Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for March, 2016

New Jersey’s Wild Spring

By Linda Tancs

Part of the Delaware River floodplain, Bulls Island Recreation Area in Stockton, New Jersey, is a wild place each spring. Specifically, it’s a hotspot for migration. Watch out for 32 species of warbler, along with vireos, swallows, flycatchers and gulls. Another thing blooming this time of year is the ostrich fern. Its unfurled frond appears now as fiddlehead. Although protected in this area, cooked fiddleheads are a wild spring delicacy.

Into Thin Air in Austria

By Linda Tancs

The best way to climb the majestic Nordkette mountain range (the heart of Innsbruck, Austria) is to step onboard the Nordkettenbahnen (cable car). The futuristic Hungerburgbahn hybrid funicular railway travels through a tunnel, then over an imposing bridge across the Inn River, and finally traverses an incline of 46 percent to reach the Hungerburg, over 2,800 feet above sea level. If the panoramas from the spacious gondolas don’t meet your requirements, then continue on to the final stage of the Nordkettenbahnen, the Hafelekarbahn. It takes you from Seegrube to Hafelekar, a 7,400-foot-high summit that promises 350 days of cloud-free views a year.

The Pilgrims’ Pride

By Linda Tancs

South of Amsterdam and a short distance from The Hague, Leiden is home to the Netherlands’ oldest university and the birthplace of Rembrandt. An often overlooked part of its history, however, is its role as host to the Pilgrims (of Mayflower fame). Indeed, it is in Leiden where a group of English Calvinists settled after fleeing persecution in their homeland, thereafter setting sail for Plymouth, Massachusetts. Their story is told at the American Pilgrim Museum in the city center.

History on the Waterfront

By Linda Tancs

History awaits along the waterfront at Patriots Point in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. That’s where you’ll find the USS Yorktown, the 10th aircraft carrier to serve in the U.S. Navy. Originally named Bon Homme Richard, it was renamed Yorktown in honor of the Yorktown that was sunk during the Battle of Midway in 1942. The carrier participated significantly in the Pacific Theater, earning 11 battle stars for service during World War II. It was decommissioned in 1970 and later towed from New Jersey to Charleston to serve as the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.

Under the Antlers in Jackson

By Linda Tancs

Jackson, Wyoming, gets its share of visitors thanks to its proximity to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. But it’s quite the attraction in its own right, particularly at George Washington Memorial Park. Popularly known as the “Town Square,” its four points of access are marked by arches. No, not golden arches like McDonald’s or moon gates like Bermuda. These arches are made from elk antler sheds retrieved from the nearby 25,000-acre National Elk Refuge. Originating in 1953, the arches were recently rebuilt with fresher sheds for safety. The total output of 14,000 pounds of elk antlers means visitors will be posing under the arches for years to come.

 

 

A Part of Florida History

By Linda Tancs

Bathed in tall palms, Fort Lauderdale’s Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is a part of Florida history. In fact, archaeological evidence suggests that the estate represents one of the first sites of Spanish contact with the New World. And a shell midden illustrates habitation by the Tequesta, one of the first tribes in South Florida. In addition to its historic significance, the grounds are one of the last examples in the area of a native barrier island habitat. Five distinct ecosystems can be found on the property, including the Atlantic Ocean beach and primary dune, a fresh water slough, a secondary dune, mangrove wetlands and a maritime forest. The property’s former owner, Evelyn Bartlett, was a passionate orchid collector. When she gave Bonnet House to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, the orchid varieties she left them comprise one of the largest collections in the Southeast.

A Contrast in Illinois

By Linda Tancs

Unlike most of Illinois, the southern tip between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers boasts rolling hills and rugged cliffs teeming with plant and animal life, the likes of which can only mean one thing—you’ve reached a forest. Indeed, this is the site of Shawnee National Forest, the only national forest in the state. Comprising nearly 287,000 acres, one of its best kept secrets is likely High Knob. Just steps away from the parking area, its mountain views rival that of the Smokies. A picnic area provides daytime parking and a trailhead for the five miles of interconnecting trails below the Knob.

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