6 Things You Never Knew About Mount Rushmore

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)
6 Things You Never Knew About Mount Rushmore

Western South Dakota isn’t lacking in incredible sights. There are the Badlands and the Needles of the Black Hills, and those are just the starters. But the highlight of any trip to this land of Native American history and odd rock outcroppings is a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial where giant carved heads of four former presidents keep vigil.

The majestic sculpture celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2016, though its stony faces remain much the same as they did when its construction was completed in 1941. The 60-foot-high granite monument features the towering head portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Here are a few things about Mount Rushmore you might not know.

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Presidential Images Were Not the First Choice

Presidential Images Were Not the First Choice

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Mount Rushmore was the brainchild of South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson who was moved to memorialize and carve iconic historical figures into a mountainside. He wanted to promote tourism to a region of the state that was otherwise mostly ignored and came up with the idea of the massive project in 1923. Robinson’s initial plans did not include the political figures admired at the monument today.

Robinson thought a carved tribute featuring Western heroes such as Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Lakota leader Chief Red Cloud was the perfect choice for the location. He enlisted the help of renowned American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who convinced him the monument would be better received if it had a more national focus. They settled on four presidents who they felt best represented the country.

It Was Built Using a Lot of Dynamite

It Was Built Using a Lot of Dynamite

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Visitors to Mount Rushmore stand in awe of its grandeur and scale. Little do they know of the enormity of Robinson and Borglum’s pet undertaking in real-time. The project employed over 400 men and took fourteen years to complete. Most of the men were miners who had come to South Dakota in search of the promised gold in the Black Hills.

An incredible 450,000 tons of rock had to be removed for the project. It was decided the best way to do this was with dynamite, so 90 percent of the monument was carved in this way. Once the blasting was completed, the finer details of the sculpture were attended to. This entailed lowering finishers down the 500-foot face of the mountainside in bosun chairs. It was dangerous work, yet thankfully, no one was seriously injured or killed.

It Has Been Known by Several Names

It Has Been Known by Several Names

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The mountain containing the carving has been known by several different names throughout the years. The Sioux called it Six Grandfathers after the earth, sky, and four cardinal directions. American settlers in the area referred to it as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, or Keystone Cliffs. It wasn’t until 1930 that the beloved icon became officially named and recognized as Mount Rushmore.

The mountain was actually named after New York attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who passed through on his way back from a business trip. When he found out the mountain had no official designation, he thought it would be a good idea to name it after him. The wealthy investor eventually got his way.

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Mount Rushmore Is a Controversial Monument

Mount Rushmore Is a Controversial Monument

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The Lakota Sioux were promised an area that included the Black Hills in perpetuity by the U.S. government in the Treaty of 1868, but forever only lasted until gold was discovered in the 1870s. The land was subsequently taken back by force, adding to the ongoing conflicts of the time between the government and the Plains Indians. In South Dakota specifically, the Battle of Wounded Knee was a grievous defeat for the Native Americans.

The Sioux still consider the Black Hills area as sacred ground. To some, the monument represents the oppression faced by the Native Americans. Visitors to South Dakota can pay homage to the history of the area by also visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial, a still-in-progress sculpture that, once completed, will be the world’s largest sculpture at 641 feet long and 563 feet tall.

The Monument Once Had Its Own Baseball Team

The Monument Once Had Its Own Baseball Team

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Gutzon Borglum’s son Lincoln, who also worked on the project, was a big baseball fan. He socialized with the daily workers by talking baseball and sharing friendly banter while keeping up with the scores on the radio. Their common love for the sport prompted the Borglums to organize an amateur team. Workers became vetted for their ability to handle a baseball bat as well as a jackhammer.

The local community enthusiastically cheered the newly-formed baseball team called the Rushmore Drillers. The team was good enough to make it to the semi-finals of the State Amateur Baseball Tournament in the late 1930s. Even though they placed third, Borglum hosted both the Drillers and their opponents at his home for dinner and more sports talk. The team disbanded when work on the monument was completed.

It Has a Secret Room

It Has a Secret Room

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Borglum wanted to add a secret room behind the monument where important documents and historical memorabilia could be stored. The so-called Hall of Records would be accessed by an 800-foot granite staircase with a giant bronze eagle over the door leading to the secret room.

Only part of the tunnel had been blasted when the funds ran out in 1939. The idea of a Hall of Records dwindled following Borglum’s death in 1941 and the official declaration of the monument’s completion. It was rejuvenated again in 1998 when the National Park Service finished what was started long ago and installed Mount Rushmore’s best-known secret. Items of interest continue to be placed there for future discovery.

6 Largest Churches in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

6 Largest Churches in the U.S.

Many people travel for an important reason: to savor new experiences that delight all of the senses. If you’re an experienced traveler, you often appreciate destinations of social, cultural, and historical significance. That said, a visit to a religious venue can be one way to explore your fascination with culture and history. Whether you love churches for their stunning stained-glass windows or historical artifacts, you’ll want to check out these churches below. Why? They are the six largest churches in the U.S.

