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Route 66: Abraham Lincoln’s Home in Springfield, Illinois

If you love Lincoln, you’re in luck. The only home he ever owned is in Springfield, the state capitol. Abraham Lincoln practiced law here from 1843 to about 1852, and he is buried at the Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Lincoln Family Statue by Larry Anderson in Springfield, IL. Photo © Candacy Taylor.
Lincoln Family Statue by Larry Anderson in Springfield, IL. Photo © Candacy Taylor.


Many of the Lincoln sites are within walking distance of each other. If you’d like to do a walking tour, visit the Springfield Visitor’s Bureau (109 N. 7th St., 800/545-7300, 8:30am-5pm Mon.-Fri., free) to pick up a brochure and maps.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (212 N. 6th St., 217/557-4588, 9am-5pm daily, last admission 4pm, $15) is one of the most popular presidential libraries. It’s a 200,000-square-foot complex with 40,000 square feet of galleries, theater presentations, historical artifacts, and interactive exhibits.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

The Lincoln Home National Historic Site (426 S. 7th St., 217/492-4241, 8:30am-5pm daily, free) is the two-story Greek Revival home that Lincoln lived in from 1844 to 1861. Built in 1839, the property has been restored to look as it did when Lincoln lived here, and several pieces of furniture on display are originals. Summer is the busy season, so it’s best to arrive as early as possible.

Lincoln’s Tomb State Historic Site

Lincoln’s final resting place is north of downtown at the Oak Ridge Cemetery (1500 Monument Ave., 217/782-2717, 9am-5pm daily Apr.-Aug., 9am-4:30pm Wed. Sept.-Mar.), the second-most popular cemetery in America after Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC. After Lincoln was assassinated, his body was interred here in 1874. His three youngest sons and Mrs. Lincoln are also buried here. The granite tomb sits on a rectangular base located on a 12.5-acre plot in a semicircular entranceway with a 117-foot tall obelisk. A bronze reproduction of Lincoln’s head sits on a pedestal at the entrance.

Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield, IL.
Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, IL. Photo © Denny Armstrong, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Old State Capitol

The Old State Capitol (1 Old State Capitol Plaza, 217/785-9363, 9am-5pm Wed.-Sat., free) is where Lincoln’s body lay in state after his assassination in 1865. It is also where Lincoln delivered his famous “House Divided” speech. In the speech Lincoln said he believed “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” The speech was a major turning point in Lincoln’s career and inspired senatorial debates regarding the moral issue of slavery, whether slavery should be legal in the North, and if slaves are human beings.

Also at the Old State Capitol, a kiosk in the plaza marks the departure point for the Donner Party’s ill-fated trip in April 1846. Look for the kiosk just south of the building between 5th and 6th Streets. Nine covered wagons and 87 emigrants set out on a 2,500-mile journey to California that was supposed to take four months. After trying to take a shortcut, an early snowfall trapped them in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They ran out of food, and almost half the party died, mostly of starvation, and some resorted to cannibalism to stay alive.

1908 Race Riot Walking Tour

Two blocks east of the state capitol marks a dark chapter in Springfield’s history. In 1908, Springfield had a population of 47,000 people; approximately 5.5 percent were black, the highest percentage of black residents of any city of comparable size in Illinois. A limited job market heightened racial tensions as industry owners used black laborers as strikebreakers during labor strikes. Two black men were accused of rape and assault, which triggered a white lynch mob of about 150 people. The mob lynched black citizens and looted and destroyed black-owned businesses and homes. It was a shocking embarrassment that this could happen in Lincoln’s hometown. It took about 5,000 national guardsmen to end the two-day riot. The event made national news and led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The 1908 Race Riot Walking Tour is a self-guided eight-marker tour that leads from the county jail where the mob formed to key sites where the riot ensued. The tour begins at the corner of 7th and Jefferson Streets, but your first stop should be the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (109 N. 7th St., 800/545-7300, 8:30am-5pm Mon.-Fri., free) to pick up brochures and maps. There are also other historical walking tours at the visitors center.

Dana-Thomas House

There is some great architecture in Springfield, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana-Thomas House (301 E. Lawrence Ave., 217/782-6776, 9am-4pm Thurs.-Sun., suggested donation $10). Take a one-hour tour to explore one of the best examples of Wright’s famed Prairie architecture. The Dana-Thomas House was built in 1902; the home is 12,000-square feet with 35 rooms, 100 pieces of furniture, 250 art-glass windows, 3 main levels, and 16 varying levels.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana-Thomas House. Photo by Patrick Emerson/kansasphoto.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana-Thomas House. Photo © Patrick Emerson, licensed Creative Commons BY-ND.

About four blocks west of the Dana-Thomas House is a John Kearney sculpture (425 S. College St.) of a white-tailed deer made from chrome car bumpers. Look for it in front of the Capitol Complex Visitors Center.

Cozy Dog Drive In

The Cozy Dog Drive In (2935 S. 6th St., 217/525-1922, 8am-8pm daily, $5-10) lies south of Springfield, after Route 66 merges with 6th Street. Ed and Virginia Waldmire (parents of Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire) opened the Cozy Dog in 1949. It’s still run by the Waldmire family and the place is packed with souvenirs, Route 66 memorabilia, and throngs of travelers eating cornbread-coated wieners on a stick. The drive in is located on a busy highway, but you can’t miss it. Just keep an eye out for a huge yellow sign with two giant red hotdogs in a sweet, warm embrace.

