Tag Archives: Golden Gate Bridge

Listeria – Inspiration Point

24 May

In the last post, I wrote about the list by True West of historic sites “that will make you weep.” That article contains a couple of secondary lists. One of those is “10 Western History Shrines That Will Inspire You.” Following are the ones that I have visited.

1. The Arch, St. Louis, Missouri – It is impressive to see. Driving into St. Louis, anyone can see that it dominates the skyline. However, I never saw it as inspiring. That could be because I have never been in it. I have been at its base and in the underground museum about westward expansion. However, my dislike of heights has kept me from going to the top. By the way, its real name is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

2. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas – In the last post, I wrote about my disappointment with the Alamo. Any place where people gave their lives is a place of inspiration. However, I cannot get over my initial feelings about the site.

3. Custer National Cemetery, Little Big Horn National Historic Battlefield – Before you get to the welcome center or the battlefield, you pass the cemetery. Like other military cemeteries, this one makes you think about all of those who gave their lives for their country. Our nation has not always gone into a fight for a just reason, but that does not lessen the sacrifices of those who served.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 123

4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – The last time I was in the park was with my dad, my brother and my nephews. We did not go into the heart of the park but walked around the Mammoth Hot Springs and the Yellowstone River. The natural wonders are amazing, and the power of the earth is inspiring. Everyone should see Old Faithful at least once.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 275

5. The Palace of the Governor’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico – I could have been there this week but had other things to do. It is the oldest government building in the United States. Today, it is a museum, but it has witness great events in history. It has been under Spanish rule and American rule. Heck, it has also been under Confederate rule. Governor Lew Wallace finished his novel, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, within its walls.SONY DSC

6. The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California – My wife and I drove across the bridge on our honeymoon. It is a cool feeling to drive across one of the most famous bridges in the world. However, I did not expect all of the people walking and cycling across it. Just thinking about the power of the currents underneath is enough to inspire.image-25

8. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota – This is truly an amazing site. Looking up at George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln is an inspiring view. However, I cannot help but think that the Black Hills were taken from the Native Americans to get at its gold.

9. Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer, South Dakota – This one is also in the Black Hills and is the Native American answer to Mount Rushmore. Crazy Horse was a famous warrior, but I wonder what he would think about a mountain being carved into his likeness. There are no known photographs of Crazy Horse, so we have no idea if this looks like him. On top of that, they have been carving the mountain for decades, and it is nowhere near finished. When I see it, I cannot help but think that the Native Americans are getting shafted again.

There is another list called “10 Western Sites That Will Make You Misty.” Next time, I think I will skip that one and move on to another subject. I do not find it very interesting or misty.

Listeria – Wonders of the World

25 Jul

Before this post officially begins, there is something that needs to be cleared up. I started the “Listeria” series a long time ago as a way to explore our fascination with lists. Since that original post, I have covered the best places in New Mexico; the greatest guitarists of all time; some of the best places to travel; the greatest cowboy stars; the fastest gunfighters; Nashville’s best restaurants; and the best movies of all time. At no point during that time did I know that Listeria is a serious disease. I think I first heard about it on CNN.

Now, I am stuck. Do I change the name because it brings to mind something terrible? Or, do I keep the name that has become a well-known brand? You know, Coca-Cola didn’t change their name because they took cocaine out of their product. It seems to have worked for them, so I’ll stick with it.

This edition of “Listeria” comes to us from the people at LIFE, which only puts out these special publications because their magazine didn’t make it. This one is called Wonders of the World: 50 Must-See Natural and Man-Made Marvels. However, there is a problem, only 41 of them can be seen because the other 9 either don’t exist anymore, are in space or are in the unreachable depths of the ocean.

Out of the 41 that are obtainable by ordinary humans, I have visited the following.

The Colosseum – It was cool because it was just like a modern stadium. Entrance gates. Concourse. Seats. There was even a roof over part of the audience. They had club level, too. It was truly a technological marvel. However, I remember two things about it more than anything else. It was surrounded by traffic. Now that I think about it, that’s just like a modern stadium, too. It also had a bunch of cats living in it.

