Travel Back Thursday: Union Pacific Depot

vxla, Flickr

Okay, today’s stunning, color photo isn’t actually from many years ago — it was taken in 2011. However, the subject of the photo was most notable in the early 1900s. The Union Pacific Depot opened in 1909, and provided rail services for the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City Railroad. It served as Salt Lake City’s railroad transportation center well into the 1970s.

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.

New Dinosaur Unearthed (And On Display) In Utah

Rick Bowmer, AP

Dinosaur lovers will be flocking to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to check out a new discovery, a big-nosed, horned-faced dinosaur found in what is now Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Here’s some stats about this new species, now named Nasutoceratops titusi:

  • It grew 15 feet long and weighed 2 1/2 tons.
  • Its skull alone is approximately 4.9 feet in length.
  • It roamed what is now Utah approximately 76 million years ago.
  • It had long, curved and forward-pointing horns over the eyes.
  • It lived in a swampy and subtropical environment.
  • It was part of the same family as the Triceratops.

The dinosaur’s bones will be permanently housed and displayed at the university. But if you are a budding paleontologist looking to see other collections of dinosaur bones and fossils, consider scoping out Dinosaur National Park in Utah and Colorado, Dinosaur State Park in Connecticut or the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.

For Your Health, End The Layover Laziness

What do you do on layovers? Nap? Catch up on email? Mindlessly watch some sports without any rooting interest? Christopher Berger, a physiologist, has a better idea.

It’s simple. Stand up. Walk away from the gate. Heck, leave the premises if you have at least three or four hours. There’s no rule that says you have to spend the layover inside the airport. Baltimore has a fitness trail encircling the airport grounds (and it’s not the only one with a walking path). So what if it’s not the most scenic stroll of your life? “Anything is better than eating fast food and waiting for your flight to show,” Berger says.

Berger, chair of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Task Force on Healthy Air Travel, is on a mission against the sedentary airport lifestyle. He understands that people on vacation might want to chill; he’s not above vegging out in a gate area from time to time himself. But for frequent business travelers with a fitness regimen at home, falling out of the routine quickly takes a toll. “If you travel a lot, this is a big deal,” he says. “You can’t let yourself be that deconditioned. You have to have a plan if you travel at least once a week. It’s worth talking about.”A plan is as easy as packing a pair of lightweight walking shoes and taking a brisk stroll around the airport. Check out the public art, the chapel, the yoga room or services you might not expect to find, like medical clinics offering immunizations and air-sickness medicine. You might not need to see a doctor, but it’s interesting to explore.

Since 2007, Berger has done much of this himself conducting a study of fitness opportunities at every major U.S. hub airport. He has flown 488 times, including 100 cross-country trips. The research is complete, and he expects to release the findings this summer – and eventually convince airports to make it easier to burn calories on a layover without sprinting to catch a connecting flight.

The return of airport lockers would go a long way toward freeing travelers from the gate area. “Airports needs to be willing for you to drop off your bag.” he says. “But post-September 11, people don’t like unattended bags at airports.” And in the wake of the Boston bombings, Berger’s not expecting an attitude shift anytime soon. In the meantime, he recommends checking to see if your airline loyalty program babysits luggage.

If you can check bags and carry on just a backpack, you can become as mobile as Berger is on layovers. Unlike most travelers, he’s not paranoid about leaving the terminal if he has at least three hours (and he has never missed a flight when doing so), especially in cities with an airport light rail station. In Salt Lake City, you can get in a round of golf at a course adjacent to the airport.

Minneapolis’s airport is a favorite for a layover field trip. “Out of the airplane, you can be at the light rail in under 15 minutes, and that runs every 10 to 15 minutes. I’d say within 45 minutes you can be downtown. It’s totally walkable, flat, well laid out, pedestrian paths all over the place,” he says. “There are parks you can go to. Just lay in the sun, get some fresh air. Budget 45 minutes or so to get back. I’ve done it in three hours.”

