From Tom’s Dashboard. Tooling Around in Milan, Italy!

Pizza, Music, Expresso and Gelato

Milan Cathedral or the Duomo dominated the square. How awesome!

Having visited many countries over the years, Marla and I have recently cut down on international travel. Airport security hassles and smaller seats on airplanes have made that an easy choice. I returned to Milano only because I was offered a chance to teach a short course on my “Seven Point Plan for Mastitis Control” with a panel of friends who are international experts.

 

Santa Maria delle Grazie influenced by Roman architecture and home of Michelangelo’s Last Supper.

In addition to the National Mastitis Council meeting, I played tourist in Milano and Lake Como for three days. With a hotel in the city center, it was easy to explore the churches, historical buildings, shops and cafes. Milano, like most European cities offers an easy to use matrix of subways, buses, trams and trains. The metro stop for my hotel was interestingly called Misouri (spelled correctly).

In Milano, there are churches every 100 meters as I discovered on my walking tours. After visiting many churches, temples, mosques… with Marla the past 36 years, the need to visit these sites seems to be in my DNA. The Duomo is the highlight, but the architecture of the collection of churches was diverse and interesting.

Saint Stephano’s Baroque facade is gorgeous!

Churches not readily apparent on the tourist map were pointed out by my friend of 25 years Paolo Brambilla, over a nice dinner conversation. Milano also offers a castle, parks, some remnants of the city wall, and upscale shopping at the Gallery Victor Emmanuel and Montenapoleone.

 

 

Only in Italy!!!!

To keep your batteries charged up there are no shortage of coffee shops, pizzerias and gelaterias. The expresso and pizza were as expected, but the gelato exceeded expectations: dark chocolate + hazelnut + pistachio anyone?

Can music get any better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My musical interests led me to a Django Reinhart Festival at Spirit de Milano, an interesting old factory converted to an event space. I arrived around 6:30 PM to observe a master class on gypsy jazz and jam sessions (Listen to the link.) This was followed by a concert with three three groups playing variations of Django inspired music. The performances started around 9:30 PM and were going strong at midnight. The demographics of the crowd got younger and louder as the evening progressed and there were 50 people waiting to enter the event when I departed.

Lake Como and the wealthy!

I also enjoyed an excursion to the Lake Como and a boat tour. The scenic lake in the foothills of the Alps is ringed by villas owned by the rich and famous. George Clooney purchased one of the smaller villas a few years ago for $80 million.

This is Tom’s creation!!

Sometimes they used three screens just like the rock stars use in the main auditorium.

Oh yes, the excuse for the trip! I also attended the NMC conference which was a major success for the organizers, with a collection of 650 experts from 39 countries. I enjoyed conversations with many of my international friends. Our 3.5 hour short course lasted 5 hours and everyone stayed to hear our plan for reducing antibiotic usage while maintaining animal health and milk quality (We need good milk for gelato and that wonderful Italian cheese).

Friend in the air!

Even though air travel is a hassle, sometimes you make new friends!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

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Corpus Christi and its RV Resorts!

The Oil Kings and the People of Corpus Christi

A happy trailer on Port Aransas.

 

Tom reasoned. Texas is closer and a straight shot from Kansas City. And the sun shines there in the winter also. Dreams of sunrays filled our minds as we headed toward Texas.  (Within the last ten years we had visited and camped near Corpus Christi, and we had a great time.)

 

The Hunt for an RV Spot 

After visiting approximately fifteen properties labeled RV Resorts (to buy or rent), around Corpus Christi we wearily gave up the search.  Apparently Texans define Resort differently than the rest of the world. Many of the “resorts” were good places to tie up your pet and sit a while.  There was no room to even stretch out your arms.  Their main attraction was the sky and the dirt.

This was the RV Pad that cost $166,000.

Two of the sites we inspected were livable, but the costs were excessive.  There was a cute little Casita on a driveway about 30 miles away from Portland for $132,000.

We really liked the RV Pad on the island of Port Aransas for $166K with monthly costs of maintenance and taxes of $500 or more a month.  But that was all it was, a driveway.  And right to the side of it they were building a three story home?! It felt like a closet.  Tom just reminded me that we looked at a two-bedroom loft condo, 1.5 baths on St. Croix for about $165K negotiable.  Which would you choose?

Remnants of Harvey 

We checked out the area all around Corpus Christi going as far as Mathis, Fulton, Port Aransas, and Mustang Island.  (We could not go as far south as we wanted because the roads were blocked.) Remnants of Hurricane Harvey that hit last August were everywhere.  Downed signs, empty lots, blown out gas stations, blue-tarp roofs, and sagging buildings greeted us.  One very sad building was blown in half.  You could see furniture on all the levels.  Debris was piled up in many places.  But most of the buildings looked like they had new paint.

The best hours we spent in Corpus Christi were on the ferry to Port Aransas and the winding drive through the southern Mansions on Ocean Blvd.  (I will return to this shortly.)  While we did not appreciate 75 mph signs on two lane highways without shoulders, we discovered that the best road in town was a runway at the airport.

Would you want to live near one of these. They inhabit most of the coast along the Gulf.

Greedy Petroleum Kings

What really shocked us was the presence of the Petroleum Kings (industry) everywhere.  Refineries circle the town.  One source says there are 6 oil refineries and over 1,000 oil wells in Corpus Christi. Seems like there were more to me. Tall prayer-like minarets spewing flames were everywhere.  (At first I really thought they were minarets.) The only place we have experienced these tall stacks/chimneys burning off gas was in Williston, North Dakota during the height of the fracking.  We camped in Williston and the burning gas kept us awake all night.

Is Corpus Christi a Potential Bhopal?

Church Row in a very dismal downtown Corpus Christi!

We know that people depend upon this industry for survival, but it seems to us that people should not live around the refineries or wells.  It reminds me of the Bhopal tragedy!  Oil is stored very close to humans.  The round cylindrical storage units look like flowers popping up out of the ground everywhere.   It seems like a disaster just waiting to happen.

I love farms and some of them outside Corpus Christi were right next to a refinery.  The cattle grazing and especially an old church looked out of place against this rusty backdrop. I kept thinking about the wind turbines.  They seem to be a better alternative than digging up, burning off methane gas, and processing oil –leaving rusting steel giants behind as oil Kings do all over the world. (Check out the abandoned plant at St. Croix)

We worried about polluted ground water.  We worried about the air and food on the farms.  Was petroleum seeping into everything?  Most older roofs were black from the fallout from the factories or mold??  What about the fallout from the gas being burned?  And then there was the sand!

Look at the tire marks! It was dangerous to walk!

We walked on the beach at Port Aransas and found two lanes of cars driving up and down the beach. Sand was constantly being thrown in the air.  Some beach people brought their campers.  Others taped off sections of the beach that they were claiming as their own.  It was really a weird, bizzare, and hostile experience.  I wondered about the safety? of whizzing cars and trucks right next to the water.  We decided the place was not for us.

Here is another close-up on the beach. I guess we would have to pull a trailer behind our motorhome to visit the beach.

Now, let’s get back to the mansions.  I thought that those wealthy people were really lucky; they did not have huge chimneys or refineries in their backyards.  On our way back to town, because Ocean Blvd was closed at Texas A&M University, we took a break and walked along the water again.  Wait a minute!  What is that out there in the water?  Is it a floating city?  What is it?  It was mile after mile of offshore oil platforms right in front of the mansions.  The wind blows from the East across these platforms and lands right on top of the mansions.  Not one person, not even the well-to-do, can escape the effects of oil pollution on their property and lives.

The USS Lexington is in the background. The dog is obeying his master.

Just before we left, we stopped to take a photo of the USS Lexington.  Right next to me was a sculpture of a dog and two white feet.  The dog was looking up in the air to the invisible person who owned the feet.  Some say that the title of the sculpture should be “The White Man and the Indians (the dog).”

I thought the dog sculpture was an insightful commentary on our experience of Corpus Christi. It should have been entitled, “The Oil Kings (feet) and the People (dog).”

My apologies, when I took this photo I saw shoes and so an earlier version of this post discussed the shoes and the dog.  Obviously, it is the dog and two feet!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

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Playing Games with the Devil!

The Devil Plays Straightline Blues

Here is a photo of Robert Johnson taken from Wikipedia!

Highways 61 and 49 run right through the middle of Clarksdale.  Elvisland is less than an hour away.  Legend has it that a teenager Robert Johnson in the 1920’s came to this crossroad and made a deal with the devil.  Johnson agreed to sell his soul if the devil would teach him how to burn up a guitar! According to the myth, he did indeed begin to kindle a fire in his guitar.  Today, at the crossroad where Johnson allegedly made the deal, there is a statue of two guitars! Although there is some dispute as to which crossroads he was at and in what city!

 

The Famous Crossroads

Ground Zero Blues Club

What a building! Ground Zero!

Clarksdale is a Blues town!  Ground Zero Blues Club was voted #1 Blues Club in the nation by bestbluesclub.org.  One of its owners is Morgan Freeman!

On the second day of the Harmonica Camp, attendees had to perform at Ground Zero.  It was an amazing place and experience.  Local bands were so electrifying that the lights seemed to dance.

The audience was surprisingly international on Jam night.  Anyone who wanted to play could sign up.  The aging Buzzards from the UK  (Listen to this link!) sent shocks up the spines of all of us.  I called them the “Rocking Grandpas.”  They were in their 60’s but they really energized the house!

One or two  of the Buzzards!

We learned that there is live music every day of the week in Clarksdale.  Other Clubs include Hambone Gallery, Bluesberry Cafe, Levon’s Bar and Grill, the Stone Pony, and of course, the Shack Up Inn where we stayed while Tom was at the Harmonica Camp. The Shack Up Inn has a few hook-ups for RV’s and they plan to add additional sites! Call ahead for a reservation.

I went over and cheered the Buzzards and one of them kissed me!

 

The Town of Clarksdale

Last December, on our way to the Mississippi coast, we tooled around Clarksdale.  I was not sure if I wanted to return to this city of 17,000. The downtown area, like so many other major downward U.S.A. cities in the late 20th century, was in ruins.  Businesses had fled and many of the buildings were in disrepair.  Houses around the south side of the city were also crumbling.

The Stone Pony Restaurant

But, behind some of those crumbling facades are vibrant businesses.  We dined at the Stone Pony.  The inside of the restaurant looked like any local restaurant anywhere, and the food was delicious.  After touring the city, and even finding a landromat, I discovered wonderful southern charm.  Everyone was very polite and helpful!

Delta Blues Museum

There are many interesting sites in Clarksdale, but I really enjoyed the Delta Blues Museum.  It was so great to see African-American musicians plastered in posters all over the walls.  The museum has created glass cases to showcase the Blues careers of both females and males. (Photography was prohibited so I can’t give you a glimpse of the wonderful displays.)  The steel sculptures of Blues greats were fantastic.

Female Blues singers included Dorothy Moore, Big Mama Thornton and Denise La Salle.  Many of the names of Blues players were unusual, like Model T. Ford,  Jimmy Duck Blues, Little Mike and the Tornadoes, Ike Turner and Ikettes and Furry Lewis.  Jug bands were also featured!

Muddy Waters had his own holy area. He is probably one of the most well-know Blues musicians.  You entered his sacred space by ducking under a canopy.  Another musician whose story took up a lot of space was Charlie Musselwhite (a light-skinned person). His harmonica rocks!  Just listen!

The Delta Blues

Several Blues singers ended up in this prison farm! I think it is 18,000 acres and still farmed today by inmates.

There are so many different types of Blues, it can make you go crazy.  Check out Piedmont Blues, Chicago Blues, Texas Blues, West Coast Blues, Country Blues, Hillbilly Blues, Jump Blues, Piano Blues and many more.  For the past few months I have been trying to understand the differences in this music, but I have not made very much headway.

One of the books I was reading created cameos about popular Blues singers/musicians from the Delta.  The stories of gunfights, violence, physical and verbal abuse were too much for me.  Who sleeps with a knife or a gun under her pillow?  I sent the book back to the library.

You could be sent to prison for any little thing, like stealing a ham!

Party Blues

There has always been this idea of the “devil” associated with Delta Blues.  I surely did not understand this link. I thought the  churches were very puritanical and bad-mouthed the Blues.  But, now I am reading a book,  Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues a Musical Journey.  To my surprise, the early Blues (1920’s) lyrics  were on the edge if not square in the middle of pornographic.  The singers referred to body parts with vocabulary that fit the heat of the song in what are termed “Party Blues.”  “Shave ‘Em Dry” by Lucille Bogan is heart and soul Party Blues. (You can look up those lyrics if you are interested.)  All of this vivid sexual imagery (often grotesque) went right along with their drugs, liquor, brawling, and sleeping around.  Many of the lyrics we listen to in the “tame” Blues really allude to the same sexual imagery.  We just don’t make the connections.  What does “Dust my Broom” mean?  If Johnson did not sell his soul to the devil, it seems pretty obvious that others did! (Just kidding!)

Cotton field and the Shack Up Inn Lodging. One of my favorite photos from this trip!

Harmonica Blues

I have never been a fan of the harmonica.  It seemed that the harmonica players I heard were always too loud and they wailed too much. I wanted to turn down the music!  (Had it not gone out of style like the accordions?)  After an entire week of hearing harmonicas played every day, I understand the so-called “drugging” effect of music.

A great harmonica can sound just like a person who is talking to a guitar or the audience.  The conversation mesmerizes you.  The more you hear it, the more you want to hear it.  For the first time in my life, I understood why people spend their lives singing and playing and inventing music.  I think listening to music all day long rewires your brain,  and that brain is not happy unless the tunes are playing or being played.  I get it!

Harmonica Power!!!!

So Much Is Left OUT!

There is so much more to see, hear, and experience in this area of the world.  Visit it yourself.  We can’t capture all of it for you!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

Posted in Clarksdale, Delta Blues Museum, Devil Blues, Ground Zero Blues Club, Robert Johnson, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harmonica Heaven! From Tom’s Dashboard

Blues Harmonica (Fantasy) Jam Camp

This is energetic Jon with Harmonica, guitar, and singing the Blues.

Think of a music camp and envision young musicians learning to advance their skills in a traditional educational format. Then think of a fantasy baseball camp, where you get baby boomers living out a fantasy for a few days at a baseball camp at a major league spring training facility, run by former baseball players.  Combine those two images and you get Jon Gindick’s (jongindick.com) Blues Harmonica Jam Camp in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

A room full of harmonica players, playing at the same time. WOW!

We met Jon when he performed (harmonica, guitar, and vocal) at the International Folk Alliance Festival in Kansas City in 2016. Jon invited me to join a one-hour group harmonica lesson where the Jam Camp was mentioned. The April 2018 Jam Camp fit our schedule so I signed up. I thought this would be the traditional music camp, but it was more!

Baby Boomers

Imagine 30 baby boomers, with interest in the Blues, most of whom have put musical interests aside for careers and family. Now retired, with a few dollars to spare, they take the opportunity to live out a life- long musical fantasy.  They visit the epicenter of blues music in Clarksdale, MS. The participants range in age from about 55 to 80, coming from across the US, Boston to San Francisco, Portland to Atlanta. Throw in some international boomers from Switzerland, Scotland and Canada, and 5 of the best Blues harmonica players in the country as coaches and trainers.

Shack Up Inn

Check out the link to the Shack Up Inn.

The event was held at the Shack Up Inn, a B&B (Bed and Beer) where the housing is a mixture of shacks and metal cotton bins. The main venue for performing was appropriately called the Blues Chapel.  To imagine the Blues Chapel think of cross breeding Knuckleheads with BBs Lawnside BBQ in KC.

The Blues Chapel from the second floor. Quite an experience!

Back to School

The “training” included some large group lessons, small group lessons, and one-on-one sessions. “Training” is dominated by jamming, that is, playing/creating music together with others. Students were learning by doing. For the more experienced players, the opportunity to jam with other musicians seemed to be the highlight and the reason for attending.

For me and the fellow “raw beginners” we were handled with care in small groups, and in one-on-one lessons. We were still required however to perform solos along with the experienced players at the camp.  By the second day we had to perform at the Blues club Ground Zero during their open jam session.  Our final was a solo of our choosing on day 5 at the close of the program.

Tom’s solo was “I feel like a motherless child.”

The talented group of instructors and local musicians.

The musical excellence of the trainers can not be overstated.  Jon Gindick was the master of ceremony, lead “class room” instructor, expert on single note blues harmonica style, and creative musical story teller. RJ Mischo, who was born 20 miles from where I lived in Wisconsin, tours internationally and will be in KC at BBs September 9.  Cheryl Arena, was the vocal and harmonic instructor and can set off smoke detectors with her harmonica playing. Hash Brown, accompanied us on guitar through the week and helped work out arrangements for our solos. He was so kind and encouraging that even when I misplayed 3 of only 4 notes during a rehearsal, he said “that sounded good, keep it up.”   TJ Klay plays a folksy-blues guitar/harmonic. On the second day he forced beginners to play 2-3 minutes extended solos, re-enforcing the message about the safe notes. Richard Slay plays a contemporary and introspective Blues harmonica.  How about listening to a short piece of Harmonica Blues?  Here ya go...

Tom on the same journey the famous Blues player Robert Johnson took!

By the end of the week I had learned a lot about the Blues and learned a lot about playing the harmonica. I also listened to tremendous playing, singing, and song writing by campers and trainers, attempted 3 solos, and spent 5 days with 35 of the most supportive people I have ever been with in my life.  Now, back to trying to bend the 2 draw on the C harp (harmonica)

In about a week, I will post my own blog on the Harmonia Heaven experience!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

This is the cover for the color version of the book.

 

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Elvis Re-Imagined and Re-Commercialized

A New World.  Elvisland!

The Guest House is located behind a steel fence!

On our way to a Blues Harmonica Conference in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Tom decided to camp at Sam’s Town Casino in Tunica because it was in between Memphis and Helena, Arkansas.  We were surprised at the quality of the RV Camp at the Casino. Full hook-ups were only $20 a night. (Full hook-up means water, 50 amps of electricity, and sewer.)  It was a bargain.

Here is the new Elvis Mall. It looks like a military installation, hidden from view!

Graceland Has Lost Its Grace

The first day out we headed for Elvisland.  We have done the tour of Graceland on every trip through Tennessee. Usually we hit the shops.  And we have even camped across the street from Graceland a couple of times.  After enjoying Elvisland.  There was always a lot happening in Memphis.  So, Sun Record’s bus would pick you up in front of the Heartbreak Hotel and bring you down to Beale Street (for free).  We know the beat!

But … when we arrived at Elvisland this time, we found that everything, except Graceland itself, was destroyed.  All that was left of Heartbreak Hotel were piles of sticks.  The shops were gone.  The planes were hidden.  The retro-cars had left the scene.  The humanity of Elvis was gone!  If we wanted to visit the new Elvis MALL, we had to pay to park.  Huh? We even had to go through guarded gates to visit the new humongous Guest House Hotel that dwarfs Graceland.  What a heartbreak!

Rockin’ Beale Street

Chicken and Waffles and a vegetable plate for me!

We decided not to enter the highly guarded holy site and headed down to Beale Street and Miss Polly’s for lunch.

Beale Street was everything it has always been!  Huge guitars dotted the landscape this time.  Tom had time to visit the Gibson guitar showroom again.  Guitars run in the thousands of dollars.  W. C. Handy’s and Elvis statues welcomed us.

Just dream! You will have to work a long time to  purchase one of these

Sign said, “Do not touch!”

At the Visitor’s Center west of town, we paid homage to B.B. King and Elvis once again.  The first time I saw the King statue (years ago), I wondered why he was enshrined near Elvis.

His life and work make us all proud!  BB King!

Now that I have been studying the Blues for more than a year, I understand that both Elvis and B.B. were kings in the music world!  B.B., like Elvis, was a tremendously talented self-made man! Here is a link to “Riding with the King,”  a favorite of ours.

So cool. This was on the side of a building and it was fading away!

 

The Blues Trail. Helena, Arkansas

If you are interested in Blues music, find time to visit some of the historic places along the Blues Trail.  (There is a map to help you find the greats.) These Blues giants are worshipped today in ways they were not during their own lifetimes. Yesterday we made a trek to Helena, Arkansas.  KFFA has been broadcasting the King Biscuit Time for more than 75 years from Helena. African American Blues singers and players found audiences here when they were not allowed to play and sing on other radio stations.  Have you ever heard the term “race” music?

How big is that guitar?

