Monday, May 29, 2017

Rhode Island Adventure

This was our first time to stay in Rhode Island and we had no idea what to expect in the smallest state in the country.  One woman suggested a restaurant in nearby Westerly that serves clam chowder and clam cakes.  "You can't get more Rhode Island than that," she said.  So we checked it out.  The clam cakes were more like clam balls.  With ketchup they were pretty good and the chowder was OK--not as good as at Fisherman's Warf in San Francisco.

Westerly is in the southwest corner of the state just a few miles from the southern shore.  Newport, RI, is in the southeast corner of the state so we didn't get to see that iconic location.  But we enjoyed our nearby coastal areas, including Watch Hill and East Beach.

This Merry Go Round is right next to the beach in Watch Hill.  Kids were having a good time there.  The city beach there cost $9 for seniors so we skipped going there.  Instead, we walked toward a beautiful inn we saw on our way into town.

On the way we walked by some beautiful homes.  The high rent district increased in value as we got closer to the shore.  Look at the view through this carport.

I love this neat old house.  How many people visit this "cottage" in the summer?

This unique fence surrounds the gardens of a house named Seaswept which apparently was built about 1865.  In the distance you can make out the Watch Hill Lighthouse.

This is another spectacular house with a beautiful view.  I wonder what witch the weather vane  honors.

There was an almost hidden path--pedestrians and bicycles only--leading to the Watch Hill lighthouse.


Then we found a cutoff to the East Beach and finally got close to the waves coming in. As always, the lighthouse and beach have brisk winds but we were glad we finally got to the Atlantic Ocean.
  According to the evening news, Saturday was the day the Rhode Island beaches opened.  I didn't know you could close beaches.  But since it is the first day there are life guards available at some of the beaches, perhaps that is what they are talking about.  The weather hasn't been conducive to swimming and enjoying the beach.  Tonight we saw average temps for Memorial Day over the past 3 years--all in the 80s.  Today the high was 56--brrr.  The waves were good for surfers, however.

Eventually we came to Ocean House, the large inn we saw driving into town.  They have a private beach with individual changing tents and lots of beach chairs, as well as a large croquet field.  I would love to stay there for a couple of days--when the weather is a little warmer.

Hurricane Sandy came through this area in 2012 but we couldn't see any damage were we traveled.

This neat old touring car was parked outside the hotel.

It was a fun day to top off our visit to the last state on our bucket list.  Since beginning our RV travels in 1988, we have now spent the night in all of the lower 48 and Alaska.  Yipee!  Now, we need a new goal to put in our bucket.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Holiday Weekends

The first of three big summer holidays is upon us. RVers know it is necessary to get reservations far in advance for these weekends. Knowing we wanted to be in a Colorado State Park over Labor Day, in January I made our reservations at Ridgway State Park. Planning ahead, I was so proud of myself. So why didn't I make reservations then for Memorial Day and July 4? I knew we would be staying in commercial RV parks over those weekends. We will be in Colorado Springs for the 4th and planned to stay in the KOA there. It is huge. Was I ever surprised to find last week that the only had 1 or 2 nights with 50 amp hookups available during the last week of June and first week of July. And they won't allow 50 amp units with 2 air conditioners to stay in a 30 amp site.  I was a little panicked as I made call after call before I found a spot to stay. Whew!  That was close.

But Memorial Day was even closer. Where would we go? We finished our visit to Doug in New Hampshire and moved on to a park outside Boston for a few days. But where would we stay this weekend? I had made a one-day reservation in Rhode Island to check this state off our bucket list. So I tried several locations in Pennsylvania and all were full for the weekend.  What do you suppose people do in Stroudsburg, PA, over Memorial Day?  A number of calls later, I called the park in Ashaway, RI, and was able to extend our reservations till Memorial Day. That was really too close to call. Walmart parking lots don't appeal to us at all. Glad we are here.

