To Breathe or Not to Breathe

A recently published  guide comparing the air pollution levels in some of the world's top vacation destinations had some unexpected results. The research compared 28 cities in 19 countries; and while Beijing's "dangerous" Index of 328 is not surprising (anything over 151 is considered to be unhealthy) who knew that Dubai has an Index of 222!  And Mexico City, surprisingly, has an Index of just 91 (considered to be "moderate").  Luckily for travelers visiting Paris, Venice or Madrid, all three cities show an Index of 46 or below which is considered "good."   In contrast, Amsterdam has an Air Quality Index of 66 (with all those people biking?) and London is at  77. Bangkok  shows the lowest level ofpollution with an Index of 18 (go figure)  followed by Washington, DC (24), San Francisco and Madrid (both 25).  For further information check out
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Parks Less Traveled

Hopefully, you can find fresh, "good" air in our National Parks and while we're all familiar with the "usual" (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, etc.) the following seem to have fallen off the radar screen and are well-worth a visit (beyond which they're NOT crowded):  National Park of American Samoa (balmy year-round temperatures); Lake Clark National Park (offers magnificent wildlife sightings, best visited during the summer months); Isle Royal National Park (situated on Lake Superior near the Canadian border); North Cascades National Park (stretching to the northern limits of Washington (State); Dry Tortugas National Park (situated 70 miles west of Key West these islets are a paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers); Channel Islands National Park (often called the Galapagos of North America, this archipelago is situated off the coast of southern California); Great Sand Dunes National Park (especially kid friendly with junior ranger programs); Big Bend National Park (straddles the U.S./Mexico border with some 500 million years of history); Redwood National Park (some great, moderate hikes);  Crater Lake National Park (the lake is more than five miles in diameter and over 1900 feet deep); and Havasu Falls in Grand Canyon National Park (with no roads in you can only access on foot, on horseback or via helicopter so the Falls are yours once you get there)
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