We’re having a thru-hike…Again!

It’s been nearly 6 years since Paul and I completed our thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). In-between those years we have walked the Camino de Santiago, the Chilkoot Trail, the Trans Catalina Trail (TCT)…again, climbed Mount Whitney via a western approach and Half Dome starting from the Cathedral Lake trail head.

We’ve hiked the Aravipa Canyon and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne River. We even had an aborted attempt to hike from Mammoth Lakes to Tuolomne Meadows following a late season snow storm. With the exception of the Camino, which took 33 days, most of our hiking adventures have not lasted much more than a week. The longing for a “proper” thru-hike has been an itch that needs scratching. This year, it is getting scratched, and scratched so deep that it will probably need stitches.

Continental Divide Trail…here we come!

Weighing in at 3000 miles (+/- a few 100 miles for detours and/or alternates), it’s claim to fame is it rugggedness and “pick your adventure” kind of thru-hike. Somewhere between 100-300 people attempt to thru-hike the CDT each year.  For 80%, this is NOT their first thru-hike.  Two-thirds of the hikers are male and a little over 50% fall into the 25-34 age bracket.  Just under 12% fall into our age range. (stats courtesy of HalfwayAnywhere’s 2019 CDT hiker survey)

We reckon it will take us somewhere between 5-6 months to complete this trail. It is one of three National Scenic Trails that make up what it known as the Triple Crown of thru-hiking. Our direction will be NOBO (Northbound), and may (most likely based on snow conditions) include a bit of a “flip” here and there. We are up for a challenge, but we don’t want to kill ourselves.

Our shuttle tickets from Lordsburg NM to the border (Mexican) monument at Crazy Cook have been purchased. We are making the final preparation/selection of the gear we will be using (initially). Next is a plane ticket to El Paso Texas where my father will pick us up and then deliver us to Lordsburg NM.

Looking forward to “built-in” Trail Angels

We are looking forward to “built in” Trail Angels, seeing that my parents live in New Mexico and are hearty travelers. They have graciously agreed (so far) to mail out the four resupply packages we will be sending ourselves for New Mexico. If we are lucky they might even deliver them in person, or better yet meet us along the way for some “trail magic”. It will be nice to share this adventure with them…in person! They themselves are quite the campers, but in a glamping cabover camper sort of way…now.

Double duty blogging, and adventures in Social Media

In addition to keeping y’all updated on this adventure, I have expanded my Social Media platforms.

Instagram: 2moremilesadventures  (Only because this guy, H T Dolinka with 0 posts and 5 followers) still hasn’t responded to my request for him to release his Instagram URL  of 2moremiles… for my use)

YouTube: OneSpeed 2moremiles

And…wait for it…I have been selected to be a 2020 Blogger by The Trek, an online hiking “magazine” that covers ALL things related to long distance backpacking. I have already posted my first post, that you can see here, and follow as well. 

This site (2moremiles) will be a more day to day overview, and hopefully will include more than a few video posts from my YouTube channel as well.  The posts for The Trek will be content/subject, and “special feature” driven. As you can see, there are lots of platforms to keep up with, which keep my thumbs pretty busy.

I have no doubt that this CDT thru-hike will be filled with many a memorable moment, stunningly gorgeous sights, and of course a plethora of mis-adventure.  Join us as we push our bodies and make memories…even if it is out of morbid curiosity.  

In the meantime…we train.

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Posted in Backpacking, Continental Divide Trail, thru-hiking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Utah hunt

(October 16-24, 2019)

Even though we put in every year for the rifle mule deer hunt in southern Utah, it seems that we’ve gotten into a three year cycle of getting drawn…but not all together, which was a bummer this year. Paul, Brian and I were successful in the draw, but Kenny, Matt and Bob, were not. This year, our group would hunt “separately” for the most part. We arrived in the early afternoon at Red Creek Reservoir (7,800 ft), two days before opener. This year’s hunting plan was to hike up to “my meadow” (2+ miles, with nearly 2000ft of elevation gain ) and camp for at least two nights, with hopes of bagging a big buck opening day…or at least day two. img_20191020_095921520_hdrThis required a total of two full trips, the first being to carry up 6 gallons of water and our bear canister with 3 days worth of food (just in case). The next trip, our tent, sleeping bag and hunting gear/paraphernalia. Of course, each time up and back we saw deer (to include bucks), so we were excited.

