Out of the Blue, This Is Not A White Lie

Today is blue and white day at Cee’s  Fun Foto Challenge. I have invited a special guest to accompany us on this blue and white tour I’ve planned out today. First, let’s take this stairway. Unless you have been to Elderwood, CA, you might not see one of these every day. It looks like you could climb all the way to heaven, but you really end up at the top of a wind machine overlooking an orange grove.

wind machine in orange grove
Stairway to heaven

Oops, maybe I was wrong. Look where we ended up!  Once you’ve been to heaven, where can you go from there? If only we had wings. We could fly anywhere.

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Heaven is a vast place, so let’s just roam around a bit.  Maybe we will run into our special guest host this morning. Ahhhh yes, here he is.

Misplaced moon
Misplaced moon

“That’s weird. I thought I put the moon in the night sky,” God mumbled just loud enough for us to hear. “Oh well, it looks good there.”

Hi God,” I greeted him. “These are my friends from WordPress.”

“Hi Marsha. Wow, you have a lot of friends.”

“I really do. I promised them you would go on our blue and white tour with us. Got a moment?”

God winked.

Blue & White 200crgr

“Marsha, you used a  strange filter you put on this picture.  Didn’t you like the gray I used for the sky?”

“I actually did, God, but this is a blue and white tour, and I thought I could make it bluer with the filter.”

“It looks too purple to me. I still have a lot to teach you about Photoshop. Those  orange blooms in Elderwood are bursting with the most glorious smell. This is good. This is very g…… Achoo.”

I guess God has allergies, too.

“Let’s get out of here for a bit, what do you say?” God suggested.

“Whatever you want, God. I’m with you,” I answered.

Taking off at Runway Cafe
Taking off at Runway Cafe

God and I headed to Runway Cafe and hopped on a helicopter to head for clearer air.

Whale watching in Maui
Whale watching in Maui

We landed on a whale watching boat with CA friends Connie and Darrel Smith and Australian friends Carol  and Glen Sherritt  in Maui HI.

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“Now this is the life,” breathed God. “Wonder where all the whales are today? Ho hum… I think I’ll make a rainbow for everyone instead.” So he did.

Blue & White in Maui

“Ok, Marsha, what else do you have that’s blue and white. I could stay in Maui forever, but I know you need to get back.”

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“I thought this monument was pretty, God. Do you remember 1607?”

“How time flies,” He mused. “Seems like it was just yesterday that those English folks drug themselves off the boat here in Jamestown, VA. Of course no one called it Jamestown or Virginia then. It was sure touch and go for a while, but a few hardy souls made it.”

Blue hair
Blue hair

“Times have changed. Now all kids worry about is if their hair is the right color. Wonder why I didn’t think of blue hair?”

God smiled. I smiled back at him as we shook our heads together at kids today.

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“You humans, always so preoccupied with time. You’ve made some pretty nice timepieces, though.” God complimented the builders. They were standing nearby on the clouds watching.

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“Well, it’s been a calming blue and white tour today, and here we are right back where we started. You humans are always in my thoughts.”

“Thanks for joining us, God.”

“My pleasure, Marsha. Just remember, I’m always close. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

And with the twinkling of an eye, our tour ended, and God disappeared from sight.

Hope you enjoyed it. For more blue and white photos Visit Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. Click the icon below.

CFFC runs weekly challenge starting every Tuesday.
CFFC runs weekly challenge starting every Tuesday.

 

 

Where DID We Have Lunch on Monday?

As you recall your trips, do you struggle to remember time markers anyway? My friend Jean and I spent at least thirty minutes one evening during our Arizona trip retracing our stops to remember where we had lunch three days before.

“Take a picture of the restaurant,” Jean said. “So we’ll remember it next time.”

If I have a picture I can at least remember the town. If I have the town – thank goodness for Google! Is that what’s important? Really?

Ciao Grazie in Buckeye, AZ
Ciao Grazie in Buckeye, AZ

In Writing the Breakout Novel I read that novice writers write their novels chronologically. Reading back over my unpublished novels (that would be all of them so far) I notice that I follow that trend. Yet when I journal, I don’t break out my journal until something significant happens, like the transmission goes out in the truck while pulling the new trailer up the mountain highway in the rain at twilight.

As soon as the journal opens and my pen hits the paper, my internal date book flips on, and I chew my pen trying rack my brain trying to remember all the places I ate and places I visited. Did I think I would ever get back to Florence, Italy, Charleston, SC, Chicago, IL, Klamath, CA, or Scottsdale, AZ to eat there again? Even if I did go back, would that restaurant be there waiting for me when I arrived with the same chef at the helm? Would there be no other restaurant other than THAT Arbys  in the same town? Why am I so driven to remember all those places?  By the time I get around to recording what I THOUGHT was the dramatic moment of actual event, usually a juicy story from a tour, the sizzle is gone.

recessed lighting in the theatre room at Taliesin West
recessed lighting in the theatre room at Taliesin West

Actually the dramatic moments of a trip are usually the bad personal moments, like when a fellow traveler spills coffee all over your blouse and suggests that you change it right there in the parking lot because nobody will notice. What’s up with that anyway? No one will notice when I take off my blouse in a parking lot? Really? What alternative universe am I in? Are people really THAT different in other parts of the world?

Frank Lloyd Wright was short, and egotistical. He built short doorways because he figured anything over 5’8″ was a waste of space.

In Frank Lloyd’s world, I think people might have been that different. You have to read the books, though, to learn the gory details. The tour guide didn’t mention the negro servant who axed Wright’s lover and her two children in the head then burned his home to the ground killing a gardener, and three architectural students in 1914 at the original Taliesin home in Wisconsin.

 

The tour guide claimed that FLW initiated the use of floor lighting.
The tour guide claimed that FLW initiated the use of floor lighting.

We saw floor lighting in the movie room, but the stories of the sex camps at Taliesin West never came to light.

It goes against my nature to be a good storyteller.  I have no posterity who might be interested in where I was at any moment. And yet, I record every stop I make in painstaking chronological order. No wonder good storytellers are at a premium, not only in the world of writing, but in the world at large. Most of us are still trying to remember where we ate two days ago. 🙂

What about you? Where did you eat two days ago? Anything dramatic happening in your life? Which did YOU post on FB?  🙂

Manny’s Writing Challenge

Hi everyone! As though I didn’t already have enough to do, Manny has come up with this idea of a writing challenge.  Actually, it was Vince’s idea first.  He’s the marketing guy of the family.  Manny needs your help getting the to kids that might want to write a story.  To view Manny’s site click here.