Tom and I were hopeful of visiting sites in Helena, but the trip was a “bust.”  It seemed like most of the houses were unoccupied or condemned.  Huge storage facilities were lifeless and rusting.  What a shocker!  It reminded me of the miles of abandoned factories on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. It was Monday and almost everything downtown was closed.  There were no public restrooms.  We considered entering the Courthouse as a last resort.

After visiting a Civil War cemetery, circling Ft. Curtis, and photographing several very large well-trimmed churches, we found The Tavern and had a great lunch.  My favorite spot in Helena was the Jewish Synagogue.

Temple Bet El

Sometimes you learn more than you can quantify, even if a site does not meet your expectations. Memphis and Helena will long be on our minds as we continue investigating the Blues.

For the next week Tom will be improving his musical skills at the Blues Camp at the Shack Up Inn.  I hope that he will write a paragraph or two about his experiences soon!

As always this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

P.S. “Elvisland” is a word that I created! Maybe others have used it too.  I was thinking of that famous novel, Herland!

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Make Your Dreams Come True. Head for Alaska!

Alaska.  More Than An Adventure is Published!

This is the cover for the color version of the book.

Think about placing Alaska in your bucket list.  It is one of the most astonishingly beautiful places on earth.  It is a place where the air is crisp and clean.  It is a place that can revive and restore you!  Wild animals abound and fish can be larger than a human beings.  There is so much more to Alaska than can be captured in a book, but I hope to lead readers  to the “Promised Land.”

Cruising and RVing in Alaska

What is the best way to travel to Alaska?  Well, there is no “best”  way!  But– you could cruise the Inside Passage, or you could rent an RV and skim across the countryside.  Linking the two experiences will bring you up close to the landscape, historic sites, people, fish, foul, and animals in the wild.  Of course, you could just call a travel agency, sign up for a bus tour, or travel by train through some of Alaska.  Or, you could launch into the travel-planning yourself!  But if you are considering visiting Alaska your way, this book may help to make your dreams come true. And you just might enjoy its 200+ photographs and illustrations of Alaska.

The Peoples of Alaska

Not only will we visit the most important sites of Alaska — you may learn a little about the peoples who have inhabited the land.  Back-stories on glaciers, Russians, First Nations, and myths/stories that have been preserved by Alaskans, permeate the book.

A Shaman’s Mask!!

Ancient oral traditions reveal how early peoples lived very challenging and scary lives.   Raven’s story about how he survived and escaped the belly to of a whale to freedom is inspiring.  And the blind boy who begins to see because of a Loon, teaches us that parents should take care of their children. And during the gold rush days, the story about Soapy Smith and the gunfight on Moore’s dock is a nail-biter.

One of the more than 30 Russian Orthodox Churches that you will find all over Alaska!

 

 

Alaska. More than an Adventure will visit most of the major cities and towns in Alaska, with advice on how to plan and prepare for the adventure.  By land, we visit Fairbanks, the Arctic Circle, Anchorage, Seward, Whittier, Prince William Sound, Valdez, and across the Kenai Peninsula. We will meet a moose who adopted us as we speed by Kenai, Soldotna, Kasilof, Ninilchik, and the Homer Spit.  By sea, we will explore Vancouver, Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier, and the Tlingit stop at Hoonah.

The beauty of Alaska is on every side!

Gold Rushes.

B&W Version of the Book

We consider the gold rushes and the hundreds of thousands of men and women who fled to Alaska with high hopes of wealth. And those that died from exposure, hunger, or avalanches.

Exploitation of First Nations Peoples.

Being one quarter Cherokee, I was compelled to consider the indigenous peoples in Alaska. There are feature stories about the exploitation of the First Nations by both Russia and the United States. It was their land and now it is our land! Understanding a bit about the land and its peoples makes the journey even more meaningful!

Dream of Denali!

Soon.  The original book is in color.  Both the Kindle and Second book (Two) are in Black and White.  At this point Amazon has uploaded the B&W and Kindle versions of the book.  I am waiting for the color version to emerge.

They have incorrectly run the text together that describes the book.  Hopefully that will be fixed soon!  In the next few days, I hope to send you an excerpt or two from the book.  Click on the title of the book above and it will take you to one of its locations on Amazon.  Find a legal pad, keep your pen ready, and take this fascinating journey with me!  More photos will be coming soon!

If you have questions about Alaska, please email me at selvidge@ucmo.edu

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

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Florida in February and Skipping the Missouri Winter Blues

Where are the palms?  Where is the sun?  Where are the ocean breezes in Missouri?

(Beware, there are lots of photos below!)

On the Sebastian Inlet Beach. Ohhh so gorgeous!

Conquering the world for God and the Spanish crown!

Did you know that Juan Ponce de Le’on landed at Melbourne Shores? And he wasn’t looking for the fountain of youth, he was looking for land to exploit and conquer for the monarchs of Spain. He had already served as governor of Puerto Rico and joined in the massacres of the native population in South America. This is the type of important info you learn while trying to escape the cold winter in Missouri. (Tongue in cheek, of course!)

 

Camping in Florida

RV Spaces at a premium!

Florida is gorgeous and everyone knows it. That is why there are hoards of people hitting the beaches. Luckily, we arrived one week before Spring Break. While in Florida we began looking for a place to park our motorhome for a couple of months next January and February. We want to be sun worshippers too.

Finding a place to stay (rent) for our motorhome in 2019 is a bit overwhelming. Every campground or resort has a date when you can begin to reserve,  IF anything is available. Some very nice RV resorts require a rental of at least three to six months. We love the sun but we love our home in Missouri too and don’t want to stay away that long. Many campgrounds that might be available pack RV’s into spaces like sardines. You can’t breathe! We have tried for two days to book St. Sebastian Inlet Campground but there are so many rules and so many people trying to book that we think we will be out of luck. One campground would not even allow us on the property to determine if we wanted to rent one of their driveways. We were so frustrated that we stopped looking for a spot.

Should we Purchase our Driveway in the Sun?

Our hotel in Melbourne Beach on the beach!

One solution to this problem is to purchase our own pad at an RV resort. Those little pieces of ground, as big as a small driveway, start at about $60K and go up to $250K. We could not believe it! There are too many people floating down to Florida, I think. They must drive up the prices.

A friend told us that more than a million people visit Florida during this time of year. But in 2016 there were 110 million visitors and in 2017 eighty eight million visited Florida in spite of the hurricanes.   There are only 21 million residents of Florida at the moment.

Sunshine is not cheap nor reasonable.

We loved all the dogs playing on the beaches!

Once you have purchased your little piece of sunshine (pad), then you are assessed a monthly fee starting at about $200-$500 and going up depending upon the resort. I am not sure that we will ever be able to reserve RENTED spots for next year.

 

 

 

 

The Beach 

Indiatlantic Beach (in Melbourne Beach) was our ocean home for a week. I forgot how grand and memorable the waves could sound! Dogs, birds, treasure hunters, surfers, sun bathers, runners, fishers, bicyclists, and children of all ages walk the beach. Everyone is happy and staring at the ocean. Everyone is uncovering their knees and shoulders and ….

The lines were a hazard!

She did not find any gold!

Tom loves the water!

ET Experiences

Oh say can you see …

We had several ET experiences here including a rocket launch.  (This link is of a silly tune “Rocketman” by our friends Igor and the Red Elvises.) We started gathering on the beach and looking north toward Cape Canaveral a few minutes before five in order to see the rocket /satellite launch. From our balcony we held our cameras high to catch the space wonder. I thought it would be boring. After all, I had watched Sputnik fly over my home as a child. It was not at all boring! A gleaming object leaving a white trail passed right in front of us. The white exhaust began to fade and that is when the impact and noise of the launch hit us. WOW! Let’s do it again!

Sunrise every morning! Another ET event!

Moon over our hotel! Could that be ET?

Treading Sacred Water and Land

This photo is from the Fish Museum at Sebastian.

St. Sebastian Inlet Park was beyond beautiful. It is where the Indian River heads out to the Atlantic Ocean. Hundreds of fishers set up their stakes hoping for the catch of a life time. One fisherman told me to get off the pier because tourists bothered him. I wondered if he was really a local. The scenes around the beach were unbelievably gorgeous!

The bridge to Sebastian Inlet State Park

Combat fishing on the pier at Sebastian!

The Pelicans posed for me!

 

The waves were huge and surfers took advantage of them!

Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands.

These wetlands, dedicated to a sixteen year old boy who lost his life here, took us by surprise. As we walked a lonely road hundreds of birds were singing, dancing, and clucking. I have only heard songs like this in the jungle of Sierra Leone, West Africa. Alligators stealthy patrolled the marshes and occasionally dined on foul caught off guard. Oh no!

Birds had nested in almost every palm tree!

Beware!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom found another nature preserve for us to hike near Sebastian Inlet Park. Trees were gnarled,  Indian River slapped against decaying foliage. An occasional palm stuck its head out of the bushes. We heard not one bird, not one animal, not one insect on this trek. We were not even bothered by mosquitos. A sign warned us that alligators were ahead, so we turned back. The silence made me think of the polluted Treadmill mine in Juneau, Alaska. I think we were walking on a superfund site again! Were there really alligators ahead?

Sun and Fun

From left to right: Rick, Barb, and Ines!!!!

We extended our stay to catch up with old friends Barb and Rick from Delaware, and found a new friend, Ines. In the past, we traveled with them to Alaska, Ireland, Belgium, and a memorable Caribbean cruise. It was so nice to talk with people who were of the same mind!  While in Melbourne, living it up, we had such a great time talking, and dining, and thinking about the future, that I forgot to take a photo of all of us. Shucks! Rick took this selfie for me.  Thanks Rick!

Moos and Ron Jon

It was a meeting place for all ages!

Moos became our favorite place to load up on calories. They serve Cow ice cream and we ordered the coffee flavor more than once.  In Cocoa Beach we visited the Ron Jon Surf Shop extravaganza.  Bass Pro and Cabela’s would be jealous!

This was really too much for us!

When you walk the beach, you are never alone!  Many creatures accompanied us on our strolls!

Florida was a fantastic break from the cold chill in Missouri!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge!

 

This could be you next year during February!

Below are pics of some of my books that may be purchased at a variety of online outlets.  Alaska.  More than an Adventure will be published by  summer!

Posted in Camping, Camping in Florida, Cocoa Beach, Florida, Igor and the Red Elvises, Indiatlantic Beach, Juneau, Melbourne Beach, Missouri, Motorhome, Recreation Vehicles, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Sebastian Inlet State Park, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Need To Sing Truth!

 2018 Folk Alliance International Conference (FAI)

“How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?”

Capturing our experiences at the FAI is almost impossible. I kept thinking about the quote above from the Sound of Music. The music was all around us like an uplifting light!  Next year it is in Montreal!

Don’t you think it looks like a turtle on his back?

Everywhere you looked musicians were carrying their instruments, sometimes three at a time. They gathered in circles talking, playing, or singing together. Like upright turtles with their guitars and bass instruments strapped to their backs they slowly muddled across the floor.

Tom and I attended no less than 18 concerts or public showcases in just three days. It was a musical overload when spliced together with 20 hours of volunteering as security at the Exhibition Hall. We would see the artists on stage and then talk to them at the door. What fun!

This is really a good way to get someone’s attention. I could have used a bagpipe in the classroom!

FAI took us on a world tour of vibrant and meaningful music. We sailed to many countries including Scotland and heard the thundering Talisk; the mysterious chanting of songs from southern Italy (Newpoli); to the heartfelt pleas of an Aborigine from Australia (Yirrmal); and the chided songs from a lesbian in New Zealand (Anika Moa). We missed Cubanisms and Rosie the Riveters!

Bagpipes called us to stand at a attention! We listened to the vibrant strings and Italian arias of Beppe Gambetta and were in awe of the all-Spanish Radio Free Honduras. Artists from 27 countries attended FAI last year.

What a special moment for me, standing with “The Wardens!”

During the times private showcases were offered, we visited the Alberta Room so we could hear one of our favorite groups, “The Wardens.” They were not part of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police but they do and did keep the peace in Canada’s National Parks of Alberta. They sang a song about how they are replenishing the Buffalo in the National Parks in Alberta, Sleeping Buffalo.  In the Alaska room we caught up with a fabulous pianist Kat Moore. I could see her work sung on stage in a musical and contacted her about the idea.

What a voice! What a talent! Ruthie Foster!

Our favorite evening was spent in a session sponsored by the Blues Foundation from Memphis, Tennessee. Hands down Ruthie Foster held us spellbound with her compelling voice honoring her slave ancestry.

We danced in our seats to Chris Barnes‘ Hokum Blues set. Rita Chiarelli, a Canadian, brought us to a lonely cell in a prison where she has been working with inmates. “Four Walls” was a chilling reminder of the isolation of incarceration. Hans Theessink, an Austrian Blues player, set us straight about the appeal of the Blues all over the world. Guy Davis took us back to the early days of the Blues and channeled Sonny Terry. He was very funny!

Her penetrating voice goes right to your heart. Martha Redbone!

The most spellbound and challenging concert for me was by Martha Redbone. Martha captured her African American, Cherokee-Choctaw, and Kentucky roots, by chanting the story of how the U.S. Calvary massacred 1,000 Native Americans. She even sang in the language of the Cherokee. I related to her tunes because I am one quarter Cherokee. My mother grew up in Kentucky not far from Martha’s roots and lived in abject poverty as a child. See, Life Everlasting and the Twelve Mile Blues.

Our own Kansas City group, Victor & Penny and the Loose Change Orchestra deserves a standing ovation. Like so many other groups we heard, they have resurrected tunes from the early 20th century and put a modern spin on them. They were fantastic and made Kansas City proud!

So professional! So talented! So much fun! Victor and Penny!

The conference itself is a feast not only for the ears but also for the mind and eyes. People were dressed in period costumes or not much at all. Hair was a myriad of colors. I envied the males who had long curly hair streaming down their backs. It seemed as if everyone wore a hat from cowboy types to dainty little diddies with a feather on top.

Our very nice BOSS. Mike!

FAI is more than a music festival. It offers opportunities for participants to engage in issues related to their fields through discussion panels (70 of them)  staffed by professionals. FAI also offers a health fair with hearing, vision, blood, etc. screenings. It helps to support musicians/artists with access to agents, advice on planning a career, and legal issues! There were even sessions that evaluated tunes developed by artists.

Tom is frowning because Sheriff’s never smile. He is guarding the Exhibition Hall. We decided to wear badges!

We were constantly reminded that music can change lives, reveal lives, and heal lives.

It can create underground movements and many of those tunes pointed out the devastation to people that the current administration has caused.

I kept wishing that someone would create a tune that we could all sing together that would force the politicians to do the “RIGHT” thing! It could happen!

We need to sing truth!

Tom has encouraged me to place a list of my recent publications at the bottom of my blogs. I hope this does not distract from the fun you might have reading our thoughts.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Below are only a few of the books I have published since retirement!  I will add more to the next blog!  Alaska.  More Than An Adventure will be published soon!

Posted in Folk Alliance International, Folk Music, Music, Underground Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love in the KC Music Community. From Tom’s Dashboard!

Everette DeVan is a Kansas City Star!

Since resigning from full time employment, Marla and I have focused a portion of our energies on music. Marla has been studying piano and I have been practicing guitar and, now, harmonica. In addition to learning new skills we are enjoying the local music community by attending Blues shows at BB’s Lawnside BBQ, rock and blues at Knuckleheads, Jazz at the Phoenix, musical Vesper programs, and the monthly offering of Spirituality and All That Jazz at Unity Temple on the Plaza. Cover charges range from $4 to $15 so it hardly diminishes the 401K. We have also volunteered at the Folk Alliance International Conference held the past 2 years in KC and will be here again on 2/14/18. Next on our agenda is visiting the Green Lady Lounge that offers Jazz seven nights a week on two stages. There is no shortage of venues to enjoy the local and visiting musicians in Kansas City.

Starving Artists

As you may know many musicians would fall in the category of “starving artist.” Some are full time musicians who perform and give lessons. If they get gigs three nights per week, at $200 per performance, that adds up to just over $30,000/year without benefits. With that low stipend it is difficult to put away money for a rainy day or for retirement. This is quite different from the internationally famous musicians and singers who visit KC, like Billy Joel or Taylor Swift, who’s stadium concert tickets sell for $100 to $500 and more.

Benefit for Everette DeVan

Today we attended a benefit for Everette DeVan at BBs. The event featured Kansas City notables from the blues and jazz communities. Everette, a graduate of the Colorado Conservatory of Music, has been a shining staple of the Kansas City jazz scene for 40 years on piano and Hammond B3 organ. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, a career in music does not lead to a financial nest egg.  And Everette is in need of a liver transplant ($575,000).   We do not know the details of his financial situation, but assume the medical expense may be covered by Medicare, but with his illness, he can not perform to make a living to cover expenses. (Or, given the health care system in the US, he may need to cover at least some of those expenses also).

The benefit performance by over 20 musicians, young and old, was an outpouring of love for Everette and demonstrated the bond among the musicians in the local community. All of the musicians had played with or learned from Everette over the years. The music was full of warmth, caring, and energy. Even though we are predominantly consumers of music, the event made us feel part of the music community, and we were energized by the experience.

Why not get out and support your local musicians. They give their heart and soul to their music, and you and they will benefit from it. There are a couple of Go Fund sites for Everett online, we know Eboni and her site but it appears to be dated. Here it is:  https://www.gofundme.com/everettedevan

And we wish that we had more information to give you on how to help him!

Here is Everette playing his heart out on a Hammond B3 organ!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

 

Posted in BB's Lawnside BBQ, BB's Lawside BBQ, Benefit for Everette DeVann, Benefits for Musicians, Blues, Blues in Kansas City, Everette DeVan, Jazz, Jazz in Kansas City, Kansas City Blues Scene, Musicians in Kansas City | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Alaska More Than An Adventure” to be Published in the Spring

This cover is a work in progress!

Sneak Peak!

Below is a sneak peak of the book before it is published! The book will be titled, “Alaska More Than An Adventure.”  It’s goal is to function as a beginner’s guide to RVing and Cruising in Alaska — including hundreds of color photographs.

Tom and I have visited Alaska about eight times and rented motorhomes twice,  with Marla lecturing on several cruise ships over the years.

Let’s Visit Some of the Towns in the Kenai Peninsula

Driving South on Seward Highway toward the Gulf of Alaska

 

What a drive this is! I think one of the best in Alaska!

Crossing the Kenai Peninsula is like floating through a wonderland. The Kenai River is massive and sparkling clear. People who like to fish or adventure in the water will be stunned by its beauty of Kenai Fjords National Park or Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

You can go south to Seward, east on Portage road to Whittier (the Chugach National Forest) , or west on the Sterling Highway that will take you to the Kenai Spur Highway going north, or continue on Sterling until you reach Homer. Take your time and enjoy the scenery and wild life along the way. If you see someone stopped along the road, you know there has been a sighting.

This bear is in captivity but I have photos of many in the mountains!

Driving South on Seward Highway

Turnagin Arm

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love Turnagin Arm. Take your time as you wind around this great geological site. The views are breath-taking and the air is so crisp and clean you will feel years younger than you are! It deserves a lot of attention on your trip. The tide goes in and out and sometimes Turnagin is full of water and other times fish are stranded as the water flows out to the sea to reveal a sea of mud.

Stop at Potter’s Marsh and walk the wooden walkway through natural surroundings that welcome all types of birds and fish. We have seen Sockeye Salmon by the hundreds here. Just down the road at Bird Creek Fishing you might run into combat fishers hoping for a mother load of salmon!

Combat fishing is very dangerous!

Take time to visit the Potter Section House Railroad Museum. You can visit an old train with a rotary plow that used to plow through the snow. Skagway also features a rotary plow which can be viewed if you book passage on a cruise ship floating through the inside passage.

           

If you are hungry, sit and eat lunch at Beluga point where whales have been seen. Sit quietly and wait for Nature to find you.

This is a photo near Turnagin.

We have visited Alaska during the salmon runs and witnessed combat fishing down the streams flowing out of Turnagin. Hundreds of people stand side by side and, sometimes, three deep as they throw their lines into to catch one of the golden fish. Last time we were in Alaska a fisherman threw his hook into someone’s ear. As blood dripped down this fisherman’s face, people tried to free the hook. With no luck, he went off to the emergency room at a hospital.

More to come later ….

