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Archive for December, 2018

A Pristine Paradise in Micronesia

By Linda Tancs

Located in the western Pacific Ocean, Palau is a pristine paradise, and the locals intend to keep it that way by implementing the Palau Pledge. It’s the world’s first conservation pledge that is stamped in passports; visitors sign a declaration to protect the local environment and culture for the next generation. That environment includes native forests and mangroves that are the most species-diverse in Micronesia with 1,400 species of plants and an estimated 194 endemic plant species, including 23 endemic species of orchids. You’ll also find phenomena like the Rock Islands (collections of largely uninhabited, mushroom-shaped islets housing one of the world’s greatest concentrations of coral and marine life) and Jellyfish Lake, where two types of resident jellyfish have completely lost their sting because they have not had to fight off predators.

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Gingerbread Town

By Linda Tancs

Your experience with gingerbread might be of the gastronomical kind, but in Norway there’s a full-blown miniature city made of the seasonal fare. Think of it as an edible Legoland. Dubbed the world’s biggest gingerbread city, Gingerbread Town in Bergen has been constructed every year since 1991 by thousands of volunteers. The city contains everything from tiny homes to local landmarks, trains, cars, boats and international signature buildings. It’s open throughout the month and, not surprisingly, you can buy cookies there.

Legendary Lights in Ohio

By Linda Tancs

What do 4 million Christmas lights look like? Like a blanket of color. Just head on over to historic Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio, and see for yourself. One of the largest water-powered grist mills still in existence, the original mill at the site was built in 1802 by Owen Davis, a Revolutionary War soldier and frontiersman miller. During the Christmas season, the mill, along with the gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridge, sparkle and glow, together with a synchronized lights and music show that features the old covered bridge. Go during the week to avoid the weekend crowds.

A Geological Enigma in New Jersey

By Linda Tancs

One of the oldest mines in the United States, Sterling Hill was first worked before the 1730s, a source of local employment for residents of Ogdensburg, New Jersey. It is one of the most famous mines in the world and a geological enigma, with 350 different mineral species found there (a world record for such a small area) and more than two dozen of those found nowhere else on Earth. Closed in 1986, it was the last operating mine in the state and produced 11 million tons of zinc ore. It’s also famous for the abundance of mineral species documented as fluorescent, highly coveted by collectors. Named to both the state and national registers of historic places, guided tours last about two hours and include one hour in the underground zinc mine, 30 minutes in the large exhibit hall and about 10 minutes in the museum of fluorescence. Mineral collecting is also available amidst 200 tons of high-grade zinc ore, much of which contains fluorescent mineral.

Sponge Capital of the World

By Linda Tancs

Known for its Greek culture, Tarpon Springs is a city along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Just 45 minutes north of St. Petersburg, the locale is named for the fish found in abundance in nearby waters. Greek eateries line the waterfront, a legacy of the sponge divers who settled there in the early 1900s. Walk along Dodecanese Boulevard to see docked sponge boats and shops selling sea sponges, a tribute to the city’s status as sponge capital of the world. A bit quieter is the historic downtown district, where art galleries, antique stores and specialty shops are housed in buildings dating from the late 1800s.

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