The Soup Bowl

07 Welcome to Washington DCLinda Burton posting from Washington, DC – I call it “DC.” When I lived in Seattle if you said “Washington” folks thought you were referring to the state; Washington DC is considered the “other Washington” there. But I’m on the east coast today, easing into “the District” from Maryland and headed for the US Capitol, an icing-on-the cake post-stop in the Journey Across America. The majestic dome loomed tall as I approached; I circled in confusion and landed a parking spot on the other side. The Washington Monument was a few blocks to my right, covered in scaffolding due to earthquake repair. I coaxed the cats to the window to 07 capitol aheadlook; then tied my red wool scarf tight around my head before stepping out into the wind. Not a day for sightseeing. But people were out; a Chinese chorus was performing across the street; cameras were in evidence in every hand. Washington, DC! What is so special about this place? Why do 19 million visitors come every year? It’s exciting, and vibrant, that’s why; a bubbling soup bowl brimming with a little bit of everything. The resident population is 601,723 (US Census 2010), but that jumps to a million throughout the workweek; commuters pour in from the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. After all, the centers of all three branches of the federal government are 07 car and capitolhere – the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. Flags from all over the world fly here; count 176 foreign embassies. The headquarters of international organizations, trade unions, non-profits, and lobbying groups are here. There are more museums here than you could visit in a year; 19 within the Smithsonian alone. The architecture, park spaces, and memorials are stunning. You’ll find both inspiration and controversy here; it’s all in the soup. » read more

 

Staying Alive & The Final Five

06 12 days of christmas treeLinda Burton posting from Annapolis, Maryland – Psychologically we love countdowns. We count down the twelve days till Christmas. We countdown rocket launches, till we arrive at blastoff, or the mission is scrubbed. We countdown the Final Four in basketball every spring, when the world of college sports reaches fever pitch. I counted down the days in the month before my 16th birthday; I was on pins and needles to get my driver license; something everyone in my little town did back in the 50s when all the cars had fins and all the girls wore bobby socks. The year I went to Antarctica – that was 2005 – I counted off the weeks till my Seattle departure at Pagliacci Pizza. I happened to go for a Friday 06 pizza logonight pizza at the 17-week point and noticed they had 17 pizzas on their menu. “Aha,” I thought, “if I begin with the Original, when I get to the Verde Primo it will be time to fly to South America.” I called for grandson help on big-meat pizza nights; Matthew for Spicy Pepperoni; Andrew for Extra Pepperoni; both of them on Grand Salami Primo night. The AGOG was my favorite – mushrooms, roasted garlic, Kalamata olives, goat cheese, Fontina, Mozzarella and parsley over olive oil; fresh tomato slices added after the bake. The journey through the Pagliacci menu 06 Alex on suitcasewas an experience; I developed new tastes, and learned some things I didn’t know before. I dealt with whatever came next; I adapted as needed. You know where I’m going with that thought. Annapolis finishes the countdown through the Final Five; the Journey Across America is 100% complete. This mission wasn’t scrubbed; we made it all the way (adapting as needed) – the Scion, the cats, and me. We’re travelworn and frazzled, but completely AGOG with success. » read more

 

