12.02 Linda by TreeLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Did you get my letter? Are you a regular visitor? Either way,  I am glad you are here, and I welcome you to Capital Cities USA. Let me show you around.

Right now, you’ll find mostly POSTS – reports I wrote during the Journey, and posted day by day between February 2012 and now. They are impressions of what I saw that day, or new information I gathered. Read POSTS from each of the 50 capital cities by going to the dark blue column on the right, and clicking on the city you want to read about. Some cities have more POSTS than others (I apologize) though I continue to transcribe my notes and share them, so keep watching. Our national capital, Washington DC, is also in this column.

I am creating PAGES now. Follow the tabs on the dark blue bar across the top.

  • ABOUT. Read that PAGE first – it explains what Capital Cities USA has done, and will do, and the purpose and goals of the organization. It also lists the officers and directors, and contact information.
  • CAPITAL CITIES. That tab takes you to a PAGE with an alphabetical listing of capital cities. Click on the one you want to read about. You’ll find facts about the beginnings of each city, and statistics about population, education, and more. This section of the site is growing slowly, so check back frequently for updates. Estimated completion date: March 31.
  • STATE CAPITOLS. These PAGES have not yet been developed. But they will contain information about the capitol building in each state. There will be statistics and stories, and many photos of the magnificent structures. Estimated development start date: July 1.
  • CAPITOL KIDS. The kids PAGES will have everything from help for homework to stories and games for fun. Maybe some stories by the Capital Cats! Estimated development start date: April 1.
  • SEARCH. See the gray-blue box to the left of the SEARCH button at the top? Type what you’re looking for in there, it will find articles that match. Try “chili” or “bathtub” and see what comes up! Or your name. Or seriously, “George Washington” (with the quotes, of course).
  • RED CALENDAR. Click on any date on the calendar that is “live” (underlined) and go directly to the POST for that date.
  • ARCHIVES. Gold column. Select any month/year and go directly to all POSTS for that time period.
  • RECENT POSTS. Gold column. The five most recent POSTS, by name.
  • BLUE COLUMN. Near the bottom of the dark blue column see “X Arkadelphia,” “Y Traveling Between,” “Z Summaries.” Self-explanatory. Go to “Z Summaries” for an overview of the Journey in segments of five cities grouped, it’s the most fun reading!

Maybe you prefer to just scroll down and read each entry in the order posted. That’s a good approach too, take your time and read them all.


My El Grande Lovebug

22 jack musicLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – This is the hardest post I’ve ever written. It was a sad day when Alex died in March, but I didn’t write about it till more than a week had passed. Jack died this morning at 9:01. “I didn’t expect to have my heart broken twice in the same year,” I told the family, as I explained the events that caught us all by surprise. Yes, he was too fat. And no, he didn’t exercise much any more. All visitors this summer were charged with the responsibility of getting Jack to “roll over.” Dangle the play-strings across his back, count how many times he’d respond with enthusiasm. Not many; he much preferred putting his 22 jack ellis lindahead in your lap while you stroked him. He was diagnosed with onset kidney disease in June, and we changed his diet, but his numbers weren’t that far out of line. He remained a people cat, snuggling against anyone who’d allow it. He followed me from room to room; cozy on the office sofa while I worked; taking one end of the living-room sofa while I took the other as we watched our favorite TV shows in the evening. When I got into 22 eyesbed at night, I’d call his name, and soon I’d hear his toenails clicking on the hardwood floor. He’d jump on the bed and lay his head on the pillow beside me, then suddenly he’d jump down again. Just like old folks. “Darn, I forgot to go to the bathroom.” He’d trot off to his litterbox and then jump up again, this time for the night. Jack never demanded anything; for the ten years of his life he was simply lovebug sweet. My big fat black cat, El Grande, someone called him once. » read more


