Tag Archives: Places with a View!

Island Hopping In Croatia

Have You Been to Paradise Yet?

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Why has Croatia become such a hot destination in recent years? Its Old World charm, friendly people, and unique buildings are a start. But its natural beauty–including beaches–is hard to find anywhere else.

We’d like to thank one of our readers, Nicholas, for sending us his travel story (and photos) about Croatia, including and especially a place called Brač Island. Found off Croatia’s southern coast, Brač is beautiful. Don’t just take our word for it though; read Nicholas’s account below…

It’s well known that Croatia is a nautical haven with favorable winds and currents, which allow sailors to comfortably cruise through the Adriatic Sea. The islands and coastal towns are replete with sheltered harbors so that tourists may dock their boats and enjoy the local flavors of the Croatian cities.

Everyone who decides to go sailing in Croatia must make a stop at the island of Hvar to enjoy the sunshine and the lavender fields. Same goes for the island of Brač – which is better known as home to the horn-shaped beach of Zlatni Rat. Another popular sailing destination is Kornati National Park, a collection of islands, islets, and reefs surrounded by turquoise blue water and adorned with pristine flora.

Taking an Adriatic voyage is a perfect way to go island hopping (Croatia counts more than 1000 islands!) and experience the different facets of this colorful and welcoming country.

Thank you again, Nicholas, for sending this our way! We always like hearing from our readers. If you have a travel story you’d like to share with UndiscoveredWanderings for publication, please visit our Share Your Travels page to learn more. Reader contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

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There’s Greenery in Las Vegas After All

Cool Off in the Desert the Natural Way

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Our first visit to Las Vegas this summer was a blast. Great city. Great people. Great atmosphere. Great climate. But even we noticed the extreme desert heat. Realizing we needed to get some fresh air and cool off, our hosts recommended Mount Charleston. Also known as Charleston Peak, Mount Charleston, we were told, is a Colorado-like place with cooler temperatures and gorgeous mountain scenery.

What?! In Vegas?!?! This one we had to check out…

So off we went on the 40-minute drive northwest of Sin City. It wasn’t long before we noticed the desert landscape getting greener before our eyes. And up Charleston we drove, deeper into the Spring Mountains. Wow, they weren’t kidding. This place is awesome! It reminded us of our visit to Italy’s mountainous Trentino region years ago. And to think, Mount Charleston is only a short drive from Vegas; a very easy day trip. Plenty of places to park the car and enjoy the scenery, cooler temperatures, and numerous hiking trails that will take you deeper into the wilderness. All in Clark County. On the day we went in late August, it was 100 degrees in Vegas, but only 70 (with a light breeze) on Mt. Charleston.

There’s more to Vegas than visitors think. Mt. Charleston’s definitely a well-kept local secret.

More about Mount Charleston

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Weirs Beach, New Hampshire: Retro Americana

Escape Reality in Style

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This summer, forget the big beaches on the coasts. It’s the hidden gems, tucked away in the wilds and behind the forests, that really count. Enter Weirs Beach.

We visited Weirs Beach, right on Lake Winnipesaukee in Laconia, NH, back in October. Even though it wasn’t prime swimming season, we really felt like we journeyed to a magical place. Weirs Beach comes with a retro arcade–no really, an actual arcade–right on the boardwalk, which was next to the train station, which was right across the street from the Victorian houses, which overlooked the spectacular lake, which had really ginormous houses on it, which you could see from the amazing boat tours, which…well, you get the point.

By the way, those cool Victorian houses we mentioned above, you can rent those, plus there’s plenty of other places to stay, including the Half Moon Motel and Cottages, which we’re happy to recommend. We enjoyed our time there. A nice slice of New England.

This is one of those articles where pictures say more than words. If you’re looking for a place off the beaten path to spend your summer, if you don’t want to contend with the major beach resort cities where you can’t even hear yourself think…if you’re looking for a little slice of Americana with a retro feel in a small lake town in New England…then Weirs Beach is for you!

We know we’ll be back.

OK, now pictures.

Lake Winnipesaukee is beautiful. Don’t believe us? Check out the time-lapse video we took while out boating

Then there’s the famous Vegas-like “Weirs Beach” sign, complete with a light show. We got a video.

Weirs Beach official website

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The Elusive White Deer of Upstate New York

Brought to You by the United States Army

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A very special thank you to Seneca White Deer, Inc., the  nonprofit that works tirelessly to preserve this piece of nature and wildlife, and who are responsible for organizing these white deer tours. The people working for Seneca White Deer were amazingly helpful to UWanderings as we got to know the history of the Seneca Army Depot and see the furry critters that call this place home.

Our recent trip to see this elusive white deer population was nothing short of amazing. This is the world’s largest population of white deer. They aren’t mutants, they aren’t albinos…they’re actually just white tailed deer. But they’ve been enclosed in a 10,000 acre compound for almost 80 years, relatively undisturbed, so they’ve had a chance to breed and pass on this rare, recessive gene that makes them primarily white in color without too much in the way of natural predators.