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

Posted in Alaska, Alaska More Than An Adventure, Camping, Gold Mines, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Mendenhall Glacier, Motorhome, National Parks, Recreation Vehicles, Rving across America, Save on your next Cruise, Skagway | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ghost of Katrina, Jefferson Davis, and the Beach

Two Hurricanes and the Angry Gods.

This white beach goes on for miles and miles.

It is ironical. We should have been enjoying Buck Island at Tamarind Reef Resort on St. Croix, USVI. Hurricane Maria thought otherwise and plowed down everything it could on the island. In December, only 30% of the island has electricity and about that percent has clean drinking water. Instead we headed for Waveland, Mississippi to camp as close to the beach as we could. But it was quiet in Waveland, too quiet!

Waveland after Katrina.

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit Waveland, dead center. If you remember, New Orleans was in the news. We heard only briefly about Mississippi. “Katrina’s storm surge was a wall of water 20 – 35 feet high moving at 80-100 MPH.  When the surge came ashore, it swept clean the first few lots along the beach.” See  http://www.schlatter.org/Katrina/aerial_photos.htm

 

Driveways along the coast lead to open fields.

 

Twelve years later most of the lots facing the beach (Gulf of Mexico) are empty from Waveland to Biloxi. It is an eerie sight! Lonely pylons out in the Gulf look like sticks thrown to earth by some great and angry god.  The storm surge reached I-10 some ten miles north and plowed down all that it could in its path. We

Support beams echo the ghost of Katrina as you walk the beach. You wonder, what did they support?

are so lucky that the State of Mississippi rebuilt Buccaneer State Park so that we could enjoy the gorgeous beach!

The Beach Boulevard sign still stands!

We hope that St. Croix will be rebuilt enough for us to return next year!

Jefferson Davis

Early portrait of Jefferson Davis.

Neither Tom nor I had studied the life of Jefferson Davis, first and only president of the Confederacy. (He also served as a Senator from Mississippi in the US Senate.)  So we visited “Beauvoir,” the last residence of Davis, discovering a home, two guest-houses, a large museum, and a Confederate cemetery. Included with our ticket was a tour of his home. Donna Barnes, an ordained minister guided us through each room of the main house. With the zeal of an evangelist, she pointed to Davis’ bed, “This is where he slept!” Or, “This is where he sat!” “This is where he bathed!” She seemed to be in the presence of the Divine as she told us several of the places where Jefferson “read his bible!” He was loved by all! During his time at Beauvoir, he wrote several books, among them “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.”

The lovely home of Davis.

Our enthusiastic guide, Donna Barnes.

We had mixed emotions about our trek through the property and museum. What about all of those 600,000 boys that lost their lives in the Civil War? Why wasn’t Jefferson imprisoned for life for his deeds? Of course, the more you read about him, you discover that many people came to his rescue and supported him after the war.  He was a very lucky guy!

Jefferson Davis Museum.

Inside the very spot where Jefferson Davis sat.

After visiting Beauvoir, we learned that Sarah Ellis Dorsey bequeathed the property to him. Our guide said that he purchased it! Sarah was a constant companion of Davis until she died in 1879. Varina, second wife, for a time, also lived at Beauvoir.

It is interesting to read accounts of the lives of these people. Some stories are written like a hagiography and others tell a different and more complicated story.  Jefferson was ill with Malaria most of his life along with other chronic diseases. And he may have been a bad-tempered recluse who had bouts of depression. After losing his 140 or so slaves, he was left penniless after the Civil War. Jobs alluded him! And he could not run for Congress again because he had lost his citizenship. There is so much more!

It is so sad that all of these people had to die!

Cousin Charles

Lunch was too short with cousin Charles.

Today we caught up with my world-traveled cousin Charles. He drove in from Pensacola, Florida and we met in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Our homes were only a mile apart when we were children. Our fathers were brothers. Charles worked at Bower Roller Bearing Company with my dad. It so good to hear him talk about my dad. Apparently when he asked Joanne to marry him, Joanne’s father asked my dad about the trustworthiness of Charles. Said my dad, “He’s the best of the Selvidge’s.” Unfortunately Charles’  beloved spouse Joanne passed away over two years ago! It was a fine lunch with a great cousin!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Jefferson Davis, Katrina, The Confederacy, Uncategorized, Waveland | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mississippi Blues Pilgrimage

Mississippi Blues Don’t Make You Blue!

Who da’ thought that tooling down to the Mississippi coast would be such a learning experience!

Arkansas

My little friends who wondered who I was?

Our first stop on our way to Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, Mississippi was Dardanelle State Park in Arkansas. We know this place. It is peaceful and even more peaceful this time of year. Arriving at sunset I hurried to break out my camera for a shot of the gorgeous rays on the water and the mountains. Luck was my friend. Two children were trolling the lake in a Jon boat. Their silhouettes were breath taking. As they came close to the shore I said to them, “This is so beautiful.” One of the young boys replied, “Yeah, and we got a lot more places even more beautiful than this around here.” The other boy said, “You ain’t from around here, are you?” I asked them how they knew that I lived somewhere else. “You don’t talk like us.” I said, “How should I talk?” And they replied in unison, “Southern!”

Cotton Fields

The bales of cotton were like pieces of candy in the fields.

Our trusty motorhome took us across fields of harvested cotton for hundreds of miles. Along the edge of every road and highway were puffs of cotton that clung to the weeds. It looked like snow but at 70 degrees we knew it could not be snow. Bales of cotton lined the side of the road ready to be transported. I reasoned, “If cotton was really worth anything, people would be picking up all the cotton along the roads.”

On a beautiful sunny day as we crossed Arkansas, the skies were suddenly

This photo was taken from a petition asking to ban the burning of fields in Arkansas. My photo was not quite as close to the action.

filled with black smoke. For many miles we could see fire in the fields at least six feet high. What a hazard! We supposed the burning was intentional because we could find no alerts on the Internet.

 

Clarksdale

Shack Up Inn

We planned to investigate Clarksdale, Mississippi because Tom has enrolled in a weeklong intensive harmonica class there in April of 2018. We left the highway and crept through some narrow streets only to discover that we could not visit downtown because the overpass was one foot shorter than our RV. We will save this adventure for another day when we rent a car. Tom did find the Shack Up Inn where we will be staying in April. It is a working plantation with refurbished sharecropper shacks and has become a blues destination!

Indianola

BB King lives on in his museum!

Indianola, Mississippi was our next stop. Here they have built a $16 million dollar museum dedicated to the late B.B. King, the blues singer and player. It was top-notch and more than enjoyable to learn about his life. Orphaned at four years old then living with his grandmother for another four years, he found himself alone when she died. Finally a relative came to his

Our RV parked outside the BB King museum in Indianola.

rescue when we was a teenager and sent him to school. The museum did not mention if he had studied music formally.  His notebook demonstrated that he understood chord changes and keys!

He led a wandering life.  During his career two marriages failed as he dedicated his life to music. When he died in 2015, he had fathered 15 children and gladly paid for all of their educations. King’s music is legendary around the world and Mississippi has dedicated September 1 as BB King Day. This place is a must-see if you visit Mississippi.

Jackson

Andrew Jackson stands proudly in front of the old city hall!

“I’m going to Jackson, I’m going to mess around,” sang Johnny Cash. The Jackson stop was not planned  but after reading about the town, we decided to stay two days in order to walk its streets. On the fly, we rented a car, and began our lonely tourist discovery. I say lonely because Jackson is the state capitol but hardly anyone was enjoying it. The streets were empty.

Ruth Cole introduced us to the old Capitol and nearly talked us into moving to Jackson. What a lady!

Jackson is an anomaly. Part of the city is thriving and the other areas are dying (or dead). The old and new capitols, war memorial building and old city hall, are handsome flowers on the streets where they reside. But more than half of the town is empty. Ornate skyscrapers and storefronts are boarded up. If you wanted to shop, you had to visit a museum store! Mold covers sidewalks and buildings. Streets are in need of repair!

They would not let us inside the gate to take a picture of the governor’s mansion.  I had to squeeze through the bars to take it.

We stopped to take a photo of the governor’s mansion and a white-shirted man holding a folder stopped to talk with us. He was the economic development person for the city. He asked about our visit. We told him we were interested in Jackson’s history and architecture and some of the museums. He talked to us about the difficulty of Mississippi’s past and the new civil rights museum that was about to open. He was so kind.

The War Memorial was so unusual spouting all types of instruments of war!

One of the main reasons we stopped in Jackson was to visit the International Museum of Muslim Cultures. “It is the only one in the United States,” barked the brochure.  We wondered how a museum like this could be in Jackson? We soon found the

Sculptures adorn the War Memorial  building. I would love to study it!

museum.  The building in which it is housed is the failing Art Center which has been neglected for at least a decade. We made our way up the stairs to the museum. No one was at the door. We peeked in at a few exhibits that looked like high school projects and determined that we knew more about Islam than the museum. This was such a disappointment for us!

Inside the old capitol. It is gorgeous!

The old 1937 Greyhound Bus Station is a treasure!

This is a Methodist Church. It looks like the Parthenon, built in Greek Revival style.  The Baptist Church covered three whole city blocks. It was like they were competing to determine which church would spend the most money on a building. I wondered if anyone worshipped in them today?

Tax-base Eroded by White Flight

We were sad that the Civil Rights Museum had not opened yet.

Later we discovered that after the schools were forced to integrate, light-skinned people moved away from Jackson and enrolled their children in private schools. This eroded the tax base and quality of education. Without taxes the city of Jackson could not be maintained. And, I had never thought about private schools being an escape from African Americans. I thought it had to do with religious beliefs!  Racism is everywhere!

More later on our Mississippi holiday!

As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in BB King, Mississippi, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Camping Along the Danube on a Viking Longship!

Tom called the Captain the “Warden” and our Cabin “The Cell!”

The sun and warm breezes followed us as we crossed Eastern Europe. Today it is drizzling while we float through the Iron Gate (locks) area with archaeological evidence of peoples dating back to the Romans. Multi-colored leafed mountains on both sides wave at us as we paddle for the fjord ahead.

Here is a map of the exotic cruise (in purple). Budapest to Bucharest! We visited all the cities marked on the map including Veliko Tarnovo, Vidin, Belogradchik, Osijek, Kalocsa, Belgrade, Bucharest, and more!

 

 

Viking Cruises plan and orchestrate trips very well, even down to the last day when they picked us up at our hotel (with boxed breakfast in tow) in Bucharest at 4:30 a.m. There are included excursions for every day.   They add shorter excursions (extra cost)  if you think you will be bored or can’t spend a whole day on a bus or you can’t walk very far.

The Viking Lif

King Decebalus greeted us as we paddled the Danube!

The Viking Lif hosts 180 passengers and about 80% of them have traveled the world for a very long time. We met a second woman who had traveled to more than 100 countries! Our first woman was in Turkey.  Last night we talked with a man who had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan for his job.

Many passengers are in their 80’s. There is plenty enough room for everyone on the ship except in the staterooms. Twinkers and Hillary (our beloved canines) share a bigger space than we did. When we arrived on the ship, I wondered if Tom would fit into the shower. It is 50% smaller than the one on our RV. If you ever book a cruise on Viking, choose a suite so you can breathe! Tom calls the room our cell!

Sewer Gas

During the first four days of our cruise sewer gas escaped from the shower in our room.  Tom complained several times and they told us that the design of the longboat was problematic.  Finally they gave us another stateroom but it also smelled–but less!  The smell made us nauseous.  If you cruise on a Viking ship book a cabin on the second or third floor!  Some passengers knew about the problems because they had been on Viking ships in the past.  They booked a higher level cabin!

Ocean Cruises versus River Cruises

While on ocean cruise ships (not river boats), many sea and land adventures are offered. And if you don’t want to choose an excursion there are plenty of drivers waiting at the dock to take you anywhere. We usually rent a car or hike the towns where we dock. There were no cabs (or anyone other than chartered buses) waiting at our docks for this ship.  I asked one person working on the ship if he was getting off the boat and he said, “There is nothing here to see!”

A salad in Bulgaria. They serve salads without dressing!

Viking prefers adventures of the mind, eyes, and stomach. When we visit a town (all 180 of us) we are taken to “free” places such as churches, synagogues, (no mosques) with a local guide. We had never been on tours that were so large with so many people. Sometimes we listen to classical or Christian concerts. On a farm in Osijek, Croatia horses danced, sat, and played coy for us! Here we learned how the locals defended themselves with horses and whips that sounded like bullets.

Local pottery to bring home!

In Bucharest we were fed some type of chicken stew with a warm Pepsi or wine, your choice. It felt as if they were throwing feed at cows. Women pushed five foot carts in between the tables.   The best thing about this meal was the ice cream.

The same meal was served at a very nice restaurant in Serbia. It tasted like leftovers! Feeding 180 people is a challenge!   We never dreamed that everyone would go on all the excursions together!

Lace was sold everywhere but who would use it today? I saw loads of lace like this in China?

Culinary Delights

Cooking, wine-tasting, opera, and specialty foods fill in the hours. Last night on the ship our dinner was a Taste of Serbia. I thought most of the food came out of cans because we attend Serbian Fests in Kansas City with real fresh food. And a lot of the food on the ship seemed as if it had been pre-cooked, stored in plastic, or frozen.  The beef stew tasted slimy with lots of salt.  It was probably pre-cooked in plastic bags — like those you can buy at Walmart.  Rarely did we enjoy lunch or dinner. Breakfast was okay.

Lunch Buffet on the Lif.

Beer, wine, and soft drinks are free flowing and free at every meal. Plus, you can buy a liquor package that will allow you to drink any spirit 24 hours a day. (A lot of people spent their time on the cruise drinking and they were over the edge!) In between meals they greet you at the door with Hungarian specialties or some unknown blue or yellow alcoholic concoction.

They played music for us, danced for us, sang for us, and took care of us. We have been on scores of ships and  have never met such gentle and helpful people. This is reflective of their captain (the warden) who appears also to be a kind and gentle soul. My favorite person on the ship was Pedro, the piano player.  He was from Portugal.  I recognized that he was playing music from the same Fake Book (Song Book) I use.

As we marched into dinner these guys played for us!

WIFI went up in Smoke!

This trip was very challenging! While the longship of Viking claims it has WIFI, it flickers on and off. It is so unstable that I could not post any blogs. Their WIFI is suspicious too. Sometimes it appeared that I was trying to enter a Spanish porthole and at other times it is French or Hungarian or whatever! It was like a puff of smoke floating across the Danube.

Ocean Cruises versus River Cruises, again!

Before the cruise I made several calls to Viking. No one could give us any info about times at port or when the excursions ran before our cruise. They even changed the date of the first excursion which messed up our flights.  (I thought this was odd.) The lack of information was frustrating because we would have liked to have toured more on our own. We never knew how far a town was from a port and we did not know the names of the ports (If they were cities!) ahead of time. Ocean ships always have port times posted and list the name of the port where the ship would be docked.

The lounge area on the Viking

The planning and control on the Lif was too much for us! (I know I am just droning on here!) One passenger told us that we were on this trip twenty years too soon! Within a couple of days, the cruise began to feel like a jail. They dictated when breakfast, lunch, or dinner would be served. (On ocean cruises you can dine at any moment because food of some type is always available!) We were obliged to attend a briefing on rules for the next day’s activities right before dinner. And there were lots of rules!  Then on the excursions we rarely had a few minutes of freedom.

Fake Information from Guides

The guides spouted propaganda just like this image of a model in a soldier’s uniform in Bucharest.

I became frustrated with a couple of the guides whose knowledge of religions was about “zero” but they kept spouting inaccuracies. A few passengers were talking about the guides who had trouble with “real” facts. I guess this is the Trump Age with Fake News everywhere!

(Dr.) Larry our Room Attendant took care of all of us!

Both Tom and I contracted diseases on this trip. I became ill in Budapest with what, I believe, was Strep Throat. Don’t worry, I brought antibiotics with us. Tom became ill about the same time we boarded the ship and the rest of the passengers on the ship followed with their own versions of respiratory and intestinal disturbances. I believe he has had some type of flu, even though he had a flu shot.  (Three weeks later we are still recovering.) We began to worry when his fever was very high. The bed was his companion for almost two days. We do not remember a trip when both of us became ill so quickly. These are joys of traveling and flying next to very sick people!

We met a few women who were traveling by themselves.  They told us that they like the planning, cultural events, and security that they find on Viking cruises. Some people had cruised eight times on Viking!  You don’t have to worry about anything and, especially, you don’t have to make many decisions about what to eat or where to visit.  It is sort of like cruising on a floating assisted-living island!

Maybe you would like a Viking Cruise too! Everything is planned down to the millisecond!

As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sins of the Brothers, Sons, Uncles, Cousins, and Fathers

Paddling  Through Eastern Europe.  Where am I?

Where am I?  Kalocsa or Puszta, Hungary?  Where am I? Osijek or Vukovar, Croatia?  Where am I? Vidin or Belograde, Serbia?  Where am I? Russe, Bulgaria or Bucharest, Romania?

One sight on the Danube as we paddled along!

Budapest is a vibrant city but as we sailed the Danube across Eastern Europe the faces and towns changed. They talk of the wars, especially the war in 1991 between Croatia and Serbia. We hear about the Ottomans, WWI, WWII, Civil Wars, and …. We pass by ruins. We hear about the killing of brothers and neighbors and friends!

 

 

Mass Murder on a Grand Scale

Synagogue with Jews!

Yesterday we were taken to a lovely Synagogue complex in Novi Sad, Serbia.  I asked the guide about its name. She said it has no name. It has no name?  Huh? The synagogue has a name but no one remembers it. (I found the name of Beit Hatfutsot?)

The town elders assassinated the Jews and destroyed the Jewish quarter.  Upon their land they built white businesses and a theatre. Apparently less than 10% of the Jews survived the Homeland extermination. Serbs killed them where ever they could find them and dumped their bodies in the river. (This killing of Jews in WWII had also happened in Budapest earlier in the century. There is a monument entitled “Shoes” along the Danube.)

Holocaust Monument! Iron Shoes along the Danube in Budapest. The Jews were killed but the shoes were kept because they had worth!

We drove through Vukovar, Croatia with tears on our faces. They did not stop the bus to allow us to take pictures of the houses that still lay in ruins.

This Vukovar pic was taken off the net. It looks like Syria today, doesn’t it?

 

Another shot of the city in the 1990’s.

 

See website:  http://mediaobservatory.net/radar/vukovar-life-size-monument-dead-city

Serbs destroyed 90% of this small town in what they call the “Homeland War” in the 1990’s. They say is was a massacre. Every other house and business is in ruins. The Serbs told the people to leave because they were taking over their town, their businesses and residences. A few thousand remained to fight the Serbs and try to protect their homes. In the end, like Syria, nothing much was left of the town and the Serbs went home. Their greed ended up killing 5,000 people, according to our guide. All of this violence did not mean too much to us as we traversed the town. How do you take sides in a war?

She sang Christian hymns! It sounded like chanting!

After this heart-wrenching sight we went on to a the Holy Cross church in Osijek, Croatia which is in the center of Croatia.  The church itself looked like a place where furniture (altars) had been collected and stored to protect them.  Nothing seemed to fit its structure and there were many different pieces of furniture with varying colors and styles.  We were treated to a concert by a young lady who had won singing contests! And then taken out to a courtyard where there had been a fort?

Belgrade, Serbia

While Belgrade needs a facelift and seems to be in decline. It’s shopping area was stunning!

The next day we visited Serbia and spent the afternoon in Belgrade. Immediately we understood what the Serbs had done. Belgrade has magnificent buildings similar to Budapest. You could see a long history of wealth and power on every street, unlike the country hamlets in Croatia that we visited. Like a child who wanted the toys of others, Serbia made a land-grab. Our guide in Belgrade protested that NATO sent bombers to Belgrade and destroyed parts of the city. We were shown a quadrant that stood destroyed like a holocaust monument to the past. She lamented the death of 4,000 children and civilians. But that bombing stopped the Serbs in their greedy path according to some.

On the Prince Michael’s shopping street, little girls and old men played for tourists hoping to make a little cash.  I have never seen little kids play toy pianos for money!

They were quite the hit on the mall!

 

Novi Sad, Serbia

Lovely Novi Sad, Serbia. A Thoughtful Guide in the Square!

A sadness covers the faces of many people as we visit country after country. Our guide in Novi Sad, Serbia said, “We don’t look backward, and we don’t look forward.” We live day by day and hour by hour! We are not planning because another war could come any time. I kept thinking about what she had said. I think the people are still grieving about the wars.   How do you ever stop grieving for all the atrocities done by your brothers, fathers, cousins, or your family?

