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Archive for U.S. travel

A Wonder in Navajo Nation

By Linda Tancs

Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly National Monument was authorized in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover to preserve important archaeological resources that span more than 4,000 years of indigenous occupation, longer than anyone has lived uninterrupted anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. The monument encompasses approximately 84,000 acres of land located entirely on the Navajo Nation with roughly 40 families residing within the park boundaries. It’s prized for its colorful sheer cliffs, sporting scenery like ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings (called the White House ruins due to a white band across the nearby cliffs) and the 800-foot sandstone spire known as Spider Rock. One of the best ways to experience these and other features is to drive along the north and south rims along the canyons, each offering several overlook points. Also, a wide range of free ranger-led programs are available between May and September, including talks and guided hikes into the canyons.

A Flooded Forest in Tennessee

By Linda Tancs

Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake State Park has an ecosystem unlike any other in the state. That’s because it’s a flooded forest, resulting from a series of violent earthquakes in the early 1800s that caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards for a short period of time, which created the lake. A variety of aquatic plants and flowers occupy the shoreline and saturate the shallow water, together with towering cypress trees with submerged stumps. As you might expect, the lake also hosts an array of shore and wading birds as well as eagles. Boating is a key activity here; scenic pontoon boat tours are offered May through September.

An Eagle’s Nest in New York

By Linda Tancs

William K. Vanderbilt II (“Willie”) was a member of the prominent and prosperous Vanderbilt family. Among his many estates is Eagle’s Nest in Centerport, New York. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was built initially in 1910 as a small English cottage and grew over the decades into the 24-room, Spanish-Revival mansion that is seen today. A world traveler, the home’s museum space showcases his collection of fish and other marine life, birds, invertebrates and cultural artifacts. The home and its museum, together with a planetarium, comprise the 43-acre waterfront Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium complex. General admission tickets can be purchased online but do not included guided tours of the estate grounds and private rooms of the mansion (available at the admissions booth) and planetarium shows (available separately).

Following the Carolina Coastline

By Linda Tancs

North Carolina’s Outer Banks National Scenic Byway follows the coastline as it juts into the Atlantic Ocean. Beginning at the northern end of the Outer Banks and ending in Harkers Island, you can drive its 138 miles without exploring the wild and scenic coastal landscape, but why would you? The area is home to two national seashores, four iconic lighthouses, two wildlife refuges and 21 coastal villages. Don’t miss the opportunity to soak up the heritage of these maritime towns. Enjoy the summertime “front porch talks” by villagers in Ocracoke at the David Williams House and the unique flared hulls of boats in Harkers Island.

The World’s Longest Yard Sale

By Linda Tancs

Spanning the states of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, Lookout Mountain Parkway is a 93-mile drive with an abundance of natural wonders and quaint towns. This time of year it’s best known for what’s dubbed “the world’s longest yard sale.” A sight to behold, you’ll find over 5,000 yard sale vendors lining the parkway as well as the US 127 corridor, offering a staggering 690 miles of bargains on just about anything. This year’s sale takes place from August 4 to August 7.

Vintage Cars in Grapevine

By Linda Tancs

Located in the heart of historic downtown Grapevine, Texas, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad offers an authentic experience aboard 1920s-era Victorian coaches. The excursion moves through six different cities in Tarrant County before ending in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Once there, riders will have the opportunity to explore the stockyards before re-boarding to return to Grapevine. The standard excursion runs from April to November. Specialty rides occur at other times of the year.

A Beacon in Ohio

By Linda Tancs

First lit in 1822, Ohio’s 50-foot limestone tower on the eastern end of Marblehead Peninsula is the oldest, continuously operating lighthouse on the U.S. shores of the Great Lakes. A Lake Erie attraction, it’s one of its best known and most photographed landmarks and the centerpiece of Marblehead Lighthouse State Park. At this time of year (until Labor Day), you can climb 77 steps to the top of the tower for a nominal fee, where you’ll be rewarded with extraordinary views of Lake Erie, Sandusky Bay, Kelleys Island, South Bass Island and Cedar Point. The park grounds are open year round.

A Most Unusual Lighthouse

By Linda Tancs

One of the last lighthouses built in New England, New London Ledge Lighthouse in Connecticut isn’t what you’d expect. Far from the usual conical variety, it was built in 1909 in the Second Empire style, featuring red brick, a mansard roof and granite detailing. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the house-like structure was intended to mimic the grand style of homes on the coast, at the insistence of their wealthy owners. Located at the mouth of New London Harbor, it can be reached via boat tours offered in July by Custom House Maritime Museum. Tours depart from New London Waterfront Park.

At the Mouth of the Delaware Bay

By Linda Tancs

Delaware’s Cape Henlopen State Park sits at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. With over 6 miles of coastal habitat, it offers dunes, maritime forests and wetlands. Strategically, its point (where the bay meets the Atlantic Ocean) led to the creation of Fort Miles during World War II. Military history buffs will love the artillery collection at the site, which includes one of the deck guns from USS Missouri. The Point Overlook is a great place to view birds, seals and dolphins, particularly those that congregate around the East End and Harbor of Refuge lighthouses.

Museum of the North

By Linda Tancs

Located on the Fairbanks campus of the University of Alaska, the Museum of the North is the state’s only research and teaching museum. Featuring an astounding 2.5 million artifacts and specimens, the museum’s exhibits are the best introduction to Alaska’s diverse wildlife, people and landscapes. Highlights include a 2,000-year spectrum of Alaska art, the state’s largest public display of gold and a 50,000-year-old mummified steppe bison. The facility is open year-round, but this time of year you’ll enjoy the midnight sun and warmer weather.

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