SAM WITH A CAPITAL “S”

December 2, 20016

Good Mawnin’ – I gon’ tell you some ting – dat trip was dee bes !!!

As you may know, we used to live in the islands – 3 years St. Croix, 7 years in St. Thomas, and 3 months in Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands, or BVI. ¬†We haven’t been back for about 5 years, so lots of changes. ¬†But what a trip — If you’ve never been, ¬†put it on your bucket list. ¬†The beauty is heavenly!!! ¬†For those of you interested in camping, I’ve included some info, ¬†as well as our sailing stops, and a few restaurant reviews.

It was a long haul to get to and from the boat.  Four plane trips, 2 ferry rides. and countless taxis.  We tried UBER  for the first time, and it worked out very well, while still in the USA.  I especially like that you know what it will cost before you start the trip.  Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous taxi drivers who go out of their way to run-up the meter when you are clearly new in town.  Not so with UBER Рyou can relax Рno listening to that infernal meter tick-tick-ticking.

On Saturday, we arrived in Tortola. ¬†There used to be a campgound at Brewer’s Bay, but it seems to be no longer in existence. We are here ¬†to ¬†board our 50′ Catamaran for a week of sailing the islands. “Tennessee Waltz” would be our home.

saba

The captain was my son Gene. ¬†The crew consisted of Gene’s wife Jenny, and my grandsons Timmy, Dan, and Matt. ¬†Also on board acting as crew were their friends the Cooks – Dad, Mom, and three sons, ¬†along with Tim and me. (Six boys, ranging in age from 6 to11). ¬†After a briefing for the captain and main crew, and a boat walk-through, we were on our way. ¬†First stop – Norman Island.

Norman Island is one of a number of islands reputed to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate novel, Treasure Island. It¬†is a well-known destination for cruisers and other tourists because of three sea-level caves at the base of cliffs.

cave

The caves are ideal for snorkeling. ¬†There are ¬†no permanent inhabitants (other than wild goats), but there is a restaurant and bar named “Pirates Bight”. ¬†There is also an old schooner named the William Thornton, or “Willy T”, ¬†which operates as a bar and restaurant. ¬†The Willy T gets pretty rowdy, and is not suitable for small children. ¬†But we did explore the caves, and have dinner at the “Pirates Bight”.

Picture of “Pirate’s ¬†Bight”.

pirates-rest

What the heck is a “bight”? ¬†For years I’ve heard and said that word, not knowing what it means. ¬†Well, in geography, a bight is a bend or curve in a coastline, river, or other geographical feature. It typically indicates a large, open bay. It is distinguished from a sound by being shallower. OK – ¬†now we all ¬†know.

There are no campgrounds on Norman Island.

On the second day, we snorkeled at The indians, then spent the night on a mooring at Cooper Island. ¬†The Indians are four¬†rocky pinnacles that rise straight up, about 100′ from the ocean floor. It’s one of my favorite places to snorkel because it’s like being inside an aquarium.¬†There are lots of blue tangs, parrotfish, cow fish, damsel fish, sergeant majors, jacks, queen angels, wrasse, trunk fish, and all the usual suspects, including an eel or two. If you’re lucky, you might spot a queen trigger fish. ¬†You need luck because they’ve been pretty much fished out. ¬†Unfortunately for them, they happen to be delicious.

indians

This is a painting of a Queen Trigger Fish.

painting

Cooper Island used to be an overnight stop without too many tourists.  There was one building on the beach which served as a restaurant, and a dock that was home to more barracudas than I care to think about.  There were also a few simple beach cottages for rent.  Today, the island remains fairly simple, but the beach has tuned into a pretty large restaurant/bar complex.  The barracudas have moved on.  Although there is no campground on the island, staying in one of the cottages  is more akin to camping than to a luxury resort, although a bit pricey.

cooper2

Day three was an incredible day at The Baths on Virgin Gorda, and a night at Leverick Bay.  There are no camping facilities on Virgin Gorda at this time.

The Baths  are a result of geologic changes to granite that eroded into piles of boulders on the beach.  The boulders form natural tidal pools, tunnels, arches, and scenic grottoes that are open to the sea. Since 1990, this area has been a BVI National Park.

baths

 Although it was a bit frightening getting onto the beach due to rough water, everyone had a great time exploring, climbing on the boulders, and swimming in the grottoes.

grotto

This it the Leverick Bay resort.  They had good food, and a pool for the kids to play in.  They even had a laundry that boaters could use Рwith six kids, you know we did laundry!

leverick2

On Tuesday we put the sails up, and headed for Anegada, my favorite island. ¬†Here’s a photo of Matthew (age 7) at the helm with my son Gene.

matthelm

Anegada was formed from coral and limestone. At its highest point the island is 28 feet above sea level. Anegada is 11 miles long and fringed with mile after mile of white sandy beaches. Named Anegada or the ‚ÄúDrowned Island‚ÄĚ by the Spanish, Anegada is famous for its horseshoe reef that extends 10 miles, and has claimed over 200 known shipwrecks. ¬†It is quite a trek to get there – and tricky. There are many ¬†coral heads and odd currents that surround the island. ¬†It is also difficult to identify landmarks and dangerous reef areas, making Anegada off limits for many charter companies, and in fact, it was once advertised as the ‚ÄúForbidden Cruise‚ÄĚ. ¬†Since we owned our own boat, we traveled to Anegada back when there were no water markers. ¬†One person stood at the bow with a hook, and pointed the way through the reef. ¬†The hook was used to push away from coral heads, if necessary. ¬†It was really, really scary, but very exciting, ¬†especially when you made it safely through the reef to your anchoring spot. Today there is a well-marked channel into Setting Point so, with ¬†good weather and a vigilant crew, the trip to Anegada is delightful.

What makes it so great? ¬†The beaches – ¬†Cow Wreck, Loblolly, and Flash of Beauty to name a few. ¬†The restaurants. The friendly people. The flamingoes – yep, there is a flock of them. ¬†The fishing. ¬†The lobster. ¬†And oh yes, there is campground . ¬†Actually, it’s a “glampground” at the Anegada Beach Club. ¬†The resort features seven uniquely designed and beautifully appointed Beachfront Luxury Tents. ¬†The tents are raised above the dunes and overlook a pristine, powder sand beach. ¬†The rate is $300/night¬†(yikes).

Picture of the outside –

glam

and of the inside –

insidetent

I did meet a young man who primitive camped on the dunes above the beach between Cow Wreck Beach and the Anegada Beach Club.  He said that no one bothered him there, but the wind was very strong, and the bugs almost ate him up alive.  Not for me!!!

Anegada is also known for the large salt ponds which cover much of the west end of the island.  In the 1830s, thousands of Caribbean flamingos lived in these ponds, but they were hunted for food and feathers throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and disappeared by 1950. Thankfully, they have been reestablished. As of 2016, the flamingo flock numbers approximately 200 birds. The birds are another tourist draw, but officials are trying to keep the number of visitors to the flamingo areas at a level that allows the birds to flourish.  Observation decks have been built to keep people in one area only.  if you are unaware of their existence and stumble across them, it is quite a shock Р but a good one.

flamingo

 

You may think a beach is a beach is a beach.  I disagree.  Check out Cow Wreck Beach.

cowwreck1

And to think that just days ago, I was sitting there having a pina colada -ahhhhhh…

All the kids at Cow Wreck

kidsatcow

From the left: Nolan, Danny, Mick, Matthew, Timmy, and Liam.  The kid crew.

The sun is setting at Loblolly Bay –

sundown

Anegada has some of the best restaurants in the islands. ¬†Naturally, the specialty is seafood, with lobster as the star attraction. ¬†The Anegada Reef Hotel is usually our “go-to” place, the food is fabu.

The people are friendly, and are customer oriented. ¬†When we woke up on Wednesday morning at anchor, a small boat pulled alongside with a single passenger who began to belt out “Oh what a beautiful morning…”. ¬†Naturally, when he started singing, we all ran towards the sound, including the kids, to see who was singing. ¬†It was very cool. And then “Welcome to heaven on earth. ¬†My name is Sam, with a capital S, and I would like tell you a little about my restaurant. ¬†If you come for dinner, please call before 4pm to let us know you are coming, and if you go somewhere else, have a safe and wonderful time. ¬†But stop by to say hello”.

This is Sam –

sam

I could write a book about Anegada, but I have move on to our next stop,  Jost Van Dyke РWhite Bay during the day, and Great Harbour for dinner and overnight on a mooring.

Remember I told you we lived in Jost for a short while? ¬†Here’s a picture of White Bay.

apt

Do you see the blue and pale green awning?  OK Рnow look at the branch above it, partially obscuring a window.  That window was in our apartment.  Yep, I know Рspectacular, right?

Also on this beach is Ivan’s Stress-Free Bar and White Bay Campground. ¬†Ivan has tents, bare sites and cabins.

