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

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:12.0pt;
font-family:Cambria;
mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Posted in Uncategorized, National Parks, St. George Utah | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

Posted in Music in Kansas City | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in St. Croix and the Virgin Islands | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

 

 

 

 

 

20161209_112827_001

 

 

 

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

Posted in St. Croix | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

 

 

Posted in Igor and the Red Elvises | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Truman Library, Veteran's Day, Vietnam War | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

dscf2456

 

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

 

 

Posted in Buffalo Soldiers, Fort Leavenworth | Tagged , | 1 Comment

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!

dscf2381

Can you see me right at his feet?

dscf2359

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!

dscf2187

 

 

 

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!

 

Posted in First Nations, Minnesota, Wisconsin | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

dscf2146

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

dscf2055

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!)

It made me a little teary-eyed to see this announcement!

It made me a little teary-eyed to see this announcement!

Five missed kin could not make the gathering.  We hope they will have time to come next year!  We departed with smiles on our faces.  It was great to find out what everyone was up to these days.  No one mentioned Clinton or Trump so there were no fist fights!

A glimpse of Kohler-Andrea Park on Lake Michigan! What a sight!

A glimpse of Kohler-Andrea Park on Lake Michigan! What a sight!

The next day our mission was to visit Mom (Jan) Hemling who is now in a dementia unit in Kaukauna near Appleton, Tom’s home town.  I was a bit afraid because the last time I saw her she was doing fine in assisted-living.  We found Mom Hemling sitting at a table by herself.  She was playing with a basket of stuffed animals.  We asked her questions and sometimes she answered with a “no” or a “yes.”  She did not remember her children and I don’t think she knew us.  Listening to her try to speak reminded me of children when they are learning to talk.  They seem to put the end of the sentence first and then jumble the word order.

Mom Hemling and Tom discussing the Packard games!

Mom Hemling and Tom discussing the Packard games!

As we sat there, I was mystified by younger men (much younger than me) who sat in silence and had to be fed.  One man looked like he should be on a golf course or in an executive suite.  An assertive patient introduced himself and we found out later that he had been a priest.  An older wheelchair bound man wore a square hat and I wondered if he had been a Bishop or Cardinal.  After kissing Mom Hemling and walking down the hallway, I looked back at the old Bishop and waved.  He waved back.  The attendant who opened the locked door for us asked me if I was sure that I wanted to leave.  I did not.  I wanted to go back and help those people.  But …

Later that day we visited (in Combined Locks) Carla (Tom’s older sister), her husband Tom, and Carrie–a young, beautiful blonde these days.

The big screens covered every wall of the restaurant!

The big screens covered every wall of the restaurant!

In the evening we swung by Holidays in Sheboygan, a sports bar managed by Tom’s nephew, John.  He was happy to see us and gave us the low down on the property.  It has 16 television screens.  One of them is (I think) two stories high.  The tables are arranged like a

Here's John managing everything from behind the bar!

Here’s John managing everything from behind the bar!

stadium so that everyone can see all of the television screens.  I thought –Gee–if you wanted to learn how to knit or crochet–this would be the place to come because you could see every stitch from every direction.  He He!  Of course, the whole place was designed for sport’s bashes.

Class C Motorhome with a small trailer in back with beds for children.

Class C Motorhome with a small trailer in back with beds for children.

Last note!  I have seen a lot of different configurations of contraptions in which people camp.  In Mukwonago near Waukesha, right across from us, was a small Class C motorhome that was pulling a small trailer.  The parents stayed in the Class C and the children stayed in the small trailer.  I suspect that they are homeless for a lot of reasons.  This campground cost about $35 a night.  But, after weeks camping in a National Forest for $7 a night without water or showers, people need to clean up, and they may head for a private campground where the grass is green and cut!

Coming next is a post about our tourist adventures at Whistling Straights and more!  Read the recent post on “Cruise Crunchies!”  It might brighten your day.

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

Posted in Camping, Motorhome, Rving across America, Wisconsin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cruise Crunchies. What not to do on a Cruise!

This is totem heaven!

This is totem heaven!

Tom and I have been cruising for at least 25 years. One of things that you soon discover when you cruise is that the ship is a microcosm of the planet. You might have passengers speaking 60 different languages and the crew even more. If you like traveling this can be a real thrill as you meet people from other countries to which you have never traveled. You hear points of view about politics and world affairs that you never see or hear on the news. But it also can be a nightmare! Cultures can clash as people live out their own customs and idiosyncrasies on the ship. Sometimes it can be a real challenge to survive the bombardment of so many cultures and customs at one time.  You can find people hovering in small private areas of the ship just to find their own private space.

The tongue in cheek observations below are a compilation of experiences we have had over the years. They can be identified with no particular ship but in reality they are true of every cruise ship. Throughout this piece, I am including the topics about which I lectured on our recent cruise to Alaska. They are only for visual effect.

What not to do on a cruise! Or, what to do on a cruise to make everyone’s vacation a little brighter.

  1. Juneau for blogDon’t smoke marijuana in the casino and sneak and smoke it in the restrooms.
  1. Don’t brag about how much you paid for your suite while others may be languishing in an inside cabin without air.
  1. Don’t wear silver high heels and a mink coat to breakfast or to the pool.
  1. Don’t get a facelift during your cruise.
  1. Do get off the ship once in a while.
  1. Don’t reach over the top of someone who is serving himself. Don’t touch anyone at the buffet.
  1. Don’t hover over the dessert bar as if you are protecting your children.
  1. Don’t guard the hot tub or leave behind your stuff to stake out territory anywhere on the ship.
  1. Don’t allow your children to go wild in your cabin. Remember, you have neighbors.

    The book on this page is so much fun to read!

    The book on this page is so much fun to read!

  1. Don’t talk so loud that the captain twelve levels up can hear you.
  1. Don’t allow your children to sleep on deck or wander the ship alone or with gangs.
  1. Don’t place your child in the middle of the room of an adult event and ask the child to dance.
  1. Don’t steal towels.
  1. Don’t steal merchandise that is for sale on the ship.
  1. Don’t start drinking alcohol at 5:30 a.m. in the morning and begin partying your brains out while others are trying to have breakfast.
  1. Do wear clothing in the pool.
  1. Don’t imagine that everything will work our perfectly and the food will be scrumptious all of the time.
  1. Don’t treat your cabin steward with disdain. Give her/him a big tip!
  1. Don’t use the elevator as your own playground.
  1. Don’t follow band members back to their rooms.
  1. Don’t drink all the items in the mini-bar and then replace the cans as if you did not drink them.
  1. Don’t request several extra beds for your cabin.
  1. Don’t eat all of your meals in your room.
  1. Don’t sun yourself in a thong or bikini right in front of the children’s pool.

    A stunning experience!

    A stunning experience!