The Vatican – Obviously, it’s in the same city as the Colosseum and is a testament to the power of religion. The art was amazing, and, to me, the Sistine Chapel stood out. However, I mostly remember a statue that everyone rubbed for good luck. I don’t know who the statue portrayed, but I know that the feet had nearly disappeared. That’s a lot of rubbing.

The Empire State Building – I have seen this building, but I don’t remember much about it. I was in high school when my parents decided to take a road trip through the northeast, and my dad decided it would be a good idea to drive through New York City. As navigator, I was busy looking at the map and trying to get us out of the quagmire. We succeeded but only by going through Harlem and the Bronx, and that really wasn’t the plan.

The Golden Gate Bridge – We just drove over it on our honeymoon. You can read about that here.

Mount Rushmore – Now, we are talking. This is one of my favorite places and is a monument to some of the men who built America. Unfortunately, these men helped build America on land that was owned by Native Americans. There is something ironic about this being carved in the Black Hills, land that is sacred to the Sioux and land that they have refused to take payment for.

The Grand Canyon – One of nature’s most awesome accomplishments, the canyon is almost too big to comprehend from the rim. It needs to be hiked or flown into to understand how grand it is. My nephew was lucky enough to camp inside of the Grand Canyon, and it’s something he will always remember. Most don’t know that a Native American community lives on its floor.West 2010 309

Yellowstone – I have been to Yellowstone numerous times, and there are almost too many things to see. Natural wonders are everywhere. Last year, the guys in my family took a trip to Montana and dipped into the northern edge of the park. We didn’t see geysers on this trip, but we did see buffalo.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 302

I’ve been lucky to make it to those, and, hopefully, I’ll make it to a few more, some day.

The Honeymooners – “This Isn’t a Restaurant! It’s a Lobby!”

22 Jul

We were in no hurry to leave Sonoma, but it had to be done. First, it was to Carneros for breakfast, which wasn’t as good as the dinner we had there. Then, it was on the road to San Francisco. We had a room reserved on Fisherman’s Wharf. I know that it’s a tourist area, but sometimes you just have to do tourist things. Necole had never been there, and we thought that she should see it.

We retraced our trek and returned to the city by going over the Golden Gate Bridge. Necole put on Facebook that it wasn’t really gold, and one of her friends said the name had something to do with the type of paint they used. That’s not exactly right. The bridge spans over a waterway that is known as the Golden Gate. You have to watch out for those Facebook facts.

After crossing, we headed toward the wharf on streets that were filled with traffic. They were also filled with pedestrians, bicycles, trolleys and other untold transportation methods. Sometimes, I think that Necole is not impressed with my driving. On this day, she thought I was doing an excellent job.

We made it to the hotel, got into the room and said, “What the heck? Let’s go out amongst them.” Let me tell you, there were a lot of them. People were everywhere. Necole said that it was worse than walking in New York City. Crowds gathered around street performers and blocked the sidewalks. Bicycles whizzed by. People were wandering around and not looking where they were going. It was chaos. It was also linguistically chaotic, as we heard dozens of languages.

Anyway, we went to Pier 39, the heart of tourism along the waterway. This is where you can find the Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and a guy pretending to be Jack Sparrow. It is also where you can find the sea lions that are always hanging around. Except, they don’t hang around this time of year because they are busy repopulating the Earth with more sea lions.Honeymoon 037

There was one guy swimming around. I didn’t see a pocket protector, so I don’t know why he couldn’t get a girl.

By this time, we were becoming overwhelmed. We probably saw more people on the wharf than we had in Half Moon Bay and Sonoma combined. We were tired. We were hungry. It was time to find some food and some relaxation. Taking the advice of our bellhop, we went to Scoma’s. That was crap. He probably got a cut for sending people there.

We sat at the bar to wait for a table, and this crusty old bartender asked what we needed. She looked older than the wharf. Necole wanted something specific, and they had a little go around before coming up with a drink. Necole wasn’t happy and spoke in hushed tones about the bartender’s attitude. When we got up, she said, “That’s what you call a broad. Not a woman. A broad.” I was so proud of her. That term hasn’t been used since the days of Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. Necole went all historic on me.