Justin Beaver (JB) and I are friends.   I live in California, and JB lives in Australia.  We write blogs and talk to each other almost every day.  We decided to write stories about our travels, but there are so many ways to write a story.  We got confused.  Would you help us write a story?

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Story requirements:

  • 500 words or less
  • use at least one picture
  • Title:   Manny’s Writing Challenge:  Friends in Frankfurt
  • Topic:  Stuffed animals, Manny and Justin Beaver travel to Frankfurt, Germany.
  • Plot:  Manny and Justin have a whole city to explore and don’t know where to go.
  • Genre:  You might write a fractured fairy tale, poetry, story of noises, naughty behavior, or even non-fiction, or something else if you like
  • Your story should have a theme.
    • Is this a story about character traits, like honesty or manners?
    • Are Justin and I developing self-esteem and growing up as they travel?
    • Did we have an argument?
    • Did something scary happen and we act bravely?

Please use these pictures taken by Justin’s mom, Mrs. Eternal Traveler.  If you want to add more pictures you can.  Make sure you give credit for them.

Publish your story on your blog, or send it to my mom, tchistorygal@gmail.com., or post it in the comment section, if you want.

Please link back to my blog so that other people can read your story.  I can’t wait to read YOUR stories about ME!

You can use my widget.  I made them in several sizes, and you can post them on your website. Be sure to link back to my website in the URL of the picture so that others can join the writing challenge.

http://mannystravels.wordpress.com/

Manny's Writing Challenge

Manny's Writing Challenge-med

Manny's Writing Challenge Widget

I will try to create a new challenge for you each week on Sunday.

Manny’s Hooked on Travel

“Manny, are you ready to stay home for a while?”

“No!!!  I have an idea of where I want to go to next.”

That was a dumb question.  As Carol wrote, “He’s had more excitement in the last six months than most people have in a lifetime.”

“I want to go whale watching, Mom.  I didn’t see any whales in Europe or Australia.  I didn’t even see one on the plane back to the United States.  I’ve been a lot of places, Mom, and guess what?

“What, Manny?

“No whales, that’s what.”

“That’s all you have to say about all your wonderful travels, and about the amazing people you met and things you saw?”

“Oh, Mom.  I love Carol and Glenn, AND MELISSA,  and Ute and Ralph, and I had a great time, but did you know that Justin Beaver has his own website?”

“I think you mentioned it at least one hundred times before you left.  You saw how much work he does to make that website didn’t you?  Are you sure you want to do that?  Did you tell all those people thank you for the wonderful time you had? I even saw you on Justin’s website eating chocolate, and having fun.”

“When I get all my pictures in order, I’m going to have a website and talk about all my travels. And I’m going to write books, and make a movie, and be famous like the Eternal Traveler and Justin Beaver.”

“Uh huh.  Did you say thank you to Carol and Glenn for taking you all over Europe, New Zealand, and Australia?  Did you thank Melissa for bringing you home?”

“Yeah, Mom.  I love those people.  I kissed Melissa, even.  I didn’t kiss Justin, but I shook his hand.  I gave Carol and Glenn a big hug.  But I didn’t see any whales yet.  Let’s go to Hawaii.”

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Now dear bloggers, what do you think?  Is Manny spoiled?

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What about now?

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected

How fortunate for me that the WP Photo Challenge is so unexpected.  I didn’t expect to have Monday alone in St. Louis, but most of my friends left on Sunday, so I had unexpected found time to explore on my own.  I like to go the seamy, trashy underbellies of a city when left to my own devices.  I know – that’s unexpected.  I was downtown with no car, and wanted to find the local river, you know the Mississippi.

It’s not a particularly well-known river in these parts.  That’s because it’s so hard to find.  That was unexpected.  There were no signs pointing the way, no tours advertised in the hotel lobby.  I had to ask a passerby how to get to the river front.

By the way, St. Louis is not the only place with strange statues, but you tell me, is she a bit odd?

Most cities flaunt their river fronts with chic shops and restaurants.  Some places combine the two like good book stores where you can browse among thousands of books, choose something, and sip a cup of coffee in between moments of distracted staring out the window at the beautiful river.

I found myself unexpectedly going in circles trying to find the Mississippi River in St. Louis.
I found myself unexpectedly going in circles trying to find the Mississippi River in St. Louis.

The first person directed me in the general direction towards the river.  I finally got close enough to catch a glimpse of his idea of, “Go straight down this street and you can’t miss it.”  Finally, I caught my first glimpse of the great Mississippi.  Can you find it?

I worried that the parking lot attendant would demand money from me for walking through his lot.
I worried that the parking lot attendant would demand money from me for walking through his lot.

Do detour signs make you dismal?  When you motor in unfamiliar cities, confident that your GPS or map skills would direct you to your destination, have you ever found that the recommended street was unexpectedly closed for construction?  Fortunately I was on foot because there were plastic construction fences everywhere. The closer I got, the more nervous I became that here would be no hole in the fence, and I would have to recalculate, make a u-turn, and find an alternate route – again!

Downtown foot traffic was light on Monday.  You should have seen it after the Rams v the Bears game on Sunday.
Downtown foot traffic was light on Monday. You should have seen it after the Rams v the Bears game on Sunday.  I was relieved to get closer and see that there was an exit.

Fortunately I saw one other person walking my way, so I knew he had come from the other side of the red barrier somewhere.  Once I squeezed past the plastic rope barricade I reached the chic restaurants and bars.  I don’t know who else could, though.  Streets in Atlanta proved hazardous to me and to Cheryl, a friend of mine, four years ago at NCSS, but those streets and sidewalks were silk roads compared to these.

Mind the street.  Spiky heels are not recommended.
Mind the street. Spiky heels are not recommended.

Have you ever driven through an unfamiliar town at night and it seemed that someone had hijacked all the street signs so that GPS, iPhones, and traditional maps were useless?  Now I know where they put those signs.

At night they must light these up and flash a hologram into the sky so drivers can see them.
At night they must light these up and flash a hologram into the sky so drivers can see them.