Route 66 Twin Drive-In

For a fun night out retro-style, check out the Route 66 Twin Drive-In (1700 Recreation Dr., 217/698-0066, movies start at dusk Apr.-Oct., $8), a restored drive-in that screens double features.

Local Eats

The horseshoe sandwich has been Springfield’s signature dish since 1928. It’s a platter-size open-faced sandwich with two thick slices of bread, meat, a pile of french fries, and a thick Welsh rarebit cheese sauce smothering the entire plate. In the original sandwich, the ham was made into the shape of a horseshoe, and the potato wedges on top resembled nails. In the 1970s, the horseshoe became the preferred workday lunch meal for laborers. Hamburger and processed yellow cheese sauce were substituted for the ham and the Welsh rarebit. It was the perfect meal for laborers because it was so much food, they didn’t even need to eat dinner after working all day.

Today restaurants like Maldaner’s Restaurant (222 S. 6th St., 217/522-4313) offer smaller “pony shoes,” which is a better idea for your waistline.

Back on 66

As you head south out of Springfield, 6th Street turns into I-55 south, and you’ll cross Lake Springfield, an artificial lake that formed 1931-1935. When the water level is low, sometimes the submerged 1926 Route 66 alignment can be seen.

Post-1930s Alignment

From Springfield to the Illinois-Missouri state line, you have two Route 66 alignments to choose from. The 1926 alignment follows historic Route 4, which predates Route 66 and goes through Chatham, Auburn, Carlinville, Thayer, and Girard. Route 4 has many twists and turns through farmland and old country towns. Since Route 66 only followed this route for four years, there are not many surviving businesses. I recommend the post-1930 Route 66, which parallels I-55 and travels through the towns of Litchfield and Mount Olive.

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Route 66 Road Trip.

5 Best American River Rafting Guided Trip Outfitters

For guided river trips, Placerville is the whitewater capital of California’s Gold Country. From here, outfitters can take you to all three forks of the American River, including the rugged Class IV-V rapids of the North Fork and the more moderate Class III-IV whitewater of the Middle Fork. Rafting trips are designed for all experience levels, and you can even book overnight excursions; if you’re a rookie rafter, try a more leisurely half-day trip down the lower section of the South Fork. The season usually runs April-October, except for trips on the North Fork, which usually run April-May or June, depending on weather and water levels. Check online for specific dates.

[pullquote align=right]If you’re a rookie rafter, try a more leisurely half-day trip down the lower section of the South Fork.[/pullquote]All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting (925/932-8993, $100-495) offers half-day, full-day, and multiday trips on the North, Middle, and South Forks of the American River. If you have time, take a two- to three-day jaunt and camp deep in the stunningly beautiful river canyons. Guides prepare all your meals, and it’s an excellent way to experience a different side of the Gold Country. You can also book full-day trips on any of the three forks if a multiday expedition isn’t feasible. If you have small kids or just want to calmly drift down the river, consider the full-day Tom Sawyer Float Trips along the rapids-free section of the South Fork.

Beyond Limits Adventures (530/622-0553, $100-300) offers mostly half-day and one-day excursions to the North, Middle, and South Forks; you can also take two-day trips on the South Fork with complimentary wine and beer served at dinner. Two-day trips also include a stop at a riverside resort where you can fish, play basketball, and try your hand at panning gold.

Rafting the American River with Beyond Limits.
Rafting the American River with Beyond Limits. Photo © Mike Doyle/Beyond Limits.
American River rafting trip with Beyond Limits.
American River rafting trip with Beyond Limits. Photo © Mike Doyle/Beyond Limits.

American Whitewater Expeditions (800/825-3205, $50-288) offers half-day, full-day, and multiday trips to all three forks of the American River. All expeditions come with delicious meals, friendly guides, and jaw-dropping Sierra Nevada scenery.

O.A.R.S. (800/346-6277, $110-320) offers trips to all three forks of the American River. They are one of the most experienced rafting companies in the West, and the guides are extremely knowledgeable. O.A.R.S. offers full-day trips with a picnic on the Middle and North Forks; you can also take half-day, full-day, and two-day trips on the South Fork with meals included. Or enjoy a two-day wine-and-raft tour that includes side trips to several El Dorado County wineries.

Whitewater Connection (530/622-6446, $95-421) offers the standard full-day trips to the North, Middle, and South Forks, along with multiday expeditions. You can also book half-day trips on the South Fork if time is an issue. Whitewater Connection also offers two-day trips combining one day on the North Fork with another day on either the Middle or South Fork.

Maps - Northern California 7e - Northern Gold Country
Northern Gold Country

Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Northern California.

8 Best Rhode Island Beaches

Rhode Island may be tiny, but it contains over 400 miles of coastline, along which you’ll find over 100 public and private beaches. If sunbathing and swimming are on your agenda but you’re not sure where to begin, these eight beaches are the best of the lot.

Volunteers doing shoreline cleanup at Misquamicut State Beach.
Volunteers from Save the Bay do shoreline cleanup at Misquamicut State Beach. Photo © Save The Bay/Flickr CC-BY.