After playing on the beach, we motored around to Great Harbour and moored. ¬†It was Thanksgiving Day, and I knew Foxys wouldn’t let us down. ¬†Correct ! ¬†On the menu was a full Thanksgiving dinner, and it was delicious. ¬†Everyone had a great time.

For our last day, we went to Monkey Point, on Guana Island.  The snorkeling there is excellent.

monkey 

On our way to Soper’s Hole, to moor for the night, ¬†we were rewarded with this gorgeous sight.

rainbow3

In the evening, we had one of the best meals we’ve ever had at a restaurant called¬†Scaramouche. ¬†This is an extraordinary restaurant owned by a man from Italy named Roberto and his wife Chiara. ¬†Please see my review in Food Section.

On Saturday, it was time to return Tennessee Waltz. ¬†We got up very early and decided to snorkel The Indians one last time. ¬†The kids took turns jumping off of the bow, climbing the ladder, and doing it ll over again. ¬†So fun! ¬†We got back to the charter company in time for the 12:00 noon check-in. ¬†Thankfully, the boat was in perfect condition. ¬†The Reilly and Cook families headed to the airport for their trip home. ¬†Tim and I returned to St. Thomas for a few days to chill. ¬†It was an excellent vacation, with memories I’ll cherish forever.

Note#1:  There are campgrounds in the United States Virgin Islands.

Water Island Рa 7 minute ferry ride from St Thomas will bring you to the Virgin Islands Campground.  It is an eco-sensitive resort with self-contained cottages.

St John

Cinnamon Bay Campground Рlocated inside Virgin Islands National Park.  40 rustic cottages, steps from the beach, platform tents and bare sites are available.

Maho Bay Campground Р has 114 eco- tents on Maho Bay.

Concordia Eco-Resort –¬†Concordia Eco-Resort offers two distinct types of accommodations – Eco-Tents that are wood framed, soft-sided structures. Units are available for the guest who prefers a more traditional room experience.

St Croix

Ridge to Reef Farm –¬†Agro-Eco Farm at the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute ‚Äď the Virgin Islands‚Äô only certified Organic and Green Globe destination ‚Äď a sprawling 200-acre conservation forest farm with comfortable guest cabanas.

Mount Victory Camp –¬†Handcrafted Bungalows on a homestead in St. Croix‚Äôs West End Rainforest. ¬†The handcrafted bungalows are made from local tropical hardwoods. ¬†This is ‚Äúcamping‚ÄĚ at its most comfortable with handmade teak beds with linens, efficiency kitchens, and hot showers in a clean tiled bath house.

 

NOTE #2 Р When we arrived in Tortola,  I met two lovely young women, one from St. Croix, and one from St. Thomas.  I told them I would mention them in my blog, because they have a great cause.  Grace King is the founder of A.N.A.T.H.A. and  Ywamle Sheridan is the Director of Operations.  ANATHA is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to provide training, guidance, mentorship, and counsel to a adolescents facing the challenges of recovering from domestic abuse, substance abuse, as well as overcoming behavioral health conditions.  They seek to empower, enhance, and educate to create honorable citizens in the USVI.  Their website is   www.anatha.org.  Please support them if you are able.

anatha

WATTAMOONICA

November, 2016

Tim and I have been spending a lot of time making our new house a¬†home. ¬†It’s a job that will take some doing, so we decided that each day, from now on, we would spend a little less time working on the house, and a whole lot more time enjoying ourselves. ¬†For us, that usually means exploring. ¬†First up, Brigantine Island, with an area of 10.36 miles. ¬†The first record of Brigantine was in the logbook of the mate on Henry Hudson‚Äôs Ship in 1608. He wrote ‚ÄúThis is a very good land to fall in with ‚Äď a pleasant land to see.‚ÄĚ But apparently, ¬†they never actually landed on Brigantine Island. ¬†I’d like to know why – but there’s no one to ask!


The Lenni-Lanape tribe, who summered and fished here, called it Wattamoonica which meant ‚Äúplayground.‚ÄĚ In 1610 the first whalers and fishing boats appeared offshore. Some time later pirates, including the likes of Captain Kidd, were reported to have visited the Island and legend has it that treasure is buried here. ¬†Hmmm – when I¬†have¬†time, ¬†I think I’ll search for that.

The island was named for the many shipwrecks in the area, including those of brigantines.  The Brigantine shoals are two to three miles offshore.   Well over 300 vessels of all types have been wrecked on the shoals since the early 1700’s.   Records of these disasters were not well kept.

Back to the ship РThe brigantine was a two-masted sail boat,   having the main mast as the second and taller of the two masts.  The brigantine was the second most popular rig for ships built in the American colonies before 1775, the most popular type of vessel being a sloop. The brigantine was swifter and more easily maneuvered than a sloop or schooner, so it was used for purposes of piracy, espionage, and reconnoitering Рthink prohibition.

brigantine

 

Today, this is the bridge that crosses from Atlantic City to Brigantine Island. ¬†It’s the only way onto the island, unless you happen to have ¬†a boat. It’s ¬†been saddled with this not very creative name – the Atlantic City – Brigantine Connector. ¬†Cmon’ guys – I think you could have done a teensy bit better than that.

brigbridge

If you are over 35, you may remember  Brigantine Castle, which was built in 1975.   If you lived anywhere near here, and you never actually visited the castle, you may remember the TV commercials.  Every season they flashed across television screens from New York to Philadelphia.   There was  a vampire that leapt from a picture and sprung to life, a headless woman, monsters, goblins and other assorted ghouls.  And of course, creepy organ music.  (no, not all organ music is creepy).  Brigantine Castle was a spooky house extraordinaire.  For some reason, I remember visiting in the late 60s Рhow is that possible?  Hmmmm.

The “monsters” that worked in the five-story wood-and-foam clad building were mostly young drama majors from nearby colleges, whose sole purpose was to scare the be-jesus out of you. ¬†By the way, at the time, at 110 feet tall, and with 5 fully functional stories, ¬†it was the largest free-standing wooden structure in the US ¬†Among the castle’s most memorable attractions, and my favorite, ¬†was the rat room, a pitch-black hallway where “man-eating rats” scurried about the floor, and the “doctor of ratology” described her collection of “pets”. The rodents were actually garden hoses pushed through holes in the wall with recordings of shrill squealing and scratching piped in. ¬†In a pitch black room, they would push and pull the hoses at your legs as you walked through.

brigcastle

Because of neighbors’ ¬†constant complaints, ¬†suspected building code violations, and declining tourists, the attraction was closed in the mid-eighties, and finally razed to make way for condos.

But just because you can no longer visit the Castle,  do visit the island.  There are a few other great points of interest.

BEAUTIFUL BEACHES

Here is just one of many.

scene

The beaches have hundreds, maybe thousands of plovers, searching for food. ¬†They’re relentless in their search. ¬†I know you’ve seen them – running towards the water as it recedes, and then away from the water as it rushes towards the sand – endlessly. ¬†To me, they’re kind of funny to watch.

plovers

Here is one of the little cuties up close.

plover2

 

Party Beach

Is on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. ¬†And yes, I intend to buy a pass for my car to drive on the beach. ¬†Schlepping with all of your gear to and from the water’s edge is not much fun. Especially with children in tow.

partybeach

 

Brigantine Lighthouse Рwas constructed by the Island Development Real Estate Company in 1926 as part of an effort to attract residents to the island.  But the structure was too far from shore and too low to be used as a functioning lighthouse, so it has been used over the years as headquarters for the Brigantine Police Department, as a museum and as a gift shop, in addition to being a central identifying symbol of the city.  Today, people use it as a directional landmark.  If you are one of the many people who love lighthouses, add this to your collection.  If nothing else, it sure is different.

lighthouse

Did I mention it’s in the middle of a road round-a-bout. ¬†I had to risk life and limb to be in this photo.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center – was established in 1978, as New Jersey’s only marine stranding center. ¬†Today, ¬†the center rehabilitates and releases stranded marine mammals and sea turtles. ¬†It has rescued more than 3,900 whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles since it was formed. ¬†Once we’re set up, ¬†and finished with putting away boxes, I would like to volunteer here a few hours a week.

strand

Beginning October 1, 2016 it is only open for tours  Saturdays from 10am Р2pm. Should you want to visit, the address is 3625 Brigantine Boulevard, Brigantine, NJ ..

 

The Brigantine Hotel

This hotel still stands on the Atlantic coast side of the island.

divine

This is the hotel today. ¬†It was sold, and ¬†is now called Legacy Vacation Club Brigantine Beach. ¬†it’s not much to look at right now, but historically, it is remarkable. ¬†The Brigantine Hotel ¬†was an early integrated hotel starting in the 1940s. It was owned for a period by Father Divine’s International Peace Mission movement. ¬†That’s a whole other story worth a Google search. ¬† I am familiar with Father Divine, who is now deceased, and his Gladwyne, PA residence – Woodmont. ¬† As a young adult, and in high school, I ¬†often visited, and was treated to lunch. This is Woodmont today.

woodmont

l

Wild Thing

Brigantine has one of the last “wild” beaches in NJ, ¬†Check out this fox we spotted on the beach. ¬†I was sure he would run when he saw us trying to take his picture. ¬†But no, he considered ¬†us, and ¬†instead of running, he just stretched, yawned, and slowly walked away. ¬†I guess he felt pretty safe.

