Monday, January 21, 2013

U.S. observes country's 57th inaugural ceremony

With crowds spilling out into neighboring streets from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama delivered his second inaugural speech on Monday, January 21, to a throng estimated at nearly 1 million people. The official theme for the 2013 inauguration is “Faith in America’s Future,” commemorating the United States’ perseverance and unity, marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome in 1863. For some historical inauguration trivia, read on.

• JFK’s inauguration almost went up in flames when the podium caught fire as Cardinal Richard Cushing was delivering the invocation. Thank goodness his robes didn’t light up, and Kennedy even managed a smile.

• One of the most awkward moments in inauguration history occurred in 2009, when Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath during Obama’s public ceremony—putting the word “faithfully” in the wrong place. It was a small slip of the tongue, but since it raised concerns that Obama may not have been properly sworn in, they repeated the 35 words, in the right order this time, in private the next day at the White House.

• But the prize for most botched oath goes to Lyndon B. Johnson, who took the vice-presidential oath during JFK’s inauguration “without any mental reservation whatever,” instead of “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”

• Jimmy Carter took his inauguration in stride when he walked from the Capitol to the White House in the ceremony parade (the only other president to do so was Thomas Jefferson).

• No one throws a party like Abraham Lincoln, whose inauguration was so wild, the police had to be called in.

Did you watch the second inauguration of President Obama?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

5 most extreme places in America

The United States has always been a land of extremes. Curious-minded people recently decided to dig in and explore America's highest highs, lowest lows, and a number of other extremes Here are 5 of the favorite points that embody our nation's capacity for extremes.

Coldest community: Fairbanks, Alaska

With average winter temperatures below -5 and highs only in the mid-40s, you may wonder what draws visitors to Fairbanks. Sure, the city's population is warm and welcoming and its gold rush history is still tangible in sites such as the Pioneer Museum, with its dioramas and murals. But most tourists are here to see the Aurora Borealis.

Hottest Community: Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

Death Valley may be the most scorching spot in America, with temperatures that can reach 130 degrees, but Lake Havasu City in Arizona earns the gold star for the hottest place where lots of people actually live. The town is home to more than 50,000 residents, all of whom have found a way to survive summer temperatures that regularly top 100 degrees and can reach as high as the 120s.
Highest point: Mount McKinley, Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali National Park would be an extraordinary destination even if weren't home to the tallest peak in North America, 20,320-foot Mount McKinley. The park comprises 6 million acres that most visitors navigate via 92-mile-long Park Road, which parallels the stunning Alaska Range and allows access to a number of visitors' centers and six campgrounds
Lowest place: Death Valley, Calif. and Nev.

Death Valley is not only the lowest point in the United States—its Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level—but also the hottest and the driest. This stretch of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts in California and Nevada is known for temperatures in the 100s for five months out of the year (the record high was 134 degrees, in 1913), unexpected deluges that bring fields of wildflowers, and, in winter, snow that can be seen dusting the higher peaks surrounding the valley.
Smallest town: Buford, Wyo.
It doesn't get any smaller than Buford. Why? Because the town has only one resident, Don Simmons, the proprietor of The Buford Trading Post, a gas station and convenience store. If you're making a cross-country road trip on Interstate 80, it's worth stopping in Buford (between Cheyenne and Laramie) just to say hi, and to tell the folks back home that you've seen it. And since the town was purchased in an auction in September, it's not clear how long it will hold its title.

Which of these places would you most like to visit?

Learn about Discovery travel