While you might not travel far from home this summer, you can still visit some fantastic places online and in these pages!
Hoover Dam, USA
Through engineering and architecture, it’s amazing how humans can reshape their surroundings. One spectacular area is partly here in Arizona with the massive Hoover Dam and its beautiful bypass bridge!
If your family is driving to Las Vegas from Arizona along US Highway 93, you’ll get to see the Hoover Dam—one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders. Started by the federal government during the Great Depression, workers poured the first of the dam’s 4.36 million cubic yards of concrete in June 1933. Built to hold back the mighty Colorado River, this arch-gravity type dam is 726 feet tall. It opened on March 1, 1936.
The Hoover Dam created America’s largest reservoir—Lake Mead. When filled, the lake covers 247 square miles. Arizona, California and Nevada use water from this artificial lake. Ongoing drought and states drawing too much water have steadily lowered its water level. But Lake Mead remains a great spot for family fun, with boating, swimming, fishing and water skiing. Just don’t forget your sunscreen, sunglasses and a sunhat!
The road leading to Hoover Dam is winding and traffic would often get snarled. So the government rerouted US 93 to a spectacular four-lane bypass bridge called the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which opened in 2010. This Colorado River crossing spans 1,060 feet and is 900 feet above the river! The massive twin arches that support the bridge are the widest concrete arches in the Western Hemisphere, and it is the second-highest bridge in the United States.
Palm Jumeirah, UAE
This man-made island extends into the Persian Gulf. Can you tell how it got its name? Palm Jumeirah is in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Construction on the fancifully shaped archipelago began in the summer of 2001 and took several years to complete.
The palm tree-shaped area, made from sand DREDGED from the gulf and stones from the mainland, is home to many hotels, resorts and homes. The crescent is a breakwater, but it is split into three sections to allow some circulation of the seawater. The crescent surrounding the inner palm island is 650 feet wide and about 10.5 miles long. Palm Jumeirah was meant to be the first of three planned offshore developments. The other two have not been completed.
Six states along the Persian Gulf, including Dubai, merged in 1971 to form the United Arab Emirates. A seventh state joined in 1972. The country has flat coastal plains, sand dunes and mountains to the east. About 85 percent of the population lives in the three largest states or emirates—Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
If you visit central Turkey, whimsical earth formations called fairy chimneys might send you on a flight of fancy! These conical structures reach up to the sky in unique, fantastical shapes. Millions of years ago volcanic eruptions in the region resulted in tons of ash and lava that then turned into rock. This soft rock was easily shaped by wind and water, to become the fantastical shapes that dot the landscape and spark human imagination.
Due to the MALLEABLE nature of the volcanic rock in Cappadocia, early humans carved tunnels and caves into the rocks and valleys. Later people created homes and even ornate churches in the rock faces. Some of the complex tunnels form underground cities that extend nearly eight stories below! The natural elements created quite the spectacle aboveground, too. The distinctive cone-shaped rocks look like columns, castles and even mushrooms—some going up about 13 stories, or 130 feet!
Turkey straddles both Asia and Europe, with the main landmass residing in Asia. The large peninsula is called Asia Minor or Anatolia. The country has hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The capital of Turkey is Ankara. Modern Turkey was founded in 1923.
Machu Picchu, Peru
The striking view from high in the Andes Mountains shows the terraces and structures like the Temple of the Sun, built by huge stones put together without any mortar. The Incans built this impressive CITADEL in the 15th century, but ancient peoples were building terraces in the Andes over a thousand years ago to grow their crops.
Terraces are like steps—flat areas cut into the sides of mountains and hills to create farming areas on the steep slopes. These “steps” slow the water that runs down the mountains, providing better irrigation for crops and saving precious topsoil from being eroded. The terrace walls also help insulate the soil, keeping roots warm during the cold mountain nights.
Peru and neighboring Bolivia are where the potato was originated. Ancient Andean farmers also cultivated squash, peanuts and a quinoa-like plant. The country has tropical rainforests to the east, dry deserts to the west with the Andes mountains dividing the regions. The ancient civilization of the Incas fell when Spaniards colonized the Americas. Peru declared independence from Spain in 1821.
Langkawi Sky Bridge, Malaysia
Langkawi is an archipelago, or string of islands, along Malaysia’s west coast. If you want a bird’s eye view of the coastline and mountainside, try taking the cable car up to the Langkawi Sky Bridge. This 410-foot curved pedestrian bridge is 2,300 feet above sea level and provides a panoramic view for those who are not afraid of heights!
The bridge is on Pulau Langkawi, the main island of the Langkawi archipelago. The bridge is supported by steel cables suspended from a single tall tower. The bridge was lifted into place by helicopter. It was constructed in 2003 and 2004 and opened to the public in 2005. The bridge was closed between 2012 and 2015 for maintenance and repairs. It now boasts a glass walkway in the middle section, letting visitors marvel at the rainforest below.
The tropical country of Malaysia, containing many mountains, hills and coastlines, is split between the southeastern Asian peninsula bordering Thailand and the northern portion of the island of Borneo. The total area is slightly bigger than the state of New Mexico. The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia achieved independence from Britain in 1957.
If you and your family have the opportunity to travel to an interesting location this summer, please share your story and photos with Bear Essential News!
Feature images: shutterstock.com