Making Serious Eastern Headway

Progressive improvement beats delayed perfection” (Mark Twain)

At times on our leisurely road trips, our days require a “dead  serious” commitment to time/ distance within the confines of the long distances we travel. Beginning on day sixty eight of our present adventure, we now faced three, challenging days of driving along over 1700 miles total along the Interstate 40 corridor.  You might note some symbolism in the following pictures as we  transitioned   from the adobe desert environs of  Santa Fe, New Mexico to our next destination in the blue/green shade of the Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina. 
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 Unforeseen travel challenges now arose as we soon became fully aware of threatening stormy weather forming across the Great Plains/Mississippi  Delta. Routine rest stop visits would now  require vigilant attention to  tornado informational postings. Observing the rapid buildup of low,  black clouds and high wind conditions as we continued into Central Oklahoma, we now realized that such extreme weather conditions in fact lay ahead directly along our projected route. As local weather reports raised further ominous warnings of extended squalls/tornado conditions, our intended two day visit to Oklahoma City would be cut short abruptly with a driving decision to outrace the slow moving front in “storm chasing” fashion. 
 
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With threatening weather  rapidly forming to our west, such  concerns would continue to alarm us as we crossed  the flood swollen rivers of the Mississippi River, for a one night stay in nearby Tunica, Mississippi. Battening down in our motel room for a night of  pounding rain in gale-like conditions, we soon regretfully banished any thoughts of remaining there the next day to sightsee in this historically  interesting yet rain saturated, lowland region.         
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 Our storm weary minds on this leg of our road trip would finally find relief in the picturesque environs of Knoxville Tennessee. Past weather scares in the past would not be negatively dwelled upon to impede the “joy of living now here. 
 
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A minor league baseball game in Oklahoma City provided a relaxed diversion of our minds from the fiery storms lying ahead.
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Along the lowland delta shorelines , we witnessed a surreal scene of outlying land areas immersed underwater by overflow of  Mississippi river floods. 
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A simple diner in Tunica, Mississippi provided a familiar throwback to carefree times  of teenage, soda pop culture in the 1960s. 
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At the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, we observed a prominent focal point of the campus:  Neyland Stadium. Built in 1921 for a seating capacity exceeding 100,000 spectators, this historic arena rekindled memories of marquee, college football bowl games played there. 
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Surprisingly, the gates remained open into the heart of the stadium. Walking up a steep, pedestrian way to the upper deck section, we obtained excellent views of the football field and surrounding Knoxville downtown.
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Downtown Knoxville hosted the World’s Fair in 1982. Our walking tour of World’s Fair Park revealed a continuing commitment by the city to preserve the historic setting of this iconic event.
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The magnolias were in spring bloom as we sauntered near antebellum mansions along the Tennessee River.
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Our morning at the Museum Of East Tennessee History captivated our attention with an  innovative attempt to present authentic artifact displays of cultural/historic trends in this region’s past.
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Downtown Knoxville in late morning was bustling with human activity. At an unforeseen evacuation drill as we exited from  the museum onto Gay  Street, a long motorcycle procession caught our attention. Spotting also then a small park near the museum, crowds gathered in pro- Palestinian protest.
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Santa Fe Sensory Sensations

“The rugged beauty of the Santa Fe landscape is inspiring. The vast blue skies and famous sunsets are deserving of their wide praises. There are charms among the unique architecture that I have not seen anywhere else, the organic shades and curves of adobe buildings strung with ristras and luminarias” (David Padberg)

Feeling reenergized by the cool elevations of Southern Colorado, Ruth and I now traversed canyon lands of high desert for a two day look at Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our ambitious two day agenda of this region would thus begin at Bandelier National Monument. Here we enjoyed a one mile hike through cave strewn Frijoles Canyon to view excavated homelands of the ancestral Pueblo peoples. Meandering by foot through the narrow streets of Santa Fe proper on day two of our visit, we would then sample the pervasive presence of creative shopping artwork, Mexican food delicacies, colorful adobe architecture, and strong religious traditions that made this city such a fascinating visit for us. Enjoy the following photographic display.

At the entrance to Bandalier National Monument, we gazed down at the steep river valley below and then made our way to the Park entrance.