Brian, however would not be joining us in the meadow, but would hunt in another spot.  He would however, be in “earshot” and/or radio contact in the event that either of us required assistance.  Ideally, to haul in a big buck!  He would stay at “base camp” in his new camper, which based upon the dusting of snow we received the day before opener would be certainly warmer than the tent we would be using.  After a few unforeseen delays (…namely, Brian’s Ford diesel not wanting to start in the cold), we march up the “hill” early Friday afternoon, taking frequent breaks, to keep from sweating, as we know it will not be getting any warmer.

We set up camp with enough daylight to scout around…just a bit to decide where we will sit and glass opening morning. We are set up in a small clearing, surrounded by a layer of snow and a dense stand of narrow trees.  As we are at nearly 9600 ft in elevation, the temperature drops to a chilling 34 in no time, well before hiker midnight (9pm)! Paul set his alarm for an early rising, so as to be in place before the sun rises on this elevated plateau. After a fitfully cold night (24 degrees), Paul’s alarm was a welcome sound (I can’t believe I’m saying this!) We dressed quickly and headed out to our chosen spots, each with hopes (and expectations) of nailing a “monster buck”.  Remarkably, we had this place all to ourselves. In the still of the morning I rest my back against a fortuitously placed log and watch the edges of the forest for a deer (any deer) to step out into the warmth of the rising sun. My nose runs and my breath clouds before me, nearly obscuring my vision, as I exhale. I smile, noting that currently the gusting wind is working in my favor. But just as “prime time” breaks (that moment when the morning sun starts to paint the edges of the meadow), the wind shifts, and propels my scent directly to where I have been watching. Shit! I hoped that Paul was better situated. Turns out he wasn’t. Opening morning turned into a bust, and after sitting for an hour longer than we really needed to, we headed back to camp for breakfast. After breakfast, we decide to explore and search for fresh definitive deer sign(s), as opposed to the plethra of elk signs we had been seeing. We followed a well used game trail in hopes of reaching an upper isolated meadow that we have been jonesing over for years. We soon realise why this meadow (via Google Earth) is still isolated. The forest closed in quickly, becoming dense and steep as we wove our way toward the clearing. The snow became more frequent and deeper. This exploration became a bit of a workout.  We can not help but begin to sweat under the layers of our camo.  We find that no matter how carefully we carry our rifles, the muzzles (or butts) occasionally get caught on an outstretched branch, halting our progress and generally eliciting a profane word, or two. There is nothing quiet about our approach, and we realize the futility of this endeavor. While we know we would be set up well for an evening hunt at this isolated meadow, we also realize that we are not properly prepared.  As it would be an evening hunt, we would most likely have to spend the night, as it would be impossible to drag any sizeable animal (let alone our sorry asses) back to camp safely in the dark, and/or successfully through the tangle of trees we have threaded. This will have to wait for another year. Dejected, we turn back. In no time, however, we are thankful for our decision, as we discover that while making our way back from whence we came, even with daylight, it was almost more difficult than bushwacking our way up.

Once down, a nap in the dirt is in order. It’s funny to think that, absent a hunting trip or a long distance backpacking trip, we would never think to walk the places we do, let alone plop down on the ground (with no ground cover) and take a nap. Reading the wind, I set up for the evening hunt in another area.

It’s a setup that affords me, if anything, an awesome view and excellent concealment.