A New Pencil Box

25 Linda schoolLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – A new pencil box and the first day of school. Who is old enough to remember the fresh wood smell of newly sharpened pencils? I’m thinking about that as I put on my hat and head out the door for my first day of classes at Henderson. The American West and Arkansas History; that’s my course of study this semester. Why? On the Journey I explored almost every inch of the “western” states but was left with more questions than answers by the end of it. I want to learn more about the legislation that opened those vast lands for settlement, the many treaties with the natives who were already living there, the creation of the new states; in other words, the expansion of our country throughout the 19th century. All to make this site more useful for everyone who accesses it. The Arkansas History class will help with that too, and additionally will provide insights about the emigration of my ancestors who died here in 1849 on their move from Alabama to Texas. Ancestors. A little family talk now. And “how I spent my summer 25 group at pianovacation.” Since I’m settled in one place with plenty of room for visitors, I invited, and they came! Grandson Andrew arrived June 21; grandson Sam July 12. Andrew left July 16; son Mike, and his Brenda, and her grandson Michael arrived July 31. Granddaughter Kayla and son Rick arrived August 2. Mike and Brenda and Michael left August 3; Sam left August 6. Rick and Kayla left August 16. Did you notice? There was a perfect alignment of planets on August 2. » read more


Drifts of Spring

21 Andrew Graduation ALinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Today is the first day of summer. And I head to Little Rock shortly, and the airport. I’m picking up Grandson Andrew, who just graduated (with honors) from Shorewood High in Seattle. We had two graduations this spring; Grandson Justin graduated (with honors) from the University of 21 Justin's graduation V 2014 010Florida in Gainesville. Congratulations boys, you make your grandma proud. Good job! Spring has been a whirlwind of weather, and color. Yellow daffodils exploded all over the yard; wisteria vines twined themselves around every tree, in an effort to take over the world, trying to placate us with their sweet smell and cascades of purple blooms. “Don’t mind me, I’m pretty!” Ha. I entered the Arts Center Photography Contest in April, and what would I choose other than capitol domes to show? Arizona’s copper shine, Iowa’s glittering gold; Maryland’s colonial style in wood, with balcony walks. I didn’t win a prize, but working on the prints was satisfying work and one small step in bringing the glory of our capitols to 21 Capitol Arizona Dome and Winged Victorynew eyes. I wasn’t allowed a writeup to post beside, but if I had, you know I would have bragged. You can take the time now to click on the link to Phoenix, and Des Moines, and Annapolis (blue column to the right), and you’ll see. History. We’re all a part of it; all connected; we all breathe the same air. It’s important to pay attention to those big-picture scenes, and the finer details too. Like the dinner at the Museum, From the Forest to the Table it was called, where we partook of foods the early settlers would have eaten. » read more


Winter’s Woes, and Wonders

Alex Beautiful CatLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Today is the first day of spring. An entire season has passed since the Scion stopped in Arkadelphia last December. So many wonderful things have happened in the last three months, but there’s an overwhelming sadness too. On March 11 our dear companion Alex died. Alex came into my life in December 1997; a grand and joyful Christmas that was! The vet estimated his age to be eight months, a foundling from the pound, history unknown. He remained my faithful friend for seventeen years, moving cross-country with me twice, and recently, of course, making theRegal Thinker journey to 48 of the states as part of our little troop. He died in my arms, just after midnight; his tiny body succumbing to the effects of hyperthyroidism, and methimazole; his nine lives used up, at last. “Why would you take a cat on such a long trip,” someone asked me once. “Why didn’t you leave him at home?” “I was his home,” I replied. And he was mine. Every place I’ve been has felt like home because of Alex. A picture of him in the bloom of life graces the front of a walnut box on a shelf in our living room now, his ashes tucked inside. He always liked hidey spots! Under the bedspread (making a prominent lump). On top of the refrigerator. On top of the cabinet above the refrigerator. Beneath the 07070265AlexZenGardenhostas by the back fence. Even inside the wall of the bathroom when I had some remodeling done. Yes, he got sealed in. “You’re lucky he was able to finish the Journey with you,” people are saying; “you have such memories.” That’s true, I do. But they don’t fill the empty spot in my heart. Jack misses him too, except, as cats tend to think, it finally dawned on him that he is now King of the Hill. Scratching with clawless paws, he marked every piece of furniture in the house after a week. God love precious cats! Did you notice I said “house”? Now let me tell you our wonderful news. » read more