Cathedral of St. Paul (St. Paul, Minnesota)

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The skyline of St. Paul, Minnesota, hasn’t been the same since the Cathedral of St. Paul held its first mass in 1915. On the exterior, you’ll marvel at the cathedral’s impressive dome, which measures a whopping 120 feet in diameter. The dome is made of steel beams, which are overlaid with clay tile and copper. Meanwhile, a 30-foot lantern sits at the apex of the dome. In all, the cathedral spans 306 feet in height, from its base to the top of the lantern.

The interior is no less impressive. The spacious sanctuary is the focal point of the cathedral and boasts a seating capacity of 3,000. Meanwhile, the marble altar is surrounded by an ornamental canopy called a baldachin. This majestic structure is supported by six columns of black and gold marble, each extending 24 feet high.

The building of the church was commissioned by Archbishop John Ireland in 1904. Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, a French architect trained in Paris, was chosen to design the Cathedral of St. Paul. Although the structure was usable in 1915, renovations weren’t fully completed until 1941.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City, New York)

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is the largest Gothic-style cathedral in the United States. The cathedral is approximately 405 feet long and 274 wide, and it seats around 2,200 parishioners. Its stunning spires rise 330 feet above the street.

Construction on St. Patrick’s began in 1858 under the direction of Archbishop John Hughes, who commissioned American architect James Renwick to design the structure. However, the cathedral didn’t open its doors until May 1879 due to a pause in construction during the Civil War.

Throughout the years, additional elements such as the West Front towers, the Lady Chapel, and the great organ were added to make St. Patrick’s the awe-inspiring vision it is today. St. Patrick’s is also known for its Pieta statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ, which is three times larger than the Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Each year, more than three million people visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral to light a candle, attend mass, or simply gaze in wonder at its impressive edifice.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (Los Angeles, California)

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Of the largest churches in the U.S., Our Lady of the Angels is the newest. Work began on the modern 11-story cathedral in May 1999 and was completed in early 2002.

Our Lady of the Angels is not only famous for its size but also its contemporary design, which was conceptualized by Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo. Our Lady of the Angels is also famous for its 300-foot nave and largest single use of alabaster windows in the U.S., which admits around 33,500 square feet of natural light on any given day.

Washington National Cathedral (Washington, District of Columbia)

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It took more than two centuries to complete the Washington National Cathedral. However, the result is a majestic Gothic structure. Nestled atop Mount Saint Albans, the cathedral sits 400 feet above sea level, making the top of its tower the highest point in Washington, D.C.

In 1792, George Washington set aside a plot of land for a national church in Washington, D.C. However, nothing happened for 100 years. Construction on the church, designed by Frederick Bodley (a British architect for the Anglican church), finally began in 1907 after President Theodore Roosevelt presided over its dedication ceremony. Although major construction work was completed and the first chapel opened for service in 1912, Washington National Cathedral didn’t come into its full glory until 1990.

Throughout the decades, the cathedral has hosted numerous funerals for U.S. presidents, such as Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Washington National Cathedral also hosts prayer services when new Presidents are inaugurated.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, District of Columbia)

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The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic church in the United States. It’s 459 feet long, 240 feet wide, and reaches a height of 329 feet. Construction on the church began in 1920, but reports in Massachusetts newspapers suggest that the idea for constructing this massive church was conceived in the 1840’s.

The church held its first public mass on Easter Sunday in 1924. Today, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception serves as a gathering place for Catholics from all over the world. Mother Teresa frequently visited the shrine, and many Popes have made trips when in the U.S.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York City, New York)

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St. John the Divine is an Episcopal church and the largest cathedral in the world. It stands at an impressive 601 feet and is 232 feet wide; the church also boasts a spectacular 120,000 square feet of floor space. Today, the cathedral houses the third largest rose window in the world; The Great Rose Window in the Cathedral’s western wall is constructed from 10,000 pieces of glass.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1892, after multiple bishops broached the idea for construction in the late 1820’s. Although the cathedral is more than 120 years old, it remains unfinished. Despite that, St. John the Divine held its first services in 1899 and continues to be an active place of worship today.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine also holds a special place in history for hosting ecumenical services during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s. In fact, Martin Luther King preached at the church in 1956, and more than 6,000 people attended a service in 1964 to call for an end to racial segregation.

5 U.S. Town Names That Will Crack You Up

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 U.S. Town Names That Will Crack You Up

Have you ever wondered why some towns don’t have more appealing names? For example, there’s a city named Bland in Missouri and one called No Name in Colorado.

That said, you’re probably grateful that you don’t live in Slickpoo, Idaho, for obvious reasons. Regardless of where you make your home, you won’t be able to help smiling when you learn the names of these five American towns.

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Two Egg, Florida

Two Egg, Florida

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This city is certainly a good egg – two of them to be exact. Two Egg is actually an unincorporated area in Jackson County, Florida. It doesn’t have a city government, so no one pays taxes or has access to municipal services.

The area was developed in the early 20th century, and one of its first businesses was a sawmill built by the Allison Company. In honor of the company’s contribution to the region’s economic growth, the city was named Allison. However, the newly-birthed city didn’t keep the name for long.

When the Great Depression hit, jobs began to disappear and people started to barter for their daily needs. As legend goes, a mother often sent her sons to trade two eggs for sugar at the general store in town. Eventually, the store came to be known as a “two-egg store.” As time progressed, even visitors began calling the town Two Egg.

