Travelrific® Travel Journal

Picture postcards in prose.™ Check out the blogroll on the front page for official merchandise and other resources!

A Taste of Vinegar

By Linda Tancs

Touted as the world’s first and only museum dedicated to vinegar, the International Vinegar Museum in Roslyn, South Dakota, is a connoisseur’s wonderland. You’ll learn how vinegar is made and who makes it and discover 101 uses for vinegar. Hundreds of vinegars from around the world are on display, and there is ample opportunity to sample the goods and buy from the shop. Open from June through Labor Day, time your visit for the third Saturday in June, when you can enjoy the annual Vinegar Festival. The event features a parade, a Vinegar Queen contest, museum tours, cooking demonstrations and vinegar tasting.

The Colonies’ Last Light

By Linda Tancs

A mile offshore of Rockport, Thacher Island is a small seacoast town about 40 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts. It’s home to Cape Ann Light Station, a National Historic Landmark with twin lighthouses. The site bears significance as the last light station established under colonial rule (in 1771) and the first station in the United States to mark a navigational hazard rather than a harbor entrance. The area was indeed hazardous. Looking to the southeast from the towers you may see an iron pole jutting out from the water, which marks an area called the “Londoner” because the reef just below the surface claimed hundreds of vessels mostly bound to Boston from London in the early 1700s. The original wooden lighthouses were replaced with identical granite lights in 1861. At 124 feet, they’re the tallest lighthouses in the state. The island is open to visitors from June to September and is accessible via small boat, kayak or the island’s launch service.

Prairie Dog Town

By Linda Tancs

The first state park in Kansas, Kanopolis State Park is situated in the scenic Smoky Hills region of the state. In addition to sandstone canyons, you’ll find Prairie Dog Town. Prairie dogs were transplanted into the area after flooding in 1993 forced them from their prior home; wildlife viewing opportunities abound. The park is located on the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway northwest of Marquette along K-141.

Little Missouri in North Dakota

By Linda Tancs

Open seasonally from May to October, Little Missouri State Park is a quiet oasis in North Dakota. Located on the western side of the Little Missouri River, most of its 6,000 acres consists of badlands terrain (some of the most rugged and picturesque in the state) that is only accessible by trail on foot or horseback. Indeed, you’ll find over 45 miles of trails where you might observe wildlife like mule deer (indigenous to the West), coyote, fox, bobcat and golden eagle.

A Poet and a Patriot

By Linda Tancs

In the 19th century, it certainly wasn’t an everyday occurrence for a Revolutionary War general to stay in a poet’s house. But for renowned poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow it occurred when George Washington stayed at his house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the Siege of Boston beginning in 1775. As a result, the Longfellow House is a National Historic Site. He lived in the house for 45 years; visits are by guided tour only from May to October.

Land of the Outlaws

By Linda Tancs

Oklahoma’s Robbers Cave State Park owes its name to a cave that served as a storied hideout for outlaws like Jesse James and Belle Starr. You’ll find the cave at the end of the road just past Group Camp 2. Today the 8,246-acre park is a favorite of rappellers, equestrians, hikers and outdoor lovers. The best way to enjoy the scenic, hilly woodlands there is to stay at a campsite or rent a cabin. The park runs north and south along Highway 2 near Wilburton, where you can stock up on supplies for your stay.

The House That Gunpowder Built

By Linda Tancs

Gunpowder, also known as black powder, is the earliest-known chemical explosive. In the U.S., French émigré E.I. du Pont founded DuPont Company in 1802 to become the largest gunpowder and explosives producer in the country and ultimately one of the leading engineering firms in the world. That history is evident at Hagley, the du Pont family estate in Wilmington, Delaware. Built along the banks of the Brandywine above the gunpowder mills, it was the family’s first home in America and arguably the least known. You can journey through the powder yards, where you’ll find the only operating black powder roll mill in the country as well as historic stone structures that housed the powder manufacturing process. The home itself is a Georgian-style mansion, filled with furnishings and collections of American folk art and family heirlooms brought with them from France when they left in 1799. The gardens facing the residence are stunning and illustrate the passion that du Pont had for botany. This time of year the brilliant orange of the Oriental poppy is on display, which, according to family tradition, E. I. du Pont introduced into America with seeds sent from Le Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Hagley is part of the Greater Philadelphia Gardens network.

The Beartooth Highway

By Linda Tancs

The Beartooth Highway is an All-American Road ( a special designation conferred by the U.S. Department of Transportation for a scenic byway) on a section of U.S. Route 212 in Montana and Wyoming between Red Lodge, Montana, and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Once dubbed “the most beautiful roadway in America,” it zigzags across the Montana-Wyoming border through a series of steep switchbacks along the Absaroka-Beartooth Range, rising from about 5,000 feet to 10,947 feet at the Beartooth Pass. The ecosystems on display range from pine forests to alpine tundra, with snow that often lingers through the summer months. The breathtaking scenery includes high alpine plateaus dotted with glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife. It offers some of the best motorcycling in the country this time of year.

The Humongous Fungus

By Linda Tancs

The world’s largest living organism is a fungus. Dubbed “the humongous fungus” by forest officials, on the surface it looks like an ordinary mushroom, but its underground labyrinth is extensive and has been growing for thousands of years. It’s located in the Reynolds Creek and Clear Creek areas in the northeastern portion of Oregon’s Malheur National Forest. The only visible traces of the mushroom appear in the fall, but groves of standing dead conifers give testimony to the fungus’s role as a tree-killing pathogen. But don’t despair. There’s plenty of life in the forest, like high desert grasslands, sage and juniper, alpine lakes, meadows and the only isolated stand of Alaska yellow cedar east of the Cascades in the United States at the Cedar Grove Botanical Area.

Colorado Without the Crowds

By Linda Tancs

Idyllic mountainscapes are ubiquitous in Colorado. So are the crowds. Many of them flock to Rocky Mountain National Park for the grandeur of its snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes and diverse wildlife. You can, too, but if you’d like to view the same assets on a quieter scale, then head to State Forest State Park. Just as scenic as its famous sister, you’ll find 71,000 acres of forest, back-country trails, jagged peaks, alpine lakes and abundant wildlife, including its beloved moose population. The park is located approximately two hours west of Fort Collins and is separated from Rocky Mountain National Park at its southeast border by Thunder Pass (a saddle between Lulu Mountain and Static Peak), a trail primarily used for hiking, camping and backpacking from June to October.

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