July 4, 2006
Among many underappreciated mountain peaks in the U.S. is Mount Timpanogos, in the Wasatch Range of the Rockies. It is northeast of Provo, Utah, and it was due east of my bedroom window for the nine years I lived in Pleasant Grove, Utah, before I headed off to college.
Here is a site that offers some stunning views of the mountain: http://utahpictures.com/Timpanogos.html [update: pictures moved to this site: http://utahpictures.com/Timpanogos.php]. While I often hiked the “backside” of the mountain, I never made it all the way to the top. You can see what I missed.
July 4, 2006
Independence Day is one of the best holidays of the year, especially for those of us who love fireworks. In the first few years of our marriage we lived in and very near Washington, D.C., where there is one of the grandest fireworks displays annually, against one of the most arresting set of backdrops possible. When we lived on Capitol Hill it was a short walk to the Capitol, to watch the display at the Washington Monument, with the Lincoln Memorial and Lee’s Mansion at Arlington National Cemetery in the background. Once we hiked to the Lincoln Memorial to get the opposite view.
There are other grand displays. Baltimore annually has a grand fireworks program on Baltimore Harbor, near Fort McHenry whose shelling was the inspiration to Francis Scott Key to write what is now our national anthem. In the Norfolk area there is a fine show at the Yorktown National Battlefield site. New York City has great stuff, as do Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
But the best part of the holiday is the annual retelling of the story of freedom, of the Declaration of Independence, and of its chief author Thomas Jefferson, and the friendships that included Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and especially John Adams. The story of the friendship, falling out, reconciliation and great love between Adams and Jefferson is one of the finest stories in American history. After having reconciled a few years after their great falling out during the bitter election of 1800, they continued to correspond to their deaths. The series of letters is a great explication of democracy, how to form a republic, and the duties and privileges of citizens in a free nation. To add to the poignancy, both Adams and Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day that the Declaration of Independence was published. Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars has a fine post on the day, the Declaration, and the friendship between Adams and Jefferson, here.