The waiter was nicer, but I didn’t think the food was any better than the bartender was. After that, we walked some more and made our way to the hotel, which had some fire pits set up outside. Having some of that good Laxton wine with the twist off cap, we decided to take a bottle street side. That’s when Necole got into it with another broad.

Apparently, there is a $20 bottle fee at the fire pits, and the woman working in the deli shop inside was going to get her $20. We paid it but not without getting our money’s worth. The lady was told in no uncertain terms that we had paid hundreds of dollars for a room and should be able to drink our wine anywhere we wanted. She retorted that no restaurant would allow us to do that. That’s when Necole replied, “This isn’t a restaurant! It’s a lobby!”

Some guy from Los Angeles was sitting with us when that happened. We found out that his father used to be the mayor of Los Angeles, and that he was in San Francisco with a bunch of buddies. They were going to show up at any time. They never did show up. I think he was he San Francisco by himself.

Oh, I forgot that a homeless man was sitting at another fire pit when we sat down. They didn’t charge him a bottle fee for his tall boy.

Eventually, some people from Seattle sat with us. They were interesting and taught me a lot. Namely, the South does not have the monopoly on rednecks.

The Honeymooners – The First Tastes of Sonoma

19 Jul

And on the third day, we left Half Moon Bay. However, we didn’t leave before having lunch at an awesome sandwich shop. All of the ingredients were fresh, and they put a bunch of them on the sandwiches. After lunch, we drove up Highway 1 toward San Francisco. We had no idea what we would see along the way, but we knew it would be different from what we saw going south.

The road had a little more traffic, and the coast had a little more development. Before we knew it, we were on the coastal edge of San Francisco. It was like driving anywhere else, but I noticed something strange. You couldn’t turn left at any intersection. Necole and I had a whole conversation about how you can get anywhere without turning left.

Some of the neighborhoods we went through looked somewhat rundown. But, we also passed a mall with a Nordstrom, which I know is fancy because Necole and I saw Nicole Kidman at the one in Nashville.

As we went further up the road, Necole was getting more nervous. Once, she had panic attack going over a bridge in Florida, and this road was taking us over the Golden Gate Bridge. She asked if it was a suspension bridge. When I said yes, she began to squirm. As it turns out, Necole did great. She busied herself by taking pictures and felt better when she saw people walking a riding bicycles next to us. Unfortunately, she took those pictures on her iPhone, and I don’t have any to put in this post.

Crossing the bridge took us into a completely different place. We went from city to suburb, and it must have been a heck of a suburb. We passed a Ferrari dealership and a Bentley dealership. We also passed another Nordstrom. Nashville thought it was a big deal to get one, and we saw two on the same road.

We took this route because our next few nights were going to be in Sonoma – Wine Country. Here, we would see fields of grapes and wineries around every bend. We saw those things, but some other stuff surprised. The land without grapes reminded me of Montana. Also, we passed a race track. Somewhere in my mind, I recalled that NASCAR has spent time racing in Sonoma. There’s just something not right about that. The people I see at Talladega don’t seem to be the Wine Country type. In short, NASCAR needs to run where they make whiskey, not wine.

We made it to the city of Sonoma and our hotel, The Lodge at Sonoma. It was not the Ritz, but it was an alright place to stay. The put us in a dinky room, so we had them swap us to a bungalow. This room was better but not great. However, what we found around us was awesome.

After checking in, we went to the Sonoma Plaza. This thing was huge and dwarfed the plaza I have visited many times in Santa Fe. City hall sat in the middle. I thought it was interesting and took a picture of it.Honeymoon 014

I wonder if I am the only person who ever took a picture of city hall. Anyway, we immediately went to a wine tasting. After all, that’s why we drove all the way up there.Honeymoon 015

After some wine, we walked around the plaza, ventured into some art galleries and had dinner at this cool restaurant. Then, it was on to another wine tasting. Little did we know that this was just the beginning of our tasting experiences.

We went back to the hotel and found a spot in a bar/coffee shop/cheese place. I had beer and cheese. Necole had wine and cheese. The beer was good. The wine was good. The cheese was awesome.