  1. Don’t play games on the ship that ask you to take off your pants.
  1. Don’t wear your wife’s bra–even if you think it is funny!
  1. Don’t listen to the announcements by the Cruise Director, he is usually high on something.
  1. Don’t worship the captain, remember your bill for alcohol and excursions is adding to his bonus!
  1. Don’t sit at someone’s table and talk so loud in another language that the current people at the table cannot hear each other.
  1. Don’t sit in a chair wearing a wet bathing suit and leave the cloth chair dripping wet.
  1. Don’t walk so fast behind someone that you step on their sandals and pull them off.
  1. Don’t spread your arms at the buffet in front of several dishes of food– as if you own them.
  1. Don’t pile enough food on your table for a family of four for a month.
  1. Don’t brag about the $2000 excursion you took in the morning.
  1. Do take a shower!

36.  Don’t stay drunk during the entire cruise!

37.  Do report employees of the cruise line fighting in the hallway.

38.  Do understand that many of the employees only get a few hours of sleep every night and that they are not functioning at their best.

39.  Don’t expect Guest Services to be helpful!

40.  Do discover if the entire ship will be Spanish “only.”

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

 

 

Posted in Alaska, Cruise Crunchies, Problems in cruises, What not to do on a cruise | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Taste of the Netherlands in Pella, Iowa

Lake Superior or Bust!

Delft Pottery from the Netherlands!

Delft Pottery from the Netherlands!

We are camping at Army Corps of Engineer’s campgrounds as we head north. Last night we stayed at Dam Overlook at Lake Red Rock in Iowa which cost $8.00. It was a very peaceful place.

There were no tulips today!

There were no tulips today!

 

 

Nearby was the Dutch city of Pella. We just had a window replaced in our Hearth room, and it was a Pella!! Go figure!  This is the place where they manufactured it.

A replica of a city in Holland!

A replica of a city in Holland!

They even preserved an old Masonic Temple. My father was a Mason.

They even preserved an old Masonic Temple. My father was a Mason.

 

 

We had read a little bit about the taste of Dutch country in Pella, but did not realize how beautiful it was. It was a lot of fun eating pastries at the Jaarsma Bakery and touring the town. Tom bought Dutch bologna and I bought a Delft set of cups!

At one time, the largest Windmill in the USA was in Pella.

At one time, the largest Windmill in the USA was in Pella.

Tom and I have both been to the Netherlands, and the architecture of this little town certainly reflects Holland. Like Holland, Michigan they have a tulip festival every year. What a treat–in the middle of Iowa!

More Dutch architecture!

More Dutch architecture!

 

Old world art in Pella!

Old world art in Pella!

 

dscf1983

North of Iowa City is Coralville with a Devonian Fossil Gorge. We were pleased to discover that the fossil beds were right next to the Dam Complex campground where we are staying– ($10 a night.) The dam was built by the Army Corps in 1958.

Fantastic fossils!

Fantastic fossils!

In 1993, there was a huge flood that lasted for almost a month and it ripped a campground right off its foundation. The flood uncovered millions/billions of fossils. Then, another flood happened in 2008 that swept away those fossils and uncovered other fossils. The fossil bed today is about a 100 feet deep so it should last many more storms.

What a nice place to camp! Thanks to the Army Corps!

What a nice place to camp! Thanks to the Army Corps!

We loved following the fossil trail. The Army Corps and friends have created an audio tour you can access on your phone. It was like having a personal guide with us! We were tempted to bring some of the fossils home, but like good troopers we left them for others to see! This is a great spot to vacation with family and friends. High above us is a beautiful beach and the dam with a visitor’s center!

Coming on 9/20/16 will be a post entitled “Cruise Crunchies!”  This is a piece about what not to do on a cruise and it contains some really funny “don’ts” and observations of passengers over the last 25 years!  If you have ever cruised or want to cruise, you might like to read this piece.

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

And Marla bought a new pair of shoes! He he!

And Marla bought a new pair of shoes! He he!

 

 

Posted in Camping, Discounts on campgrounds, Iowa, Rving across America | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bringing Dyea Back to Life!!!

The Yukon Gold Rush Comes Alive!

img_1421One hundred and nineteen years ago Dyea, Alaska was a thriving goldrush outpost to the Yukon with 5,000-8,000 people. Most of us have seen old photos of  100K (Some say that only 50K made it!)) making their way up the Chilkoot trail or Dead Horse Gulch where hundreds of horses died or jumped to their death.

Downtown Skagway

Downtown Skagway

The last time we visited Skagway, we drove our rented car to the edge of the road to Dyea. We were a little afraid to drive the road because it looked so bad. This time, we went for it!

Dyea is about 10 miles from Skagway, but it is a long ten miles on roads that are only large enough for one vehicle. Pulling over or stopping for another vehicle to attempt to pass took a lot of time.

Today Dyea has been claimed by the government and is the “Klondike Goldrush National Historic Park.” (Watch this video!)  We did not know what we would find. A woman that we had met on our way back from the Yukon told us to go to Dyea and visit the cemetery. It was worth the trek. So we took her advice!map_dyea_1

img_1468

 

What we found at Dyea was amazing. The National Park Service was preserving the old site. They had found an old plat of the town and were carving roads through the middle of a very thick rain forest. We followed a map that led us to and described historic sites. Not much was left of the old town.

 

Only one storefront remained!

Only one storefront remained!

The woods a dark and deep!

The woods are dark and deep!

As we walked through Dyea, we were amazed at the trees, undergrowth, and mushrooms. The ground felt like we were walking on cushioned peat. We have only experienced this in Ireland and in northern Alaska. If you have a good backpack, you can still walk the old Chilkoot Trail!

 

dscf1577

This is Tom's size 12 foot next to a mushroom! They were everywhere!

This is Tom’s size 12 foot next to a mushroom! They were everywhere!

At a propped up storefront we were informed that store owners built storefronts to make the town look like it was full of stable buildings. Attached to the storefronts would be tents or makeshift rooms. No wonder the buildings failed.

We found Mrs. Pullen’s barn where she kept her horses. Harriet was one of the most famous women in Skagway, and perhaps, I will tell her story later. There was also a site where a boat had fallen apart!

The giant arms of the trees reached out to us.

The giant arms of the trees reached out to us.

 

At the other edge of Dyea was the Slide Cemetery. (See history of cemetery at this link.) On April 3, 1898 over seventy prospectors were killed in an avalanche on Chilkoot Trail. Markers remember some of those young men, even from Kansas! Over 1,000 women had gold fever too, but we did not see any female names on the graves!

dscf1576

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably in a few years, the National Park Service will have constructed a replica of Dyea for everyone to visit.

Skagway is now a wonderfully preserved historic park which keeps the Whitehorse Railway and Yukon Goldrush story alive and well.

We can’t be more grateful for the work done by the National Park Service!

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

 

 

Posted in Alaska, Dyea, National Park Service, Skagway, Slide Cemetery, Yukon, Yukon Goldrush | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Juneau, the Treadwell Mine, and Sheep Creek Mary

DSCF1048 The real draw of Juneau isn’t the legacy of Sarah Palin. It has always been the Mendenhall Glacier. Since Tom and I have been to Juneau many times, we decided to take a different trail this time. We took the local bus for two dollars across the Gastineau Bay to Douglas Island. At the very end of the island are the remains of the Treadwell Mine. Our bus driver was very helpful and told us the times he would be back at our stop.

