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.

Asheville, NC

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Continuing our visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains we stopped in Asheville, NC, for 5 nights at the Bear Creek RV Park.  This time we did not travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway since there is a very steep ascent and descent just before reaching Asheville so we didn’t want to put this stress on our vehicle.

Biltmore Estate

I suppose a visit to Asheville wouldn’t be complete without going to see the Biltmore Estate.  This very large estate with a massive house, extensive gardens, parklands and a winery, was built by George Vanderbilt.  The Biltmore House was opened in 1895 after six years of construction.  It was during this same time that Cornelius Vanderbilt completed the family’s beach house in Newport, RI, which is know as “The Breakers”.  We toured that house back in August.  We particularly enjoyed the Biltmore gardens and the Conservatory with its extensive selection of orchids.  After we visited the winery and tasted some of the Biltmore wines we encountered a special event where they were presenting a variety of artisan foods to sample. Continue reading

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque (pics) is New Mexico’s largest city with over 500,000 residents.  It sits in the shadows of the Sandia Mountains.  It serves as a hub for the state sitting at roughly the geographical center of the state and at the intersection of Interstate 40 and Interstate 25.

We only had one day here.  So for some exercise we headed to the 16-mile long Paseo del Bosque.  It is a recreational trail that runs alongside the Rio Grande River.  It’s a nice paved path suitable for both walking and biking.  There is also a pedestrian bridge that crosses the river alongside Interstate 40.

Walk/bike bridge across river

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