The name, however, testifies to the resilience of the American spirit. At a difficult time in history, it represented the rugged optimism exhibited by the Greatest Generation. Two Egg officially made its way to the map of Florida in 1940.

In terms of popular culture, the city also has other claims to fame. Actress Faye Dunaway is from the region, and the area is said to be the roaming grounds of the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge.

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

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The name of this town almost certainly gets laughs from everyone who hears it. While it may not be obvious from the name, this town sits in the heart of Amish Country in Pennsylvania. It’s surrounded by Amish farms, and the shops sell a variety of handmade Amish quilts, furniture, toys, and crafts. These attractions make it one of the top tourist destinations in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

However, none of the above explains how Intercourse got its name. Don’t fret; we’re getting to it. The town was originally known as Cross Keys. It didn’t get its more colorful moniker until 1814. There are three prevailing theories as to how Intercourse was named, although none are as racy as its name indicates:

Theory One: The town had an old racetrack named “Entercourse,” and in due time, the name evolved to “Intercourse.”

Theory Two: Intercourse may have been a reference to the town’s location at the intersection of Routes 340 and 772.

Theory Three: The city may have been named as a nod to the close fellowship enjoyed among its communities of faith. Such social cohesion was vital to the region and may have been reflected in the town’s name.

While the town of Intercourse is certainly worth a visit, you don’t need to go there to find out what it looks like. Instead, check it out in scenes from the 1985 movie “Witness,” starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis.

Humptulips, Washington

Humptulips, Washington

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This oddly-named town and its associated river is located near the Washington coast and gets a surprisingly high amount of traffic. Highway 101 passes through the town, taking tourists and travelers to Washington’s beaches or the Olympic National Forest. So, the odds are high that the name Humptulips has drawn many laughs from tourists over the years.

While the name combines two oddly-paired English words, its origins are not Anglo-Saxon. The name originated thousands of years ago and is actually a Salish word of the native Chehalis tribe. “Humptulips” actually translates to “hard to pole.” It was used to describe the Humptulips River, which was “hard to pole” or a challenge to navigate, due to downed timber in its waters. While this explanation makes sense, other sources claim the word really means “chilly region.”

So, if you ever find yourself in the city, let the name “Humptulips” remind you of the region’s proud native history — after you enjoy a good laugh, of course.

Hell, Michigan

Hell, Michigan

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It turns out that you can go to hell – you just have to plan a trip to Michigan to get there. Hell, Michigan, is actually located near Ann Arbor in the southeast region of the state.

The town was first settled in 1838; it only had a grist mill and general store then. The founder, George Reeves, was in the habit of paying farmers for grain with home-distilled whiskey. There are several legends about the name’s origin, however. The one embraced by locals is that farmers’ wives used to claim (tongue-in-cheek) their husbands had “gone to Hell again” when they visited Reeves during harvest time.

Meanwhile, others speculate that German visitors once described the town as “so schön hell,” which translates to “so beautifully bright.” Yet another theory involves Reeves, who allegedly said “I don’t know, you can name it Hell for all I care,” when asked what the town should be called. No matter the origin, the town officially became Hell, Michigan, in 1841.

Today, the town has fully embraced its notorious name and even leverages it as an important source of revenue. For example, anyone can pay to be the Mayor of Hell, Michigan, for one hour or one day.

Boogertown, North Carolina

Boogertown, North Carolina

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Sure, it’s a bit immature, but we’re willing to bet you couldn’t stifle a smile when you heard this one. While the name of this town sounds more like a playground taunt, it actually refers to the stories of boogeymen who haunted the forests of a North Carolina town.

No boogeymen ever existed, of course; it was just an invention of crafty bootleggers looking to keep townspeople and authorities out of the woods while they made moonshine.

So, where is this comically named town located? You’ll find it in Gaston County, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. The vibrant area boasts plenty of exciting events and activities for visitors and residents alike. If you’re game, consider hunting for boogeymen yourself at night.

4 Longest Roads in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Longest Roads in the U.S.

If you love cruising the open road with your car or motorcycle on adventurous road trips, you need to travel the longest roads in the United States. You don’t have to worry about exits, except to find some great places to eat, rest, and soak up local flare. The best part about traveling on one of the longest roads is you don’t have to worry about your navigation system kicking in and interrupting you while you rock out to your favorite music or listen to an inspiring podcast. Here are the four longest roads in the U.S., so you can plan your next exciting road trip:

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U.S. Route 30, New Jersey to Oregon

U.S. Route 30, New Jersey to Oregon

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The nation’s fourth longest road and third longest U.S. highway spans 3,072 miles starting in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and ending in Astoria, Oregon. In addition to Oregon and New Jersey, U.S. 30 runs through nine more states, giving you plenty of exciting rest stops. One of the most gorgeous stretches of U.S. 30 is the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway, which runs through Idaho from Bliss through Twin Falls. This part of U.S. 30 meanders through the Snake River Canyon where you will find thousands of waterfalls, hot springs, and charming Idaho towns.

