Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for June, 2015

The Birthplace of Modern Democracy

By Linda Tancs

At a riverside site near Windsor Castle, Britain’s King John signed the Magna Carta 800 years ago today.  Lauded as one of the greatest constitutional documents of all time, it derived from a meeting between the King and a clutch of angry barons at Runnymede.  It was a peace treaty of sorts, designed to quell the growing rebellion among barons against arbitrary and capricious policies of a tyrannical king seeking to line his own pockets.  There are four remaining original copies of Magna Carta–two copies belong to the British Library, one copy is at Lincoln Cathedral and one is at Salisbury Cathedral.  Today Queen Elizabeth II will attend commemoration events at Runnymede.

Idaho’s Volcanic Wonderland

By Linda Tancs

Along Idaho’s Snake River Plain a series of eruptions over 15,000 years ago formed a volcanic wonderland known as Craters of the Moon National Monument. And yes, the name does derive from its lunar-like appearance, a moniker popularized by promoter Robert Limbert in a national magazine article. Dormant rather than extinct, the area comprises more than 25 cinder cones, each one a small volcano. This time of year tiny wildflowers in neat little rows adorn the cinder slopes of the monument. Rest assured, there’s no professional landscaping here. The plants space themselves naturally to compete for limited resources in this harsh environment.

Ode to Indy

By Linda Tancs

What racing enthusiast wouldn’t want to lay down a hot lap for a chance to qualify for the Indy 500! You can indulge that fantasy at Dallara IndyCar Factory in Speedway, Indiana. Located near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the facility offers visitors the chance to get behind the wheel of full car simulators or box cart simulators equipped with iRacing. That feature is part of their Interactive Zone, where racing buffs can also immerse themselves in Dallara Automobili history and learn the engineering of an IndyCar. Want to take a victory lap at the Speedway? They offer that, too; choose a two-seat IndyCar, Nascar, or event car.

The Paper Island

By Linda Tancs

Thailand’s southernmost island is Koh Lipe, a quiet paradise in the Andaman Sea near Malaysia.  Its name has been roughly translated from the local language to mean “paper island.” From the looks of it, that’s an apt description.  The island is flat, and its pure white beaches (three main ones) resemble a sheet of white paper. Now in low season, the good weather is coupled with low tourism (although the island in no way approaches the hustle and bustle of Phuket even in high season). Accessible only by boat, in low season the main transport hub is the pier at Pak Bara in Satun.  Don’t go there via Phuket, though; the ride to Pak Bara is about seven hours’ long. From Hat Yai it’s only two hours by taxi to the pier.

Rocky Mountain High

By Linda Tancs

The Rocky Mountains have their share of high points. For instance, there’s Grays Peak, the highest point along the Continental Divide and the Rockies’ 10th highest summit. Longs Peak is another high and prominent summit, beckoning climbers like Rev. William Butler (who climbed it on his 85th birthday) and Clerin “Zumie” Zumwalt, who summited 53 times. Those peaks are both located in Colorado, the home of Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is in the midst of a year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary. Free talks, walks and evening programs are being offered until the centennial celebration closes in September; be sure to check their schedule of events.

The World’s Longest Porch

By Linda Tancs

A National Historic Landmark, Michigan’s Mackinac Island is a refuge from a bygone era, where bikes and horse drawn carriages rule the roads. Enjoy spectacular views of the Straits of Mackinac in a rocking chair at the Grand Hotel, another national landmark boasting the world’s longest porch. The island’s splendor is particularly striking in bloom season. Tomorrow through June 14 is the 66th Annual Lilac Festival, the largest summer event.

On the Avenue in Richmond

By Linda Tancs

Dotted with Gothic and Classical Revival churches as well as stately homes in the Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial, Tudor Revival, French Renaissance and Italian Renaissance styles, Monument Avenue Historic District is a leafy enclave in Richmond, Virginia.  One of only two National Historic Landmark districts in the city, it’s the nation’s only grand residential boulevard with monuments of its scale surviving virtually intact. The street, extending for some five miles from inner city Richmond westward into Henrico County, takes its name from a series of monumental statues that mark its major intersections. The statue of Virginia native Robert E. Lee is the largest and grandest of them all, featuring a 12-ton bronze statue that is over 20 feet high sitting on a 40-foot-high granite pedestal designed by French architect Paul Pujot. Although the avenue sports its share of Confederate heroes, a notable exception is the Arthur Ashe statue, dedicated in 1996 to Richmond’s native humanitarian, scholar and athlete.

The Big Three

By Linda Tancs

In 1945, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin met at Livadia Palace near Yalta in Crimea to discuss Europe’s post-World War II reorganization. Known as the Yalta Conference, it was one of three meetings of the so-called Big Three.  Seventy years later, Russia has unveiled a colossal monument to the Big Three in Yalta to commemorate the historic gathering. The 10-ton bronze sculpture features figures that are 10 feet high.

The Great Divide

By Linda Tancs

The Continental Divide is an epic hydrological divide separating the watersheds draining into the Atlantic Ocean from those draining into the Pacific Ocean. In the United States, its route is over 3,000 miles long, extending from the Canadian border with Montana to the Mexican boundary in southwest New Mexico. Following this course you’ll find the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, part of a series of national trails established by Congress in recognition of their natural beauty. The Continental Divide trail in particular passes through 25 national forests, 21 wilderness areas and three national parks, providing access to spectacular vistas in some of the most scenic places left in the world. The highest point is in Colorado at Grays Peak (14,270 feet) and the lowest is along Waterton Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana (4,200 feet). The long winter season along the Divide (September through May) is now over. Why not plan a hiking or camping trip! From backpacking to family day trips, there’s something for everyone.

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