Making Friends at the Folk Alliance International in Kansas City

Forbidden Folk Music is Protest Music!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Bragg talked about solidarity and change!

Billy Bragg talked about solidarity and change!

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

 

 

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

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

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

Pitchforks and Torches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They sang everywhere!

They sang everywhere!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Snorkeling Advice from Tom.

Snorkeling at Buck Island!

Snorkeling at Buck Island!

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

More on the Creatures.

They were everywhere!

They were everywhere!

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

 

This is at Rhythms north of Fredriksted.

This is at Rhythms north of Fredriksted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Locals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They dance and jump and carry-on on stilts!

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

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

Island Fever?

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

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

Should we move to St. Croix?

The boardwalk in Christiansted that we loved!

The boardwalk in Christiansted that we loved!

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

Capturing St. Croix is a pretty tall assignment.

Drenched on Buck Island!

Drenched on Buck Island!

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

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

There is a whole island of lovely people!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunshine, Happy People, and St. Croix

Another Paradise Adventure!

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

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

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

We visited Point Udall on our second day. Magnificent!

We visited Point Udall on our second day. Magnificent!

Does anyone want one of these?

Does anyone want one of these?

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

On highway 82 East End.

On highway 82 East End.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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So clean!

So clean!

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

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

I stumbled into this guy!

I stumbled into this guy!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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

Our Favorite Band.  Igor and the Red Elvises

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

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

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

This is Igor in one of his silk suits!

This is Igor in one of his silk suits!

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

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

There is a Kindle and color version also!

There is a Kindle and color version also!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Remembering the Veterans of the Vietnam War at the Truman Library

No Songs were Sung in this War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The man!

The man!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the book!

Here’s the book!

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

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

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

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

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

Did we really use these phones?

Did we really use these phones?

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

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

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Adventure at Home. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas!!!

A One-Hour Drive!!!

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

Notice the jail-like building to the right!

Notice the jail-like building to the right!

 

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

Waiting for our turn to be processed!

Waiting for our turn to be processed!

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

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

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

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

Hug that tree!

Hug that tree!

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

The tears of angels.

Angels are still shedding tears.

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

Here's one from the Spanish American War!

Here’s one from the Spanish American War!

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

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

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

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

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

These must be the quarters for soldiers?

These must be the quarters for soldiers?

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

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

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

Buffalo Soldier Monument

Buffalo Soldier Monument

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

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

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

 

 

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The Last Dance of the Season

Here he is. Standing so tall and handsome!

Here he is. Standing so tall and handsome!

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

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Can you see me right at his feet?

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Lonely campers in a field.

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

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

1839 Building.

1839 Building.

What was the name of the seminary?

What was the name of the seminary?

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

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

Let’s go down to the St. Croix River!

Walk with us around the campground!

Walk with us around the campground!

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

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

This river is not for tubing.

This river is not for tubing!

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

 

We will back — dancing soon!

Talk to you then!

 

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

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

 

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Lake Superior, Friends and Family, are Superior

Sitting in the sun by Lake Independence!

Sitting in the sun by Lake Independence!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nelta and Charlie. What a couple!

Nelta and Charlie. What a couple!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awesome Lake Superior.

Awesome Lake Superior.

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

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

Three floors of log-living!

Three floors of log-living!

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

Hillary at work at her computer in the motorhome!

Hillary at work at her computer in the motorhome!

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

Jim and Sally's welcoming dining room!

Jim and Sally’s welcoming dining room!

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

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

Here is a Brownstone in Ashland!

Here is a Brownstone in Ashland!

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

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

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

The Kohler Kingdom and a Renegade Catholic Priest

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

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

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

This is the impressive image designed for Black Wolf Run!

This is the impressive image designed for Black Wolf Run!

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

Think of yourself tooling down this fairway.

Think of yourself tooling down this fairway.

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A copper river ran through the golf course!

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

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

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

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

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

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

So cool! The old growth forest was amazing!

So cool! The old growth forest was amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

Cheese galore!

Cheese galore!

Look at all that cheese!

Look at all that cheese!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Dream on….

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

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

Ketchup with the Hemling Kin!

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

A gorgeous bunch of kin!

A gorgeous bunch of kin!

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

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