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Archive for July, 2018

A Wrinkle on Earth

By Linda Tancs

The Waterpocket Fold is a geologic wrinkle on the earth extending almost 100 miles. It formed between 50 and 70 million years ago when a major mountain building event in western North America (the Laramide orogeny) reactivated an ancient buried fault in the region, causing the west side to shift upwards relative to the east side. This geologic wonder is the centerpiece of Capitol Reef National Park in the heart of Utah’s red rock country. Abounding with cliffs, bridges, domes and canyons, the park is also a refuge of pristine dark night skies of the highest quality, garnering it “Gold Tier” status by the International Dark-Sky Association. The most scenic portion of the Waterpocket Fold, found near the Fremont River, is known as Capitol Reef: capitol for the white domes of Navajo sandstone that resemble state capitol building domes, and reef for the rocky cliffs which are a barrier to travel, like a coral reef.

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Boating Artifacts in New York

By Linda Tancs

The Antique Boat Museum is a freshwater nautical museum in Clayton, New York, located on the St. Lawrence River along the northern edge of upstate New York. The location is ideal for showcasing over 300 unique and beautifully preserved boats and thousands of recreational boating artifacts ranging from the 19th century to the present. A premier attraction is the houseboat La Duchesse, built in 1903 for famed hotelier George Boldt. A guided walking tour of its luxurious interior is available for an additional fee.

Twin Lights

By Linda Tancs

Prior to the 1820s, the only permanent lighthouse in New Jersey’s Highlands was Sandy Hook Light. Thereafter, an increase in shipping led to the construction of an additional light in the area, Twin Lights, two lighthouses separated by 320 feet. The original design provided for one tower with a fixed light and the other with a rotating light so that mariners could easily differentiate between the single Sandy Hook Light and the dual lights of the new station. More than just another lighthouse, Twin Lights made history when the first Fresnel lenses in the United States were installed in the towers. The lights gained notoriety again in 1893 when the site was selected as the location for the first official reading of the Pledge of Allegiance as America’s national oath of loyalty. Another cutting-edge development occurred in 1935, when the U.S. Army began field-testing radar at the site. The radar experiments held at Twin Lights not only helped the Allies win World War II, but they also led directly to modern innovations that enable air traffic control.

The Longest Staircase in the World

By Linda Tancs

The benefits of stair climbing reach new heights (no pun intended) at the Niesen, a mountain peak of the Bernese Alps about 40 miles south of the Swiss capital, Bern. Long prized by painters for its near-perfect pyramid shape, fitness gurus will be equally enchanted by the opportunity to participate in the Niesen Treppenlauf, a fat-burning (if not vertigo inducing) 11,674-stair climb adjoining the funicular, the longest staircase in the world. It’s not for everyone, though. In fact, only 500 folks will get the chance to participate in the annual event held each June. For everyone else, check the timetable of the trains to Mülenen and the funicular to the summit. Hiking paths are also available.

True North

By Linda Tancs

A gateway to Norway’s true north, the coastal town of Bodø just north of the Arctic Circle is squeezed between mountains, hills and the sea. Mount Rønvikfjellet is a great place to view the midnight sun this time of year. This area also boasts world titles: Saltstraumen is home to the world’s strongest tidal current and hosts the world record for saithe (pollock) caught with a fishing pole. Abounding in Arctic wildlife, Bodø also has the densest population of white-tailed sea eagles in the world. You can learn more about Norwegian coastal history at Kjerringøy, the best-preserved trading post from the 1800s.

The Heart of Wales

By Linda Tancs

A rural lifeline, the Heart of Wales is one of the UK’s most beautiful train journeys. As the name implies, it runs through the heartland of Wales and celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The railway was built to transport coal and other freight from the Welsh valleys up north to the burgeoning factories of the industrial revolution. Running between Shrewsbury and Swansea, the meandering route passes through the Shropshire Hills (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and quaint spa towns, offering views of castles, meadows, forests and viaducts, to name a few. Many of the line’s 34 stations are within one mile of major A roads and are accessible via connecting rail services from stations such as London (Euston or Paddington), Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Fishguard, Aberystwyth, Pwllheli, Holyhead and Hereford.

A Village’s Best Friend

By Linda Tancs

A best friend sees you through thick and thin. That’s pretty much what a 400-year-old lime tree in Messemen, Belgium, has done. The village’s beloved, fragrant lime tree witnessed the church fire of 1645, the village’s inauguration as a principality in 1650 and the defeat of French invaders in 1798. Its gnarled trunk only adds to its charm, making it the subject of many paintings.

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