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The Thanksgiving Candle

By Linda Tancs

In the Soroca district of Moldova, a monument is built on the rocks over the Nistru River.   Named the Candle of Gratitude (or Thanksgiving Candle), it pays tribute to all of those who made heroic efforts to preserve the country’s culture, language and history through the generations.  At night the candle’s light can be seen from Otaci in the North and Camenca in the South.

Grand, Gloomy and Peculiar

By Linda Tancs

Grand, gloomy and peculiar.  That’s what cave guide Stephen Bishop said in the 1800s about south central Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave.  Spelunkers might not agree with that assessment, but mammoth is certainly an apt description, considering it’s the world’s longest known cave system, the oldest part of which began forming over 10 million years ago.  Over 400 miles of this national park have been explored; the main passageway alone is seven miles long.  Short on time?  Take the popular two-hour Domes & Dripstones Tour.  As for that cave guide?  He’s buried at the park’s Old Guide’s Cemetery.

Idaho’s Sweet Willy

By Linda Tancs

To be in the doghouse is generally not a good thing if you’re the two-legged sort–unless, of course, you’re in Cottonwood, Idaho.  That’s where you’ll find the Dog Bark Park Inn, a Beagle-shaped bed & breakfast guesthouse.  Affectionately known as Sweet Willy, the 30-foot-tall canine takes the cake (er, biscuit) as the world’s biggest Beagle.  Guests enter the unusual hotel through a private second story deck.  It was named one of the most fun and exciting places to stay by London’s Times.  Maybe you’ll agree.

Aphrodite’s Cultural Route

By Linda Tancs

The ancient island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty.  To be sure, you’ll find no shortage of sites commemorating her existence, especially along the cultural routes dedicated to her lore.  One of the most popular is Petra tou Romiou (Rock of Aphrodite), a series of huge rocks off the southwest coast in the Pafos district from where the goddess is said to have risen amongst the waves.  Even today, under the right weather conditions a human-like foam reputedly arises from the waves crashing against the rocks.  And what would the tale of Aphrodite be without her lover, Adonis?  They fell in love at the Baths of Aphrodite, a grotto towards the tip of the Akamas peninsula where Adonis met her while she bathed.  The site lies at the end of a nature trail that offers spectacular views towards Cape Arnaoutis, Polis and Pafos Forest.

 

One Big Fish

By Linda Tancs

Imagine a freshwater fish that’s bigger than a school bus.  That’s the beluga sturgeon, the largest freshwater fish in the world.  Prized for caviar, it’s a critically endangered species that breeds in Russia’s Volga River (the so-called national river).  In fact, the largest accepted record is of a female taken in 1827 in the Volga estuary, measuring a whopping 3,463 pounds and 24 feet in length.   Now that was something to write home about.

Boone’s Forest

By Linda Tancs

A legendary huntsman and pioneer, Daniel Boone dared to cross the treacherous Appalachians to explore Kentucky’s great wilderness.  A great part of that terrain is commemorated in his name, the Daniel Boone National Forest. Over 700,000 acres of rugged terrain embraced by forested ridges, narrow ravines and thousands of miles of sandstone cliffs attract nearly five million visitors annually.  Those guests may not need to trap, hunt and fish like Boone, but they enjoy the foothills nonetheless by backpacking, camping, picnicking, rock climbing and boating.  Not sure where to start?  Try the 269-mile Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail,  which extends across the length of the forest.

Free Flowing Yellowstone

By Linda Tancs

Yellowstone National Park contains most of the world’s geysers, Old Faithful a great favorite among them.  Its regular, billowing eruptions are not the only thing that’s free flowing in America’s first national park, though.  The park is also home to the longest free flowing river in the United States, Yellowstone River.  From there it glides 676 miles to its confluence with the Missouri River without a single dam to break its stride.  Along its many points of access you’ll find plenty of recreational opportunities, including some of the best trout fishing ever and some cool Montana agate to add to your collection.

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