 

fox

 

BRIGANTINE SEAWALL

wall

This town’s answer to a boardwalk doesn’t actually live up to that name, on the grounds that there isn’t a board in it. It’s a bit more than a quarter of a mile of concrete walkway on top of a seawall, or bulkhead. ¬† It’s raised a few feet above the sand, at the far north end of the developed section of Brigantine. ¬†It does have some of the amenities of modern boardwalks. There’s a coin-operated set of binoculars for looking out to sea. ¬†Walk along and you’ll find a few mileage markers, as you do on lots of boardwalks today – although, given it’s length, maybe they should be called ¬†tenth-of-a-mile markers. ¬†It does draw lots of folks. ¬†It’s short and it’s beautiful. Besides which, it is adjacent to the untamed beaches.

 

WORSE THAN MOSQUITOES

For those of you who follow this blog, you know I am not a a friend of the mosquito.  There is another creature who lives in Brigantine, that may be even worse, ( yes, worse! ) than mosquitoes.  It is the dreaded GREEN HEAD FLY.  For those of you unfamiliar with the green Head Рlet me introduce you.

greenhead

This is a nasty, nasty creature.  You see those pincers at the front of his face?  Well let me tell you that it can attach itself to your pants, in my case, my arse. and not let go.  It is determined to go through the pants and nibble, nay, painfully chomp on your flesh, and suck your blood. Even while Tim, the green head slayer, was swatting at him with his hand and anything else he could find, that relentless devil continued to try and gnaw a hole in my pants so as to make his entry.  Finally, Tim got him to stop, only by swatting the life out of him.  But let me tell you.  He has relatives, and lots of them.  Thank goodness, they are not out blood-sucking 24/7, they do have feeding hours, and mating times, and preferable weather conditions.  If mosquitoes like you, these suckers (literally), will love you.

I want to end on a positive note. The beaches on Brigantine are clean, big, ¬†and beautiful, and they call to you like a siren’s song – come and play. ¬†We plan on doing just that – just ¬†not when the green heads are hunting.

Note:  We soon leave for our boat charter in the British Virgin Islands.  My next post will tell you all about it. Have a safe and wonderful holiday.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!

turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOBO NO MO’

October, 2016

Sorry it’s been such a long time since our last post. ¬†We’ve ¬†been pretty busy – BUYING A HOUSE

fence

 

We have been living in our 17′ Casita for 1 year and two months. ¬†It has been wonderful. ¬†We started writing this blog as a keepsake, so we could look back anytime, and remember the places, people, and fun. ¬†We also kept the blog for our family and friends, to be able to go along for the ride. ¬†Lastly, but certainly not the least, it was kept to inspire others to follow their dreams. ¬†I’m sure you all know people who are “going to do this”, and are “planning to do that”. ¬†You may even be one of them. ¬†Unfortunately, life gets in the way, and circumstances change, and the best laid plans never come to fruition. ¬†Do it now. ¬†Stop coming up with reasons you can’t, and come up with reasons you can – ¬†and will.

That all being said,   when we visited one of my sons, he asked us when we were going to stop living like hobos.

hobo

Mind you, he asked in a humorous kind of way – but he did ask. ¬†When I told this story to my other son, he said that yes, we do live like hobos, but “good” hobos. ¬†It got us to thinking.

 

thinker

¬†Well, hobo no mo’. ¬†Everyone will be happy to know we bought a home in Galloway, Atlantic County, New Jersey.¬† Of course, the next question was, “Of all the fabulous places you’ve been, you two decided to settle down in Galloway, New Jersey”? ¬†The simple answer is, “yes”. ¬† ¬†The long answer is that it’s home. ¬†We are east coast people. ¬†It’s where most of our family resides. ¬†And sure, you can make friends anywhere, but it’s pretty difficult to meet someone new, and be as close as you are to your “girlfriend since 4th grade” girlfriend. ¬†Plus, we love the ocean, and we’re only 20 minutes away. ¬†Just far enough to be out of the flood zone, and close enough to go everyday if we choose. ¬†I’ll be regaling you with tales of fishing, clamming, and crabbing. ¬†Not to mention wonderful entertainment and great restaurants.

But no way are we giving up traveling in our little casita. ¬†It’s just that we won’t be living in it full-time. ¬†The blog posts will continue. ¬†For example, we’re chartering a 50- foot Catamaran in the British Virgin Islands for Thanksgiving.

cata

Not too shabby, right?

We’ll also be spending time in St. Thomas, USVI, before and after that charter. ¬†There are several campgrounds in the islands, so we’ll be visitig them. ¬†And although you can’t “RV” there, if you’re a camper, I guarantee you’ll be interested.

So many of you wrote in response to the AC post, we’re going to continue with info about other NJ shore towns, review campgrounds, and give the low down on NJ wineries. ¬†It may be “just home” for us, but it’s a new world for you. ¬†You won’t want to miss out. ¬†Hope we see you soon!

 

ON THE BOARDWALK

October, 2016

We chose Galloway, New Jersey as a one month stop because it’s very close to Atlantic City. ¬†Some of you may remember the splendor that was A.C. ¬†This is the town my Mom and Dad brought us to for summer vacations when we were children. ¬† We couldn’t wait. The rip to Atlantic City became ¬†more of a reality the closer we got. ¬†We could taste the salt on our lips, and smell the clams and other sea life in the surrounding marshes, several miles before arriving.

marshes

We stayed in an old guest house called Rose’s, a green wooden clapboard structure that was probably razed to make way for the casinos. ¬†Even as a child, I remember the rooms being small, and the bathroom was in the hall, shared by other vacationers. ¬†For us, that usually meant extended family – aunts, uncles, and cousins. ¬†On Sundays, the smell of spaghetti “gravy” filled the air, and the familiar, melodious vowel sounds of the Italian language could be heard throughout the guesthouse.

Atlantic City was glorious.  We would go to the beach everyday, then head home to shower and dress.

beach

The picture above is the true, beautiful, and expansive AC Beach

After we we were all dolled up, we would go out for dinner, and then walk the boards Рthe best part.  Million Dollar Pier was an amusement park and arcade extraordinaire. There were men who guessed your weight. And contraptions where  men brought a sledge hammer down to ring the bell, to show their strength.  There were many booths where prizes could be won.  Throwing darts at balloons,

darts

tossing ¬†coins into ¬†a saucer, tossing a ring over a bottle neck,¬†shooting water guns to fill up tubes – it was great! ¬†Of course years later when I worked one of these booths in San Diego’s Mission Beach ¬†(yes, I was a “carney” for a month), I found that these games were set up so that people ¬†would not win, unless they found the “trick” to winning. ¬†Of course finding that trick took quite a bit of trying, and a lot of money spent. ¬†Sure, you see people walking the boards, even today, with life-size plush animals. ¬†But trust me, they are only flukes. ¬†By the way, if you’re dying to know – I worked in a booth where there were baskets on their sides, and all you a had to do was toss a basketball, and have it stay in the basket. ¬†Sound easy? ¬†Try it. ¬†Some day I’ll tell you all about my stint as a potato salad maker for Kentucky Fried Chicken (really )

basket

I made lots of money for the park, and I guarantee, not many prizes were won.

Steel Pier was another great over-the water wonderland, ¬†with lots of games, rides, a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and a Diving Horse.

horse

A diving horse is an attraction that was popular in the mid-1880 to the mid 1950s, in which a horse would dive into a pool of water, sometimes from as high as 60 feet. ¬†It’s true – I saw it. Although I never believed for one minute that a horse willingly jumps. ¬†I’m pretty certain the lovely woman who accompanied the horse carried a hidden needle to give the horse a good pinch, thus, causing him to dive from the platform, sometimes four times a day, seven days a week. Pressure from animal rights activists, and declining demand led to this “act” being permanently shut down in the 1970s. The president of the Humane Society of the United States stated: “This is a merciful end to a colossally stupid idea.” ¬†Amen to that !!!

Back to the boards. ¬†Atlantic City was glamorous. ¬†Walking the boards was an activity in and of itself. ¬†Everyone got dressed up. ¬†And I mean with high-heels, and furs. ¬†There were even rubber tips for the heels that made them just wide enough that they couldn’t slip between the slats of the wooden boards.

caps

My Mom dressed me, my brother, and sister, to fit the occasion. ¬†We ¬†looked adorable, IMHO, and ¬†looked forward to a night “on the boards”, with great anticipation. For those who didn’t want to stroll, there were human-powered “baskets” in which to ride the boards.

roller

Atlantic City was a place to see and be seen. ¬†It is a great childhood memory. ¬†If you’e never been to Atlantic City, ¬†check it out. ¬†Although the town I described above is long gone, you can still find great restaurants and excellent entertainment. ¬†Steel Pier has been renovated, and is open in the summer. ¬†Sure, the boardwalk is still there, and of course the expansive, still-free beach, and gorgeous ocean, but mostly, I think that now it’s about the casinos that line the boardwalk, and stand in the marina district.

