Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for January, 2014

The Runes of Oklahoma

By Linda Tancs

Mysterious carvings known as runes bring curious visitors to Oklahoma’s Heavener Runestone Park, located atop Poteau Mountain in the edge of the Ouachita Mountains that stretch across the Arkansas – Oklahoma border.  The park’s centerpiece is the Heavener Runestone, a massive boulder bearing what some believe is an ancient Viking inscription claiming the discovery of this land in present day Oklahoma.  Of course, the only known Viking settlement in North America is located considerably north in Newfoundland.  So is the rune a ruse?  You be the judge.

A Weald View

By Linda Tancs

The views across the weald are stunning at Ditchling Beacon, East Sussex’s highest point in England’s South Downs National Park.  Kite flying is, unsurprisingly, a fun activity there.  It’s also a great spot for sheep spotting, hiking and blackberry picking.  This time of year, though, you’d best look forward to a bracing winter walk; conveniently, the South Downs Way national trail runs right through Ditchling Beacon.

The Land of Canaan

By Linda Tancs

In the 1700s the wild valley on the western slope of the Alleghenies looked like the Promised Land to an adventurer in the region.  Or so the story goes.  Regardless of its veracity, that valley is known as the Canaan Valley in West Virginia.  Home to the country’s 500th National Wildlife Refuge, its cool and moist climate provides a haven for 580 species of plants and 288 different animals.  Endangered bats, salamander, dragonflies and priority bird species such as brown thrasher, Eastern towhee, and American woodcock no doubt find it heavenly.

 

The Smallest City in England

By Linda Tancs

The medieval city of Wells is the smallest city in England.  Just 45 minutes from Bath (a UNESCO World Heritage City), this historic place gets its name from the springs that bubbled up during Roman times.  Today those springs form part of Bishop’s Palace, home of the Bishop of Bath and Wells for over 800 years.  The uniquely moated palace is famous for its resident swans that ring a bell alongside the gatehouse when they want food.

North America’s Only Viking Settlement

By Linda Tancs

Five centuries before Columbus, the Vikings’ trek westward toward North America is recounted in their ancient sagas.  Settling in what is now known as L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, their colony was excavated in the 1960s by an international team of archaeologists from Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and the United States.  A National Historic Site of Canada, this 11th century Norse settlement is the first and only known site established by the Norse in North America.

No Man’s Island

By Linda Tancs

Three miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts is a real “no man’s land.”  Nomans Land Island National Wildlife Refuge, a one-time Naval training ground, aerial bombardment and gunnery range, is closed to all public uses due to the risk of unexploded ordnance.  But its intertidal beach, rocky shores, shrub habitat and abundant wetlands are welcoming hosts to common terns and double-crested cormorants (as well as migrating monarch butterflies).  Literally, this place is for the birds.

Hong Kong Foodies

By Linda Tancs

If you have no idea what a Chinese menu says but want to eat like a local, then maybe a Hong Kong Foodie tour is for you.  Lasting nearly four hours, these guided walking tours are conducted by a local.  You’ll taste samples at six local restaurants serving Hong Kong food.  All participants will receive a map with the tour route and directions to the closest MTR stations.  Bring your appetite.

Honeymoon Island

By Linda Tancs

Halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii in the South Pacific, the Cook Islands are a quieter alternative to their more bustling neighbors.  Replete with the requisite white sand beaches, clear lagoons, lush rainforests and volcanic mountains, the main draws are Rarotonga (the largest of the Cooks) and Aitutaki, a short plane ride away.  Called the Honeymoon Island, Aitutaki is a destination wedding dream waiting to happen, thanks to its sparkling lagoon, sandbars, coral ridges and motu.  It’s also rumored to have the best dance recital performance in the island chain.  Kia Orana!

A Wigwam in Connecticut

By Linda Tancs

Located in Washington, Connecticut, the Institute for American Indian Studies celebrates New England’s indigenous history. Open year round, the museum features a replicated Algonkian village complete with long house (the chief’s residence) and wigwams. A series of nature trails through the 15-acre property leads to the village. There are five tribes recognized by the State of Connecticut, each with a reservation: the Mashantucket Pequot, Paucatuck Eastern Pequot, Mohegan, Schaghticoke and Golden Hill Paugussett.

Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor

By Linda Tancs

Since 1884 the notables–and not so notables–have been quenching their thirst at the Genoa Bar and Saloon on Main Street in Genoa, Nevada.  The state’s oldest saloon was built in 1853, sporting curiosities like a trap door next to the pool table (the cold storage cellar), a red oil lamp (lit every year on New Year’s Eve) and a mirror from the 1840s layered with diamond dust.  Famous visitors include Mark Twain, Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt, Carol Lombard, Clark Gable, Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash.  If only the walls could talk.

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