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Gettysburg Address: A Reaffirmation of a Founding Principle of the United States

A painting of Abraham Lincoln giving his Gettysburg Address by J. L. G. Ferris (c. 1900) Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address wass a reaffirmation of a founding principle of the United States: that all humans are born equal.

The Battle of Gettysburg took place during July 1–3, 1863, and resulted in the retreat of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia from its incursion into Union territory. On November 19, months after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) attended a ceremony dedicating a national cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield site. The Gettysburg Address is the speech he gave to the assembled crowd at the ceremony, and it is widely celebrated as one of the most important and influential political speeches in the history of the United States. Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address,

… wehere highly resolve that these dead shall not havedied in vain- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom- and that government of the people, by the people, for thepeople, shall not perish from the earth.

When President Lincoln delivered his address, he was second on the bill to Edward Everett (1794–1865), a famed orator who gave a two-hour-long speech to the assembled crowd. Lincoln’s speech was incomparably shorter, lasting no longer than two to three minutes, and encompassing about 250 words. Yet in that speech, the president reflected the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence (1776), the founding document of the American nation. His simple, eloquent expression of the notion that the nation was founded for equality, and for the good of all people, not once referred to slavery, the Confederacy, the Union, or any of the political issues of the day.

It is unclear what the reaction to Lincoln’s speech was at the time, after less than two years after giving it the president was dead and the civil war over. However, the impact of the Gettysburg Address lived on as a model of political rhetoric, oratorical simplicity, and political ideology. The speech turned the nation’s political attention toward the unifying ideal that all people are born equal—an ideal that is almost universally assumed today.

The Gettysburg Address is credited as being largely responsible for the introduction of that ideal into U.S. political discourse, and it remains an important political reference point today.

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St. Louis Points of Interest: “There’s More than Meets the Arch”

St. Louis Points of Interest:

Here are just some of the hundreds of ways you can explore St. Louis, home of a thousand one-of-a-kind restaurants, an unrivaled music scene and cultural attractions known the world over:

  1. Ride 630 feet high to the top of the Gateway Arch. The Gateway Arch sits along the west bank of the Mississippi River. It is one of the most iconic monuments in the United States and takes its name from the city’s role as the “Gateway to the West” in the westward enlargement of the United States in the 19th century.
  2. The Gateway Arch of Saint Louis Follow the footsteps of explorers Lewis & Clark for the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana Purchase is an 1803 agreement by which the United States bought from France that part of France’s North American empire roughly defined by the Missouri and Mississippi River watersheds. The deal doubled the size of the nation, creating what Thomas Jefferson termed an “empire for liberty.” Between 1804 and 1806, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark explored the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest. The expedition was a key chapter in the history of American exploration.
  3. Explore Forest Park—refurbished for the 100th anniversary of the 1904 World’s Fair. From May through December of 1904, St. Louis, Missouri presented the biggest World’s Fair ever conceived, with thousands of buildings and concessions stretched throughout a meticulously designed and methodically organized park landscape.
  4. Drive Old Route 66. The Mother Road makes some of its most fascinating stops in St. Louis.
  5. See some of St. Louis’ world-class free attractions, including the Art Museum, Zoo, Science Center and History Museum.
  6. Marvel at one of the world’s top gardens—the Missouri Botanical Garden. Also called Shaw’s Garden, this botanical garden is most notable for its Climatron, a geodesic-dome greenhouse in which 1,200 species of plants are grown under computer-controlled conditions simulating a rainforest.
  7. Free your inner child at the Magic House, City Museum and other kid-friendly attractions.
  8. Visit an ancient Indian civilization at Cahokia Mounds. Cahokia Mounds is an archaeological site occupying some 5 square miles (13 square km) on the Mississippi River floodplain opposite St. Louis, Missouri, near Cahokia and Collinsville, southwestern Illinois.
  9. Cheer for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful teams in baseball history or take a seat for exciting Rams football and Blues hockey games.
  10. Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Count the mosaics at the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, a majestic, beloved landmark, will awe visitors who think they’ve seen all the great cathedrals. Its domed ceilings display the largest single assembly of mosaics in the world.
  11. The Blues were born here. Take a seat in one of the live music dubs to find out how good feelin bad can be.
  12. Hit the road at Gateway International Raceway, the Museum of Transportation and other automotive attractions.
  13. Visit the heart of St. Louis—our friendly and historic neighborhoods.
  14. Take a Gateway Art Tour by exploring the Saint Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park, the Contemporary Art Museum and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.
  15. Discover the past at the historic Old Courthouse, the Black World History Museum and Faust Historic Village.
  16. Saint Louis Riverboat Casinos lirt with Lady Luck on one of the region’s five glittering riverboat casinos.
  17. Tour the home of the world’s largest brewer at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The brewary is a great place to hang out while waiting for a tour of the historic brewery to start or a place to spend a lazy summer afternoon. Throughout the year, guests will also find a full menu ranging from soups and salads, to burgers and sandwiches, to desserts and seasonal specials.
  18. Dine in some of St. Louis’ thousand one-of-a-kind restaurants.
  19. Fill an extra suitcase during a shopping trip through St. Louis’ major malls and antique and collectibles stores.
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Lake Powell and its Magnificent Canyon Walls

Lake Powell in Cathedral in the Desert

Lake Powell emerged as an positive aspect of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River and has emerged as a superlative freshwater kayaking destination. In the 1960s, there was much hostility from environmentalists and anthropologists toward the contentious proposal to dam the Colorado River and flood the Glen Canyon, establishing Lake Powell. This was equivalent to filling the Grand Canyon with water. Yet few could deny that the resulting artificial landscape is a staggering sight.

Named for explorer John Wesley Powell, Lake Powell has more coastline than the west coast of the United States. Lake Powell green-water tentacles stretch from the main 185-mile watercourse into 96 side canyons, where kayakers can propel without tides, waves, currents, and motorboats.

Crystal-clear turquoise waters mirror the soaring rich-red canyon walls that ascend from the water, interspersed by astonishing arches, superb spires, and sandstone buttes, as well as countless inlets, and sandy beaches. The lake stretches for 186 miles across southern Utah and northern Arizona, and encompasses 2,000 miles of coastline and 96 water-filled side canyons, many of which are reachable only by boat.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Lake Powell Really, the finest way to appreciate the delights the lake has to offer is by houseboat. Only a houseboat allows a visitor the choice to search out remote corners in which to dock the houseboat. Houseboat rentals are available at Wahweap, Bullfrog, and Antelope Point marinas. Boats range from the deluxe, complete with hot tub, and wet bar for up to fourteen people, to those that include only essential comforts.

At the outset, boat throughout this vast network of canyons, with its astounding contrasts of blue water and sere land. After that, take a hike into the ostensibly endless landscape of stone swoops and mounds that appear in shades of tinted salmon, melon, and maize.

Water sports dictate the baking summer in Lake Powell and fishing enjoyed in the cooler months: April through June and October to November. The most fashionable mooring point is close to the near the amazing Rainbow Bridge National Monument. 290 feet high and 275 feet across, this breathtaking geological formation is a deeply spiritual place and is renowned as the world’s largest natural bridge.

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The Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park

The Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

This rustic Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration was built in the summer of 1925. First services were held here on July 26 of that year, and on August 16, it was consecrated by The Rt. Reverend N. S. Thomas D.D., then Bishop of Wyoming.

The first suggestion for a chapel in this location was made about 1920 to a group seated around a campfire at the summer camp of Dr. George Woodward, of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Having made a long and tiresome trip that day from their camp near the outlet of Leigh Lake to the nearest place of worship in the town of Jackson, Mrs. Woodward expressed the wish that a chapel could be built at Menor’s Ferry, which was the center of what was the “dude ranch” portion of the valley. She discussed the idea with her friend, Miss Maude Noble, who owned and later generously donated the land where the chapel stands.

Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Plans for the building did not fully materialize until the early spring of 1925, when Archdeacon R.H. Balcom came to take charge of the Mission in Jackson’s Hole. He became actively interested in the idea, designed the building, and wrote of his plans to Mr. C. B. Voorhis, of Pasadena, California. Mr. Voorhis, who had a beautiful ranch on Torrey Lake, near Dubois in Wyoming, had been a lifelong friend of Bishop Thomas. He was greatly interested in the bishop’s work and had contributed significantly to the church and the first hospital in Jackson. Discussing the plans for a chapel at Menor’s Ferry with Bishop Thomas, Mr. Voorhis assured him that he and Mrs. Voorhis would be glad to finance the project. From that moment, work on the Chapel progressed rapidly.

The Chapel is built of lodgepole pine, with pews of quaking aspen, cut in the valley. Above the altar is a plate glass reredos window framing the Grand Tetons. For twenty-four hours every day during the tourist season, the door is open to all who come.

Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park is built of lodgepole pine with pews of quaking aspen.

The Chapel is named most appropriately in commemoration of the Gospel story of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28–36), where we are told of Jesus going into the mountains with Peter, James and John and appearing to them in the company of Moses and Elijah, resplendent in dazzling white clothing. Then a cloud enveloped them, and a voice said, “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” When the cloud went away, Jesus was seen, standing alone, by His disciples.

The Altar was given as a memorial by the C.B. Voorhis family; the font was given in memory of Miss Quita Woodward; the vestibule stained glass was presented by Miss Jessie Van Brunt. The bell, cast in 1842, is from St. Barnabas Church, Irvington, N.Y. The organ was given in 2009 by those who love worshipping here.

Address all communications to St. John’s Episcopal Church Jackson Hole in Jackson, Wyoming 83001.

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Ben Franklin’s Fable of The Lion And The Dog

Ben Franklin's Fable of The Lion And The Dog

In January 1770, in the London newspaper The Public Advertiser, Benjamin Franklin published a fable about a young lion cub and a large English dog traveling together on a ship.

A lion’s whelp was put on board a Guinea ship bound to America as a present to a friend in that country: it was tame and harmless as a kitten, and therefore not confined, but suffered to walk about the ship at pleasure. A stately, full-grown English mastiff, belonging to the captain, despising the weakness of the young lion, frequently took its food by force, and often turned it out of its lodging box, when he had a mind to repose therein himself The young lion nevertheless grew daily in size and strength, and the voyage being long, he became at last a more equal match for the mastiff; who continuing his insults, received a stunning blow from the lion’s paw that fetched his skin over his ears, and deterred him from any future contest with such growing strength; regretting that he had not rather secured its friendship than provoked its enmity.

'A Benjamin Franklin Reader' by Walter Isaacson (ISBN 0743273982) This is one of the many his articles, letters, hoaxes, and other pieces of political propaganda all aimed at convincing the British colonial powers that its oppressive treatment of the American colonies would sooner or later backfire. Franklin was acting in his capacity as the spokesman in London for several colonies.

Franklin “humbly inscribed” this to Lord Hillsborough, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, who had become Franklin’s most ardent opponent.

Lord Hillsborough (Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire PC) served as the colonial secretary from 1768 to 1772, a critical period leading toward the American War of Independence.

For a great collection of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, see ‘A Benjamin Franklin Reader’ by Walter Isaacson. Not only was Franklin a self-made man, but he gave great advice about connecting with people and interacting with others both from a business and from a personal point of view.

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Devils Tower in Wyoming: A Monument to Lift the Spirit

The Devils Tower National Monument

Reaching for the heavens as it rises out of the sage brush, pine trees and sparse prairie grass of northeast Wyoming is a scarred monolith that overwhelms the neighboring landscape. To scientists and tourists this is the core of an ancient volcano. To the many indigenous tribes who lived, and live, on the northern plains of North America, it is a sacred place.

Devils Tower or Bear’s Lodge is actually the core of an ancient volcano. The site of vision quests and sacred ceremonies for native tribes, the monolith has many associated legends.

Once, in ancient times, seven girls were picking berries when a vicious bear began to chase them. Fleeing to the top of a small hill, the girls huddled in terror and prayed to the Great Spirit for rescue. The Great Spirit answered their frantic pleas by raising the hill higher and higher until the girls were safely out of the bear’s reach. The infuriated beast tried in vain to climb up after them, scratching and clawing with growing fury at the sides of the hill, which had now become a tall mountain. Ultimately, the bear gave up and slunk off, and the Great Spirit carried the girls safely back to their village.

Devils Tower or Bear's Lodge, Wyoming One tells how it sprang up to save seven girls from a great bear who was chasing them. The grooves in its sides are said to be the marks left by the bear’s claws. This, according to one Native tradition, is how the vast protrusion of igneous rock known as Devils Tower came into being. Native tribes have known it by many names, including Bear’s Lodge, Bear’s Lair, Aloft on a Rock, and Ghost Mountain. The bear’s long, deep claw marks can still be seen in the form of the strikingly regular columns of igneous rock that give all sides of the mountain its remarkable appearance, like a colossal scratched tree stump—hence another of the Native names, Tree Rock. The official name, Devils Tower, derives from “Bad Spirit Mountain”, a 19th century mistranslation of Bear’s Lodge, the most familiar name of the site among Native tribes.

The mountain—which was declared America’s first National Monument in 1906—has long drawn visitors for its absolute breathtaking beauty. Standing nearly 1,300 feet above the prairie floor, it has near-vertical sides that are a stark challenge to any of the thousands of rock climbers who come here every year to test their skills and fortitude. In June, however, most—but sadly not all—recreational climbers stay away, respecting the desire of Native peoples not to be disturbed in traditional sacred rituals and ceremonies at the foot of the mountain, such as the sun dance, sweat lodge rites, vision quests and prayer offerings. For countless generations, and long before any human climber thought to scale its heights, diverse tribes have performed rites at the base in order to honor the Great Spirit and reiterate their primordial tenderness to the mountain.

