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John Wayne’s mythic valley; New York City, Canada

John Wayne’s mythic valleyEvery American should see Monument Valley firsthand at least once, said Christopher Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times. We all recognize its towering mesas and buttes from old Westerns, but there’s nothing like walking among them. Besides, “it’s embarrassing to stand in the middle of such stark beauty and realize that most of the other tourists are speaking French, German, or Chinese.” The valley is located on the Utah-Arizona border in a Navajo tribal park, and you need to hire a Navajo to venture off the park’s 17-mile dirt-road loop. But the fireworks start even as you’re driving in on U.S. Highway 163: the butte known as El Capitan, “looming like a stairway to the stratosphere,” then the saffron-colored Sentinel Mesa. One day, the landscape seemed “doubly alive” as a storm rose up. “Within minutes, Spearhead Mesa had five waterfalls coursing down its face.” We “sprinted for the car, scared and thrilled.”

New York City, CanadaIn remote Nova Scotia lies a coastal town that once aspired to be the new New York City, said John Masters in The Dallas Morning News. In 1783, roughly 200 New York families who wished to remain loyal to the British crown helped found Shelburne and quickly built it into the fourth-largest settlement in North America. One problem: These former Manhattanites were party people, “not the sort of hearty frontier folk bred to tame a forest wilderness.” Some 40 buildings remain of the handsome town they built, having somehow survived the crash that occurred when most of Shelburne’s 10,000 residents realized they’d chosen a place with poor soil and too little marine traffic despite their world-class harbor. Thanks in part to the producers of the 1995 film The Scarlet Letter, who added even older-looking touches, a stroll through Shelburne’s downtown today “will take you back in time all the way to the 1600s.”

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