In 2016, the highest grossing casinos are as follows: ¬†Number three, the¬†Tropicana, on the boardwalk, is the third highest grossing casino. ¬†It’s theme is Old Havana. In second place is Harrah’s in the marina district. ¬† This large casino has a very contemporary feel. There is no “theme” per se, just clean lines, and lots of marble and dark woods. ¬†The number one casino is¬†The Borgata. ¬†It is well-maintained, and beautifully decorated, ¬†with Dale Chiuly blown glass art pieces gracing many different ceilings. Ten years after it brought Las Vegas glitz, glamour and luxury to Atlantic City, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa still dominates the market.

Some facts:

Atlantic City was the inspiration for the American version of the board game Monopoly, especially the names of roads you still drive along today.

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Since 1921, Atlantic City had been the location for the Miss America pageant. ¬†It did move ¬†to Las Vegas in 2005 after 83 years. ¬†The¬†iconic image of the tearful winner with glittering tiara and bouquet of roses parading down the catwalk in the middle of Boardwalk Hall was greatly missed by many. ¬†For years as a young girl, my Mom and I sat on the ouch armed with paper and pencils. ¬†We scored the contestants, trying to choose a winner. I can honestly say in the ten or so years we “judged”, we never, ever picked the winner. ¬†In September of 2013, the pageant moved back to AC, to crown Miss America, 2014.

This is the first Miss America, 16-year old  Margaret Gorman, who was crowned in 1921.

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…and 2017 Miss America,¬†¬†Savvy Shields

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The TV show, “Boardwalk Empire”, was based on Atlantic City in the time of Prohibition. ¬†This is a must-see.

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I’m really comfortable here in Atlantic City. ¬†It evokes only pleasant memories. ¬†I hope one month is enough…

 

 

 

 

SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO HOME

September, 2016

Indeed, we’re on our way home. ¬†There is only one teensy problem. ¬†We have no home to go home to. ¬†Well, at least not the bricks and mortar kind.

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¬†As you may recall, when we retired last October, we sold our home and our possessions, to go on this journey. ¬†But we’re not sad about that – no shoveling snow, no cleaning gutters, no mowing , no replacing fencing or the roof, and no endless time-consuming, money intensive other prevention and maintenance chores that have to be done. ¬†But now, more than ever, I know that home isn’t really a building or a specific place. ¬†Home really is where the hearts is. ¬†My husband Tim is my partner in life and in crime. ¬†He’s my best friend. ¬†And so it’s easy to say that when I’m with him – I’m home. ¬†But there is more to the story. My heart has a few loves who, unfortunately, do not live in the Casita with us. ¬†My three grandsons – how I miss them.

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My sons, Gene and Chris, and their wives, Jenny and Liz. ¬†My brother Lou, and his wife Bev. ¬†And of course, my sister Joan. ¬†Tim’s sister Patty, who we have gotten to see twice in the last year, while traveling through California. ¬†But there are even more – all of their children, and their children’s children. ¬†Cousins galore. Friends from school days. Now that is a family – our family – and I miss them one and all, from the bottom, and with all of ,my heart.

We’ve been on the road for over a year now. ¬†it has been a true blessing. ¬†We have seen breathtaking beauty. ¬†We’ve met unforgettable people. We’ve pushed the limits of our envelope. ¬†It hasn’t all been a bowl of cherries, not when you’re sharing a space that’s probably not quite 100 sq ft. ¬†People who live in tiny houses can learn a thing or two from us. ¬†Comments have run the gamut from, “That’s fascinating”, to “You’ve go to be kidding”, to “And you’re both still alive?” ¬†We’ve been asked so many times, “How do you do it?” ¬†There are a few things that make this work – respect for one another, and a sense of humor . ¬†And a willingness to “make it work”. (Thank you Tim Gunn).

Tim Gunn Lifetime's 'Project Runway' Season 9, Episode 4 - 'All About Nina'. The designers will design for Nina Garcia. As seen on 'Lifetime' USA - 18.08.11 Supplied by WENN.com WENN does not claim any ownership including but not limited to Copyright or License in the attached material. Any downloading fees charged by WENN are for WENN's services only, and do not, nor are they intended to, convey to the user any ownership of Copyright or License in the material. By publishing this material you expressly agree to indemnify and to hold WENN and its directors, shareholders and employees harmless from any loss, claims, damages, demands, expenses (including legal fees), or any causes of action or allegation against WENN arising out of or connected in any way with publication of the material.l.

It isn’t always easy. The most difficult part is missing ¬†family. ¬†That’s why we are so happy to be heading “home”. ¬†I feel like a horse going back to the stable. ¬†We’re driving faster ( of course within the speed limits), and putting in more time at the wheel.

The towns we’re passing through are not on our bucket list. ¬†Hugoton, Kansas, whose main attraction is Wagon Bed Springs, a¬†‚Äúonce vital watering source on Santa Fe Trail‚ÄĚ – okay. ¬†Then we have Goddard, Kansas, home of¬† Tanganyika Wildlife Park. ¬†Having just seen wildlife in many National Parks, we took a pass on this one. ¬†And let’s not forget Odessa, Kansas – home of¬†One Good Taste Country Store – and our campground, owned and operated by One Good Taste Country Store. ¬†I haven’t even been able to find roadside oddities in these towns. ¬†But we’re not home yet, so let’s see what happens.

The next state we passed through was Missouri.  Is it pronounced like Missouruh, or Missouree?  My question is why the controversy Рhow did this happen?  For the answer, I turned to The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations, Charles Elster discusses, in detail, the ongoing debate about the correct pronunciation of the last syllable in Missouri.

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Elster informs us. ¬†In June 1976 and again in 1989 the Midwest Motorist magazine conducted a poll of Missourians ¬†In 1976, 60 percent of Missourians chose -ee as preferred. ¬†In 1989, 66 percent of Missourians chose -ee as preferred. ¬†For more on this “fascinating” debate, go to the end of this post and read the article by Danita Allen Wood. ¬†By the way, I say Missouree.

Just as I was hoping that this pronunciation debate wasn’t the only thing I could write about besides possibly Mark Twain, who was born in Hannibal, Missouri (even though we aren’t passing through Hannibal), a wonderful thing happened. ¬†We stumbled upon Warm Springs Ranch,¬†in Boonville, Missouri.

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This ranch is one of three hubs for the breeding and raising of Budweiser Clydesdale Horses. We took a tour of this magnificent place,  even got to pet Radar, a long-time resident of the ranch.

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The tour was full of interesting info about the Clydesdales and how they became the symbol for Budweiser.  I like this tidbit:  Check out this Clydesdale horse shoe.  Most of you know what a regular horseshoe looks and feels like, right?  Look at this one.  Humungous!!!

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and they love being combed…look at him raising his head high…

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We saw two – ¬†two-week old Clydesdales, Shay, daughter of Sheila, and Jedi, son of Judi. ¬†This is a picture of Jedi. ¬†Baby Clydesdales weigh about 150 pounds when they’re born. ¬†Isn’t he fabulous?

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They told us about the naming of the horses. ¬†For the last 30 years or so, the ranch manager, John Soto, got to name the foals. ¬†Everyone is named depending on the mom’s name. ¬†So – the first letter of mom Judi’s ¬†name ¬†starts with the letter ¬†“j”, so her baby’s name starts with a “J” – Jedi. ¬†Now this has been going on, as I said, for 30 years. ¬†With one exception. ¬†When Belle gave birth, her son was given the name Taco. ¬†Don’t you just love that?

At the end of the tour, the group was treated to ice cold Budweiser beer. ¬†Here’s a picture of guess who? ¬†Tim at the tap.

 

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`What a great day!

 

The next day, being in a “horsey” mood, we swung through Paris, and Versailles, Kentucky. ¬†This is Kentucky horse country. ¬†The horses, farms, stables and pastures are truly a sight to see.

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I am currently sitting at Flatwoods KOA campground in Sutton, West Virginia, doing my laundry. After washing several loads, I find that only one dryer works. ¬†So here I shall remain for several hours to get this done. ¬†Oh well – I told you it wasn’t all a basket of cherries…

We are¬†6 h 13 min (404.4 mi) from Philadelphia, PA. ¬†As anxious as we are to see our family and friends, we haven’t had a taste of the most delectable food on earth – and we’re running out of time, because there is a ¬†“season”. ¬†I am speaking , of course, of the succulent Maryland Blue Crab. ¬†Tim and I both love them. Tim even has a pair of khaki¬†shorts with¬†blue¬†crabs embroidered all over them, which he only wears when we eat crabs (thank goodness).