This must be very helpful when you walk with your handsome date in your platform heels down a dark street to go to a bar with a great dance floor.  Keep in mind that the sidewalk, though a little wavy, might have been walkable, but if you unexpectedly veered into the street, the least bit tipsy, you would probably not make it home with all your bones attached.

SFW 2013 Streets of STL114

It was so cold that your feet might have slipped on the icy bricks.  By morning only slush remained seeping between the cracks.

The reflections were good, but I missed seeing what hours they opened.  I think you went to the website to warn them you were coming before they sent someone to open the door.
The reflections were good, but I missed seeing what hours they opened. They didn’t expect visitors.  I think if you wanted to visit, you needed to go to the website to warn them you were coming so they could someone to open the door.

I wondered how any of the business in this area stayed afloat, even when there were no flood waters.  I unexpectedly encountered the famous St. Louis Wax Museum.  It looked particularly inviting with professional signs admonishing me to carry cash if I wanted to see their evil, life-like monsters.

I took a picture of their faces in case I needed to report them to the police.
I took a picture of their faces in case I needed to report them to the police.  It was unexpected to feel so molested in the middle of the morning.

There was some traffic in front of one restaurant.  Their tables remained outside for anyone who wanted to enjoy the stiff breezes taking the temperature down to about 12 degrees.  The traffic ambled along as it ate up the street.

The other street traffic jogged up to the vehicle and walked along beside it for a ways.
The other pedestrian, a construction worker, jogged up to the vehicle and walked along beside it for a ways – a real SMV.

I finally go to the river’s edge.  It lapped peacefully at the shore as though it might have been the beautiful McKenzie River in Oregon.  With the exception of my visit that morning, no one else visited that I saw.  One truck looked like it wanted to commit suicide.  I took several pictures to see if it actually completed the act, but it must have waited for me to leave before rolling to its demise.

See the truck thinking about jumping in?
See the truck thinking about jumping in?

I snapped a few pictures of the bricky bank and the boats navigating the murky waters, then headed back to catch my shuttle to the airport, satisfied that I had seen the unexpected seaminess of St. Louis.  Here are a few more pictures of the beautiful Mississippi to upload to your memory before I go.

What are some of your unexpected experiences in strange cities?  Click here for more of the unexpected.

 

Accidental Vacation: Chapter Five

Chapter Five Has The Transmission Come Yet?

unretouched sky, bright blue
bright blue sky not retouched by Photoshop,  new red rental car

Vince remained in his Twilight Zone of Optimism for several more days after the truck’s transmission lost everything but first gear and reverse.  The sun shone into their little palace on wheels early on Sunday morning.  Vince was ready with activities before Marsha awoke.  He scoped out Crescent City the night before when he went there to get the rental car.  Only sixteen miles north of Klamath, it bustled with history, restaurants, and best of all, internet and cellular service.  He knew Marsha would appreciate that.

The smell of fresh coffee and rays of sunlight drove Marsha from her warm bed.  “Let’s go to Crescent City today,” Vince announced still in his cheery mode.  There are lots of things to do, and I want to take you to breakfast.”

“That sounds good.  Do you want to go check on your truck?”

Vince was the kind of guy that checked and double-checked everything.  He checked the bank account balance several times a day to make sure it hadn’t been hacked.  He asked Marsha about every check.  Then he checked the credit card account, and asked Marsha about each charge.  Every day he checked the pool, swept it, skimmed it, put chemicals in it.  Before every swim, or just when he happened to go out and see a flower bud floating across the surface, he cleaned it again.  Marsha knew he would want to go up to Crescent City to see if his truck was still sitting safely in the lot at the GMC dealer.  He did.

20130915_0613166R “There’s a famous lighthouse here,” he told her after they finished a delicious breakfast.  “How is it that she doesn’t weigh 600 pounds?” Vince thought to himself as he watched her clean her plate making sure to wipe away every trace of cream cheese frosting drizzled on the blueberry pancakes.  “Good thing.  A woman can never be too skinny or too rich.  She’s pretty well maintained for 61,” he continued musing.

“You look so pretty,” he voiced his thoughts a little more flatteringly.  “My beautiful wife.  I love you sweetie.”

“I love you too,” she answered as she always did.  They had their rituals.  Just like when Vince’s son called and they were ready to hang up, Vince never hung up without saying, “Here’s a hug,” and making a little hug sound over the phone.

"That dog looks like PG."
“That dog looks like PG.”

Battery Park was huge, but not nearly as interesting as the jetty, pier and the lighthouse.  Both camera bugs took pictures of the lighthouse on top of the hill.  To reach it people crossed over the rocks, a stepping bridge across the mouth of a stream flowing into the ocean.

I won't let you fall, Puppy.  Hold on tight to my arm.
“I won’t let you fall, Puppy. Hold on tight to my arm,”  the wind blew her words out to sea past PG’s outstretched, listening ear.

“Do you want to go across?”  she asked, not feeling overly adventurous.

“No, you need high boots unless you are prepared to get wet.  Do you want to get wet?”

"Looks like high tide," Marsha thought to herself.
“Looks like high tide,” Marsha thought to herself.

Marsha knew he had her there.  It wasn’t that she minded getting wet.  In fact, she loved it.  But what other activities did Vince have planned? This was a rare occasion, and she didn’t want to ruin it by getting wet and wanting to go change.

Remembering one time she had gone kayaking in Monterey Bay with friends from work, Marsha hesitated.  Even though they wore wetsuits, she experienced soaking wet shoes.  Not realizing that the boat would let in water, she wore her only pair of shoes into the boat.  Bare feet, being more comfortable than sloshy shoes, Marsha removed her shoes after she gracefully landed the boat and literally rolled over in the surf a few times getting out of it.  The group wanted to go eat after their strenuous excursion.  She had put her wet shoes in the car, but the eatery clearly stated, “No shoes, no shirt, no service.”  Her boss shielded her as she scooted through the door shoeless.  That memory cautioned her.

“No, thanks,” she answered after giving the idea some thought.  Although the hill and house called her, she resisted.  Let’s walk out on the jetty.”

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“DANGER: Deadly waves at any time. Jetty unsafe for walking.”

“It says it’s dangerous at all times.  Do you want PG to be swept away by an ocean wave?”

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“Don’t let go, Mom. That looks like water down there.” PG’s thoughts were a clear as if she actually uttered them.