1: Best for Recreation

In Westerly, Misquamicut State Beach is one of the largest in the state. It’s got a playground and a large concession stand with a shaded pavilion, and is situated amidst the motels, gift shops, candy stores, water slides, mini-golf courses, arcades, and other amusements along Atlantic Avenue.

2: Best for Surfing

An easily accessible beach break makes Narragansett Town Beach in South County a popular spot with both seasoned and beginner surfers. The swell here ranges from between 2-8 feet, and a sunken barge just offshore along the northern stretch of the beach creates some nice right-breaking waves. Ample parking is available, but will cost between $10-15 between Memorial Day and Labor Day (parking is free in the off-season).

3 & 4: Best for Families

If you’re traveling with kids, try Easton’s Beach (often called First Beach by locals), a .75 mile stretch of sandy shoreline located right at the beginning of the Cliff Walk in Newport. The beach is also home to a carousel, a playground, an aquarium, a skateboard park, and a snack bar to keep children amused. Just a few minutes farther east is Third Beach, which is set back in a cove, meaning there aren’t many waves so it’s an ideal spot for taking a dip with small children.

5 & 6: Best for Avoiding Crowds

South Shore Beach in Little Compton has fun waves to splash around in or surf, and relatively sparse crowds even in the high season—it’s also one of the only beaches that permit bonfires in the evenings. Farther south, Charlestown and Blue Shutters Town Beaches are both smaller with less commotion.

7 & 8: Best for Joining the Crowds

Scarborough Beach in Narragansett is often the most crowded in the state and is popular with just about everyone. Also in Narragansett, Roger Wheeler State Beach is a local favorite, with nice facilities, a concession stand, a picnic area, and a bathhouse. This is a relatively small stretch of golden sand, and doesn’t take long to fill up with beach-goers on sunny summer days.

Roger Wheeler State Beach, Rhode Island.
Roger Wheeler State Beach, Rhode Island. Photo © Erika Smith/Flickr CC-BY-SA.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Rhode Island.

Planning Your Time on the Schoodic Peninsula

Slightly more than 2,366 of Acadia National Park’s acres are on the mainland Schoodic Peninsula—the rest are all on islands, including Mount Desert. World-class scenery and the relative lack of congestion, even at the height of summer, make Schoodic a special Acadia destination.

The Schoodic Peninsula is just one of several “fingers” of land that point seaward as part of eastern Hancock County and western Washington County. Sneak around to the eastern side of Frenchman Bay to see this region from a whole new perspective. One hour from Acadia National Park’s visitors center, you’ll find Acadia’s mountains silhouetted against the sunset, the surf slamming onto Schoodic Point, and the peace of a calmer lifestyle. The towns and villages salting the region—Winter Harbor (pop. 516); Gouldsboro (pop. 1,737), including the not-to-be-missed villages of Birch Harbor, Corea, and Prospect Harbor; Hancock (pop. 2,394); Sullivan (pop. 1,236); and Sorrento (pop. 274)—seem suspended in time. They are quiet and rural, with lobster fishing still an economic anchor.

A rocky beach off the Schoodic Head Loop. Photo © Hilary and Tom Nangle.
A rocky beach off the Schoodic Head Loop. Photo © Hilary and Tom Nangle.

As with so much of Acadia’s acreage on Mount Desert Island, the Schoodic section became part of the park largely due to the deft diplomacy and perseverance of George B. Dorr. No obstacle ever seemed too daunting to Dorr. In 1928, when the owners objected to donating their land to a national park tagged with the Lafayette name (geopolitics of the time being involved), Dorr even managed to obtain congressional approval for the 1929 name change to Acadia National Park—and Schoodic was part of the deal.

This section of Acadia National Park isn’t as overpowering as that on Mount Desert, but it’s no less powerful. Even though it’s on the mainland, it feels more remote, and the landscape has a raw edge, with too-frequent fog shrouding the stunted and scraggly spruce clinging to its pink granite shores. Opened in on 2015 conserved lands adjacent to the park, the Schoodic Woods Campground hasn’t yet done much to change this, despite adding approximately 100 campsites, a day parking lot and a welcome center.

While you’re this far east, explore a couple other natural treasures: the Petit Manan and Corea Heath sections of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, spectacular spots for bird-watching; and the Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land, an inland trove of lakes and peaks that lures hikers and anglers. Although beyond any traditional definition of the Acadia region, they’re well worth discovering. Better yet, you can loop them together via two scenic byways, one national and one state.

Planning Your Time on the Schoodic Peninsula

While most visitors still arrive by car or RV, the propane-powered Island Explorer bus service’s Schoodic Route operates between late June and Labor Day and connects with ferry service from Bar Harbor. If you want to tour beyond the service routes, you’ll need a car, and there’s much to see. Besides the jaw-dropping scenery, the region’s calling cards are outdoor recreation and shopping the artists’ and artisans’ studios tucked here and there.

