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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards, Los Angeles State Historic Park

For most of the 20th century, this large plot of land in downtown Los Angeles was used as an immense Union Pacific railroad yard. When Union Pacific closed shop in 1989, the property laid dormant until 2001. As California State Parks hemmed and hawed about how best to convert the space into a park, artist Lauren Bon, backed by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation, had her own ideas. With the help of The Trust for Public Land, they excavated some 5,000 tons of soil contaminated with hydrocarbons and metals, planted more than a million corn seeds, and installed an irrigation system to create her artwork, Not a Cornfield. The large crop has now been harvested to make way for bike trails and fields of wildflowers. Los Angeles State Historic Park is still being landscaped, but close to half of the property is open to the public.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/03/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle

The curved rusted steel of Richard Serra’s Wake (2004) resembles the hull of a ship, perfectly suited for Seattle’s seafaring tradition. Children run around the large structure, warned by their parents not to touch. Other families meander by Calder’s tall, red Eagle (1971), eyeing the iconic Space Needle in the background. A dog walker ambles past one of Oldenburg’s signature typewriter erasers, following the zig-zag trail that rises above railroad tracks and leads to the waters of Puget Sound and the snowcapped peaks that stand tall in the horizon. 

Unveiled in January 2007, Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park is a glorious addition to the city’s waterfront. It’s even more remarkable when you understand the history behind this 9-acre parcel of land.  For more than 60 years, this section of Belltown was dotted with oil tanks owned by UNOCAL (Union Oil Company of California). The petroleum seeped into the land creating a brownfield that would take over a decade to clean up when operations ceased in 1975. Yet, today, the once vacated industrial wharf is now brimming with life as more than a half-million people visited Olympic Sculpture Park in its first year.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/02/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, February 01, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards—First Stop, High Line Park, Manhattan

The latest trend in urban design is blurring the line between civilization and nature to create parks from contaminated sites, landfills, and abandoned manufacturing plants. This week, I want to focus on green spaces that were once urban eyesores and are now popular spots to walk, bike, and simply be outdoors. For decades, the High Line served as an elevated railway track that brought freight into Manhattan. By 1980, the trains had stopped running and the tracks were sliding into decay that, somewhat remarkable, was also a kind of blossoming. Nature re-established itself as saplings and wind-sown grasses sprouted in the rail beds. The trees took root and so did an inkling of an idea, almost Seuss-like, to create a public space that would be 30-feet high above the city and nearly 1.5 miles long. What a way to see New York, from above!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/01/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Tweet, Tweet For a Free Trip to Africa

If you still haven’t signed up for a Twitter account, we have a great reason to join.  Acacia Africa is featuring a “Wild Tweep” competition, where one lucky winner will walk away with a 6-day African Insight overland safari. Simply fill out the Q&A and confirm that you can give them 20 minutes of your time for a live “tweet up” on Acacia Africa’s twitter page (Friday, February 26th, from 1 to 1:20pm London time). Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to answer questions on South Africa and tell us why you can’t get enough of the Rainbow Nation. Completed Q&As should be emailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Entries are being accepted until February 12th.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/29/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Go Dutch

I just received this promo from the Netherlands Board of Tourism. Starting a week from today, February 4th, you can click on www.holland.com and enter to win such prizes as a monthly delivery of fresh tulips for a year, a Dutch bicycle, an iconic piece of Dutch furniture, even a diamond made in Amsterdam. The biggest prize is two round trip, KLM business class tickets to Amsterdam, given to the person who sends in the most creative photograph under the heading “Just be. In Holland.” While there, take that Dutch bicycle on the country’s increasingly popular biking and barge trips. The beauty of these bike trips is that unlike a typical inn-to-inn biking trip, you don’t have to pack your bags every morning to check in at the new night’s lodging. The barge follows you along the route, so you’ll be staying in the same berth the entire trip.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/28/10 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rafting the Rogue River, Oregon