My perch is such that I almost feel as though I have folded myself into the backdrop of the forest. Time slows. My senses become heightened, and although I have binoculars to glass the edges of the meadow, I find it easier to catch movement with my naked eye. As the light starts to fade, I sense, and then catch movement across the meadow, to my right. The movement is horizontal, so it is not the wind. I raise my binoculars and study the area closely. Ha! Movement again. Colors and shadows blending artfully enable the deer to travel with ghost like movement.  However, no color or shadow can conceal motion perpendicular to nature. With that, I spy three deer. Their movement is measured and methodical, as the gusting wind has made them rightfully nervous. I steady my rifle, and peer through my scope, dialing it in just enough to ensure a swift and lethal shot. A large bodied doe steps into and through my scope’s reticle. Try as I might, I can not make this doe grow antlers! A second doe does the same. Now for the third. As experience tells me, a trio of deer often includes a buck, and this is no different. He is at least a forked horn, and is legal, so I ready for a shot. (When Paul and hunt together, whoever sees the first shootable buck has to take it…so we have meat in the freezer. After that, only a “monster” buck can be taken) The problem is, that he is not giving me a proper shot. Meaning, if I don’t think I have a sufficiently clear shot, regardless of the size of the animal, I will not take it. If our reason for hunting is to put meat in the freezer, it does no good to miss, or worse yet, wound said animal, only to track it most likely into oblivion, making for some pretty nasty meat, and/or a “waste” of a life. I wait patiently, willing him to “step on the X”. He steps forward briefly, then turns uphill into the shadow of the trees, and for all practical purposes “moons” me as he quickly steps from the thicket of trees to behind a large juniper tree, swishing his tail. Bastard! In that moment he steps, I see he is a bit smaller bodied than the two does he is hanging with. While he is a young buck, he is no dummy, and has earned another day, for this 10 day season. I lower my rifle, shake my head and smile. I applaud his skill and instincts.

The sun sets, and I head back to our tiny Outpost. As I have heard no shot(s), it appears that everyone in the general area has been skunked as well. Paul and I share the evening’s rehydrated vittles and with the temperature dropping quickly we retreat to the warmth of our down sleeping bags, hoping the next day will find success. Up early again, we skip breakfast and coffee. Paul heads to a new spot and I go back to my first morning’s spot and hope the wind stays in my favor. Prime time comes, and BLAM! I hear a shot. I wait for a moment and then radio Paul, “please tell me that was you!”. “Affirmative”, was the reply. Where he was sitting, he saw a large, almost trophy size buck, and had moved into a position that would give him a clear window to take a shot.  The buck, in fact, moved into that window as Paul suspected, but only gave him a nano seconds worth of shooting time, which, had he pulled the trigger would have hit the buck in the butt.  However, whilst dejected and wondering how best to pursue the large buck, he saw a decent sized, shootable forked horn, step fully into the sunlight on a knoll no more than 50 yards away.  This particular buck gave him more than plenty of time to actually wrestle with the decision of whether to take him or not.  Fully aware of our “house rules”, he took the shot…namely, because he had to, as rules are rules. Confident he bagged the freezer buck, and that it would be any easy blood trail to follow, we met midway in the meadow and headed back to camp to eat breakfast and break down our camp. We considered leaving camp up, and coming back up the next morning, but for some reason Paul’s achilles was bothering him, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to go back up to freeze my ass off all alone.  Besides, we had freezer meat now.

All packed up, we easily found Paul’s deer. While we would have preferred a heartier buck, it was meat for the freezer all the same. In no time we had him wrapped like a burrito in our plastic deer sled, and made our way down the rugged trail to the reservoir. Holy Shit was it an arduous haul! Good thing this wasn’t a monster buck. Last time we did this there was snow on the ground, which made for easy work. This time, the sharp, square rocks ate at our sled, shredding the thick plastic as we went.  The jagged opening(s) acted like dozer blades funneling dirt and rocks into the sled, adding unecessary weight to our drag.

(And by he time we got down, it looked like this…totally trashed.) Remembering that we had flattened and packed out our emptied gallon water jugs, Paul cleaverly slid them between the deer’s torso and the holes/gashes of the sled in an effort to save the hide from being “sanded” off.  Eventually, we got to camp thanks to Brian, his brawn and is truck, and discovered that Paul’s ingenuity had worked.  The hide was intact.

Brian, photo-bombing Paul’s deer

Back at camp, we hang our freezer buck to “season”, on the buck pole.

And as it was more than cold enough, we let him hang for a few days before I got to butchering him (the deer).

