Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for December, 2015

Something Wild in Oregon

By Linda Tancs

There’s always something wild going on at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Extending one mile into the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon coast, this oceanfront park with a beach reveals an array of life. At low tide the ocean floor unveils pools of colorful animals including orange sea stars, purple sea urchins and giant green anemones. Harbor seals and peregrine falcons vie for attention. And around this time of year the gray whales are on their migratory path to Mexico. Above all else (literally) is Yaquina Head, the state’s tallest lighthouse at 93 feet, boasting a fully automated first order Fresnel lens. The lighthouse is open for limited, ranger-led tours.

Under the Blanket of Snow

By Linda Tancs

Hurricane Ridge is the most easily accessed mountain area within Olympic National Park in Washington State. Blanketed with over 10 feet of snow for most of the winter, snow enthusiasts enjoy the winter scenery, along with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding. The snow moles, on the other hand, enjoy their privacy. Endemic to the park, Olympic snow moles are scurrying beneath this blanket of snow, which provides them with ample water for the short summer season ahead.

Chocolate for a Cause

By Linda Tancs

Famagusta Gate is one of three original entrances into the old city of Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. Not surprisingly, it serves as a cultural center. This weekend you could call it a chocolate center. That’s because the third annual chocolate festival is coming to town. A festive event, previous participants included ION chocolate, Lindt, Kalopesas and Platres Chocolate Workshop. Live chocolate shows, lessons and exhibitions are on the agenda. As usual, proceeds will be donated to local charities, a good reason to indulge without guilt.

The Graveyard of the Pacific

By Linda Tancs

The Columbia River Bar represents a clash of the titans. That’s where the mighty Columbia River (the largest in the Pacific Northwest) meets the Pacific Ocean. As the river surges towards its meeting point, it drops a deposit of sand and silt that extends six miles into the ocean. Not surprisingly, this can result in a navigational nightmare. In fact, since 1792 around 2,000 ships have sunk in this area, earning it the moniker “Graveyard of the Pacific.” One of the most popular shipwrecks is the Peter Iredale. Its skeletal remains are on the beach at Clapsop Spit at Fort Stevens State Park in Hammond, Oregon.

The Graveyard of the Atlantic

By Linda Tancs

Shipwrecks play a major role in the history of the ocean just offshore of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a region appropriately named the Graveyard of the Atlantic. From Kitty Hawk south to Ocracoke, you can snorkel or dive around 3,000 wrecks, including the first colonial ships of the 1500s and the most German U-boats sunk off any state coast in America. Landlubbers need not miss out. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras offers a full range of exhibits, programs and events covering all major wrecks as well as the area’s cultural and coastal history.

On the Ridge of First Mountain

By Linda Tancs

Originally known as “Kypsburg,” Kip’s Castle and its grounds span the ridge of First Mountain, on the border between Montclair and Verona townships in New Jersey. Constructed in the early 1900s for textile inventor and industrialist Frederick Ellsworth Kip and his wife, the estate’s glorious 9,000-square-foot mansion replicates a medieval Norman castle. The first floor is open for self-guided tours, a particular treat this time of year with holiday décor in full swing.

An Alaskan Hero

By Linda Tancs

On January 20, 1925, an outbreak of diphtheria in remote Nome, Alaska, made heroes out of a team of sled dogs thanks to their familiarity with the Iditarod Trail, a 674-mile route typically used to carry mail from Anchorage. In just six days a team of huskies led by Balto covered the route to deliver life saving serum to the citizens of Nome. After furious fundraising, Balto and six companions were brought to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1927 and given a hero’s welcome in a triumphant parade through Public Square. The dogs were then taken to the Brookside Zoo (now the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo) to live out their lives in dignity. When Balto died on March 14, 1933, the husky’s body was mounted and is now housed in the permanent collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

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