So, where is here? Ashaway is certainly a town we had never heard of. We know nothing about Rhode Island, in fact. But as we set up and looked around we found the setting somewhat familiar. We spend our winters in Gold Canyon, AZ, and know what seasonal parks are like. People come to see their friends, returning year after year. This park has lots of seasonal residents. But here the majority of the RVs are travel trailers, not 5th wheels or motorhomes. Obviously, this is the first big weekend of the season and people are just setting up all their outside equipment, which will probably stay in place all summer. The families will come on weekends and whenever else they can get away from work. The park is full of younger families with children. It truly is a resort, not just an RV park. Everywhere yesterday we saw people giving hugs to friends they probably haven't seen since the fall. There were a number of communal meals around us.

We saw parks like this when we traveled in New Brunswick several years ago, as well as in the Midwest. They are the mobile version of a summer cabin community. We stayed in one New Brunswick park where one family had created a large fire ring and benches all around it. Every evening people gathered for a campfire and laughed and joked together--right across the road from our RV.

Up until this weekend, we have seen RV parks with very few campers. We even stayed in a Yogi Bear Jellystone campground and resorts in Hagerstown, NJ, Massey's Landing, DE,  and Littleton, MA, with numerous activities and facilities for both children and adults. We enjoyed those places especially because the children were still in school and the parks weren't crowded. This weekend brings that circumstance to an end, I imagine.

These photos will give you an idea of what this resort I like.  It is has raining here a lot, so their are puddles around but this track for radio controlled cars will probably get lots of use when it dries out.

I wonder if the people in this RV intend to have a campfire 24 hours a day all summer or if they will share it with their neighbors?  (Barbara--we aren't parked close to this RV, thankfully).

This is the train that takes young children around the park.  The driver looks like he is having a good time.  The speedbumps here are those yellow metal strips that really make RVs slow down.  But the train takes them at full speed.  The kids really enjoy that part of the ride.

This is a view from a hill that overlooks about half of the park with a very wet bocce ball court in the foreground.  They also have a tennis court, basketball court, volley ball, horseshoes, a soccer field and shuffleboard. We also saw a game room with arcade machines and a large pool.  Lots of fun.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

War Memorials

With this post I will be caught up on the blog with what we have done in the past 10 days of so.  It has been very busy and we also had 3 days with virtually no internet.  I am glad to be up to date now.

The last time we were in Washington, D.C., was 1988.  At that time we spent time at the Viet Nam Wall and John located the name of a classmate who had been killed in that war.  Since then monuments have been built honoring those killed in World War II and the Korean War.  This visit we explored both structures.

This is the entry to the World War II Memorial.

Brass reliefs like these line the curved walls as you enter the memorial, depicting scenes of military and civilians in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

The central fountain is surrounded by pillars naming the 56 US states, territories and District of Columbia that united in a common cause in the war.  Pavilions on both sides are inscribed with names of key battles of the war. 

Lots of people were looking at the monument and enjoying this part of the National Mall.

A number of statements are carved into the walls of the monument, referring to civilian women who took over jobs left by men going to fight,

those who sent their sons off to war and kept the American factories working,

and the soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom.

I hope that this statement is forever true of who and what our country is and represents to the world.

The Korean War Memorial has a totally different feel.

Lifesize statues of soldiers, dressed in rain gear, surround you as you come to the monument.  You feel like you are part of the battle or reconnaissance.

One side of the wall with the names of those who died has background images of the same soldiers and it is reflective, almost like a mirror.  This photo shoes how the modern monument visitors look like they are part of the group of soldiers.

Both of these monuments are moving and made us aware of how many people over the decades have given their lives to protect us and our country.

Monday, May 22, 2017


We have done a lot of driving to get here.  The destination of our travels east was New Hampshire where our older son, Doug, received an Associate in Science Degree in Precision Manufacturing from Nashua Community College. 

Doug retired after 23 years in the US Marine Corps and soon after underwent surgery for colon cancer.  He also has gone through a divorce.  We are so proud of him for completing this degree program.  He did it in spite of these difficult events and he did it all on his own. 