The biggest attractions are the spectacular vignettes and vistas—of offshore lighthouses, distant mountains, close-in islands, and unchanged villages. Check out each small and large finger of land: Hancock Point, Sorrento, and Winter Harbor’s Grindstone Neck. Circle the Gouldsboro Peninsula, including Prospect Harbor, and detour to Corea. Meander down the Petit Manan peninsula to the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. If you still have enough time, head inland and follow Route 182, a designated Scenic Highway noodling between Hancock and Cherryfield, making it a point to visit the Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land. En route, be sure to dip in and out of at least some of the artisan’s studios and galleries that dot the byways. Accomplish all this and you’ll have a fine sense of place.

The rocky coast of the Schoodic Peninsula.
View from Raven’s Point along the Schoodic Peninsula. Photo © Colin Young/123rf.

Local Towns

Winter Harbor

Winter Harbor is known best as the gateway to Schoodic. It shares the area with an old-money, low-profile, Philadelphia-linked summer colony on exclusive Grindstone Neck. Only a few clues hint at the colony’s presence, strung along the western side of the harbor. Winter Harbor’s summer highlight is the annual Lobster Festival, the second Saturday in August. The gala daylong event includes a parade, live entertainment, games, and more crustaceans than you could ever consume.


Gouldsboro—including the not-to-be-missed villages of Birch Harbor, Corea, and Prospect Harbor—earned its own minor fame from Louise Dickinson Rich’s 1958 book The Peninsula, a tribute to her summers on Corea’s Cranberry Point, “a place that has stood still in time.” Since 1958, change has crept into Corea, but not so as you’d notice. It’s still the same quintessential lobstering community, perfect for photo ops.

Hancock and Sullivan

Between Ellsworth and Gouldsboro is Hancock. Venture down the ocean-side back roads and you’ll discover an old-timey summer colony at Hancock Point, complete with a library, a post office, a yacht club, and tennis courts. Meander inland and you’ll be rewarded with artisans’ studios, especially in Sullivan. In its heyday, Sullivan was a center for shipbuilding and quarrying. It also has the distinction of being where two Nazi spies, William Colepaugh and Erich Gimpel, landed in the dark of a snowy November night in 1944, dropped off by the submarine U-1230. Their mission: sabotage the Manhattan Project. Interpretative signage at two roadside pullouts, one before the bridge and another next to Dunbar’s Store, provide information on the area’s heritage, flora, and fauna. Route 1 ties the region together, providing just enough glimpses and vistas of Frenchman Bay.


Tiny Sorrento isn’t really much more than a classic summer colony, and that’s all the reason you need for a leisurely drive down the peninsula. It has tennis courts, a yacht club, a nine-hole golf course edging the ocean, and a swimming pool, created in 1913 by damming a cove just above the village. If you fall for the place, try to find a copy of Sorrento, A Well-Kept Secret, by Catherine O’Clair Herson, published in 1995 for the town’s centennial. It’s filled with historical photos and stories.


Continue northeast beyond the Schoodic Peninsula, and you’ll arrive in Steuben, on the far side of Gouldsboro Bay. Not that you’ll notice; frankly, there’s little here to mark its presence on Route 1, and only a small village if you venture off it, although that’s changing as the land is carved up by developers (the number of Land for Sale signs is frightening). Only a small sign indicates that the Petit Manan section of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refugeawaits those who turn down Pigeon Hill Road.

Travel map of the Schoodic Peninsula
Schoodic Peninsula

Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Acadia National Park.

Planning a Visit to Grímsey, Island of the Midnight Sun

About 40 kilometers off the coast of Iceland, Grímsey is a windswept and secluded island, about five square kilometers in area, that is as striking in beauty as it is difficult to reach.

[pullquote align=right]Grímsey is one of the best spots in North Iceland for bird-watchers interested in seabirds.[/pullquote]Just 100 people reside in Grímsey, and those who remain come from hardy stock, battling arctic temperatures and isolation. Fishers brave the elements, including frost and storms and waves that could reach 15 meters high. It’s not an easy life.

Tourists come to explore the tiny island, bird-watch, and experience 24 hours of daylight in the height of the summer. Night does not reach Grímsey until late July, when the sun sets around midnight, only to rise a short time later. The island can be explored in one day.

If you’re on the island in late May or early June, Grímsey Days is an annual festival that takes place each year over three days. It focuses on old traditions from Grímsey, like collecting eggs from the cliffs, as well as enjoying seasonal local food, local music, and art. Visit for information on the exact date each year and the schedule of events.

The cliffs of Grímsey.
The cliffs of Grímsey. Photo © Rudolft/Dreamstime.


Grímseyjarkirkja (Grímsey Church)

Grímseyjarkirkja was built in 1867 from driftwood that washed ashore, then renovated and enlarged in 1932. The exterior is white with a reddish brown roof. The highlight of the church for many tourists is the altar painting, a copy of a Leonardo Da Vinci painting, that was done by a local artist in 1878.

The history of the church is interesting, as one of Iceland’s early Catholic bishops, Jón Ögmundsson, consecrated a church on Grímsey in the 11th century, dedicated to St. Olaf, the patron saint of Norway. At the time, it was said that there should always be two priests at the church who should lead a daily mass (two a day on special occasions). However, today, a vicar from the mainland visits Grímsey to serve in the church approximately four times a year.

