Southwest road trip #3

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Continuing on our road trip together, we leave Death Valley National Park behind and headed eastward toward Las Vegas. We didn’t go there particularly because we wanted to go to Vegas…but it was sorta on the way to the Hoover Dam which we did want to see as neither my wife or I had ever seen it before. And, the idea of shooting Vegas at night was intriguing to me. So, we drove from Death Valley to Las Vegas to spend the night. 

Vegas is pretty much unlike any other place I’ve ever been to. I find it fascinating for about 24 hours but then I feel like I need to take a shower and get away from that place. What do I like about it? I love the lights at night and the incredible photo opportunities that it presents. I love seeing the incredible hotels that rise up from the desert floor like monuments to human ingenuity (and greed!). But I don’t like being approached on the sidewalks by folks handing out cards with photos of massage parlors or escorts. There is definitely a very seedy side to the town. 

At any rate, you soon learn to ignore the people trying to hand you things and focus on the amazing buildings and lights. Today’s photo was one I took looking at a part of the world-famous Las Vega Strip. You can see the Mirage in the image – and sadly – that place gained notoriety this past year when a gunman went on a deadly rampage shooting out of the windows there. But we were there years before that happened. I love the lights of the city at night!  But I’d sure hate to have their electric bill! 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1799, Massachusetts, without consulting either Continental political or military authorities, launches a 4,000-man naval expedition commanded by Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, Adjutant General Peleg Wadsworth, Brigadier General Solomon Lovell and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Revere. The expedition consisted of 19 warships, 24 transport ships and more than 1,000 militiamen. Their objective was to capture a 750-man British garrison at Castine on the Penobscot Peninsula, in what would later become Maine. 

The expedition arrived on July 25 and proceeded to launch a series of inconclusive land attacks, leaving Patriot naval forces underutilized and allowing the British plenty of time to send for reinforcements. The land commander, Brig. Gen. Lovell, began to retreat at the arrival of Sir George Collier’s seven British warships, expecting Saltonstall to engage in a naval battle. Saltonstall, however, did not fight for long: the naval engagement concluded in total disaster on August 14, when Saltonstall surprised both Patriot and British commanders by fleeing upriver and burning his own ships. The Patriots lost in excess of 470 men, as well as numerous Continental Navy and Massachusetts ships that were burned during the retreat. The British achieved their victory at a cost of only 13 men.

Saltonstall and Paul Revere later faced court martial because of the fiasco. Saltonstall lost his commission, but Revere won acquittal. By contrast, Peleg Wadsworth, who served as Revere’s second-in-command, won acclaim for his performance in the engagement. He had organized the retreat, which was the only well-executed aspect of the mission. Wadsworth’s family continued to play a celebrated role in American history: his grandson was the famed poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The failed Penobscot expedition was considered the worst naval disaster in American history until the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, more than 160 years later.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: ever heard of the “Twinkie Defense”? In 1979, Daniel White said he killed San Francisco mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk because he ate too much junk food, such as Twinkies, candy bars, and cupcakes, which caused a chemical imbalance in his brain. He was still convicted and, in 1981, Congress outlawed the “Twinkie Defense.”

 

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