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So I guess we won’t go straight to Philly. ¬†We’ll stop in Charlestown, Maryland at our favorite place for crabs,¬†The River Shack, at The Wellington Inn.

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We arrived at the River Shack at 8:50 pm, And they close at 9 pm.  I called a few times while we were on the road, so they knew we were coming.  Kris the manager said that if we get there by 9, we get crabs.  We made it.  We got our crabs Рand corn-on-the-cob, and fries, and chicken wings with apple-garlic sauce. YUM!  They were so good.  I do want to give a shout out to Kris, the manager, Charli, the server, and Dawn, the chef.  I hope The Wellwood knows what great employees they have.

 

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CHARLI  Р KRIS  Р  DAWN

After leaving Maryland, we realized that we don’t have current inspection stickers. ¬†Driving into Pennsylvania could mean a big, fat ticket. ¬†I know because we got one of them before – for the same reason. ¬†So, instead of driving into PA, we drove into Galloway, New Jersey, to the Shady Pines Campground Resort. ¬†We’re going to stay here in New Jersey until we have the car inspected, and do all of he things that need doing like dental and doctor appointments, and shopping for new T-shirts, cause’ most of mine have holes in them. ¬†Honestly, you would think we’re hobos, or an incarnation of “The Beverly Hillbillies”. ¬†We’ll be headed to Florida, to SUN-N-FUN Campground, for at least 2 months, in November. ¬†But don’t worry. ¬†Being so close to the NJ coast, I plan on visiting and reporting on Atlantic City . ¬†And then onward to Florida.

 

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

For those of you who love (and I do mean love) the nitty gritty of things, I offer you

THE MISSOURI PRONUNCIATION DEBATE

Article By Danita Allen Wood
Mizuree or Mizzuruh?
When Greg and I revived Missouri Life in 1998, I said I’d never jump into the old Missour-ee versus Missouri-uh debate. But two reasons compel me to go back on my word.
The first is that technology is changing my own pronunciation. I still say ‚ÄúMuh-zur-uh‚ÄĚ most of the time, much to my children‚Äôs dismay. But the desire to have listeners spell my e-mail address correctly has me using the ee pronunciation. I pronounce carefully and spell out my first name, ‚Äúd-a-n-i-t-a‚ÄĚ then say ‚Äúat Muh-zur-ee Life ‚ÄĒ one word ‚ÄĒ dot com.‚ÄĚ
The second is a recent scholarly investigation into the pronunciation of our state name by retired English Professor Donald Lance at the University of Missouri at Columbia. He passed away in 2002 while preparing the article for the journal American Speech, but Professor Matthew Gordon, also at MU, finalized the article.
The paper explores ‚Äúwhat the Indians said‚ÄĚ to early explorers, how Indians in the 1800s said the words, and other evidence.
The Peorias, within the Illinois branch of the Algonquian Indians, are credited with naming their neighbors, the Siouan Missouri Indians. The name meant ‚Äúone who has a wood boat‚ÄĚ and would have been pronounced wee-mee-soo-reet or wee-mih-soor-ita,where the i in mih rhymes with the one in “bit.”
After Jacques Marquette stayed with the Peorias, he drew a map in 1673 placing the Missouri Indians west of the Mississippi and spelling their name as √Ēemess√īrit. Marquette actually used a French symbol, an o with two horn-like protrusions at the top but shown as √Ē here. Other early explorers between 1681 and 1697 spelled the Algonquian‚Äôs name for the Missouri Indians as √Ēmissouri, Emissourita, Missourita, Missouris, Massorites, and Messorites.
Eventually, through French influence, the Missouri Indians adopted the name for themselves and most likely pronounced it mih-zur-ee-yay, with a long a, to rhyme with ‚Äúsay‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúFrancais.‚ÄĚ
The next evidence was language data collected from 1830 to 1930. Lance found the uh or schwa form, represented by …ô in the dictionary, as the most common pronunciation of the final vowel. Later but similar language research done with people born between 1880 and the 1950s found Americans pronounced each syllable in a variety of ways, including mih or muh, zoor (rhymes with ‚Äúpure‚ÄĚ) or zur (rhymes with ‚Äúpurr‚ÄĚ), and finally ee, uh, eye, and also short i (as in ‚Äúbit‚ÄĚ) for the last syllable. In fact, the research shows the short i was more common than the long i.
Lance considered two possible explanations for the frequency of the uh pronunciation. He quotes a source from 1894: ‚ÄúThe Irish generally substitute …ô for i [in unstressed syllables, e.g. courage, ditches]; this substitution is a peculiarity, also, of a very large proportion of the cultivated American inhabitants of Philadelphia, New York City, and some parts of the South and West. A familiar instance is the Western pronunciation Mizur…ô.‚ÄĚ
Another possible explanation is that when Americans first saw the word in print, they interpreted the final spelled i as a long i, rhyming with ‚Äúeye,‚ÄĚ but then as the syllable weakened in stress, it was reduced to the schwa, or uh sound.
Lance also said if the uh developed through leveling of unstressed syllables, you would expect to find the loss of the uh altogether, leaving just Muh-zur, and indeed, he found that pronunciation, too.
Many people think the uh was Southern, but Lance said the early language data does not support that. A century ago, uh was heard from Maine to Georgia. In fact, more people in the Northern states of Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania said uh than ee, and ee was more common in South Carolina and Georgia.
If the Irish-Americans were responsible, then their settlement patterns help explain the distribution of uh across the country. Lance speculated that the uh sound in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina is a reflection of Scotch-Irish immigration into those areas. Then the sound spread into Tennessee, Mississippi, northern Texas, lower Alabama, western Louisiana, and Arkansas.
So I can choose to blame my uh pronunciation on either my father’s Arkansas ancestors or my mother’s McQueen ancestors.
There was little change in the prevalence of these vowels until about 1900, when the automobile and telephone began to increase communication between people from different regions. The use of ee rose right along with usage of the car and the occurrences of World War I and the Roaring Twenties. Increasing education probably led to an increase in ee as the more common pronunciation of the final vowel at the expense of folk speech, Lance said.
So which pronunciation is right? Actually, all four are correct: muh-zur-eye, muh-zur-uh, mezur, or muh-zur-ee. Or if not correct, at least explainable.
It probably doesn’t matter. Lance also found that uh is rapidly disappearing, at least among MU students. The majority of the use today is in northwestern Missouri, including Kansas City, but its usage is declining there, as well.
I blame it on e-mail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” OM “

September, 2016

We made it to Sedona Arizona. ¬†This town has been on my bucket list for a very long time. ¬†A few years ago, USA Today called Sedona the most beautiful place in America. Perhaps it’s the magnificent ¬†views. ¬†Not sure it is the most beautiful, but it is certainly a contender. Check these out…

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There’s a vibe in the air, something not quite audible, but it does call out to have a look around, and to try to feel something that is hard to put into words. Nowhere else in this country does a natural setting feel so much like the inside of a soaring cathedral. Perhaps because Sedona lies at the bottom of a canyon. ¬†The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic chapel built into the buttes of Sedona, Arizona. ¬†This chapel exemplifies that feeling. ¬†It is said to be built in a vortex area. ¬†You do get a feeling here, but is it a vortex feeling? ¬†Or is it the feeling one gets when walking into any quiet and still sanctuary…

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The inside of the chapel is basically unadorned, save for the red glow of illuminated candles lit by those in prayer and meditation.

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What are these vortices people are talking about? ¬†You can even buy vortex in a can at the new age shop. ¬† I’m pretty sure that’s just a gag gift ūüėČ

A vortex is believed to be a special spot on the earth where energy is either entering into the earth or projecting out of the earth‚Äôs plane. Vortexes (or vortices) are found at sacred sites throughout the world ‚Äď the Great Pyramid in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru, Bali, Stonehenge, Ayers Rock in Australia, etc. It is believed that the vortex energy moves in a spiral, moving up or down.

Some say Sedona‚Äôs vortex energy is so powerful that you can actually feel it and that it is powerful enough to help people take giant leaps with their spiritual development. The Native Americans believe that spiritual transformation can occur more quickly and easily in Sedona because the veils to other dimensions are thinner here. Whether or not you believe that energy vortexes actually exist, one thing is for certain, there is ‚Äúsomething‚ÄĚ about Sedona that has made people travel here for more than just its incredible beauty.

Off to the Sedona Airport, where another vortex is supposedly located.  When we arrived, it was a substantial hike for which I was unprepared.  I did get this picture of Tim at an overlook.

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“Experts” say the vortex expresses itself by twisting the trunks of trees that grow on top of, and under it.

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We saw the tree, but honestly, I was sooo pooped by the time I got to the top, the only thing I could feel was the sweat running down my face and my back, and the tears welling in my eyes. (I’m quite the hiker, aren’t I?)

