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Archive for U.S. travel

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.

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.

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. 

The Battle of Red Bank

By Linda Tancs

The Battle of Red Bank was a key conflict in the Revolutionary War, marking a victory for the Continental Army in their effort to prevent British and Hessian soldiers from capturing Fort Mercer. The site, Red Bank Battlefield, is a historic park located in National Park, New Jersey, along the waterfront of the Delaware River. An archaeological dig last year revealed the remains of Hessian soldiers as well as artifacts including a King George III gold guinea, which represented a soldier’s monthly payment. The park is also home to the James and Ann Whitall house. Built in 1748, the bustling plantation also served as a field hospital.

A Little Lamb in Massachusetts

By Linda Tancs

For fans of nursery rhymes, you’ll find a nod to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in Sterling, Massachusetts. The story goes that Mary Sawyer was followed to school there in the 1800s by her pet lamb, prompting a town visitor to write a poem about it. To commemorate the event, a statue of a lamb was later erected to boast of the locale as the birthplace for the nursery rhyme beloved by many. You’ll find the statue at the corner of Main Street and Meetinghouse Hill Road.

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