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Once home, the final processing takes place, some of which, to include venison brats.

I continued to hunt in the lower areas for a few more days, with no success.  Finally, I convinced Brian to join me on an early morning (headlamp) trek to the upper meadow, for one last try.  As he had seen as much as I had, which was NOTHING, there was nothing to lose, except a few pounds or so, via the trek.  Morning came, and just about went.  Then, BLAM!…and BLAM again.  Sadly, neither shot was mine.  Brian, on the other hand was successful, and so began the long hard slog down the .001 grit trail, back to camp.  The haul was no less daunting than the three days before. And as with our sled, Brian’s was no match for the trail as well.  In many ways I was glad it was Brian who had been successful: (1) It wasn’t my deer that destroyed Brian’s sled; (2) I didn’t have to wrestle the deer down the trail (Actually, Brian being the consumate gentleman, and frankly stronger of the two of us, would have most likely done the lion’s share of dragging the deer, had I been the successful one); (3) We were out of cooler space to store another butchered deer…although I’m sure we would have come up with some way to solve that “problem”.

When we finally reached the reservoir, a young man who was fishing, offered the use of his ATV to haul Brian’s deer the rest of the way to truck where Paul was waiting, with cold beers, and a warm truck.  And with that, we were homeward bound.

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Posted in Exploring Utah, fun with friends, Hunting Adventures, Mini Adventures, Mule Deer Hunting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

A little backlogged

So I’m a little back logged with the posting of some adventures this past year. I have two more to finish writing up, and had hoped to post them before the end of the year, but alas I have been sidetracked once again. Recently, I went to watch my brother race his car (1968 Chevelle) at the Irwindale Dragstrip.img_20191222_153911797 and decided that rather than write about it, I would video it, mainly because I am trying out a video editor app for my phone, (PowerDirector, by Cyberlink, for Android), and am considering interspersing our blog with a Vlog or two when we set out on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in April of 2020.

Shooting the video clips was fun, but the production end of it was a whole other learning curve that sucked me down rabbit hole of perfection. So far, the sweat equity is a little excessive, in that we thought it might be “easier” than thumb pecking at the end of each days hiking, or adventure. Thus far, I have found that uploading to YouTube from my phone takes a bit longer with our crappy WiFi, so here’s that also. But it’s worth a try, and it’s about time that I apply the degree that I earned in college. Luckily, we (meaning mostly me) have some time to practice before we commit to straight Vlogging or more likely a combination of VLog and Blog, or continue just blogging. In any event, we’ll be posting a video (training) or two as we go.

So without further rambling, here’s the video I made of my brother’s recent race day. Let me know what you think. (I didn’t mean to post the video with this thmbnail look by my brother, but then this pays him back for when we were kids and he emptied my piggy bank…AND raided my coin collection… to buy a hamster!)

…Paul is researching drones now. Argh!

Posted in 1968 Chevelle, Continental Divide Trail, Drag racing, Irwindale Dragstrip, Road Trips, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The History of the United States Capitol

In keeping with our DC Tourist adventures, I found this video of the United States Capitol (of which recent restoration has been completed) to be interesting and informative.

 

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DC Tourist – Day 7 (final day)

(October 8, 2019)

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It being our last DC Tourist day, it was only fitting that we finish the “mystery” of the Capitol Stones.  Our day three DC excursion included hiking to the plain sight “storage” of the U.S. Capitol building’s original stones at Rock Creek National Park.  When we wandered over and through the discarded (I mean stored) 200 year old sandstone blocks (that were removed in 1958), the columns of the original East Façade of the Capitol building were demonstratively missing.  Never fear.  We found them, but it required a visit to the National Arboretum, dedicated in 1927 and maintained by the US Department of Agriculture’s,  Agricultural Research Service.  The National Arboretum is a 446 acre spread, with 9.5 miles of winding roadway, in the middle of what is now an industrial area. It is replete with a unique assortment of “green growey stuff”.  Here you will find a 30 acre Grove of State Trees, from each of the 50 states (a “treasure hunt” for another day), just about every conifer tree on the planet, the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum (with over 300 specimens, one of which from 1625), the largest herb garden in the United States, perennial gardens, and of course the National Capitol Columns.  The Arboretum is an oasis of greenery in a sea of small weathered homes, cement, iron and brick. In fact, an abandoned brick factory, The United Brick Corporation, flanks the Arboretum grounds, and also bears a visit for another time.  img_20191008_095930181As we were visiting in October, I imagine the spring time would be spectacular, and during the winter, with a bit of snow, one could enjoy an afternoon of snow shoeing or cross country skiing. Luckily, under grey skies, we were here to see the Capitol Columns.  After checking into the visitor center for a map, we were on our way.