The Cliffs

The cliffs on the east side of the island are the highest, towering from 60 to 100 meters. In the old days, the basalt cliffs served as a major source of food as locals collected eggs along the rifts. It was a tenuous task; a rope would be lowered 60 meters down from the edge of the cliff while the individual collected eggs. There was a great risk that the rope would break or a large rock could break off, hitting and killing the climber. Today, the egg collection practice is safer and more modern, but the cliffs are a reminder of the past and the importance they served to feed the island. They’re also interesting formations and serve as a great backdrop when photographing birds.

The Lighthouse

Bright yellow and close to the cliff’s edge, Grímsey’s lighthouse is one of the most significant buildings on the island. It was built in 1937 and is situated on the southeast corner of the island. It was originally operated manually with a gas lamp that had to be turned on and off by hand. Today, the lighthouse is automatic and still plays an important role in directing boat traffic along the coast. Although the lighthouse is closed to the public, it’s a popular destination to take a photo, capturing birdlife and the cliffs in the background.

Two of Iceland's natural wonders–the midnight sun and waterfalls. Photo © Phyletto/Dreamstime.
Two of Iceland’s natural wonders–the midnight sun and waterfalls. Photo © Phyletto/Dreamstime.

Crossing the Arctic Circle

Want to witness the midnight sun? That’s when the sun remains above the horizon for a full 24 hours during the summer solstice on June 21. There’s only one place you can experience this phenomenon in Iceland: where the Arctic Circle crosses the country’s northernmost point, on Grímsey. (If you’d prefer nearly 24 hours of darkness, there’s always polar night, on December 21.)

A small symbolic bridge to cross the Arctic Circle can be found at 66°33’N, north of the Grímsey’s airport terminal, next to Guesthouse Básar. Beside the bridge is a pole showing the distance to many well-known cities in the world, including London and New York.

Tourists who make the pilgrimage can buy evidence of the trip in the form of a diploma in the local gift store Gallerí Sól (Sólberg 611, tel. 354/467-3190), which is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the summer months (June-Aug.). You can also reserve your diploma at Gallerí Sól by phone or email. Diplomas cost 1,000ISK. Those who come to Grímsey on a tour receive a diploma free of charge.

An Atlantic puffin colony on the cliffs of Grímsey.
An Atlantic puffin colony on the cliffs of Grímsey. Photo © Deserttrends/Dreamstime.


Grímsey is one of the best spots in North Iceland for bird-watchers interested in seabirds. The high season for birding is from April, when birds migrate to the island to nest, to August, when birds depart the island for warmer weather. Bird-watchers will have a chance to see arctic terns, black-legged kittiwakes, northern fulmars, razorbills, common guillemots, black guillemots, and murres. You can also see white wagtails, northern wheatears, and snow buntings.

The main attractions, however, are the adorable Atlantic puffins, as Grímsey is home to one of the largest colonies in Iceland. The birds, with their bright beaks and big personalities, are a delight to watch nesting and gliding along the cliffs. Please be aware of eggs and be careful not to disturb nesting areas.


The Grímsey Island Thermal Pool (tel. 354/461-3155, 550ISK) is situated near the airport and is a quiet spot to take a dip. You likely won’t find crowds here, and the hours change often. For current hours you should inquire at the tourist information office or ask an employee of your guesthouse.

Getting to Grímsey by Air or Sea

By sea, Sæfari (tel. 354/458-8970) runs a ferry back and forth between Dalvík and Grímsey three days a week year-round. It takes about three hours each way, and the ferry can take 108 people. Book in advance in the summer months; tickets can be purchased at the tourist information office at Hof concert hall in Akureyri (tel. 354/450-1050). A round-trip fare is about 9,960ISK. The departure times from Dalvík are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9am; the ferry returns from Grímsey at 4pm. Check the website for up-to-date departure information. Schedules can vary due to weather.

By air, the flight from Akureyri to Grímsey is one of the most beautiful 30-minute flights you will ever take. The jaw-dropping views of the landscape make the trip feel a tad too short. The landing is not for the faint of heart, as the small plane has to land on a small strip of grass on an island that looks like a rock in the middle of the ocean. During the summer (June-August), Air Iceland provides daily flights to Grímsey from Akureyri for 21,000ISK round-trip. For current departure timetables and precise ticket prices, check Air Iceland’s website. There are four flights a week from September to May.

Travel map of North Iceland
North Iceland

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Iceland.

Route 66 and the Negro Motorist Green Book

During Route 66’s peak, the segregated south was notorious for shutting blacks out, but it was even more challenging for blacks to travel in the Western United States. Forty-four out of 89 counties along Route 66 were “Sundown Towns,” all-white communities with signs posted at the county line warning blacks to be out of town before sundown. While most black travelers aimed to stay in larger towns, options were still limited.

[pullquote align=right]When black travelers came through Albuquerque on Route 66, only 6 percent of the nearly 100 motels along Central Avenue would open their doors.[/pullquote]The Negro Motorist Green Book was a travel guide published in 1936-1966 to help black people navigate the Jim Crow era. Victor H. Green, a black postal worker from Harlem created the book, which featured restaurants, hotels, barbershops, beauty parlors, taverns, garages, and gas stations that were willing to serve blacks.

These are some of the best remaining Green Book properties on Route 66.

The 1956 edition of The Green Book. Photo © Candacy Taylor.
The 1956 edition of The Green Book. Photo © Candacy Taylor.

