Saturday, April 30, 2005

Water Park Capital of the World

If you like water and you like water parks, you've got to visit Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin this summer. The water parks around this vacation site feature extreme tubing, indoor surfing, and more than 200 water slides. The favorite? Howlin' Tornado at Great Wolf Lodge. It's a six-story whirling vortex of extreme tubing.

Address: Wisconsin Dells Visitor Bureau, 701 Superior Street, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 53965; 800-223-3557; Fax: 608-254-4293. Email: Web:

The Bay of Dreams is home to the tallest and longest indoor waterslides in the country, towering over 53-feet tall and running 400-feet long. Yahoo!

Also at Mt. Olympus is the Hades Roller Coaster, the world's longest underground roller coaster tunnel. It also includes the steepest vertical drop of any hybrid wooden coaster in the country: a hundred-foot drop at a 65-degree angle. Ooo-whee! It opens for play on Memorial Day 2005!

Address: Mt. Olympus Water Park, 1701 Wisconsin Dells Parkway, P O Box 68, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 53965; 608-254-7766; Fax: 608-253-5517. Email: Web:

Noah's Ark is America's largest waterpark. It features Black Anaconda, America's longest water coaster: Over 1/4 mile long, 6 hair-raising climbs, 30 mph spiraling drops. Black Anaconda swallows you whole, sending you plummeting down into the belly of the beast. Coming in the summer of 2005.

Address: Noah's Ark Waterpark, 1410 Wisconsin Dells Parkway, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 53965; 608-254-6351; Fax: 608-254-8027. Email: Web:

Kalahari Waterpark includes America's Largest Indoor Waterpark, featuring the only indoor stand up and surf FlowRider® in the country, the Master Blaster uphill water rollercoaster waterslide, and Victoria Falls family raft ride. It also includes the Zambezi Outdoor Waterpark.

Address: Kalahari Resort Waterparks, 1305 Kalahari Drive, P O Box 590, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 53965; 608-254-5466; Toll-Free: 877-253-5466; Fax: 608-254-5696. Email: Web:

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Longest River in North America: The Source

The Mississippi River begins its 2552 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico at a small lake (Lake Itasca) in northern Minnesota. When I was a kid, I walked across the river here, on stones laid across the source just for that purpose. I fell in, but I didn't get hurt. Just got one of my shoes soaking wet.

Since that time I've cross the Mississippi River many times, almost always by car. When I was in college, though, I used to run a 7-mile circuit from the Ford to the Selby bridges between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. That meant I crossed the river by foot (on the bridges) twice during my run each day. Never fell in again since that first time.

Address: Itasca State Park, 36750 Main Park Trail, Park Rapids, Minnesota 56470; 218-266-2100. Fax: 218-266-3942. Email: Web:

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Medusa: The First Floorless Coaster in the World

Opened to the public on April 2, 1999, Medusa was the first floorless coaster in the world. Riders are strapped into a flying chair, plunge 13 stories, and rocket through more than 10 highly-banked turns and heart-pounding inversions. Medusa soars at a top speed of 61 mph for over 3 minutes.

Address: Six Flags Great Adventure Park, P O Box 120, Route 537, Jackson, New Jersey 08527; 732-928-1821. Web:

Friday, April 22, 2005

Kingda Ka Komes!: World's Fastest & Tallest Roller Coaster

On April 23, 2005, Kingda Ka opens up as the world's tallest (456 feet) and fastest (128 miles per hour!) roller coaster. Enjoy the ride!

Address: Six Flags Great Adventure Park, P O Box 120, Route 537, Jackson, New Jersey 08527; 732-928-1821. Web:

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting

Marianne Fons and Liz Porter are well-known quilters from Winterset, Iowa. Together with Dean Pieters they own Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine, the fastest growing quilting magazine in America. They are also hosts of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, the most popular quilting program on public television. In the show, Liz and Marianne share their enthusiam for quilting and their best tips and techniques with viewers each week.