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We found the original sandstone columns set in 1828 at the East Portico of the Capitol Building, standing in all their splendor on a knoll in the 20 acre Ellipse Meadow.  We parked just off the road near a slowly eroding capital (the “crown” of the columns) on display.

The intricacies of the sandstone carver’s ornamental decoration of the capital is remarkable, and it creation obviously time consuming, as it took 6 months to complete each capital (there were at least 24).

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A slow and deliberate walk through the meadow leads you to the remaining 22 of 24 columns, whose originally situated place at the Capitol building provided the backdrop for the Presidential inaugurations from 1829 through 1957.

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Set on a small hill, with a small reflecting pool below, these massive Corinthian columns rest on a foundation of steps from the same East Portico from whence came the columns.

img_20191008_101529890Imagine the history that passed through these columns, and tread upon these steps.  It is fitting that these columns found such a stately setting to “grow old”, and were rescued in 1990 from languishing in a government yard of obscurity.  We wandered through the columns, taking time to examine each one and the stone steps upon which they rest. It was peaceful and awe inspiring.  We had the place to ourselves!

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When we were done, we drove through the rest of the Arboretum and explored on foot a bit.  As it was a bit chilly, and having an evening engagement, we had one more stop to round out our DC Tourist week.

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One can’t visit a historic city without hitting its oldest cemetery, and some iconic art within.  Off we headed to the Glenwood Cemetery, where it is rummored that one of John Wilkes Booth’s co-conspirators (George Atzerodt) is said to lie…in an unmarked grave. As of 2017, the cemetery became listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  An intersesting side note is that the ownership of this cemetery was contested during a bitter divorce dispute which actually went as far as the Supreme Court [Close v. Glenwood Cemetery 107 US.466 (1883)].  In short, the wife lost. We, however, were here to see four unique chainsaw sculptures made from 200 year old toppled oak trees, by chainsaw artist Dayton Scoggins.

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The three of the four chainsaw sculptures Scoggins “carved” reside amoung Victorian and Art Nouveau style mausoleums, marble sculptures and stone obelisks, all placed in memory and in honor of loved ones passed.

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img_20191008_112436358-1 As we examined the detiorating sculptures, one of which (the sabertooth tiger) had toppled and been removed, we for some reason felt compelled to wander the cemetery grounds and examine the crypts and gravestones.

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Some were marvelously extravagent, while others were simple, yet profound.  We noticed a trend in the ages and time periods of death.  img_20191008_114515998_hdrWe found a significant number of gravestones with similar ranges in years (1881-96) marking ones death, and significant number of children dying 1894-95. A bit of research revealed a number of pandemics that reached all socio-economic classes of the day.  The speed in which the U.S. population was growing resulted in increasing concentrations of people in its already overcrowded cities.  Close quarters (as we now know) are petri dishes and breading grounds for any number of communicable diseases. From 1881-1896, the U.S. lost over 50,000 people to the “5th cholera pandemic”.  Malaria became an issue for DC in 1895, and the disease of Consumption (Tuberculosis, or TB) that was originally thought to be transmitted hereditarily, mainly through the poor until the rich got sick as well, resulted in changes to society and daily health habits that we now take for granted. The ravages of TB (that we now have vaccinations and antibiotics for), created laws that prohibited spitting in public, in invention of reclining chairs, the habit of hand washing and brushing of ones teeth, open spaces, city parks, and the value of fresh air outdoor recreation.  Who’d a thunk it, that with this visit to an iconic cemetery to view some unique art, we learn a bit more about our history and its application to our current lives?