Warren Hotel, Tulsa, OK

The Greenwood Cultural Center (322 N. Greenwood Ave., 918/596-1026, 9am-5pm Mon.-Fri., free) has a valuable collection of historical memorabilia and photos of the area before, during, and after the Tulsa Race Riot. Although most of Greenwood District was burned to the ground, the black community persevered and opened businesses such as The Warren Hotel (105 N. Greenwood St.), located down the street from the cultural center.

The DuBeau, Flagstaff, AZ

The DuBeau (19 W. Phoenix Ave., 800/398-7112, $58-84) is an affordable and charming historic motel and hostel located on a pre-1934 alignment of Route 66 in downtown Flagstaff. (The route traveled west of the railroad tracks on Beaver Street, then north on Phoenix). The DuBeau was also listed as a Green Book property, in the travel guide published for African American travelers during Jim Crow. Economy rooms feature a double bed, a desk, and a mini-fridge, but no television. Deluxe rooms are larger with one double bed, a flat-screen cable TV, and a lounge chair. Premium rooms include two double beds and a kitchenette with a microwave.

DeAnza Motor Lodge, Albuquerque, NM

When black travelers came through Albuquerque on Route 66, only 6 percent of the nearly 100 motels along Central Avenue would open their doors. The DeAnza Motor Lodge (4301 Central Ave. NE) was one of them. Built in 1939 and run by C. G. Wallace, a prominent Zuni trader, the DeAnza was a gathering spot for artisans, traders, and those who loved southwestern Indian crafts.

Comprised of seven separate buildings in the Spanish Colonial-Pueblo Revival style, it was the largest motel on Central Avenue. The original 30 rooms eventually expanded to 67 and offered modern amenities such as private telephones and air-conditioning. The on-site Turquoise Room diner featured thousands of pieces of turquoise embedded in the linoleum floor. Seven murals painted by Zuni artist Tony Edaakie for the basement conference room depicted a sacred Zuni Shalako ceremony.

Wallace sold the building in 1983 and after several changes in ownership, the property sat empty for more than a decade. The city of Albuquerque purchased the hotel in 2003, saving it from demolition; in 2004, the DeAnza was named a city landmark. Today, it is recognized as one of the best remaining mid-century motels along Central Avenue and has been listed on the State Historic Register. It even made an appearance in an episode of the television series Breaking Bad.

Clifton's in Los Angeles, CA. Photo © Candacy Taylor.
Clifton’s in Los Angeles, CA. Photo © Candacy Taylor.

Clifton’s, Los Angeles, CA

Clifton’s (648 Broadway, 213/627-1673, 11am-2am Mon.-Fri., 10am-2pm Sat.-Sun., $10-25) is full of atmosphere, intrigue, taxidermy, and incredible history. This classic cafeteria-style restaurant opened in 1935, closed in 2011, and underwent a $10 million renovation to reopen in 2015. Owner Clifford Clinton followed what he called the “The Cafeteria Golden Rule.” He never turned away anyone who was hungry, allowing customers to pay what they could afford.

The large, unusual cafeteria covers five floors with a giant fake redwood tree rising through the center. Items include cafeteria comfort food, such as mac and cheese, peas and carrots, mashed potatoes, and throwback desserts like Jello. In the evening, there’s a full bar serving classic concoctions; a 250-pound meteorite sits on the bar.

Clifton’s main branch (618 Olive St.) was listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book and served blacks during Jim Crow. It’s located at 7th and Broadway, the original terminus of Route 66, making it the perfect place to celebrate the end to a long and wonderfully strange trip.

For more information and a short video about the Green Book, visit

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Route 66 Road Trip.

Visit Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) contains a vast and wonderfully scenic collection of slickrock canyon lands and desert, prehistoric village sites, Old West ranch land, arid plateaus, and miles of back roads linking stone arches, mesas, and abstract rock formations. The monument even preserves a historic movie set (think vintage Westerns).

[pullquote align=”right”]There’s little dispute that the Escalante canyons are the primary reason people visit the monument.[/pullquote]The monument contains essentially three separate districts: On the eastern third are the narrow wilderness canyons of the Escalante River and its tributaries. In the center of the monument is a vast swath of arid rangeland and canyons called the Kaiparowits Plateau, with few developed destinations. The western third of the monument edges up against the Gray, White, and Pink Cliffs of the Grand Staircase. These thinly treed uplands are laced with former Forest Service roads. The GSENM is the largest land grouping designated as a national monument in the Lower 48.

Burr Trail Road in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Burr Trail Road. Photo © Judy Jewell.

There’s little dispute that the Escalante canyons are the primary reason people visit the monument. The river and its tributaries cut deep and winding slot canyons through massive slickrock formations, and hiking these canyon bottoms is an extremely popular adventure. A multiday trek is a rite of passage for many devoted hikers, but you don’t have to be a hardened backcountry trekker to enjoy this landscape: Two backcountry roads wind through the area, and some day hikes are possible.

The other districts offer less-well-defined opportunities for adventure. Backcountry drivers and long-distance mountain bikers will find mile after mile of desert and canyon to explore. Grosvenor Arch, with double windows, is a popular back-road destination. At the southern edge of the park, along the Arizona border, is another rugged canyon system that’s popular with long-distance hikers. The Paria River Canyon is even more remote than the Escalante, and hiking these slot canyons requires experience and preparation.

