Some breathtakingly beautiful places I’ve been

  1. Mount Rainier, Washington: Not just its high country and flanks (I’ve been as high as Camp Muir, 10,188 feet elevation), but also the valleys and surrounding ridges. Living four years to its east allowed me many opportunities to see aspects many of its more urban neighbors rarely encountered. (I’ll let this one stand as a representative of what could easily become a Tendril of other Cascades Range experiences.)
  2. West Quoddy State Park, Maine, after a big storm: Like a smaller scale Acadia, but far less crowded and more intimate.
  3. Outer Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on the Atlantic side: Especially pleasant in the shoulder season, when we were staying at Grandpa’s Jim’s place. The beach and dune just run on forever.
  4. Mount Cochura, New Hampshire: Not one of the state’s higher peaks, but a strenuous and varied ascent all the same, with fantastic views from the peak. Noted in Native lore even before the celebrated lovers’ leap.
  5. Stillwater Quaker meetinghouse, Barnesville, Ohio: Built in 1877 along timeless classical proportions and designed to house yearly meeting sessions as well as weekly Meeting for Worship, the site always felt much older and more hallowed to me, even after living in New England.
  6. Music Hall, Cincinnati: Some of my greatest concerts in my memory were in this large, horseshoe-shaped Italianate auditorium. The acoustics in the second balcony were razor-sharp. (Gilded Severance Hall in Cleveland deserves an honorable mention.)
  7. Hancock Tower observation deck, Boston: The panoramic view from the top of the city’s tallest building was amazing. Alas, it has been closed for security reasons since the 9/11 flights took off from Logan International Airport across Boston Harbor, a very prominent feature in the view.
  8. Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, British Columbia: This flower-lover’s 55-acre paradise attracts more a million visitors a year for good reason. The blooming beds are perfection of horticulture and color, but there’s no preparation for the stunning sunken garden in the former limestone quarry just beyond.
  9. Roan High Knob, North Carolina-Tennessee: I was a 12-year-old Boy Scout nearing the end of a week’s backpacking on the Appalachian Trail when we came upon this 6,286-foot-high mountain crowning a nearly tree-barren highland punctuated by rhododendron in full bloom. I’d never before seen a rhododendron, as far as I know, but have always associated the shrub since with that unanticipated, perfectly timed encounter.
  10. Ohio Caverns, West Liberty: You just don’t expect the crystalline underground wonder to exist under an otherwise pedestrian Ohio landscape. (Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, is grander and more spectacular, but sometimes, as the saying goes, Small Is Beautiful.)

~*~

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