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Our round trip route beginning at the park visitor center would allow us to walk in the footsteps of the Pueblo people who settled here from 1150 to 1600 AD. Passing well preserved ruins of Indian kivas, I sensed the great reverence the Pueblos felt for this sacred place.

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We noticed a line of hole filled caves jutting prominently on dry cliffs along the valley. We headed steeply uphill to examine these cliffs more closely. We soon found steep ladders that led to the openings of several caves. Strenuously  climbing these ladders, we recovered our energy inside several of these caves.

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Our Santa Fe tour would begin primarily outdoors. Driving past the carnival presence of “Meow Wolf” in Santa Fe suburbia, we observed a tantalizing assortment of fantasy sculptures.

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Venturing downtown, we parked near the historic centralized plaza for a relaxing lunch at artwork-filled, “The Shed.” Our enticing list of food items of interest sampled on this culinary tour included the fried dough like  taste of sopapilla and hot spice sensation of red/green chili peppers.

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With an authentic cultural presence of Old Mexico” past in this city, Santa Fe Plaza would prove a worthwhile place for a slow siesta rest.

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Entering adobe lined souvenir shops/ art galleries near Santa Fe Plaza, a variety of unusual shopping displays mesmerize our attention.

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Spanish Catholicism provides a historic legacy in Santa Fe’s development as a city. At the “Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi” we took a breathtaking look at the ornate interior of this historic Romanesque cathedral.

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San Miguel Chapel would become another landmark of religious interest along our Santa Fe downtown tour. Documented as the oldest church in the continental United States from the early 1600s, we impressively noticed well preserved, historic relics as well as portions of  the original church walls.

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The cool and forest lined walking route along the Santa Fe River would provide a welcome break from the mid afternoon heat on our city tour. As we exited our parked car, I noticed a serene waterfall spot along the trail to mediate in “inner silence.”

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The roundhouse configuration of the New Mexico State Capitol seemed more like an art museum than a government complex on  the last stop of our Santa Fe visit. With few restrictions about touring the Capital grounds or interior on our own, we roamed freely to view extraordinary sculptures/ quilt works here from the Capitol Art Collection on this visit.

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Fireside Chat In Sedona Revisited

“The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937)

CURRENT ROAD TRIP OVERVIEW

The following entry describes our recent stay in Sedona, Arizona on days 57-60 of our current spring road trip as well as an edited repost from our Sedona visit from similar dates in 2018. On both visits, our convenient motel setting in nearby Oak Creek offered excellent panoramas of surrounding mountains as well as a multitude of walking trails nearby.

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Desiring to get a closer look at “vortexed” mountains again on our most recent stop off, a late afternoon walk along the three mile, Little Horse Trail would capture the strong positive energy emanating from Courthouse Rock up close then. Seeking additional sources of self enlightenment on this visit, we would slowly settle into Buddhistic solitude at the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park on a remote hillside above the town. We would also make time for our annual stop at  the Center for the New Age Center downtown where we scanned the vast collection of self empowering books and crystals/gemstone collections there. As storms moved through the Sedona area frequently on this visit, we felt content to spend the remainder of our time here enjoying relaxing free time in our motel room. Note that the photographs and video presented below derive from our most recent Sedona visit.

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2018 REPOST OVERVIEW

I take notice here of March 12, 1933 as the date when the first “Fireside Chat” of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) was nationally broadcast by radio into American living rooms across the country. In this telecast, FDR expressed sincere warmth and concern for the American family at a time of great, economic crisis. It follows that I could imagine him giving a similarly informal speech to amass public support for a “New Deal” plan to protect environmentally endangered lands throughout the country. For the content of his speech, I envision him powerfully sharing with his radio listeners the Sedona setting of mystically red rock mountains as captured in the following video.

FDR SPEECH?

My Friends:
I want to talk to you for a few minutes about a place of extraordinary natural beauty. As I stand amongst the majestic, red rock valley of Sedona Arizona today, I see an impressive work of “Mother Nature” here that should inspire warm thoughts in every American heart. Let me demonstrate why.

