Category Archives: Uncategorized

US State Capitols: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

US Capitols: Jackson, Mississippi

Date Visited: July 9, 2021

According to a display I read in the Civil Rights Museum, Mississippi was the last bastion for segregation, and it is. It is such a beautiful state, but it still has a long way to go. Luckily Mississippi is up for the challenge. When we were in the state we got to see the new Magnolia flag and it is very beautiful, just like the countryside.

US State Capitols: Little Rock, Arkansas

Date Visited: July 7, 2021

The story of Little Rock is very troubling, it certainly has never been easy for the State of Arkansas, but like the gem quary they are rightly proud of, they have shined through their adversity. This is not to say they are perfect, but they are trying and they makes all the difference. The people. We met there were very hospitable and kind.

In addition to seeing the capitol we also went to the William J Clinton Library and Little Rock Central High School.

US Capitols: Cheyenne, Wyoming

Date Visited: May 11, 2020

Cheyenne was born in 1867 when the Union Pacific passed through Wyoming with the transcontinental railroad. Growing rapidly, the territorial government made Cheyenne the territory seat in 1869. When Cheyenne became the territory seat, it also went down in history because part of it’s territorial charter was an act that granted women the right to vote, thus Wyoming was the first place in the USA where women were legally allowed to vote.

Allowing women to vote became a stumbling block for Wyoming to become a state. Congress used the excuse that Wyoming didn’t have enough population but there are several documented conversations of Senators pondering the political implications of allowing Wyoming to become a state when women could vote. A compromise was made that allowed Wyoming to become a state in 1890, but women were banned from working in coal mines (apparently miners made good money) until 1978.

When Wyoming was created as a territory there was a lot of discussion to name the territory after recently assassinated President Lincoln. The Senate committee however decided with the exception of Washington, no state should be named after a person (so what happened to Georgia, New York, North and South Carolina?). It was decided the territory should take a nod to it’s native roots and Wyoming comes from the Lenape language meaning “large plains”. The buffalo on the flag symbolizes the meaning behind the name.

If you look closely to the Wyoming State flag you can read the words “Equal Rights”, a nod to woman’s suffrage.

The Proposed Flag of the State of Lincoln








Today the capitol remains a grand building representing the explorer and cattleman spirit that helped found the state. Wyoming has a lot of space but still remains the least populated state with only 586,000 total citizens.

Wyoming Supreme Court.

It was good thing we visited on May 11th.

Artwork in the Wyoming Annex.

Selfie in front of the State Capitol.

The Wyoming Governor’s mansion reminds me of the clock tower in Back to the Future.

Wyoming was almost named Lincoln.

The Lincoln Highway runs through Wyoming and was the first highway to cross the entire United States.
















US State Capitols: Helena, Montana

Visited: July 7, 2019

Louisiana and Montana are very far apart from each other but most of what is today Montana became part of the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The point is there is a lot of space up in that part of the land. As soon as you cross from Idaho you see this almost immediately. The land is out there but it is very wide and very open. For the first three hundred miles we were in Montana I am pretty sure we saw more horses than humans.

They call Helena a city, it is a Capitol, but at a population of 36,000 it really felt more like a town. I remember pulling up to motel and Denise telling me were were on the edge of town but when I looked up I could see that capitol was only about 6 blocks away. Needless to say there was not much in the city. Besides the capitol building there were several casinos and a few supermarkets. Not many chain restaurants that I could tell, which was funny because when you go into the supermarket there are these kiosks at the registers with all of these chain restaurants which the closest was 200 miles away. Not that gift cards were ever great gifts to begin with but is someone going to really drive 200 miles to use their gift card?

It was July but the weather was little cold, in fact it rained a little bit with hail while we were there. It was a bit of a problem because we didn’t have any winter clothing but we had some old sweatshirts in the trunk so that was good enough.

We enjoyed our time walking around the state capitol. The layout of the building was a little bit different in that the Senate and Assembly chambers were both on the same side but it had all the basic elements like a dome and fake marble painted columns. The best part of the building were the stain glassed windows, which were very intricate and colorful. Admittance was free and the tour was self guided.

There is a temple in Billings, Montana but it is something when temples out of country might be more convenient.
Not a beer drinker but there were some interesting brews going on in the supermarket.
The only one of these stores I saw in Helena, Montana was Starbucks, because let’s face it Starbucks is everywhere.
Apparently the church in Montana has a smell problem. They ask you not to wear perfume or anything else smelly like lotions.

The capitol square has a campus feel to it.

The capitol dome had some cool Lewis and Clark paintings, it was definitely a theme.

Ceiling of the Supreme Court Chambers.
Lot of stain glass in the capitol.
I saw this little cafeteria behind the Senate chamber and I kind of had this strange mental image of legislators drinking pepsi and eating pretzels.
The title of the painting was Meeting Lewis and Clark but you couldn’t hardly see Lewis and Clark in the painting.
A nice view out to Montana.
Lot of casinos in Helena.


