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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

 

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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!!

Circus Roadtrip 2018: New Beginnings

I am sitting at Beal’s Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor, Maine, looking out over the water and the lowering sun over the pier. I just devoured a 1.69 pound whole Maine lobster. It is the first whole lobster I have ever eaten and it was SOOO delicious. Market price is $13.99 a pound, less than half the price of market price for Maine lobster on the west coast. It pays to go to the source.

My dinner at Beal’s Lobster Pier

The restaurant is playing all the music I grew up to. Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, Alan Jackson, Harry Chapin, The Beatles, John Lennon…

I spent the day at Acadia National Park, wandering and hiking, sitting watching the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Relaxing with a Vinho Verde

Tomorrow is my birthday. I will spend another day at Acadia and who knows, maybe I will eat another lobster!!

My last two birthdays went unmentioned on this blog. I spent both by myself (by choice) because I really just wanted to forget them. Two years ago I sobbed into the carpeting of my stairs, mourning the loss of my marriage and my soon to be ex’s cruelty.  Last year I just wanted to forget.

It seems fitting that I will be on the Atlantic Ocean on my birthday. The eastern-most point of my trip. I can’t explain it but it feels like a milestone.

This morning I felt joyful. Giddy to be seeing a new national park in a new state and the ocean. I have been wanting to see Acadia for years and it did not disappoint.

The lowering sun

I feel hope about my future. I feel like I get the chance at a new life. Not that the old one didn’t have its good parts, and I have been truly blessed, but I have been needing something new. And I think I have found it.  I can feel it.

My last day of 42

Tomorrow is a brand new beginning.

 

Circus Trip 2018: Early September

It is hard to believe I have been on the road for a month and a half!  I am having a rest day today at Lake Bomoseen in Vermont.  I have gotten all the way to Vermont – a new state for me!

For the most part I am content and enjoying myself.  The 6 pm “figure out where I am staying to tonight” stuff is a little tiring, but I continue to find that tent sites don’t really book up anywhere.  It seems the McMansion trend didn’t die out after the Great Recession, judging by the numbers and sheer size of the motorhomes and trailers I see everywhere I go.

On a side note, a couple from Indiana had a Hiker trailer that looked about my speed.  4 feet wide, sleeps two, and easily pulled by a car.  The man said theirs was $2900, and they had purchased some add-ons that brought the cost up to $3500.  I should have taken a photo!

I have been having some minor lingering effects from seeing the man who killed himself; notably in walking into structures when I know that I will be alone inside.  I can’t deny it; it freaks me out.  I peer into every covered bridge before I go inside, and have also peered into an old church, and an 1830 tavern for a while before stepping through the doors…  The hair on my neck stands up…  I do this even when they are well lit and I can easily see that they are empty – it isn’t rational…  Other than that I have been able to let it go, and I am sleeping comfortably at night.

The weather has cooled off in areas, and car sleeping is very comfortable.  The mosquitoes continue to be a bother and my legs are a dot to dot maze of bites.  Thankfully though, I haven’t gotten any tick bites (knock on the wooden picnic table).

I will head over to Acadia National Park, and then start my journey south.  I have been traveling East longer than I expected to be, and that’s the tough part – I keep finding more and more that I want to see and do along the way.  It is admittedly, a good problem to have.  Of course, that means I won’t have as much time for the end!

Happy Labor Day Weekend everybody!  I hope you are enjoying it!

 

 

San Francisco 2018: 4 Chicks and a Little Bitch

March 26 – April 1, 2018

So, I went out to dinner with my girlfriend Lelani and her daughter Laura sometime in February, and the topic of a spring break road trip came up (Laura was in college).  Lelani, Laura and Laura’s friend Brenna were already committed, so they had room for one more adventurous soul-searcher.  It seemed intriguing, but I had so much going on in March, and I had just booked my trip to London for late June, so doing another week long vacation seemed like a bit much.  Plus, one of my employees was going to be out of the office that same week, so it seemed like a lot of burden for my other two employees.

But the idea kept coming up, and I wouldn’t even have to plan anything – I could just show up and go along for the ride!  So, a few weeks later I talked to my two employees and they assured me that they would be happy to have me skedaddle for spring break so they could have a quiet week.  A road trip was born!

Lelani and Laura had planned a route that included heading down I-5 to Eugene, then cutting over to the Oregon Coast and taking the coastal route through Santa Rosa into San Francisco.  We would spend 3 nights in San Francisco, and then take the same coastal route back up through Oregon and Washington.  The trip would commence on Monday (Lelani couldn’t leave until then), and return home on Sunday.  Accommodations would be camping on the Oregon coast the first night, 3 nights in an AirBnB in San Francisco, another night camping on the Oregon Coast, and one night spent in Portland, Oregon before heading home.

Camping on the coast in late March seemed risky, but hey, if worse came to worst we could always find lodging with a solid roof over our heads to shelter from the rain – surely everything wouldn’t be booked on the coast in March.  And if things were really bad, there were four of us, and we could always drive in shifts until we got to somewhere we thought we wanted to be – right!  This is sounding ominous, and I assure you, it never turned out like that – we never even stumbled upon the Bates Motel, or the Hotel California…

My next posts will be telling you about the 4 Chicks and a Little Bitch Road Trip 2018 – yes, we named our road trip – and in case you were wondering, the little bitch was Lelani’s 5 month old puppy Shaka, who came along for the ride.  What an adventure this would turn out to be!