large globes floating over the Yosemite map. Eash is a reproduction of globes created by Giovanni Maria Cassini (not to be confused with the astronomer, Giovanni Domenico Cassini) – one of the earth and the other of the heavens surrounding it. Both can be flown in, where information boards can be found describing each of them, set over two orreys modelled on the time of Cassini – each fails to record Neptune and Uranus, as those planets had yet to be discovered.

Despite some of the interactive elements not appearing to work, David Rumsey Maps remains an engaging and educational visit.

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A return to Mount Campion National Forest in Second Life

Mount Campion National Forest: Roscommon Ridge

In July 2020, we made our first visit to Mount Campion National Forest, the marvellous setting created by Marz (Mar Scarmon) around the highest peak on Second Life’s mainland continent of Heterocera (see: The climbs and caves of Mount Campion in Second Life).

Rising towards the peak of the mountain and encompassing the razor back ridge that runs down from it, the forest is a stunning place of beauty, both above ground and underneath it – for within the granite cliffs and high steps of rock runs a network of tunnels and caverns that is so natural in look and feel, it is possible to imagine them having been formed in ages past by the passage of water through the rocks.

Mount Campion National Forest: Roscommon Ridge

Fast forward six months, and a lot has changed for the forest.  It has expanded mightily, actually tripling in size to just shy of (at the time of writing) 100,000 square metres – that almost 25 acres, for those who prefer to work in “old money”. It runs through three region of Heterocera to offer Second Life users both the opportunity for extensive out-door exploration and the opportunity to actually rent a property within it and fully appreciate its splendour.

I know this because Marz recently invited Caitlyn and I back to the forest for a further visit – and truth be told, I’m writing this article between our bouts of wandering the paths and trails above ground and exploring the further caves and tunnels that lie beneath them.

Mount Campion National Forest: Roscommon Ridge

We started our return visit  – on Marz’s recommendation – at  the high plateau of Roscommon Ridge to the north-west of Mount Campion. Here can be found numerous paths and trails – the main ones of which lead the way past some of the rental properties to be enjoyed here, so if visiting, do avoid trespassing and invading people’s privacy.

The plateau is also home to small lakes among the trees, together with fast-flowing streams – perhaps fed by the thaw (a small corner of the plateau still exhibits snow) as much as by the lakes. A short walk from the landing point is an entrance to the cave system under the plateau, one that includes a neatly tucked away rentals vendor providing details on the houses available for rent within the forest.

Mount Campion National Forest: Roscommon Ridge

Through the considered use of many of the same landscaping elements found within the “original” Mount Campion setting: flora, tracks, landscaping elements,  etc., Marz has layered the entire forest, from Camion through the south-western corner of Highflyer and then through Spinach, with a sense of continuity of featuring and setting that is both natural and which encourages explorers to continue their wanderings.

Those who do keep a an eye out for the unusual when exploring may come across one or two little surprises along the way, such as a Sasquatch enjoying a stroll along the banks of a stream or the outhouse that have been placed for the … convenience … of visitors, and more, both above and underground (I’m not going to give all that we found away!).

Mount Campion National Forest: Roscommon Ridge

As well as the Roscommon Ridge additions, I believe I’m correct in saying the cave complex in Campion has been extended, with a series of tunnels and caverns that are partially flooded (if these were around in July 2020, then silly me for missing them on our fist visit!). Find the right way into these, and it is possible to take an air mattress from a rezzer and paddle through the waterways – just mind the waterfall that marks one of the routes out!

The goal of the National Forest is to have a public place of scenic beauty that encourages exploration. A secondary goal is to renew interest in mainland SL. The National Forest has the highest mountain in SL (Mount Campion), miles of scenic trails, forests, canyons, and of course the largest connected cave system in SL. I hope you will visit us again, I am giving you the location for one of our newer areas, but again the areas are all adjacent and connected by trails and caves so I hope you will roam around. Thanks and I look forward to seeing you there.

– Marz (Mar Scarmon)

Mount Campion National Forest: Roscommon Ridge

A captivating beauty spot since Marz took it on, Mount Campion Natural Forest was always a worthwhile visit, and this expansion has increased its attractiveness, offering multiple reasons for a visit. As noted above, at the time this piece was written, Caitlyn and I hadn’t completed our own explorations – so maybe we’ll see you there!

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