Before the diplomas were distributed Doug, as one of the military veterans graduating, lead the pledge of allegiance.

Here he is receiving his diploma Lucille Jordan, college president.

Before the ceremonies began, he showed us through the lab where he took his training.  Look at all these impressive computer-controlled machines.

During the last semester of training,  all class members built engines, using those tools.  Doug was disappointed I didn't recognize that the shape is like the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.

Here is Doug with his two daughters, Samantha and Rachal.

Rachal took this picture of John and me, Samantha and Doug.

Then Sami took a picture of Doug, John, Rachal and me.

Doug took us to dinner at the Longhorn Steakhouse to celebrate.

Rachal didn't feel like joining us, but the rest of our group had a good dinner.

The entire drive was worth it to be able to come here and support Doug as he marked this accomplishment.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

White House

You need a ticket to tour the White House and you get those by contacting your local Representative or Senator.  In 1973, when I came to visit John who was attending the F.B.I. National Academy, a training program for local police officers, I got a ticket and was able to go on a White House tour.  John had never been inside the presidential home but we weren't able to take a tour this trip because I forgot how to get a ticket.  I am sure many other people are in the same boat because now there is a White House Visitor Center with lots of very good information about this iconic building. 

There is this model of the White House and it's grounds.

This is Hiawatha's boat, a center piece. First Lady Julia Grant acquired this item at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

The center shows lots of pictures of presidential families really living in the White House and discusses the changes and improvements made over the years.

We have been to D.C. twice before and you were able to walk up to the iron fence that surrounds the White House.  It is a real shame that the threats of terrorism since 9/11 and resulted in these barricades keeping the public away from the building.   But it is so sad to see these barriers.

This is the view from the other side of the building.  At least you can see the White House and the grounds.

The crowd standing to get a look at the facility was impressive.

Over the weekend 394 names were added to the Fallen Police Officer Memorial and many police officers from the departments of the officers that had died in the line of duty were there.  These two motorcycle officers from the San Diego Police Department wanted to have a photo with the White House in the background.  They pulled into place then walked over to the people in the crowd shown above and asked them to take a picture with the officer's cell phone.  Cool!

Freedom of the Press

During my time in the School of Journalism  at the University of Colorado, where I got my degree in 1965, I gained a deep appreciation of the First Amendment to our constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Ever since I heard in  2008 about the new museum in Washington, D. C., the Newseum, I have wanted to visit it.  So it was center of our intention the first day there.

The exhibits include front pages from the day's newspapers in all 50 states, the Pulitzer Prize photograph winners, the history of publications of the news over 5 centuries, the role news reporting played in our country's Independence, in the struggle of civil rights and in the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

A section of the Berlin Wall and one of the guard towers from the East German side are on exhibit.  The wall had kept citizens of East Germany from going to the West German side but it couldn't keep  radio, TV and newspaper stories of the better life and the freedom in the west from reaching people on the Communist side.

The sign below expresses the importance of a free press and the hope that journalists will maintain the standard of truth.

I hadn't realized that newspaper editors had been real celebrities during the 1890s.  There were even trading cards with their pictures, like we saw for sports heroes when I was growing upl

Of course, most of us in my generation are aware of the role the Washington Post and reporters Woodward and Bernstein played in the impeachment and resignation of President Richard Nixon.  I had two young children at that time.  I was glued to the TV for the Watergate hearings during those months.

I got a kick out of this poster from that era.

Nothing in the exhibits about attempts to stop the freedom of the press was of interest for a photograph but over the years individuals, courts and partisans have attempted to block that action.  So far, freedom has triumphed in this country, though in most parts of the world the concept is unknown.

This is an old printing press which would only print one side of one piece of paper with each operation.  The news sure spreads a lot faster in this age of the internet!

We both enjoyed the newseum and could have spent more time there.  In fact, the $20 ticket is good for two days.  But by the time we had toured the US Capitol and eaten lunch, we were getting tired and not willing to stay another few hours.  And we had other spots we wanted to visit on our second day in town, so I guess we will just have to come back another time.