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Archive for April, 2011

A Day Fit for a Queen

By Linda Tancs

The House of Orange (the Dutch royal family) takes center stage on 30 April with the celebration of Queen’s Day, a national holiday celebrating the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands.  Beatrix, the current queen, was actually born in January but celebrates her birthday on this day in April, her mother’s birthdate.  Orange banners, orange-colored foods and drinks, and copious amounts of people in orange clothing dancing in the streets and in boats along the canals rule the day. 

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The Castled Crag of Drachenfels

By Linda Tancs

“The castled crag of Drachenfels/Frowns o’er the wide and winding Rhine” wrote English Romantic poet Lord Byron.  That’s a reference to Drachenfels, a 1,053 foot mountain range near Bonn, Germany.   The ruined castle atop the mountain bears the same name.  A newer castle, down the Rhine and frequently referred to as the Neuschwanstein of the Rhine, is named Schloss Drachenburg, a palace constructed in the late 19th century.  A German legend recounts the slaying of a dragon in a cave in the mountain.  Hence, the mountain is named the “Dragon’s Rock”, or Drachenfels.  An electric railcar connects the summit with the resort town of Koenigswinter.

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An Epic Voyage

By Linda Tancs

Epic means, among other things, to extend beyond the ordinary.  Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ship, Norwegian Epic, takes that definition seriously.  Consider The Studios, the first cruise accommodations designed for solo travelers.  There’s also the first ice bar and the largest bowl slide on water–an Epic Plunge, indeed.  Not to mention the largest spa at sea.  Sounds pretty extraordinary.

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The Road to the Right

By Linda Tancs

Just past the entrance to Laguna La Restringa on Margarita Island, Venezuela you will come to a split in the road.  Take the road to the right to see the bird life of this western remote area of the island known as the Peninsula de Macanao.  Small green parrots and fire engine red cardinals dominate; an easy thing to do in a habitat devoid of tourism owing to lack of water and essential services.  Enjoy it while it lasts.

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The 40-Foot Pheasant

By Linda Tancs

When the first settlers of the Dakota Territory arrived in the 1880s, rumors swirled about a giant pheasant.  Legend has it that the elusive bird produced the winds of the Dakota Prairie, his footprints in the spring forming creeks and river valleys.  The tale is memorialized on Highway 14 in Huron, South Dakota in the form of a 28 foot, 22 ton fiberglass pheasant.  Eight miles west of Huron on the highway you can see real ringnecks at the Maga Ta-Hohpi Waterfowl Production Area, part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Named Maga Ta-Hohpi (meaning “duck nest) by the Sioux Indians who dedicated the area in 1992, the refuge system includes breeding and nesting habitats for millions of waterfowl and is home to hundreds of wildlfie species including fish, migratory birds, pheasants, deer, and many other plants and animals.

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The Buffalo City

By Linda Tancs

Jamestown, North Dakota is The Buffalo City, home to the world’s largest buffalo statue–a 26-foot-tall, 60-ton concrete giant at the Frontier Village.  Adjacent to the Frontier Village is a herd of real bison roaming 250 acres, including three rare albino bison.  Culturally and historically significant, the bison’s saga from prehistoric times to the present is preserved at the National Buffalo Museum.  Here’s one opportunity where you won’t mind being buffaloed.

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A Place for Rock Hounds

By Linda Tancs

There’s a crimson tide just 15 minutes from Las Vegas.  No, it’s not an algal bloom.  It’s a massive rock formation made red by the accumulation of iron oxide.  The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area receives 1.2 million visitors a year.  Part of the Mojave Desert, the 13-mile scenic loop drive features sandstone, limestone Indian roasting pits, waterfalls, Indian “handprints” and pictographs at Willow Springs.  The conservation area is home to about 200 different mammals like burros, coyotes, bighorn sheep, red tailed hawks, wild horses, bobcats and mountain lions.  Enjoy life on the wild side–without the neon lights.

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