Getting the flavor of...
Washington’s Mount St. Helens
“There’s nothing quite like climbing a living mountain,” said John Nelson in The Seattle Times. Fortunately, this is the best time of year to climb Mount St. Helens, the most active volcano in the Cascade Range. In the fall, there’s less competition for climbing permits (via mshinstitute.org), and the footing is far better because rains and cold solidify the loose ash and pumice near the peak. The 5-mile hike from Climbers Bivouac Trailhead to the crater rim requires an elevation gain of 4,500 feet, and it’s “by no means easy.” Experiencing the force of nature that is Mount St. Helens is unforgettable, though. “Its heart beats with earthy rumbles. Its steamy breath vents skyward. St. Helens even speaks, with the sound of rocks and landslides tumbling down its crater walls.” As you approach the crater rim, “prepare for an astonishing sight.” The mountain blew its top off in 1980, but small eruptions have been erecting a lava dome in the caldera ever since.
Philadelphia’s trailblazing penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary has been a major Philadelphia tourist attraction almost from the day it opened, said Jay Jones in the Chicago Tribune. Built in 1829, the massive Gothic-style fortress was the largest public structure in the country at the time, and when Charles Dickens visited America, he named the prison and Niagara Falls as the two places he most wanted to see. But in its intended role as a humane rehabilitation facility, the institution “failed miserably.” Following the ideas of Benjamin Franklin and other would-be reformers, the prison kept all inmates in solitary, their only reading the Bible. The idea was that penitence would redeem them. Visit today and you’ll notice that Al Capone’s cell was rendered less spartan by oil paintings and Oriental rugs provided by his guards. A new exhibition, which questions America’s reliance on mass incarceration, might seem to risk controversy. In this setting, it “resonates with many.”