Saturday, February 28, 2015

Boston, MA

 Boston, Massachusetts
September 29, 2014
We decided to walk the Freedom Trail while in Boston. The Freedom Trail is a 2 1/2 mile tour that highlights people, events, and places during the American Revolution.
 The trail is well marked by bricks, placards, and signs so one may start at any point. However, most tourists start at the Boston Common where one may obtain maps, water, etc.
New State House, built in 1798, is located on the top of Beacon Hill. The land was once owned by John Hancock.  The dome was originally made out of wood shingles but a copper sheath covered by 23 karat gold was added to prevent leaks into the State House. 
 The part of Boston that we visited was a constant contrast of old and new.
Ben Franklin statue marks the entrance to the site of the first public school in America. Four signers of the Declaration of Independence attended the school: Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine. Interestingly, Franklin never graduated.   
 Which is more stubborn? I vote for the one on the right.
 Old and new.
The red brick building is the Old State House. It was here that the Declaration of Independence was first read to the Massachusetts public from the balcony (under the flag) in 1776. Just outside the State House is a circle of cobblestones that commemorates the  Boston Massacre, when tensions between colonists and British soldiers erupted, resulting in the death of five members of the colonies.
Faneuil Hall. The building hosted America's first town meeting and became a landmark for expressing discontent over Royal oppression. It was here that Bostonians protested, "no taxation without representation." 
The former home of Paul Revere (made famous by Rush Limbaugh) is the oldest building in downtown Boston (built in 1680). Revere is famous for his midnight ride to Lexington, informing that the British were coming.
Sacred Heart Italian Church in 1833 served as a seaman's church. Among the worshipers there were Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In 1884, a group of Italian immigrants purchased the building and in 1888, it was named the Sacred Heart. Now it is known as the Sacred Heart Italian Church. 

Statue of Paul Revere close to the Old North Church. I had to add this picture as one time an acquaintance said that I really didn't take a blog's pictures because he never saw a picture of Christine or me. Well, we were there. 

Saint Stephen's.
 In 1774, the church was the Middle Street Meeting House; serving the New North Congregational Society, of which Paul Revere and his father were members. In 1862, the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston acquired the church and renamed it Saint Stephen's.
The Old North Church.
Atop the church is where Robert Newman held two lanterns as a signal to Paul Revere that the British were coming by sea, not land. Thus the phrase: “One if by land, two if by sea,” and the beginning of the American Revolution. 

Inside the church, the "pews" were cubicles that held a family unit. (And you think we are odd for sitting in the same pew every Sunday.) The cubicles had the family names as markers. The enclosures helped to diminish wicked drafts.
Plaque inside commemorating Major John Pitcairn. Hope you can read it. 
Back in the days when the pulpits were high above the congregation.
Church organ pipes. Would loved to have heard the organ being played.

The Newman Window.
The window through which Robert Newman left the church after displaying the two signal lanterns on April 18, 1775. It holds the "Third Lantern" lit by President Ford on April 18, 1975. The third lantern was introduced as a new signal to call the nation to renewed effort and renewed hope in our Third Century. 
May it burn brightly.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island
September 28, 2014
 Claiborne Pell Bridge and Rose Island Lighthouse.
Across from our docking pier was Fort Adams State Park. Fort Adams had a long military history but now is more of a tourist attraction.
Before we started on our walking tour of Newport, we explored the ship. One of the novelty items was a see-through walk built over the ship and water.   
It was eerie walking on "thin ice" above everything.
Christine loved the walk, I skirted most of it and took pictures from a safe distance.
The walking tour started just a few blocks into town at the "center". The most famous street was Thames Street. At the point where we were, we could turn right and explore the historic shopping stores, or turn left and see historic early colonial houses. We turned left.
 Thames Street is not very long but packed with old historical houses. Most of the houses that had a plaque on front were built in the 1700's.
Joseph C. House, valued at over $600,000 so I will not mention the home values on this street again.

David Broman House, 1706.
15 Thames Street is now the Thames Street Guest House
My budget guest house.

 Our leisurely walk allowed us time to smell the flowers.
I like the laid back porch theme. I wonder if it is just decoration.
The Newport train depot, like many, is now just a tourist attraction.

Nice way to end a relaxing day.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New England Cruise--New York

September 27, 2014
From Brooklyn Pier, New York, looking at lower Manhattan, Freedom Tower, Battery Park.
(Our 2015 bike tours do not start until March 14, so I have some fillers until the rides start).
We had landed at La Guardia Airport, took a transfer bus to the Brooklyn pier, settled into our stateroom and stepped out onto the balcony. There were some great views from our balcony.    
 Statue of Liberty
 Staten Island Ferry
I didn't know it at the time, but the Staten Island Ferry is free and moves 22 million passengers a year between Whitehall in Manhattan and St. George in Staten Island.
 Lower Manhattan skyline.
 Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground, Manhattan Bridge beyond
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
We go under the Verrazano suspension bridge as we leave the Narrows at the entrance to New York harbor. It links the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Pilot boats lead cruise ships into and out of harbors, and just to be on the safe side, "pilot birds" lead us safely out to sea.
Sunset as we leave New York sailing toward Newport, Rhode Island.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mt. Locke Race, Fort Davis

 Mt. Locke Race
McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, Texas
The McDonald Observatory is at an altitude of 6,790 feet but is not normally in the clouds. However, this day was extremely foggy. 
 Our first clue of the fog was the landscape just out of Fort Davis.
 Staging area for the 7.5 mile race. At this altitude, the fog wasn't too bad. However, the racers' destination can be seen only by squinting one's eyes and looking just to the right of the center. The very white domes of the Ottto Struve and Harlan J. Smith telescopes can barely be seen.
 Brian and Rick at the Visitor's Center staging area. Brian and Rick decided to race the 1.5 mile from this location. In the past, they have been in the 7.5 mile pack.
 Fog was getting worse. The courtesy vans taking spectators to the top were not operating this time. So Christine and I decided to walk up the road a short distance and wait for the riders to come by.
 Riders started appearing from the thick mist.  
 It was hard to identify the riders as they were traveling pretty fast and were blurred. I thought I spotted Rick so took a shot right fast.
 Sure enough, it was Rick. I poised for another shot and waited, but I never did identify Brian.
 After the 1.5 mile racers went by, we decided to pack it in and go home. On the way down, we passed some of the 7.5 mile racers. The curve in the road was one of the hairpin turns that I talked about in the previous write-up.
 For the racers, the road goes up and up. On the previous day, this was one of our fun times going down.
SAG car was following the tail end of the group. If you just make it up to the finish line you are a winner and receive a Mt. Locke cap to prove it.
We were not thinking clearly--must have been the fog. As I mentioned, we left as the 1.5 mile riders passed. It was after we got home that it dawned on us we missed one of the great traditions of the race--eat at the local drug store with the riders, listen to their war stories about the tough climb, and have one of the best old-fashioned milk shakes that can be found. Sorry, Brian and Rick. We will listen to your recollections of the 2014 ride after the 2015 race. So it is a date--September 2015.