Her Name Is Joy

01 Linda Virgin MaryLinda Burton posting from Annapolis, Maryland – “I’m definitely celebrating today,” I confided to the woman beside me on the bench. We were waiting for a table at Miss Shirley’s, where you couldn’t stir the brunch crowd with a stick and most of the conversations were celebrating football wins. She was from Savannah; her brother lived in Athens; she was beaming about Georgia’s victory over Tech; 41-34. Her husband, who was graciously standing so I could sit, was from Florida; he was equally pleased with FSU; Seminoles 37 – Gators 7. I’d watched Saturday’s football too; not the least concerned that the Crimson Tide would do its usual thing, and win the Iron Bowl. But, in the craziest ending in the history of football, a last-second 100-yard run by Auburn’s Chris Davis put a different result in the record books; Auburn 34 – Alabama 28. A shocker, yes; but even that couldn’t dampen my mood this week; I’d been overjoyed since Friday and that was that. I moved the conversation from football to the reason for my happiness. “Annapolis is my 50th! I made it! I actually frigging made it to all 50 capital cities!” This brought a puzzled look; I handed her a card showing my name and website address and went on to explain the 01 front folks miss shirleysJourney, the research, and the cats. “Well that is awesome,” she grinned, just as their table was called. “I didn’t get your names,” I said as they walked away. “My name is Joy and this is ….” was all I heard as they rounded the corner. My table was ready shortly; I settled in and ordered a Spicy Shirley like I’d seen up front; holiday red; unbelievably huge. A couple soon was seated to my right; another to my left; my Fried Green Tomato appetizer arrived; the party was on. » read more

 

By George

29 cupolaLinda Burton posting from Annapolis, Maryland – Before you read this post, look at the column to the right. On the dark blue background is a list of capital cities. Count them. You will find 50 capital cities listed now, because at 2:26 PM today, the cats and I arrived in Annapolis, capital city #50 on the Journey Across America. By George, we made it! I parked in front of the Robert Johnson building on the tight little circle street that surrounds the Maryland State House, and jumped out to record the moment with pictures. When I got back Jack was sitting on top of his carrier, 29 car by capitolwatching people walk by on the sidewalks of Annapolis; Alex was perched like a king on his pillow, unimpressed. “Do you think you’re King George?” I laughed. “You don’t want to acknowledge the feisty colonists?” It felt as though King George could be lurking around the corner; if, that is, King George had ever left England, and, if there weren’t so many 21st-century automobiles crowding the narrow brick-paved streets. We were in what is officially named the “Colonial Annapolis Historic District,” where 18th-century buildings remain much as they were when built. To my left the Maryland State House occupies the city’s highest hill; from that point all streets radiate outward; dropping down towards the 29 capitol approachwaterfront; leading in the other direction towards the countryside. One thing is clear; when this city was laid out, it was intended that all roads lead to the focal point of government – the Maryland State House, the “oldest in the nation still in legislative use” as it so proudly claims. And here the presence of our most beloved “George” remains – George Washington, of course. “This is a living history book,” I said to the cats. “It comes together here.” » read more

 

Getting To Goal

22 house 2Linda Burton posting from Dover, Delaware – Of course I was bragging. “This is my 49th capitol,” I said to Nathaniel and Michael, as we began our tour of Leg Hall. “Leg Hall” is the affectionate nickname for the Delaware state capitol, because it’s where the legislature has met since 1933. It’s a stately Georgian brick structure, in keeping with the history of the town; located in First State Heritage Park along with the Old State House and the Golden 22 michael thumbs upFleece Tavern, all part of a complex of state buildings and historic moments. I was reveling in my own “historic moment” as I continued my boast; “49th out of 50! Only one to go and that’s Annapolis. I’m getting close!” Both men nodded in approval, affirming they were impressed with my achievement. “Nice!” said Michael, who was visiting from Texas. “I’ve got twelve left to see myself. But, I have run a marathon in all 50 states.” Well now, that was a topper. “Picture time,” I said, grinning. “This is a thumbs-up photo op. I’ve never met anyone who has 22 rodney on horserun 50 marathons, much less in every state!” Michael posed for me, thumbs appropriately up. It’s interesting what people do, and how much effort they’ll put forth to achieve a goal. Tour guide Nathaniel led us into the Senate Chambers then, slipping into storytelling mode as he pointed to the murals above our heads, and told the tales of Delaware. They were people stories, of course; it’s people who had the vision, and the goals; it’s people who did what it took. Nathaniel pointed to the mural of a man on a horse; the sky had an eerie darkening cast; the trees were bare. Hurry! The horse reared up, the man’s scarf flew behind. “That is Caesar Rodney,” he began. » read more

