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Archive for road travel

A Glacial Feast

By Linda Tancs

The largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, protects 4,200 square miles of glaciers, geothermal springs and lakes representing mostly untouched alpine wilderness. The park’s tiny hamlet of Jasper is connected to Lake Louise in nearby Banff National Park by the Icefields Parkway, a 140-mile-long stretch that parallels the Continental Divide. Considered one of the most scenic roads in the world, the parkway includes along its route the Athabasca Glacier (part of the Columbia Icefield), the most visited glacier on the North American continent. Its ice is in continuous motion, spilling from the icefield (a surviving remnant of the thick ice mass that once covered most of western Canada’s mountains) over three giant bedrock steps. The Discovery Centre (a visitor’s center opposite the icefield) is open seasonally between May and October.

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Racing in New York

By Linda Tancs

The history of automobile racing in New York State goes back to 1896 when six cars competed in the state’s first auto race, covering the distance round-trip between New York City and Irvington-on-Hudson. The sport’s vast history in the state (and elsewhere) is recalled at Saratoga Automobile Museum in the heart of historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The facility is equally as interesting as the exhibition of automobiles and automotive artifacts—it occupies the restored and renovated Saratoga Bottling Plant, a beautiful neo-classic structure built in 1934. The museum is prized for its public programs designed for both car enthusiasts and lifelong learners, including children’s programming featuring hands-on restoration projects.

Big Sur’s Golden Gate

By Linda Tancs

Along California’s sun-kissed Pacific Coast Highway is Big Sur‘s celebrated alternative to the Golden Gate Bridge. Known alternatively as Bixby Creek Bridge or Bixby Bridge, the span is a reinforced concrete open-spandrel arch bridge. Completed in 1932, the historic structure is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world, soaring 260 feet above the bottom of a steep canyon carved by Bixby Creek. A favorite of shutterbugs, the view is particularly impressive from the bridge’s south end at sunset.

Longest Suspension Bridge in the Americas

By Linda Tancs

Connecting Brooklyn with Staten Island, New York’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Americas. Now over 50 years old, the gateway bridges the Narrows, the mile-wide channel at the entrance to New York Harbor. Its span reaches four-fifths of a mile (making it the 11th longest in the world), punctuated by two towers 70 stories tall and four cables spun with enough steel wire to reach halfway to the moon. The bridge is named for 16th century Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European to discover New York and Narragansett bays. Eagle eyes will notice the discrepancy in spelling between the bridge and its namesake (the explorer’s surname being spelled with two Z’s). This typo persists since the bridge’s inception, allegedly resulting from an error in the building contract.

A Sip on Route 66

By Linda Tancs

One of the biggest kicks on Route 66 is Pops, a soda emporium/gas station/convenience store in Arcadia, Oklahoma. Pops is home to Bubbles, the world’s largest bottle of soda pop. The thirst-inducing structure is 66 feet tall and weighs over four tons. Reputedly it glows at night.

Motoring in Britain

By Linda Tancs

Beaulieu Palace House in Hampshire, England, is the ancestral seat of the Barons Montagu of Beaulieu. It’s also the place where over 250 vehicles tell the story of motoring in Britain from its pioneering origins to the present day. The 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu created Beaulieu National Motor Museum in tribute to his father, who was the first to drive a motorcar into the yard of the Houses of Parliament. The exhibition includes land speed world record breakers like Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird and the equally fantastical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Place of a Thousand Drips

By Linda Tancs

Named for a roaring mountain stream, Roaring Fork is one of the larger and faster flowing mountain streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, its namesake motor nature trail is a scenic loop over five miles long, offering rushing mountain streams, a scenic overlook with glimpses of old-growth forest, a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills and other historic buildings and, at this time of year, spectacular fall foliage. Two of the most popular waterfalls in the Smokies are located here: Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls. Their smaller cousin is no less popular, though. Known as Place of a Thousand Drips, it is, as the name implies, a low-flow fall driven by wet weather. Located at the end of the trail, you can observe its streams (weather permitting) cascading through dozens of crevices and tiny pathways.

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