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North America

Photo of the Day – Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Located in the shallow waters off Grand Cayman’s North Sound, Stingray City is a string of sandbars that passes through a natural channel just inside the island’s barrier reef. As the story goes, the area became popular with the rays decades ago when local fisherman would stop in the calm, shallow waters to clean their day’s catch. When they tossed the fish guts and squid into the water it attracted the stingrays who eventually began to associate the sound of a boat engine with a free meal. Over the years, divers realized the stingrays could be fed by hand and today a variety of boats ferry visitors to the area to let them feed the stingrays and get a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. It’s the rare chance to interact one-on-one with the friendly rays that makes Stingray City Grand Cayman’s most popular attraction. If you’re staying a few days on Grand Cayman, definitely try to visit when there are no cruise ships in port. Of course, if you’re visiting the island on a cruise ship like I was, well, you’ll likely have to suffer the crowds. But even with the throng of fellow tourists, I still felt Stingray City was well worth a visit.

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Photo of the Day – The Ernest Hemingway House – Key West, Florida

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – The Ernest Hemingway House – Key West, Florida

Built in 1851 in the Spanish colonial style, Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his greatest novels while living in this Key West home in the 1930’s and 40’s. Today, the Hemingway house is a Registered National Historic Landmark and still contains his study, furnishings and other items collected by Hemingway and his wife, Pauline, in their travels to Spain, Africa and Cuba. But the home is perhaps best known as the habitat to dozens of six-toed cats, the descendants of the author’s white six-toed cat given to him by a ship’s captain. More than 40 cats still roam the estate today and approximately half exhibit the six-toed trait, though all carry the gene in their DNA. Due to the estate’s large number of visitors, the cats are friendly and outgoing and likely to come right up and say hello when you arrive (as the one in this photo is doing to me!). A stop by the Hemingway home is a must for any visitor to Key West.

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Photo of the Day – Key West, Florida

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Key West, Florida

Just 90 miles from Cuba, the island of Key West is the southernmost point of the continental United States and the most-populated island in the Florida Keys. Once a base of operations against pirates, Key West later rose to fame as an enclave for artists and writers including Robert Frost, Winslow Homer, Tennessee Williams and perhaps its most famous resident, Ernest Hemingway. The Keys became linked with the mainland in 1912 with the completion of the short-lived Henry Flagler’s railroad which was abandoned after a hurricane in 1935. The railroad was replaced a few years later with the 123-mile overseas highway that still stands today. The island’s small size makes it easy to explore on foot, especially for those just passing through for a day on a cruise ship (as I was recently). But the Conch Republic’s relaxed charm and fascinating history are likely to have you wishing you could stay much longer.

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Photo of the Day – Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota

Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota

It was 1939 when Lakota (Sioux) Chief Henry Standing Bear sought out the talents of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to create a monument of Crazy Horse in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. The sculptor had first visited the area during work on nearby Mount Rushmore and in 1947 he accepted the challenge to create the world’s largest sculpture depicting a Native American icon. Blasting on the Crazy Horse Memorial began at a 1948 dedication ceremony and continues to this day with no end in sight. The first blast removed just 10 tons of rock from the mountain face. Following Korczak’s death in 1982, his wife Ruth and seven of their ten children took over the monumental project with the hopes of seeing his dream fulfilled. Today, you can see Standing Bear’s vision slowly becoming a reality. Crazy Horse’s face was finally unveiled with great fanfare in 1998 and in 2014, the crew is hoping to finish work on the hand and 219-ft high horse’s head. Korczak’s 1/300th scale model adorns the visitor center at the base of the mountain and a viewing platform offers visitors the chance to watch the painstaking work continue while gaining an appreciation for the project’s eventual spectacular result.   

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Photo of the Day – Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Colorado

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 | 2 comments

Photo of the Day – Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Colorado

The Colorado Springs area offers a wide variety of incredible natural and historical attractions for visitors. When I visited recently, I headed straight for several of the region’s top sights including Garden of the Gods park and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. But a quick stop at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings proved to be one of the area’s most unique sights. A rare historical treasure from the American Indian culture that roamed the Four Corners area of the Southwest from 1200 B.C. o A.D. 1300, these authentic Anasazi cliff dwellings were carved into a protective red sandstone overhang. I’d seen expansive cave dwellings on my recent summer trip to Cappadocia, Turkey and was surprised to find a smaller version of these intricate caves my own country. Constructed more than 700 years ago, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings are one of the United States’ most unusual archaeological wonders and a must-see when visiting the Colorado Springs area.

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Photo of the Day – West Bay Beach Roatan, Honduras

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – West Bay Beach Roatan, Honduras

Located just 30 miles off the coast of Honduras, the island of Roatan sits atop the world’s second-largest coral reef making it an ideal destination for divers. Often called the most perfect stretch of sand in Honduras, West Bay Beach Roatan rivals many of the Caribbean’s most phenomenal beaches. It’s also a great spot to try your hand at diving for the first time, like I did on my 30-day trip around Central America. Not only is Roatan one of the least expensive places in the world to become a certified diver, the reef is just a short swim from shore allowing rookie divers like myself to reach it comfortably while also providing easy access for snorkelers. West Bay Beach is lined with a relaxed blend of casual beach bars and high-end resorts but it’s the reef system and the crystal clear turquoise waters that will leave most visitors wanting more.  

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