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Thank You for Your Service

A year ago today, I was at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. visiting the memorials.  It was a cold, sunny day and it was a humbling experience to visit the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.  There was a ceremony honoring veterans at the Vietnam Memorial, and there were many Vietnam Vets in attendance.

To all of our Veterans, thank you.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

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Circus Trip 2018: The Mighty 5

Utah has five National Parks – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands.  As of this morning I have been to all five!

Yesterday I went to Capitol Reef National Park.  In the rain.  It was muddy – that red clay mud really sticks to everything.  I wasn’t in the mood to hike in the rain, so I did the scenic drive, went to the historic area of Fruita, and bought a personal sized apple pie, made locally.  Capitol Reef maintains and manages the historic orchards that were owned by the Mormon settlers in the region at the turn of the last century.  The pie was amazing!

Mormon Settler Cabin at Capitol Reef

Unfortunately the weather got me a bit down; I headed south on Highway 12 after a grilled cheese sandwich lunch.  Highway 12 is gorgeous!  I did hit snow at the higher elevations of the pass but fortunately it wasn’t sticking to the road.

Today I explored Bryce Canyon National Park.  It was still raining, and even colder than it had been at Capitol Reef.

The misty view at Bryce Canyon

The rain was more a misty rain/snow mix though, and I was determined to hike.  I hiked down into the canyon among the hoodoos and the juniper and pine forest and loved it!  This park is so amazingly beautiful!  Bryce Canyon was really what I needed to get out of my rainy funk.

 

I spent some time checking out the viewpoints in the afternoon, and the little bit of snow didn’t stop me.  Bryce Canyon is certainly a place I will go back to!

Me at the Natural Bridge Viewpoint

Circus Trip 2018: Rain rain go away

I thought Utah was a desert??? But noooo… I got into Utah on Friday afternoon, with a late in the day visit to Hovenweep National Monument.

Hovenweep is remote. And incredible. The two and a half mile easy loop walk takes you past a dozen or so ancient Puebloan structures. You can stand right next to them!

I camped at the campground there and shortly after I arrived, Carol texted to say she was there too! We met at Mesa Verde that morning and she was planning to head to Monument Valley but decided to come to Hovenweep first!!

We shared a bottle of wine in the dark and sat at the picnic table staring at the most incredible dark starry sky I have ever seen. The Milky Way, Mars, dying stars – they were all close and bright in a way I have never experienced. There was no moon visible to mute the brightness of the stars. I was in awe of the beauty on this Earth – I wonder what those people 800 years ago thought when they looked at those same stars.

Today I headed north, stopping at Natural Bridges National Monument and doing some short hikes because the rain was threatening. Shortly after I got back in my car the thunderstorm struck, with a clap of lightning so close that it I could feel the electricity!

I continued my drive through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in intermittent rain to Capitol Reef National Park. I am camped in my car listening to the rain on the roof. I am hoping it clears for my explorations tomorrow.

Please go away rain!!

 

Circus Road Trip 2018: Two Months In

 

Yesterday marked two months of being on the road.  I was having too much fun to write though!  I spent the last few days at a friend’s house just outside of Washington, D.C., and it was amazing!

Yesterday morning I went trail riding with a horse show friend from my childhood in Silver Spring, Maryland.  In the evening I had cocktails in historic downtown Alexandria, Virginia.

Today I visited the Antietam National Battlefield on the 156th anniversary of the battle.   Antietam has the distinction of having the single highest day of casualties for the United States in any battle; close to 23,000 men were killed, wounded or missing in one day of fighting, and approximately 4,000 men died.

Unfortunately, it was raining, and then pouring today, so it wasn’t a great day to see the battlefield.  So, I am zero for two on Antietam, since the last time I was there, there was a little bit of snow and the visitor’s center and the battlefield gates were closed.  I did drive the auto-route and walked a little bit, but it was brutally wet.

I am on my way to Michigan for a family wedding.  Afterwards, I will begin the trek back west.  I do need to cut out the Southeast, due to time constraints, and the hurricane aftermath, and the fact that I have traveled a lot more slowly than I thought I would.  We will see where the return trip takes me.  It has been a great trip so far!

Me relaxing in Alexandria

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: The Presidio & Coit Tower

Day 3, Wednesday, March 28, 2018

After we went to the Sutro Baths, we still had plenty left on the agenda.  We saw the Legion of Honor Museum when we drove by it, and one day I want to visit – but that will have to be a different trip.

We were ready for lunch, so we went over to the Magnolia Gastropub in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.  Oh wow, this place was good.  I had the Bombay Bubbles IPA (YUM!) and the Fried Chicken sandwich with a salad. It was soooo delicious!

My beer at Magnolia

 

My fried chicken sandwich

We did some window shopping and Lelani tried on some clothes at a cute little boutique.

I found a dinosaur!

After that we went to the Presidio at Fort Point. Fort Point was built between 1853 and 1861 to protect the San Francisco Bay at the height of the gold rush.  It was designed in the Army’s Third System style, a style adopted in the 1820s, and was the only Fort west of the Mississippi River to be built in this style.  It was in use as an active fort up through World War II, although it never fired a shot at an enemy.

