Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for March, 2022

The King of Drakesville

By Linda Tancs

In what would become Drakesville, New Jersey (present-day Ledgewood), European settlers pioneered Morris County’s iron industry in the 1700s. The area was originally named for Abraham Drake, who owned a mill and a tavern. One of his grandsons, Jacob, later achieved prominence as a colonel of the western battalion of the Morris County militia during the Revolutionary War and as a member of the first New Jersey Legislature. Despite the Drakes’ fame, the local economy really prospered under the helm of Theodore King, who invested in mining, real estate and hotels and founded a steamboat company as Lake Hopatcong began to court tourists. The pioneering spirit of these early settlers is commemorated through rehabilitated buildings located at Drakesville Historic Park in the Ledgewood historic district of Roxbury Township. You’ll find the King Store there, flanked by the King Homestead as well as the Silas Riggs House, a so-called saltbox house because of its extended, rear sloping roofline reminiscent of the design of salt containers of colonial times.

A Unique Area in New York

By Linda Tancs

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation defines a Unique Area as “land owned by the state that was acquired due to its special natural beauty, wilderness character, or for its geological, ecological or historical significance.” The first area to be so designated is Labrador Hollow Unique Area in Cortland and Onondaga counties. The 2,000-foot-long boardwalk traverses a diverse wetland complex where you may be lucky enough to spot the elusive great blue heron or pied-billed grebe whose range covers the area. You should also look out for the Kentucky warbler, which has been identified as a rare and protected species by the New York Natural Heritage Program. While you’re there, be sure to visit Tinker Falls, with its impressive natural rock amphitheater above a 30-foot-high rocky cascade. The falls are most spectacular during the spring thaw this time of year.

The Dunes of Dorob

By Linda Tancs

Sea and sand meet at Sandwich Harbour along the Atlantic coast of Namibia. One of the area’s key attractions are the sand dunes backing the coastline, rising in many cases to over 300 feet. Historically a commercial fishing and trading port, legend has it that the name derives from an English whaler, the Sandwich, that operated in the area in the 1780s. The scenic locale is now part of Dorob National Park, a conservation area running from Walvis Bay to the Ugab River.

Water Biscuits in New York

By Linda Tancs

At approximately one-fifth acre in size, Squaw Island is New York’s smallest state park. Located at the northwest corner of Canandaigua Lake (one of the state’s Finger Lakes), it functions primarily as a wildlife management area and features water biscuits. Found in only a few locales worldwide, the so-called biscuits are flat, whitish cakes of lime that deposit over pebbles and twigs. The island is accessible only by boat; a public boat launch is available at Canandaigua Lake State Marine Park, and paddlers may launch directly off Canandaigua City Pier.

Steam Over Scranton

By Linda Tancs

One of the earliest rail lines in northeastern Pennsylvania was the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. About 40 acres of that old railroad yard in Scranton is now occupied by the Steamtown National Historic Site. The park’s collection includes locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars and maintenance-of-way equipment from several historic railroads. The locomotives range in size from a tiny industrial switcher engine built in 1937 by the H.K. Porter Company for the Bullard Company to a huge Union Pacific “Big Boy” built in 1941 by the American Locomotive Company. The oldest locomotive is a freight engine built by American Locomotive Company in 1903 for the Chicago Union Transfer Railway Company. You can learn more about railroading history at the museum and, seasonally, enjoy a train ride.

Stanway’s Famous Fountain

By Linda Tancs

Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, Stanway is noted for its Jacobean manor house, which boasts a famous fountain in its watergarden that opened in 2004. Rising over 300 feet, the fountain is the tallest gravity-fed fountain in the world. The rest of the manor’s watergarden is, of course, much older, created in the 1720s and considered one of the finest of its kind in England. It features a canal, a cascade and a pond at the tithe barn. While you’re there, don’t miss the restored watermill with its massive 24-foot overshot waterwheel, the eighth-largest waterwheel in England.

The Badlands of Canada

By Linda Tancs

Badlands are a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. In Canada, they’re particularly prevalent along the Red Deer River in Drumheller, Alberta. Overall, they span east from Drumheller to the Saskatchewan border and south to the United States. Legend has it that the term “badlands” there originates from early French explorers who considered the region’s steep-sloped mesas and deep, winding gullies as “bad lands to cross.” That’s hardly the sentiment today, with hiking being a key attraction. Head to Drumheller, touted as the best of the badlands, where Horseshoe Canyon provides a dramatic introduction to the terrain. Its sand and clay formed the internationally recognized hoodoos, which you can navigate via a heavily trafficked loop trail. You can also walk, bike or splash your way through 11 miles of pathways. Get your maps and guides from the Visitor Information Centre, which is located at the base of an 86-foot-high fiberglass Tyrannosaurus rex that is considered to be the world’s largest dinosaur. The views from its jaws aren’t bad, either.

Wildlife of Skomer

By Linda Tancs

Designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the Welsh island of Skomer is a haven for wildlife. Over 22,000 puffins reside there alone. Also, together with its sister island Skokholm, Skomer has the largest known concentration of Manx shearwaters in the world. In addition to its wildlife wonders, the island sports a standing stone of unknown origin known as the Harold Stone as well as two large 19th-century lime kilns that were used to heat lime for mortar and fertilizer. This season is a great time to visit. During spring the island is covered in a display of bluebells so vast that the whole island appears blue. Just off the coast of Pembrokeshire, the island (open from April to September) is accessible by boat from the village of Marloes.

The Canyon Lands of Georgia

By Linda Tancs

Water-carved canyons and caves are part of the rugged geology of the Cumberland Plateau found in Georgia’s Cloudland Canyon State Park. The canyons may not measure up in size to those in the West, but the park’s thousand-foot-deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, caves, waterfalls, creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife make it one of the most scenic state parks in the South. Enjoy the vistas from popular trails like the Overlook Trail, Waterfalls Trail and West Rim Loop Trail. Located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, the park is about a two-hour drive from Atlanta.

Older Than the Rockies

By Linda Tancs

Twice as old as the Rocky Mountains, the 500-foot-high bluffs at Wisconsin’s Devil’s Lake State Park were formed nearly 2 billion years ago. They overlook—what else—Devil’s Lake. To see the lake from the cliffs, take the West Bluff Trail. Conversely, to see the cliffs from the lake, take the popular Tumbled Rocks Trail. As the name suggests, it cuts through a boulder field along the lake’s shoreline. The park is situated along the state’s Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

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