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Archive for January, 2015

Two Heroines

By Linda Tancs

Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is no stranger to adverse forces.  Although most might best remember the damage wrought by the 2004 tsunami, this southern province has battled against adverse influences for centuries.  For instance, during the Battle of Thalang in 1785 the Burmese sought control of this island paradise and might have won it were it not for the marshaling of troops led by two sisters.  Driving the Burmese to retreat, the two women became local heroines and were bestowed honorary titles by a grateful King Rama I.  The Two Heroines Monument is located on Krasattri Road.

Arizona’s First All-American Road

By Linda Tancs

Short on miles but long on views.  That’s what you can expect from Arizona’s Red Rock Scenic Byway, winding its way through the iconic red rock region of Sedona as well as the Village of Oak Creek.  The road’s designation as an All-American Road means that it is a destination unto itself.  Just a mere 7.5 miles long, the scenes include the juniper and pine-rich environment of Coconino National Forest, rock formations like Castle Rock, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, three golf courses and ample terrain for hikers and mountain bikers.

Raising a Glass in Kansas

By Linda Tancs

Prohibition was a 13-year ban on the sale of alcohol in the United States, beginning in 1920 and ending in 1933.  Someone forgot to tell Kansas.  Boasting some of the strictest alcohol laws in the nation, the state prohibited the sale of alcohol in open saloons until 1987.  The change in law spelled good news for Free State Brewing Company, becoming in 1989 the first legal brewery in Kansas in over 100 years.  The brewery is just one signature attraction on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence, voted the cutest downtown street in the state.  Commonly known as Mass Street, the 600 through 1200 block is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thirty Miles in Every Direction

By Linda Tancs

In St. Louis, Missouri, the Gateway Arch is more than just a great view (30 miles in every direction, in fact): it’s a gateway to the past.  Symbolizing the nation’s westward expansion, the steel-clad monument is home to the Museum of Westward Expansion, a Lewis and Clark inspired tribute to the Old West and the explorers who helped forge a nation.  Animatronic figures bring the past to life, along with interactive exhibits including a tipi and covered wagon.

Courage Up Close

By Linda Tancs

A symbol of courage, the USS Alabama (nicknamed the Mighty A), saw 37 months of active duty during World War II, earning nine battle stars and becoming one of America’s most decorated battleships.   Now anchored at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, you can experience courage up close.  The park’s Wall of Honor inside the Medal of Honor Aircraft Pavilion honors the 9,583 Alabama citizens who have died in combat since World War I.   The pavilion honors those 29 Alabama citizens who have received the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor given by the United States of America.

A Rocky Ride in Nicaragua

By Linda Tancs

Forty-five minutes from León, Nicaragua, stands Cerro Negro (Black Hill), Central America’s youngest volcano.  A mere child at nearly 165 years, its crater offers amazing views of volcanic chain Los Maribios, not to mention the sensory overload of heat and sulfur gas owing to its active nature.  In recent years, it’s found favor beyond avid hikers and volcanologists:  the adventure set have taken to boarding down its rocky, ash wall.  Thanks to Nature’s thinly-milled rock, thrill seekers can opt for a modified snowboard ride down a forbidding slope at even more forbidding speed (50 miles per hour or more).  Wear long pants, and prepare for a hard landing.

The 2015 European Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

Welcome to a new year and two new European Union capitals of culture:  Mons in Belgium and Pilsen in the Czech Republic.  The major exhibitions in Mons feature Van Gogh’s emergence as an artist in the Borinage, the poetic metamorphosis of Paul Verlaine, and the Battle of Lumecon in the main square where St. George slays the dragon.  The opening ceremony for Mons 2015 will be held on 24 January.  Like Mons, Pilsen will promote great personalities associated with the city, like Jiří Trnka (the Walt Disney of the East), Ladislav Sutnar (a pioneer in information graphics) and the architecture of Adolf Loos.  The festivities officially launch in Pilsen on 17 January.

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