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Archive for August, 2012

Get Ready for Boomsday

By Linda Tancs

Knoxville, Tennessee has been voted one of the top 20 vacation destinations in the United States.  Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, the charming city is steeped in history, home to seven homes from the Civil War and the First Frontier.  And speaking of the Civil War, here you’ll find a collection on Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, first admiral of the U.S. Navy and Civil War hero, at the Farragut Folklife Museum.  But arguably the city’s greatest attraction is Boomsday, heralded as the largest Labor Day fireworks celebration in the country.  The 25th annual boom fest will take place on 2 September at Volunteer Landing along the Tennessee River in downtown Knoxville from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Fireworks will begin around 9:30.  Admission is free, with only a nominal charge for food, drinks and games.  Now that’s something to celebrate.

 

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The Blowhole in Baja

By Linda Tancs

Seventeen miles south of Ensenada, Mexico, is the second largest marine geyser in the world, La Bufadora. Spouting 60 feet into the air, the spectacle is caused by the pressure created when ocean waves are forced into a partially submerged sea cavern. Just as wonderful as the overwater view is the underwater view, diving being hailed as a real treat in this area with an abundance of sea life and visibility up to 80 feet. To get there, head south out of Ensenada until you reach Maneadero. There are clearly marked signs for the exit to La Bufadora.

Paris of the West Indies

By Linda Tancs

Prior to its destruction by an eruption of Mt. Pelée in 1902, Martinique’s then capital, Saint-Pierre, was known as the little Paris of the West Indies.  Although the capital has changed, little else has altered the island’s French flair to disturb its status as little Paris.  As an overseas department of France, you can imagine that gastronomy figures strong, in this case marrying French and Creole cuisines.   Don’t be surprised to see your fried foie gras blended with exotic local fruits and vegetables like guava, sour sop, cassava, christophine, breadfruit, okra or plantain.  Even the rum has been awarded the prestigious French label “appellation d’origine contrôlée,” previously reserved only for French cheeses and wines.  So have a ti’ punch (derived from the French word petit) and let the culinary magic begin.

A Garden Party

By Linda Tancs

England’s Great Dixter House and Gardens in Northiam is a gardener’s delight.  The manor, built for Richard Wakehurst, retains its medieval charm and characteristics and is one of the longest surviving timber-framed halls in the country.  A stunning feature of the gardens is that they follow the exterior of the house.  The fluid design includes yew topiary, meadows, mixed borders, a rectangled wall garden, the sunk garden, the high garden (typical of Edwardian times), an exotic (tropical) garden and the long border (with its high season from mid-June to mid-August).   Take your cues from an expertly designed English garden.  The site offers instruction on everything from vegetable planting to exotic gardening and planting techniques.

The Nature Island

By Linda Tancs

The Caribbean island of Dominica identifies itself as The Nature Island.  Let us count the ways.  Volcanic peaks.  Check.  Boiling waters.  Check.   Underwater springs.  Check. Waterfalls.  Check.  Rushing streams.  Check.  Rainforest canopies.  Check.  And 300 miles of trails to see it all.  Naturally, you should go.

Stingrays On the Loose

By Linda Tancs

Grand Cayman is the largest of the Cayman Islands, a hotspot for diving and snorkeling.  That’s especially true at Stingray City, a natural haven for southern stingrays who move with ease among their guests.  They say that these gentle creatures started gathering in the area decades ago to feed on the remains of fishermen’s catches.  Thankfully, they won’t feed on you.  The story goes that kissing a stingray brings you seven years of good luck.  What have you got to lose?

England’s Most Scenic Railway

By Linda Tancs

The Settle-Carlisle Railway takes you on a 72-mile journey through England’s Yorkshire Dales, a scenic excursion including such attractions as the market town of Settle; Horton and the Three Peaks region of the Dales; the Ribblehead Viaduct; Dent (the highest station above sea level in England); Pendragon Castle (the legendary birthplace of King Arthur) at Kirkby Stephen; the picturesque village of Armathwaite and its salmon fishing; and Carlisle, within easy reach of Hadrian’s Wall and the castle once home to Mary Queen of Scots.  Local residents may qualify for a Dales Railcard.  Visitors to Britain can use their Britrail pass to travel on the line.  You can thank The Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line for fighting against a proposal to close this famous historic and scenic route.

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