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Hudson River Valley Heritage

By Linda Tancs

The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area stretches from New York City to Albany, New York. One of the gems along that route is Wilderstein Historic Site in Rhinebeck. Sporting an exquisite Queen Anne mansion and Calvert Vaux-designed landscape, it’s widely regarded as one of the Hudson Valley’s most important examples of Victorian architecture. Home to three generations of the Suckley family, it was Thomas Suckley who named the site Wilderstein (wild man’s stone) in reference to a nearby Indian petroglyph. The regular season for guided tours of the elaborate mansion is May through October, featuring the 1888 interiors of the first floor of the mansion, the exterior architecture and the landscape. The grounds and trails, located on a wooded bluff overlooking the Hudson River, are open year round and offer spectacular views.

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On Route 62

By Linda Tancs

Offering a scenic alternative to the N2 highway, Route 62 is South Africa’s tourist route (much like Route 66 in the U.S., after which it was modeled). Meandering between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, the highway is reputedly the longest wine route in the world and includes views of red soil, stark cliff faces, mountain passes, green valleys, rivers, orchards and indigenous scrub. The area’s dams and wetlands are known to host the blue crane, South Africa’s national bird, an endangered species often spotted along the route. Some popular stops are Montagu (known for its mountain views), Oudtshoorn, the principal town of the Little Karoo, a semi-desert), Robertson (the heart of the route) and Worcester (the commercial center).

The Forgotten World Highway

By Linda Tancs

Built on colonial bridle paths formed in the late 19th century, New Zealand’s Forgotten World Highway is its oldest heritage trail. Otherwise known as State Highway 43, the 93-mile route meanders over four mountain saddles, through a one-lane tunnel and over a river gorge in a way that many describe as a roller coaster experience. Located between Stratford and Taumarunui, a highlight along this scenic route is Whangamomona, a little village that declared itself a republic in 1989. You can get your passport stamped at the local hotel.

Along the Atlantic Flyway

By Linda Tancs

Just outside Cambridge, Maryland, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1933 as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. And what better time to visit than this year, the Year of the Bird, which marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. Every month at the refuge marks its own milestones. In September, ospreys migrate to South and Central America, and songbird migration peaks as well in late September and early October. Waterfowl numbers also gradually increase, like egrets and herons (until cold weather pushes them south). Of particular note year round are the bald eagles; Blackwater is the center of the greatest density of breeding bald eagles on the east coast north of Florida. You can take in the sights via Wildlife Drive, four land trails and three water trails.

A Castle in the Hudson

By Linda Tancs

Pollepel Island (popularly known as Bannerman Island) is a nearly seven-acre island in the Hudson River in New York. The island’s original name derives from a romantic legend involving a girl named Polly Pell who was rescued from breaking river ice by her sweetheart and delivered to the island, where they married. The site’s contemporary name derives from one of its owners, Francis Bannerman, a Scotland-born munitions dealer who built the island’s signature castle in 1901. Tours of the island (May through October) are conducted from nearby Beacon, New York, on weekends with meetups at the dock opposite the train station.

Bath of the Gods

By Linda Tancs

One of the oldest public bath houses in Japan is Dōgo Onsen Honkan, built in 1894 during the Meiji Period. Two public baths are available to visitors, the Bath of the Gods on the main floor and the Bath of the Spirits on the second floor. Different tour packages provide access to one or both baths and relaxation rooms. A tour of the emperor’s bathing facilities is also available. The facility is a four- minute walk from Dogo Onsen Station, the terminus of three tram lines. Just in front of the station in Hōjōen plaza is the Botchan Karakuri Clock. Built in honor of the baths’ centennial in 1994, it comes to life for several hours daily with mechanical figures featuring characters from the famed novel, Botchan. Get to the baths before January when planned renovations will close parts of the facility for several years.

From Radio to Radar

By Linda Tancs

The history of electronics in the United States, from radio to radar, is on display at the National Electronics Museum in Linthicum, Maryland. Located within minutes of Baltimore’s airport and rail station, the museum offers a wide variety of both static and interactive displays as well as a research library that is open to the general public. Galleries include exhibits on early radar, Cold War radar, modern radar, communications, underwater sound transmission, countermeasures, electro-optics and space sensors. You can even operate K3NEM, the ham station at the museum, provided that you show your operator’s license and are accompanied by a member of the museum’s radio club.

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