When the Golden Gate Bridge was being constructed in the 1930s, there was discussion of tearing down the now obsolete fort, but fortunately the bridge’s Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss saw the historical significance of the fort and designed an arch that would allow the bridge to be built over the existing fort structure.  I am so glad it could be saved.  Unfortunately the fort is currently only open Fridays through Sundays, so we weren’t able to go inside.  The interior is certainly on my list of places to see!

We walked along the water and climbed the steps down and up from the parking area – that was quite a workout!  We considered walking across the bridge, and I definitely want to do it sometime, but we were worried that all the traffic and the people might be too much and too dangerous for a puppy.  Next time – another thing for my bucket list!

We headed to another area of the Presidio for a late afternoon glass of wine at Sessions restaurant.  I had their happy hour white (twice…); the Ressó 2017 Garnacha Blanc – it was delicious!  I also had two oysters on the half shell, because at happy hour prices of $1.50 each, who wouldn’t?!!  Well, someone who doesn’t like raw oysters, but…  They were amazing!

My wine at Sessions

We sat at their outdoor seating, and it was so nice to just sit outside on a glorious, sunny, hot, March San Francisco day.  Those adjectives don’t normally go with San Francisco, and certainly not in March, so we really soaked it in!  And the folks at Sessions allow dogs in their outdoor seating, you just have to take the dog in through the side door on the patio, so we could linger for a while.  Our server even brought Shaka dog biscuits and a bowl of water!

Our last sightseeing stop of the day was up at Coit Tower.  I had been twice before and loved it each time, and so had Lelani, but the girls had never been.  It was too late in the day to go up to the top (if you get the chance to you should), but we had enough time to do a circuit of the bottom part of the tower.  That’s where (most of) the murals are.

Coit Tower

The murals…  Coit Tower’s murals were painted in 1934 as a part of a Public Works of Art Project, the first of the New Deal employment projects for artists during the Great Depression.  They were painted in the Social Realism style, and depict commerce and industry subjects.  Interestingly, I learned while fact-checking for this blog post, that there are more murals on the second floor that are largely closed to the public.  However, you can see these murals, which depict recreation, if you take a tour (there are some free and some paid tours available).  How did I never know this?!  Yet another reason to visit Coit Tower!

A mural wine shop!

 

Coit Tower Industry

We headed back to our AirBnB for a bit of relaxing before we walked up the street to Zen Sushi for dinner.  This tiny, cramped restaurant had some excellent sushi!  It was a great end to a really good day.

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Sutro Baths

Day 3, Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Despite being up so late the night before, we got up at about 8 am the next day, and were all ready and out about 9 am.  I guess that’s the thing about getting old – there is no sleeping in!

We headed down to the Presidio, and although it took a bit of wandering, we found the Sutro Baths, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  I got my passport stamps at the Visitor’s Center and we headed down to check out the site.

Sutro Baths below

The Sutro Baths were built in the late 1800s along the cliffs of the Land’s End area of San Francisco, intended to be a European style bath house for the residents of San Francisco.  They were huge, 500 by 255 feet, with 6 saltwater pools and one freshwater pool, 7 slides, 30 swinging rings and a spring diving board.

At high tide, water would flow directly into the pool from the ocean, and at low tide, pumps would fill the water into the baths.

The complex also had a 2700 seat amphitheater and 517 private dressing rooms.  Ultimately, the high cost of operation drove the baths out of business, and it was converted into an ice skating rink, which closed in 1964.  In 1966, as it was being demolished for make way for a high rise apartment complex, it was destroyed by an arson fire.  It is unclear why the apartments weren’t built after that, but it has been a ruin ever since.

Rocks at the Sutro Baths

The cave near the baths

The site also has a path that goes above the ruins, leading to an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was so sunny and warm for March – the view was spectacular!

The Sutro Baths are ruins are free and open to the public.  It was so pretty there, being right on the ocean wandering among the ruins!

Circus Trip 2018: Boston

I had been wanting to see Boston. A lot. But I was so nervous about driving in the big city and I have heard it is a nightmare! But I wanted to see Boston!

Since today was Sunday, I figured I might have a chance. I got up early, I put my game face on and I did it. The first parking garage I had the GPS set for was full because there was some sort of running race. I saw lots of runners with numbers but thankfully didn’t run into any of the closed streets.

After circling the block twice I got my bearings better and found a better parking garage for my Boston Common destination. Winning at life!!

I did a tour of the Freedom Trail all day. In the morning on one of the guided walking tours, and in the afternoon with my new friend Clara, whom I met on the guided tour. I had so much fun!!

We ate lobster rolls for lunch, wandered to all the sites, climbed to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument, saw Faneuil Hall, toured Paul Revere’s house, toured the USS Constitution, and finished off the day with amazing cannoli, tiramisu and cheesecake from Mike’s Pastries.

I had to drive back to camp in the dark, but that meant that the traffic wasn’t bad at all! What an amazing day!!