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Full disclosure here РI actually am one of those people Рa spiritual one , if you will.  I am a nurse, but have studied Alternative and Complementary medicines almost my entire life adult life.  I am an Advanced Reilki Practioner.  Below are images of body vortexes, used in Reiki healing

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I am also a Bach Essence Practitioner, and am a Certified Indian Head Masseuse.

In the late 1960s, I did see a UFO – and I was with another person. ¬†And no, we were not chemically altered in any way. So yes, I am a believer in most things spiritual – and otherworldly – ¬†and I will spend some time here in Sedonae searching for the energy of a vortex. ¬†(Now you know a bit more about the real me…)

Sadly, it was time to leave Sedona, and head for Santa Fe, even though we had been there before on this journey. ¬†But it’s quite a distance, so the halfway point is Gallup NM. ¬†Anything to see on the way to Gallup? ¬†For sure – the Petrified Forest National Park. ¬†But before we go to the park, we have to go through the town of Holbrook, Arizona. ¬†Holbrook is home to quite a few roadside oddities (do I hear groaning?). ¬†But the best one is the Wigwam Motel on Historic Route 66.

This kitschy classic motel, built in 1937, offers lodging in 15 concrete-and-steel freestanding teepees.  They  are painted white with a red zigzag above the doorway and are 28 feet high. They provide basic lodging, with a sink, toilet and shower, and feature the original handmade hickory furniture.  I tried to get a price for a room online, but was unable to do so.  There seemed to be many full-timers living in the wigwams.  Perhaps, they no longer rent.  Vintage cars are permanently parked throughout the property, which is a nice touch.  By the way, they were mistakenly called wigwams, as they are teepees (or tepees or tipis).

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Back to the forest.   Theodore Roosevelt designated Petrified Forest National Monument on December 8, 1906, but it  was designated as a national park, on December 9,  1962.

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Another beauty. ¬†But I think I’d like to explain a little about it. ¬†I always thought I would find a standing forest of old trees, whose trunk and bark had seen a better day. ¬†Not so – there was not even one single standing tree. ¬†In fact, there was nothing that would lead you to believe there ever was a forest. ¬†The movie in the visitor center explains this perfectly; ¬†I’ll do my best to share¬†it with you. ¬† During the¬†Pangaea period, approximately 300 million years ago, Arizona was positioned in the tropics, near¬†where Panama sits today.

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The entire area was a prehistoric rainforest.  The continents began to break apart about 175 million years ago, leaving Panama still tropical, but Arizona a desert.  There were many trees at the time, forests , if you will.  A raging torrent of water came along and ripped the trees out by their roots, so that they raged and tumbled along with the water.  They were stopped by whatever obstacle may have been in the way, and there they lay for millions of years, covered by sediment.  The logs soaked up groundwater and silica from volcanic ash and over time crystallized into quartz. Over the years, each and every cell of cellulose was replaced by seeds of quartz. The trees lay hidden for millions of years.  Over time, continents moved and climate changed.  As the earth changed,  many of these trees were pushed to the surface again.  Only this time, they were petrified, turned to stone.  Colorful specimens, from small shards to massive trunks, are strewn across this landscape.  But trees are not the only fossils.  We find hundreds of species of plants and animals, including dinosaurs, that once roamed this area, and a river system larger than anything on earth today.

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One especially cool thing is this intact tree trunk known as the Agate Bridge.

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This huge tree fell 225 million years ago and remained deeply buried for ages. Over time, tectonic forces from below and erosion from above exposed this now petrified trunk. See how it was revealed lying across a wash?  You can also see that many, many years ago Рbefore we knew any better Рa concrete beam was placed under the trunk to help preserve it.  We are assured that in time, it will succumb to water and erosion, as will the concrete beam placed there for protection.

There are petrified trees all over the world, but only here, in this National Park, are there so many. ¬†The Petrified Forest is located in The Painted Desert Area of the southwest. It¬†is known for its brilliant and varied colors, that not only include the more common red rock, but even shades of lavender. ¬†The Painted Desert was named by an expedition under Francisco V√°zquez de Coronado on his 1540 quest to find the Seven Cities of Cibola, made of gold. ¬†Passing through the wonderland of colors, they named the area “El Desierto Pintado” – The Painted Desert. ¬†¬†The colors are a palette of subtle shades that mimic the rainbow. ¬†Look at these rocks called “Teepee Rocks”, that seem to go on forever.

img_0823It is a glorious site to see.

Currently, we are back in Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of the prettiest cities on our journey. ¬†This is a real “foodie” city, so we would be remiss not to indulge. ¬†(Please check out ¬†Atriso Cafe and Bar and Jambo in the Food and Goodies section.) ¬†We’ve returned to Santa Fe mainly because it is a step towards our journey east – and to stop at Estrella del Norte (again) to pick up some wine.

Onward to the east coast…

NOTE:  THINGS THAT MAKE YOU SAY HMMM!  Among them, the folks who believe the earth is only 6,000 years old.

This  explanation of TIME was hanging in the visitor center.  I wanted to share it with you.  It is truly worth reading

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SHHH – IT HAS TO STAY HERE

August / September, 2016

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I’ll bet you know where we are. ¬†And that’s not all I plan to bet on while we’re here. ¬†But I want you to know that even if you don’t like gambling, Las Vegas has so much to offer like ¬†great shows and fine dining . ¬†There are also day trips Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, and much, much more.

First things first. ¬†I know I’ve mentioned this before – things still have to get done on the road. ¬†For example, our first day / night in Las Vegas, a Saturday, Tim spent fixinng a broken awning. ¬†Many places, this wouldn’t have mattered quite as much. ¬†But here in 106 degree heat, yea, we need an awning to provide a little shade so we can sit outside. ¬†But it’s Sunday, the awning works (thanks, Tim), and we’re headed out to eat, drink, and be merry. ¬†First stop,¬†Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, commonly called The Rio. ¬†The first time Tim and I ever ventured to Las Vegas, in about 1991,this is where we stayed, so we’re anxious to see what changes have been made.

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Unfortunately, the Rio has slipped quite a bit. Many changes have been made, but IMHO, none of them good. ¬†There is a whole lot more glitz, glamour and excitement on “the strip” – and isn’t that one reason we’re here? ¬†Plus, we spent $35 on two drinks – OUCH!

Next up – CAESARS PALACE.

Caesar's Palace as seen from The Strip - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 8.9.2012

Caesars is ¬†great place for people watching.¬† If only I could have taken a few pics. ¬†Lots and lots of butts and boobs showing. ¬†Many people looked pretty good. Unfortunately, some of them don’t own mirrors, and it’s we the “watchers” who suffer the consequences. ¬†But that’s one of the things that makes for good people-watching, right?

We ate dinner at RAO’S, an upscale Italian restaurant in Caesar’s. ¬†It was delicious, but OMG the prices. ¬†I understand that you’re paying for the location and service as well as the food – but $18 for two large meatballs is a teensy bit cray-cray. ¬†They didn’t even come with a side of spaghetti! ¬† They are large, and they are scrumptious, but…

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With all of this eating, I have to get back to walking…or something. ¬†So today I walked the perimeter of the park – in 104 degree heat. ¬†I thought I would die, but I’m here to tell the tale.

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Oasis gave us coupon booklet for a casino called South Point. ¬†I had never heard of it. ¬†It is way, way on the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, about 10 minutes from our park. ¬†Get a player’s card and they give you $20 in free play. ¬†Plus a free beer and a free drink that must be made with Crown Royale. ¬†Shall we go? ¬†Of course we shall. ¬†To our surprise, this was a beautiful, gigantic hotel and casino.

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$20 each Рcheck.  Crown Royale and coke Рcheck.  Ice cold draft beer Рcheck.  Time to play Рcheck.

We had a lot of fun playing and chatting with other folks who think the next pull will surely be “the one”. ¬†We passed a sign at the cafe that said “Graveyard Specials” – served 12 midnight till’ 6am. ¬†Steak, two eggs and hash browns — $4.95, plus a number of other menu items for much less than that. ¬†You just know we stayed for that deal – along with all of the other people who filled the restaurant by 12:15. ¬†So much fun. ¬†I really paid for that “fun” the next morning – but hey – this is Vegas – right? ¬†Just a little side note – The IKEA Cafe (450 seats)¬†opens one hour before the store does. ¬†There you can get a full breakfast – scrambled eggs, hash browns, and sausage – for $1.99. ¬†This is nuts!