Treadwell himself!

Treadwell himself!

Office Building that is still standing at Treadwell.

Office Building that is still standing at Treadwell.

There is a non-profit group, Treadwell Historic and Preservation Society,  that is trying to create an outdoor museum of the old mine and they are well on their way. We hiked through the rain forest to discover signs next to the remains of metal and cement buildings. We found the metal building where they kept the gold. We found the glory hole that exploded and flooded 700 mines in 1917 but a fence kept us clear of it. That was a dangerous place and water still flowed into it. One of the mines had dug down 2400 feet below sea level. They went too far. So many of the shafts were connected or close to each other that they all flooded.

The mine that blew up!

The mine that blew up!

Old building at Treadwell.

Old building at Treadwell.

Walking the Treadwell path felt a little weird. It was like opening up a tomb. Brick and metal were coming out of the ground in many places. You could see some of the outlines of the burned buildings. They have plans to

Remains of Treadwell.

Remains of Treadwell.

preserve both the pump house and the main office building.

This is Sandy Beach with lots of debris from the old mine.

This is Sandy Beach with lots of debris from the old mine.

As we walked through the forest, it came out to Sandy Beach. While Treadwell burned down a hundred years ago, remains are still found everywhere on the beach. I picked up a metal ingot, a piece of brick, and Tom found half of a plate. We were stepping into the past for the moment. What an experience! This would be such a wonderful place to do an archaeological dig.

DSCF1086

The beautiful pump house!

I also wondered about the environmental effects on Juneau with all the mining. They say that there are shafts under all of Juneau? I wonder about the soil and the water? I wonder if they are studying it for hazards? I found fourteen Superfund sites in Juneau and one of them is the Treadwell Mine.

Chief Cowee but Mary is no where in sight!

Chief Cowee but Sheep Creek Mary is no where in sight!

During our trips to Juneau we also hiked to the graves of Chief Cowee, Joe Juneau, and Richard Harris who found the “gold” and founded Harrisburg/Juneau. Although some researchers contend that it was Sheep Creek Mary who really found the gold. Going up the hill in Juneau we found a stone tribute to Juneau and Harris that was in the wrong place on our Juneau map and then stopped by the governor’s mansion.

We are mindful that the First Nations Tlingits, Haida, and Tsimshians claimed this land as their own long before the Russians and the U.S.A.

Tribute to Juneau and Harris!

Tribute to Juneau and Harris!

In prior years, we have hiked the Totem trail around Juneau that takes you to about 20 totems, but we did not do it this time. We chose to visit Mendenhall again. For another two dollars we sped out on the local bus to the glacier. Other bus excursions offered by the cruise line or by others were $45 and $30 a person so

Weary Mendenhall Glacier that is shrinking!

Weary Mendenhall Glacier that is shrinking!

we saved a lot of cash. This time at Mendenhall there were no bears and everything looked a little weary. Mendenhall is receding and the park itself needs a little updating. But the three mile hike from the bus and back was really a lot of fun. Riding with the locals is always a treat.

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

Posted in Alaska, Gold Mines, Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier, Saving Money on a Cruise | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hoonah a Heavenly Place

The beauty of this place is beyond words. You had to be there to feel and breathe the air.

The beauty of this place is beyond words. You had to be there to feel and breathe the air.

Tlingit Totem in Hoonah.

Tlingit Totem in Hoonah.

I like the idea of visiting a First Nations land. I am 25% Cherokee (my grandmother was full-blood) and understand the trauma and poverty that came with being a Native American. Hoonah is Tlingit territory and over the years it has really become a welcome destination. It has prospered and so have the Tlingits.

A remarkable walk on a mile and a half sidewalk.

A remarkable walk on a mile and a half sidewalk.

The walk along the harbor and into the town has to be one of the most beautiful walks in the world. We have traveled to many countries and walked many streets and paths, but the austere natural beauty of the bay is unmatchable. There was the clear water, the touchable clouds, the dark mountains, the Bald Eagles, Humpback  whales, and crisp clean air.

A proud Eagle looks down upon us. He was there for hours.

A proud Eagle looks down upon us. He was there for hours.

We have been to Hoonah many times and each time there is more development. In town I stopped at the local grocery store to buy a drink. There was an old man sitting on the bench and I asked him if the store had WIFI. He did not know. But, he continued to talk to me about the old days before he became blind. It seemed important to him to continue talking with me.

It was on this very bench that I had the conversation with the angels.

It was on this very bench that I had the conversation with Kenny and the Deacon.

Hoonah has a precious very old Russian Orthodox Church. As I walked into town, I thought that they had torn it down because I could not find it. While talking with Kenny, the blind man, a guy came up and asked Kenny if he needed a ride home. Kenny told him that he had just called a cab. I wondered who would have a cab company in a village of about two hundred people?

Russian Orthodox Church in need of a lot of repair.

Russian Orthodox Church in need of a lot of repair.

I asked the men about the Russian Orthodox Church? To my surprise, I was talking with the new Deacon who offered Kenny a ride. I did not get his name. The young man explained that his father had been the priest at the old church and he had come back home to restore it. How do these things happen? Here I am talking with the Deacon of the church I could not find.

Deacon's house. I would rather sleep in a tent.

Deacon’s house. I would rather sleep in a tent.

He told me to keep walking and the church was behind trees that should be cut down. He said that he had finally obtained enough wood to fix the old church. Kenny asked him where he was living. He told us that he was living in the small green house overlooking the bay. It did not have water, electricity, air, or heat. I asked if he had a generator and he said he could not afford one.

After the young man left, Kenny turned to me and said, “People change. You wouldn’t believe his earlier life. He is a very kind man.”

Hoonah is too beautiful!

Hoonah is too beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking into Hoonah, I think I met two angels.

 

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Post about Treadwell Mine is under construction.  Coming soon!

Posted in Alaska | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Adventures of Tom in Alaska

Tom’s Adventures in Alaska

Snorkeling in Ketchikan

Tell me, who would ever think of snorkeling in Alaska? Alaska is an adventure state, but snorkeling? So while I was visiting the totem mecca of the universe: Saxman, Potlatch Park, and Totem Bight State Historical Park (by local bus), Tom was squeezing into a wet suit and snorkeling in a cove off the coast of Ketchikan.

Below are Tom’s title and words of this adventure.

Tom is squeezed into a wet suit.

Tom is squeezed into a wet suit.

Snorkeling in Alaska (or how to avoid Another Bloody Totem tour)

If someone started to tell you a story about snorkeling in Alaska, your first impulse would be to assume that they are starting to tell you some kind of joke. The same reaction you would have if they said “a Jew, a Catholic and a Muslim went into a bar.”

I can report that there really are snorkeling adventures in Alaska; Ketchikan to be specific. I partook of snorkeling trip on August 15. The water was reported to be a balmy 59oF (14oC). The professionally run outfitters at Mountain Point Snorkeling Adventures provided wetsuits and instructions on how to squeeze into these contraptions. Fully protected, we waded into the waters of Ketchikan Bay and while snorkeling for 80 minutes saw numerous fish, starfish of many colors, and more shellfish than your local seafood market.

