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Archive for May, 2018

Seeing Green on the Big Island

By Linda Tancs

Hawaii has more naturally colored beaches than anywhere else, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that verdant landscaping is not limited to lush tropical forestry. Indeed, just head to Papakolea (popularly known as Green Sand Beach) for a matcha-like heap of sandy shore formed thousands of years ago from an eruption resulting in volcanic olivine silicate crystals. Not too far from South Point (the southernmost point in the United States) on Hawaii’s Big Island, the beach is accessible via a vigorous two-and-a-half-mile hike.

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A Heavenly Estate in the Forest of Dean

By Linda Tancs

Best known for its gardens and Roman temple complex, Lydney Park is a 17th-century country estate surrounding Lydney House, located at Lydney in the Forest of Dean district in Gloucestershire, England. You might call it a heavenly place, given that its ownership descends from William Bathurst, a composer of church hymns. Open only from April to June (and some select days thereafter), the spring gardens are abloom with flowering cherries, magnolias, scented spring flowering shrubs, azaleas and rhododendrons, to name a few. Excavation on the estate in 1805 also exposed evidence of settlements dating back to 100 B.C., a Norman castle and extensive ruins of a Roman camp including a temple.

The Jordan Trail

By Linda Tancs

The Jordan Trail is a continuous route crossing the entire country of Jordan, offering over 403 miles of trails through diverse terrains and landscapes. From Um Qais in the north to the Red Sea in the south, it flows alongside the Great Rift Valley, overlooking rugged wadis and cliffs, breathtaking scenery and archaeological monuments. If the route sounds intimidating, then take advantage of the groups and companies leading hikes. Nevertheless, a complete through-hike is physically demanding; take that into account when planning your journey.

Frozen in Norway

By Linda Tancs

If you’re a fan of Disney’s Frozen, then you might know that the fictional locale Arendelle got its name from Norway’s southern city, Arendal. The picturesque archipelago even has its own Elsa look-alike. That’s not the only thing that will please the kids. There’s also the opportunity to practice endless science experiments at the Science Centre along the pier. Arendal (as well as Grimstad and Tvedestrand) even hosts Southern Norway’s first national park, Raet, which contains visible traces of the ice age around 12,000 years ago.

Austin’s Ivory Tower

By Linda Tancs

One of the oldest art museums in Texas, the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin is a crème-colored limestone castle set in a field amidst a palette of native flowering plants. The idyllic setting is but a prelude to the interior’s magnificent collection of the works of sculptress Elisabet Ney, a German immigrant who produced sculptures of legendary Texans like Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston. Ney also retrieved and assembled portraits of European notables, including King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Otto von Bismarck, Arthur Schopenhauer, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Jacob Grimm. The plaster replicas of her works abide at the castle while their marble companions are located in sites all over Texas and at the Smithsonian and the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. The museum’s collection of art and personal effects also boasts over 50 of the 100 statues, busts and medallions executed by Ney. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum offers a range of educational programs, exhibits, special events, workshops and lectures throughout the year.

Home of the Pencil

By Linda Tancs

England’s Lake District might be best known for its inspiring vistas, but it’s also the home of the world’s first pencil. The North Lakes region, in particular, boasted a graphite mine in Keswick which would have served as the source of the pencil industry over three centuries ago. Nowadays you can enter a replica of that mine to visit the Derwent Pencil Museum. Inside you’ll find gems like secret WWII pencils with hidden maps, the Guinness World Record for the largest color pencil (measuring almost 26 feet), the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pencil and miniature pencil sculptures.

Georgian Roots in Pennsylvania

By Linda Tancs

Historic Hope Lodge is a historic building built by Quaker merchant Samuel Morris. Located in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, it was used by Continental troops during the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign of the American Revolution. An excellent example of early Georgian architecture, historians speculate that the architect of Independence Hall might have had a say in its design. House tours are available from April to October in addition to an annual re-enactment in November to commemorate the time from November 2 to December 11, 1777, when General George Washington and the Continental Army encamped in the Whitemarsh Hills.

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