‘5 Star Posts’ Category

 

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

 
 
 

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

 
 
 

Somewhat Contradictory

27 highrises from park unitedLinda Burton posting from Hartford, Connecticut – Hartford’s nickname is Insurance Capital of the World, you’ve heard that before. On my first drive-through of this 46th capital city on the Journey Across America, I was surrounded by sparkling highrise office buildings. UnitedHealthcare was spelled out across the top of one; the others I didn’t catch; I was concentrating on street turns to get to the capitol grounds. Ornate Victorian reflected against stark modern 27 highrises from parkin the waning afternoon sun that lit up the gold; gold on the trees; gold on the capitol dome. A pleasant sight; but somewhat contradictory; a mass of intersecting freeways cut through the city, yet the spacious grounds of Bushnell Park were serene; I could hear music, a concert of some kind, from across the tree-lined streets. Mark Twain lived here, back in the 1800s, and once said of Hartford “Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see, this is the chief.” I parked at the side of the capitol and struck out under the trees, kicking leaves, and looking both ways – at the old, and the new. Hartford is one of the oldest cities in the country; Dutch explorers came through in 1613; English settlers arrived in 1635; it was named Hartford in 1637. Samuel Stone, one of the original settlers, chose the 27 twainname to honor his home town of Hertford, England. Hartford is home to the nation’s oldest public art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum; the oldest public park, Bushnell Park; the oldest continuously published newspaper, The Hartford Courant. Some famous residents were author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) who lived next door to Mark Twain (1835-1910); dictionary author Noah Webster (1758-1843); inventor Sam Colt (1814-1862), financier J P Morgan (1837-1913), and poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955). So what is the contradictory part? » read more

 
 
 

Messing Things Up

21 state houseLinda Burton posting from Providence, Rhode Island —Changing the status quo can be messy. And Roger Williams (1603-1683) messed things up wherever he went. Roger didn’t mean to create problems, he meant to simplify. At least, that’s the way it’s interpreted now. Now he’s deemed a hero, a fighter for freedom, and, no small accomplishment – the founder of Rhode Island. The Roger Williams National Memorial, operated by the National Park Service, occupies 4.5 acres in downtown Providence, near the corner of Smith and North Main. The Rhode Island State House is just across the easy-flowing Moshassuck River, an impressive sight through the October-gold of the park’s trees. A pot of yellow mums sat by the building’s door; inside, a solemn wooden statue in patriotic blues and golds held a book. I started with the overview movie of Roger Williams’ life; I browsed 21 williams statuethe exhibits, and the gift shop. The Park Ranger gave me a walking map, marking spots in Providence that were important to the Roger Williams story. Enough time inside; I headed for the First Baptist Church in America, a few blocks down Main Street. I passed the Hahn Memorial along the way, and the spring that was discovered by Roger Williams in the 1600s. Roger built his house nearby (although it no longer exists); that fresh-water spring sustained not only Roger and his family, but the settlers that followed. Judge Jacob Hahn donated the land for the park, and the memorial, 21 spring entranceto the city of Providence in 1931; it was given in honor of his father Isaac Hahn, the first person of Jewish faith to be elected to public office from Providence. These items offer hints of what Roger Williams stood for, and that was “freedom of conscience.” Should I start at the beginning, or the end? » read more

 
 
 

Greener Is The Grass

09 boston skyline 4Linda Burton posting from Boston, Massachusetts The other side of the fence. During my days in New Hampshire almost everyone asked “Where are you headed next?” And when I answered “Boston” I noticed eyes light up; suggestions poured forth as to what I should see, how I would love it, how they love it. Ending with “I wish I lived in Boston now.” “It still takes my breath away,” said someone I met in the New Hampshire State House, “when I round that curve and see the Boston skyline ahead of me.” Many claimed Boston as their birthplace; regaling me with tales of Fenway Park and 09 fenway signmemories of baseball games; Ted Williams, Roger Clemens, Carl Yastrzemski. The Sox Nation extends far north into New Hampshire; that’s for sure. With the Red Sox in the playoffs, the New Hampshire passion pulsated loud and clear. The Tampa Bay Rays came to Boston to play; as I rounded a curve on the New Hampshire freeway last Friday a flashing highway sign caught my attention. “Go” was the first line of warning; I expected to see notice of a detour, or road work. But the second line was “Red Sox,” followed by another “Go.” It made me smile. Today 09 trees hillswas my day to “Go” as I moved south from Concord, New Hampshire to Boston, capital city #44 on the Journey. It was less than 70 miles of smooth sailing on a freeway bordered by that famous New England foliage; traffic was moderate. Until I hit the Massachusetts line. And what did I see? Droves of cars headed north, straight into New Hampshire! Here in Boston tonight, the weather report focused on where to go in New Hampshire this weekend, to revel in fabulous autumn scenery. Sounds like a “grass is greener” kind of thing. » read more

 
 
 

Hardy As A Rock

30 nh rocksLinda 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 30 daniel websterHampshire 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 30 dixville voting 4takes 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