First, turn off the volume on your radio. Do you hear the silence? Imagine such a quiet place as I’ve found in Sedona that allows you to clear your mind from confusions of your modern day life. You might savor small events here like a blue bird passing by or a brief rustle of wind. Or you might breathe deeply then and appreciate the purity of the clean air as I have experience. You might gain great positive energy as you gaze wondrously at the crystalline sparkle of a steep mountain ridge as well.

Now imagine you are standing on a sacred soil of our Indian ancestors as I am. You must realize that these Native Americans worshipped the natural beauty of their western homelands in order to survive. Without such spiritual beliefs, how else would they have found food, water, and shelter? They knew no other way.

Gaze out your living room window and picture your yard or nearby street as an aspiring artist would. Would shades of color and nuances of shapes influence your mood then? I want you now to imagine feeling such similar artistries of nature in one’s mind as I do in Sedona today.

The lesson seems clear. Do we take  our land, air, and water for granted? Take notice, my friends that finding greater appreciation of “Mother Nature” is not just your problem to solve but ours together. As your leader, I can reassure you that I will supply the proper machinery to help protect and preserve your country’s precious natural resources. So let us work together and carry on with confidence and courage to carry out our glorious plan.

MY SOURCE

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5199

In Awe Of Creviced Canyons

Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops Sail o’er the canyons and up to the stars And reach for the heavens and hope for the future And all that we can be and not what we are.” (John Denver)

On day 55 of our spring road trip, we left Las Vegas traveling eastward on Interstate 15 in mid morning. Entering the rugged canyon lands of Southern Utah, two lane, curvy roads would be a more challenging drive yet motivate us to detour for several hours to sightsee/hike in Zion National Park in the afternoon. Driving south determinedly for two more hours after Zion, we at last settled into our latest Air B&B destination in Page, Arizona at dusk for some much needed rest. Our next two days in this tourist friendly town would thus provide a convenient spot for exploring the famed canyon landforms and engineering marvels of the Lake Powell watershed. The grand finale on this canyon leg of our road trip journey spontaneously happened in our decision to stop along the Grand Canyon South Rim on the way to our next destination, Sedona, Arizona. Enjoy the following photographic displays from each of these stunningly beautiful locations.

ZION NATIONAL PARK

Private vehicles are restricted into the interior of Zion National Park. So we hopped on the free shuttle at the Visitor Center along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to experience spectacular views of immensely steep cliffs along both sides of the tram.

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Stepping off the tram for a look at the Human History Museum, I became immediately mesmerized by multicolored layers of ancient rock on a steep cliff opposite the tram stop.

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We exited again at the last stop of the tram circuit to enjoy a short hike along the rushing waters of the Virgin River to the beginning of the famed “Narrows” region.

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PAGE, ARIZONA

Spectacular views of Glenn Canyon Recreation area overlooking Lake Powell captivated our attention near Page at Horseshoe Bend and Glen Canyon Dam Overlook.

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A leisurely drive north along the Lake Powell perimeter road brought us a closer view of the waters below. At Wahweap, we hiked down a boulder strewn beach to relax amidst the gently lapping shores.

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Booking the mandatory tour of Lower Antelope Canyon, we descended deeply into a maze of spectacularly visual caverns. At times, the surreal rock and light show down there caused me to act a bit goofy.

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CAMERON, ARIZONA

We stopped at an Navaho Trading Post along Route 89 on the way to Grand Canyon. Here I noticed a distinct nostalgia for the “Old West on surrounding murals.

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GRAND CANYON SOUTH RIM

We entered the the Grand Canyon at the inconspicuous east entrance along Highway 64. At nearby Desert View Overlook area, we ascended to the top of the Watchtower for breathtaking views of the enormous depths descending down the surrounding canyon. This vantage point also offered clear views of the Colorado River flowing wildly in its narrow chasm.

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Driving along the rim to the west, we made time for a tourist popular stop at the Park Visitor Center where we hiked briefly to famous Mather Point Overlook. Here I focused my attention on the surrounding high plateau vegetation and upper reaches of the canyon.

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The Grand Canyon holds great meaning for the long existing Indian tribes there. At various overlooks along the South Rim, I noted authentic signs of their “sacred”  connection to this beautiful place.