Whether in groups or as individual pilgrims, many Native people still go to Devils Tower to meditate, seek out guidance, meditate, and connect with the Earth and the heavens. In my view, and as the legend of the seven girls vividly acknowledges, Devils Tower has one common effect: it lifts—both literally and figuratively. Whether your journey to the mountain is a recreational or spiritual one, whether it causes you to lift your eyes to its summit, or climb its sheer walls, or offer prayers to be sent upward, it will leave you with the distinctive sense of having approached closer to a higher realm.

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The Comprehensive Benjamin Franklin Timeline

The Benjamin Franklin Timeline

Benjamin Franklin is revered as the truly distinguished American for his way of living. Assiduous, industrious, ingenious, opinionated, involved, entrepreneurial, intelligent, inquisitive, patriotic, and he lived to be old. He was a printer, a politician, an author, writer, and journalist. He was an inventor, a thinker, and a doer. He was an honest and righteous man who zealously wanted these colonies to be free, self-determining, flourishing, and protected.

He was one of the founders of the United States. America was very privileged to have this right man at the right time. He was well loved as a diplomat and he was a manufacturer of ink. This one man could have filled the lives of ten men with achievements and honors. Lastly, he was most mercifully and humanly flawed.

1706 … Born in Boston on January 17 (Jan. 6, 1705, Old Style). One of seventeen children born to his father, Josiah Franklin,and ten to his mother, Abiah Folger.

1714 … Attends Boston Latin School.

1718 … Apprenticed to brother James Franklin, a printer, who taught Ben the printing trade.

1722 … Writes Silence Dogood essays in the New-England Courant, his brother James’s newspaper.

1723 … Runs away to Philadelphia.

1724 … Moves to London with the intention to acquire equipment necessary for establishing another newspaper in Philadelphia.

1725 … Wrote pamphlet “A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain” and, in it, rejected Christian dogma. Later regarded this pamphlet as an embarrassment.

1726 … Returns to Philadelphia.

1728 … Opens his own print shop.

1729 … Writes the “Busy-Body” series essays. Buys Pennsylvania Gazette.

1730 … Enters common-law marriage with Deborah Read. Son William born.

1731 … Founds Library Company of Philadelphia.

1732 … Son Francis born. Launches Poor Richard’s Almanac.

1733 … Moral Perfection Project that consists of twelve guidelines to help make himself morally perfect

1735 … Controversy over preacher Samuel Hemphill.

1736 … Clerk of Pennsylvania Assembly. Son Francis dies. Forms Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America.

1737 … Made Philadelphia postmaster.

1741 … Launches General Magazine, which fails. Designs Franklin stove.

1743 … Daughter Sarah (“Sally”) born. Launches American Philosophical Society.

1745 … Collinson sends electricity pamphlets and glass tube.

'A Benjamin Franklin Reader' by Walter Isaacson (ISBN 0743273982) 1746 … Summer of electricity experiments.

1747 … Writes “Plain Truth.” Organizes militia.

1748 … Retires from printing business.

1749 … Writes proposal for the Academy (University of Pennsylvania).

1751 … Electricity writings published in London. Elected to Pennsylvania Assembly.

1752 … Kite and lightning experiment.

1753 … Becomes joint postmaster for America.

1754 … French and Indian War begins. Proposes Albany Plan of Union to create a unified government for the Thirteen Colonies.

1757 … Leaves for London as agent. Writes “Way to Wealth” and last Poor Richard’s Almanac. Moves in with Mrs. Stevenson on Craven Street in London.

1758 … Visits Ecton to research ancestry with son William.

1761 … Travels to Flanders and Holland with son William.

1762 … Returns to Philadelphia. Son William made royal governor of N.J., marries.

1763 … Postal inspection trip from Virginia to New England. French and Indian War ends.

1764 … Paxton Boys crisis. Defeated in bitter Assembly election. Returns to London as agent.

1765 … Stamp Act passes.

1766 … Testifies in Parliament against Stamp Act, which is repealed.

1767 … Townshend duties imposed. Travels to France.

1768 … Wages press crusade in London on behalf of the colonies.

1769 … Second visit to France.

1770 … Townshend duties repealed except on tea. Made agent for Massachusetts.