 

Marvelous Delmarva

20 restaurant signLinda Burton posting from Dover, Delaware – “Sweet or unsweet?” My head jerked back in surprise at the question; at first I was flustered; then pleased. “You seriously have sweet tea here?” I asked my server. “Well yes, Hon, we do,” she replied, in an accent that curved sweetly upwards in syllables that were music to my ears. “Then I must be back in the south,” I grinned. “Nobody has asked me that question since January.” It was true; it was January when the Journey left Virginia headed west; since then I’d traveled the Midwestern states, the Great Lakes states, and the New England states. But today, after I crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge from New Jersey, I entered Delmarva, where the language is Southern American English. She called me Hon! Not “Miss” or “Dear;” I was Hon again, here in this homey restaurant, where I could get iced tea that 20 map bwsomeone had already gone to the trouble to sweeten for me. What a marvelous place! I came for Dover, of course, the 49th Capital City of the Journey; capital of the First State, Delaware. And, besides the unique distinction and bragging rights of being capital of the first state, it’s the only capital city that is on a peninsula. And that peninsula houses parts of three states – Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. DelMarVa, get it? I’ll get into the specifics of land boundaries in later posts, but for now look at the map to understand the lay of the land. Technically, the “peninsula” is an island, thanks to the manmade 14-mile C&D Canal that connects Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River. The Canal is considered the beginning of the Delmarva Peninsula, a mostly rural land of farms and fishing, where restaurants have collards on the menu, and the tea is sweet. » read more

 

Birds And Bees

16 NJ visit 001Linda Burton posting from Trenton, New Jersey – The New Jersey state bird is the Eastern Goldfinch, and the New Jersey state bug is the Honeybee. I was standing one-legged in a center hall of the New Jersey State House when I learned this; the tour guide had stopped the crowd by a glass-encased Boehm ceramic artwork to explain. Inside, perched on the New Jersey state tree – the red oak – were a number of bright yellow birds; striped honeybees hovered over sweet-purple violets, the state flower. I didn’t get a photo of the display because there was a glare on the glass, so I can’t show you 16 carpethow pretty it was. I might have tried harder for a better angle except, as I said, I was standing one-legged, holding onto the wall. My knee had suddenly decided not to work; it does that sometimes, especially, it seems, if I’m in a crowd; that makes for a higher embarrassment factor. Nobody seemed to notice, however; and soon we were in the Assembly Chamber, just down the hallway, where I could sit. Ah, look at the floor! The Birds and Bees and Trees and Flowers were part of the carpet design, a charming swirl against a background of blue. I got a picture of that, and 16 seal highlooked around the room, squinting as the sun beamed through the high windows on either side of the State Seal; our guide was focused on the legislative process. In my hand I held a roster of the 215th New Jersey Legislature – 80 in the Assembly; 40 in the Senate; party and district were identified, phone number listed. Two seats are vacant, it said; I counted 70 Democrats and 48 Republicans serving a state where the Republican governor makes the daily news; Chris Christie, resoundingly re-elected November 5. » read more

 

Bird In A Cage

13 t turnpikeLinda Burton posting from Trenton, New Jersey – Oh the horror! From the wide-open farmlands of the Pennsylvania Dutch to the narrow confines of the Pennsylvania Turnpike; cornfields to concrete; shock. I was willing to pay for good road to move me swiftly across the state to New Jersey. But I told the toll-taker on my exit near Morrisville, “You really should pay me to ride on this horrid road.” He took my $5.75 without comment. I’d felt confined the whole way, barriered in from any scenery; tunnelized; I longed for anything else. Route 1 turned out to be even worse; no sign welcomed me to New Jersey as I whizzed over the 13 t gpsDelaware River; my only clues were the dotted lines on the GPS, and a blur to my left that said Trenton Makes. Makes what? Eight miles beyond the river, the GPS advised me to take Mall Access Road; I followed that advice. No hotel, just Macy’s, and Sears; it took a while to realize that my hotel was on the other side of Route 1. There are no left turns off said highway, only concrete barriers. You must pass your intended destination, take a right at the next overpass, cross over Route 13 t trenton enter1, and head back the other way. Three lanes of traffic going both ways; no dedicated lanes to feed into; non-stop New Jersey drivers, all as frustrated as me. Or maybe more. By the time I reached my hotel, the morning pleasantness I’d felt at Bird-In-Hand had turned to the dismay of a bird in a cage. “You’d better get used to me,” I said to the cats after I unloaded the car. “I won’t be going out much.” I opened the laptop, and plugged in a search for “Trenton,” the Journey’s Capital City #48. » read more