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Reviving My Vegas Mojo

No one thinks Las Vegas is real; it is illusion, but visitors willingly suspend disbelief and pretend” (Hal Rothman)

“The secret of Vegas is that money is boring. Hence all the bluster.” (Jace Clayton)

Let’s face reality. I never will “buy into” the idea of finding a stroke of good luck at the casino gambling table. I’m bored with the repetitive task of pulling slot machines with infrequent payoff success. Dense crowds, stifling heat, and traffic gridlock along the Las Vegas strip seem harder to tolerate in my increasing quest to find peace and serenity in retirement. I rarely stay in one place long enough to consider a time share as well.

So why did I bother to convince my wife to schedule Las Vegas as a featured road trip destination this spring? To answer this perplexing question, I would observe some new perspectives of Las Vegas charm explored by day/ night on our current four day stay there. The following photographic display thus reveals eight self- uplifting perspectives about Vegas for me beyond its gambling reputation.

1. Embrace Changes In Self Identification

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2. Behold A Welcoming Oasis Spirit

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3. Immerse Mind in Sensory Overload

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4. Leave Neurotic Fears Behind

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5. Have Fun Getting Lost On The Strip

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6. Seek Health Cures In Non Traditional Ways

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7. Fulfill Travel “Bucket List” In Vegas

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8. Embrace Illusions That Old Heroes Never Die

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Dim Sum, Dogs, and Dodgers

“In Los Angeles, everyone is a star.” (Denzel Washington)

In spite of our pre-planned itineraries, Ruth and I love the idea of finding unintended surprises on our long road trips. In spite of the predictable annoyances of smog filled air, wall cluttered graffiti, and endless freeway gridlock, the greater Los Angeles area, however, typically provides for us a multitude of spontaneous pleasures. Seemingly influenced by So Cal’s illustrious, media entertainment reputation, three scheduled destinations on days 47-50 of our current road trip thus provided us with heartwarming episodes of PG movie potential in unexpected fashion. With such family entertainment themes on our LA visit in mind, I thus present the following, self made videos below and accompanying photographs.

Scene 1 – Cute Puppy Starved For Love

On our three day stay with friends Jennie and Tommie in Thousand Oaks, we found amusing entertainment in the warm company of their son’s Schnauzer puppy, Archie. Always demanding our immediate attention, Archie’s playful antics put on quite a talented show for us.

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Scene 2 – Authentic Chinese Eating Encounter

In the colorfully cavernous dining area of NBC Seafood Restaurant in Monterey Park, we indulged in a unique variety of Dim Sum delights served off roving carts by eagerly attentive waiters. Seemingly oblivious to this spectacle of boisterous server flair, closely knit Asian families of young and old, dined slowly and shared quality time around circular tables.

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Scene 3- Dodgers Winning Fever

With Clayton Kershaw on the mound in combination with a Bobblehead giveaway at the ballpark, we found good reason to purchase reasonably priced, upper deck tickets for Saturday night game at Dodger Stadium. Joining into the wild enthusiasm of the hometown crowd, we enjoyed the “nail biting suspense” of a Los Dodgers win in comeback fashion.”

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Pacific Coastline Dreaminess

“To the shore Follow! Oh, follow! To be at rest forevermore!” (James Russell Lowell)

In our three weeks traveling south along route 1 in coastal California on the midpoint “leg”of our 2019 road trip, I’ve covered in three previous blogs the highlights of our featured beachside destinations. In the following poem I’ve composed with accompanying photographs, I now present a concluding tribute to a region that has again filled my heart and mind with lasting images of meditative goodness as a result of this unforgettable travel experience. Namaste.

In Pacific Coast landscape my heart longs for more, as there’s will to seek solace along desolate shore. As west winds flow so freely like trains from the sky, pay heed to young surfer for his wave lifting high. With eons of stones perhaps I’ll strike gold, yet just one tiny pebble can trigger my life changing mold. Let’s trod a path down cliff steeply to find pure nature’s thrill, and caress unspoiled beach in spite of dusk chill. These dizzying curves that I drive mindfully in motion, strike firm will to return, thus fullfilling my west coast emotion.