We bought tickets to see Criss Angel – Mindfreak at the Luxor. ¬†The show doesn’t start until 9:30 pm, so we decided to eat at South Point for their Wednesday night Luau – then head to town for the show. ¬†But first, the luau. ¬†We were greeted with complimentary Mai-Tais, then moved on to the buffet which includes¬†Lomi-Lomi Salmon. Soy and Ginger Crusted Mahi Mahi, Macadamia Nut Crusted Chicken, Polynesian Coconut Curried Chicken, Kailua Pork Loin, Waikiki Beach Barbeque Pork Ribs and Diamond Head Grilled Red Fish. The Luau’s dessert station features Coconut Cup Cakes and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. ¬†How can we go wrong? ¬†I mean, for $14.99, you have to find something you like…

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The only downside I can see is that tomorrow will be double time on the treadmill (grrr).

Back to Criss Angel. criss

Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos¬†is an American magician and illusionist. ¬†He was born¬†December 19, 1967 in the town of Hempstead, NY., which makes him 48 years old. Handsome, right? ¬†And an extraordinary magician. ¬†I love me some Criss Angel. ¬†Actually, I like magic in general. ¬†When they’re good, and even when they’re not so good, I can never see how the trick is done. ¬†I’ve been on Google trying to discover how the tricks are done. ¬†This is what I do know – It was a lifetime of learning and practice for sure. ¬†But in the end, ¬†It really does look like magic – and I want it to stay that way.

There’s no sense trying to find Waldo in the next two pictures – it’s sooo clear… feeling abs, and a little smooch…how old am I? ¬†This is Vegas after all…

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The Luxor is built to look like an Egyptian pyramid.  luxor

The Luxor Las Vegas is a ¬†casino and 30-story hotel, topped with a¬†315,000-watt light beam. ¬†It has 4,407 rooms, ¬†over 2,000 slot machines and 87 table games. ¬†The hotel is named after the city of Luxor in Egypt. ¬†It is the fifth-largest hotel in Las Vegas and the ninth-largest in the world. ¬†The hotel’s pyramid is similar in size to the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid of Egypt. ¬†Not too shabby.

We have tickets to see Bill Maher at The Mirage tonight. ¬†But first another Luau at the Silverton Hotel and Casino. ¬†And why not? ¬†We have a BOGO coupon. The food was pretty good – lots more variety than at South Point’s Luau – but no complimentary, bottomless Mai-Tais.

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We had never been to The Mirage – another huge, beautiful casino, mobbed with people. ¬†Of course, it’s Saturday night, so every place is a mob scene. ¬†It kind of adds to the excitement of being on “the strip”.

Bill Maher was fantastic. ¬†Most of the people in the audience were huge fans, so they were really into the whole show. ¬†Tim and I are also big fans, we watch him every Friday night without fail. ¬† ¬†We enjoyed every minute of the show, and were sad to see it end. ¬†Only in the privacy of my little trailer can I join in with the yelling audience, “I love you Bill”!

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After the show, I wanted to try my luck. ¬†My favorite machine is a penny slot called Lucky 88. ¬†The only casino that has Lucky 88 is Harrah’s – off we went. As luck would have it (see what I did there), they only had one machine – One!!! ¬† We waited until the people playing left, and I quickly jumped in. ¬†I had so much fun playing, and even left with the money I started with – I call that a win! ¬†A note if you come to Vegas: ¬†Parking used to be free everywhere. ¬†Now, MGM and all of the casinos it owns charge for self-parking, and for valet parking. ¬†But the casinos owned by Caesars, including Harrah’s, are still free and have complimentary drinks. That works for us.

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We went home after our stop in Harrahs, we were both pretty exhausted. ¬†This was a great day – ¬†dinner, a show, playing…perfect. ¬†I may not have hit the Jackpot at a slot machine, but I did hit it big when I met my guy Tim (ain’t that sweet?)

A few more days in Vegas, and we’re off to Sedona, Arizona. ¬†A place of healing and spiritual renewal, a smart stop after 10 days plus in Las Vegas. ¬†See you at the Vortex…

(Note: ¬†Most of these pictures were borrowed from the Internet. ¬†Our Las Vegas photos were not “postable”, but enjoy them just the same. ¬† Janet)

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US

AUGUST 20, 2016

ONE YEAR ON THE ROAD РHOORAY FOR US  (champagne, confetti, applause)

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When we pulled out of our driveway a year ago, we thought OK – we’ll try this for 3 to 6 months, and make a decision. ¬†Well, here we are one year later, and still loving it. ¬†I can’t say there haven’t been a few missteps along the way, but pretty much, everyday’s been a good day. ¬†Yes, the trailer gets a little smaller each day, but not so much that we would end this journey. ¬†We’ve seen so much, and made so many new friends. ¬†It’s been wonderful. ¬†We don’t miss our fairly large home, or all of the work that goes along with home ownership ¬†The only thing we miss is our children, extended family, and of course, Timmy, Daniel, and Matthew. ¬†They are surely what ¬†has us headed east. ¬†But before that happens, let’s continue the journey as it unfolds.

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On the 20th, we pulled into Tim’s sister’s home in California. ¬†It was a delight to visit Patty. ¬†She has a new pet, a rescued German Shepherd. ¬†Patty just got her, so she was a little skittish. ¬†We had fun helping come up with a name for her. ¬†Emmy Lou? – for Emmy Lou Harris? ¬†Foxy, because she has a bushy tail like a fox? ¬†or Sweetie Pie, because that’s what she is – a sweetie pie. My Dad had German Shepherds while we were kids and growing up, and I’ve never met a more loving and sweet dog, and so, Sweetie Pie it is.

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That night the three of us celebrated our one year on the road by drinking a bottle of champagne from Roederer Estate, that we picked up in California,  way before our journey to Alaska.  We shared good food, good conversation and laughs.

ROEDERER ESTATE TASTING ROOM

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From Patty’s, we decided to head to Lake Tahoe, where neither of us had ever been. ¬†Tahoe is a beautiful lake. ¬†And lucky us, there was a sun shower.

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There seems to be quite a bit to do, and several nice casinos. ¬†It was difficult to find a place to stay. ¬†One campground had spaces, but I’m sorry to say, we arrived just after 7pm, and they close at 7pm. ¬†I even spoke to the camp host, and told her we were exhausted. ¬†She was pleasant, but still would not permit us to stay, not even for a night. ¬†Now it’s dark, and we don’t have a place to stay. ¬†I know – WALMART.

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¬†We’ve never stayed n a Walmart parking lot before, although many do. ¬†It’s called “Boondocking”, and it’s free. ¬†We had a good night’s rest, surrounded by other RVs. ¬†And the best part? ¬†There is no check-out time. ¬†I guess we are officially RVers ! Cute story – when we visited my cousin Cheryl in Colorado Springs, she said that there was a Walmart close by. ¬†However, due to the fact that so many RVs stayed for way too long, they no longer allow overnight “guests”. ¬†What a hoot!

After Lake Tahoe, we decided to drive “The Lonliest Road in America”,¬†across Nevada.

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It is a much longer route to Las Vegas, but the dots on the map that straddle Route 50 announce that it is scenic. ¬†It truly is lonely and desolate, but beautiful with it’s ever changing topography of rolling mountains and broad, flat valleys. It’s silent and peaceful, and incredibly expansive. ¬†Travelers are rare and the few settlements are fifty or more miles apart. ¬†For hundreds of miles, hours and hours, you feel alone with nature.

The first night was spent in the tiny town of Austin, NV.  This is the entire town.

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We found a place for the night called¬†Pony Express RV Park. ¬†Although they had full hook-ups for us, that’s where the amenities ended. ¬†In fact, you put your money in the provided envelope, and slipped it into the slot in a metal box. ¬†I want to show you a picture of the picnic table.

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Enough said!!!

The continued ¬†long but very scenic drive took us to Ely, Nevada ( pronounced Eeelee). ¬†There we found the Prospector Hotel And Gambling Hall (and RV Park) (see review in Campgrounds).¬†We weren’t sure what we would find, but, lo and behold, it was wonderful. ¬†An immaculate little hotel, with a Mexican restaurant, 100 slot machines, and 22 full service sites. ¬†And, access to their pool, fitness room, and laundry. ¬†Not bad for $22 per night.

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Ely is a gateway to Great Basin National Park. ¬†Again, stunning. ¬†This park is located in east-central Nevada, near the Utah border. It was established in 1986.¬†The park gets its name from, naturally, ¬†the Great Basin, the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. The park ¬†protects 77,180 acres, but the Great Basin itself has a diameter of 500 miles. ¬†The summer climate is delightful. ¬†We’d even consider settling here –What’s that? ¬†Winters reach 40 degrees below zero?! ¬†I think we better think this out again.

This National Park is notable for its groves of ancient bristlecone pines, the oldest known non-clonal organisms; and for the Lehman Caves, proclaimed a National Monument by President Warren G. Harding on January 24, 1922.