The wetsuits did their job nicely. I would highly recommend anyone to take a cruise on the inside passage from Vancouver to Alaska, and after seeing all the beauty on land, why not give snorkeling a try. Now let me tell you about snow-shoeing on a glacier in Jamaica.”

Kayaking in Hoonah

Snorkeling with others!

Snorkeling with others!

Hoonah is in the Icy Straight in the inner passage to Alaska. We stopped at this port when we had to tender in boats in order to reach land. Now Hoonah harbor is first rate. There used to be only one old building that looked like a big barn, a community house, and a zip-line. Now restaurants, a mini-mall, a museum, offers of bear and whale watching and kayaking are offered to tourists.

Kayaking with the whales!!!

Kayaking with the whales!!!

I chose to walk to the town of Hoonah which was about 2 miles from the ship. I will write about my experiences later. Tom decided to kayak for about three hours in the bay with about nine other adventurists.

Mountains touch the sky when you are gliding across the water. Before Tom could get his paddle wet, someone yelled “whales!” What? Tom is kayaking in the water and there are whales. Yes, there were three whales circling the huge bay. All at once boats scooted across the waves over toward where the kayakers were hanging out.

Tom, as usual, was separated a little from the kayakers, so I thought, the whale is going to come up under him. Fear is a mild word for what I was feeling. They were spouting everywhere, it seemed. Tales were flying in the air. But Tom says that he was not afraid. He was thrilled to be so close to the very cold water and paddling with the Humpback whales. The whales did not harm anyone. (They were about 66,000 pounds each.) They sort of danced around everyone for about a half hour. It seemed as if they knew I was worried, and swam toward me which was about fifty feet from where I was watching the drama!

Flying in a Bush Plane to Misty Fjord

Tom standing on pontoon of the bush plane!!!

Tom standing on pontoon of the bush plane!!!

Tom’s last adventure was at Ketchikan on our return cruise. Owners of bush planes were offering flights into Misty Fjord and Tongass National Monument.  I was not too keen on the adventure. I had on some of our past cruises flown in a small jet to Tikal, circled Mt. Everest, and the Artic Circle. I was content with enjoying Ketchikan for the day. Misty Fjord is not accessible by anything but a plane. The bush plane circled around the fjords and then landed in the middle of one. Tom trekked outside to stand on the pontoon on the plane for a photo. “Gorgeous” is a word Tom used to describe the landscape.

Hovering over a Fjord!

Hovering over a Fjord!

Cockpit of the plane!

Cockpit of the plane!

Besides the pilot, there were three other passengers in the plane plus Tom. There was no attendant to hand out drinks and peanuts!! Photographs were taken by the pilot!  What fun!  More coming on Alaska soon!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Alaska, Ketchikan, Snorkeling, Whales | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Navigating Hubbard Glacier from the Bridge

Turning Back Toward Vancouver

 

My first time working from the bridge of a cruise ship.

My first time working from the bridge of a cruise ship.

The last day of the first cruise is upon us. In high seas we entered Yakutat Bay heading for Hubbard Glacier. It looks out over Disenchantment Bay, rising 300 feet above sea level and settling at the bottom of the bay at 1300 feet. Hubbard is 75 miles long and six miles wide. It begins at the top of Mount Elias at 18K feet.

My task early this morning was to help 2,000 passengers (800 employees) on the ship to understand the experience of visiting Hubbard. Tom and I were escorted to the bridge where I was given a microphone. That was it. They handed me a microphone and my voice began to arrest people out of bed and onto the decks. Tom stood by with his binoculars with helpful hints to discuss as we made our way through Disenchantment Bay.

Hubbard Glacier calving. This is the longest tidewater glacier in Alaska, and its open calving face is over ten kilometers (6 miles) wide. The face rises an average of about 200 meters (600 feet) above the water (Disenchantment Bay). The ice chuck that just fell and produced this splash was over 100 meters (300 feet) high, or the height of a 25-story building. The glacier routinely calves off icebergs the size of a ten-story building.

Hubbard Glacier calving. This is the longest tidewater glacier in Alaska, and its open calving face is over ten kilometers (6 miles) wide. The face rises an average of about 200 meters (600 feet) above the water (Disenchantment Bay). The ice chuck that just fell and produced this splash was over 100 meters (300 feet) high, or the height of a 25-story building. The glacier routinely calves off icebergs the size of a ten-story building.

So for almost three hours I helped the passengers to understand the history, politics, and activities of the Hubbard. The grand experience of a glacier is in its calving. This is when tons of ice fall off the face of the glacier into the bay. Calving could be caused by a number of influences like global warming. But…Hubbard is not receding, it is growing almost 80 feet a day.

While doing the research for my presentations on the ship, I was mindful of First Nations always, because the land was taken from them by the Russians and later sold to the United States around 1859. You know, “Seward’s Folly.”

Archaeologists have discovered several seal camps and evidence of occupation by the Yakatat Tlingits that goes back to the 18th century. This research done by the National Science Foundation will allow them to claim ownership and also reparation funds from the federal government.

Passengers were ecstatic. Even in the rain, they were making signs of hugging the glacier. We talked about ice worms, ice fleas, scientific expeditions to study Hubbard, types of glaciers, the blockage of Russel Fjord by Hubbard, the great flood, and the blue color of glaciers.

The bridge is high-tech with sonar and radar and much, much, more!

The bridge is high-tech with sonar and radar and much, much, more!

The bridge was staffed with many people including the Captain, two additional pilots, and a man with binoculars that kept his eyes peeled on the icebergs floating around us. It was a unique experience. Later the ship’s activities’ assistant called and complimented me on my narration. While finally eating breakfast at 10:30 a.m. we learned that my next presentation on Skagway had been moved to 11:15. We scrambled.

I did not know that I would have to narrate on the bridge and … now, I will have to do it again in a couple of days. We are so fortunate that Royal Caribbean invited me to lecture and experience not only Alaska once again, but competent and courteous people on the bridge of our ship. What a week! What a challenge! Tomorrow we rent a car and revisit some of the roads we have traveled in an RV north of Seward.

Today we stopped at the new Seward Library before heading back to the ship.  They have free WI-FI!  We also rented a car and made a pilgrimage to Portage Valley and the Blue Ice Trail —our favorite place to camp—in the whole world!!!

As we make the turn at Seward, we will retrace our ports again, heading back to Vancouver. Future posts will combine those days together as we visit, Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Hoonah, and more.

As a way of ending this blog, I would like to share a thought from a Yakatat Tlingit.

Hubbard Glacier “became the caretakers of these foreign people that were coming down to settle upon [our] land…. It was a foreign country. They didn’t know how to live. The spirits of that place adopted them. They adopted the young ones. They showed them in spirit how to hunt seal and they became part of that glacier. They became friends of the spirit of the glacier.” The Tlingits call Hubbard Sit’ Tlein.

