Courier August/September Courier - Page 48

COMPASS SOUTHWEST U.S. A down-to-Earth place—literally If you’re looking for an otherworldly experience, Meteor Crater, outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, has a pretty good track record. “Along with other sites in the area, Meteor Crater was very involved in the training of the Apollo astronauts before and after the moon landings,” says Lanah Butterfield, the attrac- tion’s vice president. “We are involved with the Flagstaff Lunar Legacy, which goes through 2019, hosting special events and helping celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.” Even if you’re not considering lunar travel, Meteor Crater is an interesting place to visit. “It is the first proven—and best-preserved—impact site on Earth,” Butterfield says. “You’re able to see and touch the largest fragment found on site, and you can get up close and personal with the crater by hiking along the rim with a guide.” The rim trail tour takes about an hour, and groups should plan to spend at least 90 minutes in the Interactive Discovery Center, which displays information about the formation of Meteor Crater as well as details about meteorites, asteroids and impact-cratering mechanics. Also in the center is the Astronaut Wall of Fame; a display on the Shoemaker-Levy 9, a comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994; and a big-screen theater showing “IMPACT: The Mystery of Meteor Crater” in surround sound. Meteor Crater is open every day except Christmas, with extended hours—7 a.m. to 7 p.m.—from Memorial Day to Labor Day. A Subway sandwich shop is located on-site, and groups can order in advance. For more information, contact Nicol Candalaria at info@ meteorcrater.com or visit meteorcrater.com. Day trip to tranquility includes an hour-long stop at the destination depot for shop- ping and snacking. To get more details, we posed three questions to Teresa Propeck, vice president of passenger services. The vintage steam and diesel locomotives of Texas State Railroad take passengers on a 25-mile journey between the East Texas towns of Rusk and Palestine, located a few hours from Dallas and Houston. Traveling through the Piney Woods region, the train crosses 24 bridges and passes by unusual railroad structures, including a locomotive turntable. Most trains depart at either 10:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. for the four-hour round-trip, which Q. What’s the most intriguing thing about taking a ride on your railroad? A. Time travel is a reality aboard Texas State Railroad. Our loco- motives are the time machines that transition you to a period when steam was king and diesel power was in its infancy. Q. What do visitors experience during the sightseeing tour? A. In our fast-paced world, folks often forget to slow down and unplug; they don’t take time to savor tranquil moments big and small. An adventure aboard Texas State Railroad is the antidote to the modern world, taking you on vintage transportation past wild forests, charming architecture and peaceful ranchland. 44 August/September 2018 Q. Do you have themed rides and special events? A. Texas State Railroad has the only Polar Express Christmas train within a 500-mile radius of our location, and our Easter Egg Runs and Pumpkin Patch Trains also offer family- friendly adventure. The Chocolate Lovers Train and Saturday night Romance on the Rails ride give passengers the opportu- nity to have a little adu BgVF6VW7F2bW"v6F7B&V6BFW&W6FW77FFW&&BWBR66f6BFW77FFW&&BWB