For more small towns and some historic immersion, you will find several worthwhile stops on U.S. 30 through Nebraska, called the Lincoln Highway Historical Byway. As you travel this route you will drive along the Oregon, Mormon, and California trails, as well as the transcontinental Pony Express route and Union Pacific Railroad. The largest city along U.S. Route 30 is Philadelphia, where you can visit several historical sites like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, The Betsy Ross House, and one of the oldest streets in the U.S., Elfreth’s Alley. If you spend some time in Philadelphia, don’t forget to enjoy a world-famous Philly cheesesteak.

Interstate 90, Massachusetts to Washington

Interstate 90, Massachusetts to Washington

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The nation’s third longest road and longest interstate runs from Boston to Seattle and spans a little more than 3,100 miles. If you drive it from end to end, it would take you about 46 hours, but with so many must-sees and must-dos along the way, it will surely take you longer. Traveling along I-90 brings you through 13 states, including Massachusetts and Washington. If it’s an urban getaway you crave, stop off in Cleveland, Ohio, to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or head to Chicago to visit the Navy Pier, The Art Institute of Chicago, or the Museum of Science and Industry.

If you crave a smaller town feel, spend some time in Madison, Wisconsin. Located on an isthmus formed by two lakes, this capital city offers cute pubs and restaurants in the downtown area, which is also home to the University of Wisconsin. Outdoor enthusiasts won’t miss the chance to visit Yellowstone National Park when traveling farther west on I-90. Although the park is about an hour away from Livingston, Montana, I-90 is the best route to visit the geologic wonders on its north side. As you continue to drive along I-90 through Montana, Idaho, and Washington, the scenery of the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Mountains is so breathtaking, you won’t want your trip to end.

U.S. Route 6, Massachusetts to California

U.S. Route 6, Massachusetts to California

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In comparison to the other longest roads in the United States, U.S. Route 6 lies the furthest south, primarily because the highway runs diagonally. On the east coast, U.S. 6 begins at the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and goes all the way to Bishop, California. If you were to drive Route 6 from start to finish, you would visit 14 states, and it would take approximately 61 hours to travel its 3,207 miles. U.S. 6 was once the longest road in the country, but after the Department of Transportation renumbered highways during the ’60s, it moved down the list. Route 6 is formally known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, dedicated to the Union troops who fought during the Civil War.

Unlike the other longest roads in the United States, U.S. 6 travels primarily through medium cities, small towns, and charming rural areas. The largest urban areas you can enjoy from U.S. 6 include Denver, Des Moines, and Omaha. This gives you the opportunity to explore middle America. If you are traveling with children, make sure to spend a night or two in Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. Here you can enjoy the world-famous Cedar Point Amusement Park and ride some of the biggest rollercoasters in history.

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U.S. Route 20

U.S. Route 20

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Stretching for 3,237 miles from Boston to Newport, Oregon, U.S. Route 20 is the longest road in the United States. This beautiful route is packed with panoramic views and exciting attractions for those who love an epic road trip. It takes you through some of the nation’s must stunning national parks, such as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and Craters of the Moon National Monument, as it parallels I-90 for most of its length. U.S. 20 has not been converted to a four-lane highway in many areas, making this two-lane adventure the perfect opportunity to slowly meander across the United States.

On the eastern part of the route, you will find quaint and charming towns, providing a real taste of Americana with main streets that have looked the same for decades. In fact, the Massachusetts portion of Route 20 follows the old Boston Post Road used to carry mail between New York City and Boston in the 1600s and 1700s. Route 20 in New York travels through the Finger Lakes Region of the state and winds through remote areas filled with antique shops and charming bed and breakfasts. Likewise on the west coast, you will find enchanting bed and breakfasts throughout the vineyards of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

With quality of life, recreation and active lifestyles on everyone’s radar in terms of where to live, work and play, we often wonder where are these pockets of health — and what factors make them so healthy? As with many best and most lists, varying criteria create different outcomes. So depending on what source you choose, different cities may pop up. The most complete and stringent set of factors are employed for the annual American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index.

The Fitness Index uses strong community fitness — which is easier to gauge — as a proxy for the individual, personal fitness of residents. The top-ranked index cities have more resources that support health and fewer challenges to a healthy lifestyle. Based on the Index outcomes, following are the 10 healthiest U.S. cities.

Boise, Idaho

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Hiking, mountain biking and outdoor adventure pursuits in general keep busy Boise residents in shape — enough so for the population to comprise the country’s tenth-healthiest city. No wonder. The capital city of Idaho is home to the Boise River Greenbelt, a series of tree-shaded trails and parks hugging the banks of the Boise River. With a section of river rolling directly through downtown, the greenbelt trail is prime terrain for urban workouts. Serious trail running is also a serious pursuit in and around Boise. Picturesque, punishing runs await at the forebodingly named routes Harrison Hollow, Five-Mile Gulch and Military Reserve, all highlighted expertly on the Boise section of Rootsrated.com.

San Jose, California

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San Jose is a major Bay Area technology hub, and it happens to have the ninth-fittest population in the nation. So when they aren’t behind computer screens, residents spend quality time outdoors exercising in beautiful natural surroundings. The Visit San Jose webpage for outdoor recreation  provides great tips on the best sites, such as Alum Rock Park in town or nearby at Castle Rock State Park in neighboring Los Gatos, California. Active San Jose citizens can add Zen meditation or a calming jog to their health routine at the city’s Kelly Park Japanese Garden.