 

Bucharest, Romania

This is not my photo. I wanted you to view the grand area created by the Communists. It is overwhelming to experience. It is called the Palace of the Parliament!

There is more. Bucharest, Romania rivals Budapest in its grand stature but it needs some redecorating. They are trying to renovate block-long apartments constructed by the Communists.  Communism under Nicholae Ceausescu re-ordered the lives of the people until they went over the edge and assassinated him. Massive buildings line the crowded streets. I felt like I was entering an arena of a God. This man murdered thousands with his strict approach to allocation of resources, and was said to be the cause of a civil war that also killed thousands.  To build his monumental valley, he uprooted and destroyed whole communities.  Some say that he tore down 30 churches.

According to the Economist, “The government (Romania) is in the midst of liberalising the economy, opening up new sectors (most notably, energy and telecoms) to competition and investment. Economic growth is at 4.1%. Wages are rising fast. Adjusting for prices, Bucharest’s GDP per capita is above the EU average. Indeed, the average Bucharest resident is comfortably better off than the average resident of Manchester.”

More than ugly apartments. You find these in all Eastern Europe Countries! I would tear them down! They remain symbols of tyrants!

And while there are great sites like the Parliament, the practical side of running the city seems to be lost.  There are nine cars for every parking spot. Roads look like parking lots and people park wherever they can, even in empty lots.  We saw people driving on the medians. We did not see motorcycles or bicycles.  This is a big-car city that is as large or larger than Budapest.  At sidewalk level, almost every building is covered in graffiti. Over and over I kept reading “fascist” on sidewalks and walls.  As you walk the city, you feel a harshness in the air. You see a determination in the eyes of the people. An employee in the Sheraton Hotel assured us that it was safe to walk the downtown area.  Interesting? We did not ask him if it was safe!

People do not respect the property of others in Bucharest!

 

Nationalism

As we landed in country every country, I noticed a pronounced nationalism. The countries are no bigger than many of our states. We are facing our own issues of nationalistic ideologies these days with the president. Does it matter in the USA whether you are from Ohio or New York? Yes, there are regional differences but we do not have the need for a specific local identity, do we?

Even within the countries people take on regional identities? It is helpful that these countries are working toward membership in the European Union. It may mitigate  the nationalism we felt as we crossed borders. Tom argues that people need identities because they have been conquered by so many outside forces. Those who have survived hold hands and wave a proud flag.

With almost every guide the speech was “superlative.” This bridge is the third largest, or this building is second in weight next to the Pentagon, this was the first, best, most beautiful, most important, most intelligent or brilliant, filled their speeches.

St. Sava in Belgrade. It is just an ugly  shell to be finished!

When we arrived in Belgrade, Serbia a guide took us to an unfinished Serbian Orthodox Church, St. Sava.  She said it was the largest on earth. I asked, “What about St. Sophia in Istanbul.” She retorted that it was a museum now and her church was three meters higher!

St. Sava  pales in the shade of  St. Sophia but in her mind it was the largest and best on earth!

Hagia Sophia has to be the largest Greek Orthodox church! It was turned into a mosque!

As we entered the church, we were stunned by the state of ruin or as she said, “It is in a constructive stage.”

Notice that church and state are together in this image in  St. Sava, a Serbian Orthodox Church.

But, the basement was finished with fabulous painted icons on the walls and an iconostasis (altar) where services were held for the locals.

There was no way for a handicapped person to enter this space.  So people on our tour just waited at the top of the steps.

 

 

Pollution is Highest in The Balkans.  The Sins of the Fathers.

You wonder about pollution after the wars?  We experienced very dark skies (polluted air), crumbling buildings (asbestos?), and traversing empty dusty farmland. The European Environmental Agency has done studies and concluded that 90% of European countries have dangerous levels of toxins in the air.

“East European countries, including Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia, were found to be the most exposed to particulate matter, largely, it is thought, from coal and wood burning.

Particulate matter remains a serious threat to health, because no threshold for PM has been identified below which no damage to health is observed. In western, central and eastern Europe it has caused 430,000 premature deaths,” it said.

We have traveled to the war-torn countries of Cambodia and Vietnam and there we heard of the bombs and pollution in the soil from the wars.  As we criss-crossed Eastern Europe, you know that it has the same issues. And you wonder how the pollution is affecting you?  Eastern Europe is a bread basket much like the midwest is for the USA.  Is it migrating into the food that is grown?

Reflection

One of the goals of this blog is to bring people to places they might not have visited.  I usually write with an upbeat and positive pen about our travels.  The current blog introduces you to the REALLY difficult side of traveling.  You become more informed and it changes your life in ways that you never dreamed!

As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forget Paris! Head for Magnificent Budapest

“From Budapest to Bucharest!”

“Budapesht.”  Yes, this is how the locals pronounce it!

The Parliament is an overwhelming neo-Gothic building that is several blocks long!

After listening to someone who had recently been to Budapest, I thought the town would be run-down and out-of-date! My friend was out of her mind when she told me about her thoughts of Budapest!  Thank goodness we heard “good” reports from others! We came in four days early to enjoy Budapest before our river tour  on the Viking Lif.

Here is Tom pondering the founder of Christian Budapest next to the Parliament. Statues seem to be on every street!

St. Matthews, so gorgeous!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t snap enough photos to capture all of the beauty of this city. It was named the second most beautiful city in the world by Flight Network. Paris is ninth! (I could add Valencia and Barcelona, Spain to that small list.) The 1.7 million city is influenced by Greek, Moorish (and Turkey), Art Deco, and Neo-Gothic architecture and cultures. The breadth and sheer variety of buildings is rivaled by few cities in the world. It reminded me of Istanbul and Ankara in Turkey. One passenger on our ship told me that I would love Vienna too!

What a gorgeous synagogue!

Theodore Hertzl, one of my heroes, was born near the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest. He dreamed of an independent state for Jews and his dream came true after he died. “If you will it, it need not be a dream.” This is the largest and most opulent synagogue that we have ever seen. Some suggest that only the New York City synagogue Temple Emanu-El is bigger! Its facade is adorned with pick and green bricks and reminded me of the Duomo in Florence.

Here is the  inside of the synagogue. This reflects the wealthy of the Jews at one point in history.

People in Budapest are affluent, earning more than twice the average of other EU countries. Everything seems to run very smoothly, almost a million people use mass-transit every day. There are buses and trams and under ground trains. Very few people use motorcycles, some use bicycles, but most drive big cars! There are bicycle lanes everywhere. The locals and city officials love their dogs. We saw no strays and every few blocks there was a dog part!

The locals follow the rules. They wait for the lights to change, stop when crossing a street, and place their refuse (not on the street) but in bins, even cigarettes. If you hand them the wrong change, they don’t cheat you and they even stop and give you directions in Hungarian–that work!

 

Great shopping at the indoor market!

Some of the best sights include St. Matthews Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Parliament Building, Memento Park (Statues torn down after the fall of Communism. See the website:  http://www.mementopark.hu ),  Castle Hill, Margaret Island, The Ferris Wheel in the middle City Square, and every street in town!!!

To view the fantastic sights you can hoof it, ride a tram, bus, or underground train.  Or, you can rent a bicycle, a one person electric car, a scooter with twelve inch-wide wheels, or a Segway.  Or, you can book a bus tour to anywhere!

So huge, St. Stephen’s Cathedral!

The owner of the bed and breakfast where we stayed, Wahab, was originally from Chad and had been a professor at the University of Bengazi before Libya fell apart. Wahab is an electrical engineer who chose Budapest as the best place to raise his sons and provide an education for them. There are 40 colleges and universities in this remarkable city. And education is free!  He purchased some property to create the Evergreen, the bed and breakfast, so it would generate funds to pay for necessities for his sons’ education. How smart!!

Inside of St. Stephen’s Cathedral! Stunning!

The Hungarians have been through hundreds of years of wars and atrocities, siding with Hitler at one point, and saved by the Russians who tried to destroy their culture. They have only had a democracy since the 1990’s so it is almost unbelievable to see the progress they have made in creating a wonderful and welcoming city.

We were sad to leave Hungary. If we choose to live in another country, it would be high on the list. They have free health benefits. I may return to Budapest to share additional photos in another blog!  There was so much to see and digest!

This is like the long boat that was our home for almost two weeks, the Viking Lif

I thought you might like to see how Hungarians view Trump. And this t-shirt was a tame one!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Forty-Two Years Later…. From Tom’s Dashboard!

Munich in 2017!!!!

Day One

 

Glockenspiel is going full speed!  Old Town Hall is massive!

It took only 42 years. After my sophomore year in high school in 1975, at age 16, I participated in an exchange program with a Catholic girl’s boarding school in Altotting Germany, located between Munich and the Alps. Frau Graf organized the event. We toured Southern Germany/Bavaria for one week, then lived with a family for three weeks. School was in session so we attended or were expected to be in attendance, along with our host. What an experience for a 16 year old! There was international travel, German beer, and girls. This trip created an interest in visiting new countries and since then I have been to over 70 countries for work and vacation.

Frauenkirke! Wow!

On a business trip to Poland two years ago, I considered adding a stop in Munich/Altotting but Poland itself provide enough interesting sites, so I decided to leave it out of the itinerary. When I learned that an International Conference and Symposium on Lameness in Ruminants was being organized by Dr. Andrea Fiedler (one of the strong women everywhere) for 2017, I decided to submit a paper. It was accepted so now I am back in Munich.

Another bloody Kirke!

It has changed. I do not have very specific memories of Munich other than visits to the old city with the town hall/Glockenspiel, a few churches, the Olympic Stadium (Munich Olympics in 1972) and a visit to the Dachau WWII concentration camp. It was the largest city we visited during the trip in the summer of 1975.

A Road Sign in Bavaria!

The city today is swimming in tourists. There is a very strong international bent to the crowds with Africans and Asians in sizable proportions. While visiting the old town/city center with massive and ornate Catholic churches on every other corner I am amazed at the number of Muslim women among the crowd of tourists. Some of them were fully covered with the slits for their eyes covered by sun glasses. Where was my camera?

Just use your credit card and leave the bike wherever you land!

Munich is very easy to navigate with an excellent network of buses, subways, trams and trains. Bikes are everywhere and are available to rent via a simple use of the smart phone (see photo). After a stroll through the very large and lovely English Garden (large city center park with lakes, trails, Chinese tower and beer gardens ), I headed for the city center and the old town hall. The Glockenspiel was doing its performance on a cool September morning upon arrival. I wandered about, visited the Frauenkirche (strong women everywhere) with its twin domes; St. Michael’s Church where a noon time service including organ music was just ending; St. Peters Church*, with gold and gold leaf adorning the many status and icons; Viktualienmarkt (traditional food market) and a required visit to the Hofbrauhaus.

* I had not planned this to be an ABC tour: Another Bloody Church. Marla has taken me to many of these over the past 35 years, (ABC, ABT (temple). ABM (mosque)) so I guess it is now part of my DNA.

Are you hungry?

There was a bit more walking around to admire the architecture then back to Hotel Leopold in Schwabing (up scale area) for a rest and dinner at Bavarian style restaurant/café where I enjoyed watching the people from my street side table right on Leopold Strasse.

 

Day Two

Nymphenburg Palace, Olympic Stadium, and BMW World

Just three mass transit connections and I am in the gardens of the summer home of Bavarian royalty. Nymphenburg Palace was designed as Munich’s version of Versailles just outside Pari. It is a beautiful palace adorned with paintings, statues, chandeliers, spacious gardens and plenty of water features. The stories of the occupants are filled with intrigue. Built with money from the people–the money that the church didn’t take– the opulence makes Trump look like a hack. The palace is famous for a wall of beauties, which I think should be labeled “all the girls I’ve loved before.” The tourist books do not explain why the paintings are there. In one room, they could be “Stepford Wives.” They all have the same face. The palace is also famous for the birthplace of Ludwig II, an eccentric prince who built many castles. More on him tomorrow.

With a new Japanese friend in Nymphenberg!!!!

I met a nice Chinese couple. He is a civil engineer, with a Ph.D. from France. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. With the construction boom in China that has been going on for over 15 years, I wonder how he has time to get away?

 

Nymphenberg is gorgeous!

 

Olympic Center. I decided to take a visit to this site from the 1972 Munich Olympics. The site had a novel use of tent like canopies that was unique at the time. It looks faded and dated now. Some young Mormon missionaries asked me, a heathen, to take their picture. I mentioned the tragedy of the Israeli athletes from the Munich Olympics. They knew nothing of it. Kids these days!

Next, was time for modern opulence and a walk through BMW World. BMers, Minis and Rolls Royces were all on display. Funny that at $500,000+ the Rolls seemed to have the same seat adjustment levers as my Chevy. Some nice slogans about riding and life were displayed with the BMW motorcycle exhibit.

BMW World with Tom in the picture somewhere!

Final notes. 1) Munich is a city of 1.5 million and a metropolitan area of 4-6 Million. It doesn’t seem so crowded. Must be the use of mass transit and bicycles. Three hundred thousand of the 1.5 million are not German citizens. 2) Inflation is everywhere. It cost $1.2 Euros to use the WC in the central station. I will probably water the bushes next time. (Just kidding!)

 

 

Day Three    Life of a King

Linderhof Palace!

King Ludwig II took over the thrown at age 18 and was removed at age 40. He is most famous for having a relationship with composer Richard Wagner, and for building three wonderful castles: Linderhof, Neuswanstein, and Herrenchiemsee. Only Linderhoff was completed. Today’s trip was a bus tour with Norma Blowey to Linderhof and Newschwanstein, with a stop in Oberammergau home to the famous Passion Play. The castles are located in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps about 2 hours from Munich. We traveled through lush farmland where the roofs of nearly all of the quaint farm houses are covered with solar panels. Linderhof is a small, but ornately decorated castle, with lovely gardens and water features. Rain did not dampen the experience!

In Oberammergau the citizens put on the Passion Play every 10 years in payment for the ending of the plague many centuries ago. Only citizens of this small town can be part of the 500 person cast. The play lasts 5 hours.

Neuschwanstein is the castle that inspired a logo for Disney. It is wonderfully situated in a rugged mountain with views across a lush valley. The castle is the most visited tourist site in all of Germany with 6000-7000 visitors per day. Our visit was no exception. The exterior views are fantastic. The interior is relatively simple.

Norma was a great traveler!

I was entertained during the 11.5 hour trip by Norma Blowey, wife of my good friend Roger Blowey, both from the UK. Norma told me her life story and explained how Roger became her boy-toy. They have been married for 45 years. Who would have thought relationships could work with the woman older than the man?

 

Days Four, Five, and Six

I attended the International Conference on Lameness in Ruminants, and presented a paper on the final day. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues from across the globe. This conference was attended by about 500 people. As usual there were excellent evening events including a gala dinner and party. After the closing of the Conference there was a tour of the Munich Residenz, home of the Bavarian Royal Family the Wittelsbach’s. Much of the Residenze was destroyed during WWII, but has mostly been restored.

Walking to my hotel from this tour I encountered three kilometers of Munichers enjoying a street fest. Some type of warm up for the upcoming October fest? In spite of a constant light drizzle Leopold Strassa was filled with people enjoying food, beer, music, dancing and various other diversions.

 

 

Pounding their way down the street!

Is this my new harpsichord?

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge and written by Thomas C. Hemling!

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Find a Friend and Fall in LOVE!!

Pets ALWAYS love you!  It is Magical!

Jack sort of looked like this fella!

My first dog, “Jack” was a collie,. He had lots of fur and stayed outside in his own house. We were always friends until the dog-catcher came and took him away. My dad said that he was sick!

My life has always been filled with doggie friends. So, this year I decided I would learn how to volunteer at Wayside Waifs, a no-kill shelter for all sorts of pets. After taking classes, I became a dog socializer, then, cashier at Whiskers and Wags, and now also dog photographer. I wanted to be part of the effort to rescue animals.  Both of our pets are rescues!

What hoopla!

Last weekend I experienced a $35 bonanza Mega Match where all animals were up for adoption. Sometimes puppies can run $200 or more. Even at that price, Wayside loses money. They take a stray, give it medication or medical help. All pets are spayed and some have surgery because of wounds or an illness. Staff and volunteers at the Peace Academy, train pets to be with humans if they have problems. I have seen volunteers just sitting with a dog in its kennel, or holding a dog for a very long time. Someone told me that it costs more than $25 a day just to house the pets.

Dogs respond to all the love they receive!

Wayside has lots of services for pets and humans. I have talked with many people who come out to place flowers on their pet’s graves!

Here are staff just waiting to help everyone!

People lined up for a block, at least, to adopt their favorite dog. One woman told me that she was at the door at 5:30 a.m. We opened at 10:00. That weekend people adopted 241 pets at Wayside Waifs and 724 among all the shelters. SPCA and KC Pet Project worked together to make the event happen. There were hundreds of volunteers who logged in over 750 hours.

It was difficult to process. Only ten people were allowed inside the building at one time.

From the moment the event kicked-off, volunteers and staff acted as if they were at a tip-off at a basketball game. Such excitement! Everyone was in a good mood! And Whiskers (the pet store) was packed for the two days I volunteered.

Here is a look at the store where I volunteer! Pam keeps it in good order and sparkling!

 

 

You can’t capture the anticipation of people who adopt a pet. There is so much happiness and hope. Before they leave Wayside, they have found someone to love and that pet is loving them back. It is magical chemistry!

Often I wish that children in state homes were loved as much as the Waifs that Wayside saves! There is so much care, and patience, and attention to the needs of the pets. But sometimes the adoption does not work.

Some apartment buildings do not allow Pit Bulls or Pit Bull Mixes. Or, apartments regulate the size of the pet or do not allow any pets. After a call to the apartment manager, adoptions are cancelled. People leave in tears but Wayside, often, gives them a voucher to return to adopt another dog.

The adoption process takes a long time. People during this extravaganza could meet and greet three dogs, one at a time. After choosing the dog, then they have to fill out paperwork so the counselor can determine if they would provide a good home for the pet. They have to answer questions like: Where will the dog  be housed when they are not at home? Where will the dog stay when they are at home? How long will the dog be left alone? Is the yard fenced, and so much more.

Everything was so well-planned. They even had special treats for the humans and animals!

People are more than willing to adopt pets recovering from wounds or heart worm disease or even a loss of a limb. Some dogs that seem fearsome because they are so large, are well-managed by new adoptees who love the breed. And how can anyone pass up adopting a kitty or a bunny?

 

This beautiful pet wanted to get out of jail fast!

How could you not want to take this dog home with you? Look at his eyes! You can see into his heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wherever you live, why not drop by a shelter and talk to the animals. You might just fall in love with one of them! If you don’t live near Wayside Waifs in Missouri, just visit your local animal shelter. The sad eyes of the animals will break your heart! In the USA try the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and in Kansas City there is always the KC Pet Project.  Cities and towns usually have shelters of their own that protect the pets too!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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The Flying Car is here! The Future is Now!

The Flying Car!  And, Minneapolis is a Charmer!

Here is Tom, Steve, and Dixie from left to right. Handsome aren’t they?

Heading home after a super duper holiday near Lake Superior we stopped to visit friends Steve and Dixie. We had originally planned to create a picnic for them, but they had something better in mind for us.

We parked our car at a Walmart parking lot near their home, canines all squared away, and they picked us up for an fast and furious afternoon. We toured their home and then walked across the street on a floating sidewalk across a pond to a farmer’s market. After purchases, we snacked on Dim Sum and then headed for downtown Minneapolis.

Such a peaceful place to walk! I had never walked on a floating sidewalk.

Such good corn and peppers!

We had no idea that greater Minneapolis-St. Paul included 3.8 million people. We thought it was about the size of the Kansas City area, 1.8 million. Once you get on the highways, you know that the population is big! We parked in a restored manufacturing area with loads of restaurants that faced the Mississippi River.

I guess I really had not thought of sharing OUR Mississippi River in St. Louis with Minneapolis.

I have been to Minneapolis a number of times but never to this spot!

What a treat to see the downtown area and to walk across the Mississippi on an old brick and beautiful railroad bridge. Clouds threatened us but the rain was kept away by all the sunshine coming from our guides. Sadly, the day had to end and we headed home toward Kansas City.

 

This is from our windshield. The picture is a bit distorted. They are only a few feet away and loud! Yuk!  I call it “trash” camping!