Address: Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, P O Box 171, Winterset, Iowa 50273; 515-462-1020; Fax: 515-462-5856; Toll free: 888-985-1020. Web:

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

World's Largest Collection of Exotic Plants

The Des Moines Botanical Center is home to the world's largest collection of exotic plants, which are grown under a 150-foot dome.

Address: Des Moines Botanical Center, 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, Iowa 50316; 515-323-6290. Web:

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Geode Capital of the World

What is a geode? It's a hollow, spheroidal rock with crystals lining the inside wall. Although geodes of different kinds are found all over the world, the greatest abundance and variety are found in the outcropping of the Mississippian lower Keokuk bed within a 70 mile radius of the intersection of the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers. The town of Keokuk sits at the meeting of these two rivers. During the first weekend in October, Keokuk hosts a Geode Fest.

Address: Keokuk Tourism Bureau, 329 Main Street, Keokuk, Iowa 52632; 319-524-5599; 800-383-1219. Email: Web:

Monday, April 11, 2005

Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame

The Tennessee Museum of Aviation and Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame have been designated by the General Assembly as Tennessee's Official Repository and Archive for Aviation History and the state's official Aviation Hall of Fame. The latest honoree is Evelyn Bryan “Mama Bird” Johnson, who is believed to have logged more flight hours than any other living person in the world.

Address: Tennessee Museum of Aviation, Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport, 135 Air Museum Way, Sevierville, Tennessee 37862; 865-908-0171; 866-286-8738. Email: Web:

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

World's Largest Freshwater Lake

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. Its surface area is 12,000 square miles. It holds 10% of all the fresh water on earth. The lake touches the states of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin as well as the Canadian province of Ontario.

Address: Lake Superior, 325 Lake Avenue S. #600, Duluth, Minnesota; 218-722-5002; 888-244-5253; Fax: 218-722-4096. Web: (address of Lake Superior magazine).

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame

The IGFA is responsible for maintaining all saltwater and freshwater world records and for spreading awareness of fishery and conservation issues to fishermen around the world. The Hall of Fame includes Boy Scouts founder Robert S.S. Baden-Powell, novelist Zane Grey, sportscaster Curt Gowdy, novelist Ernest Hemingway, marine biologist Luis Rivas, author Mary Orvis Marbury, and Isaac Walton, father of the modern sport fishing. Plus many others less well known but crucial contributors to the sport of fishing.

Address: IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum, International Game Fish Association, 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach, Florida 33004; 954-922-4212; Fax: 954-924-4220. Web:

Monday, April 04, 2005

American Police Hall of Fame

Founded in 1960, this hall of fame is America's first museum and memorial honoring U.S. police officers. "Nearly 6,000 officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty are remembered for their efforts and achievements at the heart of the memorial. Here, the officer's name, rank, city and state are engraved in over 400 tons of beautiful, matching, white Italian marble, in loving memory to their bravery." On May 15th of every year, during Peace Officer Memorial Day, the museum hosts a special memorial service for those who have died in the service of others.

Address: American Police Hall of Fame & Museum, 6350 Horizons Drive, Titusville, Florida 32780; 321-264-0911. Web:

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Oldest Wooden School House in the U.S.

Build before 1765, this wooden school house is the oldest still standing in the United States.

Address: Oldest Wooden School House, 14 St. George Street, Saint Augustine, Florida 32084; 904-824-0192; 888-653-7245.

Friday, April 01, 2005

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

Opened in 1893, this privately-owned park is the oldest alligator farm in the United States. It features the World's Complete Collection of Crocodiles as well as rare white alligators. In 1993 the park was expanded to include the Land of Crocodiles, where all 23 species of the world’s crocodiles are exhibited in individual habitats.

Address: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, 999 Anastasia Boulevard (S. A1A Highway), Saint Augustine, Florida 32080; 904-824-3337; 877-966-7275. Web: