Hau’ula Beach Park

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As part of our North Shore tour, we stopped at Hau’ula beach to take a dip in the ocean. All beaches in Hawaii are public and this one has a parking lot, restrooms and showers.  Hau’ula translates to ‘red hibiscus.’

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Hau’ula Beach Park is on Oahu’s windward coast and is popular with the locals for picnicking. It was quiet when we were there and we were the only tourists.

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The beach itself is narrow…our shoes almost got washed away when we didn’t leave them high enough up the bank. I also noticed an unfortunate problem with plastic garbage washing up on the shore. But it was peaceful…some of the other beaches along that section of the highway were packed with no available parking, so it was nice to be away from the crowds.

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Location: 54-135 Kamehameha Hwy, Hauula, HI 96717

Designation: Public Beach

Date of my visit: April 11, 2019

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Coit Tower – NRHP

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Coit Tower is a 210-foot tower in Pioneer Park on Telegraph Hill, one of San Francisco’s seven hills.  The tower was completed in 1933 using funds from Lillie Hitchcock Coit’s bequest to beautify the city of San Francisco.

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Coit was an eccentric socialite who wore pants, smoked cigars, gambled in mens-only clubs and liked to chase fires. She is said to have pitched in to help the firemen fight a blaze near her home. This was considered unusual behavior for a lady in those days.

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The tower is dedicated to the firefighters who died in the city’s long history of fires. Some say the structure resembles a fire hose nozzle, though the architect insisted that was a coincidence.

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Visitors can buy a ticket to the observation deck on top. We rode in the old-time elvator, complete with elevator operator, to the top to see the panoramic views of the city and the bay.

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Location: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated/established: 1/29/2008

Date of my visit: 8/16/2012

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View of Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower from Lombard Street.

Navy Pier: NRHP

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Navy Pier is on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan and is 3300 feet long with 50 acres of attractions and restaurants. It is the top leisure destination in the Midwest, so on our weekend in Chicago, we had to visit.

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Navy Pier first opened in 1916 as the Municipal Pier and served multiple purposes. It was a freight dock, expositions were held there and later it served as a prison for WWI draft-dodgers. In honor of WWI Naval Veterans, it was renamed Navy Pier in 1927.

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The Navy used it as a training center during WWII, complete with living quarters, shops a theater, eateries and a hospital. After the war, the University of Illinois used it as a campus until they outgrew it.

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By 1989, the pier had fallen into disuse and begun to deteriorate. The city organized a redevelopment committee. In 1995, the pier had it’s grand re-opening as a modern retail and entertainment complex.  When we visited, it was undergoing another metamorphosis for the 2016 Centennial.

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Location: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated or established: 9/13/1979

Date of my visit: 5/23/2015

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Home of FDR National Historic Site

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I visited the Home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on a Wednesday in October. October is typically a very busy month for the Hyde Park NPS sites, but it wasn’t too bad on a week day. I stopped at the visitor center, got my ticket for the 9:30 tour and then watched the 15 minute film about FDR.

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FDR was the only president to be elected four times, though he only served three full terms. He passed away suddenly at the beginning of his fourth.

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I hadn’t ever seen the film footage from his inaugural addresses and was struck by the fact that he delivered them standing. I knew that he’d been paralyzed by polio and was the only disabled man ever to serve as president.

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Our docent explained that FDR never admitted that he couldn’t walk and had a gentleman’s agreement with the press to refrain from photographing him in the wheelchair. He had heavy steel braces made so that he could stand behind the podium.

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The original section of the house from 1800

After the film, our group walked over to Springwood, the Federal-Italianate mansion where FDR was born and lived for his whole life. Built in 1800, FDR’s father James purchased Springwood in 1866. FDR and his mother Sara expanded the house in 1915.

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FDR’s boyhood room

In 1943, Roosevelt donated the property to the USA with the stipulation that his family would be allowed to live there for the rest of their lives. He died two years later and the family relinquished their rights, transferring ownership to the National Park Service.

