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How the Great American Outdoors Act will save US national parks
On Wednesday, Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which combined two earlier bills to commit $900 million a year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and $9.5 billion over five years to address critical infrastructure updates across the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management. “Passing the Great American Outdoors Act is quite simply the most significant investment in conservation in decades," said president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation Collin O’Mara in a statement. “It’s a huge win for wildlife, our natural treasures, our economy, and all Americans, who enjoy our America’s public lands for solace, recreation, and exercise, especially amid this pandemic. All Americans will benefit from this historic legislation, which will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, expand outdoor recreation opportunities in every community, and accelerate our nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19.” Rafting tours down the Snake River near Grand Tenton Mountains ©Mark Read/Lonely PlanetThe expansion of access to outdoor spaces, and the restoration of existing destinations is crucial as more and more Americans have turned to outdoor recreation in recent years. Some 327 million travelers a year visit national parks, forests, and Wild and Scenic Rivers from Mt. Rainier and the Rouge River to the Great Smokey Mountains and the New River Gorge, traveling over some 5000 miles of paved roads, nearly 20,000 miles of trails, and making use of almost 25,000 buildings. Back in June, when the US Senate initially passed the Great American Outdoors Act, the Land Trust Alliance noted that the LWCF has "only been fully funded once in its history," despite the fact it's been promised $900 million a year since its inception and supports "over 41,000 state and local park projects, contributing $778 billion to the nation's economy annually and providing 5.2 million sustainable jobs nationwide." Men from the Civilian Conservation Corps finish a shelter house at South Mountain Reservation, New Jersey, 1935. Many such structures are still in use today. © New York Times Co. / Getty ImagesBecause budgets haven't increased even as traffic on public lands has grown, officials haven't been able to keep up with the deterioration of key infrastructure nearing, or past, the end of its lifespan. A significant portion of the federal assets at national forest campgrounds, national parks, and state parks were built nearly a century ago, when the Civilian Conservation Corps was put to work during the Great Depression. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, 70% of the National Park Services' overdue projects pertain to structures at least 60 years old. That's had big, costly consequences that impact visitor experiences. For example, a sink hole nearly the length of a subcompact car opened up in Shenandoah National Park on the busy George Washington Memorial Parkway last May – and it wasn't the first such incident in the park. The series of sinkholes were the result of delays to roadwork and updates to storm water drainage networks, the kind of problems that are cheaper to fix before they eat into an entire roadway. Hunt's Mesa at sunrise, Monument Valley, Arizona, Utah, USA ©Francesco Riccardo Iacomino/500Meanwhile, the Transcanyon Pipeline in the Grand Canyon is fifty years old and perpetually leaky. Built in the 1960s in the midst of Mission 66, one of the last major flurries of upgrades to the national parks system that formed in response to similar concerns about degraded infrastructure and funding, the pipeline has been a focus for replacement for years. Although the pipeline supplies all the potable water to the South Rim of the park, officials have carried on with makeshift repairs because they haven't had the $100 million necessary to build an alternative. "LWCF is an issue I've been working on since my introduction into the outdoor policy world six years ago," said Katie Boué, founder of the Outdoor Advocacy Project. "This week's passage marks a huge victory for so many advocates who have invested years in making it happen. In a time when our public lands and green spaces are more valued and visited than ever before, it gives me hope to see Congress stepping up to support them." High-angle view of Jackson city covered in snow and the Teton Valley. ©Adventure_Photo/Getty ImagesBudget constraints have also made it harder to establish new public lands and expand existing parcels, especially around fragile conservation areas like the Everglades and the Grand Tetons that are experiencing increased development nearby. In January environmentalists celebrated when the state of Florida purchased 20,000 acres of swampland that feeds the Everglades in order to end Kanter Real Estate's multi-year quest to drill oil on the parcel. A greater number of similar deals will be possible at the federal level now the Great American Outdoors Act has secured permanent funding. It's been