I think we might have stayed longer at our campground but it was a holy hell mess. When we pulled into our spot, there were tons of people camping in pop-ups and tents right at our door. Tom said it looked like Woodstock. In all of our 35 camping years, we have never seen such a packed campground. We visited the same campground last year in September and it was so beautiful and quiet. It looked like there were as many as 30 people at each site. Who was counting them?

We called around to determine if there were any other places we could camp in the Minneapolis area. They were all booked on a Saturday, and Walmart is not a place where we camp!

Steve is a Business Development Guy for the State of Minnesota. On one of his recent international trips with Dixie, he had the opportunity to see the future. They were given a tour of the new Aeromobil. Since Tom and I are not going to visit this area of the world any time soon, I asked Steve to write about his adventure. The following was written by Steve. Dixie took all the photos. I am also providing a link for you to Aeromobil itself.

“When visiting Bratislava, Slovakia in July, we were visited the showroom of Aeromobil, creator of a flying automobile.  Normally, they don’t give tours, but a friend helped to open the door for us. While it sounded at first like science fiction, Aeromobil is quite serious.
  The company is made up of top engineers from the automotive and the aerospace industries, many of whom we met and chatted with.  They have no illusions about their vehicle replacing ordinary cars. Their target market is financially comfortable flight enthusiasts who wish to drive their plane off the tarmac onto the highway.

Flying Car Showroom. You can stand in line!

The actual Aeromobil is dazzling up close.  It’s loaded with one-of-a-kind innovations, such as, ultra-light-weight materials, and it just looks cool.  When transitioning to a driving mode, the rear-mounted propeller simply folds up and the wings gracefully fold inward, all of which were demonstrated for us. 

Where’s the parachute?

The cockpit/cabin is fairly simple, with seemingly fewer gauges and controls than the average small plane.  That’s in part because of the advanced automation–they are already preparing for the driver-less car technology to come.  I don’t think that included pilot-less flight, but who knows?

Steve is really flying here!

Interested in buying one?  Next year, they will hire a sales team to offer the Aeromobil at $1.3m-$1.6m each. Deliveries are a couple years later.  I won’t be buying one, but I will remember fondly my chance to sit behind the controls.”

The Aeromobil would have really shortened our commutes to work.  Mine was 70 minutes and Tom’s was 50.  And, instead of meeting for dinner in Lees Summit, we could have gone to Jefferson City or who knows where?

As always this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

Next installment will cover all the hoopla at Wayside Waifs recently.

Posted in Aeromobil, Camping, Flying Cars, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, Motorhome, Recreation Vehicles, Trash Camping | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Up North!! Two Weeks is NOT Enough!

Great Lakes.  No Salt. No Sharks. No Worries”

Here is Tom on Cisco Lake in his new blow-up kayak!

I felt a little sad this morning when we left the north woods of Drummond, town of about 400. I can’t put my finger on why I felt that way? Maybe it was the luscious green and sometimes overpowering landscape? Maybe it was the largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Superior?”

There are a lot of trees in Wisconsin and Minnesota!!!

Such a beautiful place on the lake!

Beautiful St. Croix National Waterway!!!

Maybe it was the plain-spoken helpful and friendly people? Maybe it was the sky and the crisp clean air? Maybe it was the kindness of our friends who offered their cabin on a beautiful lake as a respite from the campground? Maybe it was the loons, or the sea-gulls, or deer crossing our path?

This is Bark Point on a bay adjacent to Lake Superior. What a sight!

I grew up in Michigan, surrounded by the Great Lakes. Some people say they live on a lake. But they are not lakes, they are ponds. Once you see the Great Lakes you understand!

Bored passengers on the ride around Apostle Islands!

Thirty five years ago we camped on our honeymoon and reached the Apostle Islands National Seashore. The boat trip was rugged! It was inviting! It was a challenge as our vessel swept through the islands.

 

Almost to the day this month we took the trip again to the Apostle Islands, but they were almost gone and you really could not see the shipwrecks! The Park Service has decided to let the twenty or so islands go back to their natural state, whatever that might be! Now all you see on the islands are green trees–no bears, no deer, no fishers, no mining, no boats, nothing! We are so happy that we saw them in their rugged and well-used state so long ago!

The best place to stay so far is in Hinckley, Minnesota at a Casino. Who would have thought? But it is not far NORTH.

Tom and I explored the possibility of purchasing a lot for our RV or finding a stellar RV Resort to park our rig for a summer. We found neither but I am sure we will look again. I want to go back to the lonesome roads and quietness of the north. I feel at home there.

People stay all summer at the RV Resort at the Casino. Here is one of the campers. It was like a little village.

We explored Knife River in Minnesota and rented a pick-up truck in Duluth. Duluth is a fascinating city. The canal area was beaming with people celebrating all sorts of things. Officers on horses mingled with us. We dined and then walked toward the lighthouse.

The lighthouse walk in the Canal area in Duluth!

Thirty five years ago, this area did not exist. We remember two pot-holed roads that met in Duluth, one coming from Superior, Wisconsin and the other going north. Today the landscape rivals any other port in our country. You can view Lake Superior and all its greatness from any perch high above Canal Street. What a town!

This is a bench in Bayfield where I will sit again.

Heading East we toured Bayfield, Wisconsin a couple of times. It is tempting to think of living at the edge of Lake Superior in a condo on Front Street.

 

 

We loved touring Ashland!

Nearby we admired Ashland’s architecture with its red sandstone buildings and murals. The town had been a booming timber, ore, and coal industry.  Now it is struggling to survive.

The murals told stories about Ashland. This one made me think of my  mother and father.

Look at the detail in this building!

We could not find Zanzibar any where else but at ice cream stores.

 

 

 

It is here that we discovered Zanzibar Chocolate Cedar Crest ice cream. Made in Wisconsin! What a treat!

 

 

 

 

I was sorry that I did not purchase anything at this store in Duluth!

We ran across many unusual tiny houses and campers.  Here are two of them that rose to the top!

This is an ice fishing trailer that people are camping in at the Casino RV Park. We saw three of these on our trek.

This is a homemade trailer. It was small but stunningly beautiful.

There is more to come on this trek to the North.  Stay tuned!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Camping, Drummond, Duluth, Minnesota, Motorhome, National Parks, Rving across America, Wisconsin | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arrow Rock…Rocks! But does not Explode!

July 6, 2017

To Escape the Fireworks Head to Arrow Rock!

Sign in front of the Lyceum Theatre

Sign in front of the Lyceum Theatre

About one year ago, I created a blog about Arrow Rock.  We were about to launch our southern extravaganza trip and this was our first stop.  Today I am combining some of that data with a new twist on Arrow Rock.

Arrow Rock is one of the first places we took our 24′ Fleetwood many years ago.  It is both a National and State Park or Monument or whatever! And a great place to spend a weekend!  There is plenty of space for camping with 30/50 hookups!

Arrow Rock was ready for the holiday! But the shops were closed!

Unlike a year ago, when we set up our site at sleepy Arrow Rock, this time the town was teeming with tourists.  They were waiting in line to chow down at J. Huston’s Tavern and then on to a play at the Lyceum.  Yet our cellphones would not work and most of the shops were closed. We thought we had entered the Twilight Zone!

Such a lively place!

The Tavern

J. Huston’s Tavern

Arrow Rock is located on the Blackwater River and riverboats used to stop by with loads of good stuff to purchase.  And before it became a town it was a place where Native Americans carved out their flint arrow heads! Their biggest problem was malaria-carrying mosquitos.  A local, Dr. Sappington,  invented quinine which became the malaria-drug and saved the day.

One of the best things about Arrow Rock is the fried chicken dinners served at the Tavern.  This year we spent two lunches at the Tavern and certainly gained a few pounds.

While camping at Arrow Rock we took our bicycles for a tour of the town and stretched the ride on the second day to the Arrow Rock Cemetery and beyond.

Here is Tom showing off his bicycle!

 

 

 

 

The oldest grave we could find was from 1822 and many people died in the 1860’s.  It was interesting to see the different faiths and symbols displayed on the headstones.  Some of the them were unfamiliar to us.

This person was a Mason, a Jew, and what else? If you know what the symbol is on the left, email!

The cemetery was well taken-care-of and a real joy to explore. It  reminded me of the Gilreath Cemetery (My mother’s family) in Holly Hill, Kentucky.  My ancestors deeded the land to the rest of the family.  Some say that slaves are buried around the edges of the cemetery.  I do not believe any slaves were buried in the Arrow Rock Cemetery.  Dr. Sappington had given land to the slaves for their cemetery a few miles down highway TT.

 

We loved biking this road!

Sappington has his own very ornate and elaborate cemetery near the old mansion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It appears that free African-Americans were also buried at the Negro Cemetery.  There were very few headstones at the Negro Cemetery.  I could not find one that mentioned slavery.  Of course slavery had been outlawed when most of these people died.

More than slaves were buried at this cemetery.

Here is a very old headstone carved by someone who did not know how to carve! The name on it is Robert Banks! I could find no history on him.

Tom and I also stopped at the very little town of Blackwater on Highway K that is located just west of Arrow Rock.  It boasts 160 residents (Where were they?)  and Arrow Rock has only 56?  We were looking for a restaurant in which to dine on July 3 with long-time student assistant  and helpful editor Anne and her husband, Elliott.  All the restaurants in Arrow Rock were closed.

And the churches in Arrow Rock were closed too, even on Sunday!

Blackwater’s architecture is amazing!

The family posing for a picture in Blackwater!

We were so lucky to hook up with Anne and Elliott in Blackwater.  Anne has been battling cancer for a year and recently recovered from surgery.  She was, of course, the best and brightest Student Assistant and editor who helped me at UCM!! and later.  Here they are!

How happy they are!  Oh, Twinkers is taking advantage of them!

If you haven’t visited Arrow Rock, take time to do it some day!  You learn so much about the history of our country and the people who live there are beyond kind!  We are so lucky to have a state and a national park system that sees the value in preserving the past as a way of educating all of us!!!!

Here is a a new candid camper for you.  This camper was created by its owner.  It appears to be a SUV.  He told us that it took him six months of work to make the thing work.  It has a fridge and all the amenities!

What a camper! The owners were from Kentucky.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Camping, Fourth of July, Missouri, Rving across America | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sleeping in the Bush!

Our pop-up trailer looked something like this when the wheels were working!

RV’s Galore!

Tom and I spent our honeymoon in a tent on the shores of a lake somewhere in Wisconsin. We don’t remember the spot? (Maybe global warming swallowed it up!) I do remember that Tom woke me up at 5:00 a.m. (I say it was 4:30.) in freezing temperatures to head out in a row boat to fish. I declined!

Our first wonderful Fleetwood!

This is sort of like the camper we rented in Alaska. It was small!

 

We spent many years tenting across the United States, gradually upgrading to a pop-up trailer, then renting all sorts of Motorhomes. Finally we purchased a small Class C in 2011 and then our 34 foot home in 2015.

Our first Motorhome adventures began in Alaska. What glorious trips! Twice we rented small motorhomes and crisscrossed the state, taking plane rides, floating across Prince William Sound, and joining some pirates in search of calving glaciers. There was the forceful Kenai River, the spit at Homer, a friendly Moose and her calf, and of course flies as we headed toward Yukon Territory.

We often camped alone (no other campers) and wondered if bears were keeping watch over us. We kept our eyes peeled  for scat (bear poop)  on the trails and sometimes turned back because neither one of us wanted to go first. We adventured in July when it was often cold and raining but we did not seem to mind it!

Notice that this old truck camper is camping where it is not allowed in Alaska!

People camp for a variety of reasons. Many people are homeless and volunteering at a park allows them to maintain a good standard of living. Recently, at Rifle Gap State Park in Colorado, there were at least five volunteer hosts. They perform a variety of jobs including cleaning restrooms, parking sites, picking up the trash, and security. They receive free water, sewer, and electricity and a camping site on which to place their RV. (We figure that amounts to at least $10K a year.) Anyone can volunteer. I thought about volunteering in Alaska near the Blue Ice Trail for a summer but Tom is not too keen on cleaning toilets to save $7.00 a night.

Not a viable option!

We came across many homeless people in the National Forests of Oregon. You can camp for about $7.50 a night. Of course, there are no amenities. So dry camping is the name of the game! We ran into very old people who seemed to pile everything they had in their RV, tent, or boat. Most campgrounds allow you to stay two weeks on one site, but you could move from site to site, and break that rule. We also saw people camping off-road in the mountains of Utah without water or electricity. Many of these small motorhomes looked like they were prepared for the winter.

This is a 10 year old Newmar Class A motorhome. The owners had just painted it! WOW!

Ten years ago we explored northern Utah and beyond. We encountered groups of people living together. At one campground, it seemed as if there were about 24 Latinos in two sites linked together. They had a turkey boiler and were cooking food for everyone. (It wasn’t Thanksgiving.) Their tents looked permanent.

The blue cone-shaped tent is a shower and used to change clothing.

 

And why are Middle Eastern looking people camping in Arkansas? One holiday we parked next to about ten sites of Middle Eastern people outside Hot Springs. They did not use the picnic tables or eat normal meals together. They squatted around fires and had food in their hands, not on plates. The license plates on their vehicles were from Texas. They were not frolicking in the lake or the sun. Tom says that they were new to this country.

 

 

I love retro RV’s. This is a very old trailer.

On one camping trip there was a couple who camped across from us in a tent. The young woman was in a wheel chair. Each morning the man lifted the woman out of the tent, wheeled her to the restroom, brushed her hair, made a fire, and cooked food for her. The rest of the day they sat under the trees or the stars talking to each other. One morning when we got up, they were gone! And so was all the love that they gave to each other.

Typical Nova Scotia Campground–no organization!

Probably one of the greatest shocks for me was in the many campgrounds in Nova Scotia. They were really trailer parks and the trailers looked like they should have been demolished or burned down. The restrooms smelled and parking areas were not very well developed. We were happy we were camping in someone else’s RV.

 

Candid Campers 

In Wisconsin, a female electrician emerged from this one!

Yes, people camp in almost everything. On our most recent trip a family had renovated a horse trailer including bunk beds for the kids in the back of it. I wanted to take a photo of it but sometimes you feel as if you are invading the privacy of others. There are trailers constructed for a single person that remind you of space movies where people are put in stasis to travel into outer space.  In Oklahoma we came across our first Tiny house–and it was too tiny!

The owners came home to let out the dogs and then escaped on a motorcyle.

 

Not cool!

In Moab people were living in buses (not renovated) and beat up vans.

Some people camp in parking lots. Walmarts had dozens of campers throughout the West.

Camping in a refrigerator truck!

 

Sleek and spiffy trailer from Canada.

Follow this link to images of campers that you could never imagine!

Advance Notice!  In the fall I will begin creating tiny travel books under the series name of  “Motoring with Marla.”  The first one will begin with an “A” for Alaska!  

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

Posted in Motorhome, Recreation Vehicles, Rving across America, Uncategorized, Wisconsin | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mama, Please Pass the Mush!

The Romance of Dining on the Road.

You can smell it, can’t you? When you camp grub is cooked over a blazing fire while someone plays the guitar! And every one sings Kumbaya and eats Smores? Right? Wrong! Only those who “rough it” cook outside. And they usually bring chewy bars, beef jerky, and bottled water to get them through the night!

Reaching to the Sky

The corn chips looked the same!

Reaching 10K feet above sea level is exhilarating. But our food protested. Cans swelled. Chip bags exploded. Salad dressing spit when opened! Poop flew out the drain at Tom. Yogurt packages looked like they had gained a lot of weight and then spit at you like the salad dressing!!

 

Dining in the Bush

Did you know that one sausage biscuit has 490 calories! Oh no!

Dining, even when you have a kitchen, presents us with many challenges. Usually we have breakfast on board because it is the easiest meal of the day. But sometimes we need to get on the road early and fast because of weather or a recreation reservation we have made. On those days it is a sausage or egg biscuit at McDonalds’s (if we can find one) that fills us.

A Bread Machine?  Really?

My Sunbeam beams!

About thirty to forty percent of the time we are cooking dinner and lunch ourselves. I decided that during this trip we were going to have fresh bread wherever we landed.

Having ventured to the parks long ago, I knew that the food was not very good (and it isn’t) or missing. So about four times on the trip I baked bread in a bread machine. Oh, you laugh, people stopped doing that long ago! Everyone has an old bread machine stowed somewhere in the basement!

Luscious Cranberry-Walnut bread cooked in the RV!

About six months ago our favorite bakery was sold and the bread we loved had a new recipe that we did not like. I thought, “I can bake that bread we love.” And so I began to experiment and create bread. Now, when we are at home, I bake bread about every four days or so. I use a very “cheap” Sunbeam baker and it is terrific.

A door slammed and the bread fell but it was still delicious. This is cheese bread with almost a cup of sharp cheese inside!

A tasty Rye!

 

 

 

 

 

Ham and Cheese on our gorgeous plate from Poland.

 

 

 

Panini Here we Come!

Who likes to eat cold sandwiches? I bought a small Panini maker to take with us so our cheese would melt. Tom and I both like grilled cheese sandwiches with lots of other things and we don’t like cooking them in a greasy frying pan. A hot sandwich in very cold weather really brightens up your spirits! We also have a griddle on board but we did not use it on this tour. Tom regularly used our portable gas grill for good eating stuff. We are afraid to leave a crock pot on board while we tour the countryside so we left ours at home.

Roughing It!

The RV has a microwave that turns into a convection oven in a snap. Tom is in charge of this technology. He whipped up some really good cinnamon biscuits three times on our trip. I also baked pumpkin bread for the gang for the first time! You can see that we are on a high carbohydrate diet. Hee Hee!

Local Food

An acceptable salad at Bryce Canyon Lodge but the rest of the food was awful I could not eat my chicken!

If you are driving and hiking and searching your way around towns and parks, sometimes your energy fades and you have to stop at a local restaurant because your RV is miles away. (We rent cars when we are on the road.) It takes a lot of energy to set up camp and keep the canines happy. Usually on days when we are hiking or boating or golfing or adventuring in slot canyons, we try to find local food to give us some energy.

The Best Dining in Seven States (Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Arizona)

Tapatio’s came to the rescue!

The best restaurant food we had on this trip was in Page, Arizona at Tapatio’s. The special was only $6.99 (including drink) and we went back twice! In Kanab we dined at a cowboy restaurant that did not offer any cowboy food. At the cowboy museum in Oklahoma City we were served wraps. In St. George we waited more than an hour for food and when it came, Taco Bell would have been better choice.

Milt’s food came in second! This is a BLT!

A salad at Egg and I hit the spot in St. George after golfing. In Hurricane we stopped at JB’s, a local restaurant, only to be served what seemed to be old food. (It looked like a defunct Bob Evans?) Food at the Parks did not make us sick, and we were grateful for that. We were so happy to find Milt’s good food in Moab only to eat at a recommended Fiesta Mexicana in Moab where the food had no taste.

It was like mush!

 

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

Posted in Bread Machines on an RV, Camping, Camping in Kansas, Camping in Utah and Arizona, Dining while camping, Motorhome, National Parks, Oklahoma, Rving across America, St. George Utah | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tom’s Dashboard. Reflections on “Stepping in the River Twice”

Tom’s Dashboard.  An RV with no Name!

Actual view from the road!

Thirty-five days on the road in an RV with no name. Marla, Twinks, Hillary and me, plus all the stuff we could squeeze into the 34 foot Canyon Star (2 guitars, 1 keyboard, 2 computers, cameras, golf clubs bread maker… There was even room for ice cream.). Hard to believe thirty-five days have passed. Some call it camping. More appropriately, as Amanda describes it, we were glamping. Rouging it is when we have only a 30 amp hook up. (We need 50 amp for everything to work on the RV.)

The house with no name at Capital Reef!

The trip was in part a attempted re-creation of a 2 week trip we took in 1992. How things have changed in 25 years! “You cannot step in the same river twice,” and you cannot visit the same desert in the Southwest twice.

Hillary showing off her black lipstick!

No LSD here!

We experienced a lot of the Southwest. Wonderful natural beauty that is hard to describe, and difficult to imagine. Who or what created all of this; Painted desert, Petrified Forest, El Morro, Glenn Canyon, Antelope Slot Canyons, Sand Hollow, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef and Arches National Parks, the Colorado River and the Rockies? The natural beauty is a complement to the stories of the people who have lived on these lands, the Native Americans (Anasazi, Zuni, Pueblo, Navajo….), the Spanish/Mexicans, American explorers and conquerors, the Mormons.

