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Archive for short reads

Drawing the Line in Ecuador

By Linda Tancs

Located about 14 miles north of Quito, Ecuador, Mitad del Mundo commemorates the site where 18th-century French explorer Charles-Marie de La Condamine once calculated the globe’s equatorial line. Of course, that calculation was made without the benefit of modern technology, which sadly reveals that the actual line dividing the planet into a Northern Hemisphere and a Southern Hemisphere is actually 262 yards or so away in the vicinity of the Intiñan Solar Museum. Well, why not make a day out of it and visit both locations. Take an elevator to the top of the trapezoidal monument at Mitad del Mundo for great views of the surrounding countryside and indulge in equator-related science experiments at the museum, where you’ll find a painted red line purportedly indicating the real middle of the world.

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A Match in Sweden

By Linda Tancs

The next time you strike a match, think of Jönköping, Sweden, site of the world’s only matchstick museum. This southern city was a match-producing capital beginning in the 1800s; by 1858 it was churning out 12 million matchboxes a year. The factory-turned-museum explores the history of the matchstick and introduces both the people and the machines that built the industry.

On the Rocks in Colombia

By Linda Tancs

It’s not unusual for a mansion to be converted into a museum, but they don’t all command jaw-dropping, cliffside views like Tequendama Falls Museum in San Antonio del Tequendama, Colombia. Originally built as the opulent home for a successful architect in the Roaring ’20s, the French-style mansion later became a luxury hotel for a number of years until its abandonment in the ’90s. It reopened in 2013 as a museum celebrating biodiversity and culture, a fitting tribute given the beauty of its natural surroundings.

Defying Gravity in North Carolina

By Linda Tancs

If space flight is beyond your budget, you can still experience a gravitational oddity or two on Earth. Just head for Mystery Hill in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Billed as a natural gravitational anomaly, the “vortex room” features water and a ball moving uphill and folks standing at 45 degree angles. Guided tours leave every 10 minutes. May the force be with you.

Delaware’s First State Capitol Building

By Linda Tancs

Just minutes from Wilmington, Delaware, historic New Castle presents a treasure trove of colonial history. For instance, the New Castle Court House, built in 1732, served as Delaware’s first court and state capitol building. At that site in 1776, New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties declared their independence from Pennsylvania and England, creating the State of Delaware. A National Historic Landmark and museum, the trials of abolitionists Thomas Garrett and John Hunn were held there. In 2003, the court house was designated as a National Historic Underground Railroad Site by the U.S. Government. Visitors to the museum learn about Delaware’s colonial and state history, early European settlements and the Delaware Underground Railroad.

America’s First Museum

By Linda Tancs

Founded in 1773, Charleston Museum is touted as “America’s First Museum.” It was established by the Charleston Library Society on the eve of the American Revolution and focuses on the South Carolina Lowcountry. The collections include natural history, historical material culture and both documentary and photographic resources. Among the permanent exhibitions a highlight is Kidstory, a series of interactive displays for children providing the opportunity to examine creatures under a microscope, hear stories of the Lowcountry and illuminate a lighthouse, among other things.

An Epic Mountain Trail in Lebanon

By Linda Tancs

The 292-mile-long Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT) traverses the length of Lebanon. The country’s first long-distance hiking trail, it extends from Andqet in the north to Marjaayoun in the south. Both rugged and pastoral, the trail transects more than 75 towns and villages at altitudes ranging from 1,840 to 6,000 feet above sea level. Among the fields, orchards, forests, waters and fortresses the route traverses some of Lebanon’s best known natural areas, like Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve and the Qadisha Valley. LMT maps can be bought at some of the lodging facilities on the trail and at the LMTA office in Baabda.

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