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.
I recently travelled to a place where few people go, Saskatoon, in Saskatchewan, Canada, but I think is about to start getting a lot of visitors as a result of a new museum opening there. Most Canadians skip right over this gem known affectionately as “Paris on the Prairie,” a nickname recently made into a song by the popular band Tragically Hip. One nice Canadian gentleman told me he was visiting Saskatoon because he had been to every province of Canada except Saskatchewan, and he wanted to go each one. Contrast that with the young lady who explained she was born in Saskatoon, and now worked in Calgary, but that all who come from Saskatoon eventually return there.
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.
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.
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…)
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…)
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…)
Iceland is full of things to see that you won’t find in many places. Visiting the Sólheimajökull glacier was one such amazing place.
I booked a “Southern Coast” tour. The glacier visit was the first stop, but all the stops on the tour were well worth it, even if nothing topped the glacier. The glacier was about one and one-half hours out of Reykjavik.
Flying these days is anything but luxurious, and the discount airlines nickel and dime you for everything. Nevertheless, sometimes the price of the ticket makes putting up with the inconveniences worth it. I don’t think that happens often, though. I recently flew the discount airline WOW (pronounced “vow”) Airlines to Iceland. This is a newish Iceland-based airline built on the same type of platform as Spirit Air, another discounter. I found the experience almost unbearable.
The National Park Service’s Senior Pass is one benefit of getting older. If you are over age 62, the pass allows holders to enter parks free of charge. If you drive a car, the whole carload gets in without paying. So youngsters, make friends with the elderly! Currently the pass costs $10 and is good for your lifetime. Effective at the end of this month, August, the price is scheduled to go up to $80.