Glenn Canyon near Page, Arizona! Does it get any better than this?

Beautiful Sites at Bryce!

Native Americans are Still Trying to find their Lives!

We had numerous experiences with the Native American history. There are sites across the southwest that flourished until roughly the 1300s, and then most were abandoned. The reasons are not known, and the purpose of the various discovered buildings in the Pueblos in unclear. Historians/Archeologists seem to describe every other building as having some religious or ceremonial purpose. The fate of the Native Americans is not a pretty one. They were conquered by the Spanish/Mexicans and then the Americans. The Americans stole their land and sequestered them on reservations, only to take that land too if oil was discovered. The current status does not seem good. There is some tourism, but little ability to provide customer-focused services that make visitors feel welcome. Casinos provide income, but we saw few examples of other industries.

Our National Parks are International

As Marla pointed out, the natural beauty attracts many people, and lots of international guests come and explore our country in rented RVs and in large bus group tours. I think they are attracted by both the natural wonders and the American culture.  We have wide-open spaces that they love!

To Squat or not to Squat

Instructions needed!

We were surprised by the number of Asians.  In 1992, we ran into mostly Europeans on this journey. Today, we were surrounded by mostly Chinese. Think of it this way. If with the growth of the Chinese economy, 1% of their population can afford to travel, that is 14 million people who can visit our National Parks. If you have been to China the picture below will show one of the cultural challenges. (Note by Marla.  Even in fancy restaurants in downtown Tokyo you will find restrooms with squat toilets.  And most of the toilets throughout Asia are squat.)

Over-Dressed for the Occasion

Ruby Red Slippers on the trail at Arches National Park!

People watching is always a fun part of traveling. In the national parks you run into all kinds. Typically we see a lot of city folk, dressed up with hiking boots, hiking sticks, and rugged clothing from L.L. Bean only to walk on  level paved paths. We also see the other extreme; people hiking the same trail in their ruby red slippers or high heels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was both a challenge and refreshing trip, and we are very thankful that we continue to have the opportunity to travel and explore this great world we live in. And I am thankful to have such a wonderful companion to continue this journey with. (Me too, Marla)

She is calm in tight situations!

As always copyrighted by Thomas C. Hemling and Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Camping, Camping in Utah and Arizona, Motorhome, National Parks, Rving across America, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Float with Your Dog down the Colorado River!

Discover the Cities and Towns of Our Country!

Here are Tom and Hillary on that road. WOW!

We left Moab a few days ago taking U128 East to Interstate 70 heading home through Colorado and that pesky State of Kansas. This ancient road creeps along the Colorado River hugging the buttes rising thousands of feet in front of and above you. While the rest of the tourists were standing in line to enter Arches National Park, we were enjoying this lonely road with few other travelers.

Arches is Overwhelming!

How do you capture such a magical place. This is one of Tom’s photos.

Arches lives up to its hype! The formations are out of this world. We hiked the Windows Trail and a few other sites, lucky to find a parking spot. After facing so many crowds, we decided not to travel over 150 miles to Cannyonlands National Park.

 

Such a peaceful hike!

Arches is so beautiful that we thought we would spend another day exploring it, but we did not. On the way to the Visitor’s Center we found a trail outside the park that took us across the Colorado River and into the canyon below. It was so quiet and peaceful with a few cyclists. We did drive back to the line for the Visitor’s Center to watch the introductory movie but left the park to the hoards that were still in line. Busloads and Class C Motorhome tourists were everywhere!

Motorhomes by the Dozen

Tom wanted me to include this photo. I drove this big jeep and had to slide down out of it because it was so tall!

RV enthusiasts in the Midwest usually prefer a trailer attached to a huge pick-up truck when they travel. In the West we saw enormous numbers of Class A, B, and C Motorhomes. We have never seen so many motorhomes on the road and most of them were rented from El Monte. We rented motorhomes from Alaska, Canada, Nova Scotia and the lower 48 for about 10 years but we were in the minority. Now, we are told, that people from out of the country rent most of the motorhomes.

This is not a parking lot at an RV dealer. These Class C’s are parked at a national park.

 

They travel together across the country in rented RV’s. These are Class C.

Extreme is the Name of the Sports in the West

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr….

As we traveled the byways, we encountered people doing extreme sports everywhere. We had never seen the “mean” machines, as I call them, until we camped outside St. George. (And were also caught in the middle of an Iron Man competition.) They are called OHV-Off Highway Vehicles but some states allow them to drive on local streets. They were so ugly! A gathering of those machines was to have competitions right next to our campground in a couple of days. We were happy to leave.

Nice ride on the Colorado River!

There were people rock climbing huge buttes in most of the parks along with dirt bike enthusiasts and cyclists. There were jeep caravans that took you into the desert and then back for a ride on a zip line. We took a boat trip down the Colorado where lots of people would spend a whole day kayaking, tubing, or floating. The rapids were not so easy to navigate. There were dogs on some of the floats. We couldn’t believe it!

This is not our photo but I thought you would like it.

Thinking about the best and interesting days so far on this trip, I have to go back to the towns, cities, villages, and people we have met. The parks, and especially Page, Arizona were stunning, but if I had to do this trip again I would head to the small towns throughout the United States. They have so much to tell you about who they are and the history, architecture, famous people, and importance of their town. Near every National Park are fabulous scenic roads. You won’t find busloads or strings of motorhome caravans on those roads. They are as gorgeous as the National Parks themselves.

Tom and Marla after five weeks in the desert!

We are singing, “We went to the desert with a house (RV) with no name….”

Take it Easy!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge and Thomas C. Hemling

 

 

Posted in Arches National Park, Camping, Camping in Utah and Arizona, Extreme Sports, Floating down the Colorado River, Motorhome, National Parks, Uncategorized, Uranium Deposits in the Colorado River | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Tom’s Dashboard. Solar Energy and Milt’s Diner

Solar and the Energy Future.

Solar House Panels. Tesla is offering roofs that look “real.”

Texas and Oklahoma had the wind turbines. In New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, everywhere you look you find solar energy panels. We found them on houses, small company building, lights on signs along the highway, government buildings, small portable units for people dry camping, and the large energy company installations. The make no noise, they give off no odors. Pretty neat. Great to see the progress in sustainable energy.

We saw campers using these!

Some place the solar panels on the roof of their RV!

Government testing the Colorado River for Uranium traces. Unsuspecting tourists are frolicking in this water.

Radioactivity.

Outside Moab Utah between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks we saw an unfortunate example from our energy past. There is a very large pile (450 acres) of uranium tailings leftover from the extraction of uranium for energy and nuclear weapons. No mention of it in the tourist brochures. It looks harmless from the highway, and the reports indicate radon and other radio-active particles are no higher than background. However, it has leached into ground water, so it is being moved to a safer location. The commercial companies that made profits on uranium are of course are conveniently bankrupt and we taxpayers are stuck with the clean-up, which will take until the mid 2030’s if funding is maintained. I would rather subsidize advances in clean energy like solar and wind, then subsidize nuclear, but it looks like we need to do both.   Now back to the fantastic scenery or the American Southwest.

Tom forgot to mention the first Tesla we saw on the road. The owners from Vermont raved about it. There are Tesla charging stations all over the West. Their GPS creates a roadmap so that they drive by the stations. On one charge they get 350 miles or they can charge on 50 amp or 100 amp, like at home or at the campground, and get 50 miles. I think my next car will be electric!

Milt has his own Diner.

Tom’s Dad, Milt, died about ten years ago. HIs mom is in a nursing home in Wisconsin. In some of the paperwork that had to be sent to the state, Milt was listed as being alive. He would be 95 this year.

In a brochure, Tom found that a person by the name of Milt had a diner and wondered to his siblings if dad was indeed alive? So we had to find the

Here he is! So proud of his father’s Diner! He he!

diner, and when we arrived it was packed. Most of the tables were outside under trees. Of course we ordered a cheeseburger with a slice of green chili, a BLT, and a Heath Bar malt. We feasted all the while remembering Tom’s Dad! WooHoo!

 

As always this post is copyrighted by Thomas C. Hemling and Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

Posted in Camping in Utah and Arizona, Milt's Diner in Moab, Solar Energy, Uncategorized, Uranium Deposits in the Colorado River | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Through Rain and Wind and Weather ….

Be Thankful!

Life in the high desert of Utah is harsh and demanding.  I woke up one night with the tune “Rawhide” bouncing in my head.   There is no phone service.  WIFI flickers like a candle.  Gas stations serve as grocery stores with the bare necessities at high prices.  Silt invades everything each time the wind decides to blow. The environment is majestic but it is also rugged and lacking in comfort!  It ages you!

 St. George, Utah.  A Mormon Stronghold.

Everything was perfect! And all the people sitting around the temple were dressed perfectly!

Roads leading in and out of the city and in every neighborhood feature a LDS church.  And they all look the same. At the center of old St. George is a gleaming white Mormon Temple reaching to the sky.  It is a stunning building whose origins began in the 19th century.  So far, we have not seen any non-Mormon religious sites in town.  A lonely website claims that there is a Catholic and Baptist church somewhere within the borders.

Missionaries stood guard at this beautiful home!

Of course we toured around the Temple and quickly found the colorful and substantial winter residence of Brigham Young nearby.

The more I learn about this very powerful man, the more I understand how he lived as a “king” with great authority over women and men.  He led people West from Nauvoo as President of LDS, became governor of Utah, and founded a university in his name.  His winter residence compared with other Mormons who barely survived in the desert was a shock!!

 Retiring To St. George

 Years ago, we think around 1998; we came to play golf in St. George.  The courses were the most beautiful that we had seen at the time.  Back then; it was a lazy town of about 46,000.  We walked everywhere and loved the quiet, clean and wholesome atmosphere.  We both said that this would be a good place to retire.

 Back to the future of 2017 and the St. George we discovered is gone.  Talk to the folks who live there and they will tell you stories.  The main city, housed in a valley, is now about 80,000 people with 200,000 in the county.  It feels more like Chicago or Los Angeles than the St. George we discovered so long ago.  The townies drive at a frantic pace!

St. George built roads leading in all directions and around the buttes that button in the town.  They area also constructing retirement homes, rentals, condos, and RV Parks everywhere. We saw construction in every area of the city.  They are even knocking down older houses in the central area and replacing them with new ones.  Everything looks new.  The grocery stories, gas stations, shopping centers, you name it, look new.  And as we drove back and forth from Sand Hollow State Park (gorgeous) we saw literally thousands of new homes.  So we decided to check out a community offering retirement homes.  After all, if all of these people are moving to St. George, there must be a reason.

Such creativity! My favorite trailer so far!

A retirement resort advertised houses in the $200,000 range.  So we thought that sounded good.  When we arrived we toured some models.  All of the homes are built on concrete slabs.  There is only about two feet of space between houses and four feet in the back yard, usually with a four-foot concrete fence.  We asked about lots.  Oh, if you want a larger lot the price could go up another $100,000.  How about a view other than the window of a neighbor?  Oh that would cost you also?  They told us that the houses we toured were upgrades but the bathrooms had plastic inserts in the tub area, single-pane windows, and non-quartz or marble counters.  After a few questions, Tom deduced that for a 2,000 square foot home, it would cost us at least $600K and that is still with a four-foot backyard.  That was way too pricey for us!  But Californians, as they told us, think they are bargains.

Bryce Canyon National Park and Capital Reef National Park

As stunning as it was decades ago!

Winds were howling around 40 mph and the temperature dipped to 29 degrees with rain on the days we visited Bryce.  It is still a beautiful site! To find some peace and quiet we hiked the rim because of the hoards of people.  Again, it is not high season but every shuttle, every parking space; everything was over run with people.  Our campground was not full probably because of the cold weather. We saw many, many busloads of people.  There was no room in the visitor center.

Leaving Bryce to the West. We were afraid to drive to the East because of the switchbacks at 20 mph..

Too many photos with which to bore you!

Capital Reef was a visual Makkah (Mecca).  We came over a hill on highway Utah 24 and right in front of us were these gorgeous buttes.  I thought they looked like the Valley of the Kings or Abu Simbel in Egypt.  This park is a visual feast!  While hiking Tom noticed that one of the buttes was actually named “Egypt.”  So I wasn’t the only one who noticed the similarities.  As we left the park, every parking space in and around the visitor center was taken with quite a few people circling as they waited for a space to park.  We were happy to get back on the road!

What a drive!

We don’t remember visiting Capital Reef.  It became a park in 1971 and perhaps we missed the road to it or we took another route to Moab.  It was a mistake.

As we tooled down U24 toward Moab from Capital Reef, we could hardly believe our eyes.  This byway was certainly created for the mighty gods.  We could not take our eyes off the scenery.  The rocks were yellow, gold, and grey, blue, white, red, orange–you name it!  Even if you had a psychedelic brain, you could not imagine the formations or color schemes.  Go East on U24!!!

 Moab (Coming soon!)

Today we are in Moab and the line to enter Arches National Park was a mile long.  From where are all of these people coming?  I guess they are not on airplanes?

If you are reading the posts, I gratefully thank you!

 As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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There is Magic in “them there hills.”

A Quasi-Disney Experience at Zion National Park

The minute we jumped on the required shuttle to visit this majestic park, I felt like I was having a virtual experience. Take off the glasses! Wait, isn’t this live? Aren’t I physically present at Zion!?  Children were screaming and no one could hear the narration. Why are children visiting a park during the middle of the week anyway?  Windows would not open and fabulous vistas were just whizzing by.

Whatever happened to pristine? Where is the adventure and spontaneity we find in other parks? We felt like the park staff had programmed us into what they wanted us to visit. No cars allowed. No safe walking paths between stops. Walk on the path please!  I understand how this type of militaristic planning can preserve the park road and keep people from trampling down foliage, but I felt as if I was totally controlled. I guess that is because 4 million souls tread on this ground every year. It was a cattle run!

Shuttle stop to make the hike easier?

Only this morning we talked to folks in St. George and they agreed with us.  They said if you can’t get to the park the minute it opens, your day can be ruined.

 

One of the most interesting aspects of this visit was that we only heard about 10% of the people speaking English.  Everyone else seemed to be from far-away-place!

Double-Shuttle Bus circling the Park.

Programmed Walking Space.

 

Crowded into a bus! Is this a vacation?

 

 

 

 

Tom reminded me of our visit to Angkor Wat. We thought that visiting this ancient Buddhist archaeological site in the middle of Cambodia was going to be an exotic adventure. When we arrived, (to our dismay) thousands of Chinese were just getting off their buses. Since the pyramids had been shut down, they were trampling Angkor Wat instead. The place was a riot!

How long do you wait for a shuttle?

Tom and I visited Zion around 1992 and then again in 1998. It is not the same park. Zion is no longer a pleasant restorative experience. People were bouncing around like mosquitos. Their body language said, “Get out of my way.” And this is off-season. My advice is “Skip Zion if you need a little peace and quiet.”   And don’t go near it in high season, you might suffocate!

Another Zion!  Winslow, Arizona

Is Tom waiting for someone?

Our friends, Jon and Jim, from Texas bragged that they had taken selfies standing on the corner of Winslow, Arizona. So Tom thought that we should do the same thing! Little did we know that there would be a flatbed truck, two statues of performers, and a host of shops just waiting for our arrival.

We could not believe the number of people posing for pictures in front of a huge sign that read, “Winslow.”

Do you remember the Eagles? Do you remember the tune, “Take it Easy?” Here is a link, if you don’t know the tune. Tom had to have his pic taken in front of the flatbed truck. Remember the lyrics, “Standing on the corner of Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see! It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at me.”  One of Tom’s friends said that we should plaster the slogan “Take it Easy,” on the back of our RV!

Magical Landscape in Page, Arizona

Here are a couple of pics from Page, Arizona.  If you have not visited this magical place, take time to see it before you die!

Hiking Antelope Slot Canyon

What a sight! The Colorado River.

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Camping, Camping in Utah and Arizona, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Folding Space in the Land of the Pueblos

Memories and the Worm Hole Back in Time.

Example of ancient Native American ruins sometimes called Anasazi or Puebloans

In the 1970’s I spent several weeks out West attempting to discover every Anasazi (The term is no longer used.) settlement I could find that was listed on a Native American map except for Mesa Verde only because the road was closed. Last year I finally got to Mesa Verde.

I took my old Chevy Vega down so many trails of dust and sand that I had to sell it when I returned home! The air filter was clogged with dirt and it started using a quart of oil a week after my 10,000 mile journey.

In the forty or so years since that epic adventure, archaeology has changed. Discoveries have been made and sites that I once visited have blossomed into destinations. They are no longer a few rocks at the end of a bumpy gravel road. There are visitor’s centers, paved roads, guided tours, and lots of stuff to buy.

The Best of Archaeology

This church is still large but you would not call it a cathedral today!

Two of the pueblo sites we visited near Santa Fe, New Mexico were Pecos National Historical Park and Bandelier National Monument. Both sent your imaginations into the stratosphere.

At Pecos the local indigenous people built a huge pueblo (town) that served 2,000 but were eventually subjugated by both the Spanish government and Franciscan priests who were seeking gold and land. Along side of the pueblo a Catholic church with scores of residences was built. The church was 150 feet long and its walls were 22 feet thick. (Sounds like a fort to me!) It was impressive! I am sure it was a sign that both God and country approved of the domination of these people. But the people did not approve and soon revolted. They did not want to be punished for practicing their own religion.  This revolt eventually led to the end of the pueblo.

It is truly remarkable to walk the length of the pueblo and to think about the people who lived there. We know so little about them, even today.  If I could fold space, I would visit them!

You could climb right up into the living room of one of the ancient ones.

Bandelier National Monument is a treasure that preserves both a pueblo and rock/cave dwellings. We know even less about these indigenous peoples who lived in the Frijoles Canyon. Volcanic dust created a landscape full of caves along Frijoles Creek. They have excavated a pueblo that dates back to around 1200 CE and have discovered the presence of peoples that date back 10,000 years.

Reconstructed home that was attached to the caves.

High about the pueblo are residences of people who lived in the caves. The caves were a much safer place to live because the Frijoles Creek below regularly floods and it protected them from approaching enemies. The people who lived in these caves built structures along side the walls that look like porches. There were holes in the stone walls which probably supported houses also. They entered the caves using a ladder and then pulled the ladder up with them. Some call them cliff dwellings.

This is a model of the pueblo below the homes on the cliffs.

We saw and visited similar caves at Mesa Verde last year but were watched closely by a park employee. Here we climbed up steps hundreds of feet about the pueblo down below — for almost a mile. The journey took us back in time. You could see smoke stains on the inside of the homes and some of them had created art work.

There were also two ball courts or kivas. WOW!

Yesterday we visited Wupatki National Monument. The park service has done a bang-up job (again) in allowing visitors to visit an ancient pueblo in spectacular surroundings. What a wonderful place to live!

 

Around 1969 I found this monument also at the end of a dusty sand road. It did not look the same today because of additional excavations, reconstruction,  and the building of a visitor center. I asked the park ranger if I was losing my mind. He told me that the entrance to the monument was on the other side and that the visitor center was being built in 1969. Today exploring the area was so easy. We drove right up to the monument on asphalt and took a hike all around it on level ground!!! So beautiful!

We are so lucky to live in a country that values the history of its peoples. What would we do without these wonderful places that inspire and educate us!?

Santa Fe

Artisan and Farmers Market in Santa Fe

One of the reasons we chose to visit Santa Fe was to spend a little time with Jim and his lovely partner Laura. Tom had known Jim for almost 20 years and bumped into him in several places around the globe. We had lunch with them and they extolled their love for Santa Fe. It is a small town, around 70,000, but offers fine restaurants, art, and architecture that they enjoy and admire. As they drove us around town, it was apparent that living in Santa Fe was a romantic adventure for them. This is where they have retired. And this is a place where Jim’s parents had lived.

Tom and I spent time at the Farmer’s and Artisan Market at The Railyard District. The experience was exhilarating. People were enthusiastic and kind. We bought lots of pastries and fresh veggies. But the prices were often exorbitant. Eggs were $6.00 and $8.00 a dozen. I bought two donuts for $6.00 and Tom bought a piece of strudel for $3.50. The prices for jewelry and art were out of our league. The cheapest pair of earrings I saw was $56. At our campground some of the folks told us that paintings in Santa Fe, on the cheap side, were about $14,000.

