Great Falls (MD)

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We recently made a visit to Great Falls on the Potomac River, from the Maryland side of the river.  We began by parking at the Great Falls Tavern, a stone lockhouse originally built to provide shelter for a lock keeper and his family.  That’s because the tavern is adjacent to lock #20 on the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal, the 184 mile long canal which shadows the Potomac and spans from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland.

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Round Hill (Tahoe)

Our host, Steve, came up to Tahoe for a short visit recently.  We were happy to see him and, frankly, just to have some company after 4 months of solitude.

Directly across the road from Steve’s house is a prominent landmark called Round Hill.  It’s a small hill right on the shore of Lake Tahoe, perhaps 300 feet high at its peak.  We were on the balcony looking at the hill and realized that in the 10 years Steve and Wende have owned the house, they had not yet hiked to the top of the hill.  So, the next day we did just that.

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It’s not a particularly difficult hike.  It begins on the north side above the Round Hill Pines Beach.  As you make your way up the trail, you start to get a nice view looking north along the shoreline and a nice view of Steve and Wende’s house.  The trail continues around to the east side where you get good views of the mountains and the town of South Lake Tahoe.  Then around to the south side of the hill you will have a stunning view of the entire south half of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains.  At the peak you can choose which portion of a 180 degree vista to focus your attention upon.  We enjoyed it so much we did it again a couple of days later.

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We enjoyed Steve’s visit and our daily walks/hikes, particularly the Round Hill hike.

San Clemente, CA

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For those of us old enough to have been around during the presidency of Richard Nixon, we would recall that when the Nixons were able to take a break from Washington, they would head to San Clemente, CA, to “The Western White House”.  They owned an oceanfront estate there called “La Casa Pacifica”.  We weren’t able to stay at that particular property but we followed the Nixons model and took a short break in San Clemente, located about midway along the Pacific coast between LA and San Diego.

San Clemente, CA

We’ve driven past San Clemente many times, traveling on Interstate 5 to or from San Diego.  This time we wanted to take a couple of days to explore this beautiful town and the surrounding area.  We enjoyed some fresh Pacific seafood and some nice hikes.

One of our special outings was to Mission San Juan Capistrano.  Many people know of the “miracle” of the swallows that return to this town every year on March 19th.  The story behind this is that a pastor of the mission was walking through town when he saw one of the shopkeepers using a broom to swat away the birds that were nesting in the eves of his shop.  He considered the birds to be a nuisance and wanted to get rid of them.  The pastor said, “Come on swallows.  I’ll give you shelter.  Come to the Mission”.  Since then the birds have returned to the Mission every year.

Mission San Juan Capistrano was established on November 1, 1776.  This is one of the 21 missions that would ultimately be established to expand the territorial boundaries of Spain and spread Christianity to the native peoples of California.  After 1812, the Mission began to decline.  Subsequently, it was sold at auction and was a private ranch property for 20 years.  Eventually, after California became a state, President Abraham Lincoln returned the property to the Catholic Church.  Today you can see the results from many years of preservation and restoration efforts.