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Tell us about the top five places you’ve always wanted to visit. GO!

(I’ve already written about places outside this country that I’d like to visit, so I’ll turn home-side and make a list of places in the United States I’d like to see, or perhaps should have been and haven’t.)

First on my list is Big Sur. Nothing I’ve seen in photos looks as inviting and spectacular as the scenic Route 1 along the California coast. The sights along the road looks not only dramatic, but the large amount of nature reserve area means that there are species of animals that one would probably see nowhere else. I love the ocean, especially when it’s a bit wild an overpowering and I think that I would have that feeling seeing the expanse of water along that stretch of coastline. It’s an area where one can be in the middle of nowhere, yet close to the civilization of some beautiful towns and resorts.  I’d like to take a several days and drive from Monterey to Santa Barbara, which I’ve heard is a beautiful city.

Mount Rushmore is another tourist attraction I’ll put on my list. I’ve never thought much about South Dakota, but note that there are other things to see there like the Badlands National Park with its rugged landscape and paleontological treasures. I should be ashamed that I’d didn’t realize that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories and personal history are from South Dakota (am I bad), nor did I know that a massive Minuteman Missile site is located there — no longer armed, but a “tourist” attraction. Being a history buff, I’d find this interesting.

Boston would also satisfy my historical curiosity. To see the harbor where tea floated in the water, Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church, the Old State House, sight of the Boston Massacre, and Bunker Hill. There’s more along the Freedom Trail that I’m not familiar with, but half a day of walking its path would take me to where U.S. History truly began. I’d have to go to Cambridge, just to see Harvard University, close to celebrating its 400th anniversary.

New York’s Finger Lakes abound with beauty, I was told by my grandfather who grew up as a farm boy in Horseheads, NY. After he moved to Florida in 1957, I don’t think he ever visited it again, but certainly it was clear in his mind as a beautiful place to have been raised. My uncle, after my grandfather’s death, went up in a private plane, and sprinkled Grandpa’s ashes over the area, so he rests there now, part of the landscape he once loved.

Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan shoreline. These dunes which rise to over 300 feet and dive directly into the lake are no mystery to geologists, but to the ordinary visitor they are a marvel to behold, I’m told by the daughter. This is the largest moraine caused by the glaciers which once dug out the Great Lakes. The area is pristine, though I imagine crawling with visitors in the summer, and administered for the most part by the National Park Service. I’d also like to take the ferry to South Manitou Island, which is now basically a history and nature preserve with the lifesaving lighthouse being one of its attractions, along with farms and forests. Here trees can be seen that date back to the days of Christopher Columbus.


South Manitou Island Lighthouse

The Legend of Sleeping Bear goes like this: “Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tired and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear.” NPS, http://www.nps.gov/slbe/historyculture/stories.htm


Sleeping Bear Dunes