 

Bird-In-Hand Is Better

13 food plateLinda Burton posting from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania traveling from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Trenton, New Jersey – Buttery new potatoes with skins. Sweet-corn casserole. Bright-green peas. Kraut and sausage. Chicken pie. Shepherd’s pie. Ham and scalloped potatoes. I was walking the center aisle of a Pennsylvania Dutch smorgasbord, dipping a smidge of everything onto my plate. Ham balls? There was no more room, well, maybe one. The salad bar was to my left, the dessert bar to my right; I bypassed both, stopping at the bread bar for fresh-baked rolls. Then to my booth by the window, through a silver-haired crowd in a room filled 13 horse purplewith happy talk. Tour buses waited in the parking lot; seniors were traveling today. The weather is still tolerably good; family traffic has slowed with kids in school; now’s the time to wander the hills and open farm lands that make up the happiest place I’ve ever seen. I was happy, that’s for sure; fresh vegetables on my plate, locally grown and simply cooked. Across the road, two horses grazed behind a white fence; one wore a purple blanket, I wondered why. An Amish buggy, horse-pulled at a rapid clip, went by on the highway, ah, that’s it. The purple-blanket horse just finished a buggy trip and was in cool-down mode. Should I go back 13 buggythrough the smorgasbord for a second round? Some shoo-fly pie? It was tempting, but no; the drive ahead to Trenton would be intense; dessert would make me sleepy, and soft. I flipped through my Lancaster County guidebook, and sighed. Too many potatoes? No, too many things I’d miss today. Is this a come-back place? Is this a place I’d recommend for the senior crowd, and for every family with kids? I give it an “A,” for absolutely. » read more

 

Looking For Socks

09 cover 001Linda Burton posting from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – “This is the handsomest building I ever saw,” is a quote they brag about in Harrisburg. That’s what President Theodore Roosevelt said on October 4, 1906, when he attended the dedication of the Pennsylvania state capitol. Now, I’ve seen a lot of capitol buildings (this is the 47th one on the Journey) and I try to be very careful not to compare one to another, focusing instead on the unique and beautiful qualities of each. But I found myself looking around for my socks today, because (figuratively speaking) my first glimpse inside this capitol’s rotunda knocked them off. Architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940) envisioned the capitol as a “palace of art” and he did not miss the mark. It is described as a “priceless architectural and artistic treasure” and its 600 rooms burst with so much color, and so many messages, that “sensory overload” must be a way of life for those who work inside. And 09 house b 001everybody does – the executive, judicial, and legislative branches are housed in the capitol; it is the workshop of Pennsylvania state government. It’s a huge complex of Renaissance marble and gold; the outside (five stories high) is Vermont granite, the roof is green glazed terra cotta tile; inside you’ll see Italian, French, English, Greek, Roman and Victorian influences. Yet somehow, Huston pulled it all together while telling the story of Pennsylvania, making it an all-American edifice. Because first and foremost, the capitol is a public building, belonging to the citizens of the Commonwealth. The marble staircase was set to showcase a wedding today; the guest chairs waited in place. I asked about the rotunda, but my guide pointed to the floor; “Let’s start with the Moravian tiles,” she said. » read more