Lame Tourists

So when we came back to our campsite, we decided not to hoof our way around Santa Fe. There are wonderful churches and history that dates back 400 years but we were not in the mood for crowds. The town itself is small and the buildings mirror a pueblo. The shops are very close together and the sidewalks were full of people. We had been camping under the skies with miles of land around us and did not want to face the hustle and rush of trying to find a space on the sidewalk to stroll. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the tourist season arrives.

Taking Care of Your Pet.

Thought you might like to see how some full-timers manage their pets.  This is the first time we have seen something so elaborate. Look, there is a door for the dogs to come and go in the motorhome! Notice the fence and slide that gets them down to ground level.

Unique approach to managing pets!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Archaeology of the Southwest, Bandelier, Camping, National Park Service, Pecos, Route 66, Rving across America, Santa Fe, Uncategorized, Wupatki | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Daddy, where does Wind come from?

From Tom’s Dashboard:

Heading West from Lake El Reno OK towards Santa Fe NM

This stretch of the trip was just a necessary drive to get us to New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, but we always find interesting stuff along the way.

This pic reminded Marla of eating at Judd and Helen’s as a kid.

“Get Your Kicks.” Oklahoma actively promotes the Route 66 history with a very professional tourist guide to “Main Street of America”. The Oklahoma portion of historic Route 66 crosses from Northeast corner in Miami to the Texas border at Texola. We visited the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, which chronicles the road from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. The museum interestingly reminds you that with the invention of the automobile, a little over 100 years ago, many other things needed to be invented: roads, parking lots, parking meters, roadside dinners, motels…. It was a non-critical nostalgic look at this famous route. The visitor book at the museum was mostly filled with visitors from other countries like China, Brazil, Australia, UK….

A visitor arrived in this wagon train! How exciting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an interesting way to travel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Weatherford OK to the Moon: If you have any interest in flight, find your way to the Stafford Air and Space Museum in Weatherford OK. The Museum started as a tribute to Lt. General Thomas Stafford, local boy who became an astronaut, and later a General in the Airforce. One of the most intellectual astronautics, Stafford’s Apollo 10 flight around the moon was the “Trip Advisor” for Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 moon landing. The museum has relics or replicas from the earliest flight to plans for future outer space explorations. It was a very surprisingly large exhibit in rural Oklahoma. I give it 5 Stars but the museum could use 2X the space to better feature the hardware.

Texas is so advanced! Who da thought?

Daddy, where does wind come from? Answer:  From wind farms in Texas. If milk comes from dairy farms and corn from corn farms, then wind from wind farms?  Right?Crossing the panhandle of Texas, we saw more wind turbines than you can imagine. Texas with over 10,000 turbines at about $2,000,000 each is home to 2X the number of wind turbines of the second leading state Iowa. This is an amazing investment in sustainable energy production, fostered by federal tax credits, and a state controlled energy grid. These towers look beautiful on the Texas landscape. The wind however was blowing the RV off the road.

That’s all from Tom’s Dashboard on the Canyon Star overlooking Lake Ute in Logan, NM.

From time to time Tom will leave the driving to write from his dashboard!!!

Next post will focus on Santa Fe, Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos National Lab, and more….  We hope!

As always this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge and Thomas C. Hemling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Apollo 11, Lt. General Thomas Stafford, Oklahoma, Route 66, Route 66 Museum, Rving across America, Stafford Air and Space Museum, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Throw away that Eraser Before its TOO Late!

The Cowboy Temple of Oklahoma City.

For years I have mumbled that I wish that I could erase Kansas. It would make the journey to Colorado so much easier. (Tom likes the Flint Hills.) I am sure that the people of Kansas would not like being eliminated from the national map. Maybe it could be placed on the tip of Florida or next to Nova Scotia? No, that is a bad idea! Well I was wrong and send my apologies to Kansas for my bad attitude!

Utah is our ultimate goal but there are lots of byways. We have visited ghost towns high up in the mountains of Colorado or mining communities all over the west on past adventures. I did not know that ghost towns dotted the Kansas and Oklahoma landscape.

We were so surprised at the architecture in Newkirk, Oklahoma. And, no, it is a not a German town but it sounds like it is. Barely 2,000 living souls call this place their home but it could accommodate thousands more. The average price of a home here is $68,000 so most people could live it up in style in Newkirk. They could commute to Ponca which is right down the road.

Ponca is at the crossroads of three oil refineries so there are lots of jobs and people. It is kind of a shock to go from Newkirk where the dust flies to bustling Ponca. It is part of the Ponca Nation. We stopped to view a huge statue of a Pioneer Woman and got off the track to Marland Mansion. The mansion is fabulous with 22 rooms and acres of gardens.

We discovered E.W. Marland who was an early oil baron who lived it up until J.P. Morgan took over his company in lightening speed. Marland used to control the largest deposit of oil reserves in the world (according to some). Right after his mansion was built his wife Virginia died. Living with him was his niece whom he had adopted. Well, the tale is pretty tall here. So, he got the adoption annulled and then married her. Sounds like there might have been hanky panky involved before his wife died? There is more but I will have to save this story for another day! Oh, he eventually became governor and then died penniless!

On the way to a campground right off Route 66 we stopped in Guthrie. WOW! Most of the gorgeous Victorian red buildings were built after the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. At that time 50,000 people camped out where the town in now waiting to win a piece of land. Some of the buildings that sprouted up boasted 1893 as their year of origin. One tourist guide said that there are 2,000 preserved buildings from the 19th century. And they are all red or red brick. Amazing! I wonder who built these structures. They certainly reminded me of Belgium and the Netherlands!

I want to read about these places and the people but there is very little on the web and no books in the museums. It is time to talk to Amazon or the Intercontinental Library!

Lots of fantasy literature at this temple!

Today we visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum near Oklahoma City. Hollywood fantasy was the theme of the day. It featured cowboy literature, films, cowboy stars, cowboy stuff, art and statues of cowboys and some Native Americans. It was more visual than intellectual. Although it did remind me of all the TV cowboy shows and movies we watched while I was growing up. I would change the name to the “Cowboy Temple because it presents an idealized view of all cowboys.” I kept wondering what cowboys did after that got tired of the cows?  Or did they want to be cowboys?  Where are the cowgirls?

My photo is only of one fifth of the parade!

Near downtown Oklahoma City is an outdoor bronze sculpture called Centennial Land Run Monument that runs for two city blocks. Since we were learning about the land rush, we thought we would stop by the monument for a look. Beyond our expectations, these sculptures are god-sized images of people, horses, covered wagons, dogs, and all sorts of contraptions that are hell-bent on their way to find land. They tell a hopeful and yet sad story that seemed so similar to the gold rushes.

One of the best sights of the day was a tour of the Capital building with its lobbyists and state legislators The dome is truly magnificent and finished only in 2002.

 

 

Upcoming: The Stafford Space Museum and a Route 66 Museum.

 

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

Posted in 19th century architecture, Cowboy Museum, Oklahoma, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Friends at the Folk Alliance International in Kansas City

Forbidden Folk Music is Protest Music!

I have been pondering all week about how to capture the zest and creativity that Tom and I experienced at the 2017 Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City last week. I don’t think I can, but maybe I can give you a taste of the music and its peoples.

The world came to Kansas City last weekend.  Never would I have believed that there could have been so much talent at Crown Center.  Over 1500 singers and musicians from all over the world crowded the halls and rooms of the Westin.  They brought their instruments, beliefs, stories, and sounds to perhaps 3,000 concerts and showcases.  We rocked, stomped, clapped, cried, and marveled at the talent.  Some say that music is a drug, if so, I think we were “high” all week!

On floors where artists sang in showcases the walls were plastered with posters.

On floors where artists sang in showcases the walls were plastered with posters.

Tom and I volunteered with 350 others for the event and took a few classes at the Music Camp.  Our wonderful boss was Mike Warren.  We were stationed at the entrance to the exhibit hall and monitored who could go into the booths. During the day and night we would listen and experience the music, and later we met the artists going into the exhibit hall.  These talented souls were so appreciative of our thoughts that it was almost shocking.  They handed us CD’s and invited us to come back! By the end of the four days of volunteering we had amassed over 20 CD’s.

Here is one guy who creates guitars out of cigar boxes, bed pans, and cookie tins!

Here is one guy who creates guitars out of cigar boxes, bed pans, and cookie tins!

But we found more than talent on those stages.  We found like-minded people who were troubled about what is happening to our country.  I don’t think that the planners of this event could ever have imagined the hate, xenophobia, and paranoia we are now experiencing in the United States when they chose the theme of “Forbidden Folk.”

Billy Bragg talked about solidarity and change!

Billy Bragg talked about solidarity and change!

Many musicians chose to highlight the insanity that is happening all around us.  Billy Bragg from the UK headlined the Sunday performances and brought us back to reality with a re-worked tune of Bob Dylan’s, “The Times They are Changing.”  Billy added “back” to the end of the refrain.  Here is a link to the tune that captures the regression that we are all experiencing. His performance was masterful but this clip is not strong.  Listen to the words. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K7gyTQuuls

 

 

I never realized that folk music was so close to rap. They both use poetry.

I never realized that folk music was so close to rap. They both use revolutionary poetry.

Grant Peeples from Florida made us all sit up when he sang,

Pitchforks and Torches

Pitchforks and torches, razors and rocks
Barbwire fences ‘round empty parking lots
Sirens are screaming in a dark starless night
People loading guns and sharpening knives

Pitchforks and torches, a vulture on a wire
River’s dried up and the lake is on fire
Preachers trump teachers in information wars
Just kicking up dust and settling scores

Pitchforks and torches, a traitor’s flag waves
In a Hallelujah Nation that’s handling snakes
Friends are now foes and foes are now friends
Edging up to a ledge where the ending begins
Take um on down, take um on down
Take um on down; let the righteous reign
Take um on down, take um on down, now
Take um down; let the righteous reign

Maria made you realize how important it is to care about people.

Maria Dunn made you realize how important it is to care about people.

Others sang of land in Canada stolen by huge mining companies and pipelines that destroyed property for the sake of a few dollars.  Maria Dunn sang about Malala the young girl who was shot on her way to school who recently received the Nobel Peace Prize.

The artists sang about love bringing people together, changing the world, and dreaming.  They sang about their mothers, and washed out roads, and fence rows, the poor, farmers, the earth, tree lines, arrowheads, cotton fields, and how we have to find our own humanity somehow.

They sang everywhere!

They sang everywhere!

The artists kept singing that we should come together but I have never been able to come together with the righteous who think they have a right to rule the earth.  I want to love and share the earth and I don’t want to rule anyone or anything!

One of the tunes that touched  me the most was about swimming across the river and thinking you are going to drown.  Suddenly you look around and there are a lot of other people swimming with you.

I learned this past week that music CAN bring people together.  I was not prepared to experience all the wisdom about life in the tunes we heard.  They gave us hope and told us that we are not alone!  We are so happy to welcome folk music into our lives again!

As one bumper sticker shouts!  “Sing Truth!”  (Whatever that means?)

The Wardens took me back to the days of Gene Autry!

The Wardens took me back to the days of Gene Autry and the cowboys I loved!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

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St. Croix Chronicles. Tom and Marla in a Ford Fiesta!

Visit St. Croix and You Won’t Want To Leave!

The East End of St. Croix. It is so peaceful!

The East End of St. Croix. It is so peaceful!

Gentle breezes follow you everywhere. Shades of blue oceans cool your mind and soul. Visitors stare at the iridescent waters as if they have been drugged by the gods of the sea. Divers and snorkelers dot the beaches like visitors from outer space. Free-range Roosters heckle you.

Snorkeling Advice from Tom.

Snorkeling at Buck Island!

Snorkeling at Buck Island!

“The guidebooks recommended to snorkel the pier at Fredriksted, but I was sceptical and wrong. The types and colors of coral were amazing. There were more colors than I have ever seen anywhere else. The water here is extremely calm and the fish are also abundant. I was treated to a visit by a friendly turtle and a Barracuda. It is the best snorkeling on the island and about $75 less than Buck Island tour. (Buck Island trip is worth the $75.) Make reservations to go to Buck Island during high season.”

More on the Creatures.

They were everywhere!

They were everywhere!

Tiny Geckos crawl under and around your feet and up the walls, and if you are unlucky a crab will attach itself to your leg. I didn’t even feel it. Mosquitos and sand fleas feed on you. I think they love the smell of “Off.” While dining at the Avocado Pit in Christiansted on the pier (such a lovely sight), a huge bird flew at me and landed one inch away from my plate with its beak in my face. It scared me and I jumped and wouldn’t you know, I strained my back and side. Dern bird!

 

This is at Rhythms north of Fredriksted.

This is at Rhythms north of Fredriksted.

At outdoor restaurants (and most are outdoors) birds, cats, and sometimes dogs feast on your crumbs. The earth moves around you whenever you sit–crabs that look like rocks–keep moving and moving and moving. The restrooms on Buck Island have been taken over by huge crabs! And I mean huge!

The crabs are placed in the middle of this circle and the first one to crawl over it wins.

The crabs are placed in the middle of this circle and the first one to crawl over it wins.

Here is a closeup of some of the crabs with names on them!

Here is a closeup of some of the crabs with names on them!

Have you ever been to a crab race? Last night Tom’s crab named “Chuck” (named for our deceased Charlie) came in first and he won $25. The races were awesome with people screaming for their crab. Betting on dogs or horses is nothing like betting on a crab!

The Locals.

People talk to you in St. Croix if you are on the beach, at your table in a restaurant, on the street, coming out of the water, on a catamaran, standing next to a sign in front of the fort in Christiansted, you name it, they talk to you. We met some wonderful people. Brenda and Harry took care of us on the beach at our hotel and recommended restaurants like Cheeseburgers in the East End and Rhythms in Fredriksted.

Take a look on google and read about the devastation of this hurricane!

Take a look on google and read about the devastation of this hurricane!

A waitress at a Maria’s Cantina gave us the lowdown on what it was like on the island during Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Ninety percent of the homes were destroyed. Prisoners escaped. All the stores were looted. They had no electricity or water for months. The National Guard and others came to “save” the people. We talked to another person who said that he and his daughter survived the storm.

None of the photos of them dancing are clear. At the end they took a bow!

None of the photos of the dancing are clear. At the end they took a bow!

Probably the most unusual people experience we had was watching the locals perform the quadrille. The dancing was fabulous and Tom joined them.

They dance and jump and carry-on on stilts!

The Moko-jumbie dance and jump and carry-on on stilts!

Another treat was learning about the sky-high Moko-jumbie dancers that go back to the times of slaves.

Island Fever?

We met a fella in his fifties who had sold his business and was just traveling around from island to country to island. He was going to move to Maui but it bored him. His home is in New Mexico and he might go home soon. While on the island, he got a job at Home Depot. He said that no one really talked to him.

This wanderer looked like a small monster from a horror movie. He had bleached his hair bright blonde and had it pulled back under a Green Bay Packards Visor (not his team). His beard was also gathered together with a rubber band. He was tattooed til’ the cows come home. The sleeves of the flowered party shirt he was wearing had been torn off and he only used one button of the shirt. His body was pierced and he was wearing lots of jewelry. I guess he did not understand that people were afraid to talk with him? I asked him why he was just traveling around and he said he did not really know why? He was just doing it! And he was trying to stay away from younger folks! Huh?

Should we move to St. Croix?

The boardwalk in Christiansted that we loved!

The boardwalk in Christiansted that we loved!

We met other people who shared their condo stories with us. Two of them told us where we could purchase very nice condos for $60K. We could hardly believe the stories. We spun around several condo communities planted on beaches. A savvy real estate person showed us two very nice properties right on the ocean with a view to die for. They were $139 and a penthouse for $189 with towering wood ceilings. So if you want a beach front condo, St. Croix is the place for you!

Capturing St. Croix is a pretty tall assignment.

Drenched on Buck Island!

Drenched on Buck Island!

I did not want this blog to sound as if it came from Frommers! And I did not want to fill it full of the things I really enjoy like architecture, history, and culture!  Four hundred photos would not fit in this post!

Some day, if you haven’t already, make a trek to St. Croix and experience the peaceful lifestyles. There is so much more than crystal blue waters, good food, and a beach waiting for you.

There is a whole island of lovely people!

 

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunshine, Happy People, and St. Croix

Another Paradise Adventure!

Tom took this while sitting on the porch to #10 room at Tamarind.

Tom took this while sitting on the porch to #10 room at Tamarind.

Under cover of darkness Tom and I ventured from Henry E. Rohlsen Airport to our #10 room at the Tamarind Reef Hotel and Spa.  What is amazing is that I was driving on the left hand side of the road.  Did anyone hear any screams?

We visited Point Udall on our second day. Magnificent!

We visited Point Udall on our second day. Magnificent!

Does anyone want one of these?

Does anyone want one of these?

We snarled our way through crooked roads, stopping at Sunny Shopping Center for bottled water, and then headed East toward Point Udall, the most furtherest point in the U.S.A.  It was so dark.

On highway 82 East End.

On highway 82 East End.

Tom was navigating but we missed our turnoff.  Nuvi was telling us to make a U-Turn.  What?  A U-Turn in the middle of darkness on a road as big as our driveway?  We finally made it and feasted on spaghetti and meatballs and Mahi-Mahi.  Then we fell into bed!

Uh oh! Here we are! We begged a passerby to take our pic!

Uh oh! Here we are! We begged a passerby to take our pic!

 

 

 

 

 

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So clean!

So clean!

We will keep you posted as we investigate the island.  Oh,  Tom is sitting next to me learning how to play the harmonica!  What next?

On our way to “Paradise” St. Croix, we stopped in Miami to change planes. Here we discovered our first doggie bathroom. It was cleaner than the Ladies Restroom.
This evening we snaked our way Christiansted to view the Christmas Boat parade and hear Bob Marley music. What else is there in life? There were thousands and thousands of people with music blasting and Santas dancing everywhere. I took several pics and many videos but I don’t want to fill up your box. So here is a YOUTUBE video you might enjoy! Just click on the previous “YOUTUBE.”

I stumbled into this guy!

I stumbled into this guy!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Igor and the Red Elvises are the Best Party in Town!

Our Favorite Band.  Igor and the Red Elvises

Post-election we had the opportunity to hear our favorite band at Knucklehead’s in Kansas City.  It was a rocking night!

unnamedIgor Yuzov is not only a gifted writer, composer, singer, guitar player, and dancer, but he is also a great entertainer.  “Are you having fun?” is one of the lines he uses during the gig.  He revs up the audience with hand-wringing and waving.  The audience sings the lyrics to his tunes while spawning a smile as wide as Texas.  One of my favorites is, “I am a closet disco-dancer.”  (To hear the tune click on the previous link and wait for a few seconds to when he starts singing the lyrics.  You can find his CD’s on Amazon and iTunes.)

There have been many Red Elvises over the years.  Current talented band members include returning Sarah Johnson (on Sax and more), Jasmin Guevara (Hot and burning drums), Summer Sandoval (Balalaika), and Tim Hayn (Trumpet and keyboard).

This is Igor in one of his silk suits!

This is Igor in one of his silk suits!

Igor tours the United States with this group and then hooks up with other band members in the Soviet Union and other parts of the world.  When he is not touring, he spends his time on the beaches of Thailand.  All of his stage outfits are silk and handmade in Thailand.

I have been fortunate to have interviewed Igor for several months (mostly on the phone) and to have produced a biography of his life and talent.  It took a little convincing but Igor finally agreed to the book.  His son and others helped with the photographs that go back to his early life in the Ukraine when he was a teenager.

There is a Kindle and color version also!

There is a Kindle and color version also!

Born in Germany, raised in the Ukraine, and schooled in Moscow, Igor came to the United States after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He played his guitar and sang on the streets in California, while helping other Russians find their way to the United States. His musical roots reach back to the band “Limpopo” in Moscow which he carried across the pond with him. After tremendous success as a Russian cultural band, Igor had a dream that he should begin playing Rock ‘n Roll and sing in English. Elvis came to him and gave him the name of the “Red Elvises.”

The music that was born out of this transformation is tremendous. The Red Elvises have been described as rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, avante’ guard, and so much more. Igor brings to the stage a mixture of central European ethnic music and melts it together with sounds he has heard from all over the world.

dscf2540Your first concert will send you flying into the air, because you will want to dance. Dressed in outrageous costumes, Igor and the Red Elvises, encourage their audiences to be just as outrageous. And they are! It is the best party in town. His lyrics mimic many great Russian poets and prose writers. In a way, he has tried to bring his own culture to English speaking people.

