» 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 Friday, May 25th, 2012 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – A person can’t hear the word “Idaho” without the word “potato” inserting itself into consciousness, at least, subconsciously. While it’s true that Idaho soil is just right for potato growing, the real “potato story” is bigger than that, and centers itself in Boise. The average person (not living in Boise) may not be familiar with the name J R Simplot. You can read about him on any list of billionaires though. And something you probably eat every day is something you have because of something this man did. He’s something!
John Richard (J R) Simplot was born in 1909 in Dubuque, Iowa but his family moved to Idaho the next year, homesteading in the newly irrigated Magic Valley. J R quit school and left home at age 14, striking out on his own as a farmhand. At the time of his death at 99, he was the oldest billionaire on the Forbes 400. What did this man do in those intervening 85 years? Hint: his license plate read “Mr Spud.” » read more
» posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2012 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – Boise is for bicycles. And not just during the ExergyTWENTY12 event that’s bringing world-class cyclists into town this week. Ordinary folks are out there every day, on the streets and on the pathways, going ordinary places on their bikes. Like Ed, the retiree who volunteers at the State Capitol. “I ride my bike almost everywhere I go. I can hardly stand getting in a car anymore,” he said. He figures he rides about 200 miles a week. And like Terry, a part of the American Heritage Trolley Tour I took. Standing by the map on the back of my car, Terry pointed out the route he and his daughter took in the summer of 1992 when they biked across the USA. Daughter Lyalka was 14, Dad Terry was 44. They departed from Florence, Oregon and arrived in Long Island, New York 43 days later, Pacific to Atlantic. “People made a fuss over her,” Terry told me. “Bicycling across the country at 14. They should have been making a fuss over me. I was doing it at 44!” When I asked how they trained for the trip, he said they didn’t; they were already bike riders, so they just went. “You don’t have to be an athlete to do something like that,” he said.
Or, you can be an athlete, and a professional, like Boisean Kristin Armstrong, leader of the Exergy TWENTY12 Team, who brought home Olympic Gold from Beijing in 2008, and is aiming for London this year. How she got into cycling is a rather unusual story. » read more
» posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – “Look at me,” the Capitol Guide said. “I’m old. And your parents will get old. Someday this will be up to you.” He was speaking to a 4th-grade class from Twin Falls, seated in the Chambers of the House; each one perched at a representatives desk; school in session, big time. He waved his pointer stick around the room. “One of those desks could be yours someday. All these legislators were kids one day, just like you.” The children seemed attentive, perhaps a little doubtful though. The guide continued, “You need an education. Study everything you can. Read. But do you know the most important thing that you can do? Pay attention to what is going on.” Well gee, I thought, that’s what I’ve always said to kids. Pay attention. Study everything you can. I liked this Guide, a Capitol Volunteer. He wasn’t giving kids the “history talk,” he was giving them the “future walk.” I heard him say as I headed toward the Governor’s Office, “If you’re not able to go to college, don’t let that stop you. You do the best you can.” » read more
» posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – In Monopoly, you scowl when your token lands on that unlucky space marked “Go To Jail;” you do not collect $200; you move directly into Jail. Your turn is up. Land on the “Jail” space in the ordinary course of play and you are Just Visiting; life is good. The Old Idaho Penitentiary off Warm Springs Road has lots of folks “just visiting” these days; the former territorial prison closed for good in 1973 after more than a hundred years of housing the “bad guys” and a few “bad women” too. Now a part of Idaho history, the Idaho Historical Society has it open to the public; it is a designated National Historic Site. A family bought their tickets just ahead of me; the parents and two girls, a teen and what looked to be a ten-year-old, a pretty little blond. The first exhibit room had costumes and a camera stand; put on the stripes and pose before a blackout screen; or stand behind the bars. The little girl did both; dramatic scenes; she pulled a look of anguish out; I heard the camera click. The teen played cell phone games, not much impressed. Just visiting. I headed for the gate into the Yard. “Don’t miss Siberia,” the lady selling tickets said. “It’s the worst.” » read more
» posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – The Trolley stopped so we could see the carriage step, a charming bit of history that remains on Warm Springs Avenue. Our Tour Guide told us stories of the stately houses that we passed; the first bathtub in this one; the first dishwasher in that one; the geothermal heat in all. There’s a new house on the corner where the Natatorium once stood, it was a warm-water pool, geothermal heat. As we passed the capitol on our Trolley ride, it was mentioned once again – the only capitol in the United States with geothermal heat. So where, I asked, is this hot water? I’ve been to Yellowstone; I’ve seen the geysers and the steaming bubbling pools, favored spots for buffalo in winter snows. I’ve been to Hot Springs National Park; I’ve seen the bathhouses there, favored spots for people seeking soothing waters to ease their aches and pains. Magic waters, underground, where are they in Idaho, and how do people harness them? They come “right from Hades,” printed the Idaho Statesman in December 1890, referring to an artesian well just drilled west of Table Rock. » read more
» posted on Sunday, May 20th, 2012 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho –Wine. Wineries. Viticulture. This seems to be the up and coming thing in this part of Idaho. I wanted to see a real-life Idaho vineyard and according to the internet 3 Horse Ranch was open for tasting this Sunday afternoon. Off the freeway and traveling north, I passed open fields on both sides of the road, sprinklers going everywhere. “Turn right on Chaparral,” said GPS. I left the numbered highway; drove a few miles more; came to gravel then. A sign verified 3 Horse Ranch ahead, I wasn’t lost. So I proceeded, 15 mph. The hills have narrowed in; the valley’s tight; cattle grazed behind a fence. A rabbit ran in front of me, some little critters too, ground squirrels, perhaps? Quail in pairs danced across the road, a brilliant yellow bird flew by, a hawk with purpose circled overhead. Around a curve a house sat on a hill; and spread across the lowest slopes, rows and rows of vines. This must be it, I thought, and pulled into the parking lot; my dust caught up as I stepped out. » read more
» posted on Saturday, May 19th, 2012 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – “She’s on the 4th floor,” I was told by the gift shop manager, and I headed for the elevator right away, eager to visit Nike of Samothrace, aka The Winged Victory. I already knew the story of this 11-foot-high replica-of-a-statue-depicting-a-goddess who sits in the Idaho State Capitol; today I’m here for pictures. She is a heroic figure, even though her head is missing and so are her arms. Her pose conveys a sense of action and triumph; her wings are extended as though descending from the sky; her draped garments appear to be rippling, as though in a strong sea breeze. I got several shots, from either side. I’ve read that the original marble was created in (about) 300 BC to honor not only the goddess Nike, but to honor a sea battle too; sculptor unknown. Now one of the most celebrated statues in the world, Nike was lost for centuries; then discovered in 1863; and has stood in the Louvre since 1884. So how did this plaster replica wind up in Boise, Idaho? » read more
» posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – You’ve heard people say, with kind of a smirk, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can sure buy things that make you happy.” Add to that the age-old axiom “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” and I’ve got a story for you that ties the two together in a way that will make you a believer. Money, and birds. Back in 2003, a man by the name of Kevin Suedmeyer was in charge of planning a Field Meet for the North American Falconers Association to be held in Amarillo, Texas. Now, Kevin knew that a man by the name of Ken Riddle had worked in Abu Dhabi for a long time, where he directed a world-renowned falcon hospital. And that Dr Riddle had done this at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Zayed, President of the United Arab Emirates (portrait left), who was a life-long practicing falconer. Kevin asked Ken if he could help to obtain an authentic Bedu hunting tent for display at the meet. So what does this have to do with Boise, Idaho? » read more
» posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Boise, Idaho – Who could get a standing O before he even said a word? Jerry Seinfeld, to be sure. He ran onto the stage, went past the mike, then stopped, and turned, and crazily assumed an almost-chicken pose, a rooster walk; one foot in the air behind, his head extended to the front, a Kramer kind of move. The crowd jumped up and down, we jiggle danced in happiness. Jerry’s here and we will laugh tonight, for sure. And so we did. He talked for 90 minutes straight, every word hilarious. Every single word. What did he talk about? Nothing. His trademark topic. Nothing. I laughed so hard the muscles of my face just quit on me, gave up, not used to that. I finally had to settle for a belly laugh behind a neutral look. The man behind me stuck to words; “Awesome,” he repeated, again and again. I’m sitting on Row I, the 15th seat; and I can see just fine; as Jerry paces to and fro on the stage of the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts at Boise State University; two thousand people packed it full tonight. » read more