Visions of whether she would let go of the leash and lose PG or be swept out to sea with her aquaphobic doggie kept her moving away from the jetty towards the safer boardwalk.  A young couple with their two dogs joined them on the boardwalk.  One dog was a huge pit bull, the other a terrier, smaller than PG’s slight 9 pounds, pranced side-by-side looking like Mutt and Jeff.

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Fisher people with their empty poles dotted the boardwalk.  A couple from Medford, Oregon escaped the 100 degree heat to catch crabs in the bay.  Several huge crustaceans lounged unsuspectingly in their blue plastic bucket.

20130915_0620173R Soon it was time to leave.  There was lots to do, and they still wanted to see the Trees of Mystery.  They wound their way through the Redwood Highway back towards Klamath towards the mysterious trees where yet another adventure awaited them.

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Work would start on the truck tomorrow.  Or would it?  Stay tuned.

Does your dog or pet have any phobias?  How about you?

Accidental Vacation Chapter Four

Chapter Four

“The car rental agency in Crescent City, CA had one car.   We have water, and we have food,” Vince stated abnormally joyfully.  He flashed his wife a boyish grin.  “It’s actually kind of enjoyable here,” as he headed out the door to catch a ride with the tow truck driver.

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The road between Coos Bay and Klamath, California couldn’t have been more beautiful.  The fog looked like an elegant veiled gown draped across the beautiful landscape succeeding in making it more seductive.  Each more curve in the road revealed yet another grove of tall elegant lacy redwoods, their symmetrical branches dangling moss speckled in mist.  Every once in a while the redwoods would part, and frame a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean, gleaming white foam radiating a fine spray to the top of the cliff feathering to the tips of the giant trees.

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The car went through a series of jerks going up the grade.  “What are you doing?”  Marsha asked Vince, who typically tested and retested everything to make sure things worked correctly.  “This really isn’t the place to be testing out the brakes.”  For some reason it didn’t occur to her that he would not be testing the brakes going UP the grade.

“That’s not me,” he answered seriously as they entered California.  Only 10 hours  or so to go before they got home.

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Marsha had visions of ending up at the bottom of the cliff waiting for the rescuers.  She was still concerned about brakes.  “Even new brakes fail,” she thought to herself.  They pulled over and watched a rescue operation, and gave the truck a chance to rest and recuperate from pulling its unaccustomed load up the long steep climb.  “It wasn’t any steeper than this over Interstate 5, or was it?  Well it wasn’t this pretty,” she continued her internal conversation.  “Well, it was gorgeous, and not wet, but there’s nothing like having semi wheels rolling down the freeway less than 12 inches from your face at 80 miles an hour,” she reasoned, confirming to herself why they had chosen the longer coastal route over the freeway.

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Vince pulled over just north of Klamath, CA.  “I’ll be right back.  You wait here with the dog while I check things out.” Vince disappeared inside the Jet Boat Tours Store.  Within minutes he came back, bubbling with enthusiasm.  “The man in there says that there’s a steep grade up ahead, and they have a nice RV park here,” he told her when he returned to the truck.  “What do you want to do?  Do you have cell service?”

Marsha knew that his mind was already made up.  There may as well not have been any punctuation marks between the two questions if she had seen the words typed out instead of spoken.  In fact there might not even have been space between the words either.  What she heard was, “Whatdoyouwantododoyou have cell service?”

“No,”   she answered before he started his next sentence.

 

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“I’ll go check us in.  I think that is best.  Is that ok with you?” he said in one breath.

“Muh huh.  I’ll wait here with the dog.”

Somehow she missed the part when he told her they weren’t going to even look at the truck until Monday.  She walked over to the campground office to use the phone.  She cancel their reservations for that night in Eureka KOA.  Then she went back and canceled the next few nights in Eureka, and the following one at Durango RV in Red Bluff.  She had already cancelled the KOA in Sacramento, and she had thought she was done.  The truck would be fixed Monday, and they would be on their way.  She could be optimistic, too!

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The campground manager rode around on his bike back to the office.  “There’s no TV service here,” she told Vince when she got back from the next trip to the office.  “No phone, no internet.”  It was a good thing they had brought a deck of cards.

“We’ll be here until Tuesday.” Vince told Marsha as they drove to dinner.  The paper on the wall of the campground office advertised a “Prime Rib dinner for only $15 a plate.”

“Tuesday, …..  I told the woman in Eureka, we’d be there Monday.”  Marsha knew she was whining a little when she realized another call was in order.  In fact it was beginning to dawn on her that they would probably not even stay at Eureka.  They would drive on to Red Bluff.

The Country Club turned out to be a smoky bar just a half-mile from the campground. They ordered at the door, and paid the glum cashier-waitress.  Vince heard the total incorrectly, and reached into his pocket and pulled out an extra five.  The glum one looked at Marsha with a challenge in her eye, gave her the change from the original amount, and quickly latched onto the extra five without batting an eye or uttering a thank you.  The prime rib dinner, which had sounded so good on the flyer, reminded Marsha of a potluck dinner at the Nazarene Church, except that they didn’t have to stand in line to dish their own food on paper plates.  The same well-used waitress came by and threw a rolled up napkin at her side of the table.  Wrapped inside was the silverware.  Vince asked her if he could have some silverware, too.  She nodded, seeming irritated that he should ask for silverware with a burger and fries order.  After about a half hour of watching the two elderly servers carve and serve the rest of the customers, Marsha’s meal arrived.  Marsha decided that the mashed potatoes on her foam plate were probably as instant as the gravy.  The canned green beans had bits of bacon and onion in them just like her mom used to make. The prime rib slab was real meat that probably weighed three pounds.  She decided to take 90% of it home.  She knew Vince would throw it away in a couple of days, but she couldn’t bear to discard it at the Country Club.

“Isn’t smoking illegal even in bars?” Marsha wondered almost to herself.

“It is in California,” Vince answered as if magically his ears were open to her mutterings.  “Oh we are in California.”  He touched the ashtray in the center of the table absently as he said it.  “It doesn’t look like it’s enforced,” he finished with a little grin.  They didn’t realize they were on Yurok tribal lands.  Reservations have different laws, and even have their own police force.  The Yurok Tribal Police car rolled by them as Vince and Marsha left the Country Club Diner.  The foreigners were pretty sure that the enforcement officers weren’t going to the Country Club to enforce the no smoking in public buildings law.  They looked like prime rib kinds of guys.

By 7:30 Vince lay curled up on the couch with his head resting on his arm, and his mouth open.  It had been a stressful day, even for the optimist.  He would be uncomfortable when he woke up, but he was nowhere close to that yet.  The book that he dug out of the cabinet to read, lay closed on his lap, and his chest moved rhythmically with each breath.  Vince never snored.

Marsha read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – for the first time.  Puppy Girl put herself to bed in the bedroom.  She wasn’t stressed.

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She had her tribe.

What is your home away from home?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accidental Vacation Chapter Three

Chapter Three Finally Camping

oregon trip 201320130912_0109105The next morning Marsha and Puppy Girl checked out ATV prices at the log cabin store next to the campground.  For only $45 an hour she and Vince could chase each other around in dune buggies.

She also figured out that if she flushed the toilet to add the sewer sweetener, the smell hissed out, and the flap didn’t close properly.  If she pressed the foot pedal up after emptying the tank the little lid closed tighter.  However, the toilet emitted an enduring, foul-smelling burp as though it didn’t know what large quantities of breath freshener had just been poured down its gullet.

oregon trip 201320130912_1222187

“I rented ATVs with Jason once,” Vince called out to her as she emerged from the back.  Mine broke down.  It seems like I had to do a lot of walking.  We ended up with dust everywhere.  It’s really fun, though.  Jason wanted to go every weekend.   ATVs can be dangerous, though.  You have to be really careful where you go.”

oregon trip 201320130912_1219184Marsha knew they were not going to rent ATVs and chase each other around the dunes.

While they parked at The Dunes KOA, it was an easy drive to go north 30 miles to sight see in Florence, or 20 miles south to Coos Bay.  The decided that their favorite was Florence.

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The two days in Reedsport flew by just taking care of business.  Of course, to be legal and safe in Oregon, the truck needed a new hitch and mirrors.  Vince had already spent about $3,000 on the truck before he left home making sure that belts and hoses were current, and the brakes were in good repair.  “Even if we have to buy a new motor, it’s only about $5,000,” he assured her.  Vince arrived at Porter’s in Coos Bay, Oregon before 8:00 a.m. and they fixed the truck right up.  It only cost another $500, he told her two days later.

They even had some time to check out the Myrtlewood Factory next door to the Oregon Dunes KOA.

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Yep, Marsha in the truck – check. PG – check. Vince – oh yeah, he drove.

Outfitted properly Vince roared away from their first campground in the ATV country of the Oregon Dunes, hauling his new trailer confidently through the twisty turns of the California Redwood Highway 101.

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The odometer turned 155,555 miles on their navy blue GMC ½ ton Sierra as Vince snapped a picture on his iPhone. Marsha immediately texted the picture to their friends, with the caption, “and still going strong.”

oregon trip 201320130914_1116241That should have foreshadowed interesting things to come.

Have you ever bragged when you shouldn’t have?  Ooops….  What did you say?

The Adventures of Manny

Hi Mom,

I’ve had a great time with Ute and Ralph.  This is where we are staying.

Map of SpainIt is hot here, and we lay out on the patio every day.

13b Ralph's Apartment

Today I got kind of mad at Ralph because he made us pose with our blankets.  Mom, it was HOT!  I felt like I was sick or something.  All those pillows.  Danny is really nice, and he wanted to kick the blanket out the window.   I threw a pillow on the floor.

1a Fanny, Manny, Danny and new baby bear with Marsha's quilts

Fanny liked it because she had a new baby bear, I call him Lanny.  Lanny liked cuddling under the blanket.  Fanny kept KISSING him on the ears.  Blaaaah

Ute, Ralph & Bears

Ute is cute.  I still love Ute best.  I think Danny should stay with Ralph, and I’ll go home with Ute.  See how nice she holds me so I won’t fall.  I LOVE Ute, Mom.  She was tickling me under the chin.  I didn’t even kick her.

Bye, Mom.  I love you.

Manny

Dear Manny,

You haven’t told me anything about the trips you are taking.  That is a lovely picture of you and Danny with Ute and Ralph.  But, where were you?  It is so beautiful!

Manny Goes To Spain

Remember when you were making those blankets?  You were so sleepy you could hardly sew the line straight.

Manny Goes to Spain031

You stayed up almost all night.  Mama is glad that Ralph took a picture of you three with your blankets.  I hope you picked up the pillow.  Those are Ralph’s new pillows.

Have you been to Ronda?  Everyone talks about how beautiful and historic it is.  You know how much Mom loves history.

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Kalev misses you and wishes she had come along with you.  Chloe says hi, too.

Write soon,  Love Mom

Dear Mom and Dad,

OK I’m going to send you some pictures, and you have to guess where they are.

Manny & Danny  traveling

I was a little scared here because it was a long way down to the bottom of this wall, and Danny sometimes likes to wrestle and pulls me backwards.  We were both on our good behavior.

Manny & Danny traveling 2

We wanted our picture taken with this arch.  It’s really old.  Like maybe Roman times!  I bet Roman soldiers built it!  Do you think they did, Mom?  Ralph let us sit on the table so we could look at it better.

8 Ralph in BP

Ralph had to wear sunglasses here because the buildings are so sparkly.  Do you love them, Mom?  Did you guess yet?  Go ask Dad.  He doesn’t get lost like you do.

I gotta go.  We’re busy, Mom.  Sorry!

Love, Manny

Manny, “Can You Hear Me Now?”

Manny has never been away from home without us, and it feels so weird to think of him being in someone else’s house – without us!  He’s never gone anywhere without us.  I got a short email from Ralph telling us what’s going on over there in Spain.

Dad, what's in this box.  It smells good!  Can I open it?
Dad, what’s in this box. It smells good! Can I open it?

Hi Marsha,

Manny arrived safely here in Spain. I think Fanny smelled the honey in Manny’s suitcase right away.  This is sort of how the conversation went when I brought in Manny’s box.  She wanted to open the box herself, and you can imagine how that went.

“Fanny, I think this box is for you!”

Manny's Trip to Spain

“Really Dad!  Really, REALLY!  REALLY!  I’m so excited!  I can’t get this tape off!  Ooooh, it’s getting stuck in my fur.  Help, por favor.  Don’t cut my fur, Dad!  I want to look pretty!”  Fanny is picking up a few Spanish words.  Don’t be surprised if Manny comes home speaking Spanish.

“Ouch, Fanny.  That IS sticky stuff.  Hold on.  I’ll try not to mess your fur, Fanny.  Ok, let me cut the tape, and open the box for you.”

Manny's Trip to Spain

“Oh boy!  Is this a toy, Dad?  Look how cute he is.  How silly, too.  It wasn’t sunny in there.  He’s got on his glasses!  Is he dead?”

Manny's Trip to Spain

“I am NOT silly.  AND I AM CERTAINLY NOT DEAD!  It was sunny when I left California.  Where am I?  Can you help me get out of here?  I feel stiff.  Thanks, By the way, I’m Manny.”

Manny's Trip to Spain

“Hi, I’m Fanny, and this is my Dad, Ralph.”

“Hi Fanny!  You’re soft.  Can I sit on your lap?  You look pretty, and you smell good, too! Hi Ralph, You look just like the Ralph that didn’t want me playing teddy bear music at Renee’s birthday party.  Fanny, do you want to see my teddy bear video?  Ralph, do you have a computer?  Mommy lets me use her computer A LOT!”

“Sure Manny, right here.  This is my new office.  How do you like it.”

Ralph's remodel003

“It’s beary nice, Ralph.  Can you help me reach the computer.  Mom lets me sit on the keys.”

Manny's Trip to Spain

“Wait a minute!  There’s my mom.  Mom!  What are you doing here in Spain?  I thought you were in California!  Talk to me Mommy!  MOMMY!  I see you Mommy!  Can you hear me?  Can you hear me, Mommy?  Turn this volume up, Ralph.  I don’t think Mommy can hear me.  Can you hear me now?”

Manny's Trip to Spain

“Manny, Manny!”

“Fanny don’t tease Manny.  He misses his mommy.  Go get your teddy bear video.  I’ll put it in for Manny.”

 

Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?  Maaaaaaarrrshaaaaaaa…!!!

Lots of love,

Ralph xox

So now what’s in store for Manny next?  Ralph sounded a little franticized.  Did Fanny like her present that Manny worked so hard to make?  Has Manny met any Spanish people yet?  Has he really been a good boy?  Will he get in trouble at Ralph’s house?  hmmm?  What do you think?  I guess we will know more next week!

Manny’s text just said,

“Hi Mom,  LOL havng fun.  Fany is cut.  Ralf is nise to.  Luv Manny”

Adventures of Manny: Priority-First Class Travel to Spain

Manny’s Guest Blogger IS Manny.  Apologies to spammers who don’t like my spelling mistakes.  I didn’t correct Manny’s spelling.

I was published on Marsha Lee's Blog.
I was published on Marsha Lee’s Blog.

Hi Mom,

Brrr, but I have blankt and pillo.  I thot a plane ride was ‘posed 2 b FUN!   Aftr u left me at the PO, I flew up in the air, and then …CRASH!  Then HAIL!  All over my box… A BIG hail storm.  Good thing I have my cell phone in my box! (otherwise how could I txt u? LOL)  Sumthings poked a hole in my box.  It was woodpeckrs.  Then I flew up, then… CRASH!.

Manny Goes To Spain
I can c a little.

Finally – engines.  NO flying – just BUMPY.  Like hwy 99.  More hail.  FLYING.  CRASH!   HAIL. … FLYING. … HAIL. … CRASH!  It’s drk ‘cept the holes in my box.

Manny Goes To Spain
Can u c me in here?

Now it’s quiet, cold and REALLY drk.  I can’t C anything! I CAN’T BREETH  Good thing I went Priority-First Class, not Coach like u fly, Mom.  I hop I’ll b at Ralph’s hous soon.  I want 2 play! I miss u!

Manny Goes To Spain
Am I dreamin’, Mom?

Luv, Manny  xox

Just a note from Marsha.  This is the only picture I got from Manny this week.  It is all the same picture!  🙂  Thanks Photoshop!  🙂

Manny Goes to Spain – An Interview with Manny

Many of our readers know Manny as my lovable little bear who travels wherever I go.  Manny has been begging to go see Ute and her teddy bears in England for six months.   Vince and I both agree that Manny is old enough now to travel on his own.  Let’s see how he’s doing.

Mom:  Manny, you are getting to be such a big boy now, we’re going to do an interview for all the readers about your trip.   How are you feeling about flying out on your own to go see Ralph’s bear, Fanny, and Ute’s bear, Danny?

Manny:  Mom, you know I’m sooooooo excited.  I can’t EVEN sleep at night.

Mom:  What have you done to get ready?

Many goes shoppint
Many goes shopping.

Manny:   I had to get my Pawsport, and a suitcase at the Build-A-Bear Store.

Everything is so big
Everything is so big.

Mom:  Is that all you got there?  What was it like at the store?

Manny:  Oh, Mom, I just LOVED the Build-A Bear store!  It was soooooo big!  I got some cool sun glasses.  I’m ready to go to the beach.  Tell Ralph I want to go to the beach in Spain.  I have a new beach ball and a beach bag, too.  Mom, there were so many clothes in the store.  How come I don’t have clothes?

Many picks out a suitcase.
Many picks out a suitcase.

Mom:  They didn’t have any your size, Manny.  Those clothes are for big bears.  Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Manny uses Mom's American Express card for the first time.  Yikes!
Manny uses Mom’s American Express card for the first time. Yikes!

Manny:  Oh yeah, I got some of that, too.  I love my red suitcase, Mom.  And I love my sunglasses.  Have you seen what’s in my suitcase?

Mom:  Tell me.

Manny:  I got a BIG jar of honey!  I have my travel guide, and my Spanish English dictionary.  And dad got me aspirin.  What’s that for, Mom?

Mom:  You may get a little nervous on the plane, so if you do, just ask the flight attendant for some water, and take one aspirin.  I notice you packed your favorite doggie blanket.   Sometimes it gets cold on the plane even though where you are going is nice and warm.  Be careful not to lose it, though, Manny.

Manny:  I’ll be careful with it.  I’ll take it to the beach to sit on.

Mom:  Hmmmm  Hope Ralph has a big washing machine.  What about presents for Fanny and Danny?

Manny:  Silly Mom.  You know I got them presents.  You helped me make them presents.  They are going to love them.

Mom:  Are you going to tell everybody what you made?

