Category: American travel

One Great Hotel

Most people come to Banff, Canada, in the Rocky Mountains near Calgary, to take in the fresh mountain air, ski, hike, boat, raft, golf, study at one of its famous institutes, or simply to experience the sheer beauty of the place.

Others come specifically to stay at one of the world’s great luxury resort hotels, the Banff Springs Hotel, currently a part of the Fairmont Hotel chain.

Situated on a high point in Banff, the hotel has an absolutely fantastic mountain view, even when compared to the generally extraordinary views all around Banff.

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Fort Worth Gem

The Sid Richardson Museum located in downtown Fort Worth one-half block off Sundance Square, the well-known tourist destination, occupies an unassuming storefront space. If you are in downtown Fort Worth for any reason, try to visit this place. The museum is open every day of the week, meaning that you can visit even on Mondays when most museums are closed.

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Rapture with Raptors

The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center is about one hour outside Dallas on the shore of Lake Lavon in rural but fast-developing Collin County to the north. The actual site lies on Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) land that the Raptor Center has leased from ACE since 2004. The center encompasses a very fertile strip of land that once ran from San Antonio up to Oklahoma known as the Blackland Prairie, mostly disappeared, and one of the largest lost habitats in the U.S. The Raptor Center also encompasses an old ACE park that was abandoned due to lack of funding known as Brockdale Park, east of the City of Lucas. Scouts frequently use the area for camp outs.

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Bluegrass Invades Country

In case you missed it, the City of Farmers Branch and the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation recently sponsored a fantastic bluegrass festival right in the heart of country music territory. The festival will be repeated every October. And it is FREE.

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Love Dinosaurs? You’ll Love Drumheller!

In Western Canada, about 110 million years ago, the oldest discovered dinosaur fossils were living creatures. In fact, southern Alberta is the site of a gigantic dinosaur fossil bed. The area was once covered by ocean, so it is rich in fossils. In the city of Drumheller, about 90 miles from Calgary, the marvelous Royal Tyrrell Museum, considered by many to be the best dinosaur museum in the world, has a great exhibit that explains all the pre-historic creatures and how they fit together.

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Calgary is Ready

There’s nothing not to like about Calgary (pronounced in two syllables by locals, Cal-gree), Canada’s fifth largest city. Long the center of ranching, of late it has been booming as the Canadian oil and gas industry’s headquarters. With a population of over 1 million, the city retains its small town attitude in a big city wrapper.

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Is the End Near?

A recent trip got me thinking … the end is coming. Everyone can agree that Planet Earth is in a constant state of change. I visited the fantastic Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Canada, near Calgary, and that started my focusing on my epiphany. The museum, dedicated to explaining prehistoric times and the dinosaurs, explained the three cataclysmic events in history (evidenced by telltale signs left in geological remains) when life on Earth was nearly completely extinguished.

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Tenement Museum in NYC is Gem

I had heard good reports about the Tenement Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate museum in the lower east side of New York City. I decided it was time to visit. That’s not so easy to do. You must visit the museum in a tour for reasons that become obvious once you go. The spaces are very tight and fragile. Each tour group is only about 14 people. Arriving around 10:30 a.m., the first available tour wasn’t until 2 p.m., and this was during a slow day in the middle of the week. You can book online and, perhaps, have a better experience. I took the first available one — Sweatshop Workers — but there are others. Each is led by an “educator.” All of the tours are expensive, but some discounts are available for seniors and students. Don’t miss this place if you are in New York City! (more…)

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Two Revolutionary War Towns Thrive on the Delaware

Just as Bogey commented in “Casablanca” that all the gin joints in the world are pretty much the same, there are tons of small, artsy towns around America that all seem alike. What makes Lambertville, N.J., and New Hope, Penn., across the Delaware River from one another special?

For one thing, many of these places are in college towns, while here there is no large college presence. (more…)

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More Impressive than Valley Forge!

Valley Forge certainly has a better PR department than Morristown, N.J. People flock to Valley Forge to see an American Revolutionary War winter encampment, but a much more convenient place to see an even better show is Morristown.

No battles were fought in either location. Troops spent the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, but the much more brutal winter of 1779 was spent at Morristown. It was there that George Washington settled in for what is recorded as the worst American winter ever. After this encampment, Washington began the decisive push south and eventual Yorktown victory that ended the war two years later in 1781. (more…)

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