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Strong Touch Of Earth Day Spirit

“In nature, nothing exists alone.”(Rachel Carson, 1962)

It’s Earth Day again for Ruth and I on our third, extended road trip stay in close proximity to the Central California coastline. Unsurprisingly, our attendance at a Sunday Earth Day Festival on a blue sky filled, sunny afternoon at Cambria would offer strong evidence of how this region strongly respects Earth Day initiatives of enhanced environmental awareness, endangered animal protection, and the sustainable resource use on earth. Thus gathering my thoughts from this event and our most recent excursions throughout Central Coast California, the following self made video and photographic display in the ensuing paragraphs thus attempt to reveal to my readers the critical need to support such Earth Day initiatives.

At Limekiln State Park along the Pacific Coast Highway, we hiked amidst primarily second growth Redwood trees to the remnants of large kilns. The entire Redwood forest here was once cut and burned in the late 1800s in these stone ovens to make way for lime and wood exporting operations. More recently downed trees that we observed on our walk had been ravaged by climate change and uncontrolled fire.

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Thousands of elephant seals migrate to the Beach rookery near San Simeon, California. Walking along the boardwalk to gawk at these amusing creatures, we learned how humans once hunted their blubber for their oil to the brink of extinction. Now protected as a species, these endangered marine animals today face recent threats from invasive human contact and ocean affected, climate change.

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The Thursday night Farmers Market in downtown San Luis Obispo tantalized our taste buds with a large display of locally grown, fresh fruit and vegetables. With great interest, we also learned that such California produce sold here would most likely be grown pesticide free. In fact, the state of California has recently moved strongly to ban consumer sales of food products exposed to poisonous pesticide spraying. Where does your state stand here?

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Who would have thought that a local shop, “Beads By  The Bay” in Morro Bay would house a sunlit, outdoor cove in the back of the store filled with succulent organic plants, rare rock collections, and an herb shrouded fountain?  Sitting quietly amidst this treasured garden as my wife shopped for beads, I felt warmly spiritual here admiring these uplifting natural surroundings.

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Our morning outing to the Earth Day Festival at Greenspace Creekside Reserve In downtown Cambria would provide vivid evidence that Earth Day’s importance is alive and well in this environmentally activist community. As outsiders from South Florida, we enjoyed gaining a Central California perspective through informal expert discussions and acoustic guitar music about how to get involved in environmental education, advocacy, and action.

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On a personal level, I learned from this festival to become more cognizant of some simple reminders to make Earth Day an every day occurrence in my life.

Plant something to feel the healing power of nature

Let my voice be heard for environmental preservation

Volunteer/contribute donations for endangered animal protection

Buy reusable items to avoid wasteful action.

Get produce organically from a local farmer’s market

Conserve fossil fuel energy use and go solar.

Boosts of California Coastal Energy

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”(Albert Einstein)

As Ruth and I reached the midpoint of our current road trip adventure, we rejoiced in our return again to the captivating Pacific Coast shores of Central California. Beginning with a three day slowdown in “surftown” Santa Cruz, we would slowly make our way south along steep cliff-side curves of the famed “Pacific Coast Highway” to quaint Cambria for a well needed, ten day respite from the daily rigors of road road travel.

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Would you like to feel suddenly calmer and more contented now? Notice then the positive energy emanating in the following photographs as we immersed ourselves into the stunning natural beauty of our coastal shore visit. Feel the cool bark of my spontaneous hug of an ancient Redwood tree that so proudly lives on for centuries in a densely primeval forest. Savor the smooth textures of a colorfully interesting rock that we patiently examine on a secluded beach. Walk daringly with us along a steep, roadside cliff for a better view of the mountainside plunge to the aqua blue ocean below. Feel the rush of cool air as we stand silently amidst a beautiful cascade of rushing waterfalls.

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In beach touristy Santa Cruz, a three day stay at a cozy cottage close by our longtime friends Bobbi and John would first spark carefree visions of adolescent freedom and innocent play” in the late 1960s. A touristic jaunt around town, however, would spark more serious interest in the town’s illustrious historical past.

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We first entered the Pacific Coast Highway from the north as the nightly fog invitingly began to lift in mid morning. Stopping frequently at bridge turnoffs, we savored for over twenty miles the stunning views of cliffside coves along the sea on our right.

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At the midpoint of our PCH drive near mile marker twenty five, we stopped at the “Redwood” shrouded town of Big Sur for lunch at the Ripplewood Resort Cafe. A curious bit of rock hunting and bird watching here then would captivate our attention here.

