» posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2015 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – I was invited by Charlotte Jeffers, Regent of the Arkadelphia Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, to speak at their April 14 meeting. “Do you want me to talk about the history of the capital cities, or my travel experiences?” I asked. “What will everyone be most interested in?” “We are interested in everything,” was the reply, so I decided to focus on our likeminded objectives, which sent me to the DAR national website.
I learned that DAR was founded October 11, 1890 and incorporated in 1896 by an Act of Congress. Objectives are listed as Historical, Educational, and Patriotic, so I honed in on the “educational” factor, since that is a primary objective of Capital Cities USA. For DAR, “to promote…institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge, thus developing an enlightened public opinion.” For Capital Cities USA, “to build community, character and citizenship through humanities education.” From Objectives to Methodology explains the Journey Across America: Item 1 – to assess civic, community and historic resources in the 50 capital cities of the United States and their capitol buildings by gathering data through on-site visits to each capitol and capital city. In a nutshell!
I began my talk with bottom-line statistics – departed February 28, 2012 and concluded December 18, 2013 for a total of 659 days. Traveled 31,710 miles and spent time in 50 state capitols and the national capitol in DC. Shared neighborhoods with 12,947,450 people as I lived two weeks in each capital city. (With my two cats, no less.) I shared a map showing the 75 overnight stops I made before settling down in Arkadelphia, and then moved into story telling.
“What learning opportunities did I find in the capitols?” I focused on five that were exceptional:
• Austin, Texas – Most Extensive Visitor Services
• Boise, Idaho – Most Inspiring Kids Tour
• Atlanta, Georgia – Tie With Springfield, Illinois as Most Welcoming
• Springfield, Illinois – Tie with Atlanta, Georgia as Most Welcoming
• Montpelier, Vermont – Most Intimate & Inviting, Best Volunteer Program, Most Meticulous Restoration
» posted on Saturday, October 26th, 2013 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Providence, Rhode Island – Life is full of the unexpected. For instance, I didn’t plan to be working from the edge of the bathtub this Saturday morning. Yet here I sit, laptop on my lap, door closed to the outside world. Now, why is that? Because, just outside my window, just a few feet from my workdesk, is a gravel-sucking truck. And that truck is doing what it was designed to do. It is sucking gravel off the roof of my hotel. The manager explained. “I know it’s noisy, but we have to get the re-roofing done before winter sets in. We have to remove the gravel in order to put down a new layer of tar.” Well, I understand that. So I’ll spend the day exploring Providence, no prob. “You’ll be done soon?” was my plaintive question. Ah no, the work continues through next Wednesday. The gravel-sucking truck will be replaced by a tar-spreading truck. Swapping noise for the nose-burning smell of hot tar? I’d rather adjust life plans. Instead of spending another day with my friend Sandi; instead of leisurely wandering Water Place Park in downtown Providence; instead of having Sunday brunch at CAV as planned; I’ll shorten my Providence stay and move ahead to Hartford. I’ll use today to pack, and I’ll use today to summarize. I have company in this tiny bathroom. Alex and Jack crouched in the tub, watching me. If the sound of gravel rattling through a giant metal tube before crashing into the metal truck bed is deafening to me, I can only imagine how excruiating it must be to the cat’s sensitive ears. Suddenly I realized – 90% of the Journey Across America is done! “So Alex,” I said, slipping into interview mode, “what’s your favorite part of the Journey so far?” » read more
» posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Concord, New Hampshire – Two men, born on different coasts, in different centuries. What do they have in common? Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963) began life in San Francisco; Kenneth Lauren Burns (b 1953) in Brooklyn. But each chose New Hampshire as a place to live, and work, and grow; New Hampshire put its stamp on them. And from New Hampshire, they reflected the world back to us; interpreted in ways both simple and profound. Robert Frost was a poet; in his lifetime garnering more than forty honorary degrees, four Pulitzer Prizes, and one Congressional Medal of Honor. Critic Randall Jarrell said of him “no other poet has written so well about the actions of ordinary men.” Biographer Lawrance Thompson wrote that Frost’s poems are “charged with an intensity of cherishing.” And perhaps the greatest accolade is this – Frost’s poems are part of the curriculum in every class on American literature. How many young souls found their life purpose bolstered by the line “I took the road less traveled by”? Did filmmaker Ken Burns come across that line when he was a young student? I don’t know; but Burns has certainly lived his life and gone about his work in ways unlike any other. His documentary films have brought him (so far) twenty-five honorary degrees, twelve Emmy Awards, two Oscar nominations, and a Lifetime Achievement Award. From his first documentary in 1981 (Brooklyn Bridge), Burns’ films have mesmerized the public. David Zurawik wrote “Burns not only turned millions…onto history with his films, he showed us a new way of looking at our collective past.” Burns’ father-in-law said his work was “an attempt to make people long gone come back alive.” Besides New Hampshire, what else touched the lives of these men? I decided to dig a little deeper. » read more
» posted on Monday, September 30th, 2013 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Concord, New Hampshire – New Hampshire is the Granite State. So called, it is said, due to its extensive granite formations and quarries. But I don’t think that’s the only reason. Consider the state motto, proudly displayed on the state coin and every license plate: Live Free Or Die. Such is not the motto of the wishy-washy, or the faint of heart. New Hampshire isn’t very big – 190 miles from top to bottom and no more than 68 miles wide, ranked 46th among the states in area. New Hampshire doesn’t have a lot of people – a little over 1.3 million, ranked 42nd among the states in population. But New Hampshire was the first of the colonies to break away from Great Britain (January 1776); six months later it became one of the original thirteen states and the first to have its own state constitution. Look at some of the outspoken and daring people who have come out of New Hampshire: orator and statesman Daniel Webster (right, 1782-1852); reformer and newspaper editor Horace Greeley (1811-1872); Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910); the first American in space, astronaut Alan Shepard (1923-1998); author of the bestselling and controversial Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (b 1964). These are not people who coasted along on the Status Quo. They had their opinions, and they acted on them. In fact, the opinion of everyone in New Hampshire takes the national spotlight on a recurring basis – with both the New Hampshire primary, and the casting of the first votes in the Presidential election. Only a few delegates are chosen in the New Hampshire primary, but it often changes the face of national politics. Along with the first caucus in Iowa, it is a major testing ground for all party candidates, garnering massive media attention. And then, there’s Dixville Notch. » read more
» posted on Saturday, September 28th, 2013 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Concord, New Hampshire – It was a Thomas Carlyle kind of day. I knew that the moment I saw the sun come up over the Maine woods behind the hotel. So here hath been dawning another blue day. It was crystal clear and the outside air seemed to sparkle; I moved the Scion to the front and began to load up. Carlyle must have seen a similar sunrise when he wrote his poem back in the 1800s. Think! Wilt thou let it slip useless away? That was Carlyle’s admonition and the folks of Maine were paying heed; hundreds of events were scheduled for the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend on this first weekend of autumn. As for me, it was moving day; time to relocate from Augusta, Maine to Concord, New Hampshire, capital city #43. Jack Cat seemed peppy to go, eyes bright and ears alert, but Alex Cat doesn’t read poetry; he chose to disappear under the dark, dusty bed out of my reach, ignoring me as I chanted the poem’s next line. Out of eternity this new day is born. Into eternity at night, will return. Uninspired, he didn’t budge. I called for front desk help; two strong-armed guys came and lifted the mattress. One cat, caught; goodbye to Brenda, goodbye to Matisse; into the car; we’re off. The ramp for I-95 south was just across the street; my plan was to stop at Portland and Kennebunk for a glimpse of both large and small towns on the famous Maine coast. And then, New Hampshire. The road was smooth, the traffic was moderate, the trees were just beginning to color up, and Thomas Carlyle repeated himself: Here hath been dawning another blue day. Think! Wilt thou let it slip useless away? Not me Thomas. Just watch. » read more