For spring break my sister Sasha and I are going to Washington, DC. This is the capital of the United States, so we will have a tour of the White House and the Senate building. There is a lot of history here, so we are going to visit the Washington and Lincoln monuments and the Smithsonian, affectionately known as “the nation’s attic” because it has so many old treasures. There are actually 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo as part of the Smithsonian. They collect everything from dinosaur bones to airplanes. Why keep a hundred year old octopus? So we can use it to compare to what an octopus looks like today and measure changes in size, diet and . It will take me more than one spring break to explore everything in the District of Columbia! Purrs, Gulliver
Mount Shasta is a volcanic mountain with 4 overlapping cones where eruptions of lava have come up at different periods of times. The mountain is not connected to any other nearby mountain, but stands alone in majestic beauty. Mount Shasta, like many amazing places, is the center of many stories, myths and legends including the story that a lost civilization lives in the center of the mountain. The dictionary says that a legend is a collection of stories which may be partly true, but also have some imaginary parts to it. They say I am a legend, what do you think?
I invited Sasha and our cousin Gaby to join me on a trip to Seattle,Washington. Gee, those girls can talk! They loved flying, and we scampered down to Pike’s Market as soon as we landed. Sasha and Gaby went shopping for postcards while I hung around the fish market and gobbled down the bits of fish that landed on the floor. Seattle has an interesting history. In its early years, the entire downtown burned in a huge fire. The city fathers decided to raise the street level 15 feet higher than the previous street. It must have been funny to watch ladies in long skirts climb up and down ladders to get to the entrance of the stores! Eventually the stores put entrances on their second floors to solve the problem, and the first floors became basements. There is even a tour of underground Seattle now. Purrs, Gulliver
“I’ve been working on the railroad.” I sang as my granddad played his harmonica. He taught me the song after telling me about how his grandfather worked on the transcontinental railroad. This connected the United States by going from Oakland, California through Sacramento, then up through Utah, and across the Great Plains to Omaha, Nebraska. There it linked with rails which already existed. The workers built tunnels through mountains and bridges over rivers and canyons to get the tracks laid. It was hard, dangerous work and it took six years to complete the lines. In 1876, an express train traveled coast to coast, from New York to San Francisco in just 83 hours and 39 minutes. Just 10 years before, the same trip would have taken months by covered wagon or even weeks by ship, going all the way around South America and up the Pacific Coast. My granddad was very proud of his grandfather.
This little cat loves to eat! So when I went to Bakersfield to visit my older brother, we scurried down to have dinner at a Basque restaurant. Everyone sits together in long tables, and the food is served family style with big platters on the table and each person helping themselves. Since we are cats, we had our neighboring humans serve us. We had Soup, Salad, Beans, Bread, Salsa, Pickled Beef Tongue, Cottage Cheese, Pasta, French Fries, and Vegetables. And that was before the main course! At the end of the meal, we were served Blue Cheese and Ice Cream. Many of the Basque people who moved from their home in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain became sheepherders, so lamb is often on the menu at the restaurants. Purrs, Gulliver
If only flowers could talk, what interesting stories they could tell! The tulip is not only a good traveler, but a migrant as well. Originally found growing wild in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, tulip bulbs were brought to Istanbul, Turkey for the gardens there. Tulips were prized flowers, and became a symbol of the Ottoman sultans. One sultan had 12 gardens of tulips with 920 gardeners to take care of them. As a gift, tulip bulbs were sent to the Netherlands, where people fell in love with the flower and spent a lot of money to buy bulbs. One bulb could cost as much as $1,500 in today’s money!
Tulip colors have different meanings assigned to them. Yellow tulips symbolize cheerful thoughts, white express forgiveness and purple represents royalty. A red tulip, similar to the red rose, means perfect love. Now tulips can be found in many countries. I would like to go to a tulip festival one spring and see the acres of flowers blooming. There are festivals in the Netherlands which are very popular, but also in Mt. Vernon, Washington; Ottawa, Canada; Kashmir, India; Albany, New York and Holland, Michigan to name a few places. That would be a lot of flowers to see! Purrs, Gulliver
I wish I could travel back and forwards through time. Going to Williamsburg, Virginia is like traveling through time to when the original United States were still colonies of England. Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 In the 1600’s and 1700’s, there were no airplanes, telephones, refrigerators or cars. People grew their own food, made candles for light (electricity had not been discovered yet), made their own clothes and tools. Kitchens and toilets (privies) were separate buildings from the living and sleeping rooms and there was no running water to the house. Everyone had to work hard- even the cats that caught rodents and kept them from eating people’s food. Wow, I didn’t realize how lucky I am – I don’t have to go hunting for my dinner! Purrs, Gulliver
My friend Mouse, who is a cat so I never understood her name, moved from Salinas, California to Portland, Oregon last year. Now she has invited me to come for a visit! I think I will go when the iris are in bloom, and maybe some of the roses that Portland grows in its famous garden. I love visiting gardens and looking at pretty flowers.
Maybe Mouse and I will take a day trip to Mount Hood. It is about 100 miles away, but as the tallest point in Oregon, it can be seen from Portland. I called it a mountain, but Mouse explained it is an active volcano, though not likely to erupt in an explosion. There are several ski resorts and lodges on the mountain, and 12 different glaciers, or ice fields. We had better take some snow boots to avoid frost bitten paws. Purrs, Gulliver
Up, up and away! I went to the Albuquerque, New Mexico balloon festival and to ride in a balloon! Not the kind you buy at the store, but a giant kind that can hold 4-6 people in the basket. The balloon part is called an envelope, and the basket beneath it is called a gondola. Hot air fills the envelope, and before long we were drifting through the quiet air, looking at the people and scenery below. Most balloons launch in the early morning, when there is little wind so landing is not as bumpy. A chase crew follows the balloon and picks up the people and equipment when the balloon lands. After my ride, there was a balloon fiesta where 600 balloons went sailing through the air at the same time, creating a rainbow of colors in the blue sky. Purrs, Gulliver
“Are there really ghosts in ghost towns?” My friend Scamp was worried as we prowled around the abandoned buildings. No silly, it just means the town has been abandoned. It happens when a natural disaster happens such as drought or floods. A war could drive people from an area, or maybe the main business of the town like a mine or manufacturing plant closes. Sometimes a train will stop providing service or a freeway will change the traffic flow and leave a town isolated. The term was popularized when the California Gold Rush of 1849 ended, but there are ghost towns all over the world. Some have been preserved and have become tourist attractions or movie sets. Others have slowly drawn people back to live and work in the area. No need to be a “fraidy cat”, Scamp, we won’t be ghost hunting today. Purrs, Gulliver