Saint Paul, Minnesota

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The state capital of Minnesota, Saint Paul is the other half of the “Twin Cities” along with neighboring Minneapolis. Both cities share a penchant for healthy living, and you’ll find Minneapolis elsewhere on this list. For its part, Saint Paul’s fit crowd enjoys utilizing the Gateway State Trail for biking, running or simply strolling in nature. The 18-mile trail takes advantage of a former rail line between Stillwater and Saint Paul, now a paved path. Generally level thanks to its railway roots, the Gateway route winds northeast through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale, then continues through Washington County before ending at Pine Point Regional Park.

Denver, Colorado

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As a base for nearby Rocky Mountain skiing, mountain biking and hiking adventures, Denver is a mecca for active lifestyle seekers. As such, it’s no surprise to find Colorado’s capital at number seven for fitness. With the Mile High city indeed sitting at 5280 feet, residents don’t have to head for the mountains for high-altitude exertion. Just consider the bike trail descriptions at Denver.org. These are no short jaunts. Instead there are miles and miles of rides on paved bikeways that let you roll from Denver to outlying towns. For example, the Cherry Creek Regional Trail starts in Confluence Park and continues beside Cherry Creek for more than 40 miles before terminating near Franktown. Similarly, the Greenway Trail is nearly 30 miles of paved bike path along the banks of the South Platte River, connecting a series of pristine parks. As a bonus, the river played such a big role in local history that the Colorado Historical Society has placed along the route some 20 signs with photos and illustrations detailing important places and events.

Seattle, Washington

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With Mt. Rainier National Park in its backyard and the waters of Puget Sound on its front porch, Seattle is a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, earning it the number six ranking among healthy metros. While the city is surrounded by water, mountains and towering conifer forests, within its limits it contains thousands of acres of parkland. Among the best and most picturesque are 530-acre Discovery Park and the 230-acre grounds of the Washington Park Arboretum. As home to REI, of course hiking, camping, backpacking and climbing are everyday pursuits here, rain or shine. But biking is also a big deal. To that end, The Burke-Gilman Trail wends its way some 27 miles through the city’s northern neighborhoods. Seattle Cycling Tours, meanwhile, offers a 2.5-hour guided bike trek through central city landmarks and neighborhoods including Pioneer Square, South Lake Union and the Seattle Center.

Portland, Oregon

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Spread out in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood, Portland is known for its parks, bridges and bike lanes — and for its generally green attitude. It’s no surprise then, that the number five fittest city has myriad recreational pursuits for Portlanders. Surrounding mountains and forests offering hiking, mountain biking and climbing at every emerald-green turn of the trail. Oregon’s largest city sits directly on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, so paddling is a prime pursuit for fitness within the urban core. Another in-city outdoor highlight, Washington Park features both the city’s Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo.

Madison, Wisconsin

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Consider the winters in Wisconsin when noting the ingenious nature of the Sett Recreation Center at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Part of the three-story student union building, with the Sett Pub located conveniently on the lower level, perfect cold-weather activities occupy the rest of the space with live music, dancing, bowling, billiards and indoor rock-climbing. It’s not all about the indoors, of course. Madison, which lies just east of Milwaukee, is the Wisconsin state capital, and the city’s Capital City State Trail is a favorite urban exercise outlet. The picturesque paved path winds past Monona Terrace, a lakefront convention center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, providing an architectural treat along with exercise options.

Washington, D.C.

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Hemmed in by the bordering states of Maryland and Virginia and known for its imposing neoclassical monuments and government buildings, our nation’s capital at first glance doesn’t scream fitness. Yet the population of Washington, D.C., is serious about staying in shape, it seems, ranking at number three among healthy metros. The city actually helps with that, providing myriad free outdoor activities, many of which can be found at Washington.org. D.C.’s favorite outdoor exercise space is no doubt Rock Creek Park. It’s 4.4 square miles encompass multiple hiking and biking trails, plus riding stables and tennis courts. Hikers, bikers and runners also enjoy long stretches of the C&O Canal Towpath, with 180-plus miles of accessible trail along the scenic Potomac River between Georgetown and Cumberland, Maryland.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Minneapolis, the major Minnesota metro that forms the “Twin Cities” with the neighboring state capital of Saint Paul, consistently ranks among the nation’s best read cities. It’s per capita bookstores, libraries and degreed denizens help earn that title. Smarts and staying in shape apparently go hand in hand, with Minneapolis sitting at number two for healthiest cities. Bisected by the Mississippi River, the city is full of serene parks and lakes, all of which make for great outdoor recreation. For example, within city limits more than 10 miles of trails traverse famed Minnehaha Park and its environs. One popular recreation route starts beneath 53-foot Minnehaha Falls, from where hikers, bikers and runners can follow the tree-shaded trail through dense woods to bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, then loop back to the falls.