Our week spent in DC, exploring with family was time well spent, and only served to further wet our appetite for knowledge and adventure.  As such, there is no question that another visit (to DC) is required to further explore and delve into the more obscure aspects of our history.

With that, however, it is now time to head for home and prepartion for an annual outdoor adventure, to fill our freezer with venison.

Posted in DC Adventures, Exploring Washington DC, Mini Adventures, National Register of Historic Places, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

DC Tourist – Day 6 (part two)

(October 7, 2019)

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So, after the National Law Enforcement Museum and Memorial, we headed further downtown, and happened upon Ford’s Theatre (a former First Baptist Church), where President Abraham Lincoln (our 16th president) was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, on April 14, 1865, of which date also happened, in a twist of irony, to be Good Friday. Lincoln’s assassination was precipitated not only by the surrender of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his army to General Ulysses Grant on April 9, at Appomattox (essentially marking the end of the Civil War) six days prior, but also a speech Lincoln made two days after the surrender (April 11, 1865) of which Booth was present, wherein Lincoln promoted voting rights for blacks. This tipped the scale for Booth, from intent to kidnap Lincoln, to murder.

We arrived at an opportune time, in that there was no line to get in, as “normal” for this Historic Site.  Normally one has to have reserved tickets on-line ($3/person, for a specific time slot), or wait in line, to get even get into Ford’s Theatre, as they closely monitor the number of people allowed entrance into the theatre portion each half-hour.  Even so, we almost passed this opportunity by.

img_20191007_161428182_hdrBut, seeing as it was free, with no wait, and none of the rest of our family group had been to Ford’s Theatre, we ducked in.  I had been here years ago while “chaperoning” my daughter’s 8th grade DC trip, and was curious what improvements/updates, if any, had occured.  Since my last visit, tremendous renovations and improvements certainly had been made.  There are four distinct components to this Historical Site:

The Museum (all things having to do with Lincoln, his life, presidency and assassination); 

Being able to examine artifacts like the pistol (.44 cal Derringer), and a replica of the round that killed Pres. Lincoln, as well as clothing and personal belongings of Lincoln and those involved in the assassination was fascinating.

The Ranger Talk in the theatre;

I found the Ranger “talk” or rather splendid oratory and tidbital (a word have since made up) information as to the theatre’s and Booth’s history, and the events leading up to Lincoln’s assassination captivating.

The Aftermath Exhibits (the hunt for Booth and subsequent events and artifacts); and The Petersen House (across the street where Lincoln died) where even with a ticket there always seems to be a significant wait;  

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Petersen House

Things I learned from this visit, included:

  • The theatre was originally the First Baptist Church, but shortly after John T. Ford  bought the building and turned it into a “dance hall”, it burned down (December 1862), and was later rebuilt.
  • Following the assassination of Lincoln, the theatre was closed, as attempts to reopen the theatre were met with threats to “burn it down”.  As a result, the War Department leased the building from Ford (who interestingly enough, at the time of Lincoln’s assassination, was a good friend of John Wilkes Booth) . In 1866, the Federal government bought the building and turned it into offices.
  • Death revisited the “theatre” (now owned by the government) once more when three interior floors collapsed, killing 22 clerks.  Even before this happened, rumors had circulated that the building was “cursed”.
  •  In 1932 a museum to Lincoln was opened in “Ford’s Theatre”, and the year following, the museum and building became a unit of the National Parks.
  •  The evening of Lincoln’s assassination, Lincoln bid his driver “good bye” as opposed to his usual “good night”, which struck him as odd.  It was if Lincoln knew he was going to his death.
  • Live theatre has been reintroduced to Ford’s Theatre, by the Ford’s Theatre Society, as a tribute to Lincoln’s love of the theatre.
  • This National Historic Site is open everyday 9am-5pm, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

Following this visit, we couldn’t help but muse as to what our country would be like today, had Lincoln NOT been assassinated.