YouTube Video:


#21, Swimming in a Hearst Castle Pool

Visited: August 24, 2019 (For the complete goal list go to
Me visiting the Neptune Pool in 2002.

OK, so when I was a kid my mom loved to go on road trips. Pretty much every other weekend we drove up and down the California coast line. There was always some general destination but the one rule was you had to stop at a historical plaque. There are a lot of historical plaques in California, so needless to say we saw a lot of things.

My mom at the Neptune Pool.
One day when I was about 12 years old we were driving along the 101 highway and my mom decided to stop to see Hearst Castle in San Simeon California. I remember taking the basic tour and seeing Hearst Castle and being completely blown away by it. Just like today the tour always starts at the Neptune pool and ends at the indoor Roman Pool.


The face of the Casa Grande

Inside the Meeting Room

All the views at the castle are great.

The inside Roman pool.







Hearst Castle was known to Mr. Randolph Hearst as La Cuesta Encantada, “The Enchanted Hill.” The name is very fitting because the location is magical. There is nothing like Hearst Castle anywhere in the world. It’s style and beauty were something that until the moment was nothing I could imagine.

Stair View of the Neptune Pool

I remember very vividly the moment I saw the Neptune pool. It was what I like to describe as a mind expanding event. The Neptune pool is an amazing pool, up until the exact moment I walked up the stairs to see the pool for the first time I couldn’t imagine something like that existed. I remember being drawn to the water, it was like it called to me. The marble is so white and you are so high up the color comes out a very vivid blue. Of course as soon as I took a foot towards the pool I was immediately told to back off. It was clear, this was a place to look, not touch. Though still, it left an indelible impression on my mind that I never forgot.

The pool has haunted my mind for many years. And I have been back many times to the see the castle. I went there as part of my honeymoon to San Simeon and I remember taking my son to the castle when he was just three years old. I have seen the pool from many different angles on many different tours. Each time the tour started at the Neptune pool and each time I had to restrain myself from jumping in the pool.

Then one day I was watching this program called California’s Gold ( that was on public television. And there was this reporter named Huell Howser. He went and interviewed several people at Hearst Castle, a very fascinating story, but then he did something crazy, he jumped in the pool! I am not a television personality but as soon as I saw that episode of California’s Gold, something snapped in me. I knew that if Huell Howser could get in the Neptune pool so could I. It was a kind of a crazy thought. I was not a television personality, I was not an employee of Hearst Castle, and I am not rich, but I am determined and so a goal was born.

The Friends of Hearst Castle is the foundation that helps fund-raise for Hearst Castle.

According to the video there were two ways to get into pool legally. One you could work for the castle or once a year you could go this fundraiser and make a bid for a pool party at Hearst Castle. Neither of those two options worked for me. I didn’t qualify for a job at Hearst Castle and I was not a member of the Friends of Hearst Castle, and even if I was, I doubt I could have won an auction.

So then I found out about another way to swim in the Neptune Pool. Basically if you became a volunteer at the castle for 50 hrs. you could go to an annual volunteer Neptune Pool party. This was going to be the route for me but for an unknown reason a few years ago they stopped the program. Then to make matters worse a report came out that after 80 years of continual use there was some cracks in the concrete. So they ended up draining all the water out of the Neptune pool. It looked like my dream of swimming in the Neptune Pool was going down the drain.

Those that are from California know that California has a strange magic to it’s place. In California you may be down but you are never really out as long as you have a bit of hope, it is the gas that keeps fueling the California Dream. It turns out that even though the California State Park system did have to drain the Neptune Pool, it was decided to completely restore the pool, right back to it’s original condition. The restoration took four years and $10 million dollars to complete. An article came out in the LA Times ( that to celebrate the restoration and do some fundraising, the Friends of Hearst Castle decided to host some special pool parties. It wasn’t a cheap ticket, but I was fortunate to have some extra money saved up and it wasn’t something I had to spend a lot of time trying to decide. Which was good because there was only 40 tickets for each of the 5 dates, and the tickets went fast.

In order to get a ticket I had to become a member of the Friends of Hearst Castle. This group is dedicated to the preservation of Hearst Castle and also creates local education programs for Hearst Castle. As part of my membership I got three regular tours to the castle. I used them for my family and we all went out on a Grand Rooms tour. This tour was just like the one I was on when I was twelve. It starts at the Neptune Pool and then goes along the first floor rooms of Casa Grande (the Big House). After the tour was over we had time to go to the visitor center that had a little museum, a theater, a bookstore, and even a place where you could go and buy Hearst Castle Ranch Beef.

After the tour was over Denise and AJ went to the hotel and I stayed until 6:30 p.m. when we took a special bus back up to the top of the mountain. Along the way I was able to see Hearst castle and some Hearst zebras. Which was kind of premonition for the entire night that seemed surreal.