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

Posted in Alaska, Camping, Hubbard Glacier, Portage Valley, Tlingits | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sparkling Vancouver, British Columbia

The City of Glass Sparkles

How much wealth is here?

How much wealth is here?

The builders of Vancouver had to have come from Hong Kong, because it could be its sister city.  High rise buildings gleam with a greenish-colored glass just like Hong Kong. And it seems as if the city is 80% Asian but the net says about 34%.  I think it is wrong!

Anyone ever eat one of these?

Anyone ever eat one of these?

We heard very few people speak English.  It reminded us of our trip to Egypt long ago where we couldn’t hear anyone speaking English.  When we did hear English, we headed straight toward the traveling women, and made them our friends.  Tom says that there are a lot of foreigners here.  I reminded him that we are foreigners here!!!

I think Vancouver is becoming one of my favorite cities.  We have been here several times in the past, and Tom was stranded here for more than a week during 9/11.

Not too many of these guys walking the streets!

Not too many of these guys walking the streets!

The city-planners wanted people to live good and healthy lives.  So they planted green space all around the city.  It has no super highways but lots of public transportation.  The city itself is a peninsula surrounded by water.  It reminds me of my home in Michigan.  Blueish-black mountains cradle the port of Vancouver.  It is a lovely sight indeed. More than 2 million people live in the area.

This, along with other eery paintings, was outside of a church!

This, along with other eery paintings, was outside of a church!

The city itself is vibrant and beautiful with clean streets and polite residents and visitors.  There are hundreds of restaurants, places to shop, places to visit, and things to do.  Tom and I prefer getting to  know a city, you know, its people, its food, its architecture, its natural surroundings, before we visit museums.  We head to museums only when the weather forces us to go indoors.

Today we visited Granville Island–what food, what a shoreline, what fun!  We took the “Hop-on  Hop-off bus.”  This  bus is a great way to visit a lot of  places in the city for only a little cash.

We walked out to Vanier Park on Granville island where we saw dozens of dogs playing in the water.  There were a lot of pit bulls?  Probably the most memorable sight was a hefty woman walking past us with stilt boots, wearing only a small halter and a thong.  I tried to catch up to her to take her photo but … she vanished.  Where did she go?

Canada Place -- so beautiful!

Canada Place — so beautiful!

Tomorrow we will join our cruise at Canada Place.  Words cannot describe the splendor of this port and its surroundings.  Bicyclists whiz by on a trail that takes you over 17 miles around the city.  Yesterday we walked from Canada Place to Stanley Park to find the Totems and experience the ships, the hydro-planes, and a lot more. Oh, it is 70 degrees with sunshine.  What a relief from Missouri weather!

I think this was produced by the Haida.

I think this was produced by the Haida.

We are so lucky to be able to have this experience.

Unfortunately I will not be able to write about our cruise until we return from Alaska.  WIFI on board the ship is slow and costly and I could easily spend up to $100 when creating one of these blogs.  The images would not download.  I have some great photos from today that we will share with you soon.

So we will be back on the trail in a few weeks.

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

Posted in Canada | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cruising on the Cheap

How to Save money on a Cruise!

The views are fabulous!

The views are fabulous!

Twenty-five years ago Tom and I sailed on our first cruise to the southern Caribbean.  It was expensive.  It was high-end and it was wonderful!  The food was very tasty!  The ship was clean!  The amenities, like movies in your room, ice cream at midnight, dance lessons, aerobics, and great music were to die for!

We sailed for a week and I did not want to leave the ship.  They had fed us, cleaned our room, made our bed, provided entertainment, taken us to new places, and allowed us to rest.  I thought I was in heaven.

A quarter of a century later, cruises have changed.  They cost less.  They don’t serve high-end food unless you pay extra, and the experience is more cafeteria than elegant.  They charge for most things we received FREE!  But…if you have never cruised, I, in spite of the changes, highly recommend people to step into the waters.

Cruises do not have to cost an arm and a leg.  Here are a few tips on buying a cruise and cruising.

Booking a Cruise

Try booking the cruise through the cruise line and not with an agent.  Sometimes agents have lower prices so you can make the decision.  Don’t be tricked into booking through a website that looks like it is the cruise line.  Keep your eyes scanning the prices!

Book Early.  Cruises are posted at least a year before they happen.  Plan at least a year and a half ahead.  We just booked a river cruise that was a two-for with air that cost only $300 to Budapest.  It will happen in November of 2017.  Many times all you have to do is give the cruise line a small deposit.  When you book early, they usually add incentives like photo-ops or money to spend on board the ship.  Scan the cruise lines.  I used to advise people to wait until a few weeks before the sailing, but ships are selling out and the price keeps going up.  If you keep your ears to the ground you can book a 7 day cruise for about $500-600 a person for an inside cabin.

Book an Inside Cabin.

We actually booked a cabin like this one. Thank goodness they upgraded us!

We actually booked a cabin like this one. Thank goodness they upgraded us!

You spent most of your time outside of your cabin, why do you need to spend extra money for extra space when you have the space of two football fields to wander?   Many times if you book early, the cruiseline will upgrade you before you depart because they have sold too many inside cabins.  We have booked balconies and all sorts of cabins but they did not make the experience any better than an inside cabin.  Also, if you have the courage, you can book a room that holds four people and generally the third and fourth person are heavily discounted.  On some ships, you see children sleeping up on the top floor because they feel they need the space away from their family.  Today, many ships have outdoor movies and people fall asleep while watching a late night movie, and just stay there until morning.

So much food and such a small stomach!

So much food and such a small stomach!

Air is Tricky.  Sometimes you can land air cheaper through the cruise line because they have taken options on many of the seats that fly to their destination.  One of the interesting things about booking air through the cruise line is that, in most cases, if there is something wrong with your flight, they guarantee that they will get you to the ship.  One cruise line hired a limo to drive us from one airport to another, and when we missed the sailing of a ship off the coast of Mexico, they paid for all of our expenses to catch up with the ship.  Try charters to your port.  Air is usually cheaper before May and especially in January and February, many airlines have sales to distant places.

We have cruised with friends and it really makes the trip --an extended party!

We have cruised with friends and it really makes the trip –an extended party!

Drive to the Port.  If air is very expensive, as it is during the holidays and at Spring Break, try booking a cruise from a port in Texas or Florida or wherever.  If you have a big family and friends going on the trip with you, pile into a van.  There are always places where you can park your car near the terminal.  You can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars, by using this strategy.

Skip the Excursions.  One of the things that totally shocked us on our first cruise was that the ship brought us to a destination, but did not really inform us about the destination.  (You know, islands, cities, stuff like that!) Boy were we green!  We had not planned the trip very well.  We did not know that some cruise ships dock miles away from towns and in areas that you really don’t want to walk.  (This does not happen in Alaska, but does in the Caribbean.  It did happen in the Mediterranean but not in northern Europe.)  So, we had a choice.  We could pay for pricey excursions that cost $100 or more a person or we would have to wing it.  You guessed it!  We flew.

How many people could fit into this little bus?

How many people could fit into this little bus?

