Boise’s Birds of Prey Conservation Area

Founded in 1993, the 484,000 acres of Southwest Idaho public land known as the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area hosts the single largest concentration of nesting raptors in North America and, perhaps, the world. Located near Boise along 82 miles of the Snake River, the habit’s flat topography is cut by a deep swath of river canyon lined with 700-foot cliffs. The conditions are raptor nirvana. There are high ledges and crevices for nest-building and currents from the river bottom providing the lift needed for birds of prey to hunt the area’s thriving ground squirrel and rabbit population. To learn more click here.

Chico Hot Springs: Montana’s Ultimate Destination Resort

Located between Livingston, Montana and Yellowstone Park, charming Chico Hot Springs Resort has been a getaway for locals and Montana bound tourists for generations. Its scenic Paradise Valley location surrounded by mountains, the complex’s unique history and its commitment to preserving its past has landed Chico Hot Springs Resort a designation on the National Register of Historic Places. To read more click here.

Tallinn Music Week

Music in Estonia isn’t limited to celebrations of its strong tradition of choral music. The capitol city of Tallinn puts on Tallinn Music Week, a weeklong festival in March/April showcasing all forms of contemporary music, the arts, theatre, food and architecture using the city’s bookstores, bike shops, art galleries, bakeries, tech incubators, home decoration stores and shopping centers as venues. It’s a full-on sensory experience, an opportunity to explore Tallinn’s nooks and crannies and much of it is free to the public. Read about my experience here.

Latvia’s Resistance Movement

During its fifty year history of Soviet occupation, three percent of Latvia’s population was deported, imprisoned or worse. It’s a history today’s Russia denies, but Latvia wants you to know and viscerally experience what life was like behind the Iron Curtain. When in Riga, you can go inside the nearly untouched, terrifying KGB building and prison, tour its occupation history and visit the building that housed the culmination of the fifty-year Latvian resistance movement that contributed to the county’s freedom. See the story here.

 

Latvian Saunas: Beer, Sauna Masters and Slotas

In my last post I wrote about Estonian spa/sauna culture. When in the Baltic countries in March, I also spent time in neighboring Latvia who has its own version of a sauna experience. It involves old pagan rituals, sauna masters and, in one case, a full immersion into the curative properties of beer. Beer + sweat = health and a better state of mind. Read about it here.

Estonia’s Spa and Sauna Culture

It’s intimidating enough to cross the threshold of a spa and sauna with its various treatments that include ingredients sounding more like they belong in a dessert and the vulnerability of being naked. Imagine doing it in another country where you don’t speak the language and there’s a spa menu of 149 possibilities. And it involves flailing yourself with a whisk of tree branches. The spa and sauna culture in the northern Baltic country of Estonia is a combination of Finnish and Russian spa tradition with a twist that’s uniquely Estonian. A twist so rare and embedded in culture that UNESCO designated it a global treasure. I was intrigued enough that I overcame intimidation and walked across the threshold of two historic spas in the country’s capitol of Tallinn. You can read about it here.

Estonia’s Singing Revolution

It was the power of choral singing that sustained the Estonian people during their fifty years behind The Iron Curtain. There are over 700 choirs in the tiny country of Estonia and from 1987 to 1991, the power of unified choir voices singing forbidden songs became a resistance tool in the country’s effort to gain independence. Check out my latest article in Global Comment.