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Archive for November, 2010

Hoover Dam Celebrates 75 Years

By Linda Tancs

The Hoover Dam, located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas on the Arizona/Nevada border, was a landmark at its inception 75 years ago in 1935, when it was built to control the flow of the Colorado River and generate power.  Now this tourism staple has another dimension to offer visitors:  a concrete arch bridge bearing the distinction of being the largest in the Western Hemisphere.  Built for national security reasons, the imposing bypass bridge offers enviable panoramic views at an elevation of 900 feet.  In addition to a sidewalk on the north side of the bridge for optimum viewing of the dam, the project will ultimately include a parking lot, trail, and interpretive plaza.

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The West’s Most Western Town

By Linda Tancs

Located in Arizona’s Sonoran desert, the city of Scottsdale‘s origins began in 1888 when U.S. Army Chaplain Winfield Scott (hence, the name) made a down payment on 640 acres near the present-day downtown to start a farming operation.  Its ranching and homesteading heritage earned the young community the moniker “The West’s Most Western Town.”  Now the official city motto, the locale is a popular vacation and conference destination.  And why not, with 330 sunny days each year.

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Quaint Quedlinburg

By Linda Tancs

The Harz Mountains is a mountain range in central Germany in the district of Sachsen-Anhalt.  At its foot about 1300 houses showcasing centuries of architectual history grant Quedlinburg status as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Its quaint half-timbered houses are a medieval testament to a bustling 10th century political and social mecca presided over by King Heinrich I.  For spectacular views, ride the narrow gauge steam train of the Selke Valley Railway on the line from Magdeburg at Quedlinburg station.

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Tour Operator Pitches Hands-On Travel

By Linda Tancs

You won’t find the word culturious in the dictionary, but if you did, it would probably be defined as a state of mind.  That’s what the folks at Tauck are promoting with their cultural immersion tours known as Culturious.  Covering destinations like Costa Rica, Cinque Terre and Namibia, the small group tours are calculated to stretch your mind as well as your legs.   Physical activity ranges from walking to kayaking, bicycling or horseback riding.  You’ll expand your horizons by participating in activities like making a meal with a French chef, picking coffee beans on a Costa Rican plantation and watching a restoration specialist in Florence follow her passion.  In other words, you’ll have an authentic travel experience.  Isn’t that the point of travel, after all?

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An Ocean Journey in Tennessee

By Linda Tancs

They’re sleeping with the fishes in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the city’s aquarium on Broad Street.  The largest freshwater aquarium in the world, the facility offers overnight visits for families and large groups alike.  The event includes a tour of both River Journey (an exhibition of river otters, turtles, alligators, giant catfish and thousands of freshwater species) and Ocean Journey (a collection of penguins, sharks, colorful fish, invertebrates and scores of other deep sea creatures).  You can interact with their keepers, too, and get a glimpse of life behind the scenes–that is, below the surface.

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100 Years of Green in Israel

By Linda Tancs

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism website says that “Israel is one of two countries on earth that has more trees today than it did 100 years ago.” That may seem surprising to those familiar with the Jerusalem hills, populated with natural forests, terraced hillsides and ancient agricultural settlements. Yet four centuries of Ottoman rule resulted in millions of trees cut down because property taxes were calculated by the number of trees owned by landowners. Now Israel celebrates its greening by promoting a host of eco-tourism activities. Visiting a Kibbutz is a classic way to experience the earliest impetus towards green living. Another highlight of green Israel is The Ariel Sharon Ayalon Park, a metropolitan park boasting tropical gardens located just outside of Tel Aviv, formerly the 2,000-acre Hiriya garbage dump. You can explore the city’s tree-lined boulevards by bicycle (another eco-friendly act) or camel trek through the wilderness to a quiet evening in a goat-hair Bedouin tent. Whatever you decide, a carbon-reduced date with history awaits you.

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Arts and Crafts Flourishes in New Jersey

By Linda Tancs

There’s a National Historic Landmark tucked away in the central New Jersey township of Parsippany-Troy Hills.  One of only 55 such landmarks in the state, the property is Craftsman Farms, the former home of noted turn-of-the-century designer Gustav Stickley.  A major proponent of the “Arts and Crafts” home building and furnishing movement, Stickley’s 1905 log home rests on 30 quiet acres.  A centerpiece, the Main House, has recently been restored to its 1910-1917 appearance.  In the tradition of other great American homes like Washington’s Mount Vernon, Stickley’s earthy masterpiece is self-sufficient, sporting gardens for vegetables and flowers, as well as orchards, dairy cows and chickens.  Located on Manor Lane, the log house is open for guided tours on weekends year round.

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