proven that new national parks can be a big hit, like when visitor numbers soared at Indiana Dunes after it was designated a national park in January of 2019. The same was true for White Sands National Park in New Mexico – the newest of the country's 62 national parks. The increase in funding could aid efforts to upgrade a handful of national forests and monuments that advocates hope could be national parks candidates, like Craters of the Moon in Idaho and Louisiana's Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, without further stretching a cash-strapped National Parks Service. White Sands National Park Yucca picnic area covered in sand in New Mexico. ©krblokhin/Getty ImagesExactly where and how to first apply the funds secured by the Great American Outdoors Act still needs to be decided by multiple federal agencies. But legislature's passage is reason enough for outdoor enthusiasts and activists to celebrate – it heralds the biggest overhaul the parks have received in a generation. And with many grounded travelers turning to road trips and visits to state and national parks in lieu of international travel as a result of the global coronavirus outbreak, the timing couldn't be better for the country's beleaguered public lands. "As an avid outdoors woman and activist, I’ve been going to DC for many years advocating for more funding for our national parks, public lands and green spaces," said Caroline Gleich, an Utah-based environmental advocate and pro ski mountaineer who summited Mt. Everest last year. "As America is dealing with the pandemic, more and more of us are turning to our parks and public lands for our mental and physical well being. The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act gives us something to celebrate. It gives us hope for the future."
The USA’s Best Fall Wine Harvest Festivals
Come September and October, vineyards begin to harvest the grapes that they’ve ever so carefully grown and cared for all season. Vineyards around the world celebrate their bounty with end-of-harvest festivities. Marking the occasion with music and dancing in the vines to food, grape stomping contests and plenty of vino. Willamette Valley Vineyards – Turner, Oregon Every year Willamette Valley Vineyards, celebrates the end of harvest with a Grape Stomp Championship and Harvest Celebration. So kick off your shoes and get ready to stomp! This year marks the 29th year, and it will take place on September 21st and 22nd in Oregon wine country. The winners of the competition receive an all-expense paid trip to the World Championship Grape Stomp in Santa Rosa. In addition to stomping, guests can enjoy Willamette Valley Vineyards’ latest wine releases (a tasting flight is included with the $15 admission). Guests are also welcome to try the custom harvest-inspired menu created by Winery Chef, DJ MacIntyre, along with live music and lawn games. Calaveras Winegrape Alliance – Murphys, California You’ll feel like you’re going back in time in Murphys, California, a historic Gold Country town nestled in the Sierra foothills. But don’t let that fool you; they sure know how to celebrate the end of harvest. Every first Saturday in October, the town of Murphys transforms into a frenzy of activity with two popular events. Organized by the Calaveras Wine Alliance, the Annual Calaveras Grape Stomp includes energetic stomp competitions every half hour. You can also look forward to live and silent auctions, a team costumes contest and wine tastings of course. Just half a block away, there’s something for everyone at the Annual Gold Rush Street Faire. Main Street fills with over 100 booths of local food, handmade jewelry, unique fashion, art and crafts and more. Château Elan Winery & Resort – Braselton, Georgia The good thing about this winery is that it has a resort just in case you taste too much delicious wine. Château Elan celebrates the end of harvest season with a massive Vineyard Fest on November 17th in the north Georgia foothills. With 1500 guests annually, the festival is sure to be even bigger this year after a $25 million renovation that will be unveiled. This year’s theme is “Flavors of the South” with a spotlight on the local restaurants. Guests can look forward to tasting over 100 beers and wines and a myriad of food stations with everything from pralines to fried green tomatoes. Don’t worry – there will be plenty of grape-stomping to burn off those calories. Niagara Falls Wine Region – Niagara Falls, New York This is a celebration to remember! More than 20 vineyards throughout Niagara Falls USA’s wine region come together for the annual Harvest Festival on September 21st and 22nd. As part of the festival, each vineyard pairs its wine with a harvest-themed appetizer, salad, soup, side dish or dessert. So come hungry! Tickets are $22 and include a tasting of three wines with a food sample at each participating winery. Some dishes to look out for include a lavender and sage ratatouille paired with Liten Buffel’s 2017 Perfetto Vineyard Pinot Noir. Or Long Cliff Winery & Vineyards savory pumpkin macaroni and cheese paired with their 