Manny:  Nope.  They’ll just have to wait till I show them to Fanny and Danny!

Mom:  Ok then, Manny.  It’s time to get you to bed, so you’ll be ready to go.  Tell everybody good-bye.

Manny:  Bye everyone.  See you in Spain.

All packed ready to go.
All packed ready to go.

Shopping anyone? by Carol Sherritt

Guest Blogger sign Med
Guest Blogger Carol Sherritt

My husband and I visited Oman in January when the weather is mild and sunny. On our first day our hosts were keen to show us the best of Muscat and we headed to the main commercial area, Mutrah.

Muscat

We strolled along the Corniche, admired the Arabic architecture and thrilled at our first glimpse of an Omani dhow. But the best was yet to come, as we made our way from the glaring brightness into the gloom of Mutrah Souq. It was shopping time anytime, and we were in for an amazing sensory experience.

Carol's Shopping Trip 2

Frankincense pervades the Souq, or open market, with its strong, sweet scent and it can be bought in all sizes of packaging, along with beautiful incense burners. In all directions colour abounds – in fabric stalls, clothing and shoe shops, glassware and jewelry. Decorative wares fill the walkways and this fat bellied brass frog is just asking to be stroked.

Carol's Shopping Trip 1

The vendors keep up a constant stream of chat to potential customers: “Madam, come in. Madam, what size? Madam, what colour? You try?” The pashminas,  fine cashmere wools used for making shawls, are so tempting, in all the colours of the rainbow, silky, soft and luxurious. There are woven carpets from Pakistan, cushions and beaded shoes from India, silver boxes, rose water sprinklers and Turkish coffee pots delicately engraved and embellished.

Carol's Shopping Trip 3 On the more quirky and slightly weird side are the embalmed, mounted and framed creatures including butterflies, scorpions, centipedes and frogs. They’re not exactly to my taste but fascinating all the same.

Carol's Shopping Trip 4

One alleyway is devoted to the jewelers’ shops, which are much more upmarket and way out of our league. The solid gold and silver jewelry is priced according to weight and the current value of gold per ounce. We’re told by one shopkeeper that the local ladies like to wear these necklaces when they go to parties to show off their husbands’ wealth.

Carol's Shopping Trip 5

It’s best to go to the Souq in the afternoon when the rush of tourists off the cruise ships has gone. Then it’s cool, the light is dim, and you have the time to browse and enjoy with all your senses, and even make a purchase or two.

Carol's Shopping Trip 6

You can read more from Carol on The Eternal Traveler with her traveling companion, Justin Beaver.

Carol and Justin

Would anyone like a fat bellied frog?

Homewood Suites by the Sacramento, California Airport – A Great Place to Stay

While we were in Sacramento, we discovered another nice hotel that was quite inexpensive.  Normally we stay at the Hampton Inn Suites near the airport in Sacramento when we go there for meetings.  However V and I were paying for this one, so we shopped around.  I went online and got a Hilton Honors card, and looked up Hilton hotels.  The total for two nights including all the taxes was $225, which started out at about $94 a night compared to $139 for Hampton Inn.

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This one, Homewood Suites, is right next door to Hampton Inn Suites.  It is about 3 miles from the airport and not much farther from downtown.  There are plenty of stores and fast food restaurants within walking distance, so it is an easy, comfortable place to stay.

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We were surprised at how nice our room was.  It was equipped with a full kitchen, living room 2 tables, a king sized bed, nice sized closet, and a bathroom closed off from the sink which was tucked in right next to the closet.  I took a few pictures, but not everything since we had already slept there and messed up the bed before I remembered to do the tourist thing.

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Three really nice amenities that Homewood Suites has is a free breakfast, that is really a breakfast.  They had scrambled eggs, sausage and waffles as well as fruit, assorted cereals, breads, and assorted morning breakfast drinks.  Secondly, it had free internet service that actually worked!!!1  I was so thrilled.  The problem was that I was so tired after a few days of staying up into the wee hours, that I went to bed at 9:00 or so and slept all night!  YIKES!!!  Finally it had free parking.  After going to Seattle, and San Francisco, and San Diego and fighting with the traffic and parking fees, it was a pleasure to park anywhere and do it for free.

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Manny says he liked it.  The bed was comfortable and big enough for all three of us, though I do think I rolled over on him a few times.  I found him upside down under the covers once.  He burrows!!!

I’ll go back to Homewood Suites, and I’ll recommend it to my friends.  That’s all y’all.  🙂  Come to Sacramento.   We’ll take you go-cart racing!! – Or up to visit the gold country, or to the Railroad Museum, or old Sacramento.  There’s lots to do in Sacramento.  🙂

Book Review: The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

This book, The Elephant Whisperer, kept me on the edge of my seat the entire two days it took me to finish it.

Considering that I was reading it on my cell phone the whole time because my Kindle needs to be emptied before I can load any more books, it’s amazing that I even stuck it out.   Out of forty-two chapters, there wasn’t a single dud.  I read it because I was intrigued when someone  wrote that when Lawrence Anthony died, the elephants mourned.

We all have problems and obstacles when we follow our dreams, but this man had more than most.  He bought a 5,000 acre game reserve in Zululand, South Africa called Thula Thula.  He had the ability to get, not only wild elephants to listen to him, but also local police, local political leaders including tribal leaders from warring tribes.  He conquered poaching problems, floods, and built a thriving lodge in the midst of this reserve full of all kinds of wild animals, the largest being the elephants.

These desperate, wild elephants uprooted trees weighing several tons and crashed through electric fencing to escape the reserve and run free in towns and countryside where EVERYONE from poachers to police wanted to shoot them.  The logistics of capturing, transporting and keeping animals of this strength and determination were mind-boggling.  His story of training and taming them without domesticating them kept me transfixed and absorbed for about two days.

One of the major characteristics that comes out about Lawrence Anthony besides his ability to work hard in horrible circumstances, is his humility.  He credited everyone for the wonderful ways they contributed to his project, and in so doing inspired immense loyalty.  Possibly just as amazing was his companion, Franςoise.  She combatted snakes, and nursed a dying 280 pound baby elephant in her spare bedroom – well the run of the house, actually.  She ran the lodge, made and served gourmet French cuisine, and finally after living with the man who didn’t mind having elephant slobber all over his body for 15 years planned and executed their surprise wedding.

