Winter solstice at Stonehenge (Photo: Getty Images)
Welcome to the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice kicks off this Saturday, and with it, thousands of visitors from around the world have gathered at Stonehenge — the mysterious standing set of stones dating between 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C., in Wiltshire, England — to mark the grand astronomical event when the monument aligns on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunset.
Of course, who are we fooling? On Saturday morning, most of us would probably prefer to snuggle up under the covers than brave the gathering crowds at Stonehenge (even if the new $44 million visitors center, which opened this past Wednesday, sounds interesting, with an exhibition that includes a forensic reconstruction of a Neolithic man). We’ll leave it to the druids, pagans and astronomical diehards currently gathered at Stonehenge to fill us in on the grand event, which, on the flip side, ushers in the longest night of the year.
A rodeo in Wilsall, MT. (Photo: Lisa Singh)
Remember that scene in City Slickers, where Billy Crystal finds himself in a bit of a slump and says, “Do you ever reach a point in your life where you say to yourself, ‘This is the best I’m ever gonna look, the best I’m ever gonna feel, the best I’m ever gonna do’ … and it ain’t that great?”? His wife soon tells him, “Go and find your smile.”
Somewhere out west.
Personally, the west has always held a special allure for me; and for months, I’d been keeping my Pandora station on old western soundtracks (don’t judge). There was only one place to go, some place like … Montana. Upon the recommendation of some friends, I set my sights on the Metcalf Ranch. It’s here, on a fifth-generation, 4,800-acre working cattle ranch in the heart of south-central Montana, that a couple named Susan and Remi Metcalf offer guests an authentic cattle ranch experience.
Photography by Adam Clark / Aurora Photos
Utah skiers claim that they’ve found the “best snow on Earth,” and this picture just might prove it.
In a cozy café in Reykjavik, Iceland, I was sipping my latte out of an oversized cup when a raven alit on the top of a bright red house outside the café. For the umpteenth time since I’d been in the country, I tried to pronounce the Icelandic word for Raven. Hrafn. I rolled the letters over my tongue, speaking the word aloud. As soon as I heard my voice, I knew I’d said it incorrectly. Hrafn. The fn makes a “p” sound, I reminded myself. But how do you pronounce Hr? Hrafn. Hrafn. I realized I’ve become that odd-looking traveler sitting alone at a table talking to myself.
I’d been thinking a lot about ravens. I’d come to Iceland to, among other things, work on my writing. The raven, or hrafn, is an important bird in Icelandic folklore. It is said that the Norse god Oðinn had two ravens that counseled him, Huginn (“Thought”) and Muninn (“Memory”). I’d hoped the raven outside the café would help inspire my thoughts and memories, and therefore my writing. But really, the bird was just the beginning, because so much in Iceland inspired my creativity.
Photography by Carol Barrington
Despite its name, Bryce Canyon isn’t really a “canyon” at all, but rather a collection of giant natural amphitheaters in southwestern Utah.
Photography by Daniel Schoenen / Image Broker / Aurora Photos
Located near the border of France and Switzerland, in the foothills of the Black Forest, sits the famed German spa town of Baden-Baden.
You’ll be on top of the world at Taft Point, where fissure-mottled slabs of granite rise like skyscrapers from the valley a mile below.
Two national parks, Arches and Canyonlands, lure outdoor enthusiasts to this red rock-speckled domain near Moab, in eastern Utah.
Don’t underestimate Alpental, they say — only the most experienced skiers dare brave its wild unknown.
The Resort at Paws Up
Cowboy butler? You bet. That’s what you’ll get when you glamp at Paws Up, a swish ranch resort tucked into Lewis and Clark country in the Big Sky state of Montana.