We hired local cars on some islands.  (We did this in Cambodia and Vietnam too!)  (You can always take a cab.) We hoofed it into town when we could see buildings.  Often, the locals offer their own tours at about half or less than the price on the ship.  As I was telling someone today, one of the excursions in Juneau to the Mendenhall Glacier costs about $80 for a 15 minute ride to and from the ship.  Tom and I will find a bus schedule and ride for a dollar or two.  Or there are local buses owned by businesses that charge around $7.

Saxman and the most wonderful collection of totems!

Saxman and the most wonderful collection of totems!

In Ketchikan we take local buses to the two most beautiful outdoor Totem Museums in the world for only a dollar.  You can’t travel like this unless you have studied each place you are visiting.  You need maps … and everything you need is right on the net these days.  You don’t have to buy guidebooks like we have done in the past.  We are heading to Alaska soon and we will rent cars and tour ourselves in both Seward and Skagway.

 

You can do this on most islands and places in the world.

Skip Lunch.  Tom and I always take a water bottle that we fill with water from the ship when we visit a destination.  Water out of the ship’s tap is as good as water anywhere.  We usually make a sandwich at breakfast and take it with us so we don’t have to come back to the ship for lunch or spend money on site.  Pack plastic bags.  On the ship, you will see a lot of people doing this.  In the old days, they packed lunches for you, but most ships no longer do this for passengers.

Don’t Buy a Gown or Rent a Tux.  Most ships have evenings when everyone goes wild.  They get their hair done and spend all day in front of the mirror getting themselves ready for dinner.  After 25 years that got old for us.  But this might be something that you want to do.  The ship will have photographers stationed everywhere to capture your beauty.  To save money just bring black slacks and a black top/shirt.  Guys don’t have to wear jackets.  They won’t kick you out of the dining room.  Many people do not like these dress-up nights and you will find them skipping the dining room for the buffet on the top floor.

She's a pretty, pretty, pretty girl!

She’s a pretty, pretty, pretty girl!

Sailing on a cruise ship can foster rare moments in your life that you will  never forget, like the steely grand mountains in Alaska.

The grandeur is beyond words.

The grandeur is beyond words.

We will catch up with you soon!

 

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

Posted in Alaska, Cheap Cruising, Excursions on a Cruise Ship, Save on your next Cruise, Saving Money on a Cruise | Tagged , | Leave a comment

In a Rush to find Gold. Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier

Alaska is one of my favorite places in the world. The air is so clean, the sky is so blue, and the mountains are pristine!

The cruise begins in Vancouver!

The cruise begins in Vancouver and goes to Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, and Hubbard Glacier.  Find them on the map!

I have had the honor of lecturing three separate weeks on cruise ships in the past. At UCM I taught a class entitled “Alaska History and Myth” and took students on a cruise to Alaska in 2013.  Tom and I first discovered Alaska by renting a Class C Motorhome and touring the state.  On that vacation we took our rented RV on a ferry across Prince William Sound, sailed on a Pirate Ship to a glacier, and flew over Denali to the north pole, well it was called “The Artic Circle.”  We did this again years later after our first cruise to Alaska, so we know the territory well.

alaska 007Now this summer I will be lecturing for two weeks on a Royal Caribbean ship as we go north from Vancouver to Seward and back again!  In the upcoming blogs I will post hightlights of the Power Points that I have developed.  This is not a classroom, so don’t worry, you won’t be bogged down with the details.

The second town we visit on the cruise is Juneau, the capital of Alaska.  You can’t drive to the town because no roads lead to it.  You have to fly or take a boat.  We will also visit Skagway, Ketchikan, Seward, and more.  We will keep you posted!

Downtown Juneau

Downtown Juneau

Today you won’t find Sarah Palin in Juneau but you will find the Mendenhall Glacier, the Red Dog Inn, and burned out mines that produced billions (maybe trillions) of dollars of gold.  Most of the mines flooded after one of the miners dug too deep into the ground and hit the sea below.  It flooded all of the mines and left a gaping hole in the middle of town.

My students loved Sarah Palin????

My students loved Sarah Palin????

 

The land was originally owned by First Nations Tlingits, but they were pushed out of the way by the flood of miners looking for gold.  Tlingits (pronounced Klingits) still have a presence in the area and the bus drivers will let you know that they are here!

Proud Tlingits in their Chilcat Robes

Proud Tlingits in their Chilcat Robes

 

 

 

 

The city is lovely with lots of shopping.  In fact the first time I visited this city, I could not believe all of the items that were for sale.  Most of them were decorative or based in local art.  Today you can take a tram over the city to view your ship and downtown.

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

The icing on the cake is Mendenhall Glacier.  Mendenhall is receding and so has produced a gorgeous lake and waterfall.  It is one hundred feet above ground (that is 10 stories) now and twelve miles long.  Inside are a number of ice caves and evidence of trees that are 2500 years old.  It is quite a sight to see!  And if you are really lucky, you will see bears chasing after salmon in the icy waters.

 

Below is an ice cave.  You could live in one of those things!

Mendenall Ice Cave 2

After a visit to Mendenhall, people usually come back to town and visit the Russian Orthodox Church at the top of the hill.  It is about as big as a tiny house these days. Orthodox believers stood during services and still do.  You will find Orthodox churches dotted all over Alaska.  They are like rare finds in an antique store, so beautiful and ornate.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

I was really lucky to photograph this bear walking right below our walkway at Mendenhall.  Later he caught a fish and we could hear him eating it, right below us!

 

He was very close, let me tell you!

He was very close, let me tell you!

 

 

When Tom and I visit Juneau (twice) on our two week trip this August, we hope to explore some of the old mines.  Believe it or not, retirement is challenging and we are very busy.  I hope to post at least one more blog before we leave because I will not have access to the internet on the ship.  It costs too much!

Occasionally Tom will get a burr in his saddle and want to post something.  This website is really Motoring with Tom and Marla but Tom wanted me to keep my name on it.

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

On a ship in front of Hubbard Glacier!

On a ship exploring a Glacier!

 

Posted in Alaska, First Nations, Gold Mines, Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier, Tlingits | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Resting in Paradise

April 26,2016

Day 9 and 10:  Planning our Future

How would you like to back into this spot?

How would you like to back into this spot?  See sign in right hand corner of RV.

We proudly display our sign to everyone! Thank you!

We proudly display our sign to everyone! Thank you friends at DeLaval for the gift!

No relatives or friends were on the docket for the past two days.  We are sitting peacefully at McKinney Lake just north of Atlanta.  Tom is playing his guitar and Marla is re-learning tunes from piano lessons.

Tom has purchased a bunch of florescent lime green t-shirts.  He figures he will make extra money holding signs for road construction companies as we travel the South.  He Hee!

Wearing that lime-green shirt while he practices!

Wearing that lime-green shirt while he practices!

Tom says the stop sign below was designed for a short stop on a baseball team.  He He!!!

Is this a stop sign for raccoons?

Is this a stop sign for raccoons?

Heading East tomorrow to find our dear friend Anita and husband Buren.  Anita and Marla have written several books together.  We have promises of visiting their farm in North Carolina.

