Travelrific® Travel Journal

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Archive for March, 2023

Gateway to the Endless Mountains

By Linda Tancs

Gateway to the Endless Mountains sounds like the title of a novel, but it’s actually a scenic byway in the Endless Mountains region of northeastern Pennsylvania. Running along US Highway 6 (Tunkhannock to Dushore), the mountain vistas do appear to be endless as are the hiking and birdwatching opportunities. The route is also known for spectacular views of the Susquehanna River.

The Skinniest Skyscraper

By Linda Tancs

It’s like a supermodel, tall and thin. That’s a good way to think of New York City’s Steinway Tower, the world’s skinniest skyscraper. At 1,428 feet it’s the second-tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere and the thinnest skyscraper in the world with a ratio of width to height at 1-to-23 1/2. The tower is named for its locale, the former Steinway Hall, once a performance space of the famed piano makers. You’ll find the building along a stretch of Manhattan’s 57th Street known as “Billionaires’ Row.” That should give you an indication of the price tag attached to these digs with 360-degree views of the city.

The Outlaw Trail

By Linda Tancs

Aptly named for the outlaws of a bygone era that roamed the area, Nebraska’s Outlaw Trail is a scenic byway along Highway 12 that stretches 231 miles between South Sioux City and Valentine. Highlights include the Niobrara National Scenic River, a must for river recreation. On the south side of the river you’ll find Smith Falls, the highest waterfall (at 63 feet) in the state and the centerpiece of Smith Falls State Park. Not far from there is Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, established by Congress in 1935. Maybe you’ll spend a night at the historic Argo Hotel in Crofton, built in 1912 to serve the railroad trade.

A Novel Prison

By Linda Tancs

Off the coast of Marseille, France, on the Île d’If, Château d’If started out as a crucial fortress commissioned by Francis I. It became a state prison in the 1500s for anyone opposing official authority. Unlike Alcatraz (another prison island off the coast of San Francisco, California, boasting gangster Al Capone as a resident during its operation), one of its most famous inhabitants isn’t a real person at all. In Alexandre Dumas’s novel The Count of Monte Cristo, the protagonist Edmond Dantès was imprisoned there. You can visit his “cell” on the lower level of the prison. The perfectly preserved ramparts are a ferry ride away from Marseille.

Missouri’s National Forest

By Linda Tancs

The only national forest in Missouri is Mark Twain National Forest. Named for arguably the state’s most prominent Missourian, most of the forest lies within the Ozark Highlands, located across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Its topography includes caves, rocky barren glades, old volcanic mountains and nationally recognized springs like Greer Spring. The second largest spring in Missouri, it discharges an average of 222 million gallons of water per day, more than doubling the flow of the Eleven Point River. In fact, the spring’s impact on the river (Eleven Point Wild and Scenic River) resulted in its designation as one of the first Wild and Scenic Rivers in the nation. 

Down on the Farm in Maryland

By Linda Tancs

The Mason-Dixon line is credited as the boundary line separating the North from the South in the United States. Its original purpose, however, was to establish boundaries of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia thanks to the efforts of surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. In Maryland, the Mason and Dixon Scenic Byway offers country vistas on a route running along the northern edge of Maryland near its border with Pennsylvania. The nostalgia of rural life is on full display at Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster as well as at Union Mills Homestead and its functioning grist mill. And you won’t want to miss Foxcatcher Farms Covered Bridge in Elkton (near the Fair Hill Nature and Environmental Center), one of only two remaining authentic covered bridges in Cecil County.

Israel’s Pillar of Salt

By Linda Tancs

In the bowels of Israel’s Mount Sodom you’ll find Malcham, recently determined to be the world’s longest salt cave. Stretching over 6 miles, it steals the title from Iran’s Cave of the Three Nudes. Due to its geological location to the west of the southern basin of the Dead Sea, the mountain is composed almost entirely of halite (rock salt), a true pillar of salt. Caverns like Malcham formed when rainfall and groundwater eroded parts of the mountain over time. A popular way to experience the salt stalactites and stalagmites is to rappel into it.

The Cajun Corridor

By Linda Tancs

A great way to experience Cajun heritage is to eat your way through it by driving Louisiana’s Cajun Corridor Byway. The route is 34 miles long, running between Gueydan and Delcambre. In addition to typical fare like shrimp, crawfish and oysters, you’ll find specialties you might be less familiar with, like turducken – a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken. You can learn the recipe for this and other treats at a Cajun cooking class like the one offered in the city of Kaplan at Crawfish Haven. Throughout the route you’ll find amazing vistas encompassing “dual crop” farms (rice fields that are also home to thousands of crawfish) and sugar cane fields as well as allées (alleys of shade trees) and cheniers (coastal ridges covered with stands of oak trees). Enjoy the ride.

The Hall of Flame

By Linda Tancs

Home to the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting in Phoenix, Arizona, is dedicated to the historical preservation of firefighting equipment used through the years around the world. The museum’s artifacts were originally the private collection of George F. Getz Jr., who opened the original Hall of Flame in Wisconsin in 1961. Today’s collection includes fire alarm systems, extinguishers, helmets, firemarks (tin decals used in advertising) and a variety of hand, horse-drawn and motorized apparatus. The museum is conveniently located near the borders of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe and within walking distance from the light rail station at Priest Dr. / Washington Street.

Indiana’s National Road

By Linda Tancs

Once a main transport path to the West for thousands of settlers, Indiana’s Historic National Road was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and was completed in 1834. It was the country’s first federally-funded interstate highway, connecting the eastern seaboard (Maryland) to the western interior (Missouri). You’ll find interpretive panels throughout the 156-mile stretch in eight counties. Richmond is a good place to start. You’ll find the Old National Road Welcome Center there, along with the Madonna of the Trail Monument (one of only 12 such statues in the country), honoring pioneer women who trekked westward from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The highway is designated both a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road. 

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