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir. The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey – Cañon City, Colorado Head to The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey for a free harvest event in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. The Harvest Festival is an annual event where partygoers can indulge in local foods and enjoy blues and jazz bands. Want to make your own wine? Anyone attending ehe Harvest Festival is able to bring their own grapes to be added to that year’s unique “Canon Harvest” wine batch. This all goes down on September 28th and 29th, and the community batch will eventually be bottled and sold. Guests can also splurge on a special dining experience with the Winemakers Dinner Friday night for a cost of $125 per ticket. The chef will highlight Colorado produce, meats, fish, and cheeses in the creation of the menus. Think miso trout and brown butter sage gnocchi, all paired with divine wine. Morgan Creek Vineyards – New Ulm, Minnesota Thanks to its strong German heritage, New Ulm, Minnesota, does Oktoberfest like no other the first two weekends every October. Part of New Ulm’s Oktoberfest celebration, Morgan Creek Vineyards’ annual Grape Stomp kicks off the first Saturday in October. Visitors can enjoy German music and dance performances, food and wine pairings, tours and more. Now, back to the main event. October 5th is the grape stomp competition day, where teams of three to five stompers compete to produce the largest volume of juice stomped from fresh grapes. The prize: bragging rights and a free case of wine. A costume contest is also held in conjunction with the grape stomp. Good luck!
The 10 Most Beautiful Coral Reefs in the World
For snorkelers and deep-sea divers, coral reefs are the ultimate treasure troves. Also called the "rainforests of the sea," coral reefs are rich ecosystems that are teeming with underwater gardens, colorful rock formations, and diverse marine life. Coral reefs are found in more than 100 countries, according to Coral Reef Alliance, a nonprofit that focuses on protecting reefs around the world. Need a little help narrowing down your options? Here is Budget Travel’s list of the most beautiful coral reefs around the globe. The West Bay in Roatan, Honduras The second-largest barrier reef in the world is a must-see. Only yards away from a one-mile beach of white sand and palm trees, the West Bay is filled with canyons and crevices, hard and soft corals, and vibrant yellow and purple sea fans. It’s also one of the best-preserved coral reefs in the Caribbean. Raja Ampat in Indonesia Located at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Raja Ampat archipelago is home to one of the most colorful coral reefs in the world. Fed by nutrients from deep-sea currents, Raja Ampat – the most biodiverse coral reef ecosystem in the world – is known as the “Crown Jewel” of the Coral Triangle, an area of tropical marine waters in the western Pacific Ocean. Gordon Reef in Egypt Banner fish, parrot fish, cornet fish, and blue-spotted sting rays are just a few of the many marine animals that inhabit Egypt’s Gordon Reef. Keep your eyes peeled for sleeping reef sharks, and don’t miss the remains of the famous Loullia shipwreck, which ran aground on the northern end in 1981. Due to the shallowness of the water, the luminosity is exceptional. Aharen Beach in Okinawa, Japan Snorkelers and divers alike travel here to glimpse the beauty of this reef’s white-sand ocean floor, bright coral formations, sea turtles, and schools of tiny, colorful tropical fish. Underwater life thrives in this reef, which is notably well preserved. Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea Also located within the Coral Triangle, Papua New Guinea’s coral reef is dominated by stunning, rainforest-covered volcanic peaks that rise steeply from the water, some reaching over 2,000 meters above the surface. Spadefish, jacks, and barracuda roam the waters of these colorful corals. In addition to checking out the area’s diverse marine life, visitors should view some of Papua New Guinea’s aviation wrecks from World War II (the area sustained heavy Allied bombings), which are easily viewed through the Bismarck Sea’s clear blue waters. Rainbow Reef in Fiji Luminescent corals are the prized possession of Fiji’s Rainbow Reef. Home to millions of beautifully colored reef fish and sea anemones, these waters are brimming with 300 types of hard coral. Fiji is particularly famous for its butterfly fish, and the entire 27 species can be found swimming in Rainbow Reef, which is also home to Taveuni’s Great White Wall, a world-class dive site composed of soft, white corals and colorful sponges that stretches down about 25 meters below the water’s surface. The Maldives One of the best year-round diving destinations in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is also one of the most intricate marine ecosystems on the planet. The archipelago attracts more than 1 million tourists a year, and for good reason: its chain of 26 coral atolls are, put simply, a tropical paradise bursting with fish life, including manta rays, sea turtles, and giant clams. The caveat? Since 2014, the Maldives have experienced widespread and, in some cases, severe coral bleaching as a result of rising sea water temperatures. The upshot: a number of marine life preservation organizations have banded together to address the reef’s coral bleaching issues. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia The world's largest coral reef is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations around the globe. Indeed, it’s one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Its sprawling reef system, which stretches over 1,400 miles, supports a range of marine life, including endangered species like dugongs and green sea turtles. The Great Barrier Reef also contains more than 400 types of coral and around 240 species of birds. Apo Reef in the Philippines Spread over 13 square miles, Apo Reef is the world's second-largest contiguous coral reef system. The channel is home to about 300 species of colorful marine life –including tropical aquarium fish, snappers, and yellowmargin triggerfish – and roughly 450 species of coral. Its pristine waters make for ideal snorkeling and scuba diving. The Hawaiian Coral Reef The Hawaiian Islands is home to more than 410,000 acres of coral reef in the main islands alone. Its clear waters feature over 500 species of algae and a dazzling array of colorful marine life, including the Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, a triggerfish that is Hawaii's state fish. One-quarter of its marine life is endemic to Hawaii, meaning they can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Travel News: TSA Warns You May Not Have the Right ID for Your Next Flight, Wakanda Tops the List of Fictional Travel Destinations, and NYC’s Coolest Opera Festival Starts April 29
From knowing what kind of ID you need to board your next flight (including domestic flights that used to just require a driver’s license) to the most-searched fictional destination on earth (plus a real-life alternative) to a mind-blowingly original opera festival in New York City this spring, this week’s travel news is all about surprises. TSA Warns You May Not Have the Right ID for Your Next Flight It’s one of our biggest travel nightmares, and it has been happening to far too many of us lately: You get to the airport and learn that you don’t have adequate ID to board a flight. In some cases, it’s because your passport is set to expire in less than three months and the country you want to fly to requires a more up-to-date passport. But even domestic flights within the U.S. have become more complicated: Beginning October 1, 2020, every traveler must present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of identification to fly within the U.S. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the impending deadline and empower travelers to get up to speed. “TSA is doing everything we can to prepare our partners and the traveling public for the REAL ID deadline next year,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “The security requirements of the REAL ID Act will dramatically enhance and improve commercial aviation security.” For more information, visit tsa.gov/real-id. Wakanda Tops the List of Fictional Travel Destinations On April Fools Day, we had some fun publishing New Airline Will Fly You to Hogwarts, Narnia, and Other Out-of-This-World Destinations with tongue firmly in cheek. But thanks to the folks at On The Go Tours, we’ve recently learned that hundreds of thousands of travel enthusiasts actually do spend time online searching for fictional travel destinations from film, TV, and literature. From Oz’s Emerald City to Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, from Peter Pan’s Never Never Land to Superman’s Metropolis, people apparently really wish they could visit these (sadly) nonexistent spots. On The Go Tours analyzed Google search volume and determined that Wakanda, from Black Panther, is the most-searched fictional destination in the world. So, if Wakanda can't actually be found on a map (and, trust us, it can't), where should you go instead? On The Go suggests Cape Town, South Africa, one of Budget Travel’s favorite budget international destinations, with great beaches, mountains, a vibrant cultural and culinary scene, and a short distance from iconic African wildlife including lions, elephants, zebras, and giraffes. NYC’s Coolest Opera Festival Starts April 29 New York Opera Alliance (NYOA) will present its fourth annual New York Opera Fest starting April 29 and running through June. More than 20 NYC-based opera companies will put on more than 25 events around the city ranging from traditional theaters and concert halls to bars and museum galleries. Expect the unexpected—think beyond spear-carrying Valkyries, doomed sopranos, and mischievous Spanish barbers—from such noteworthy productions as Heartbeat Opera and Opera Lafayette’s adaption of the biblical story of Susanna; Rhymes With Opera’s treatment of the life of Eleanor Roosevelt; The Stonewall Operas, four premiers performed at the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising; and many more.