Resting makes us reflect.  We think about our parents, siblings, and friends and are thankful for our careers, health, and educational opportunities.

Marla’s mom (and dad) began her life without shoes, proper clothing (feed sack dresses), running water, electricity, the care of dentists or physicians, or education.  Her father was forced to leave school at the age of 12 to work in the fields.  His home was a make-shift log cabin with no facilities and holes between the logs that allowed the snow to gather on his bed as a child. An accident that was not treated by a physician left his arm permanently fixed at a right angle for the rest of his life.  In spite of all those challenges they made a good life for themselves.

Paradise

Paradise

Tom and I are very lucky people!!

Posted in Camping, Rving across America | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Ripples of Time

April 24, 2016

Day 7 and 8:  Watching the Past melt Away!

Michael Martin Murphey on the album. “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band sings of the lost river.  “Oh, lost river, I’m coming back to the pot-bellied stove where the firewoods all stacked.”  It is a song of longing to go back to a life that was.

Blue Heron Mine

Blue Heron Mine

Voices of Miners at Church

We spent most of yesterday retracing familiar steps to Mine 18 Blue Heron,  Devil’s Jump, Stearns, Whitley City, Pine Knot, the old farm, and seeing an old friend, Madge.  Nothing was the same.  In 10 years many structures have burned, been abandoned,  and people have moved on.

Marla and Twinkers are Devil's Jump!

Marla and Twinkers are at Devil’s Jump!

 

 

 

At Blue Heron Mine you can hear the voices of the miners as you step into shells of buildings dotted around the coal tipple.  A train can bring you to this spot and take you back to Stearns.  It is a marvelous ride back in time.

 

Tom's New Job at Mine 18 Hauling Coal

Tom’s New Job at Mine 18
Hauling Coal

 

I kept thinking that life is like this pebble you throw into the water.  It makes a strong hole in the water and sends ripples to the sea.  As the ripples spread out, they fade, and then they are no more.  The ripples are strong toward the middle and fade as they expand.

Most of my relatives in Kentucky and Tennessee have physical challenges like cancer, stroke, dementia, liver and heart disease.  I wonder where they are in the rings of the circle. And I just had a cousin in Tennessee diagnosed with cancer!

Dayton Courthouse

Dayton Courthouse

Scopes Trial

Scopes Trial

Today we stopped by the famous Dayton, Tennessee, Court House where the Scopes Trial was fought.  It is a long story, but a teacher, Mr. Scopes was not following state law that required that he teach that humans were created by the God of the Christians.  I have visited the Court House in the past because it reminded me of my father.

The Trees are still standing but my father is not!

The Trees are still standing but my father is not!

The first thing we saw as we walked to the courthouse was a grove of trees. On each tree was a sign that said, “This tree witnessed the 1925 Scopes Trial.”  My father, when he was around 12 or 13,  stood or sat under these trees and listened to the arguments made for and against evolution also.  It hit me hard!  These trees are still alive and my father is not.  He died when I was about 21 years old.  But today I felt a link with him in a very special way.

 

The places my mother haunted when she was a child are melting away and the ripples are almost gone!  Her one-room school house does not exist any longer!  Even the pot-bellied stoves are gone!

Pot-Bellied Stove with the firewood all stacked!

Pot-Bellied Stove with the firewood all stacked!

 

Posted in Camping, Rving across America, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kentucky Kindness in the Mountains

April 22, 2016

Day 7:  Sharing Stories at the Country Cafe on Old Highway 92

The dogwoods are in bloom everywhere!  They smile at you and squint when you walk by them.

JeanMorning began with a visit with my cousin Jean.  Her husband of almost 6 decades, Ledford, died only weeks ago.  She is mourning but took time to share with us some of his life.  To help break the empty moments she is crocheting mats for homeless people and weaving baskets.  All of the farm tools are silent and Ledford’s truck is still parked by the barn.  It is as if she is waiting for him to walk through the door.  Life is not always kind to us!

Jean's basket

Jean’s basket

Nelta, Vernon, Eileen, Lula, me, Tom Fred, Leta Rai

Nelda, Vernon, Eileen, Lula, me, Tom Fred, Leta Rai

Most of the afternoon was spent with cousins from Pine Knot and Strunk, Kentucky.  Fred, Eileen, Leta Rai (daughter), Vernon, Nelda, and Lula from Greenfield, shared memories over lunch at the new Country Cafe.  You can find it on old 92, it has a red roof.  We all know that any of us can disappear in a moment so we hold on to opportunities like this when we can gather together.

All that is left of Homer's house are these two trees.

All that is left of Homer’s house are these two trees.

Heading down old 92 we stopped to dream about my Uncle Homer and what life was like on the farm.  As I explained in my book “Life Everlasting and the Twelve Mile Blues,” this was a remarkable place.  I even trace back my own dream of earning a degree to my cousin Vernon who urged me to attend Cumberland College so long ago!

Later in the afternoon, we visited Madge.  She has been a friend for a long time.  My mother always visited Ella, her mother, when we spent time in Kentucky.  Unfortunately Ella had just had an operation and was recuperating.  Her last words to me before we left were, “I love you.”  We don’t say that very often to our friends.  We may think it but we rarely say it, so this was a special moment.

Pleasant Run Church

Pleasant Run Church

Tom and I ventured out to Pleasant Run Church and cemetery.  The land was given to the farmers and miners in the area by my Gilreath ancestors.  We found my grandparents graves and so many others who died in the 19th century.  Ella’s grave was on the opposite side of the cemetery.

Ella's Grave

Ella’s Grave

Yesterday I forgot to mention the family we met in Greenfield, Indiana.  Camped (permanently) beside us was a young couple with a baby and a four year old.  They were living out of truck camper and a screen tent.  Everything had to be 40 years old.  At night the dog slept in the front seat of the truck and they slept in the camper.  They did not have a car.  Their living room was the picnic table.  It was a very sad sight.  It appeared that neither of them worked, and we wondered how they survived, and why they were there?

Sad Family Situation

Sad Family Situation

Posted in Camping, Rving across America | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cosmic Cousins and Folding Time and Space

April 21, 2016

Day 6:  The Blue Heron flies no More!

I drove this car to college in 1966. It was old then! Parked on the street in Greenfield.

I drove this car to college in 1966. It was old then!

 

Here we are in paradise!  We are camping at the Big South Fork Recreation area!  Awesome!  We are not flying (as the bird does) but sitting in the Blue Heron campground that is lost in the Daniel Boone Forest somewhere?

The car above was sitting on the main street in Greenfield, Indiana.  I wanted to take it home!

Greenfield Courthouse! What a site!

Greenfield Courthouse!
What a site!

Scottie,  we have a problem!  Everywhere we go and are going –someone is getting sick or dying.  My cousin Joyce (in Tennessee) was diagnosed with cancer today.  They buried her son Michael just a couple days ago.  Cousin Lula’s husband just fell and snapped something in his back.  He can’t walk.  Cousin Fred had a stint put in an artery yesterday.  I am carrying a four leaf clover and a rabbit’s foot with me tomorrow!