Ghosts of Christmas Past

25 Linda Tree ArlingtonLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Every year we hear about Bah Humbug Scrooge and the ghosts that visited him on Christmas Eve. I’d say there are just as many ghosts roaming around the Arlington Hotel, indeed, the entire city of Hot Springs. Oh what tales the tour guides tell! The most famous ghost of the Arlington’s past is Al Capone, and it is a fact he had a favorite suite on the 4th floor back in his gangster days. That way he had a clear view down Central Avenue. No sneaking up on Al. I went looking for the ghosts of Santa Claus today, however, and 25 Arlington buffettalented chefs, with plans to enjoy a lavish Christmas feast in the Venetian Room. Hot Springs is just 35 miles from Arkadelphia, the weather was sunny and fine, and after presenting my early-morning Christmas gift to Alex and Jack (a walking kitty-cat which they regarded with great disdain) I set out for Hot Springs and the Arlington. Did you know that Hot Springs was Arkansas’ capital city for a short period of time? Did you know that Hot Springs was a 25 Arlington buffet salmonfavorite spot for gangsters and gambling, back in the roaring twenties? Did you know that Bill Clinton grew up in Hot Springs, and graduated high school there? I didn’t, nor did I realize that Hot Springs was the spring training camp for Chicago’s White Stockings, or that famed Bathhouse Row still has spa services available. But back to the Arlington. The groaning-table buffet was worthy of the drive, and the gingerbread house in the art deco lobby was charming, but I confess to checking over my shoulder once or twice. You can never be too careful when it comes to ghosts. » read more


No Ignoramus Here

21 Genius puzzle at Cracker BarrelLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Today is the first day of winter. And I was blessed with two good omens. Have you ever tried to work one of those little Peg Puzzles that sit on every table in the Cracker Barrel? The goal is to end up with only one peg remaining, but it’s possible to back yourself into a corner and wind up with four pegs staring at you. Four! That means you are an ignoramus, on a level with pond scum. If you get it down to one however, you are a Certified Genius. Guess what. I got it down to ONE today, the first time ever in my life; I’ve tried to solve the darned thing in Cracker Barrels all across the land. I called my server over to see. “I take this as a positive sign,” I beamed. “This means I have made the right choice in moving to 20 ArkansasArkadelphia. I’m a genius!” She gave me a high five and told me my biscuits were coming up. The other good omen was a rainbow, but that was later, after I’d spent the day exploring my new environs. We arrived in a storyteller’s cliché yesterday; it was a dark and stormy night. There was a thunderstorm of such fearful proportions I didn’t even unload the car, I just grabbed the cats and their basic stuff. We’d had a long drive across Mississippi past all those catfish farms and cotton fields, till finally we made it to the defining line that splits the country’s drainage system, that muddy old Mississippi River. And 20 Exit 73 Arkadelphiathen, at last, Arkansas. So much water in this state! We crossed Bayou Bartholomew, and then the Ouachita River. At El Dorado we left Hwy 82 and followed the river north. An eerie fog crept across the darkening fields, rising off the waters of the Little Missouri. By the time we hit I-30 the visibility plummeted to near zero. “Don’t let me mess up now,” I prayed to the rain gods, “we’re so close.” My guardian angel intervened, the Arkadelphia exit appeared, and that was that. The cats and I slept sprawled in a pile across the bed; exhausted, but no worries, no more long-distance driving to do. » read more


My Absolutely Positively Last Stop

19 Linda Last StopLinda Burton posting from Tuscaloosa, Alabama – “This is it. This is really truly it. You have to get my picture one last time by the Scion,” I said to brother Craig. “Right here in the same spot as when I left 659 days ago.” I was feeling other-worldly at the moment, unreal, like I was Hillary at the top of Everest, or Amundsen at the South Pole. Or my friend Howard Cottrell, when he finally reached the last county in the United States. It took him 16 years to get to all 3,100 counties; it took Sherpas and sled dogs and some serious cold-weather gear to get to those extreme parts of the world. All I had to do was drive, and load and unload the car and the cats every two weeks. And re-establish a home and a workplace fifty times. I traveled 31,710 miles in all, according to my quick calculations last night. And I never varied from the course, I stuck with the plan. Where are the drum rolls, and the marching bands? Craig is 19 Craig car maplaconic. No mushy-gushy stuff, no congratulations or wow-you-did-it praise. But he did take the camera and ask what angle I wanted. And he cooked spaghetti for me today (it’s our Christmas tradition – red spaghetti sauce and green salad). And he stored all my furniture and clothes in his basement for two years, and kept things safe. And last year he drove to New Orleans to spend Christmas with me there. So, yeah, he’s a primo brother, wouldn’t you say? I did my pose. And had him stand by the car too, laconically pointing to Alabama on the map. The Journey Across America is officially over. » read more