1771 … Begins Autobiography. Visits Ireland and Scotland.

1773 … Writes parodies “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Smaller One” and “Edict of the King of Prussia.” Boston Tea Party.

1775 … Returns to Philadelphia. Battles of Lexington and Concord. Elected to Second Continental Congress. Proposes first Articles of Confederation.

1776 … William removed as royal governor, imprisoned in Connecticut. Declaration of Independence. Goes to France with Temple and Benny.

1777 … Settles in Passy, feted throughout Paris.

1778 … Treaties of alliance and commerce with France.

1779 … Salons of Madames Brillon and Helvetius. John Paul Jones’s Bonhomme Richard defeats the Serapis.

1781 … Appointed (with Adams and others) to negotiate, in Paris, peace with Britain.

1785 … Last meeting with son William. Returns to Philadelphia.

1787 … Constitutional Convention. Elected president of Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

1790 … Dies on April 17 at age 84.

For a great collection of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, see ‘A Benjamin Franklin Reader’ by Walter Isaacson. Not only was Franklin a self-made man, but he gave great advice about connecting with people and interacting with others both from a business and from a personal point of view.

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Christopher Hitchens Calls Obama Is a Megalomaniacal Narcissist

On June 3rd, 2008, at the final primary night in St. Paul, Minnesota, Barack Obama gave a nomination victory speech (transcript is here.) He concluded:

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

In response, the famous political commentator, author, and polemicist Christopher Hitchens cogent point about Obama’s subtle megalomania. On a TV program, Hitchens remarked,

not a single memorable phrase in it … time isn’t going to make people not remember a word Obama said in Philadelphia … most boring speech ever made … [saying] this will be the moment we will look back on as when the oceans started raising … so just by getting the delegate card, he has arrested the climate crisis and no one thinks it is funny except me … this is a megalomaniacal narcissist …

Megalomania is commonly understood as a mental behavior characterized by an excessive desire for power and glory and by illusory feelings of omnipotence. Megalomania is an obsession with the exercise of power, especially in the domination of others. Megalomania involves delusions of grandeur, folie de grandeur, thirst for power, self-importance, egotism, conceit, and conceitedness.

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The Surfing Mecca and Alternative Retreat at Santa Cruz, California

Surfing Mecca in Santa Cruz, California

The California beach town of Santa Cruz still has its share of surfers, hippies, and students. But in recent years the food scene has expanded to cater to the highbrow tastes of nearby Silicon Valley.

See for yourself at the Penny Ice Creamery, where Chef Kendra Baker churns flavors such as celery and black sesame. Close by, ride wooden roller coasters and vintage carousels on the boardwalk, or take a crab sandwich from The Riva Fish House out on the wharf. There you can watch sea lions come to shore and catch a glimpse of migrating humpback whales.

Santa Cruz, California

Those looking for more exercise can head to the hills above town to hike redwood groves near the University of California at Santa Cruz.

To get there, it takes less than two hours to drive 70 miles south to Santa Cruz along coast-hugging Highway 1.

Try to stay at the retro-chic Dream Inn is the only local hotel right on the beach. It’s within walking distance to the wharf and boardwalk, and all rooms have balconies or semiprivate patios with views of Monterey Bay.

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Where Surf Bathes the Rocks: Drive along the California Coastline through Big Sur

Foggy Morning along California Highway 1 and Big Sur

“It was always a wild rocky coast, desolate and forbidding to the man of the pavements.”
–Henry Miller, American Writer

The Big Sur Coast Highway is a stretch of California Route 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco where nature lingers untouched. Some 200 miles north of Los Angeles along Route 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway), the town of San Luis Obispo and the small fishing village of Morro Bay are the two substitute starting points of the Big Sur scenic drive. Finalized in 1932, this striking coastal highway finally connected the remote coastal towns of Big Sur. These 144 miles of highway is roughly isolated, highlighting just a handful of small towns and a couple of hotels, including the Post Ranch Inn, where celebrities like to take time out.

Big Sur, California Highway 1 The wildlife protection area has lately seen California condors reintroduced. They fly down high over the precipices even as, down below, local residents consist of sea otters and sea lions with the sporadic migrating whale. Deer and foxes are frequently sighted, and the shy and mysterious cougar is at home here.

The narrow two-lane road snakes its way all along the serrated cliff hugging the mountainside. Absorb the scenery as the road weaves along the sheer drops beyond Point Sur Lighthouse before terminating at picturesque Carmel, the heart of the West Coast’s tranquil coastal country, best identified for its superior beaches and movie star resident (and onetime mayor) Clint Eastwood.

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