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Florida’s space shuttle museum; New Hampshire’s mountain huts

Florida’s space shuttle museumA new museum “brings the heavens down to earth,” said Marjie Lambert in The Miami Herald. The recently opened Atlantis Museum in Merritt Island’s Kennedy Space Center features the retired space shuttle Atlantis as its centerpiece. Interactive displays and replicas of assorted shuttle parts dot the “sophisticated and comprehensive” museum, where visitors can board simulators that re-create landings. During my visit, children and adults alike gleefully explored the exhibits; a toilet showing how astronauts relieve themselves in space proved particularly popular. But the shuttle itself is the star attraction. “Grimy with space dust, scratched, its tiles scorched by the heat of re-entry,” the breathtaking Atlantis showed the wear of its 33 missions to space over 26 years. The museum set up Atlantis with a “dramatic reveal, a chest-swelling moment that might lose its impact if you knew what was going to happen.” Just prepare yourself to be moved.

New Hampshire’s mountain hutsThe network of huts in New Hampshire’s White Mountains offers hikers a “just desert” after an exciting and sometimes excruciating day on the trail, said Stephen Jermanok in The Washington Post. A group of outdoor enthusiasts started the Appalachian Mountain Club (outdoors.org) in 1876, and opened the first hut in 1888. Now, 125 years later, there are eight huts, each a day’s hike from the next. In the five days my wife and I spent trekking between them, we faced flooded trails, steep ascents, and “biting black flies.” It was all worthwhile thanks to stellar views, sharing stories with fellow travelers, and traversing the “lunar landscape” of the misty, rocky Crawford Path—America’s oldest continuously maintained trail. As for the huts, they’re no mere “rustic old cabins.” Suitably renovated with solar heating and other green technology, they provide clean bunks, hearty fare, and superb camaraderie amid New England’s highest peaks.

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