Shelia, her three daughters, and Randy her husband!

Shelia, her three daughters, and Randy her husband!

These are days that we will never forget!  Sheila and Randy (Comcast wizard) and their family took care of us day and night for a couple of days.  We played golf, toured the town, visited their home, and ate and ate and ate.  In fact, if you are going on vacation, it might be a good thing to stop in at the house of a relative because they feed you!  He he!  What a gorgeous family and life they have in Greenfield, Indiana.  The town has buildings from the the 19th century and their downtown was hopping.  Shelia sells things on Ebay!

The Wonder Woman Shelia

The Wonder Woman Shelia

Shelia, Tom, and Lexie

Shelia, Tom, and Lexie

I had not seen my cousin Millie, (she says for 30 years!) for a long time.  We started talking and could not stop.  We have so much in common.  Millie is a woman of the 21st century.  She is 73 (retired AT&T) and was recently married to Norm (a retired USDA worker) who is 81.  What spunk!  (She told me not to post any unflattering pics on Facebook!) They fed us too!  And we looked at photos and talked about all the people we knew.  Norm and Millie are like us, they like to travel and are heading out to two major trips this year. They even have smart phones and text!!!

Me, Gorgeous Millie, and Handsome Norm

Me, Gorgeous Millie, and Handsome Norm

Today we came back to Holly Hill, Kentucky, the place where my mother was born,  and where we vacationed almost every summer when I was a child.  For at least a decade, I brought my mother back here where she linked with many of her friends she left behind –when she went to seek her fortune in Detroit.  Find Pine Knot, Stearns, and Holly Hill, Kentucky on a map.

Looking forward to tomorrow.  We will visit Pleasant Run cemetery, donated by the Gilreath family it seems a hundred years ago. We will catch up with friends and family and drive the new K 92 toward Williamsburg.

Til then …

 

 

Posted in Camping, Rving across America, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dam West is Dam Great!

April 17, 2016

Day 2:  Dam West Campground in Illinois

Gorgeous day for a gorgeous campground!  Most exciting thing today was the tick that Marla found in her hair (#1). Second thing was being launched in the air as Tom crossed railroad tracks near Blackwater.  I thought he was trying to be Evil Knevial with a motorhome!  Lunch was at a Welcome Center just above the Mississippi.

Dam West is Dam Great

Dam West is Dam Great

At Dam West Tom sat in the sun, breeze in his hair, playing the guitar as he enjoyed the lake.

Tom and Twinkers enjoying the Lake

Tom and Twinkers enjoying the Lake

A Budding Guitarist

A Budding Guitarist

Looking forward to seeing my cousins in Indiana and playing golf.  Another one of my cousins died this week.  So that is one less person we will see in Tennessee.

Hint:  Buy and Interagency Pass or Senior Pass from a National Park and you can camp at Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds and national parks for half price. Our stay yesterday was $9.00.  They are as good as or better than any other state or national campground. With the pass most National Parks are free!!!!

Posted in Camping, Rving across America | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Jumpstarted to Arrow Rock

April 16, 2016

Day one of Heading into the Sun

Sign in front of the Lyceum Theatre

Sign in front of the Lyceum Theatre

What a beautiful day!  We finished chores ahead of schedule so Tom decided to head out for Arrow Rock.  Arrow Rock is one of the first places we took our 24′ Fleetwood.  It is both a National and State Park/Monument/whatever!  It is a great place to spend a weekend!  There is plenty of space for camping with 30/50 hookups!

1845 Aderton House

1845 Aderton House

Today the town was peaceful.  Tourist season has only begun.  We walked the empty streets and thought about what it might have been like to live here in 1829.  Eventually, the townspeople built sidewalks, a Tavern, a jail, a courthouse and more.

The Tavern

The Tavern

They prospered here because Arrow Rock was located on the Blackwater River and riverboats brought their goods to sell.  Their biggest problem was malaria-carrying mosquitos.  A local doctor invented quinine as the malaria-drug and saved the day. (I took quinine every day when in Sierra Leone as a 21-year-old.)

I like to take close-ups of textures and architecture in places we visit.  The following photo is of a tree that is infested with parasites, but its bark is gorgeous and it tells the story of the tree.  Next time you see a tree, come up close and look at the bark, you will instantly discover the history of the tree.

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Walk the streets of Arrow Rock and you will see that the storm drains run right into the sidewalks. What kind of shoes did they wear?  Why did they build a drain like this?

 Storm Drain and Sidewalk


Storm Drain and Sidewalk

We discovered a jail, or Calaboose, and tiny houses everywhere.  People today think tiny houses are new, but a lot of people in the 19th century lived in houses that look like sheds to us!

Calaboose or Jail

Calaboose or Jail

One of the best things about Arrow Rock is the fried chicken dinners served at the Tavern.  Unfortunately for us we arrived too late to join the feast.  As we head East with our trusty companion Twinkers, we are sad that we had to leave Hillary behind.  She is not completely house-trained yet, so she is staying at the spa until we return.  Isn’t she beautiful!

Hillary the Great

Hillary the Great

Tom is answering emails and pondering all the generous thoughts from his colleagues.  He wonders what he is going to do with all his wonderful clothing, now that he won’t have scads of meetings every week all over the globe.  Tomorrow, Illinois!

Posted in Camping, Rving across America | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tom ended a Quarter of a Century of Cows … with West Agro/DeLaval

If you hear a lot of dogs barking, we are in the neighborhood!

 

Where will Tom find more bones?

Where will Tom find more bones?

Colleagues at DeLaval kept giving Tom big send-offs!  The first was at a swanky bar in Westport.  Camping gifts were piled on!

 

Everyone will know who we are at the campground now!

Everyone will know who we are at the campground now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Millie Edwards with her grand voice, Tom DeMasters on guitar, and Allen Monroe on the keys, treated everyone to sound masterpieces at the Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City.  Tom Hemling (retired now) gave a Power Point tribute to all the “strong” women in the company.  He began his lecture with the Neville Brothers tune about Rosa Parks, who grew up not far from where I lived in Michigan.

Gifts were plentiful and appreciation was voiced from many, many people.  Thank you for such wonderful tributes to Tom.

Mario's Gift

Painting of Tom by Mario

Goodbye

Goodbye

Tom and Millie

Tom and Millie

At Boulevard

You can see Millie, Tom, and Allen up in the left hand corner.

Westport Party

Westport Party

Sad Dogs

Sad Dogs

DeLaval Family

DeLaval Family

Research Group

Research Group

Broadway here they come!

Broadway here they come!

Posted in Camping, Rving across America | Tagged | Leave a comment

Heading East into The Sun!

We hit the Road on April 17, 2016

Our Moveable party

Our Moveable party

We have wanted to visit family and friends for years.  Will head toward Illinois looking for relatives, creep through Kentucky and Tennessee remembering my mom and dad’s roots,(and relatives) spend some time with friends in Georgia and South Carolina, and hit the beach.  High points will include Muscle Shoals (home to many rock n’ roll legends) and Memphis.  Come with us!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment