Getting the flavor of...
The new Astronaut Hall of Fame
A newly refurbished exhibit hall at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center “reminds us why we think of astronauts as heroes,” said Marjie Lambert in The Miami Herald. The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, formerly located six miles north of the space center and its popular visitor complex, now sits at the heart of a lively multimedia educational experience. Step inside the Heroes & Legends hall and you’re soon wrapped in moving images on the towering 360-degree screen. A film called “Through the Eyes of a Hero” offers cockpit views of NASA’s lunar journeys, and beyond the screening area lie pods designed to look like the interiors of space capsules. There’s even a hologram of Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, stepping out of the Gemini 9 capsule. The new hall might never draw crowds as big as the nearby Atlantis and Saturn rockets do, but it adds a state-of-the-art experience to the 40-year-old complex.
An oasis of desert whimsy
A half hour south of Farmington, N.M., lies “a fantasy land of geologic oddities,” said Dan Leeth in The Denver Post. The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area, a “forbiddingly empty” landscape at first sight, comes to life when you hike in. Potable water is nowhere to be found, though, and the only sign of animal life is dried manure left by a herd of wild horses. But petrified tree stumps litter the ground, and in an area nicknamed the Cracked Egg Factory lie boulders that resemble “mutated cabbage heads, clams with overbites, and geriatric Pac-Men.” Still, “it’s the hoodoos that give the Bisti its most whimsical character.” The mudstone pillars, carved by erosion, “sprout from the ground like fields of stony mushrooms ready for harvesting by a granite Jolly Green Giant.” My wife and I recently walked among them, wishing we’d made plans to camp for the night so we could catch the towering hoodoos in “the magical light” of dawn and dusk.
Last-minute travel deals
Carnival in Rio
Get to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival this February and enjoy 20 percent off a five-day group package. The Journeyou offer starts at $1,150 per person, double occupancy, and includes guided tours of the city. Book by Dec. 30.
Sailing the Yangtze
Victoria Cruises is offering a two-for-one deal for 2017 cruises on China’s Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia. Sail four nights for only $940 a couple. Discount requires purchase of a $90 excursion package. Book by Dec. 31.
New York to the Bahamas
Norwegian is offering sevennight January cruises from New York to the Bahamas starting at $599 per person, double occupancy. The “Free at Sea” deal includes a choice of perks, including unlimited open bar. Book by Dec. 31.