Planning Your Time

If you only have one day, plan to drive stunning Highway 12. The Lower Calf Creek Falls hike begins right off the highway between Escalante and Boulder, and hiking it is a great way to spend half a day.

If you have an additional day or two, it makes sense to base yourself either in Escalante (convenient camping and moderately priced accommodations) or in Boulder (where it’s possible to sleep and eat in luxury). Spend your second day here exploring Hole-in-the-Rock Road, where you can hike slot canyons in the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch and explore Devils Garden. It’s possible to stay in this area of the monument for several days, either backpacking along the Escalante River or exploring its various canyons as day hikes. If you’re at all up to backpacking, it’s only a one-nighter to hike from the town of Escalante along the river to the river’s highway crossing.

If you have more time, drive between the Kanab area and Cannonville on Cottonwood Canyon Road (be sure to check on road conditions before heading out). Stop and walk up through the Cottonwood Narrows, and at the north end of the road, visit Grosvenor Arch and Kodachrome State Park. If you want to make a loop drive, return on the Johnson Canyon and Skutumpah Roads, with a hike along Lick Wash.

Exploring the Park

There is no entrance fee to visit Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (435/644-1200). Free permits are required for all overnight backcountry camping or backpacking. There is a fee to camp in the monument’s three developed campgrounds.

Hikers in the Paria Wilderness area, which includes Paria Canyon and Coyote Buttes, are required to buy a permit, as are hikers at the Calf Creek Recreation Area.

It’s best to have a travel strategy when visiting this huge national monument. Just as important, especially for a visit of more than a couple of days, is a vehicle that can take on some rugged roads. (A Subaru wagon proved perfectly adequate in dry weather, but when the clay was wet and muddy, the back roads were virtually impassable in all but 4WD vehicles with significantly higher clearance than a station wagon.)

Travel map of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Only two paved roads pass through the monument, both on a west-east trajectory. Highway 12, on the northern boundary of the park, links Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks with access to the Escalante canyons. This is one of the most scenic roads in Utah—in fact, Car and Driver magazine rates this route as one of the 10 most scenic in the United States. Its innumerable vistas and geologic curiosities will keep you on the edge of your seat. U.S. 89, which runs along the southern edge of the monument between Kanab and Lake Powell, is no scenery slouch either. It is also the access road for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Three fair-weather dirt roads, each with a network of side roads and trails, cut through the rugged heart of the monument, linking the two paved roads. Before heading out on these back roads, check with the visitors center for conditions; high-clearance vehicles are recommended.

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Zion & Bryce.

Author Tom Fox On Choosing Your Central Characters

DominusTom Fox, author of Dominus, shares his thoughts on what qualities make for powerful central characters. Outsiders, iconoclasts, observers, or protectors—what kinds of characters do you think drive the most powerful stories? Let us know in the comments!

There comes a point in every writer’s work, or “process,” when decisions have to be made about just who the central characters of a book are going to be. Will they fly solo, or will there be a team? Will they be the macho type filled with back-stories of skills and experience, or ignorant and accidentally thrust into strange surroundings? Or will they be frail, broken? Will they be loved, or hated?

I knew from the outset that I wanted two protagonists in Dominus: no solo hero leading the cause alone, but a partnership of sorts. I wanted to be able to explore some of the key themes of the book—deception, reality, faith, doubt—from different perspectives, so it seemed natural to create two characters whose own backgrounds would allow different approaches to be taken to some of these central questions. Continue reading “Author Tom Fox On Choosing Your Central Characters”

Girl in the Blue Coat

girl in the blue coatGirl in the Blue Coat

By Monica Hesse

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Social Studies; World History; WWII; Holocaust; Prejudice & Racism; Mysteries & Detective Stories

Grades: 7 & up


[button link=”″]Listen to Author Interview[/button][button link=””]Educator Guide[/button]

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.


On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person—a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.



Girl in the Blue Coat is a powerful, compelling coming-of-age story set against the dark and dangerous backdrop of World War II. It’s an important and page-turning look at the choices all of us—including young adults—have to make in wartime. A beautiful combination of heartbreak, loss, young love, and hope.”—Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale


“A tapestry of guilt and acceptance, growing responsibility, and reluctant heroism, Hanneke’s coming-of-age under heartbreaking circumstances is a jarring reminder of how war consumes and transforms the passions of ordinary life. Every devastating moment of this beautiful novel is both poignant and powerful, and every word feels true.” —Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity


★ “[An] affecting novel…that skillfully combines reality with fiction. Her characters come alive, and…Hesse’s pacing infuses her story with thriller suspense, enriching the narrative with dramatic surprises both small and large.” —Booklist


★ “Riveting… a gripping historical mystery.” —Publishers Weekly


★ “This fast-paced story is alternately touching, heart-pounding and wrenching-but always gripping. …a heartrending, moving story.” —VOYA

Iceland Highlands Travel Planning

Iceland’s uninhabited interior is home to an otherworldly landscape that must be seen to be believed. It’s full of dramatic and wild scenery, cut by endless wind and vast expanses of ice and desert, the most unique and unforgiving landscape on the island, complete with lava and volcanoes. Venturing into Iceland’s Highlands is an adventure, whether you’re striking out on your own or joining a guided tour; if you are heading out alone, however, ensure your travel preparations go far beyond simply what you want to see and how you’ll get there.