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Two miles south of Big Sur, we entered Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Here we were greeted by a wild turkey as we began an easy, two mile hike along the River Gorge Trail. Notably making our way alongside this gentle stream, we passed an old Homestead Cabin. Reaching the Trail terminus at the base of the gorge, I admired the attraction of fluttering butterflies amidst this bubbling calmness.

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Passing the oasis rest stops of Lucia and Gorda, the forty nine mile drive to Ragged Point became more noticeably steep and winding. Spring flowers blooming prolifically along this road stretch above the aqua blue sea thus revealed endless photo opportunities.

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While immensely enjoying the challenging drive of the PCH today, the late afternoon arrival at our Air B&B lodging in Cambria brought us a welcoming calmness.

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“Here & Now” Welcome By The Bay

DThe Bay Area is so beautiful, I hesitate to preach about heaven while I’m here.” —(Billy Graham)

“Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every house a poem, every dweller within immortal. This is the whole truth.” (William Saroyan)

It’s easy to feel lost in the cool fogginess of the San Francisco Bay Area. Compounding one’s confusion, the gridlocked traffic entering and leaving along bridges and mountainside towns can further discourage one’s touristic enjoyment. In spite of these uncontrollable obstacles, the natural beauties , historical landmarks, and cultural vitalities of this region would unmistakably serve for Ruth and I as a captivating series of now moment “highs” during days 30-36 of our spring road trip. With seemingly little time to write on each action-filled day, I resigned to take a break from blogging for one week to allot more time to capture S.F. sensory stimulations enhanced by way of photography. Enjoy the following presentation as expressed in various categories of personal interest.

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OPENING WEEKEND BASEBALL SERIES – ORACLE PARK

While the current San Francisco Giants presently are not performing well on the field, we relished the opportunity to purchase two affordable tickets behind home plate on a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon. In fact, this slow moving pitching duel on the field seemed somewhat secondary to the historic designs of the ballpark as well as the beautiful panorama of the surrounding bay and downtown skyline from our seats.

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MAKING TIME FOR S.F. COMPANIONSHIP

We enjoyed a relaxing day with our close friend Dan, who lives quietly with his two dogs at his “artsy” downtown apartment along a steep hill. Stepping curiously into his patio, I witnessed fantastic views of the distant bay and surrounding downtown skyline. We then accompanied Dan for a relaxing lunch at the popular indoor mall at the historic Ferry Building nearby Embarcadero Plaza. Strolling further along this Eastern waterfront shoreline, I gained a historically authentic sense of S.F. “then and now”.

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A HISTORIC ENIGMA OF DIVERSITY AT ANGEL ISLAND

Opting to skip popular Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay on this vacation, we instead hopped a short ferry ride from Tiburon harbor to remote Angel Island. From the State Park Visitor Center a rigorous uphill walk led us to the old U.S. Immigration Station. Functioning as a west coast version of N.Y.’s Ellis Island, thousands of immigrants entered the United States here from 1910-1940. Our brief tour of this facility, would offer an authentic look at the harsh treatment of Chinese families in particular, who were detained here indefinitely in cold and cramped barracks then. A closer look at walls inscribed with detainee poems of desperation provided further evidence of of this sadly racist era in America history.

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CULINARY DELIGHTS FILL THE SHORELINE AIR

The open air atmosphere of food offerings along Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 41 provided a tantalizing opportunity to satisfy our sensory induced appetite to our heart’s content.

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A CREATIVE IMPULSE TO FEEL JAZZ GROOVE

On the other side of the Bay at refurbished Jack London Square in Oakland, Yoshi’s provides a classy scene of live jazz. Hearing the Tommy Igoe Big Band perform brilliantly the classic hits of legendary drummer, Buddy Rich would thus provide an excitably memorable moment in our Bay Area visit.

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A FITTING TIME TO FEEL SENTIMENTAL IN S.F.

My wife and I celebrated our newly joined marriage in December, 1974 at the Hyatt Regency, San Francisco on Embarcadero Square. A brief revisit to this honeymoon hotel with our friend Dan would provide vivid memories to share with him of those loving times.

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