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FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Scottish terrier, Fala are all buried in Sara Roosevelt’s Rose Garden.

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Hyde Park posts:

  • FDR Presidential Library
  • Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site (Coming Soon)
  • Gardens at Bellefield (Coming Soon)
  • Home of FDR National Historic Site
  • Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site (Coming Soon)

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Location: 4097 Albany Post Rd, Hyde Park, NY 12538

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designated or established: 1/15/1944

Date of my visit: 10/3/2018

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Custer State Park

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Custer State Park is South Dakota’s largest and first state park, named for Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, of the infamous ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ in the American Indian War. The park protects 71,000 acres in the Black Hills. The Black Hills name is translated from the Lakota Pahá Sápa, who called them that because the dense pine tree forests  make them appear dark when seen from a distance.

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We were staying at Custer’s Chief Motel (a clean, no-frills family run motel with the advantage of family suites with separate bedrooms and a big indoor pool for the kids) and they offered us a free pass to visit Custer State Park. It had been on our itinerary anyway, but we appreciated the perk.

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We entered the park from highway 16 and pulled over in a few places to walk around and admire the views of the Black Hills.

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Next we headed to the State Game Lodge for a snack and the gift shop. This was Calvin Coolidge’s Summer White House in 1927. President Eisenhower also spent some time here in 1953.

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Then we drove the park’s Wildlife Loop. The park is home to a large herd of bison, pronghorn, deer, elk and most thrilling for the kids: the Begging Burros.

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Please note, we did NOT feed the burros, though it obvious these feral donkeys are comfortable around cars and humans and used to being fed by them. Once these fellas realized we had no food, they moved on to the next group.

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The wildlife loop is 18 miles long and took us almost two hours to drive because of the frequent stops and wildlife crossings, but we enjoyed every minute of it, keeping our eyes peeled for bison (who hid from us until the very end of the loop.)

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Location: 13329 US Hwy 16A, Custer, SD 57730

Designation: State Park

Date designated or established: 1912

Date of my visit: 7/31/2009

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New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve: Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge

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Hoo-dini the Great Horned Owl

The Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge is in Medford on the edge of the NJ Pinelands National Reserve. The refuge rehabilitates and releases thousands of native animals each year.

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Aldora, the red-tail hawk is blind in his other eye after being hit by a car.

The refuge was founded by Jim and Betty Woodford in 1957  on 171 acres and continues its work today with their daughter at the helm. The refuge received a preservation grant from the NJ Green Acres fund in the nineties and operates as a non-profit organization.

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Their mission includes education, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. They have a wildlife rehabilitation hospital on the premises, as well an outdoor housing area for the animals that can’t be released back into the wild.

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Qwan, the barred owl, was there for both of my visits in 2016 and 2017. He was a senior citizen then, almost completely blind and the refuge’s most mellow ambassador.

One of the education programs they run to help fund their efforts is a chance for groups to interact with the ‘education ambassadors.’ I’ve visited twice with a photography group for the opportunity to photograph some of the birds of prey in a more natural setting.

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The volunteer told us each bird’s story as we encountered them. Most are there because they were hit by cars, sustained permanent injuries and would not survive in the wild. Several are blind, some have lame wings, etc…

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Apollo, the turkey vulture became too acclimated to humans, preferring to steal hamburgers from backyard grills to scavenging carcasses.

Some, like the Turkey Vulture, had imprinted on humans. The volunteer explained that, in the hospital, the animals are nursed back to health by caretakers wearing coverings and a bird puppet to prevent human imprinting.

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Duster the barn owl retired from his ambassador duties in 2018

After our photo session, we walked around the enclosures and along the hiking trail around Cedar Run Pond for a short way.

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Pinelands Reserve Posts:

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Location: 4 Sawmill Road | Medford, NJ 08055

Designation: Wildlife Sanctuary

Date designated or established: 1957

Date of my visit: 1/31/2016

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‘Don’t let his adorable stature fool you’, the volunteer said. ‘The Northern screech Owl is a vicious little predator.’