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We spent the day travelling along the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, stopping to snap some photos of the stilt fisherman before visiting the UNESCO listed Galle Fort which was founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century and has since been added to by Dutch and British colonists.
I had visited Jurong Bird Park 25 years earlier and loved it, I wanted to return to see if the passing of time had romanticised my memories. Sadly, some of the birds were in enclosures that I would say have not been updated for years and had wire meshing that made it hard to clearly see the birds. I did enjoy the visit but I don’t think I will be going back again.
A day tour of the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, with its delightful colonial architecture. We also visited the Inti Ñan Solar Museum, dedicated to the culture of Ecuador and the equator.
The coastal redwoods are associated with northern California, so we were surprised to come across a forest of redwoods in Rotorua in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. So, we had to take a hike. Afterwards, we headed to Rainbow Springs, a wildlife sanctuary to learn more about the Kiwi, New Zealand’s unique national symbol.
We spent a night at the splendid Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City, Oregon. This a historic hotel opened in 1889 and saw a meteoric rise during the Gold Rush times when it got its nickname “The Queen of the Mines” and was described as the best hotel between Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah.
I had grown up watching John Wayne movies with my parents and loved them. When planning a road trip across the western States of the US I simply had to put Monument Valley on the schedule.
With the addition of Alaska and Hawaii to the Union, the geographic centre of the United States moved from Lebanon in Kansas to a point on the borders of South Dakota/Wyoming/Montana. The nearest community to this point is the small town of Belle Fourche (some 20 miles away) where there is a memorial to the commemorate the nearby geographic marker.
Custer State Park is famous for its bison herds, other wildlife, scenic drives, historic sites, visitor centres, fishing lakes, resorts, campgrounds and interpretive programs. In fact, it was named as one of the World’s Top Ten Wildlife Destinations for the array of wildlife within the park’s borders and for the unbelievable access visitors have to them.
As you drive along I-94 across North Dakota it is difficult to miss the giant statue of a buffalo that sits on a hill above the highway. This is apparently the World’s largest buffalo/bison statue, standing at 26 feet tall and 40 feet long and weighing a mighty 60 tons.
Regarded as sacred by American Indians, exploration of the the area known a Wind Cave did not begin until 1881, when the entrance was noticed by two brothers, Jesse and Tom Bingham. They heard a loud whistling noise, which led them to a small hole in the ground, the cave’s only natural opening.
The Badlands National Park is a rugged, harsh and beautiful landscape. Set in 244,000 sq acres in South Dakota it can be explored as a day trip or you can spend several days camping and explore deeper into the park along the trail system.
Big Ole, located in the small town of Alexandria, Minnesota, is the purportedly the World’s largest Viking. Ole was built in 1965 as an exhibit for the New York World’s Fair. When completed Ole stood 28 feet tall with the words, “Alexandria, Birthplace of America” emblazoned on his shield.
Mount Rushmore is a relatively recent creation and started as a concept by state historian Doane Robinson in 1923. The choice of artist was Gutzon Borglum, a radical sculptor with a sense of scale and outlandish ambition.
(National Park / USA /United States)
“Sandy”, the 40ft high statue of the Sandhill Crane at Steele, North Dakota stands in a little park adjacent to the Cobblestone Inn. This monument is a celebration of this elegant bird that is found on the plains, in fields and wetlands across the United States.
The Devils Tower in Wyoming was America’s first National Monument. This incredible rock has been visited by man for millennia, from first nations people to today’s tourists. It is visited by over 400,000 people each year, drawn by its unique geological character and imposing presence.
Many years ago on a family road trip across the USA, I had set out in search of Otto, the world’s largest otter, located in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. This detour almost resulted in the end of our marriage. Fast-forward 12 years, armed with Google and smartphones we successfully located Otto!
Set at 12,000 feet above sea level Cusco, is the ancient capital of the Incas. There is plenty to see in the city itself, from the Cathedral, the cobbled streets and Incan ruins. It is also a great base to explore the Andes, Macchu Pichu and the Sacred Valley.
One of my quirky interests, as I have travelled around the United States, is to try and see as many “roadside” attractions as I can. Many of these are next to highways, but occasionally we have had to head off the beaten track. During a road trip that passed through Minnesota along I-94, we were lucky to come across one such attraction in the city of Rothsay, the Prairie Chicken capital of Minnesota
A three-day visit to South Island, starting in adrenalin capital of Queenstown before moving to the more sedate surrounds of Te Anau which we used as a base to visit glow worm caves and the Southern Alps. The highlight of our trip was a boat ride along the incredible fjord of Milford Sound.
If you should visit the small town of Darwin, Minnesota (pop. 350) you will find, located inside a specially constructed gazebo, a local oddity that has become a well-known roadside attraction – a nine-ton ball of twine that was rolled by one man, Francis A Johnson. This is the largest ball of twine in the World rolled by an individual. Weird yes – but fascinating!
Some may call us foolish for visiting Death Valley National Park in the summer months, but we really wanted to experience the extreme conditions that are on offer there. It was, of course, hot but you cannot but be impressed by the beauty of the desert at different times of the day.