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Beneath the Elms

By Linda Tancs

In Memphis, Tennessee, you’ll find a historic cemetery, bird sanctuary and arboretum all in one place:  Elmwood Cemetery.  Some of the 80-acre property’s 1500 trees at this level two Tennessee State Arboretum date to the cemetery’s founding in 1852.  Beneath the grounds’ ancient elms, oaks and magnolias rest those responsible for creating the city’s history, including war veterans and public servants.  One of the first rural garden cemeteries in the South (characterized by a park-like setting, sweeping vistas, shady knolls, ancient trees and monuments), structures like the dramatic Entry Bridge and Phillips Cottage (the only known example of Victorian Carpenter Gothic architecture in Memphis) are on the National Register of Historic Places.  Docent-led tours as well as car audio tours are available.

America’s First Moving Historical Landmark

By Linda Tancs

Did you know that San Francisco’s iconic cable car is America’s first moving historical landmark?  An official ceremony at Hyde and Beach on 1 October 1964 designated San Francisco’s cable car system a special “moving” National Historic Landmark.  This and other fun facts about the city’s beloved transport system are found at the San Francisco Cable Car Museum located on Mason Street in the Nob Hill neighborhood.

Avenue of the Baobabs

By Linda Tancs

One of Madagascar’s most popular tourist destinations, the Avenue of the Baobabs in the Menabe region sports a line-up of stout trees with spartan branches at the uppermost reaches.  Resembling an upside-down tree, six of the eight baobab species in the world are native to this country.  Visit at sunset for particularly inspiring views.

Variety is the Spice of Life

By Linda Tancs

Variety is the spice of life in Zanzibar–in more ways than one.  On the one hand, it’s known as the spice island thanks to its export of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper.  On the other hand, it’s a cultural melting pot owing to the vast array of settlers that it’s seen over the centuries, like Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phonecians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguse, Omani Arabs, Dutch and British.  Tourism is the spice of life for this island paradise in the Indian Ocean as well–from the golden sands of Mangapwani to the haunting reminders of the slave trade in historically prominent Stone Town.

A Presidential Christmas

By Linda Tancs

The year is 1888, and United States President-elect Benjamin Harrison is preparing to celebrate Christmas with his family at their homestead on North Delaware Street in Indianapolis, Indiana.  That’s the scene depicted on 13 December at the Benjamin Harrison Home, the family residence of the only United States President elected from Indiana.  Step back in time for a unique Victorian Christmas tour of this 1875 Italianate home.  Not one to surrender traditions of hearth and home, Benjamin Harrison was the first President to have a decorated Christmas tree in the White House.

The High Country in Central Asia

By Linda Tancs

Mongolia is on a high–literally.  One of the world’s highest countries, it boasts an average elevation of at least 5,100 feet.  That includes the alpine serenity of one of the country’s most popular national parks, Gorkhi-Terelj National Park.  At 5,200 feet, it’s prized for its rock climbing and hiking opportunities.   Watch out for two popular rock formations, Turtle Rock and Old Man Reading a Book.  The park benefits from (or suffers from, depending on your point of view) an array of tourist camps, including the ever-popular yurt.


Remnants of the Stone Age

By Linda Tancs

Just 38 miles south of Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku lie remnants of the Stone Age.  Not just any old remnants, mind you, but one of the world’s largest collections of ancient petroglyphs.  Over 4000 strong, the carvings in the Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Reserve were extensively investigated by the famous Norwegian explorer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, who believed that boat renderings in the ancient stones revealed a connection between Norwegians and Azerbaijanis.  A mountainous area, Gobustan is also home to the biggest mud volcanoes in the Caucasus.


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