Rapture with Raptors

The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center is about one hour outside Dallas on the shore of Lake Lavon in rural but fast-developing Collin County to the north. The actual site lies on Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) land that the Raptor Center has leased from ACE since 2004. The center encompasses a very fertile strip of land that once ran from San Antonio up to Oklahoma known as the Blackland Prairie, mostly disappeared, and one of the largest lost habitats in the U.S. The Raptor Center also encompasses an old ACE park that was abandoned due to lack of funding known as Brockdale Park, east of the City of Lucas. Scouts frequently use the area for camp outs.

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Bluegrass Invades Country

In case you missed it, the City of Farmers Branch and the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation recently sponsored a fantastic bluegrass festival right in the heart of country music territory. The festival will be repeated every October. And it is FREE.

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Western Development Museum

A museum of particular interest to history buffs is tucked away in the Canadian city of Saskatoon. Its fantastic, newly-opened and highly-acclaimed, modern art museum, is attracting all the attention, but Saskatoon’s Western Development Museum is a work of art in itself, recreating a typical village during the Canadian push westward and documenting the life of its pioneering settlers, many of whom also settled in the northwestern US.

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Are the Hutterites Right?

      Eggs for sale under fly traps

Today I demonstrate how travel opens your eyes and teaches new ideas. I visit a Hutterite colony. I am transported back in time. This community, Riverview, is one-half hour outside of Saskatoon, Canada, but there are similar communities in far northern US states, such as Montana. I called ahead for a tour of a unique way of life in this agrarian religious sect.

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Time for Reconciliation?

Is it time for “truth and reconciliation” in America? Most Americans who know what this is, think this is a process that took place in South Africa after the end of apartheid. But a truth and reconciliation process has recently completed in Canada, without any American news coverage I know about.

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Love Dinosaurs? You’ll Love Drumheller!

In Western Canada, about 110 million years ago, the oldest discovered dinosaur fossils were living creatures. In fact, southern Alberta is the site of a gigantic dinosaur fossil bed. The area was once covered by ocean, so it is rich in fossils. In the city of Drumheller, about 90 miles from Calgary, the marvelous Royal Tyrrell Museum, considered by many to be the best dinosaur museum in the world, has a great exhibit that explains all the pre-historic creatures and how they fit together.

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Tune in to Saskatoon

   New Remai Modern Museum

I recently travelled to a place where few people go, Saskatoon, in Saskatchewan, Canada, but I think is about to start getting a lot of visitors as a result of a new museum opening there.  Most Canadians skip right over this gem known affectionately as “Paris on the Prairie,” a nickname recently made into a song by the popular band Tragically Hip.  One nice Canadian gentleman told me he was visiting Saskatoon because he had been to every province of Canada except Saskatchewan, and he wanted to go each one. Contrast that with the young lady who explained she was born in Saskatoon, and now worked in Calgary, but that all who come from Saskatoon eventually return there.

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Calgary is Ready

There’s nothing not to like about Calgary (pronounced in two syllables by locals, Cal-gree), Canada’s fifth largest city. Long the center of ranching, of late it has been booming as the Canadian oil and gas industry’s headquarters. With a population of over 1 million, the city retains its small town attitude in a big city wrapper.

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Is the End Near?

A recent trip got me thinking … the end is coming. Everyone can agree that Planet Earth is in a constant state of change. I visited the fantastic Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Canada, near Calgary, and that started my focusing on my epiphany. The museum, dedicated to explaining prehistoric times and the dinosaurs, explained the three cataclysmic events in history (evidenced by telltale signs left in geological remains) when life on Earth was nearly completely extinguished.

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Tenement Museum in NYC is Gem

I had heard good reports about the Tenement Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate museum in the lower east side of New York City. I decided it was time to visit. That’s not so easy to do. You must visit the museum in a tour for reasons that become obvious once you go. The spaces are very tight and fragile. Each tour group is only about 14 people. Arriving around 10:30 a.m., the first available tour wasn’t until 2 p.m., and this was during a slow day in the middle of the week. You can book online and, perhaps, have a better experience. I took the first available one — Sweatshop Workers — but there are others. Each is led by an “educator.” All of the tours are expensive, but some discounts are available for seniors and students. Don’t miss this place if you are in New York City! (more…)

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