Travelrific® Travel Journal

Picture postcards in prose.™ Check out the blogroll on the front page for official merchandise and other resources!

Home on the Stadium

By Linda Tancs

Home on the range (the title of an old cowboy song) is one thing. A home on the stadium is another. That’s the case for the Hank Aaron Childhood Home & Museum, which was relocated some years ago to rest at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. The house was built in 1942 by Hank’s dad and increased in size in subsequent years. Voted one of the best baseball museums in the country, the house chronicles both his life and storied career and features several family artifacts. The house is located at the front of the stadium.

A Time Capsule in Durham

By Linda Tancs

It isn’t every day you get to literally walk through a time capsule, so a place like the Beamish Museum in England’s County Durham is a real treat. Arguably one of the best open-air, living museums in the world, it offers faithful replicas of life in the Northeast from the 1800s to the 1950s. Among its many charms you’ll find a look at Rowley Station as it existed in Edwardian times, a replica of renowned Georgian quilter Joseph Hedley’s home, coal community cottages and a farm from the 1940s. The 300-acre site is served by vintage trams and buses. The closest train station to the museum is Chester-le-Street, where regular bus service from the town centre to Beamish takes about 20 minutes.

Cape Cod’s Oldest Church

By Linda Tancs

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Indian Meeting House in Mashpee, Massachusetts, is the oldest Native American church in the eastern U.S. and the oldest church on Cape Cod. According to many sources, it was built in 1684. Located next to the cemetery on Route 28, it’s of extraordinary importance to the Wampanoag Tribe and has been extensively renovated.

A Pearl in the Gulf

By Linda Tancs

Manama, the modern capital of the Gulf island nation of Bahrain, has been at the center of major trade routes since antiquity. More than 6,000 years of its history is recounted at the Bahrain National Museum, the largest and oldest public museum in the country. One of the facility’s highlights is the Hall of Dilmun (the name of an ancient independent kingdom), which explores the island’s supremacy as a trading route linking the Near East to the Indian subcontinent. It houses archaeological finds from ancient settlements, including Dilmunite pottery and remains of a Barbar temple. One of the nation’s main cultural landmarks, the museum is centrally located on an artificial peninsula overlooking the island of Muharraq.

Where Prairies Meet Peaks

By Linda Tancs

There’s no such thing as a bad time to visit Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada. It just depends on your taste. This time of year the wildlife viewing is best, especially for black bear, elk, bighorn sheep and deer roaming around larch and aspen groves sporting brilliant shades of yellow and gold. If springtime color is your pleasure, then you’ll love the wildflowers exploding in the prairies, including Waterton’s signature beargrass. Summer brings the thickest crowds and recreational experiences, whereas winter promises more solitude framed by snowy backdrops of the Rocky Mountains. The park borders Montana’s Glacier National Park.

The World’s Sunniest City

By Linda Tancs

Sun worshippers, take note. The sun is mostly always shining in Yuma, Arizona. In fact, the locale has been designated the World’s Sunniest City by Guinness World Records! To put that in perspective, the annual average of the possible hours of sunshine is 91 percent (a mean of 4,055 hours out of 4,456 possible hours in a year). Thankfully, there’s much to do to take advantage of that. The area boasts nearly a dozen golf courses, for starters. Or maybe you’d like to off-road on the dunes or spot desert critters at one of the three national wildlife refuges. And then there’s the Colorado River and lakes, which offer tubing, canoeing and boating opportunities. About 15 miles south of Yuma is another bit of terrain worth exploring although it requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Known as the Valley of the Names, it’s a remote desert in California (Yuma being the nearest city) comprising 1,200 acres of land filled with signatures, dates, messages and drawings made from rocks. Legend has it that the practice started during World War II, when soldiers stationed in the area for desert warfare training wanted to leave a memento for loved ones. If you go, stay on the trails, and don’t be tempted to add your own messages or take any rocks from the site.

A Giant in Italy

By Linda Tancs

Nearly three times the actual size of its subject, the Colossus of Barletta in Italy is a bronze statue of a Roman emperor (thought to be Theodosius II) in Barletta’s city center. An icon of the city, the 16-foot-high structure is also known as “the Giant.” Legend has it that the statue was found in 1204 on a rock in the port of Barletta following the sinking of a Venetian ship returning from a crusade. The more sensible explanation for its appearance is that it was transported to Puglia from Ravenna by imperial decree to serve as an embellishment. You’ll find it in front of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Most Flemish City

By Linda Tancs

Sometimes referred to as “the most Flemish city of the North,” Haarlem is one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands, its historic city center boasting hundreds of listed monuments. Many of them surround Grote Markt (great market), the oldest part of the city in the shadow of St. Bavo Cathedral. Situated along the river Spaarne, one of the locale’s icons is the functional and imposing De Adriaan windmill, where guided tours are offered in English. An easy day trip from Amsterdam, Haarlem has two railway stations and a bus connection with Schiphol Airport. 

The Turning Point in New York

By Linda Tancs

During America’s Revolutionary War in 1777, American troops battled and beat a British invasion force at Saratoga Battlefield, marking the first time in world history that a British army ever surrendered to another country, an event which helped to secure American independence. The battlefield (in Stillwater, New York) is the largest of four parts comprising Saratoga National Historical Park, an area encompassing Stillwater, Schuylerville and Victory, New York. In Victory, you’ll find a 155-foot obelisk commemorating the American victory; the surrender site (open April through November) is marked by an outdoor memorial just outside Schuylerville. Tours of the battlefield are self-guiding, using information in the park brochure available at the Visitor Center.

Conservationist History in Vermont

By Linda Tancs

The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion in Woodstock, Vermont, was built in 1805 for pioneering conservationist George Perkins Marsh. Originally rendered in the Federal style, it would undergo renovations under its subsequent owner Frederick Billings (a conservationist and pioneer in reforestation) to a Stick style mansion before taking its current shape in the Queen Anne style. Laurance Spelman Rockefeller and Mary French Rockefeller inherited the house in 1954, and it became a National Historic Landmark in 1967. Now part of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, it’s the only park in the nation that tells the story of conservation history and the evolving nature of land stewardship in America. Guided ranger tours (May through October) include stories revealed by the objects inside the mansion as well as a tour exploring the conservation legacy of the three families who called this place home. You’ll also want to explore the stunning gardens of the mansion grounds and take a walk through the woodland carriage roads and trails along the forested slopes of Mount Tom, one of the oldest, professionally managed woodlands in America. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Woodstock from Mount Tom’s South Peak.

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