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Where a Tree Reigns Supreme

By Linda Tancs

Andhra Pradesh is a district in India with the second lowest rainfall, a fact that seemingly has no impact on at least one tree in the region. At the westernmost end, the province boasts a colossal ancient banyan tree at Anantapur‘s village, Gutibayalu. With branches spreading over five acres, its girth earned it a place in Guinness World Records. To put it in perspective, the tree is larger than an average Wal-Mart. Locally referred to as “Thimmamma Marrimanu,” it sports over 1,000 prop roots.

The Pinnacles

By Linda Tancs

Take a three hours’ drive north of Perth (the capital of Western Australia) and you’ll encounter the otherworldly Pinnacles in Nambung National Park. The Pinnacles comprise limestone shells cast as pillars in the desert landscape of the park, their sheer numbers (and oddball shapes and sizes) creating an alien-like environment. They date back millions of years to an epoch when the sand was beneath the sea. The ride down Indian Ocean Drive is well worth it for the views of coastline fringed by white beaches and colorful native bushland, but you can also get there via coach or a 4WD tour from Perth.

A Different Kind of Library

By Linda Tancs

Multnomah Whiskey Library in downtown Portland, Oregon, puts a new twist on getting into the spirit of things. A haven for aficionados of whiskey and other distilled spirits, the locale boasts an exhaustive collection that’s always in flux, from nascent Irish distillers to 19th century Scottish gems from Speyside. Like any library, they have members, but visitors can obtain a “Hall Pass” to jump the nightly line.

Larger Than Life in Mongolia

By Linda Tancs

Genghis Khan, Mongolia’s national hero, united the country’s nomadic tribes and reigned over one of the largest contiguous empires in history, creating a powerful political and cultural force in the process. No wonder, then, that his image (atop a horse) should rise prominently over the plains of Mongolia about 35 miles east of the capital. That’s where you’ll find the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, reportedly the largest equestrian statue in the world. The 131-foot-tall memorial of Genghis Khan and his horse is rendered in stainless steel (250 tons of it) and sits atop the Mongolian steppe (grasslands). An elevator to the horse’s head rewards visitors with panoramic views.

Where Louisville Begins

By Linda Tancs

Situated on 55 rolling acres just six miles upriver from downtown Louisville, Kentucky, Locust Grove is a 1790 Georgian mansion that welcomed a generation of American luminaries, such as U.S. presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, John James Audubon, Cassius Marcellus Clay and explorers Lewis and Clark. A National Historic Landmark, the homestead was built by William and Lucy Clark Croghan. Lucy’s brother, General George Rogers Clark, was a Revolutionary War hero and founder of Louisville. Daily tours offer a step back in time to the early days of Louisville’s history.

A Grand Mansion in the Illinois Valley

By Linda Tancs

The stately Hegeler Carus Mansion in La Salle, Illinois, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a National Historic Landmark. Virtually unaltered since its completion in the late 1800s, the mansion is made of solid brick covered with a type of stucco that has been smoothed and tooled to resemble massive stone blocks. Because zinc (which does not rust) was readily available from the nearby Matthiessen & Hegeler Zinc Company, the metal is used throughout the mansion, including on its flat roof, gutters and downspouts. Designed by the architect of Chicago’s famous Water Tower, the residence features a horse shoe staircase and an elegant wrap-around porch that graces three sides of the home, a full story above ground. In addition to being the Hegeler family homestead, the grand estate also became home to Open Court Publishing Company, launched in 1887 by Edward Hegeler to provide a forum for the discussion of philosophy, science and religion and to make philosophical classics widely available by making them affordable.

Preserving Hawaiian Heritage

By Linda Tancs

Formed in 1996 by preservationists Sam and Mary Cooke, the Mānoa Heritage Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a center for preservation of Hawaii’s natural and cultural heritage. The Center consists of four distinct areas: a native garden with a collection of 30 to 40 species, a Polynesian-introduced garden (also known as canoe plants), a heiau (the only intact ancient Hawaiian temple in the district of Waikiki) and a Tudor-style house built in 1911 and presently the private residence of Sam and Mary Cooke. The heiau and historic home are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Currently, only guided tours of the heiau and garden are available, but the house is being readied to become a historic house museum.

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