The site of the white deer is also of major historical significance. They live on what used to be the Seneca Army Depot, a munitions depot built by the U.S. Army in the summer of 1941—in anticipation of America’s likely looming involvement in World War II. Though useful for the war effort, the construction of this giant project came at a sad cost: over 100 families–many farmers–were given short notice to vacate. In other words, they were evicted and poorly compensated. The remains of some foundations are still visible today. However, the end of the Second World War didn’t mean the Depot was obsolete. The Cold War was just heating up, and this place was anything but redundant.

The Seneca Army Depot, or “the Depot”, as it was locally known, was a large repository of Cold War era weapons when it was still active. But the absolute secrecy of the place, coupled with the government barely acknowledging its existence in the first place, contributed to its mysterious nature and an uncomfortable level of anxiety by the community. It was Upstate New York’s Area 51.

Officially, the U.S. government kept a tight lid on the Depot’s inventory—and what went on there—by confirming nothing. But it was widely believed that aside from traditional munitions like bullets and artillery, the Depot was also home to a fairly large stockpile of nuclear weapons, ready to be deployed anywhere in the world at a moments’ notice. And because of the perceived nuclear inventory, it was also thought that the Seneca Army Depot was a top target on the Soviet hit list in the event of a nuclear exchange, so the site was not without controversy.

Interior of one of the more than 500 concrete igloos at the former Seneca Army Depot, likely packed to the top with munitions during the Cold War.

The secrecy and denial by Uncle Sam didn’t stop the countless anti-nuclear weapons protesters from demonstrating right outside its gates over the years, with many getting arrested for disrupting operations or even trying to break in by scaling the fence. There was even a well known group of anti-war women who continuously camped out adjacent to the Depot grounds so as to permanently remind the U.S. government that not everyone was comfortable with having nukes in their backyards.

Despite the mysteries that went on behind the fence, the white deer well known due to their occasional appearances at the border fence for passersby. The deer were protected by the soldiers that were based there, thanks to an early base commander who, in 1949, saw the first white deer on the Depot grounds and ordered all personnel to leave them alone. They were not to be hunted or bothered. The orders stood for the rest of the time the Depot operated. They even become an unofficial mascot of the Depot and the people who worked there. Now that the base is inactive, declassified, and in private hands, locals are flocking to see these white deer up close and, because it was forbidden for so long, the base itself.

This tour was awesome, not just because of the deer, but also because of all the other wildlife we saw. It’s a virtual nature preserve. Osprey, eagles, beavers, wild turkeys, turkey vultures…and so much more. And of course, there’s plenty of normal colored deer with fluffy white tails. They’re actually pretty cute.

Part of the fun with this tour is keeping a keen eye on the scenery to spot the white deer. Sometimes they’re obvious; other times, you have to intently look around as the bus moves through the terrain, so don’t be shy about shouting out “There’s one!”, at which point the bus will stop or back up so everyone can get a better view. You can really get into it. On the cold, overcast day we visited, the deer weren’t in the mood to come right up to our bus, as they sometimes do, but the sparse spring foliage made them easy to spot through the trees. But they moved fast, so our photography was a little shaky.

Although there are some small developments here and there, most of the former Depot is still either wild nature or nature that’s slowly reclaiming the land from manmade structures, which gives the whole base a sort of zombie apocalypse vibe. And since Zombies are cool right now, that definitely makes this tour much more interesting. For all the military buffs out there, there are over 500 weapons storage bunkers, otherwise known as igloos, that still stand to this day. Talk about Cold War relics. We even got to go inside one. It was pretty cool–check out the video above for more on that.

Seneca White Deer has been running these tours for about six months now, and they’re catching on fast. Since people from all over the world visit the Finger Lakes region for the wine, it’s only a matter of time before they come to see the deer, too. White deer simply don’t exist in such large numbers anywhere else in the world.

It’s human nature to explore things that are rare and unusual. Perfect for us, perfect for the curious travelers out there like you.

So we welcome you to join us as we discover the white deer of the Finger Lakes, and do be sure visit for yourself someday. The deer will be here to say “hi.”

LINKS
Seneca White Deer, Inc.


Become an UndiscoveredWanderings Guest Poster! We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. We’ll always publish under your name. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

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More to Explore in Northern Manhattan. Meet The Cloisters.

Welcome to The Cloisters!

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Nestled into the woods of northern Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park is a place that looks out of place for a city like New York. At first glance, The Cloisters—officially, The Met Cloisters, under the Metropolitan Museum of Art—could easily make you think you’ve arrived at an ancient Italian villa. But no, The Cloisters was built in modern times, borrowing heavily from medieval European influences.

Home to countless pieces of medieval art and artifacts, The Cloisters is a sight to be seen inside and out. Need a break from the museum? The gardens and views of the Hudson River are astounding on a nice sunny day.

We’ll save the pieces of art and artifacts for you to see for yourself–the stunning views at The Cloisters should be enough to entice you to visit. The pieces on display are centuries old.

You’d never think that this place is just a short subway ride away from Midtown.

LINKS
The Met Cloisters official website


Become an UndiscoveredWanderings Guest Poster! We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. We’ll always publish under your name. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

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