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Bristlecone pines are remarkable for their great age and their ability to survive adverse growing conditions. In fact, it seems one secret to their longevity is the harsh environment in which most bristlecone pines grow. ¬†The trees in¬†Great Basin ¬†grow in isolated groves just below the treeline. Conditions are harsh, with cold temperatures, a short growing season, and high winds. Bristlecone pines in these high-elevation environments grow very slowly, and in some years don’t even add a ring of growth. This slow growth makes their wood very dense and resistant to insects, fungi, rot, and erosion. ”¬†In the summer of 1964, a geographer by the name of Donald R. Currey was doing research on ice age glaciology. He was granted permission from the United States Forest Service to take core samples from numerous bristlecone pines growing ¬†beneath Wheeler Peak to try and age the glacial features these ancient trees grow on. Currey was studying the variations in width of the rings of bristlecone pine trees, which were believed to be over 4,000 years old, to determine patterns of good and bad growing seasons in the past. Due to their old age, these trees act as climatic vaults, storing thousands of years of weather data within their rings. This method of research is valuable to the study of climate change.” ¬†– NPS

The NPS Visitors Center displays a cross section of a tree that’s been on earth for over 4,000 years. ¬†Pins along the rings mark a timeline of historical events. ¬†This tree was a sapling as the pyramids of Egypt were under construction. ¬†That is something to truly marvel at!!!

There are tours through the¬†Lehman Caves. ¬†I was all for doing the caves, but Tim is a bit claustrophobic. ¬†He’s not wild about ¬†any small spaces, elevators, or even being stuck in traffic. ¬†He quit wrestling in school because he couldn’t stand it when he was on the bottom, with someone holding him down. ¬†But guess what? ¬†Talk about conquering your fears! ¬†Here’s a pic of my guy inside the cave, with a lantern no less.

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The tiny towns we passed on our way to Great Basin were not without their oddities.  Here in Ely we have Antler Arch.  Elk antlers interweave to form a magnificent square entry arch for a ranch where they make specialty lighting and furniture using antlers.  There are Antler chandeliers on both ends of the arch.

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Note:  During December, the antlers of mule and white-tail deer, moose and stag caribou fall to the ground, making it common to see animals with just a single antler. Elk retain their antlers throughout the winter, only shedding them with the onset of spring.

But my personal roadside oddity thus far has got to be this one.

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I haven’t been able to find a reference for it anywhere. ¬†Is it “folk art”? ¬†A memorial to a loved one? ¬†or just a representation of eternal rest. ¬†Maybe we’ll never know, but I love it.

From Ely, we press on to Caliente, NV. ¬†What a great name, for such a tiny town. ¬†This is our last stop before Las Vegas. ¬†Time to do chores like laundry and general cleaning. ¬†We only want to have fun when we arrive. ¬†I hope you’re ready for “Sin City”. ¬†We sure are…see you there…

N’ICE ICE BABY

August, 2016

Yeah, back in the USA!  First stop Anacortes, WA, on Fidalgo Island, where we satisfied our yen for Native American culture with a visit to the Swimonish Reservation (and casino, of course).

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Thought we would revisit Mount Rainier in Washington, on our way south. It ascends to 14,410 feet above sea level, and is an icon on the Washington landscape. It is the most glaciated peak in the lower 48.  It is also an active volcano.  Sort of crazy when you think that with all of that ice, if you were to reach the top, you would feel the hot steam from its smoldering insides.

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While leaving, we saw this wonderful waterfall with a permanent rainbow.  Wow!!

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Bend, Oregon was on our list of “must-sees”, and here we are. ¬†It’s on a few lists as a top 10 city – and we can see why. There are 3 Distilleries, ¬†several wineries, and about 29 – yep- 29 breweries. ¬†There is also a place that ferments tea called Hmmm Kombusha. ¬†There are galleries and theaters, and all manner of cultural and outdoor activities. ¬†We went downtown to check out the Mill District, which is a mall. ¬†But not just any mall. ¬†It was built beside the Deschutes River, and this is what we saw while strolling around the mall.

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Doesn’t that look like fun? ¬†SUPs, kayaks, swimming dogs, and lots and lots of floats; hundreds of folks spending a lazy afternoon gliding with the current through the city.

We ate dinner at Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails, which was great (see foodd and goodies).  While trying to park for dinner, we were told they were closing the area to cars for a cruise ( ??? ).  I asked what that was, this being downtown, and clearly not a cruise port.  The guard told us that it was a vintage car cruise, and they would be driving a route around town for display.  Naturally, we sat at the window at Zydeco, and saw much of he parade while eating.

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After dinner, we continued to stroll the “cruise” route, and found this parked just outside the route.

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That’s right! ¬†A brand new Tesla, (with Tim in the driver’s seat) – not vintage, but fabulosity to the nth degree!!! ¬†Nt vintage, but already a modern-day classic.

We went to Volcano for a wine tasting, and of course found several bottles we thought were worth bringing home.

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The town of Sisters was an easy drive from Redmond.  It is a very cool, artsy, pretty town.  We put it right up there with Talkeetna and Homer.

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We stopped into Sisters Smokehouse and bought lunch, and a few sticks of home- made  Teriyaki Pepperoni.  It was sooo delicious.

 

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from there we headed to the McKenzie Highway, OR 242, which is on the National Register of Historic Places due to the fact that it was a wagon route over the Cascades Range.  It is said that you get the experience of hiking a trail, while driving in your car.  It was a very interesting ride through a mountain pass on a very narrow trail of steep grades and switchbacks.  The scenic route also crosses 65 square miles of lava fields, much like Craters of the Moon National Park, but more mountainous, and with more recent volcanic activity.  It is closed for winter as early as Labor Day.  Snow packs and ice of up to 14 feet are common on the summit of the road.

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65 sq miles of this stuff…

And this lava reminds me – we did visit a roadside oddity in Redmond – Petersen’s Rock Garden.¬†Rasmus Petersen (1883-1952), born in Denmark, built his rock garden in the last 17 years of his life, in tribute to his adopted new country. He collected rocks, petrified wood, glass, and shells from around Redmond, and began building replica structures at the age of 52 — when most people start to slow down.¬†The Garden is still owned and run by Petersen’s grandchildren, and in 2013 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. ¬†Below is one of many buildings Mr. Petersen created on his four acres.

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At the end of every day, we were left in awe of beautiful sunsets.IMG_0744

 

Heading south to California, we were treated to Mt. Shasta, a potentially active volcano located at the southern end of the Cascade Range.  At an elevation of 14,179 feet, it is the second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California.

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It’s beauty is difficult to describe, but John Muir said it best.

‚ÄúWhen I first caught sight of Mount Shasta over the braided folds of the Sacramento Valley, my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since.‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ John Muir, 1874

“…my blood turned to wine…” ¬†ahhhhh – don’t you just love that phrase! I sure do.

I don’t know about you, but we don’t think of ice and glaciers when we think of California. ¬†In fact, we never realized just how many glaciers we would see on this trip – amazing! ¬†( And so sad they are receding )

Next stop was Redding, California, and the Win-River Resort & Casino (see posting under Campground Reviews).  This is just a short  drive from the glaciers of Mt. Shasta, yet,  it is 108 degrees outside. Thankfully, it is a dry heat, so it is much more bearable Рat least for me.  Win-River is a delight.  When you use the RV park, you receive a pass for the fitness center, business office, pool, and hot tub.

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We visited the #1 attraction in Redding, The Sundial Bridge.  

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And  by the way, where (above) is Waldo?

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The Sundial Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge for bicycles and pedestrians, that spans the Sacramento River.¬†The support tower of the bridge forms a single 217-foot mast that points due north at a cantilevered angle, allowing it to serve as the gnomon (the projecting piece on a sundial that shows the time by the position of its shadow) of a sundial. ¬†The Sundial Bridge gnomon’s shadow is cast upon a large dial to the north of the bridge, although the shadow cast by the tower is exactly accurate on only one day in a year ‚Äď the summer solstice. ¬†The tip of the shadow moves at approximately one foot per minute so that the Earth’s rotation about its axis can be seen with the naked eye. ¬†This amazing architectural structure¬†was designed by Santiago Calatrava, at a cost of $23,500,000. ¬† It took 11 years to build, and opened in 2004. ¬†The bridge has become iconic for Redding, and definitely worth a visit.

Tomorrow, we leave Redding, CA , and head south again. ¬†Since we’re so close to her area, we’re going to ¬†take the opportunity to visit Tim’s sister Patty once again. ¬†We’ll see you there.

OY, CANADA

August 2016

Canada, we love you. ¬†The drive to Alaska and back was once in a lifetime — ¬†hopefully. ¬†After miles and miles (literally, thousands of miles) of beautiful forests, mountains, glaciers, wildlife, uncrowded highways and gravel roads (three cracked windshields), “first people” and “last frontiers”, loonies and toonies, the boonies, liters and meters, cheap poutine, and expensive “petrol”, we’re thrilled to be back in our more cosmopolitan homeland.

Just remember we do love you, O Canada, ’cause we could be back as soon as November (after election day).

Picture of cracked windshield from a rock…

Version 2

and again, a rock…

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and oh no, not again !!! ¬†this time a kamikaze raven…

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See you in the states…