Getting the flavor of...
A land of ancient giants
While roaming recently in California’s Sequoia National Park, I often found myself “expelling a quivering, involuntary Whoa,” said Jon Mooallem in The New York Times. We have all seen photographs of the immense sequoias in the park’s Giant Forest, but the images don’t do the trees justice. Some are 300 feet tall, with branches that dwarf the largest trees on the East Coast. What’s more, the delirium triggered by the sequoias’ size is amplified when you think about their age. To walk among giant sequoias is to share the air with organisms older than most major religions. At one point, I noticed that the distant branches were gray but that each mammoth trunk “hums with a dreamy reddish-orange glow.” Veering away from my small hiking group, I reached out to touch the rutted bark and was surprised by its sponginess. “That’s crazy,” said the hiker closest by, and for a moment, we stood side by side, kneading the tree’s epidermis.
There’s a lot more to do in Tucson than play a round of golf, said Jim Byers in DallasNews.com. “Increasingly known as an urban hot spot,” the desert city’s downtown has a lively restaurant scene, tons of outdoor art, and, because it’s so flat, a big biking culture. I took a two-wheeled tour of the hodgepodge of neighborhoods that compose the city center, pedaling from Exo Roast Co.’s mural-covered coffeehouse to Hamilton Distillers, where the owners malt barley over mesquite to create a distinctly smoky craft whiskey. Along the way, I was surprised to see one storefront sign that read “No Guns” and a cultural center advertising a “women, trans, and femme workshop.” Another potential surprise for visitors is “how strong the winemaking scene is in southern Arizona.” Just 30 minutes outside town at Charron Vineyards, I savored a crisp viognier as I sat on a sunny patio, enjoying lovely views of the surrounding valleys.