Posted in Civil War, DC Adventures, Exploring Washington DC, National Parks, National Register of Historic Places, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

DC Tourist – Day 6 (part One)

National Law Enforcement Museum and Memorial:

(October 7, 2019)

This day was spent in downtown DC. Our first stop was the National Law Enforcement Museum on 444 E Street NW, directly across from the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial (dedicated October 15, 1991).  This 55,000 sq/ft museum, which is 60ft below ground, is chock full of interactive exhibits and some amazing historical and contemporary law enforcement artifacts.  In this museum, you can try your hand at forensics, undercover operations, or even test your “judgement” in the Decision Making Training Simulator that includes “shoot-don’t-shoot” scenarios in a virtual reality setting. I considered “dusting” off my skill set and trying out the simulator, but then thought better of it, as there is no use in “awakening” what I would call “safely stored” memories, as PTSD is a royal bitch.  In this museum, they have the ACTUAL U.S. National Park Police helicopter (and media footage of the rescue) used to rescue survivors from the 1982 Air Florida flight 90 plane crash into the Potomac River.  In additon to that display, there are plenty of immersive, experiential and interactive, as well as visual, audio and tactile exhibits to puruse and immerse yourself in the “day in the life” of a law enforcement officer.

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As the “day-in-the-life” of a law enforcement officer is not without peril, or ultimate sacrifice, you will find the sobering Hall of Rememberance, wherein officer’s portraits arranged by state, with their name/agency and their End of Watch date are displayed, that  were recently added in the spring of that year to the walls of the memorial, across the street.  Sadly, NYPD, as of late, has the most officers added annually as a result of illness(es) sustained during 9/11. Artifacts and personal mementos left at the National Memorial can also be found on display, that will make your heart ache and your eyes tear.

And with all museums, there is a gift shop wherein you can purchase Memorial Fund gifts and/or additional souviners.  I picked up a memorial coin that I now use for coin tosses, in water polo games I officiate. (one side = heads, the other = tails, or visa versa)

The National Law Enforcement Museum is open daily (except on Tuesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 10 am to 6 pm.  Children under 12 are free, however there is an entrance fee anywhere from $17 – $22 depending  on your  age and whether you are active duty (LE) or military.  If you purchase tickets online, you can save $2/ticket.  The fee is worth the price of admittance and helps to maintain and create new exhibits. While this October day saw  pretty sparse visitation to this relatively new museum (opened October 13, 2018), every May, in the week that contains May 15th this place (according to the retired LE docent) and more specifically, the National Law Enforement Officer Memorial, across the street from the museum, is crawling with law enforcement officers and “Survivor” families from across the country.

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While most everyone is aware of and/or familar with Memorial Day for our military, most people have no clue that May 15th marks National Police Officer Memorial Day, and has since 1962.  Following a joint resolution from the 87th Congress, President John F. Kennedy signed into law (October 1, 1962) the designation of May 15th as National Police Officer Memorial Day, and the week that contains the 15th, designated as, National Police Week. Every year in May, families of the past year(s) fallen peace officers, and tens of thousands of uniformed active duty and retired peace officers from around the country make a pilgrimage of sorts to DC, to honor those who’s lives were cut short in the service of their community, and frankly our nation.  While I have been to more than my fair share of Law Enforcement Officer funerals and memorials, I have not been to DC during Police Week. Frankly, it is on my “bucket list”, if only to pay homage and honor those officers (and their families) who were not as lucky as Paul and I, and make it to retirement, alive and fairly healthy.

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We did however look up names (and their location of the walls) of officers who we knew that have their names permanently engraved into one of the two 304 foot long, curving blue-gray marble walls that bracket the “Pathways of Rememberance”.

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To date, there are 21,910 Federal, State and Local Law Enforement Officer names etched in stone, and at the close of 2019 over 22,000 officers dating as far back as 1786, will have given the ultimate sacrifice and died in the Line of Duty.

“You see the good don’t die young, but instead they live on,
              In memories, and many a heart.
             The good that you do does not die when you do.
             For the good, death’s not an end, but a start.”

– Lt. Dan Marcou

*(Last stanza of a 7 part poem – “Messages from a Fallen Officer”)

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