He has a trick for a speedy return: Use the terminal likely to have the shortest TSA security line. Forget about the terminal with the airline that has a hub there. For instance, in Atlanta, don’t go through Delta’s terminal. Return through the one serving US Airways and Air Tran. “You can bet dollars to donuts that line won’t be as long,” Berger says. However, do your homework to make sure you can walk from your entry terminal to your gate. At Washington National, for instance, changing terminals can require a bus ride, negating the time savings.

Berger hopes airports will move in this direction for the sake of competition, if nothing else. And he believes the strategy is best suited for big airports in the middle of the country. “In West Coast or East Coast cities, no one changes planes except for international flights,” he says. “It doesn’t work as conceptually as it does at a place like Dallas or Denver or Atlanta.”

Don’t overlook full-service hotels near airports for fitness amenities, too, especially if it’s raining and you can’t go outside. Many offer day passes to their gym and swimming pool, Berger says, and are easily accessible by light rail or shuttle from the airport.

Simply bypassing the tram between terminals and walking – which isn’t always as far as you might imagine – marks baby steps toward breaking the habit of layover laziness.

“It’s not going to turn you into a marathon runner,” Berger says. “But you’re expending something in the way of calories.”

Via the New York Times

[Photo credits: Flickr users Dogpong and Moominmolly]

Top American Destinations To Avoid In 2013

Just as useful as a list of top tourist destinations for the upcoming year is one that gives advice on where in the world you should avoid. The truth is, we’ve all had bad experiences, and they can really affect our perceptions of a place. When I solicited social media users for suggestions on domestic destinations to avoid this year, many lively conversations were sparked – and several individuals audibly spewed their disdain for certain cities across the country.

Here’s the thing, though: I’m a pretty open-minded traveler. I’ve had plenty of unpleasant run-ins, transportation failures and otherwise terrible experiences – it comes with the territory. But I’m also not one to throw an entire city into the negative category. Instead, I took the most complained about places and looked into why they have a stigma, and conversely, wrote about what might make the social media users change their minds. Maybe the bad taste in these travelers’ mouths will never go away, but hopefully this will end up changing some perceptions.Detroit, Michigan
Complaint: “just plain depressing”
The Point: Once one of America’s most prosperous cities, today Detroit seems more like a post-industrial ruin. Corrupt city officials, economic decline and budget mismanagement have caused law and order to break down in the city. In October, the Detroit Police Officers union went so far as to warn visitors to enter the city “at their own risk,” and ALT (Alternative Luxury Travel) travel agency called Detroit the “Most Dangerous U.S. City to Visit for Gay Travelers” because of its increase in crime and the shuttering of a high number of landmark gay bars.
The Counterpoint: If you’re looking for trouble in Detroit, you can easily find it – but that doesn’t mean it will find you. The city still has a thriving music, art and theater scene, drawing creatives from around the country and world to live and visit here. And if you like cars, you can visit museums dedicated to both Ford and Chrysler, take a tour of the former estates of auto barons, or check out one of the many automobile-related annual events. There is still a lot of hope for this city, and earlier this year Gadling even wrote about it as a sustainable city to watch.

Reno, Nevada
Complaint: “ZERO attempt at a culture”
The Point: Reno makes the list of cities to avoid because, as one Twitter user put it, “it felt like where old gamblers go to die.” It bills itself as the second largest tourist town in Nevada, and can’t seem to shake the runner-up epithet of a tame, rundown version of Las Vegas. Most people sell the city by pointing out how close it is to Tahoe, which isn’t really a reason to stay in Reno at all.
The Counterpoint: If you don’t like casinos – Reno’s number one tourist attraction – it might seem you are in trouble. The truth is, this city has the same good eats, music, nightlife and boutiques you find in any other major metropolitan areas – you just have to search a little harder to find the gems. The Nevada Museum of Art also has a surprisingly prestigious collection and is well worth a visit (even if it’s just to kill some time during your layover to another destination). Yes, the pace of life is slower here than other major metropolitan areas, but many visitors might find that a redeeming quality instead of a negative one.