Ultimate Mississippi Road Trip: Blues, Food & Fun
Get ready to hit the road and explore the best of the Magnolia State, from rock n’ roll in Tupelo to Delta blues in Clarksdale, from the peerless cultural legacies of Oxford and Jackson to delicious restaurants in vibrant downtowns. Here, complete with driving routes and top picks in every town, the ultimate Mississippi road trip. TUPELO: HAIL TO THE KING OF ROCK N’ ROLL (Calvin L. Leake/Dreamsime) When it comes to Instagrammable destinations, it doesn’t get any more epic than the monumental statue of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, where the King of Rock n’ Roll was born. Soak up the atmosphere in Tupelo’s vibrant downtown and visit Tupelo Hardware Company, where Presley’s mother bought him his first guitar. Little did Gladys Presley know that her boy would grow up to synthesize the country, bluegrass, and blues traditions into a new musical genre that would take the mid-century world by storm. From downtown, head into the all-Elvis-all-the-time scene at the Elvis Presley Birthplace, where you can tour the small house where the King was born, spend some time chilling in Elvis Presley Park, and absorb the history, artifacts, and fun at the Elvis Presley Museum. Hungry? A meal fit for the famously ravenous King himself awaits at Neon Pig, where the “smashburger” combines several cuts of meat, including legendary Benton’s bacon. OXFORD: A COLLEGE TOWN WITH SERIOUS LITERARY CRED (Ken Wolter/Dreamstime)Less than an hour’s drive from Tupelo on US 278 E, Oxford is a fitting transition from Mississippi’s pop music royalty to its serious literature. Tour Rowan Oak, the family home of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner, who immortalized the region in his funny and touching stories set in fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The grounds are worth a stroll even if you’re not enraptured of the famous author’s work. Oxford also happens to be a renowned college town, home to the University of Mississippi, where visitors can tour the Center for the Study of Southern Culture devoted to literature and folklore, and the unique Blues Archive with its recordings, photographs, and personal artifacts of Mississippi’s blues masters. Hankering for some live music? The historic Lyric Theater, painstakingly restored to its original splendor, plays host to major acts, and the Gertrude C. Ford Performing Arts Center hosts an array of concerts. MISSISSIPPI BLUES TRAIL: BIRTHPLACE OF A UNIQUE MUSICAL ART FORM About an hour and 15 minutes from Oxford on MS-6 W, the town of Clarksdale is the gateway to the Mississippi Delta region and the incredible Mississippi Blues Trail, which takes visitors through a few key towns that played a role in the development of this uniquely American musical art form. Immerse yourself in the music at the Delta Blues Museum, which chronicles the lives and careers of local blues legends such as Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and others, including the cabin in which Waters lived as a child. At the end of your day, you can refuel and take in some live blues all at the same time at Clarksdale’s Ground Zero Blues Club. Nearby Indianola is best known as the home of B.B. King, with the excellent B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center commemorating the life and work of the guitarist and composer who served as perhaps America’s best-known ambassador of the blues to the world via his recordings, live concerts, and television appearances. You can visit King’s grave, learn about the history and development of his work and the Delta blues tradition in general, and get up close and personal with musical instruments and memorabilia that bring the music to life. Around the corner, stop by Club Ebony, which has been serving up blues music, soul food, and beer since the 1940s. Further along Highway 82 on the Blues Trail, the town of Greenwood has a rich musical tradition and is the final resting place of bluesman Robert Johnson, of whom little is known. Johnson died in his twenties and left behind a small body of recorded blues guitar and vocal recordings that have nevertheless inspired musicians across the U.S. and the world, including the Allman Brothers and the Rolling Stones. Stop by the Blues Heritage Gallery to learn more