At the top of the mountain we briefly met with the Director of the Foundation. He was a nice guy that had this big Super Bowl ring. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him about it, but it was really big. He explained to us that part of the money being raised was going to local education programs. It was kind of nice to think that maybe one day some other kid might be inspired.

The entrance to the Mens Dressing Room.

Selfie in the Neptune Pool.

Some of the fancy food that was served.

Julia Morgan knew her Roman architecture. You can see ionic, doric, and corinthian columns at the Neptune temple.

Swiming in front of the Neptune Temple.

The bartender was very popular for the event.

To change into our swimsuits we were allowed to use the Hearst Castle changing rooms. The changing rooms are not on any regular tour so they are seldom seen. They have this nice green and gold motif. It is amazing to me how even in the changing rooms there was an attention to detail.

After finding a chair in which to put my stuff it was time to jump in. Most people jumped in, took a picture, and then got right back out. I am not sure why. The water was not cold, it was actually very refreshing, they told us it came from a mountain stream, no chlorine. Another reason I think people didn’t stay too long in the pool was that there was an open bar and lots of yummy hors d’oeuvres. But I wasn’t there for the food. I was there for the pool.

The evening was spectacular. The sunset from atop the mountain seemed endless and remember seeing the most beautiful purple sunset I have ever seen. I did eventually come out of the pool, my hands were very pruny but I was as happy as could be.

That night we stayed at the nearby Morgan hotel. It was named after the architect Julia Morgan who designed Hearst Castle. It was kind of expensive for us (we usually go to Motel 6) but it was cozy with an in-room fireplace. The decor was nice because the hallways had design sketches for Hearst castle.

The Morgan Hotel was a nice coastal hotel.

AJ having breakfast at the Morgan Hotel.


After all those many years dreaming about this pool it was truly an experience of a lifetime. It almost seams like it was nothing but a surreal dream but I have the pictures and memories for a lifetime to prove that it actually happened.


US State Capitols: Lansing, Michigan

Visited: July 5, 2018

Austin Blair was known as the Civil War Governor and was a firm opponent to slavery.

Michigan got it’s start on July 13th, 1787, when the Second Continental Congress created the Northwest Territory. Almost instantly there were lots of land disputes and in 1803 Ohio was formed and in 1805 Michigan became it’s own territory. Michigan immediately wanted to become a state but the land disputes prevented it from the application.

During the war of 1812, Detroit, which was the territorial seat got occupied by British forces, but the militia fought back and soon regained the territory. After the war the idea of statehood intensified. In 1835 Michigan formed a state government in Detroit without Congressional approval. Part of the problem was land disputes with Michigan’s neighbor Ohio. The land disputes came to a head when the two state militias took up arms against each other in what was known as the Toledo War. At the heart of the matter was the city of Toledo. Ohio won the fight, and as condition for entering the Union, Michigan was forced to cede Toledo, but did get a strip of and that was won in the war in 1812, and so Michigan became a state of two land masses.

Another concession given was that the capitol of Michigan had to move. Congress did not want the state capitol getting run over again by the British so they mandated that Michigan move their capitol to a safer location. Detroit of course protested but eventually relented and the first construction of a state capitol building began in 1847 in Lansing.

The current capitol building was built in 1872. It was a bit of a scandal because the architect, Elijah E. Myers was from Springfield, Illinois, and everyone thought that it must be a kickback having a out of state architect. The thing about it was that he actually built the building within budget and thinking of what happened to some buildings during the Civil War, it became one of the first fireproofed buildings in the nation by using fire resistant materials such as glass, steel, and stone.

Visited: July 5, 2018

The Coamerica building is one of the oldest buildings in Lansing.

Up in the dome of the capitol.

Senate chambers.

There are tours of the capitol or you can do what I did and do a self-guided tour.

Govenor’s ceremonial office.

The battle flag room with a steel and glass floor.

The view up to the capitol.

US State Capitols: Columbus, Ohio

Ohio achieved statehood and like any new state had to make a lot of decisions. One of course being where to put their new capitol. Like all state legislatures Ohio couldn’t decide on where it should go. There was a lot of back and forth but in the end they decided to compromise somewhere in the middle, literately in the middle, and thus Columbus became the capitol of Ohio.

We spent a lot of time on our road trip in Ohio, but Columbus was kind of a stopover to other things so we didn’t have much time to really stay in the capitol. It was Tuesday, July 10, 2018 that we visited Columbus, Ohio. It was early in the morning and our schedule had us going to a theme park that same day so we weren’t able to go inside, we did however see some interesting things on the outside.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Ohio State Capitol is the lack of a dome. The building is Greek revival (like many state capitols) and has a tube cylinder shape in the middle but then it just stops. The locals I saw told me they call it the “Chinese hat” because that is kind of what it looks like.