Daytona Beach, Florida
Complaint: “dodging trucks that were allowed to drive on the beach”
The Point: When you imagine a day along the shore, you probably don’t conjure images of laying your beach towel next to cars and trucks. On parts of Daytona Beach, automobiles are allowed to park in the sand during select hours of the day, making the beach vibe turn from tropical to tailgating party.
The Counterpoint: Here’s the thing: Daytona Beach is the home of NASCAR, so if you’re visiting for a racing event, you probably don’t mind a few cars on the beach. In fact, you might even enjoy the novelty of it. If you’re not into it, that’s OK too: there are plenty of other stretches of sand in for you to discover.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Complaint: “boring and flat”
The Point: Salt Lake City doesn’t top many travel bucket lists, mostly because the local culture isn’t too supportive of those who like to imbibe. Just a few years ago, the capital of Utah lifted a prohibition that limited the number of bars on each city block to two, but the city can’t seem to escape the conservative stigma.
The Counterpoint: Fostered in part by the Sundance Film Festival, Salt Lake City has a growing film and art scene. Summer visitors can watch live bands outdoors during the annual Twilight Concert Series, and those who come in winter should know that the city is known for its close proximity to the slopes – 14 ski resorts are within an hour of Salt Lake City. Year round, the city has many small businesses worth seeking out, which makes it a great destination for those looking to skip chain restaurants and big box stores. And if your complaint is that the city is flat, take a trip to the nearby Bonneville Salt Flats, and you might be surprised to find out how beautiful a flat landscape can be.

Los Angeles, California
Complaint: “smoggy and snooty”
The Point: Los Angeles is notorious for its smog, a haze produced by millions of vehicles operating in a low basin surrounded by mountains. It’s also an expensive place to visit, and the people who live there have a reputation as struggling actors, models and rock stars who will do anything to get ahead.
The Counterpoint: Multiple California government agencies have been working to reduce smog. It’s still a major problem, but it’s not a reason to avoid the city’s numerous landmarks and other attractions. Besides, the nearly 4 million people who live there don’t seem to be too turned off by it. And that sheer number of people discredits the “snooty” point. Choose your company wisely and you can avoid self-important people with stars in their eyes – or at least learn to roll your own eyes and walk away.

Do you echo these social media users’ sentiments, or can you get behind one of the cities above? Similarly, if you had a bad experience in a U.S. city and think it should be on the list, let Gadling readers know in the comments below.

Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this article, the population of Los Angeles was incorrectly identified. The article has been updated to accurately reflect the current population of the city.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Ben Amstutz]

Photos: Watch the Natural History Museum of Utah take shape

Photo by Stuart Ruckman

The doors to the brand new Natural History Museum of Utah are officially set to open in a little over a week. On November 18, the state-of-the-art facility will welcome visitors to take sight of part of the museum’s collection of 1.2 million objects of natural history and science–think dinosaur bones, rare insects and pre-historic tools–in ten brand new, interactive galleries.

The new building, which will be called the Rio Tinto Center, features a stunning design inspired by Utah’s landscape and was built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “gold” standards. The museum gets its name from Rio Tinto, the UK-based parent company of Utah companies Kennecott Land Company, Kennecott Exploration and Kennecott Utah Copper, who donated $15 million to the project back in 2008. Fittingly, the exterior of the museum will be partially covered in copper. The building itself is located in the University of Utah’s Research Park, allowing easy access to footpaths and trails, as well as views of the Salt Lake Valley.

Click through the gallery below to watch the building as it took shape.%Gallery-137427%

Last month, Salt Lake City also opened a The Leonardo, a combination science, technology and art museum. The addition of these two new museums are just two more reasons to visit Utah, giving travelers a little something to do indoors when not skiing, hiking, horseback riding, or taking in the incredible beauty the state has to offer.

(Photo by Stuart Ruckman)