Arlington, Virginia

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Aerobics, aquatics, seated exercise classes, strength training, core strength, boxing, tai chi, yoga, pilates, walking clubs, tennis and biking are among the programs offered by Arlington Parks and Recreation. And those are just the senior activities. There’s a reason Arlington landed at number one in the nation for fit populations. Active pursuits are provided for every age and fitness level through the municipal recreation department, which also makes it easy to get involved with accomodations for income level and disabilities. At least a part of the population is getting their blood pumping with more extreme pursuits. The adrenaline crowd here is serious about mountain biking, and the Arlington Single Track Tour is an exciting, two-county ride to get in some exercise.

7 Best Botanical Gardens in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 Best Botanical Gardens in the U.S.

What do you do if you want to enjoy the beauty of blooming flowers, trees and plants, but you don’t have much of a green thumb? Do you struggle to plant your own garden with varying levels of success? Or do you opt to just visit a gorgeous botanical garden and leave the planting and horticulture to the experts? If you’re team B, who wants nothing to do with potting soil and toiling away in the yard, then you need to add these seven botanical gardens to your must-see list.

New York Botanical Gardens (The Bronx, NY)

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To be fair, there are two botanical gardens in New York City, the other being the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. But the city’s official garden is in the borough that’s home to hip-hop and the Yankees — the Bronx. The New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) spreads over 250 acres with indoor and outdoor exhibits. It is also an official historic landmark. Depending on the time of year that you visit, you can catch some beautiful seasonal exhibits. Over the winter holidays, the NYBG puts on its annual model train show. In the spring months, you can visit the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden where over 650 varieties are in bloom. An added bonus, the New York Botanical Gardens are literally across the street from the Bronx Zoo, which makes for a wonderful day trip on the 2 train.

Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix, AZ)

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Does anything bloom in the desert? The answer is yes, and you can find out exactly what kind of plants thrive in the beautiful Desert Botanical Garden located in Phoenix, Arizona. The garden is nestled in the Papago Buttes within the Sonoran Desert. You can check out more than 50,000 plants spread across the garden’s 140 acres. This particular botanical garden focuses on plant life that you would find in desert conditions. Be sure to check their calendar for seasonal events as the Desert Botanical Garden also serves as a live event space for concerts and performing arts.

Missouri Botanical Gardens (St. Louis, MO)

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If you prefer places with historical significance, then the Missouri Botanical Gardens is the perfect spot. This particular botanical garden opened its doors in 1859 and is the oldest continuous operating garden in the United States. The garden is set on 79 acres and features a variety of interesting exhibits. Enjoy a stroll through one of the nation’s largest Japanese gardens, on 14-acres. You can also visit their year-round domed Climatron greenhouse without columns that houses a lush tropical rainforest. Fun fact, the Missouri Botanical Gardens is the second largest botanical garden in North America, second only to the Bronx’s New York Botanical Gardens.

United States Botanic Garden (Washington, D.C.)

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While the Missouri Botanical Gardens is considered the oldest operating U.S. botanical garden, the United States Botanic Garden is also quite old. Established in 1820, this garden was actually designated as part of the National Mall. Although the United States Botanic Garden isn’t one of the largest in the nation, it’s a great way to take a break when you’re exhausted from the museums and monuments. The garden is home to 60,000 various plant species, including several that are endangered.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Dallas, TX)

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Where can you see 17 specialty gardens in one place? If you guessed Texas, you’re right! This garden sits on 66 acres and features a variety of gardens and walking paths. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is home to some very fun and festive-themed seasonal exhibits. For example, during the fall, they create a Pumpkin Village that incorporates over 90,000 pumpkins and 150,000 fall blooms.

Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA)

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If you happen to take a trip to Philadelphia, then it’s worth making a slight detour to visit Longwood Gardens. This massive botanical garden is located a short hour outside of Philadelphia and boasts an impressive list of indoor and outdoor gardens as well as gorgeous lily pad ponds. The Longwood Gardens were created by the magnate Pierre Du Pont as a sort of homage to the gardens of Versaille. In the winter you can stick to the four and a half acres of indoor gardens. But in the summer, be sure not to miss their weekly illuminated fountain and fireworks displays that take place every weekend.

International Rose Test Garden (Portland, OR)

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If you like only one particular kind of flower and that flower happens to be a rose, then Portland’s International Rose Test Garden should be on the top of your list. Did you know that Portland is actually nicknamed the City of Roses? And once you stroll through this beautiful garden, it will all make sense. The International Rose Test Garden began as a sanctuary for European roses to grow in safety during World War I. Today, the garden still serves as a research facility where breeders send their seeds. The rose garden is home to more than 650 species of roses and can sometimes offer as many as 10,000 bushes in bloom during the prime season.

So, the next time you have an urge to enjoy the beauty of mother nature, you don’t have to run to your local home improvement store. Ditch the gardening gloves and terra cotta planters and hit the road. There are plenty of beautiful gardens across the nation where you can enjoy nature and leave green thumbs to the pros.

5 Greatest Music Cities in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Greatest Music Cities in the U.S.

Music legend Elton John once said, “Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.” Across the United States, there are several cities that are known for their vibrant music presence. Whether its country, rock and roll, or blues that feeds your soul, these cities are some of the best places in the world for music lovers.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

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Music City. The Country Music Capital of the World. No matter what you call it, there is no question that Nashville is the epicenter of country music. Home of The Grand Ole Opry, the state’s capital is where aspiring country artists go to pursue their dreams and where many country legends have found their big break.