about Johnson’s short life and body of work. And there’s no reason to leave Greenwood hungry, with an array of excellent eateries along historic downtown’s brick-paved streets. Try Giardina’s Restaurant, a historic restaurant located downtown within The Alluvian, a boutique hotel. JACKSON: CAPITAL OF FOOD & FUN Less than a two-hour drive from Greenwood on MS-17 S and I-55 S, Mississippi’s capital, Jackson, boasts world-class shopping, museums, restaurants and culture. Visit the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, both of which opened during the state’s recent bicentennial in 2017. The Mississippi Museum of Art, is also here, celebrating the work of contemporary local artists as well as past masters; the museum’s garden is worth a visit for its exquisitely curated plants and flowers. Literary fans will flock to the Eudora Welty House, in the Belhaven neighborhood, where the home and garden of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author make an impression almost as spectacular as her novels and short fiction. Close out your day with a stop at Bully’s Restaurant, honored by the Southern Foodways Alliance, for traditional soul food like ribs, fried chicken, and locally sourced catfish. MERIDIAN: ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT About an hour’s drive from Jackson via I-20 E, Meridian is the site of the brand-new, 60,000-square-foot Mississippi Arts & Entertainment Experience, which celebrates the work of Mississippi’s creative folks with interactive exhibits devoted to Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Jimmy Buffett (who hails from Pascagoula, MS), and Jimmie Rodgers, known as the King of Country Music.
Travel News: Airlines Try New Boarding Rules, a Thanksgiving Feast Made Entirely of Ice Cream (Really!), and Eurail's Family-Friendly Holiday Experiences
From the new rules of boarding at some major airlines to an incredible Thanksgiving feast (spoiler alert: it involves ice cream) to fabulous holiday experiences across Europe, this week's travel news is all about trying something new. TWO AIRLINES TRY NEW BOARDING RULES Airlines’ baggage fees aren’t the only thing getting a makeover. In an effort to improve the often-stressful boarding process, Alaska Airlines announced changes to its procedure in June and implemented new rules in mid-July; two months later, United followed suit, becoming the latest major carrier to revamp its approach. (Delta and American tweaked their boarding processes in early 2017.) So what’s really different now? For starters, both Alaska and United have streamlined their boarding groups. After preboarding for those who require more time or special services, active members of the military, and first-class passengers, Alaska’s customers are called in four groups: million-milers and gold-status MVPs, regular MVPs and premium class, guests seated in the back half of the plane, and guests seated in the front half. United has downsized to two color-coded lanes: Group 1 (premiere platinum and gold members, Star Alliance gold, and those seated in premium cabins) queues up in the blue lane; group 2 (premier and Star Alliance silver, anyone who’s purchased Premier Access or Priority Boarding, and United cardholders) in the green lane; and after that, groups 3 through 5 (the rest of the plane, basically) line up in the green lane. In addition to the group changes, Alaska has redesigned its boarding passes to highlight each passenger’s boarding group and gate, and made its boarding timeline clear in hopes of eliminating confusion and gate-side congestion. For economy and basic-economy travelers, though, overhead bin space isat a premium, and there’s always a sense of urgency to be the first in line to claim it, so whether or not these modifications are effective remains to be seen. A 5-COURSE ICE CREAM DINNER FOR THANKSGIVING One of our favorite ice cream shops, Salt & Straw (saltandstraw.com), in Portland, OR, is offering a uniquely sweet idea for Thanksgiving: A five-course "dinner" that consists entirely of ice cream. The family-run shop renowned for its delightfully experimental flavors (as well as traditional favorites) will ship you ice creams in flavors that include salted caramel turkey, sweet potato casserole with maple pecans, and roasted peach and sage cornbread