A four-hour drive south of Portland or a 6-hour jaunt north of San Francisco is the remote Rogue River in southern Oregon. Cutting through dense forests of pine and scrub oak, the Rogue is definitely off-the-beaten-track, a place where writer Zane Grey could think in peace and put his pen to the paper. So it’s no surprise that the Rogue become one of the first rivers to come under federal protection when 84 miles were designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1968. On a weekend trip this summer with Rogue Wilderness Adventures, you’ll raft a 34-mile chunk of the Rogue, camping one night and spending the next night at a historic lodge. An added bonus is that the gourmet dinners are paired with some of Oregon’s best pinot noirs. Price of the 3-day guided jaunt is $899 per person.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/27/10 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Biking and Sailing Egypt

While we’re on the subject of intriguing tours, Beyond Boundaries Travel out of Colorado Springs has teamed with Flash Tour of Cairo to create new biking and sailing trips in Egypt. So far, there are two 8-day itineraries, one along the Red Sea, heading into the undiscovered Eastern Desert. The second seems more exciting, heading to the pyramids along the Nile River between Aswan and Luxor. Since Egypt can get pretty hot in the spring and summer months, most of the biking is done in the early morning. You’ll visit Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings, and many small villages that will be stunned to see a group of bikers riding by. All of the trips are guided and van-supported if you get tired, and include all lodgings and food. Trips start at an affordable $1153 per person.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/26/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Camel Trekking Across the Moroccan Desert

In the 90s, active travel outfitters like Backroads gained popularity by offering inn-to-inn biking and hiking trips. Other sports like rafting and sea kayaking started to appear in itineraries in the first decade of the new millennium. The latest trend is family adventures, taking the whole clan down to say, Costa Rice for a week and trying as many sports as possible. Also growing in popularity are more historical adventures, like this trip I just received from Baobab Expeditions. From February 20-March 1, 2010, you can join the outfitter on a 50-mile camel trek across the Moroccan desert on an old caravanserai route. The trip begins and ends in Marrakech, before heading out with Berber Guides to the oases of Lawina and Saf’Sef. You’ll sleep under the palms while enjoying traditional Berber food and listening to the music, drums, tambourines and singing of the locals. Then it’s on to Erg Chebbi to see the sand dunes rising to over 500 feet. Pricing begins at $3533 and includes lodging, food, guides, and all the drinking water you can swallow.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/25/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Bonefishing in the Keys

Flyfishing for bones can be one of the most punishing sports known to man. You stalk the flats and see the large quarry, cast your long fly with precision, and then watch in utter frustration as the grazing pod scatters every which way. Averaging just four to seven pounds, the bone is so easily spooked that the best saltwater fishermen will often remain mute and in place for hours in order to hook one. The wily fish can sense the boat moving, can feel you wading in the water, can hear you speaking. One awkward movement on your part and off they flee. Yet, a little patience, a graceful cast just beyond the reach of the school, and a bonefish just might take that fly and run off some 75 yards of line in a couple of seconds. You’ll get the feverish feel of what it’s like to be connected to a remarkably fast and furious fish. The reason why inveterate anglers will often tell you that if you “hook a bone, you’ll be hooked on the sport.” Winter is a great time to try your luck on the flats of the Upper Keys. There are a slew of guides. One of the best is Tony Murphy in Key West.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/22/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Biking the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop

Co-founders of the non-profit Bike Florida, Linda Crider and Herb Hiller have spent the past 30 years leading the Florida biking movement. This past October, they launched their first long-distance bike tour, a 260-mile weeklong jaunt that starts and ends in Palatka on the St. John’s River. You’ll cruise on backroads to America’s oldest city, Saint Augustine, the Merritt Island and Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuges, state parks, and along the Atlantic Ocean, with numerous beaches to stop and rest. All tours are fully supported with luggage-carrying vehicles, on-road guides, maps, overnights in B&Bs, breakfasts, dinners, and naturalist-led programs. Hiller is a longtime travel writer who specializes in Florida, so few no this state better than him. Cost is $1250 per person and the tours are available fall, winter, and spring.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/21/10 at 02:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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