Elephants and the Common Core

Remembering that the Common Core is all about non-fiction, and integrating science, social studies, and technology, this book will do it all – especially if students are reading it on their iPhones as I was.  In spite of it’s length this is an engaging read for upper elementary students and above.  It is also a great one to engage male readers, who statistically respond both to animals and adventure.

Anthony’s story of survival, love, adventure, drama, and caring for both animals, the environment and culture of the people will inspire and challenge everyone to meet their own challenges with courage and innovation.

Featured Blog

Featured BlogThe perfect blog to feature today is one of another adventurer, Amy at shareandconnect.  I have heaped awards on Amy’s shoulders, and I have enjoyed her company, her uplifting comments on my blog for many months, but tonight I spent time just thumbing through her blog, reading the back pages, and the more I read, the more I liked.  This wonder woman has been everywhere.  If it has a trail, she climbed it.  If it’s beautiful, she’s photographed it.

Here’s a peek.  You are going to want to set aside some time and just go browse in her museum of photos.

You can thank me later because you’ll be richer for it!  Enjoy Share and Connect, you’ll be glad you connected.  🙂  Marsha

 

Stranded without Internet in San Diego

This is the first time I’ve posted from my phone, so I’ll be short. The history girls are having fun! We met Russel Ray and his partner, Jim. Yesterday at Slaters 50/50. He’s my first blogging friend to come to real life. Thanks for meeting us Russel and Jim!!!

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Book Review: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America

A Black Cowboy's Ride

It’s not every day that a good book about both geography and history comes along, but Lisa Winkler’s non-fiction epic, A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America, guides the reader from New Jersey to California.  Each chapter portrays the real-life adventure of an African-American teacher, Miles Dean, who rides horseback across the United States beginning September 22, 2007.  The mini-biography of Dean spans not only the country, but the centuries of African-American history in various places along the way.

There is not enough room in history books to tell the stories of all the remarkable people who walked this earth.  So they  leave out those folks who do not specifically advance the historical narrative the editors wish to portray.  For example, American children all read about George Washington, the first President of the United States, and they should.  Do they also know about Blanche K. Bruce, the first African-American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate in 1874?  Readers travel with Miles and pick up gems of history where they happened along the journey.

Blanche K. Bruce Mississippi Senator, 1874-1880

In this book the reader experiences the difficulties of the actual horseback ride across motorized America in spite of extensive planning,  along with the exuberance of meeting welcoming strangers in every place.  Readers learn along with Miles about various famous African-Americans, who were firsts in fields that don’t make the history books, such as horse jockeys or cowboys.  Rather than being a chronological history, this is a geographical history.  Every locale has its heroes and heroines, and they fit into various historical time frames.  The focus of this book is on African-American heroes from each stop along the way, so there might be a Civil War hero, and a country singer in the same location.

In truth children learn history, just as they learn their first language, from those closest to them.  They learn about their own ethnicity from their parents and grandparents, and blend it in with their growing life experiences.  They hear the stories of the folks in their home territory.  Then they learn how those stories fit into the broader scope of history.  Somewhere along the way, they begin to pick up an internal timeline.  In this book the reader becomes like a child growing up in each site where Miles stops, and learns a bit about each place, whetting their appetite to follow-up and research more about specific people or events later.

Winkler’s mini-biography easily meets the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, since students will be required to read greater percentages of non-fiction texts.  This is a book that will interest students, particularly ones who like horses and cowboys.  Teachers are often looking for books that will appeal to disenfranchised students.  This book is the perfect hook for African-American males, statistically having the largest percentage of students in this category.  Miles, the rider, is the first hero, attempting this difficult trip at age 57, and overcoming obstacle after obstacle, persevering until he completes his goal.  Then meeting all the unsung African-American heroes along Mile’s historic epic gives these students a sense of belonging and contributing to the history of the United States that is so essential for creating future citizens of this nation.

Miles Dean, age 57 riding across America
Miles Dean, age 57 riding across America

As an educational consultant, I think this book has implications that reach far beyond the written word, and the standards we teach.  It touches the heart, and motivates young people to emulate heroes.  It goes beyond exposing the faults of the country to forgiveness and allows students to see how people of different ethnicities contributed to the success of Miles’ journey.  We don’t forget our history or cover it up, but maturely go beyond its faults and take advantage of new opportunities.  We stand on the backs of heroes who paved the way for our success, and move forward in appreciation of their sacrifices to create a better world.

I featured Lisa Walker’s blog, Cycling Grandma, in my Christmas Sweater Post earlier in December.  You will enjoy visiting her blog as well.  A Black Cowboy’s Ride will make an excellent gift for your child’s teacher, a student in your life, a history buff, or yourself. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Romance in Tulare County

horses kissing

If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you’ll notice that several blogger friends are wanting to get together.  Several have suggested that they want to come to Tulare County.  I will just say that it’s a great place!  Romance is in the air.  You’ll be given lots of space

space in TC

So come to TC for your special romantic vacation.  You can’t go wrong!  Boyfriends or girlfriends are not provided!!!

*******************************************************************************************************************Now for some serious business:

I received a present of a book from author Lisa Winkler, Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America.  I started it last night, and it is wonderful.  I’ll be writing a review soon.  Her blog,  Cycling Grandma, was my Featured Blog recently.  Thanks so much, Lisa.

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For some reason my blog was selected to put on a special hotel website.  Here is the email.  They use the words WordPress in the email, so I’m just assuming that it’s legitimate.  Since this has never happened to me before, I’m going to rely on all of you to let me know it is.  Their link is provided in the email.  🙂

Hello,
This is Shiela from HotelShivSaiShirdi.com.
We stumbled on your blog while searching for Hotel. We operate the largest WordPress Hotel blog website featuring more than 30,000+ blogs. Our site averages 200,000+ uniques visitors per month. As a kind note We have featured your blog at http://hotelshivsaishirdi.com.pink.mysitehosted.com/blog_awards/index.php?id=2115 We would be grateful if you could add the following details to your blogroll or in a post
<a href=’http://hotelshivsaishirdi.com/‘>Hotels in Shirdi</a>
Looking forward for your confirmation.
Thanks
Shiela
HotelShivSaiShirdi.com.

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Don’t forget Renee’s Online Birthday Party Coming up Dec. 24th at 12:00 a.m. PST and going through Dec. 26 at 12:00 a.m.

Renee copy