stuffing. (Their Thanksgiving-themed ice cream is also available up and down the West Coast in shops in Portland, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, San Diego, and Disneyland's Downtown Disney.) And Salt & Straw is spreading the love - for each pint purchased in November, they will donate a pint to a local organization working to feed the hungry. EURAIL'S FAMILY-FRIENDLY HOLIDAY EXPERIENCES Europe knows how to celebrate the holiday season, and Eurail (eurail.com) is offering deals and experiences that Budget Travelers will love - prices start around $50. The Santa Claus Express is a double-decker train that travels by night from Helsinki to Lapland, with a stop in Rovamiemi, the official residence of Santa Claus. The Chocolate Train takes travelers from Montreux to Luzern with a visit to a chocolate-making destination in Broc and a cheese factory in Gruyere. The Scandinavia Pass allows visitors to explore Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland for an array of holiday- and winter-themed activities including skiing, sledding, and skating.
More Places to go
Sheridan County is a county in the U.S. state of Nebraska. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 5,469. Its county seat is Rushville. The county was formed in 1885, and was named for General Philip H. Sheridan.In the Nebraska license plate system, Sheridan County is represented by the prefix 61 (it had the sixty-first-largest number of vehicles registered in the state when the license plate system was established in 1922).
Scotts Bluff County is a county on the western border of the U.S. state of Nebraska. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 36,970. Its county seat is Gering, and its largest city is Scottsbluff. Scotts Bluff County is included in the Scottsbluff, NE Micropolitan Statistical Area. In the Nebraska license plate system, Scotts Bluff County is represented by the prefix 21, since the county had the twenty-first-largest number of registered vehicles registered when the state's license-plate system was established in 1922.
Gering is a city in, and the county seat of, Scotts Bluff County, in the Panhandle region of Nebraska, United States. The population was 8,500 at the 2010 census.
Nebraska (listen) is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east and Missouri to the southeast, both across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. It is the only triply landlocked U.S. state. Indigenous peoples, including Omaha, Missouria, Ponca, Pawnee, Otoe, and various branches of the Lakota (Sioux) tribes, lived in the region for thousands of years before European exploration. The state is crossed by many historic trails, including that of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Nebraska's area is just over 77,220 square miles (200,000 km2) with a population of over 1.9 million. Its capital is Lincoln, and its largest city is Omaha, which is on the Missouri River. Nebraska was admitted into the United States in 1867, two years after the end of the American Civil War. The Nebraska Legislature is unlike any other American legislature in that it is unicameral, and its members are elected without any official reference to political party affiliation. Nebraska is composed of two major land regions: the Dissected Till Plains and the Great Plains. The Dissected Till Plains region consists of gently rolling hills and contains the state's largest cities, Omaha and Lincoln. The Great Plains region, occupying most of western Nebraska, is characterized by treeless prairie. Nebraska has two major climatic zones. The eastern two-thirds of the state has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa); a unique warmer subtype considered "warm-temperate" exists near the southern plains, which is analogous to that in Kansas and Oklahoma, which have a predominantly humid subtropical climate. The Panhandle and adjacent areas bordering Colorado have a primarily semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). The state has wide variations between winter and summer temperatures, variations that decrease moving south within the state. Violent thunderstorms and tornadoes occur primarily during spring and summer and sometimes in autumn. Chinook wind tends to warm the state significantly in the winter and early spring.