Hornswoggled in Birmingham

18 PlaqueLinda Burton posting from Birmingham, Alabama – “Finish your lunch so you can open your present,” Emily said. “I know you’ve got to get on your way.” I took a last sip of Cracker Barrel tea and suggested that we go outside for the opening; it was a brilliant sunny day, and I wanted to make sure the cats were okay in the car. They were. “This is NOT a Christmas present,” Emily promised, as I mumbled about not having a present for her. “Just OPEN.” Have you ever gotten a gift that surprised you to your toes, and pleased you beyond measure, and humbled you too, at the thoughtfulness of the giver? Yeah, I got that today. It was a silver and walnut plaque, beautifully engraved, with a full-color picture of the decked-out Scion, and these words:

CONGRATULATIONS     Linda L. Burton    Given in admiration and recognition of your dedication to your Journey Across America to all 50 states.    March 1, 2012 – November 29, 2013    Making Capital Cities USA available to students, teachers, historians, researchers, and the general public.    Your timeless efforts will enrich all who take advantage of your vast knowledge gained in this great undertaking.    From Emily Taylor

18 Emily Presenting PlaqueEmily Taylor is my cousin and has been one of my most loyal followers throughout the Journey. She has read and commented on every post, and swears on oath she enjoys them. We’re both descended from William Irwin Jr, our ancestor who died in Arkansas in 1849 as he attempted a move from Alabama to Texas with his family. William Irwin Jr, the reason I have chosen to settle in Arkansas myself, hoping to learn more of what happened to the Irwins way back then. My great-grandmother Mary Susan (b 1866) and Emily’s grandmother Leavonia Augusta (b 1869) were sisters, and granddaughters of William. Emily is named after their younger sister Emily Letitia (b 1883) and grew up knowing more about the family’s history than I did; it was genealogy research that brought us together in recent years. Now she is more than a twice-removed cousin to me; more than a friend; even though she has many sisters of her own, we feel, well, sort of like sisters too. » read more


The Streisand Syndrome

Linda Burton 16 Tennessee Welcome Signposting from Chattanooga, Tennessee – Streisand has been sitting on my shoulder for two days now. Humming that song she made famous. Memories. You know. The way we were. Memories. (That light the corners of your mind.) The minute I saw the Tennessee welcome sign yesterday I was slammed with them; by the time I reached the hotel in Chattanooga I was completely soaked in the past. “This is your home town,” I said to Alex as I unloaded the car, remembering that day in 1997 when he stuck his head out of the cage at the pound and nuzzled my neck. My heart melted into a puddle right there and then; “Go get a box,” I told the attendant. Alex slept curled on the foot of my bed that night, and has every night since for sixteen years. “I saved your life that day,” I reminded him in a tone, “and thanks to me you have been lucky enough to live in 48 states since you were born in an alley here. So there.” “Just feed me,” he said, sniffing around the room. “No need for drama.”

16 Brenda Big River Brick BoatMy dear Brenda was a little more patient with me as I told story after story during our evening touchpoint visit. She and friend Phyllis were traveling from Florida to Virginia; we worked it out to meet in Chattanooga for one night as we passed going in different directions. As soon as they arrived I jumped into show-off mode. “We’ve got to go downtown,” I insisted, “so you can see the waterfront.” Brenda’s Mike (my first-born son) grew up here, but she was unfamiliar with the town. She drove. I pointed. “I used to work in that building!” “We celebrated Rick’s seventh birthday in that restaurant!” “There’s the Walnut Street Bridge, it’s a park now!” “There’s the hotel where my Mom and Dad had their honeymoon in 1937!” They peered and squinted in the dark, but just like the cats, finally insisted that we eat. » read more