A visit to lower Broadway, aka Honky-tonk Highway, is one of the best ways to experience live music in the city. The street is lined with honky-tonk bars and has a constant flow of live music until 3 a.m. The street is known as the place where legends like Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson got their start. It has also been good to recent stars, including Dierks Bentley and Gretchen Wilson.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium are excellent ways to learn about the city’s musical roots, and Bluebird Cafe is where you will find dozens of songwriters performing. If you want to enjoy a country music festival, you can’t beat the CMA Fest, which takes place every year in June.

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

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New Orleans is regarded as the birthplace of jazz. Known for its raucous festivals like Mardi Gras and the Jazz and Heritage Festival, the city knows how to throw a party. The city’s French Quarter echos with jazz, blues, and reggae. Bourbon Street is the center of the city’s nightlife and is where you will find the New Orleans Music Legends Park, the Hard Rock Cafe, and Skully’z Recordz.

The city has birthed some massive legends in music, including Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino. If you’re visiting the city, you can’t miss a visit to Preservation Hall. The Hall is rich with history and still hosts performances. The venue is popular, so if you’re looking to see a show, you need to get there early.

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

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Austin is known as the live music capital of the world. There have been many stories as to how the city got that title, but one reporter writes that it was a simple search for a slogan to use in an ad that garnered Austin its title. To bring more considerable attention to Austin, a group from the chamber of commerce decided to take out an ad in Billboard. When it came to choosing a slogan, they agreed that they would see just how many live music places they could find in the city. After adding up everything, they found that there were 70 locations within the city to see live music. This, they determined, was enough to deem Austin the live music capital of the world. The ad ran in Billboard with the slogan across the bottom, and Austin has held the title ever since.

While its origin story may have been a fluke, the city has embraced its title. The city now boasts over 250 live music venues. Popular spots include The White Horse, Mohawk, and The Continental Club. As for live music festivals, the Austin City Limits Music Festival and South By Southwest draw music lovers from around the country. The Austin City Limits Festival is one of the biggest music festivals in the country and takes place over two consecutive weekends, featuring big-name stars as well as up-and-coming artists.

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Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee

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Tennessee knows music. While Nashville knows country music through and through, Memphis is the birthplace of rock and roll. Some of the biggest names got their start in Memphis, with none more prominent than Elvis Presley. The King of Rock’s home at Graceland is a popular attraction in the city, as is Sun Studio, where he recorded his first song. The Blues Hall of Famealso calls Memphis its home.

Beale Street is arguably the heart and soul of the city’s music scene and is attributed with playing a vital role in the strong blues scene in Memphis. BB King and Louis Armstrong were frequent residents of the street and the father of blues WC Handy’s home on Beale Street is open to visitors. Beale Street is also where you will find the Beale Street Music Festival.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

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Washington state’s largest city is known for its early ’90s grunge scene and as the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix. And it continues to be a prolific producer of successful music acts.

Hip-hop artist Macklemore hails from Seattle, as does Death Cab for Cutie, and Modest Mouse. The city has an active festival scene with Bumbershoot, which takes place over Labor Day weekend. While the fall may be dreary, Seattle’s summers often feature 70 degree days, making the city a perfect destination for a summer festival.

The city also has a wide array of live music options. A trip to Belltown or Capitol Hill is a great way to catch some of the city’s up-and-coming acts. If you are looking for some music history, check out London Bridge Studio, where Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden have all had recording sessions.

5 U.S. Cities With Perfect Weather in August

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 U.S. Cities With Perfect Weather in August

What U.S. cities offer the perfect weather for August? Well, it turns out there are several, and they are varied enough to offer something for everyone. The United States offers a wide array of weather patterns (some even within the same place), so if you want to beat the heat and cool off in a breezy summer vacation spot this August, the perfect destination may be closer than you think!

Before we jump in, let’s consider what “perfect weather” entails. The human body is designed to operate optimally at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We feel most comfortable at this temperature and will not be reaching for a blanket or desperately trying to cool off. In addition, most people prefer low humidity and some sunshine on a daily basis.

With those qualities in mind, let’s take a look at which cities offer a much-needed summer reprieve from the heat while also providing pleasant surroundings throughout the month of August.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

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While many California beach towns are going to be sweltering during the late summer, that’s not the case in San Francisco. The average historical highs for the city hover between the mid-60s and low-70s throughout the month of August, and the lows are a nice, gentle 55 degrees. Visitors can also expect plenty of days of sunshine, making the city an excellent place to spend your August vacation.

San Francisco offers tourists the chance to see some iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge or Alcatraz Island, and — even though it won’t be sweltering outside — it is still summer, so stopping by the original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop is a good choice, too.

Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

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If you’d rather head for the mountains than the beach, Denver has lots to offer August vacationers. While the average highs are a little above the preferred range (sitting at around 90 degrees), the average lows are a lovely 55–59 degrees. In addition, it’s important to note that Denver has very little humidity. You may need to stock up on the ChapStick, but you’ll be able to comfortably spend hours in the sunny outdoors.

