In this issue of The Statesider US travel newsletter:
American river adventures: punk rafting, canoe canoodling, and returning from the dead in the Grand Canyon. Also: 100 years of root beer, celebrating Juneteenth, disaster tourists in Paradise, and Nebraska’s chimps — gone but not forgotten.
Make No Mistake, These Were Wet and Wild Times
It was fun, fun, fun till her daddy took the canoe away. Hunter Oatman-Stanford looks back at the role the humble canoe once played in American romance. Ah, those shameless youths, with their chocolates and their ukuleles and their parasols, tucked into the hull of these floating islands of privacy! Hubba hubba! 👉 Read the story on Collectors Weekly 👈
Adolescents took to the waters with the urgency of salmon fighting their way upstream, spawning a veritable canoe craze, particularly in places like Boston along the Charles River and at Belle Isle, near Detroit. While any canoe would do, companies such as Old Town, Kennebec, and White marketed “courting canoes” specifically designed for waterborne lovebirds.
Float On: A&W Root Beer Turns 100
The Statesider’s Andy Murdock pours a big, frosty mug of nostalgia with this story on A&W Root Beer, born 100 years ago this month in Lodi, California. And wait — the largest hotel chain in the world started as an A&W franchise? 👉 Read the story in the San Francisco Chronicle 👈
The Peculiar History of Nebraska’s Most Unlikely Zoo
The escaped chimps were the last straw, the end of a dream. The Statesider’s Pam Mandel talks with author Carson Vaughan about his new book, Zoo Nebraska, the story of a small town that never lived up to its big ambitions. 👉 Read this Statesider original 👈
Stories from Across America
Nebraska: The dam breaks, the river runs, the land is never the same, nor its people. Ted Genoways, The New Republic
Texas: Cacti, black bears, rapids, and few places to camp. Navigating the Devils River. No apostrophe—it’s “devils,” plural, which gives you an idea of how tough this trip is. Dan Oko, Texas Monthly
Punk Rafting: Meet the artist and his homemade shantyboat documenting the secret history of America’s river people. Jonathan Carey, Atlas Obscura
Idaho: Rafting Idaho’s desert river named for lost Hawaiians is an adventure — and a link to the state’s past. Dove Henry, Idaho Statesman
Grand Canyon: It was a sad day when the great travel writer Tim Cahill drowned while rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. But he came back to life — and then he went back for more. Tim Cahill, Outside
Alaska: What’s at stake in the fight over development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? A caribou herd, and a culture that relies on it. Eva Holland, Longreads
Georgia: Who else is itching to go see the U.S. National Tick Collection, the largest continuously curated collection of ticks in the world? Anyone? Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian
Outdoors: Better to see ticks in a museum than burrowing into your skin. How Lyme disease changed Blair Braverman’s relationship with the outdoors. Blair Braverman, Outside
I had always been independent, proudly so. But what we think of as independence is still dependence on luck and gifts: the ability to rely on your own health and strength and mind, rather than leaning on the strength of those around you. – Blair Braverman
Two and a half — and 200 — years too late
“Juneteenth was a huge celebration, with emancipation, with marching the military down to Galveston and literally telling Texans, ‘Hey, you’re free,’ and with that, the celebration was a picnic,” Lipscombe said.
New York via Texas: Chef Adrian Lipscombe is one of the chefs retelling the story of Juneteenth through food at James Beard House. Jourdan Vian, La Crosse Tribune
Alabama: Africatown was founded by freed slaves; their descendants have long hoped to save the community from encroaching industrialization. Now that a piece of their history is found, their chances may improve. Joel K. Bourne Jr., National Geographic
New York: The new Statue of Liberty Museum teaches us that the iconic French gift wasn’t intended to celebrate our welcoming of immigrants. Lady Liberty was a monument to the end of slavery. Gillan Brockell, The Washington Post
Martha’s Vineyard: For more than 125 years, Oak Bluffs has been the heart of the island’s African-American community, the vacation home of “seasoned black Vineyarders whose screen doors swung open in time-honored hospitality.” Nicole Taylor, New York Times
Hey there. Yes you — the one with the eyes.
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What We’re Reading
Help Me to Find My People by Heather Andrea Williams. Pieced together from newspaper ads, oral history accounts, and historical documents, this book tells the stories of families built and broken during and after the end of American slavery. The clear-eyed journalistic presentation of the facts doesn’t take away from the horror of the era at all; it underscores how dehumanized, how much of commodity, the stolen people were. Amazon | Your Local Indie Bookstore
Owning Memory: How a Caribbean Community Lost Its Archives and Found Its History by Jeannette Allis Bastian. Who is the gatekeeper of history? Whose stories get held up as the most important? We’re constantly grappling with these questions, but they’re especially complex in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The territory was a Danish colony before 1917, and many of its historical documents are held in Copenhagen. This academic but accessible book offers a fascinating look at the politics of storytelling in a land of colonialism. Amazon | Your Local Indie Bookstore
In Other News
- California: Disaster tourists descend on Paradise in the wake of California’s deadliest wild fire. Some are artists, some are helping, others are just getting in the way. Greg Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle
- North Carolina: As tropical fish are pushed north by climate change, North Carolina’s shipwrecks are serving as a refuge. Jason Daley, Smithsonian
- Indiana: The Indiana Dunes Birding Festival and the art of paying attention. Pat Nabong, Belt Magazine
- Chicago: Chicago’s old honky-tonks are all gone — all except Carol’s Pub. Mike Seely, No Depression
- Seattle: In Seattle and other waterfront cities, engineers are devising new ways to encourage marine biodiversity. Tyee Bridge, Hakai Magazine
Before you drift away, we’ve got a raft of other stories anchored right over here.