Find them.  Take the journey that will certainly take you into outer space, or at least, to Thailand!  Here is their schedule!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

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Remembering the Veterans of the Vietnam War at the Truman Library

No Songs were Sung in this War

Here is the lecturer. He was a "journalist" for the military in Vietnam in 1970.

Here is the lecturer. He was a “journalist” for the military in Vietnam in 1970.

Yesterday we attended a lecture by Doug Bradley at the Truman Library on the topic of music and Vietnam, “We Gotta Get Out of This place!”

Before the lecture we toured the library again. The exhibits are stellar and change often. We stopped by a replica of Harry Truman’s oval office. It seemed pretty drab to me after visiting Clinton’s, Eisenhower’s, and Carter’s offices. There were scores of ashtrays on his desk and the walls were filled with paintings of war heroes and bi-planes. The carpet was a drab green.

This was Truman's office. Where are the sofas?

This was Truman’s office. Where are the sofas?

Bill Clinton's office is spectacular compared with Truman's!

Bill Clinton’s office is spectacular compared with Truman’s!

The library reminded us of Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Japan and the horrid mess that Europe and the U.S.A. was left with after the war. It seemed as if our country was excellent at fighting wars but not so good at helping soldiers back to a normal life.

The man!

The man!

We were prepared for an entertaining lecture about music during the days of the Vietnam War (1954-1975). What we heard were heart-wrenching stories about military personnel who survived or did not survive and the music they cherished.  Most of the tunes were vaguely familiar to me but never on my playlist. Many songs were hard rock.

My best remembrance of Vietnam was when all deferments were taken away. Many boys in my college classes were torn away from their studies and never returned. So many thousand soldiers were killed that the war decimated males in my age-bracket. There were the Kent State shootings in the news,  and the “I’m fixin’ to die rag,” that everyone sang.

Well, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

LBJ convinced Congress to surcharge all of us 10% of our wages to fund the war. (What a mistake!) It was a horrible time to live because you just did not know what was going to happen to you or your relatives. And I had two brothers.  (Over 200,000 people from the US were killed and about 1.4 million locals in Cambodia and Vietnam.)

And while I lived through the Vietnam War, I tried to ignore it. Protests were going on all over the place but not on my campus. I always wondered how those other college-age students had time or money to go to the music fests and protests. I was working three part-time jobs during the school year and two full-time jobs in the summer to pay for my education. I was afraid that I would never make it through college.  I was afraid for my future.

Back then, there were no loans for students. If you wanted to become a teacher, you could borrow a few dollars. I had been offered a full-ride with a work-study job at Michigan State University, but I turned it down in favor of a small liberal arts college. My dad thought I was “nuts.” Maybe I was. I was a strong 17 year old that wanted to make her own decisions so I chose against the advice of my wise father.

The lecturer brought tears to our eyes as he told the stories of both male and female soldiers. The music they loved was inconsequential to their own experiences. We were surprised at the stories of females. Sister Sergeant works in Racine, Wisconsin now. Her parents wanted her to become a nun but she ran off to discover Vietnam and survived. Then she became a nun.  She counsels Vietnam Vets today.

Here's the book!

Here’s the book!

Then there was the story of soldier who lost his legs. He was so handsome sitting in his wheelchair and he had made a life for himself. Years later, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, he committed suicide. You can read about many, many people in the book We Gotta’ Get Out of This Place.  The title of the book was taken from a tune by the Animals by the same name.  Here are a few lyrics!

We gotta get out of this place
If it’s the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Girl, there’s a better life for me and you
Somewhere baby, somehow I know it

We gotta get out of this place
If it’s the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Girl, there’s a better life for me and you
Believe me baby
I know it baby
You know it too

And so we remember the brave people we call Veterans on November 11.   No words can capture or describe their service. We are safe because they gave up all hopes of being safe.  

Wish we could call them up and tell them how much we appreciate them!!

Did we really use these phones?

Did we really use these phones?

Some day I may tell you the story about my cousin, now 72, who survived Vietnam, Agent Orange,  and the blinding daily images of his tour when he returned to an America that despised his sacrifices.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Adventure at Home. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas!!!

A One-Hour Drive!!!

Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas is about one hour away from our home. We have passed by it several times but never stopped. Today Tom and I, with Groupon in hand, headed for the Trails West Golf Course at Ft. Leavenworth. We had been warned to bring our Passports!

Notice the jail-like building to the right!

Notice the jail-like building to the right!

 

Before we could find our way to Trails West, we needed to be processed at the Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center looks like a small non-descript jail. It has very small windows and there was only one entrance and exit. I kept thinking that we were entering another country. And truly, the experience was like going through immigration in a foreign country.

Waiting for our turn to be processed!

Waiting for our turn to be processed!

We signed in with our Driver’s License (They don’t take Missouri Licenses as proof of citizenship. But we had to have them anyway.) and Passport. We waited.

I was processed by a handsome soldier who looked bored. He commented that I had been to Cambodia, Vietnam, and Korea. “Wow!” I explained that we had visited a lot of countries. I asked him where he was from., “Leavenworth.” That is lucky, I said. He was not amused. He had been trying to get out of Leavenworth. He wanted to be fighting a war and protecting his friends. I suspected that he had other skills. “Yes, I am trained in IT.” That made sense as to why he was assigned a desk job.

We talked about war. “I can shoot 40 of 40 perfectly.” I did not know what that meant, but assumed he was a great marksmen. He wanted to be in the action. I told him about Maimonides who encouraged oppressed Jews to live, not die, for their religious beliefs. As I recall he said, “Recite Allah and Live,” which meant that it was preferable to submit to Muslim domination in Spain if it would save your life. Of course not all Jews agreed with him.

The soldier was very strong. “I won’t die. I will save other soldiers.” I said, what about your back and side and beneath your feet? How can you control that? War is more than shooting. I asked him how old he was. “Thirty-two.” Then we talked about the great benefits of being in the military and it was time to leave. He hand-wrote out my one-day pass, and I left.

Hug that tree!

Hug that tree!

Trails West Golf Course was deserted. We only saw a few other people. The gorgeous four hundred year old trees kept company with us. I was so enthralled with the trees that I did not see the military cemetery on number two hole. As we approached number five, I was startled by the thousands of white headstones across the street and up the hill. You could almost hear the voices of all of those service men and women and their families.

The tears of angels.

Angels are still shedding tears.

We visited the cemetery after we golfed. The inscriptions on the headstones tell a heroic story about people who gave their lives in protecting the Western front, the Civil War, Spanish-American War, WW I and II, the Korean War, the Persian Gulf War, and so much more. Wives and children are buried along with servicemen and women. There were a number of unknown soldier graves too!

Here's one from the Spanish American War!

Here’s one from the Spanish American War!

People in the military might not be recognized during their lifetime, but here in this cemetery, they are memorialized and protected forever–or at least as long as Ft. Leavenworth owns the property.

I thought of the soldier who processed me. This is where he will be buried some day, perhaps. And I thought of Mother Jones who said, “Pray for the dead, but fight like hell for the living.” I understood his zeal for fighting an enemy and protecting his fellow soldiers.

Certainly many of these homes were built around the middle of the 19th century?

Certainly many of these homes were built around the middle of the 19th century?

Ft. Leavenworth is a gorgeous military base with homes and buildings that date back to the 19th century and earlier.

These must be the quarters for soldiers?

These must be the quarters for soldiers?

Once we passed through the gates, it was a welcoming place. We did not have time to visit the museum, but we will return. On the way out of the 5,600 acre fort with 1,000 buildings and 1500 quarters, we stopped at the Buffalo Soldier Memorial/Monument.

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What dedication! I think I would hide my pistol in my saddle and leave!

What dedication! I think I would hide my pistol in my saddle and leave!

Buffalo Soldier Monument

Buffalo Soldier Monument

Tom and I had discovered the African-American or Black Calvary years ago in sites we visited in Kansas. (Just google “Buffalo Soldier Memorials” and be astonished!) Most recently we learned that they were stationed in Skagway, Alaska in order to keep the peace during the Gold Rush. Dedicated by Colin Powell, the Buffalo Soldier Monument was stunning. It captures the dedication of men and women (yes, at least one) and their zest to protect our country. Most of us were never taught that the first responders in the Western expansion were Buffalo Soldiers, and I don’t recall any “Cowboy or Indian” movies with black soldiers!

Today was a rich cultural experience. We learned to appreciate our military and its history even more than we did — before — our golfing experience.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

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The Last Dance of the Season

Here he is. Standing so tall and handsome!

Here he is. Standing so tall and handsome!

On the last leg(dance) of our trip, we met the real Jolly Green Giant at almost 56 feet tall.  He resides in Blue Earth, Minnesota.  Who wouldn’t want to live in a town named “Blue Earth?”  There is a great story about how he was created as a marketing scheme.  And while the Green Giant looks out over I90 expressway, the Green Giant canning plant is no longer!  Check out the story here!

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Can you see me right at his feet?

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Lonely campers in a field.

One of the most bizarre places we stayed (For $10 a night!) was at a Shady Oaks County Fairgrounds.  No one greeted us at the entrance.  Finally a woman came out and said that we could camp anywhere we wanted.  We drove around the place (with treacherous trees) and could not figure out where to park.  There were no designated spots.  We called the woman and she led us to a field and said, “Camp anywhere here!”  We thought the motorhome would sink into the dirt, but it did not.  We parked under a tree.  No one else was camping anywhere near us.  At the far end of the fairgrounds there were a couple of permanent campers, but no one else.

The next day we hiked around the old forgotten place and discovered that someone had recreated buildings from the 19th century.  One of them said it was from Missouri.  Take a look!

1839 Building.

1839 Building.

What was the name of the seminary?

What was the name of the seminary?

We took many refreshing hikes (dances)  during our last journey.  Would you like to dance with us?

Let's go down to the St. Croix River!

Let’s go down to the St. Croix River!

Walk with us around the campground!

Walk with us around the campground!

Remember First Nations people who owned Lake Superior.  This is a mural at the Visitor's Center!

Remember First Nations people who owned Lake Superior. This is a mural at the Visitor’s Center!

This river is not for tubing.

This river is not for tubing!

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In Cable, Wisconsin, I found the pickup truck of my dreams!

 

We will back — dancing soon!

Talk to you then!

 

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge!

In the preview, the images are many spaces apart and I cannot fix this problem.  My apologies!

 

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Lake Superior, Friends and Family, are Superior

Sitting in the sun by Lake Independence!

Sitting in the sun by Lake Independence!

Today we are resting at a well-planned and pleasant Baker Park Reserve just outside Minneapolis, MN. It has the best shower and restroom facilities that we have seen in 30 years. Our most recent campground was a disaster. We had stayed at Interstate Campground on the Minnesota side about four years ago.

This trail crawls through Wisconsin and stops at significant geological sites.

This trail crawls through Wisconsin and stops at significant geological sites.

This time Tom booked us at Interstate on the Wisconsin side. Most of the state campgrounds in Wisconsin were designed a hundred years ago and the facilities have not been updated or maintained. (This is hard to believe about Wisconsin.) Trees have grown and RV spots have shrunk with limbs hanging and harming vehicles. Restrooms were marginal and there was no water for the campers. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail and scenery were the best!

Steve, Tom, and Dixie! The party ended too soon!

Steve, Tom, and Dixie! The party ended too soon!

Last night we dined on Indian food with Tom’s college roommate and his new companion, Steve and Dixie. Both had lost their spouses and then found each other –a compelling love story. The conversation was intriguingly international. Steve worked for the State Department in several countries. He is now working as an international business liaison for the State of Minnesota. Dixie is a Graphic Designer. Both had recently traveled to Iceland and are heading for London soon. They picked us up and the party began. The only problem was –it was too short!  The slides of Iceland were to die for!

Nelta and Charlie. What a couple!

Nelta and Charlie. What a couple!

After the Mecca/Makkah experience at Kohler-Andrae, we headed to Suamico just north of Green Bay. This is such a pretty area. We caught up with my cousin Nelta and her husband Charlie. They fed us the minute we stepped in the door. The fare was just-baked zucchini bread and hot chicken sandwiches. Nelta could move in with us and cook for us if Charlie did not need her. They sent us off with Maple Syrup created by Charlie and a loaf of that bread. So good!

Nelta baked nine loaves of bread! Has anyone ever baked nine loaves?

Nelta baked nine loaves of bread! Has anyone ever baked nine loaves?

Northern hospitality is amazing! Charlie is recovering from six broken ribs sustained after a freak fall. They manage their own duplexes as a way of providing retirement income. When we were there, they were dealing with a woman who was sent to jail. They had to evict her. The story is not pretty! We had such a good time with them that we are coming back next year to visit the new Packard stadium and more!!!

Tom wanted to chime in with a few words about his own experience at Terrace View Campground. He calls this part, “Paradise Found.”

We discovered this campground in Passport America, and chose it simply because it was a good stopping point between two destinations, not a destination itself. When we made reservations, and called to check on possible flooding, a nice, talkative lady, who seemed to be up in years, always called back. If fact she even called when we had not arrived by 5:00 PM on our arrival day.

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We found Terrace View about one mile off the end of Interstate 51, near Tomahawk, Wisconsin. As we pulled in, the owner, Lin, was shooing the wild turkeys away that were right in front of us. She instructed us where to park, and told us to get set up, before coming to pay. She honored the “old” Passport America rate of $15.87.

We learned that she had owned the campground since 1967. At age 19, Lin and her husband Ken (a soap chemist), both from Aurora, IL were camping at Terrace View when they noticed a sign that read “For Sale.” Upon inquiry the current owner asked them to come back in the morning, likely assuming they were not serious. In the morning they did come back and agreed on a price and down payment. They have been running the campground as owners for 48 years.

Lin and Tom. She did not want her pic taken but I had already done the deed!

Lin and Tom. She did not want her pic taken but I had already done the deed!

On my inquiry, Lin indicated that in 1967, they knew nothing about running a campground and even very little about camping. They called their campground “Old Style Camping.” Ken passed away this year, but Lin is keeping the campground running. It is a nice setting on Lake Muskellunge with daily, seasonal, and yearly sites available. Kayak rental is $5/hour, life jacket included, and of course you can pay after you go kayaking. Lin and Ken seemed to have found and created their own bit of Paradise.

Much better than life in a cubical or an office….

Awesome Lake Superior.

Awesome Lake Superior.

This is a long blog I know but I only have one more story. We set our goal for this trip to see Lake Superior again, and we did.

We made plans with Sally and Jim, our neighbors and friends, to see their homes in Drummond and Hayward. I had been thinking of purchasing a summer place and wanted to get a feel for their lives in the communities. They had just sold their home on five acres near Hayward. I did not imagine that the setting would be so beautiful because it was supposedly “in town.”

Three floors of log-living!

Three floors of log-living!

Their new house in Drummond is a magnificent log-home on a very quiet and private lake. It is a perfect setting for a writer or anyone who wants to recharge.

Hillary at work at her computer in the motorhome!

Hillary at work at her computer in the motorhome!

Their hospitality was beyond generous. They fed us the first evening and for the next two days we toured (Sally drove) around the areas including Ashland and the rim of Lake Superior.

Jim and Sally's welcoming dining room!

Jim and Sally’s welcoming dining room!

We never imagined that people would hide their restaurants down long lonely lanes behind groves of one hundred feet tall trees. Nor could we imagine that people preferred gravel roads to paved because it kept people off of them. We could not live in most of the areas around Drummond because the roads would harm our motorhome. So the gravel philosophy works.  Go figure!

This has been a great trip from beginning to end. We passed through many little towns with hundred-year-old buildings that had been repurposed.

Here is a Brownstone in Ashland!

Here is a Brownstone in Ashland!

Tom grew up in Wisconsin and did not know (nor I) that there are 15,000 lakes in Wisconsin. Take a look at Northern and Eastern Wisconsin on the map. You could probably afford to buy one of those lakes. He He!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge and Thomas C. Hemling

Posted in Baker Park Reserve, Discounts on campgrounds, Minnesota, Motorhome, Rving across America, Wisconsin | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Kohler Kingdom and a Renegade Catholic Priest

Tom is sitting a bridge that was the bed of an old train car. How creative!

Tom is sitting a bridge that was the bed of an old train car. How creative!

DeLaval gifted Tom two rounds of golf for both of us at Whistling Straights in Wisconsin when he left the company. (Thank you DeLaval and boss, Tony.) Click on Whistling Straights to view courses, and of course, rates that will shock your socks off.

This is the impressive image designed for Black Wolf Run!

This is the impressive image designed for Black Wolf Run!

We played the Meadows Valley and were going to play the Irish, but rain cancelled our second round. Before the golf, I argued with Tom to turn in the gifts for the cash. We could play several rounds of golf at local courses with the money. I did not know the reputation of the courses. But Tom did, and he wanted to play some of the best courses in the country.

Think of yourself tooling down this fairway.

Think of yourself tooling down this fairway.

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A copper river ran through the golf course!

This cottage housed the restrooms on the course. No porta-potties for us!

This cottage housed the restrooms on the course. No porta-potties for us!

In the middle of play at Meadows (our first course), we heard tornado sirens and then thunder forced us off the course.

During the lull in action, we had to hang out at the Black Wolf Run ClubHouse. So we toured around the pro-facility. It had more clothing and doo-dads than I have ever seen at a golf course. Tom looked at a windbreaker for $400 and golf shirts started at $95. Certainly the “brand” was well-known to a lot of people (other than me) or they couldn’t charge that much for the “stuff.” I think we would have to rent out our RV in order to purchase anything at that course!!!

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

Whistling Straights is owned by Kohler. Wait a minute? Do they make toilets and restroom furniture? Yes, this is the same Kohler. Kohler is king near Sheboygan. They own hotels and just about anything else you could think of that would make money. What an experience! just being in the aura of Kohler. Next time, when we go back for our second round, we will investigate some of the Kohler factories.

So cool! The old growth forest was amazing!

So cool! The old growth forest was amazing!

During our stay at Kohler-Andrae State Park (Yes, the very same Kohler.) we discovered the Sheboygan Indian Mound Park. Right in the middle of a neighborhood of houses, the enlightened garden club of Sheboygan preserved these mounds.

dscf2112We have seen many different types of burial mounds, even on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, but these mounds were very different. They were not round but in the image of many different animals. As you toured the park, they outlined each mound and its animal figure. No one knows why there are images of animals above the graves. I wonder if they believed that they would be the “animal” in their next life?

Here is a plat of the site with outlines of the animal mounds!

Here is an outline the site with outlines of the animal mounds!

We are in Wisconsin and both Tom and I wanted to buy local fresh cheese. We found a store in Gibbsville.  Gibbsville is in the middle of farm country. Tom purchased enough cheese to feed us for a year. It is always a treat to visit a cheese plant and watch the manufacturing of cheese.

Cheese galore!

Cheese galore!

Look at all that cheese!

Look at all that cheese!

Before I met Tom, I rarely ate cheese –oh maybe those single slices by Kraft–now, I am a cheese head too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had very interesting experiences as we trucked around Wisconsin. In Reedsville we stopped to compare two churches that were just blocks apart but looked exactly the same from the road. This led us to explore a cemetery with graves dating back to 1830. In Two Rivers we took a break to appreciate Lake Michigan which seemed to stretch all the way to the ends of the earth. Water and sky blended together.  We even learned about a renegade Catholic priest who left Germany to begin a commune in Wisconsin.

St. Nazianz was organized in 1854 as a religious colony by a group of German immigrants, led by Father Ambrose Oschwald, a Roman Catholic priest. The first settlers in the Oschwald group numbered 113 and came to the United States from the Black Forest of Baden, Germany, seeking religious freedom. (Wikipedia)

And along the route, we scanned properties wondering if we would move to Wisconsin or buy a summer place some day.

Dream on….

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

Posted in Camping, Meadows Golf Course, Motorhome, Rving across America, Whistling Straights, Wisconsin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ketchup with the Hemling Kin!

Fantastic family gather at Kohler-Andrea Park near Sheboygan, Wisconsin!

A gorgeous bunch of kin!

A gorgeous bunch of kin!

The first Hemling Reunion made history a couple of days ago.  Interesting and handsome people caught up with each other.  As someone said, “This is great!  It is not a funeral or a wedding!”  We spent the day eating brats and eating Italian sausages and talking and talking.  Many of the folk wanted a tour of our motorhome!  Some wanted to move in with us! (He! He! Not really!)