Through Rain and Wind and Weather ….

Be Thankful!

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

 St. George, Utah.  A Mormon Stronghold.

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

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

Missionaries stood guard at this beautiful home!

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

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

 Retiring To St. George

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

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

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

Such creativity! My favorite trailer so far!

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

Bryce Canyon National Park and Capital Reef National Park

As stunning as it was decades ago!

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

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

Too many photos with which to bore you!

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

What a drive!

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

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

 Moab (Coming soon!)

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

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

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

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Posted in National Parks, St. George Utah, Uncategorized | 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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Snorkeling Advice from Tom.

Snorkeling at Buck Island!

Snorkeling at Buck Island!

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

More on the Creatures.

They were everywhere!

They were everywhere!

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

 

This is at Rhythms north of Fredriksted.

This is at Rhythms north of Fredriksted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Locals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They dance and jump and carry-on on stilts!

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

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

Island Fever?

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

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

Should we move to St. Croix?

The boardwalk in Christiansted that we loved!

The boardwalk in Christiansted that we loved!

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

Capturing St. Croix is a pretty tall assignment.

Drenched on Buck Island!

Drenched on Buck Island!

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

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

There is a whole island of lovely people!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunshine, Happy People, and St. Croix

Another Paradise Adventure!

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

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

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

We visited Point Udall on our second day. Magnificent!

We visited Point Udall on our second day. Magnificent!

Does anyone want one of these?

Does anyone want one of these?

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

On highway 82 East End.

On highway 82 East End.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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So clean!

So clean!

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

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

I stumbled into this guy!

I stumbled into this guy!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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

Our Favorite Band.  Igor and the Red Elvises

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

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

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

This is Igor in one of his silk suits!

This is Igor in one of his silk suits!

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

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

There is a Kindle and color version also!

There is a Kindle and color version also!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Remembering the Veterans of the Vietnam War at the Truman Library

No Songs were Sung in this War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The man!

The man!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the book!

Here’s the book!

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

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

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

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

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

Did we really use these phones?

Did we really use these phones?

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

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

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