Wind Among the Trees

I hear the wind among the trees
Playing the celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument.
~Henry  Wadsworth Longfellow

Sunset on the Currituck Sound, North Carolina.

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Ocracoke Island

Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina has shown up on maps as far back  as the late 1500s. It’s rumored to have been the last headquarters of the pirate Blackbeard,
who died on the island. The wily pirate, after years of terrorizing merchant ships along the Atlantic coast, made his peace with the British crown in 1712 and received a full pardon from the king. Soon thereafter, however, he came out of retirement and resumed preying on ships from the Caribbean to the Virginia capes.

The Ocracoke lighthouse was built in 1823, and is the oldest North Carolina lighthouse still in continuous service. (It is the second oldest lighthouse in the U.S. in continuous service, Boston Light on Little Brewster Island was the first lighthouse built in the United States in 1716.)

When Ocracoke Island was isolated from the mainland and few visitors came by boat,
as many as 1,000 wild ponies roamed its dunes. Where they came from — shipwrecks, early Spanish explorers, or English settlers — is uncertain. Eventually, as more and more people traveled to and from the island, many ponies were rounded up and shipped to the mainland. The remnants of the herd (about two dozen) now live at the Ocracoke Pony Pens, a range 7 miles north of Ocracoke village, where the National Park Service looks after them.

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Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill is a 19th-century downtown Boston residential neighborhood situated directly north of the Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. Its architecture, mostly brick row houses, includes the Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian periods, as well as early 20th-century colonial revival homes and tenements. It is known for its beautiful doors and door surrounds, brass door knockers, decorative iron work, brick sidewalks, perpetually-burning gas lights, flowering pear trees, window boxes, and hidden gardens.

Beacon Hill contains a South Slope, a North Slope and a Flat of the Hill. Charles Street is the neighborhood’s main street and is filled with antique shops and neighborhood services. DeLuca’s has been at the same location for over 100 years. Born in Italy, Uncle Joe DeLuca (1900-1997) started working in the store which would later bear his name, in 1919. The store soon became known as “the place” in Boston for the finest in fresh fruit and produce.

During prohibition and during the war it provided the essential needs of Beacon Hill residents as it still does to this day serving the everyday customer to historic notables such as North Pole Explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd, President John F. Kennedy, and historian Samuel Elliot Morison all of whom lived near DeLuca’s.

The most prominent building on Beacon Hill is the new State House.  It was built in 1795 by Charles Bulfinch. The dome is covered with 23 1/2 carat gold leaf.

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What Happens in Vegas…

There are over 124,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas.

An acre of land on the strip costs about 30 million dollars.

The state makes about 9 billion dollars in gambling revenue each year.

There are approximately 315 weddings per day in Vegas.

It costs $35 dollars for a Nevada marriage license.

It costs $450 to file for divorce in Nevada.

With 3,933 rooms, the Bellagio has more rooms than the number of residents in Bellagio, Italy.

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Graveyard of the Atlantic

The Diamond Shoals.

Where the Labrador Current meets the Gulf Stream in the swirling, shipwreck-laden waters off Cape Hatteras. It’s here that more than 500 ships of many nations, trying to find their way around the Shoals, sank at or near Cape Hatteras, earning for the area the sinister reputation as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”.

The absence of natural landmarks along the Carolina Coast added to the navigator’s risk, as he was drawn dangerously close to shore to get a bearing.

Recognizing the very danger to Atlantic shipping, Congress, in 1794, authorized the construction of a permanent lighthouse at Cape Hatteras.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick beacon in the country standing 208 feet. The familiar black and white spiral-striped landmark serves as a warning to mariners of submerged and shifting sandbars which extend almost twenty miles off Cape Hatteras into the Atlantic Ocean.

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DUMBO

DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass,  is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It encompasses two sections; one located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, which connect Brooklyn to Manhattan across the East River, and another which continues east from the Manhattan Bridge to the Vinegar Hill area.

The area has emerged as one of New York City’s premier arts districts, with a cluster of for-profit art galleries and such not-for-profit institutions.

Pete’s Downtown has the most spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. A landmark restaurant with four generations of service since 1894.

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The National Cherry Blossom Festival

Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC.

In a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park.

A first batch of 2,000 trees arrived diseased in 1910, but did not deter the parties.  Just two years later in 1912, new trees arrived and were planted. These are the trees that now turn the Tidal Basin into a cloud of pink each spring.

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees in 1965. In 1981, the cycle of giving came full circle. Japanese horticulturists were given cuttings from the trees to replace some cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood.

Today, more than a million people visit Washington, DC each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and attend events that herald the beginning of spring in the nation’s capital.

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