[pullquote align=right]If you want a peek at the interior, take a day tour to see glaciers, volcanoes, and the landscape.[/pullquote]The country’s largest glaciers (Vatnajökull, Langjökull, and Hofsjökull) are the backdrop to the region, and the isolation seems romantic to some, especially travelers who seek to explore a region relatively free of fellow tourists. But the highlands are not for tourists seeking easy hiking trails with lush greenery and gorgeous fjords in the background. The region is largely devoid of plant life because it’s pretty dry throughout the year—the highlands are essentially a desert. That said, if you are an avid hiker and looking to explore something different in Iceland, the highlands may be for you.

Visitors walk along a grassy ridge in Iceland's Highlands.
The Highlands. Photo © Bjorn Ludviksson.

Planning Your Time in the Iceland Highlands

Planning a trip to the highlands depends very much on what you want to do. If you want a peek at the interior, take a day tour to see glaciers, volcanoes, and the landscape. Most of the companies offering tours to the highlands are based in Reykjavík. Others like to plan five-day hikes throughout the interior. If you are keen on a lengthy hike, be sure to plan thoroughly, bring adequate supplies, and take proper safety precautions.

Travelers have fewer choices for accommodations (mainly huts) and food, and they must stay abreast of the weather forecast. Be prepared for anything in the highlands, and make sure to book your accommodation or campsite ahead of time.


  • Ódáðahraun: The largest lava field in Iceland is actually considered an Arctic desert. See unusual lava and sand formations shaped by eruptions.
  • Laugafell: This popular geothermal hot spot is a desert oasis in an isolated stretch of the highlands.
  • Hiking Mount Askja: Hiking the rim of this volcano offers sensational views—and a can’t-miss adventure.
  • Langjökull Glacier: Iceland’s second-largest glacier, this mammoth ice cap beckons hikers and glacier walkers, but the crevasses and unpredictable weather should keep you on alert at all times.


Navigating the highlands should not be taken lightly. The roads are rough, the wind punishing, and the weather can be unpredictable—it can snow any day of the year. Pay close attention to road closures, and if a road calls for a super jeep to traverse, don’t attempt the ride in a smaller car. You will likely damage your car. (A super jeep is a huge jeep with gigantic tires outfitted to handle rough terrain.) The best plan is to discuss your itinerary with the rental company and see if a super jeep is necessary for your plan. Do not guess; a mistake will be costly. Also, be mindful of filling up your car with gas, because gas stations are few and far between in the highlands.

If you are planning a hike, be sure to wear appropriate windproof clothing, bring an adequate amount of water and food, and alert people of your trip itinerary. Bring maps and a compass, and know where all the emergency huts are located on your route. Be prepared for anything, and don’t underestimate Iceland’s weather. If you find yourself in an emergency, dial the emergency number 112.

Getting Around the Iceland Highlands

The highlands are a seasonal destination, and that season is short. Snow could fall at any time of year. If you are planning a trip in the summer, there still might be road closures due to a late snowfall or possible volcanic activity. Roads to the interior are typically open June-August, but check for closures before you head out. For up-to-date conditions, visit the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration website at

When it comes to car rentals, if you are planning to drive to the highlands don’t skimp. It’s best to drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle in the highlands, but if you want to go off the Kjölur route, a super jeep is necessary, because there are river crossings and harsh terrain. A lot of different insurance options are offered on car rentals, and be mindful that Reykjavík driving is very different from driving in the highlands. There can be sandstorms and wind damage, so pick the right insurance for the region you plan to travel to. Fill up with gas before you leave and take gas cans.

Travel map of Iceland's Highlands
The Highlands


If you don’t want to worry about renting a car and navigating the highlands on your own, tour companies offer everything from day trips to several-day tours. These companies are recommended.

Reykjavik Excursions (tel. 354/580-5400) offers a 12-hour day tour through Landmannalaugar in the highlands, and also includes sights such as Mount Hekla and Þjórsárdalur in the south. Tours run from July to September and are 17,900ISK per person. Guests are picked up in Reykjavík.

Extreme Iceland (tel. 354/588-1300) is a Reykjavík-based company that operates a two-day tour where you start off exploring the Golden Circle (Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss) and continue to the geothermal area of Hveravellir in the Kjölur highlands. The tour (60,000ISK) includes hiking, sightseeing, and bathing in geothermal pools. Guests are picked up in Reykjavík. Extreme Iceland also offers a three-day trip (150,000ISK) that includes a super jeep ride to the Bárðarbunga eruption site. The price includes accommodations. Day 1 explores Landmannalaugur, day 2 the eruption site, and the last day takes guests to the Golden Circle.

Icelandic Mountain Guides (tel. 354/587-9999) runs a 12-day tour that hits all the hot spots in the highlands. Super jeeps will take you through the Kjölur and Sprengisandur routes, where you will see the Vatnajökull glacier, the Askja volcano, and the geothermal mountains of Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar. The package will run you 415,000ISK. Guests are picked up in Reykjavík.

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Iceland.

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