Elitch Garden offers a seasonal water park that is at its peak in August. The Museum of Nature and Science and the Downtown Aquarium also offer some fun (and educational) opportunities for families. Overall, Denver has plenty of summery activities to keep the spirit of the season alive — without baking visitors in the heat.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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With average highs in the high 70s and lows in the mid-60s, Milwaukee offers a lovely reprieve from the sweltering summer heat. It also has a lot to offer as a destination with family-friendly attractions like the Horticultural Exhibit, County Zoo, and Art Museum. The area is also well-known for its breweries and proximity to Lake Michigan. Visitors may also learn a little more about the fascinating history of the Great Lakes while they’re there.

Whether visitors are looking to spend some time outdoors, soak in some culture, or simply sit back and relax with a nice, cold beer, Milwaukee has a lot to offer. It’s an excellent destination for families, couples, or friends wanting to get together and have a true summer break on the lake.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

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The Pacific Northwest may be known for its gloomy drizzle most of the year, but summers in the area offer an amazing break from the temperature spikes gripping much of the rest of the country. Seattle, with average highs in the mid-70s and lows in the 50s and 60s, offers a perfect August getaway. Visitors will be thrilled with a trip to the historic Pike Place Market or with a visit to the breathtaking display of the Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Seattle also might be one of the coolest vacation spots around, offering both the Space Needle and the Museum of Pop Culture. However, it should be noted that it is not, as many people mistakenly believe, the state capital (that title goes to much-smaller Olympia).

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

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Portland is another Pacific Northwest destination that promises a great summer experience with ideal weather. With a historical average high around 80 and lows in the mid-50s, Portland offers comfortable August days and cool nights. That gorgeous weather is a perfect excuse to get outdoors and see some of the great attractions Portland has to offer including the International Rose Test Garden and Portland Japanese Garden.

More adventurous and outdoorsy types will find the hiking trails at the Hoyt Arboretum or through Forest Park excellent ways to get up close and personal with the beautiful towering trees of the Pacific Northwest.

China will never buckle under Washington’s old trick of trade bullying

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China will never buckle under Washington’s old trick of trade bullying

Xinhua

Despite calling the just-concluded China-US trade talks in Shanghai “constructive” and hoping for more “positive dialogue,” the White House on Thursday announced plans to impose extra tariffs on Chinese imports from September 1.

Washington’s unilateral escalation of trade disputes is a serious breach of trust after the two sides reached in June consensus to restart trade talks on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Apart from undermining the momentum of the newly resumed China-US trade talks, the US flip-flopping again exemplifies Washington’s unworthiness in striking a deal and its disturbing propensity for bullying.

The US administration should bear in mind that its bullying and tariff threat, which has not worked in the past, will not work this time.

For over a year, the US-initiated trade disputes with China have bogged down not just economic growth of the two countries but that of the whole world. Meanwhile, an increasingly capricious Washington is harming the current world order with more uncertainties.

As the US administration is ready to impose a 10 percent tariff on the remaining 300 billion US dollars of Chinese imports, its sincerity in reaching a mutually beneficial trade deal with Beijing that can accommodate each other’s major concerns has gone bust. It seems that in the eyes of Washington’s China hawks, trade talks are no more than a formality with which to rip China off.

Also, the new twist in China-US trade talks shows that some Washington politicians are trying to play tough against China on trade matters and gain cheap political points as the new cycle of US presidential election is looming.

Unlike previous rounds of taxing Chinese imports, the US administration this time is targeting a wide swath of consumer goods, and therefore, is “using American families as a hostage” in its trade negotiations, according to Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.

While the White House is boasting about taxing China until a trade deal is reached, it should keep in mind that China will only accept a win-win agreement on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment.

Beijing’s position has been consistent and clear: China does not want a trade war, but it is not afraid of one and will fight one if necessary.

In response to Washington’s tariff assaults since March 2018, China has had to take forceful counter measures. This instance will be no exception.

Still, Beijing remains committed to handling its trade problems with Washington as long as the settlement is based on mutual respect and equality, and conform to China’s core interests. China, which still sees a steady economic growth and boasts enormous potential for further development, will always find a way to withstand any pressure if there no deal is reached.

It is therefore hoped that Washington should drop its fantasy to bring Beijing down to its knees with its same and old tricks of maximum pressure. If it truly wants a deal, then they will need to show some real sincerity first.

Brazil: Presidents Son To Become Ambassador To the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

Eduardo Bolsonaro signs to accept Brazil embassy in Washington

Aligned with Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, Eduardo Bolsonaro is about to become Brazil’s ambassador to the United States; without any formation to the position, Eduardo will be the symbol of a historical humiliation for all the Itamaraty and tends to aggravate the condition of Brazil like colony of the United States

(Photo: Paola De Orte / Agência Brasil)

247 – Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP), son of President Jair Bolsonaro (PSL), positively signaled a possible invitation to take over the Brazilian embassy in the United States. 

Asked about the issue raised by his father, in an interview on Thursday (11), Eduardo said that there is no definition, but that if the invitation was officially made, he would not deny.

“The mission that President Bolsonaro gives to me will certainly work in the best way,” he said. “There is nothing formal, nothing official.