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Moon, Man, & the Space Machines (by Mike Baker)

Moon, Man, & the Space Machines (by Mike Baker)

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission. On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong took humanity's first "walk" on a celestial body other than Earth when he stepped onto the Moon's surface. Alongside this monumental achievement, it's also important to remember the work provided on the back-end by the many, many individuals, groups, and machines that helped make this historic landing even possible.  People have desired to walk on the Moon since antiquity, expressing this desire in various art forms for centuries. The physical reality of doing so, however, did not  become a possibility until Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's eponymous rocket equation in 1903 and Robert Goddard's first liquid-fueled rocket in 1926. By 1949, having reaped...

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Space is the Place! (by Mike Baker)

Space is the Place! (by Mike Baker)

Space travel has intrigued Americans for more than a century. The imagery of human colonies on the Moon and Mars, giant space stations orbiting the Earth, exotic alien landscapes and species, and a myriad of other celestial visions have shaped our dreams and our actions as technology steadily advances. The planets in our Solar System have provided plenty of grist for the imagination as scientists learn more about them each year— yet even now, we're still driven by that original question of "What's Out There?" Mercury Most kids leave elementary school knowing that Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and...

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Your Life Could Use a Little More Wine: Three Must-Visit Wine Regions (by Mike Baker)

Your Life Could Use a Little More Wine: Three Must-Visit Wine Regions (by Mike Baker)

Though there are over 10,000 grape varieties and 73 countries that produce wine worldwide, there are three specific valleys that provide a heady blend of history and distinction: the Dordogne Valley in southwest France, the Hunter Valley in eastern Australia, and the Russian River Valley in California.   Dordogne Valley   The Dordogne River passes through the Bordeaux region (perhaps France’s most well-known) with scenic towns along its banks, such as Beynac-et-Cazenac, famous prehistoric sites such as Lascaux, and 54 appellations that yield some of the best red wine in the world. The Romans initially brought winemaking to the region during the 1st century, where it has remained an iconic industry to this day. The region’s maritime climate is...

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An Atlantic Daydream at Acadia (by Mike Baker)

An Atlantic Daydream at Acadia (by Mike Baker)

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Acadia National Park—originally named Lafayette National Park—America's 12th national park and the first east of the Mississippi River. The park's 420 million year-old location, Mount Desert Island, was first discovered by French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1604, whose description of its bare granite mountains stuck for centuries. Eventually, the island’s pristine beauty attracted the attention of the burgeoning wealthy elite of 19th Century New England, who built lavish summer homes amid its "fjard", moraine, and glacial erratic geology.  Two such elite were John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and George Dorr, whose love for the...

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Mixing it up in New Mexico (by Mike Baker)

Mixing it up in New Mexico (by Mike Baker)

New Mexico is truly the best of both worlds: rich in human and natural history, the southwestern state also enjoys its current status as one of the most popular destinations for tourism and retirement in the U.S. It's a perfect blend of old and new, high and low, cold and hot, spicy and mild, earth and sky. Whether you're visiting the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the north, the High Plains in the east, the Basin in the south, or the Colorado Plateau in the (north) west, the distinct sights and smells of New Mexico are everywhere: the smell of piñon wood burning in...

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